Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest Blogger: Alan Sakowitz

I’d like to welcome author Alan Sakowitz as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress today.

Alan’s book is MILES AWAY…WORLDS APART. He stops by today to answer some questions about how he came to write this intriguing book. If you have any questions for him, just leave them in your comments as he will be dropping back by during the day.

Mason: What earned you the title “the accidental author?” 

Alan: That title came about because I am not an author by design. By profession I am an attorney and real estate developer. By chance I became an author after being the whistleblower in South Florida's largest fraud ever.

Mason: When you discovered the fraud, why did you risk your life to expose it rather than do as so many others did, just be grateful you didn’t invest with the fraudster and walk away without saying a word?

Alan: I was frightened but I had no choice. I was not about to let other people become victims of Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme when I was in a position to try to put a stop to it. At the same time, since Rothstein was so well connected with law enforcement and politicians from the Governor on down, I needed to be careful not to choose an agency he infiltrated.

Mason: What inspired you to write this book?

Alan: I could not ignore the fact that so many people closed their eyes because the benefits to them were too great to do otherwise or that so many decent people became complicit. To me, it seemed the facts of the massive Madoff-like Ponzi scheme needed to be presented in a simple way so they could be viewed without the trappings of unreasonable rewards. That way, each person could train himself in advance how he wants to respond before he reaches his next fork in the road.

It is hoped that understanding how these schemes work will prevent readers from being scammed.

Mason: Did you have a writing schedule?

Alan: Yes. Every day after I came home from the office and all day Sunday, I became glued to the computer keyboard. 

Mason: What type of research did you do for the book? 

Alan: Much of what I wrote about were my personal experiences in dealing the fraudster and the different people connected and attracted to him. A portion of the research I did involved reviewing stories written about the incident and court documents filed in the matter. That lead to me reading several books to help me better understand how such a thing could happen in the first place.

MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART contrasts good and evil, selfishness and selflessness, greed and generosity, and appearance and substance.  Rothstein’s world was geographically only 16 miles away from my community, but philosophically it was worlds apart. My community was proudly featured for the comparison. Showing the contrast required my verifying the facts of many stories involving my neighbors. I also needed to get their permission to use the stories and their names.  Most neighbors wanted to remain anonymous but allowed me to use their names since I needed readers to be able to verify the accuracy of the stories and with the hope that the stories would inspire others to make choices for a better life.

Mason: What was the best thing about writing?

Alan: The feedback was the best part about writing. Each time a
reader contacts me and tells me that reading MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART inspired him to start a program to help others in his community leaves me with a special feeling. When teens tell me that the book should be “a must read” for young people and when I find out a teacher assigned it for extra credit since it provides lessons  teens need to learn before being confronted with similar situations in life, I feel the impact the book is making.

Mason: Did you encounter “writer's block?” If so, how did you overcome it?

Alan: There was only one night when I could not even write one page. Usually my thoughts just poured out onto the page. Sometimes I had so much to write that I dictated it and had it transcribed and then I just edited it without having to type it.

On the day that I could not write anything down that I was satisfied with, each time I completed a few paragraphs I deleted it and started over. After about three hours I decided to work on a different chapter. While going about my daily routine I gave the ideas more thought and a couple of days later I was able to better express my thoughts.

Mason: What message would you like readers to take away from your book?

Alan: My goal in writing MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART was not to write a history book about the over-the-top, opulent lifestyle of fraudster Scott Rothstein, but instead to use that way of life to suggest a better, more meaningful way to live. I wanted to show that other people are important and the choices we make influence others, especially our children. I wanted to show the importance of family, community, leadership, integrity, personal responsibility and other people. Those are messages I hope my readers take away and share with others.

Mason: What can readers expect next from you?

Alan: My writing will always have positive and empowering messages since pointing out problems without suggesting solutions is meaningless.  My next work will in part be dictated by the likes and dislikes of my readers. Being considered now is a book of powerful stories. The second idea is a book with the same format as MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART only with a different topic and different empowering lessons.

Alan, thanks so guest blogging here today and telling us about your story. Yours is a story that needs to be shared with others.

On a professional level, Alan is president of Pointe Development Company, a real estate development company located in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, where he combines his real estate background and legal training. His company is a recognized leader in joint venturing, and is always open to considering worthwhile projects anywhere in the country from brokers, banks, developers, and principals. Alan has taught courses in law and lectured on a variety of topics, and he is a seasoned negotiator and business consultant.

Alan, a life-long resident of Miami-Dade County, lives with his wife Leah and their five children in the North Miami Beach area, the neighborhood proudly featured in Miles Away . . . Worlds Apart.

Here’s a brief description of the book: Alan Sakowitz, a whistleblower of a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme masterminded by Scott Rothstein, fraudster extraordinaire, tells the story of his decision to turn in Rothstein regardless of the possible dangerous ramifications of such a decision. The saga of Rothstein's rise and fall which included a Warren Yacht, two Bugattis, Governor Crist, the former Versace mansion, The Eagles, and even the murder of a law partner, is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made from.

Instead of the mere accounting of such a scandal, Sakowitz uses the Rothstein scheme as a cautionary tale in stark contrast to the stories of humble, ethical individuals living within Sakowitz's neighborhood in North Miami Beach, Florida. Sakowitz's neighbors are people who have spent their lives trying to assist others, not line their pockets, and through these stories Sakowitz creates a sharp dichotomy between the greed, of a Rothstein and its mainstream culture of consumption and the charity, kindness and selflessness of a principle-oriented community. Indeed, Sakowitz speaks to the symptoms of a culture that could create a Scott Rothstein, and, though acknowledging that the easy way out is not simple to dismiss, offers remedies to the growing ills of our entitlement society. The answer, Sakowitz says, lies in thinking first of others, and how one's actions should benefit the lives of friends, not one's short-term gratifications.

MILES AWAY…WORLDS APART can be purchased at .   

Here’s a video book trailer to give you a bit more insight into this book. Enjoy and remember to leave your questions for Alan.


  1. Thank you so much for this interview. I was thrilled to read it and wish Alan the very best with his writing. His motivation and goal in putting out positive messages into the world is admirable and inspiring.

    Thanks, Alan, for blowing that whistle.


  2. Wow - this sounds fabulous - I'm going to look for it at my library - I'm going to order it if they don't have it too!
    Thanks Alan for being a Daniel. (Dare to be a Daniel, Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known)

  3. Wow. What courage. Excellent interview, thanks for sharing!

  4. Really enjoyed learning ab out Alan and his book. Sounds like a good one, I respect anyone who exposes and writes the TRUTH about matters like this!

  5. Alan and Mason, This is a great interview and about an important subject. Alan, If more people were like you and stood against dishonesty well... we might not be where we are economically today. Great job.

  6. Mason - Thanks for hosting Alan.

    Alan - Thanks very much for sharing how you came to write Miles Away.... Your decision to expose the fraud you exposed took an immense amount of courage, and I admire that.

  7. Alan, thank you. Your courage reminds me of my son, also a lawyer. Don't know if he has a copy of your book, but he will have a copy under his tree from Christmas from me, for your ideals and courage remind me of him. Keep going!
    Sylvia Dickey Smith

    A War of Her Own

  8. Alan, thanks again for stopping by and sharing your story with us. It took a lot of courage on your part not only to be a whistleblower, but to write the book too.

    Hi all, thanks so much for stopping by. I really appreciate it.

  9. Isn't it fascinating how we can be only miles away, yet worlds apart from any given situation or experience. Something so out of our character can seems so foreign, and thus distant. What a great concept to structure your book around.

  10. Alan - you're a courageous soul and I applaud you.

    I think we're living in a world gone nuts and the history books will show this particular time as an era of greed. I look forward to reading your book and wish you all the best.

    Mason - thanks again for a terrific interview!

  11. I can see how this might inspire someone to write. What a story. What a source of inspiration. Nice to meet you Alan and best wishes for your success!

  12. It is great to see so many responses so early in the morning.

    Jai, Thanks for the leadoff comments. It is appreciated.

    Jan, If your library does not carry it, maybe they can order it for you. Thanks for the comparison.

    Matthew, Thanks for the encouraging words.

    Hi Old Silly. I am sure you are anything but true to your name.

    Teresa, Let’s all spread the word about the importance of others and we will make a difference.

    Margot, It is inspiring to me to see across this great country how most people want to return to the day when honesty was a virtue. So many people seem to believe that too many people are dishonest that the only way to succeed is by being dishonest. We all need to be careful with our conduct so that others will follow our lead. One can be honest and succeed.

    Sylvia, Thank you for the kind comparison to your son. I would love to hear from your son after he reads Miles Away… Worlds Apart. Please ask him to write me.

    Mason, Thanks for having me.

    Joanne, After my first meeting with Scott Rothstein, as I was driving home, I thought to myself I live only miles away… but worlds apart. Even though this all took place with the CEO of one of South Florida’s largest law firms, I still did not understand how so many people became so blinded by the rewards that they were not asking questions. It reinforced for me the importance of always focusing on the transaction not the reward. The reward follows a job well done, not the other way around.

    Kaye, It is not too late to change the world for the better. There are always a lot of great things going on that are done quietly. Unfortunately the media focuses on bad news. We all need to continue doing good things and spreading the good news since good deeds are contagious also. We can all make a difference. I would like to hear from you after you read Miles Away… Worlds Apart.

    Alex, Thank you.

    Stephen, Please share the inspiration with others.

  13. This book sounds as if it would be beneficial reading for every one of us, and especially for those in their teens and twenties. Thanks, Mason.

  14. Hi Mason and Alan .. what an amazing story & man to find!! This was a great read .. together with the comments .. and I really want to read it .. such powerful words ..

    I love the dichotomy of the video - tying in with the book and its purpose ..

    My only question .. and I'm sure you did .. check it out with your wife first? Thinking of the implications for your family - from Scott himself or his thuggish friends ..

    and have there been repercussions?

    I enjoyed it .. and it's on my next to buy list .. you've a new career .. cheers Hilary

  15. Hilary, After my first meeting with Scott Rothstein I mentioned to my wife, Leah, that I had just found either the greatest deal around or a total scam. But I said after my next meeting I would know which one it was. Leah knew I did not make an investment with Rothstein and that I was worried and looking into it the matter but I did not give her all of the details since there was no point of both of us being worried.

    Then one day I mentioned that I am shocked that he was still operating since it was clearly a scam. My 15 year old daughter overheard that and said “Dad I can’t believe that you are not doing what you could to stop it.” I said “What makes you think I am not doing anything.” She said “you never told us that you are.” I replied “I have already notified the FBI.” My 15 year old turned white and the next words out of her mouth were “You are going to get us all killed.” I calmed her down and told her that we would be ok. All the while I knew that if I had the slightest hint that Rothstein became aware of an investigation of him triggered by me, my wife and kids would be on the very next plane out of town and they would not return from hiding until Rothstein was arrested.

    Rothstein ran out of money about 5 weeks after I contacted the FBI and his firm imploded. Why the FBI did not take immediate action I do not know. Once that happened, Rothstein did not have a friend in the world. Every political leader, ranking member of law enforcement, sports figure and head of a charity retroactively disassociated themselves with him. Thank G-d I no longer had to look over my sholders.

  16. Hi Alan .. gosh that was a bit of luck - the implosion .. I'd have been worried as hell.

    Interesting about the FBI .. perhaps they invested? (tongue in cheek?!) or they knew he was running out of dough ..

    Crumbs - what a story .. thanks for adding these extra tidbits to the mix .. so fascinating - real life .. nothing quite like it ..

    Cheers Hilary

  17. It amazes me that people continue to be taken in by these schemes because of the fraudster's charisma, or personal greed, or blind hope and trust that this time only good things will happen. Hopefully your book will be a wake up call, Alan.

  18. Carol, I hope you will help me spread the messages of the book. The booked is packed with stories that are sure to give people a choice of which direction they want to go in life. It is important to reflect on the different directions one can travel before reaching a fork in the road.

    One great example of determining what it is to win is found in the story I calI “Winning with Integrity is everything.” That chapter is viewable for free under EXERPTS at It is a story about a teenager neighbor of mine that was faced with sacrificing core beliefs for personal goals. She chose well and it made for a very inspirational story. We all face different challenges and have different goals, but reading how others faced their challenges helps us make better choices.

  19. Patricia, Unless you are there, it is hard to imagine how real a fraudster makes everything appear. I noticed Scott and many other fraudersters try to get people to focus on what they are missing in life rather than what they have. Then of course with your investment you can have all of those things. That I think is the beginning of the end. We need to always remember what we have and never dwell on what we do not. That way we do not become a slave to possessions and greed.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.