Y.A. Tittle died this week. For any fan of the National Football League (NFL), the now 50+ year old picture of Tittle, bowed perhaps beaten but certainly not broken is one of a handful of most iconic photos of pro football around. Tittle is a Texan, played college ball at Louisiana State University (LSU) and then pro football with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. While with the 49ers (1951-1960) he starred in the ‘million-dollar backfield’, along with Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny, and John Henry Johnson. To this day, it is the only backfield where each member has been enshrined in Canton. In 1960, the 49ers installed the shotgun, feeling Tittle too old and too slow to run the up-tempo offense, traded him to the Giants, where he promptly took the team to three straight (losing) NFL Championship games, 1961-1963.

The picture of Tittle comes from a game that presaged the end of his career. When playing the lowly Pittsburg Steelers in 1964, he took a vicious hit, which gave him a concussion, crushed the cartilage in his ribs, cracked his sternum and left the memorable gash across his forehead. This picture is the lasting memory of Tittle. Yet that picture did not define Tittle’s illustrious career.  Tittle held the record of most touchdown passes in one season for 21 years, won a Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award and was selected to seven Pro Bowls. Of course, he was selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

I thought about our perception of Tittle in the context of Martin Van Buren, who usually receives short shrift from most historians and indeed Americans for his alleged failed Presidency. However, his life and Presidency do present several concrete leadership lessons. Today, e explore the interesting life of the first American born President of the US, Van Buren the Little Magician. Yet its turns out there are multiple leadership lessons which can be drawn from Van Buren’s tenure in White House. 

Van Buren was elected to the Presidency on the heels of one of the most popular Presidents, Andrew Jackson. Hailing from New York state, Van Buren served loyally as Jackson’s Vice President in Jackson’s second term. Unfortunately for Van Buren, many of the policies of Jackson laid the foundation for the failure of the Van Buren Presidency. Chief among them was the denial of the Second Bank Charter which caused the Panic of 1837 and from which the country did not recover during the Van Buren Presidency. 

Van Buren as Futurist

One of the most interesting aspects of the Van Buren Presidency is how far ahead he was of his time as he proposed the establishment of an independent US treasury, which would take the politics out of the nation’s money supply; the government would hold all its money balances in the form of gold or silver and would be restricted from printing paper money at will, a measure designed to prevent inflation. Unfortunately, it did not become law until 1840. This became the fore-runner of the modern day Federal Reserve Bank, which was not chartered until 1913.

Van Buren is rarely seen as providing such foresight. However, his concepts around money balances and the restrictions on the printing of paper money were both key components of the initial Federal Reserve policies. Unfortunately, Van Buren’s creation lasted only one year as the Whigs, who won a congressional majority and the presidency in the 1840 elections, promptly repealed the law.

Van Buren as Moderator

Van Buren blocked the annexation of Texas in to the US. The move had been favored by President Jackson but many northerners were leery of a slave-owner conspiracy and adding Texas, which would have been a slave state, would have played into that theme. If Texas had been admitted it would have tipped the balance to slave states in Congress. Van Buren blocked the annexation in 1837, in part because of the slavery issue but also to avoid further tensions with Mexico, which controlled the territory until 1836.

Van Buren was a student of history and understood the concept of balance of power. Coming relatively soon as the Missouri Compromise and Nullification Crisis, a move to upset the balance of power in both houses of Congress may well have tipped the nation into further turmoil. Unfortunately, this ongoing debate between free soil and slave states continued to play out until the cataclysm of the Civil War.

Van Buren as Innovator

Finally, and largely forgotten to history, were Van Buren’s contributions to America’s final resolution with England on the territorial split in North America. This came through Van Buren’s deft avoidance of two conflicts with British Canada. The first involved a revolt in Canada, which threatened to spread to the US, when the British chased the rebels into American territory and inadvertently killed some Americans in the process along Lake Erie.

The second conflict on the Maine–New Brunswick frontier, where Americans were settling on disputed land claimed by the US and Great Britain. Both American and New Brunswick lumberjacks cut timber in the disputed territory during the winter of 1838–39. Tensions quickly boiled over into a near war with both Maine and New Brunswick arresting each other’s citizens. The crisis seemed ready to turn into an armed conflict. British troops began to gather on the Saint John River. The American press clamored for war; “Maine and her soil, or BLOOD!” screamed one editorial. “Let the sword be drawn and the scabbard thrown away!” Congress authorized 50,000 troops and a $10 million budget.

Van Buren settled the crisis with deft diplomacy. Initially he met with Her Majesty’s representative in Washington and they agreed to settle the crisis diplomatically. Van Buren then sent General Winfield Scott to the northern border area to show military resolve and more importantly to lower the tensions. Scott successfully convinced all sides to submit the border issue to arbitration. The dispute was put to rest a few years later, with the signing of the 1842 Webster–Ashburton Treaty.

The innovative use of arbitration to settle this border dispute averted yet again another conflict with Great Britain. But perhaps even more important was that it laid the foundation for the resolution of the much greater territorial dispute between the US and Great Britain in the Pacific Northwest. In 1846, the US and Great Britain signed the Treaty of Oregon, which set the boundary for what is now Washington state at the 49th parallel with the exception of Vancouver Island, which was retained in its entirety by the British.

Van Buren as Globalist Linguist

There is one further legacy which Van Buren left to not only the US but indeed the entire world. It is the expression “OK” and it was attributed to Van Buren himself. It is believed to come from “Old Kinderhook,” which was one of the many nicknames for Van Buren. Wikipedia noted “The first recorded use of “OK” in the sense of approval dates back to 1839 when a newspaper referred to a Democratic meeting of “the roarers, the butt-enders, ringtails and OKs,”” adding, “the allusion was probably to those who put their OK on the nomination of Van Buren.”

Martin Van Buren is never found on any top lists of US Presidents. However most of the men who have acceded to the high office got there because they had some leadership skills. The skill demonstrated by Van Buren still resonate for today’s business leaders.


This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2017

In this episode, I have back James Koukios, a partner in the law firm of Morrison and Foerster. We review some of the top FCPA and international anti-corruption cases and issues which have occurred over the summer of 2017. The topics are based on the firm’s most excellent monthly newsletter Top Ten International Developments for Anti-Corruption, which is available at no charge on the firm’s website. In this podcast, we discuss topics from the following newsletters:

From the June newsletter 

  1. The Supreme Court decision in Kokesh-what does it mean for prosecutors, what does it mean for compliance practitioners and does it change the calculus around self-disclosure?
  2. DOJ Continues to Pursue “Declinations with Disgorgement.” What does this mean for companies going forward? Should it encourage or discourage self-disclosure?
  3. DOJ Files Forfeiture Complaint in connection with Alleged Malaysia Bribery Scheme. How does this tool relate to anti-corruption enforcement? Why is it such a powerful tool for prosecutors?

From the July newsletter

  1. The Halliburton FCPA enforcement action. What does it mean for the compliance practitioner?
  2. Three Long-Standing Corporate FCPA Investigations End without Charges. What can be learned from these cases about enforcement going forward?
  3. Dimitri Harder was sentenced to Five Years’ Imprisonment for FCPA Violations. What was the basis of the sentence? Do you see anything in this sentencing unusual?
  4. Was the Second Circuit decision in the FOREX trading case a setback for International Law Enforcement Cooperation? What is compelled testimony? What are the implications for international cooperation going forward?

From the August newsletter

  1. Following Undercover Investigation, DOJ Charges Retired U.S. Army Colonel with Conspiring to Bribe Haitian Officials. How do undercover operations work in the FCPA and what they might mean going forward?
  2. UK Financial Reporting Council Announces Plans to Require Increased Anti-Corruption and Bribery Disclosures. What does this mean for US companies doing business in the UK?

Check out the firm’s newsletter or better yet subscribe to it.

Jay and I return for a wide-ranging discussion on some of the top compliance and ethics related stories, including:

  1. Roy Shell considers whether compliance officers should be liked or respected. See his article on the SCCE Compliance and Ethics Blog.
  2. What is the intersection of sports, corruption and compliance? Jaclyn Jaeger explores in Compliance Week.
  3. The Alere FCPA enforcement action emphasized the convergence of rev rec and corruption. Richard Bistrong considers in the FCPA Blog.
  4. Bill Coffin asks who will be the next compliance hero, see his article in Compliance Week.
  5. Ireland requested a review by the European Court of Justice of the legality of contracts governing data transfers between Europe and the U.S. Ben DiPietro reports in the WSJ Risk and Compliance Report. Jonathan Armstrong reports from the UK perspective on the Cordery Compliance website.
  6. More chaos from the Trump Administration as Secretary of HHS Tom Price resigns. Matt Kelly reports on the ethical considerations in Radical Compliance.
  7. Proving once again that he is not a mere mortal, Jose Altuve hits 3 home runs in the first division playoff game, which the Astros win 8-2. He becomes only the 9th player in MLB history to do so. Stephanie Apstein reports in SI.com.
  8. Join Tom’s monthly podcast series on One Month to a More Effective Compliance Program. In October, I consider compliance with business ventures such as in the M&A context, joint ventures, distributors, channel ops partners, teaming agreements and all other manner of business venture. The second week I continue to take a deep dive in M&A and begin JVs under the FCPA. This month’s sponsor is the Volkov Law Group. It is available on the FCPA Compliance Report, iTunes, Libsyn, YouTube and JDSupra.
  9. Jay and I will be podcasting a live episode of This Week in FCPA from the SCCE 2017 Compliance and Ethics Institute, stay tuned for details on time.
  10. The Everything Compliance gang is back with Episode 19. Check in with the top roundtable podcast in compliance by clicking on Everything Compliance.
  11. Tom premiers an exciting new services offering the Doing Compliance Master Class.

The top compliance roundtable podcast is back with a wealth of new topics.

  1. Matt Kelly opens with a discussion of the Equifax data breach and its implications for the compliance profession.

For Matt Kelly’s posts on the Equifax data breach and cybersecurity, see the following:

Vendor, Cybersecurity Risk, Ugh

Clayton, Congress Talk Cybersecurity

  1. Jonathan Armstrong considers the Uber situation in London where it recently lost it license to do business from the regulator Transportation for London (TfL). He discusses a prior case that he handled which had similar issues.
  2. Jay Rosen considers the massive FBI undercover operation resulting in 10 arrests in college basketball for corruption regarding high school recruits.
  3. Tom Fox sits in for Mike Volkov, who is on assignment this week. He discusses the top FCPA enforcement action of all-time, the recently announced Telia enforcement action.

For Tom Fox’s posts on the Telia enforcement action, see the following:

The Telia FCPA Resolution, Part I – Introduction

The Telia FCPA Enforcement Action: Part II – The Bribery Schemes

The Telia FCPA Enforcement Action: Part III – The Individuals

Telia FCPA Enforcement Action: Part IV – Getting Some Monies Back

Telia FCPA Enforcement Action: Part V-Lessons Learned

The gang is back with rants which follow the discussions.

The members of the Everything Compliance panel include:

  • Jay Rosen– Jay is Vice President, Business Development Corporate Monitoring at Affiliated Monitors. Rosen can be reached at JRosen@affiliatedmonitors.com
  • Mike Volkov – One of the top FCPA commentators and practitioners around and the Chief Executive Officer of The Volkov Law Group, LLC. Volkov can be reached at mvolkov@volkovlawgroup.com.
  • Matt Kelly – Founder and CEO of Radical Compliance, is the former Editor of Compliance Week. Kelly can be reached at mkelly@radicalcompliance.com
  • Jonathan Armstrong – Rounding out the panel is our UK colleague, who is an experienced lawyer with Cordery in London. Armstrong can be reached at armstrong@corderycompliance.com

Count Dracula is one of the four classic Universal Pictures movie monsters from the 1930s; including the Wolfman, the Mummy and Frankenstein’s Monster. What sets him apart from these other three? In particular what is the Dracula brand? Is it fanged teeth and a black cape? Is it the signature Bela Lugosi voice? Is it a bat? In this episode, Richard Lummis and I explore branding for business leaders and discuss the lessons a 21st century business leader can learn from a 1930s movie character.