Some listeners may find the topics and language used in this episode difficult to listen to. Listener/Viewer discretion is advised.
In this episode, Brian Beckcom speaks with former Tarrant County prosecutor Jake Banks about his involvement in an international drug-smuggling conspiracy, his imprisonment abroad, and his path to redemption.
Jake Banks tried 45 criminal trials in his first year as a prosecutor and won every single case except his first case.
Next thing he knew, Jake was imprisoned in solitary confinement 23 hours a day in a prison in France. After spending two years in solitary confinement, Jake overcame his self-destructive nature and found personal and professional success.
Jake then wrote and published “Lawyer X,” a story about the many missteps that landed him in a foreign prison and his road towards redemption.
This is a story about how money can indeed be the root of all evil, and it is also a story about how a human being can redeem himself even after hitting absolutely rock bottom.
Watch this episode on YouTube
Brian and Jake discuss:
- Jake’s time in the A&M Corps of Cadets as a member of the fish drill team where he learned the value of perseverance
- The Ranger Challenge: Where Jake was one of only two students who was chosen to undergo an intense military simulation of Army Ranger training
- Why Jake chose to practice law and his successful first year as a prosecutor in Tarrant county
- What compelled Jake to take part in an international drug-smuggling conspiracy
- Jake’s book: “Lawyer X”
- The many mistakes that ultimately lead to Jake’s imprisonment
- What it was like being a prisoner in a foreign country
- How Jake survived two years of solitary confinement and his lowest point in prison
- How Jake was able to rebuild his life after his imprisonment abroad
- The failures of America’s War on Drugs and its impact on society
- The Industrial Prison Complex and the disproportionate harm that it’s done in communities of color
- Regrets, learned lessons, and redemption
- And other topics
Jake Banks is originally from Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Texas A&M before attending and graduating from law school. Jake then became a successful prosecutor for Tarrant County. His success as a prosecutor was short-lived after he decided to participate in an international drug-smuggling conspiracy that landed him in a French prison for two years. After his release, Jake authored “Lawyer X,” a book about the many missteps that landed him in a foreign prison and his road towards redemption. Today, Jake is the founder and owner of his own law firm, The Jake Banks firm. He currently resides in New Braunfels, Texas, where he focuses on being the best father he can be to his two children. Jake’s own actions took him into the most bottomless well imaginable. His resilience and mental flexibility allowed him to climb his way out and find success and happiness.
Read the show notes!
Brian Beckcom: Welcome to the Lessons from Leaders Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Beckcom.
Hey, before we get into the next episode, please do me a favor. Like, rate, share the podcast, if you like it, on YouTube and your other podcatchers, your favorite podcasting apps. The reason I ask you to do that is because the algorithms that run the various podcasting apps and YouTube and things like that, they really like it when people subscribe and rate and share episodes. So, if you like what we're doing here, I'm not getting paid for this. The guests are not getting paid for this. But if you like what we're doing, and if you like what you hear from the podcast, then I would really, really appreciate it.
My next episode, before we get started, I have to tell you contains a lot of very profane language and a lot of very, very difficult topics. So, if you're offended by bad language, then don't listen to this one because my guest and I talk about some very, very difficult subjects in a very, very frank way.
So, with that warning, my next guest is Lawyer X, Jake Banks. Jake is originally from Dallas. He went to Texas A&M. He was in the Corps of Cadets where he was an outstanding cadet, including being a member of the Fish Drill Team. Jake also was one of two people that got into an Army Ranger class at Texas A&M.
After college, Jake went to law school. He graduated from law school and became a prosecutor in Tarrant County where he prosecuted 45 trials, 45 cases in his first year, which is phenomenal. And he won every single one except for the first one. 44 straight wins. And then he spent the next two years in solitary confinement in a French prison.
He wrote a book about his experience called Lawyer X and the very first sentence of the book is, “I knew when the 50,000 ecstasy pills showed up, we were fucked.” This is an absolutely riveting story. It's a story that absolutely will be a movie at some point. It's a story about bad decisions. It's a story about redemption. It's a story about lessons learned. And it's a story about evaluating the fundamental underlying principles that we have about the drug war and whether the drug war is a good idea.
Many of you that listen to podcasts know that I think the drug war is one of the dumbest public policy ideas we've ever had in our country's history. And I think ending the drug war would solve a lot of issues, including race relation issues, immigration issues, police brutality issues. And on top of that, I think we're never going to win the dang thing anyway.
So, we have a very candid conversation about Jake's experience as a drug smuggler. His experience in France in solitary confinement. What it took for him to make it through two years of solitary confinement. How he put his life back together when he came back from France. And a lot of other things.
This is a super, super cool episode. We went for almost two hours and probably could have gone another hour or two. Jake is a really smart guy. He is a hard-charging guy. He's the kind of guy that if you're in a foxhole, he's a first one you want there with you. This was an absolutely fascinating interview conversation and we hit a lot of topics. I know you're going to love this one.
And now I give you Jacob Banks.
Brian Beckcom: Hey everybody. Brian Beckcom. And I have got La American Lawyer X, Jake Banks.
Jake, what the fuck were you thinking, dude? Seriously. What were you thinking, man?
Jake Banks: The only thing I was thinking about was money. That's it. The only fucking thing I was thinking was money. And it couldn't be a better story on how blind greed can make you. Just to do and everything that I knew was wrong. To lie to all the people that I loved just to take a promising career and put it in the crapper for dollar bills. That's what it was all about.
Brian Beckcom: Well, Jake, we've known each other for a long time. I think I'm – I’m 47. I've known you over half my life and I had never read your book until this weekend. And I gotta tell you, man. It is, you know, I knew generally the story about what happened to you in France. But I did not know the details of it. And it is absolutely scintillating.
Like, I'm reading the book. And I'm thinking, why isn't this a movie already? I would watch the shit out of a movie like this. So, I want to talk a lot about your book, your experiences in France, what it was like being in prison in a foreign country where you didn't speak the language, and all that stuff. But before we get into that, how you doing, man?
Jake Banks: I'm good, dude. Over here in New Braunfels, Texas, just living life. Got the kids, they keep me busy.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. Three kids, now? Four kids?
Jake Banks: Got three kids. Two teenage boys. Love fishing, love being outside, love the river. Baby girl is the princess that’s running the whole show. She's nine. She'll be 10 in a month.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, dude, I got two boys. I got two teenage boys and a 12-year-old girl. So, we kinda got the same thing. How's it been with your kids and wife and family during the pandemic and all the unrest we've had lately? How have you guys been getting on?
Jake Banks: So, I went through a divorce during the pandemic, which was doubly tricky. You leave one family – or, not family. You leave a wife or, you know, a girlfriend. Not a girlfriend. You leave your wife to just be on your own. And the social scene was nonexistent. So, it was difficult, extremely difficult as far as trying to go out and not be miserable by yourself. Trying to go out and, you know, have some fun or take your mind off things. It was really difficult because everything's shut down and there is no social life, I guess, right now, to speak.
But we're coming out of that. Some things are opening back up and opportunities are presenting themselves as far as just having some fun and getting out and doing stuff and not being stuck at home.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. You know, there's a great saying. I forget who said this, and I'm going to probably mess it up a little bit so, I'm paraphrasing, but most of the problems of the world are created by the inability of man to sit in a room by himself for 20 minutes. In other words, I find that when I run out of things to do, run out of things to distract me, that's when I tend to get into trouble and do stupid things.
You know, I was telling somebody the other day, I said, “I don't know whether to be proud of this or not proud of this, but I think I drank wine every single freaking night for four months of the pandemic.” And my schedule had totally changed. And so, my wife and I are staying up till 2:00 AM watching streaming movies on Netflix, getting up at 10 o'clock. I mean, it was just like Groundhog Day.
I finally got to the point a couple of weeks ago, I was like, “Dude, I got to get some sort of schedule. This is not good.” So, being alone, I mean, you gotta be really careful about your mind going in the wrong direction. So, what do you think about that, man?
Jake Banks: Yeah. I mean, it's funny you bring that up because it's not dissimilar to being in prison.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, absolutely.
Jake Banks: You know, you go and I think this was the hardest thing for, like you said at the beginning, to go and sit by yourself for 20 minutes. To go and be alone in a room by yourself, to be comfortable with yourself for a period time. So, you can put everything else out of your mind and you can just look at yourself in the mirror. You can know who you are. You can be comfortable being by yourself.
That's difficult for a lot of people because there's so many distractions now where you can go and do this. You can watch that. You can – there’s TikToc. You can do whatever you want all the time, 24/7, that to sit and get to know yourself and to be comfortable with yourself is a foreign concept. And it's difficult for a lot of people. And you feel like, “Oh, I got to get up and I got to do this. I got to produce. I got to XYZ.” And the reality is, you got to get your own shit together first.
I know this title of this podcast is Lessons in Leadership, right? So, to be able to lead, you gotta lead yourself first, right? You have to be your own leader. And that is, “I'm going to set this goal and do this thing. I'm going to lose pounds. I'm going to read this – I'm going to do whatever it is to get in the position so that I'm competent to lead somebody else. If I can't lead myself then who else is going to trust me? Who else is going to follow me?”
So, part of that is being alone. Being in solitude. Understanding what you are, who you are, and how you deal with things. And for me, I understand I got a short temper on a few different things. On several different things. And I understand, like, these are my – this is where I need to work. This is what I need to work on. I'm good on this stuff and that stuff, but these issues, I've got to sit down and work on this before I can go tell my kids, “Hey, this is how you solve conflict.” Before I can teach them how to do these other things. I got to get it up straight for myself first.
I think being alone and dealing with those issues and understanding, having the conscious to do it. Not just being unconscious, going through your day all the time, but being conscious about where you fail. Because we fail every day in something, and we succeed every day in a lot of things. And so, trying to make up for those shortcomings and understanding what they are makes you a better person. This is the path to leadership so you can do something for other people.
So, put that with sitting in a jail cell, it was like, “I'm the worst fucking human being on the goddamn planet. I can't lead myself to the crapper cause I can't do shit here. I’m totally reliant on somebody else to help me to do something. What is the one thing that I can do here is to stay sane. Is to not go nuts.”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, which is, you know, there's a reason that one of the things they do when they want to extract information from terrorists and stuff, is they put them in solitary confinement because most people are not used to that. That is torture to most people.
And I got to tell you, Jake, you know, 10 plus years ago, I started having a problem with panic attacks. It came out of nowhere and I was, like, looking for things to solve these panic attacks and I found meditation. And I tell you, when I first started meditating, I was meditating for five minutes at a time, just sitting there for five minutes. And it seemed like an eternity. Like, my brain. I couldn't believe how my brain would just – it wouldn't shut the fuck up. I was like, “How do I stop this?”
And what I finally figured out was it will never shut up. Like, it's always going to be chattering cause that's what your brain does. But when you meditate and there's other things you can do, obviously, you get a little bit of distance between your thoughts. In other words, you realize, like, I think what you just said right there is a perfect example. You were telling yourself, “I'm the worst motherfucker in the world. I can't believe I did this.” That was the story you were telling yourself.
When you meditate, you figure out that that's just brainwaves. That's not real. That's just a narrative you're telling yourself in your head. And so, you know, Jake, you've got -- one of the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast. Well, first of all, you're a great dude and you've got a great story, man. But the other reason is, is because you have overcome some of the most difficult challenges a human being could possibly face.
And I'm not just talking about the time in prison. I'm also talking about all the associated shame and all the feeling about, “Oh, I let my family down and I let my friends down,” and you've overcome that. And so, I want to talk about that quite a bit, but before we do, why don't you tell everybody a little bit about where you come from, where you grew up, a little bit about your background so they can get to know you a little bit better.
Jake Banks: Sure. Yeah. Jacob Banks is my name, no middle name. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Fourth generation Dallasite. Was president of my high school. Started leadership early. I think that's probably the only thing that got me into A&M. That fact, and that I wanted to join the Flight Texas A&M Cadet Corps. I mean, I don't think I could get into A&M now.
But, you know, I wish I could say that going to prison was a one-off thing that was such a shock to everybody. But the truth of the matter is, I got in trouble in high school. I got arrested in high school. Did this in high school. I'd always been a dichotomy of, “Stop being such a wild ass fuckhead and live up to your potential.” So, get in trouble and then come back and do something good. Flip flopping back and forth every time between what I know is right, and just the instinct to be a wild ass and difficult to get over or to drive through.
And, get to A&M. Cadet Corps was incredible. It really gave me a sense, maybe not a purpose, but, like, being around a bunch of other dudes that I felt, I really – these are my guys. You know? These are people that are like me. They think like me. They act like me. In fact, I want to be like them. I look up to these guys that are my friends around me because they don't have this desire to go out and self-destruct. I need to pick up on these things. They’re a good role model in this way. So, I loved it. And these guys are still my best friends to this day.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. You know, it's the same way for me, Jake. I mean, when I joined Corps and I saw Jim Wells the first time as a Fish Drill Team commander, I was like, “That's who I want to be. That guy is a fricking badass. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s a good athlete.”
I could list off 20 or 30 guys like that that I still look up to. As a matter of fact, I had a 30-minute conversation with him two nights ago to ask about you. And I said, right when I called him, I said, “You know, Jim, my dad used to tell” – my dad was in the Corps, too, and my dad used to tell me, he goes, “Man, I'm still a little intimidated by my upperclassmen.” And I called Jim. I go, “Dude, I'm still a little intimidated by you, man. I don't think that'll ever go away.”
Brian Beckcom: But you get in the Corps of Cadets and, you know, you have a father who was a very, very prominent lawyer in Dallas. Right? So, you got to see, kind of, your dad practice law and that lifestyle. What was that like? Or what kind of influence do you think that had on you?
Jake Banks: Oh, it was incredible. I mean, starting at a young age, I guess, my sister and I were rambunctious and, for example, one day he came home and there was a hole on the door of the bathroom. And he's like, “Who did this?” And I said to him, you know, “I don't know. I don't know.” You get cross examined by the chief felony prosecutor of Dallas County, you know, you’re gonna break a 10-year-old. You’re gonna break an 11-yer-old. Or, you know, like, “I can’t answer. You got me.”
So, you know, this is growing up. You never got away with anything because he was too smart. He did this for a living. And so, the cases that he would talk about as a prosecutor were always super interesting and it was always something I thought I wanted to do. And then as he became a defense attorney, he was a top guy. I mean, he was on the speed dial for the Cowboys. And so to see him go from a position of, you know, putting all these scumbags and bad people on death row to then coming back and living in the limelight on all these high profile cases was exciting. It's like, “Wow, I want to do that.”
Brian Beckcom: Didn't your dad represent Michael Irvin or at least he knew Michael Irvin at one point?
Jake Banks: That's a whole nother story. It's a funny -- but he told Michael Irvin, Irvin came to him and said, “I want you to be my lawyer, duh, duh, duh.” And dad said, “Okay, you're going to do this, you’re gonna do that, the other,” and Irvin says, “No, I'm going to do it this way,” and dad was like, “Look, I don't tell you how to go run routes and catch your passes, but do it my way or you can go hire somebody else.” And he was like, “Well, no.” So, said, “See you later,” and ended up getting the horrible deal, got suspended, fined, all this other kind of stuff. And if he had stuck with Jerry Banks, he probably would have gotten a slap on the wrist.
Brian Beckcom: And so, for folks that are listening that don't know Jerry Banks, I mean, he was so prominent that when a guy like Michael Irvin calls, and Michael Irvin's the kind of guy that might have some repeat business based on his history. Plus, he's a super prominent athlete, obviously. Jake's dad had enough business and was prominent enough to say, “Look, if you don't want to do it the way I do it, then you can go find somebody else.” And that's a pretty big deal for a lawyer to do. I mean, that says a lot about how prominent your father was in the legal community in Dallas.
Jake Banks: Yeah, definitely. I mean, he was top shit. And so, I thought, “Wow, this would be great. I wanna follow in his footsteps.” Or, “This lifestyle or what he's doing is so interesting to me that, man, I want to – this is a life goal.” Not to do what he does, but to be in that position, be in that profession that can allow you to achieve those kinds of things if you're good enough.
You know, so that was super exciting for me. And I tried to do that and started at the DA's office in Fort Worth after law school and tried a shitload of cases. I wasn't interested in being, you know, pushing paper in the office. I was in court every single day.
Brian Beckcom: Forty-five cases in your first year. And you won every single one except for the first one, right?
Jake Banks: Except for the first one. It pissed me off so bad, I realized, like, it is a competition and it's hard to describe it that way because it's an adversarial position. I didn't go home with a trophy. You know. The loss is, if you lose a case as a prosecutor, you either didn't prepare or you didn't analyze the case correctly, or you did something wrong in trial or something came up that you should have known about because if prosecution takes the case to trial, you should win because you are putting somebody’s liberty at risk and you should be 100,000,000% certain that you've got the facts and the case to prove that and to convince a group of jurors to do that. So, I didn't make that mistake again.
A&M Corps of Cadets
Brian Beckcom: Before we talk about your career as a prosecutor and the experiences that you write about in Lawyer X, I want to talk a little bit about your experience in the Corps Cadets at A&M because I think your experience, while a lot of us had a great experience, you had somewhat of a unique experience because you were on the Fish Drill Team. And at the time that you were at A&M, the Fish Drill Team was the baddest of the bad asses. I mean, the baddest dudes at A&M. Mainly dudes. I don't think there were any girls on the Fish Drill Team back when we were there. But, I mean, truly the baddest of the bad.
And, like, I was talking to a mutual friend of ours, Todd Cerealia [19:20], the other day about you. And he goes, “Man, I remember Jake would” – so, there used to be a deal where you'd make people, like, run about 500 yards to go touch a building and run back. It was like a way of disciplining. And Todd was like, “Yeah, Jake told me to run and touch Helden Belts.” And I was like, “What the fuck? That's on the opposite side of campus.”
So, he, like, ran and what Todd said – what he loved about you is he ran literally all the way across campus, touched the building, turns around, and you're running with him. And so, he said, “The thing I've always loved about Jake is, yeah, he was crazy. And he would discipline you in crazy, crazy ways .But I never felt like he ever asked me to do something that he wouldn't do himself.” That to me is a fundamental principle of leadership.
So talk a little bit about your experience on the Fish Drill Team, because you truly, at least my impression is, you really got into the physical part of the Fish Drill Team.
Jake Banks: Yeah. I mean, it was a totally different deal back then. And I think if you compare any basic day that we had practicing on the drill team as advisors, or even as Fish, to nowadays, it would be a series of felony activity. No doubt. I mean, hazing. Beating. All these kinds of things that the whole purpose of the thing was to make people quit.
And it wasn't that these were the baddest asses in the cadets. It was just we were all masochists. We were like, “I'm in this. I signed up. There's something in me that won't let me quit. I signed up. I said I was going to do it. And so. I'm going to do it. Unless I die or get kicked off or don't make grades, I'm going to be here.” And that's what the drill team is made up of.
You've got guys out there that weren't, you know, super human stud athletes, not buff dudes, but just would not ever fucking quit. That's what they were looking for. And that was the whole purpose of the drill team. It wasn't about going out there and marching and spinning a weapon. It was, “How much abuse can you take? How much abuse can you take? Because we're going to beat the shit out of you every day until you quit. And if you don't quit, here's this little piece of ribbon you get to wear on your uniform.” That's what it's all about.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. But the point is, like, so my dad – probably the best, maybe the best life lesson I've ever had in my life. The day I left college, my dad bought me a book called Don't Quit. And the cover of the book was, you know, it’s a bunch of pictures of different sporting events where people could have quit in the middle of a game or a race or whatever, and they didn’t. And I did my dad inscribed in the front of the book. I still have it, as a matter of fact, it’s about five feet away from me. And basically it says, “Don't quit. Persistence wins. I know you've learned this lesson. Don't forget it.”
And so, my dad drilled that into my head to the point where there was just no way I would quit the Corps. There was no way I quit the basketball team. There was no way I would quit the RVs [22:20]. That just was not something that would even enter my mind as much as it might fucking suck at certain times, right?
And so,, I was thinking about, like, if the entire world collapses and it's complete and total anarchy, I think if I could choose any one of my friends to be with me by my side during that sort of thing, it would be Jake Banks. Because you have that mentality. Seriously, dude, you have that mentality that there is absolutely nothing, nothing that would have made you quit the drill team.
Jake Banks: I appreciate that. And you know what, the fucked up thing about that is that, man, there were so many days I wanted to.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. Me, too.
Jake Banks: So many days. How many times as a Fish where you're busting ass across the quad, you get to class and you stink and your uniform’s all sweated out and all the good looking girls in class are like, “Get away from me.” And then you look over and you see some frat daddies that roll into class, hungover because they've been out partying with sororities. And you’re like, “Hey, what the fuck am I doing? What am I doing?”
Brian Beckcom: “This is crazy.” Yeah.
Jake Banks: “I'm wasting it. I'm wasting my youth. I'm messing up. And why am I going to practice every day when I get jacked in the kidney so much that I come back and piss blood for an hour. Why am I doing this?” And what is it? I told myself I was going to do it. I told myself I was going to do it. And that means I'm going to do it
Brian Beckcom: And that's it. That's it.
Jake Banks: That is really it. And it seems like – just last night, my son called and said, “Hey, are we going fishing today?” I said, “Did I tell you we're going to go fishing today?” And he’s like, “Yes.” I said, “Then why are you asking me if we’re going fishing today? I told you we were. It's written in stone.”
And I really want to convey this to my kids and I want them to understand this, that you tell somebody you’re going to do something, if you tell yourself you’re going to do something, then you do it. But be careful what you tell people you're going to do and be careful what you tell yourself you're going to do. Don't over promise yourself. Don't over promise other people. Because you're a schmuck if you can't come through. You're a flake. And nobody likes that guy. Nobody wants that guy in their foxhole. Nobody wants that guy on their team. So, deliver. Make your promises and deliver.
Brian Beckcom: And, you know, Jake. So, one of the things that you mentioned there, which I think is a really good – another good lesson is, it's not like guys like you didn't think about quitting. I thought about quitting the Corps a couple of times.
I mean, I played on the basketball team my first year and was hanging out with the athletes and going to the tap every night and having a great time. And when you’re an athlete, let's just say you have maybe somewhat of an advantage when it comes to the social scene in a little way. And so, I had really lived it up my first year. I had a really good time. Then all of a sudden, I'm shaving my head and getting in the Corps with a bunch of dipshits that I'm a year older than. And I'm like, “Who are these motherfuckers?” These guys hadn't done anything.
And then, you know, fast forward four months later, and these guys all end up being some of my best friends. But I, you know, I called my dad a couple of times. I'm like, “This is bullshit. I don't want to do this anymore.” And my dad, my freshman year, my dad's like, “Just finish the semester. Just finish the damn semester.”
And so that's what I tell people. Like, when they joined the Corps. Young kids now, I'm like, “Just finish your freshmen year. That's all you gotta do. Once you do that, everything will be good.” But the point of it is, Jake, it's not like you didn't think about quitting. It's not like I didn't think about quitting.
Toughness is not about being stupid. Toughness is about not quitting even if – in other words, think about it this way. If it's easy and you don't feel like quitting, sticking it out ain't tough. It's tough when you don't want to do it. It's toughness when it's hard. It's toughness when you want to quit that. I mean, it's just like courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is being scared shitless and doing it anyway. Right?
Jake Banks: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's not a marathon. I mean, it's not a sprint, you know. It's one foot after the other. You go to the next class. Finish this semester. One more day, one more step. Don't fall out. Do the best you can. Go until you pass it. I mean, these are all things that we talk about and say, “Yeah.”
They're not just stories. These are real life things that you do until it's done. And that's it. I mean, it's pretty simple. It's simple to say, it's hard to do.
Brian Beckcom: Hey, Brian Beckcom here. If you like the Lessons from Leaders podcast, do me a big favor. Go to YouTube and subscribe, or if you listen to it on your podcatchers, subscribe to it on your podcatchers. Rate it if you can, like it, and share it.
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Brian Beckcom: Well, and I was talking to a good friend of ours, Lieutenant Colonel Toby Flinn, last night. And we were talking about some stuff, and one of the things I was talking about was I'm searching for simple principles to live my life by. Like, that's my current project. And one of those principles is, “Don't lie.” The other one is, “Don't quit.”
And some of this, like you're saying, it sounds like that's kind of obvious and, you know, that's not any sort of big insight or anything like that, but guess what? I think it's the simple shit that is the stuff that has lasted forever. The reason that people hear that all the time is cause it fucking works. I mean, not quitting, being honest, being loyal, stuff like that. Those fundamental principles are fundamental principles and have been for hundreds of years for a reason. Because they work. Right?
Jake Banks: For sure. And there's been times, you know, like when you called your dad, you wanted to quit or, hell, I probably did the same thing and probably got the same advice. But there are people in our lives that give us that motivation to say, “Hey, man. One more day. One more step. One more mile. One more year.” Whatever it is
Brian Beckcom: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jake Banks: They’ll give you that pat on the back and to think you go through life and generate your own mortality or you generate your own enthusiasm about life. No, it's probably not true because you've got all these people that have your back that are saying, “Go for it,” you know? At the finish line clapping, “Come on, come on, finish strong.”
This is your friends. This is your family. These are the people you rely on to get you through those times where you do want to quit and not talk you out of it, but give you a check. “Hey, that's not you, dude. You're not a quitter. Keep it going.” And you're like, “Yeah, man. You're right. I'm not a quitter.”
Brian Beckcom: Persistence. Persistence wins. I remember my first A&M basketball game. We played an exhibition against Marathon Oil. Although I didn't get to play at all in the game, we got back afterwards and one of the assistant coaches comes down and he says, “All right, everybody divide up into position groups so we can go watch the film.” And I turned one of my buddies, Damon Johnson. I go, “Hey, this'll be the second time I get to watch the game.” One of the assistants overheard, he goes, “What'd you say? Get your ass up.” And so, I had to go meet with the head coach. He goes, “What'd you say?” And I told him. He goes, “That kind of attitude, you'll never play in another fucking game again.” He was trying to get me quit to quit. Guess what? I played in the next game. Because I wouldn't quit.
And so the other thing, Jake, is just, cause I want people to get a flavor of what you were like in college and what you were like in law school, so they can understand, like, how you got through the experience that you got through in France. And so the other thing, like in college, I think if I'm remembering correctly, you were part of a ranger school, an Army Ranger training, where there was something like 60 or 70 people tried out and there was only two slots and you were one of the ones that had gotten it. And you had no experience in the military at all before that, which is hilarious. So, tell us a little bit about the Army Rangers stuff.
Jake Banks: So, it was a deal called Ranger Challenge and a good friend of mine, Jim Welsh, was on it as well. And another guy, John Donnelley, was the leader, and basically what it was was cadets that undergo and do or attempt to simulate ranger training while taking a full load of class. And so, the first day – it was similar to the drill team, right? The first day on the drill team, 300 people come out and by the end of the year, there's 30 of us, right? Well, the 30 that either made grades and took the abuse and stuck around.
The Ranger Challenge thing was a little bit different. It was physical. “Hey, if you can't run this fast, see ya. If you can't do this many pushups, see ya. If you can't tie this knot and shoot this gun, or throw this, whatever,” it was, “Learn how to do it.”
So, we came from a wing unit, which was all about the Air Force, and this was an Army deal. And I didn't know shit about anything. All I knew was, like, “That looks cool. I want to do that. How do I do it?” “Well, you gotta do this, this, and this.” So, it was a crash course in, like, “ow can I get into this as fast as I can and then become useful to the team to where they don't want to kick me off?”
So, yeah, it was another deal where all these people came out and then when it was over, there was eight of us left. And we went on and did all this kick ass stuff and competed and were hardcore and hard charging and all these kinds of different things.
Brian Beckcom: Did you ever think about taking a military contract?
Jake Banks: Yeah, I did. I did. I went to airborne school and I blew out my knee after snow skiing junior year. So, I went to airborne school with a messed up knee, but then got medically disqualified. Thought about going into the Marines and then just said, “Well, fuck it. I'd rather go practice law. A lot of the same abuse.
But, yeah. For a long time, I did. And even nowadays I think, “Oh man, maybe I missed my calling. Maybe I should've done that.” But then again, I think, you know, I made some major, major mistakes. Like, thank God I wasn't in charge of a platoon of men and had some fucking dumbass idea that got everybody killed.
Like my foray into France. At least it was just me that paid the price for that. I didn’t take down a whole fucking company. So, kind of thinking as far as, you know, you can do some good – it was like this. When we were going for senior – at the end of our junior year, we would go in front of the core staff. Or, not the core staff, but the trigon to see who was going to be the commanding officer.
The underclassman went out there, they were like, “Yeah, we want Jake to be our CO.” And the officers of the trigon were like, “Hey, all your under underclassmen want you to do it, but you know what? We don't think you're mature enough. We think you would either lead them to victory or straight off a fucking cliff. We just don’t know. We don't know about it. It could be either one. You could win the medal of honor, or you could get everybody killed. And so we're not going to take that chance with you.”
And I get it now. It's true. This is part of my personality. This is part of someone with a personality that doesn't understand or recognize or feel what is dangerous as opposed to excitement. Those two kind of overlap for me. And so when you're dealing with yourself, you only put yourself at risk, but when you're taking care of everybody else, well, shit, that's a whole different story.
Brian Beckcom: I think those trigon guys were actually pretty smart, not choosing you, for the exact reasons you said, you know? And looking back on it at the time, we would have been like, “These guys, these” – so, for people that don't know anything about the Corps of Cadets, to trigon is where the active duty military officers – It's a building, but it's where – and they’re in charge of the Corps. And these are not Corps Cadets people. These are active duty military officers.
But back then, you know, I was – I'd be sitting there thinking, you know, “These guys are a bunch of dumbasses for not making Jake Banks the commanding officer's outfit. He's a badass.” But looking back on it, they're a little smarter than maybe we realized, right?
Jake Banks: Yeah, yeah. I mean, this isn't an even keel, and I'm not on an even keel, you know? And these are the kind of guys you want to lead other guys in that particular setting. Right? So, yeah. If you're a Delta Force Operator, you got to have a different mindset on this other stuff. If you're in the tank maintenance battalion, you gotta have a different mindset. You know?
Jake Banks: So, trying to figure out where my brain and my attitude and my minutia [35:14] fits law. You know, I can be as big of a dick as I want to other people. And honestly, that helps me. When I engage with opposing counsel that we can't come to agreement on certain things, they're like, “You know what? You're such a dick. I'm so tired of fucking with you. Just get out of my face. Take what you want. Thank you very much.” I do that every day. It's part of my personality. It probably is part of what helps my clients get what I want. So, I'm going to use it. So. Perhaps I've found what I'm supposed to be doing.
Brian Beckcom: I love that. I love that story because I'm kind of the same way as a lawyer. I think I have a little bit of reputation amongst the defense bar of being somewhat unpredictable. I'll put it that way. Like, they think I'm a little nuts and you know what? I cultivate that. I want them to think that.
And you know why I think they think I'm nuts? One of the reasons is cause I fucking fight my ass off for my clients and I'm not there to make friends with some dipshit who's representing an insurance company that will never even talk to the guy. Like, I'm representing human beings like you are. And so, you're damn right I'm going to be unpredictable. You're damn – I'm not there to be your friend. I'm sorry.
Now, you know, of course I'm friends with lawyers I practice with. There's a lot of really, really good defense lawyers. But my objective is not to walk out of a case and be buddies with the defense lawyer. My objective is to kick your fucking ass in the ground and get my client the best deal I can get, the most money I can get. Or, in your case, you know, whatever the best deal is. Right?
Jake Banks: I agree with you 100,000,000%. I'm not there to make friends. We're going to go in there and we're going to kick each other's ass during the trial and when it's over, shake hands and go have a beer. Hey, that's fine.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: But, when it's on, it's a fucking war. It's a damn knife fight. And let's have it. I'm not there – I'm going to use every trick I can. I'm going to use everything in my domain to win because that's what my clients asked me to do. And that's what I'm obligated to do for them.
Brian Beckcom: So, Jake, I think I developed that attitude playing basketball as a 6’2” – I was a pretty good athlete, but I wasn't nearly as tall and I only weighed about 185 pounds at the time. Not much fatter. But I, you know, I was guarding guys that were 6’4”, 6’5”, big strong dudes.
And if I was a – I almost said a word. If I was a wimp about it, I would've gotten my ass kicked left and right. And so I developed this attitude that when I stepped on the court, I didn't care how big or tall you were, I was coming to kick your fucking teeth in. Like, I was coming to beat you. And you might beat me, but you're going to have to bust your goddamn ass to do anything for me.
And so, that's my same attitude in the courtroom now. I mean, I'm nice and professional, but if you made me go down to trial and we're in court, I'm not there to talk to you. I'm not there to have coffee with you afterwards. I'm there to kick your ass. That's it. I'm there to fight for my client.
And so, where do you think you developed – I developed that, I think, mainly from basketball and sports. Where do you think you'd developed your mentality as far as that goes?
Jake Banks I think I was just born a dick.
Brian Beckcom: Best answer ever.
Jake Banks: I think, you know, growing up, I remember a couple of things growing up. And my parents got divorced. My dad raised me. He was a combat Marine. And I think his mentality was, “Yeah. You know, I'm going to raise you to be a man. I'm not going to raise you to be a wimp.” And this was his idea of how to do it, as much as his father's idea of how to raise my dad was to do that as well. How do you develop your boy into a man?
And granted those things are so, so much different nowadays than they were back then. And were 50 years or a hundred whatever years ago. But, one day I was getting a spanking and I was, had done something. I was so in troubled. And I remember my dad said, “Today you've graduated from a spanking to an ass beating.” And I thought, “Oh, shit, I am really, really in trouble.” And so, I took it. And I didn't cry. And at every time before that, I had cried. I would, “Stop doing it,” jumping around on the bed, “No, stop, stop, stop.” And I just took it and took it and took it. And it was over. I turned around. I was like, “Is that all you got?”
Brian Beckcom: Wrong question to ask your dad.
Jake Banks: That’ll do it. I never got another lick after that.
Brian Beckcom: Nice.
Jake Banks: But the point was, it was so painful. I didn't even want him to know that it hurt. I wasn't gonna be hurt. I wasn't going to have this physical pain and let somebody else see or know that it hurt me, or that it made me weak or something like that.
So, maybe that developed some fighting spirit. I don't know. But it's probably genetic. It's probably some sports growing up as a kid, not wanting to lose. Wanting to win. Yeah, those kind of things like that. As far as just bearing down inside and using that energy of pain or suffering or angst or disappointment and not crying about it and not bitching about it, but just bearing it and keeping it. And when you need it, uncork that shit and let it fly. Anybody close to you, watch the fuck out.
Brian Beckcom: Yup. And you, I tell people, I've talked to my dad about this a little bit. One of the reasons I think I developed kind of the mentality I did, in addition to sports is my mother died when I was 10. And so, I had this kind of conscious idea that I was going to show everybody that a person that was raised by a single father could be successful. And so, I had a chip on my shoulder.
And I was, you know, and I tell my dad, I said, “I have a little bit of, I don't know if dark side is the right word, but I have a little bit of an anger side.” Might be that I'm half Irish, but there are certain things that like, I mean, if somebody were to mess with a friend of mine or one of my family members, I would snap and I would lose it. And it's happened before to me a couple of times, and I'm not proud of it. But it happens, you know, and it's just part of your personality. And it's neither good nor bad, I don't think, as long as you are aware of it. Cause if you're aware of it, then you can take steps to control it. Right?
Jake Banks: Exactly. Exactly. And this is the meditation. This is the sitting in the room for five minutes or 20 minutes or an hour by yourself. And you realize, “Why do I lash out at this person when they did this? Well, it hurt me. What they did hurt my feelings. And so now I want to lash out.” Is that appropriate as a 47, almost 48-year-old man? Maybe. In some cases.
To my kids, to my family, to my friends. Yeah. I'm going to go full blast. Is it appropriate if somebody accidentally bumps into you on the street? Of course not. So, trying to get ahold of who you are and how you're going to react to adversity. It's something you either, you know, you either run away from, or you embrace, or you go after. So, you have very few options when it comes to it, really.
Brian Beckcom: And sometimes just reframing your perception a little bit can totally change the way you view things. So, like, four or five years ago, I was listening to some meditation something or other. Guy was talking about road rage and how people get pissed off and “This idiot is not driving fast and this person cut me off,” whatever. And I used to be just like everybody else. “Oh, that dumbass, what the fuck is he doing?”
Now, instead of thinking that, what I think is, “Maybe they're on the way to the hospital because something happened to their kid.” Or, “Maybe this is an older person, like my father, who’s just not as good of a driver,” and it has completely and totally changed the way I think about those things.
Jake Banks: Absolutely. I did the same thing. I was such a road rager and one day, I remember this super vividly. The person in front of me was going so slow. I was like, you know, banging on the dash, flipping the bird, and get up next to him to give him the evil stare. 80-year-old woman driving the car. And I’m like, “Jake, you fucking asshole.”
Brian Beckcom: “Way to go asshole.” Yeah.
Jake Banks: Yeah. “Way to go, dickhead,” you know? And she's doing the best she can driving, and you're like, “Am I a fucking total shit bag? Yes.” And so, what do I think now? When I get road rage or this, that, or the other, the point of that is I'm mad at somebody else for doing something in a way that I don't do it. It’s silly. I’m unhappy because you didn't do it the way I did it. It doesn't make any sense. It's immature to think that, right?
Brian Beckcom: No doubt.
Jake Banks: Some total stranger that's going south and I'm going north. I mean, it's just, it doesn't make any sense. But if you can sit down and analyze, “Why did I just get so mad about that? They made me mad cause they did it some way differently than I did it.” Okay. Do it however you want.
Brian Beckcom: And some of the time it’s just, and this is what I really work on, is some of the time you don't even think about it. It's just a reaction. It's just a habit of you just react in a certain way. And some of those habits are shitty habits. And so it's good, I think, to do some sort of training to kind of say, “All right, this reaction that I have to this situation is not a good one. And I need to figure out how to reframe that in some way.”
Law School and Working for the DA’s Office
Brian Beckcom: Well, Jake, so you go to the Corps Cadets, you graduate. You describe it in your book as, “I get into the only law school that would accept me.” I don't even think it was – it's now called the Texas A&M Law School. At the time it was Texas – listen, I don't even think it was certified at the time, was it?
Jake Banks: It had provisional accreditation. Which is, if you've got the money and a pulse, you can join.
Brian Beckcom: And now it's a, by the way, a much better law school. But it was relatively new.
Jake Banks: Yeah, it was brand new. It had been in service, like, maybe two or three years. They had provisional accreditation from the ABA, which means – the provisional accreditation was that if you graduate from here, you can sit for the bar and take and become a lawyer as opposed to a non-accredited law school, where if you graduated, you can't sit for the bar, you can't become a lawyer. So, it had the provisional accreditation, then I guess after my first year it was fully accredited. So, it was a new place. It was a startup. And then it got accredited and we went on from there.
Brian Beckcom: I think you'll agree. Tell me if you agree with this. I mean, Joe Jamail, one of the most famous plaintiff's lawyers of all time made a C in towards [45:35] at UT and the only reason he got into UT is because, at the time, if you went to undergrad, you would get into the law school. Now it's not like that.
But the point is, like, you didn't go to a great law school. You weren't the number one graduate of the law school. But you get out and go work for the district attorney and you're a kickass fucking prosecutor. And so I've never thought that there was any relationship really at all between being a good trial lawyer and making grades and being an egghead nerd at some Ivy league law school. As a matter of fact, there's nothing I like better then going against some Ivy league dipshit lawyer who thinks he's smarter than me and showing him, “Man, maybe you are smarter than me in some ways, but where it matters in court, you got no chance.”
So, you were a phenomenal prosecutor for a year and the way you put it in the book I think is really funny. You go, “I tried 45 cases my first year. I only lost the first one. And then I spent the next two years in a prison in France.”
So, tell us a little bit about what it was like being – cause I want to talk about, you’re a prosecutor. You're kicking ass. You're doing great. And then you start your own business. Tell us about that period of your life. What that was like.
Jake Banks: Yeah. So, I'd gone to the DA's and I had been an extern there at the DA, which is basically you go and work for free.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: And, you know, if it wasn't an internship it would be a paid position, but an externship and just went there, did everything I was told, sucked up, sponged up as much knowledge from it as I could. And the funny part was that I passed the bar with a – the cutoff for the bar exam is if you make under 675, you fail. I made it 690. A D+. D+. And they're like, “Yeah, well, Jake, we'll give you a chance. You know, you showed up for work every day as an extern.”
So anyway, I went there, and I try a case, try a case. And so it got to the point where it was so, I don't know, have you ever been shooting baskets and you’re just making free throw after free throw? You're just in the zone all the time. You feel like, “Oh, I'm supposed to be doing this. I could stand here and make these baskets forever.”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: Well, like that. I felt like I would walk into a courtroom. I didn't even have to read the case file. I just walk in there and try the case and get a guilty verdict because I could sense what the jurors were thinking. I could sense the judge. I could sense the case. I could judge the opposing counsel in 10 seconds. It was just an automatic almost kind of deal.
Brian Beckcom: Almost like this was what you were, what you'd been training to do your whole life. Like, I mean, you just took to it naturally, right?
Jake Banks: Yeah. It was kind of like, “Hey, you know, you're a natural at this. You're good. You can, you know. Pretty good.” And so, I enjoyed it. It was great. And after a year of doing cases and trying cases and getting all different kinds of prosecutors, defense attorneys, and going to get some good guys and really famous people and, “Shit, man, these guys are the real deal. I can do this. I'm spinning my wheels here at the DA's. They've taught me” – and this is how arrogant and just how much of an egomaniac I was. I think, “I've been here for a year. Y'all have taught me everything I need to know.”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. Right.
Jake Banks: I didn't try a felony case, I didn't go to the grand jury. I didn't do a lot of other things that prosecutors do before they go out and become defense attorneys so that they can know up and down what the prosecutor does. I thought, “This is all about trying cases. This is all about being in front of a jury. I got this. This shit's easy. Thanks for the experience. I’m going to go out here and kill it on my own.” And such a flawed way of thinking. But then again, trial lawyers are egomaniacs. You gotta be.
Brian Beckcom: You kinda gotta be. You gotta be, yeah,
Jake Banks: You gotta be a little bit. You gotta convince, or you've got to have the confidence that a defendant is going to come to you and think, “Oh, this is the guy that I want to go fight for me. This is the guy that's going to get me out of trouble. Or this is the guy that's going to go kick ass and do the best possible thing for my case.” And you tell him, “Yeah, absolutely. I'm the guy to do that for you.” So, there is, you know, some ego to it. There's a lot of ego to it. And the flip side of that is, you know, shit, man, sometimes it doesn't work out and you find yourself in a French prison.
Brian Beckcom: So maybe part of the issue is, and I want to hear not only about the story, but I want to hear what was going through your bald ass head during this time, dude. Like, maybe part of this was you had been so successful, you had been able to do – you'd taken a lot of risk in your life.
It would be the understatement of the year to say that you and I, and our circle of friends had a good time in college. I mean, that would be the understatement of the year. We did a lot of crazy stuff. Had a lot of fun. You are kicking ass as a prosecutor. Maybe one of the reasons you thought you could get away with this scheme of yours was you just got overconfident. You're just too damn cocky. You just thought that you were untouchable, essentially. I mean, was that part of it?
Jake Banks: You know, even beyond that, I thought I was fucking invisible. I thought, “Shit, I could just go and breeze through here and carry this bag of drugs and send it over here and just, nobody's going to know anything else because, you know what, why? Because I'm Jake Banks.” No other fucking reason besides that. And it's so, I don't even know what the word is. So crazy to think that I'm above the law or not even above the law, but –
Brian Beckcom: Outside the law.
Jake Banks: There is no law. I don't have to follow any of that shit. And how did I get there? Shit, man. Using drugs. Using ecstasy, which is what we were smuggling. And so, the more you do this stuff, you're like, “Oh yeah, this is fun. This is great. Everybody in my law school uses it. All my buddies use it. We have a great time. It's not like I'm, you know, injecting heroin or robbing little old ladies to support my habit,” you know? We’re popping pills and going to parties and getting laid and having a good time.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, right. What’s wrong with that? Nothing wrong with that, right? Not hurting anybody.
Jake Banks: Not hurting anybody. Totally. If it's illegal, that's just because the law is stupid. And so maybe that law doesn't apply to me because it's stupid. It's just totally fucked up thinking on all different fronts on how that applies. So, the more you do it, the more you think, “Oh, this is okay, this is okay, this is okay.”
Like walking down the street, smoking a joint. People do that all the time here in New Braunfels. Everybody's on the river smoking weed and you can smell the weed on the river. Here in this town, they're gonna prosecute to the fullest extent of the law for a joint. They're not going to reduce it. They're not going to give you deferred – you might get deferred. They're not going to put you on probation. You know? It is a serious crime here and people smoke weed all the time, so why not? “I'll just go down the river to smoke. Oh, shit. What, you mean this is illegal? Oh, fuck. But I do it all the time.” Yeah. Still illegal.
Brian Beckcom: Still illegal. Yeah, that's right. And we're going to have a conversation I hope here after we talk about your experience in France about the drug war in general, because I think it's fair to say you and I both have some pretty strong feelings about this.
Drug Smuggling in France
Brian Beckcom: But you know, you start – the first sentence of your book – and by the way, I got to tell everybody. The book is Lawyer X. If you're watching on YouTube, that's my background. Lawyer X: A True Story by Jake Banks. It's on Amazon. And I gotta tell you, Jake. I was impressed by how well written it was. It's very well written and I don't know if you had an editor or not, but it could be tightened up even more. I mean, really, you did a great job.
And the first sentence of the book, folks, is “When the 50,000 ecstasy pills didn't show up, I knew we were fucked.” What a great way – like, when I read that, I was like, “Is this Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Part III?” This sounds like Hunter Thompson writing this shit. Right? But you tell this great story about the first time you knew there was a problem.
So, you had smuggled ecstasy from France to the United States a couple of times and then one of the shipments didn't show up. And that's when you knew you were in trouble. And, by the way, you were a fucking shitty drug smuggler. You left so many tracks. You even say that in the book, but you thought you were smarter than you were. But anyway, you decide, “I'm going to fly over to France and see if I can figure out what's going on.” Right?
Jake Banks: This is it. So, we kind of touched on about this a little bit before, but I think my forte in life has always been for some reason or another and whatever I get into, I get into it. I'm an outsider and then I get into it and then I get into a position that I cannot be let go. I am essential personnel within a very, very, very short time. Like, “Who’s this Jake guy?” “Well, I don't know, but we've got to have him for the mission. For the mission to be successful, we've got to have this guy on our team.” So, that's always going to be kind of my forte to come from nowhere and get into the middle of things and then just be a person that you can't live without to make it happen.
So, when the shit went down in France, we had been traveling. We would go to France and then up to Amsterdam. And this was to throw off the tracks, right? And it was so fucking stupid thinking. So idiot proof. Like, I'm in prison in France and my attorney from the U.S. is there. And he's like, “What the fuck? You flew to France every single time. The golden rule of drug smuggling is you fly to a different place every time.” And my response is, “Well, yeah. If somebody sees you fly into a different place every time, they're going to think you're a drug smuggler.” So, just flawed thinking. I mean, there is no correct thinking about how to do this. The only way that you could ever get away with it is, I don't know.
Brian Beckcom: Don't do it in the first place, right? Yeah. Yeah. That's it. That's it.
Jake Banks: That’s the only way you get away is to not do it. There is no surefire way, even if you were the only person involved and the only way you could do it is if you made it and used it yourself and never told anybody about it. If you got drug tested, you would still be found out. So, there's just no – there's just absolutely no way. There's no rational thinking about how to get away with it, unless you got a submarine from Columbia that, you know, they just busted one a couple of days ago with 40 tons of cocaine on it.
Brian Beckcom: Or unless you’re the CIA and you want to flood inner cities with crack cocaine in order to fund an illegal war. But we'll talk about that maybe a little bit later.
There's a couple scenes in your book that I really want to get some color on. So, you go over to France. A shipment is missing.
Jake Banks: So, here’s the thing at the base of it. Right? We start at the beginning. Greed, greed, greed, greed, greed. Right? Gordon Gekko said, “Greed is good.” Gordon Gekko went to jail. Right?
So, there was three of us involved in the deal and my position was really just sidekick. A small-time investor to go over there and go with the two principles and how to have a good time. Maybe help them figure out a clever way to ship it back or find another recipient to help them, but not necessary to the conspiracy at all, really. Just an add-along.
And so, when the shit went down, the first thing that went into my head was, “Alright, I'm going to cut myself in for more. There's a problem over there and their problem needs to be fixed. So, let me go fix it. And when I do, instead of being a bit player, I'm going to be the partner. Or I'm going to be the controlling partner. I'm going to be the money guy.”
Brian Beckcom: You’re going to use this as an opportunity to get a better deal for yourself. Like, a better financial deal.
Jake Banks: Instead of three of us, and I get a little 10%, I'm going to cut one guy out and I'm going to take 60%. And the dealer, the distributor can take 40, because when I went there and negotiated with these guys, that was my game. And that was what I told them. And it was very fucking hostile when I got there.
Brian Beckcom: So, dude, I got to set the scene here for people. So, my favorite movie of all time is Goodfellas, and one of the things I freaking love about that movie is how the pace of the movie starts slow. And by the end, when Henry Hill is selling cocaine or whatever it was he was selling. Hard drugs he was selling. Like, the pace quickens. The movie gets faster and he's looking around at helicopters. Music gets faster and, Jake, I gotta, man. I'm reading your book. And it's got that same effect on me.
The pace starts to get faster. You're over there, you're drinking, smoking weed, trying to solve this drug deal. And anyway, you go to this meeting and there's one person that you were supposed to meet and then a guy from Columbia and another person that you didn't know. And the way you describe the scene, I mean, they were clearly trying to intimidate you. They were seeing if they could trust you. You're staring them down. But in the book, you talk about what's going through your mind. So what you're doing on the surface, you may look like you're not scared, but in your mind, you're freaking out at the time, right?
Jake Banks: Yeah. Oh, I'm shitting my pants. I'm shitting my pants. And I realized, you know, I'm staring down these three guys that are probably, I mean, sketchy as fuck.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. And they think you've stolen their money.
Jake Banks: They think I've stolen their money. They think I've come back to rip them off again. They don't know why I came back. Finally, I convinced them that if I was trying to rip them off, I would not have come back. And by the end of it, it had gone from, “Hey, we're going to fucking take you over in the corner of this bar and kill your ass.” To, “Hey, you got some balls. We're only going to deal with you now.”
“The partners are pussies for not coming back over here – your partners are wimps for not coming back over here. You got balls. So, I'll deal with you from now on, and you're the only person that will take money or from, or send this stuff to.” And so, greed. I got what I came for, right?
Brian Beckcom: Yup. And that’s gotta be, by the way, that's gotta be, in addition to being scary as hell, it's got to be exhilarating, too. Especially when you feel like you pulled it off. I mean, you're like, “Oh man, I fucking stared these guys down and pulled this shit off.” I mean, that's gotta be kind of, in a way, a really good feeling. Adrenaline and all that shit going through your body. Right?
Jake Banks: Oh, dude. It was, like, the biggest drug there was. And honestly, when you go – a little sidekick to that. I mean, it's a negotiation, right? Are we dealing – at this point, it was pills. You know, how many units, how many tablets are we doing? When I get down to Panama, we're talking about how many meters of property. You know, when I get back up here to Texas, it's how many months in jail. So, it's all the same negotiation ability. It's just a different – the thing you're negotiating is different.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. I think you're right. The principles remain the same. There was even a guy that's like, “Hey dude, you want some fucking grenades?” There's some guy showed up and he was going to sell you grenades. Right? Like, Holy shit.
Jake Banks: Fucking bottle rockets. You know, they give a shit. And not to sound like a wimp, “You know, let me think about it.” So. It was, I had never been in a situation like that in my life. Won't be again. But yeah, it was super intense
It was so intense that after I left there, I mean, we're standing at the door and I'm thinking. I'm still shaking. I'm still shaking. And I give him all my money because at that point it's like, “You owe us 10 grand.” And I had no idea that my partner had owed them money because he didn’t tell me that. And so they're like, “Well, if you want us to give you some more stuff, you have to pay us for what you already owe us.” And, well, okay. “If I give you this money, are you all going to show up again?” “Sure. Yeah. I promise.” Prepay your drugs. You’re never going to prepay a drug dealer cause you'll never see him again. They take your money and run.
So. We're standing on, I’ll never forget, we’re standing at the front door of the hotel and the meeting is breaking up and they’re all, “Hey, come with us, come with us. We're having a party out at my friend's house in the country.” And I'm like, “Fuck, no.”
Brian Beckcom: No way.
Jake Banks: No way in hell. I mean, like, I'm holding onto the door of the hotel in case they try and grab me and throw me in the car. Like, “No, I'm good.” I complained about the jet lag, you know, trying to play it off and be cool. And they'd get in the car and laugh their ass off and drive away. “Oh, you think we're going to kill you? Hahaha.” And they get in the car.
Brian Beckcom: Man, that is freaky. It reminds me of a book I read by a guy named Gavin de Becker. He's an international security expert and one thing he said that really stuck with me was if anybody tries to move you to a different location, you should resist with everything you have. I tell my wife that, I tell my daughter that. I'm like. “Do not let them move you. Period. End of discussion.” And so if you would've went out to that house in the country at the time, the tensions were high, who knows what would’ve happened out there. Right?
Jake Banks: Who knows? I'm glad I don't know.
Brian Beckcom: So then you get back and you spend a couple of days fucking around, smoking weed, drinking, trying to get everything squared away. You're kind of in a rush. And this is where the part of the book really speeds up. It's just like the end of Goodfellas, at least as far as I'm concerned, the pacing of it.
You end up, you got 5,000 ecstasy pills, basically in a package up against your private parts and you're going through customs and tell us how you got busted. Tell us what happened.
Jake Banks: So, that's really, that's a small part because when I went, they said – the dealers over in Amsterdam were like, “Okay, you owe us 10 grand.” I said, “Well, I need more pills.” And they said, “Well pay us for what you owe and then we'll get you some more,” and I'm thinking, “Okay, well, they'll give me, you know, however many more. Anything more than what I have, we'll have to build the business back up because I never sold any of this shit. None of this shit ever came to Texas or none of this stuff was ever sold in Texas. It was all sold in Arizona. And so, I'm thinking, “Okay, I'll get five or 10,000 pills,” which is about like this.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. And for people that are just listening, it's like, it would be like the size of a volleyball or something like that. Right? Maybe a little smaller.
Jake Banks: Yeah. Something like that, I guess. It's not as big as that. Maybe three or four inches by six by six, something like that. It's not as giant as you would think, okay? And so, this is what I think I'm going to get to help start the conspiracy back up again. And what I got was 25,000 pills and they said, “Well, we're giving you this. This is what we had, because we had made a special batch with a special branding. So, we're going to give you all those. Get your business started back up,” and I thought, “This is insane. Why are you giving me more than what I've asked for?” You know? “Because we trust you. You've got balls. You came back when there was a problem.”
All right, great. You know, I'm flying high. These guys love me. I got zero problems on this end. All I gotta do is come over here every now and then with some money, send it to a dude in Arizona, and then he sends me the proceeds. So, I package up, like, as much of the fucking – there were so many pills that I didn't know what to do. I thought “Shit, how the fuck am I going to ship all these back? Am I going, you know, should I toss 10,000 of them? No, I can't do that. That's a hundred thousand dollars right there. Should I? What the fuck can I do?”
So I'm scrambling, I'm manic, trying to figure out how to package them, to ship them, to get them someplace, to go and do, and get them back. And so I cram all of these into a statue and bottom fake coffee cans and then it's a mission to find out where can I ship them from that will have the least screwed me.
Brian Beckcom: And you’re scrambling around with only a couple of days before you got to fly back to the United States. So, just so everybody knows this, this is only a couple of days where Jake is having to solve all these logistical problems.
Jake Banks: Like four days. Go there, work with the deal, get the stuff, package it, and get back home. And high as fuck all the time cause they have, Sam's got great where you eat [1:06:08] and all that other stuff. So, not thinking straight about any of it. Not thinking straight from the beginning. I mean, it's like the great part of All the Pretty Horses. Best line ever. They're sitting in a Mexican jail.
Brian Beckcom: Great book.
Jake Banks: And I can't remember the character’s name. He goes, “Man. I'm really sorry for whatever mistake landed us here.” And the other guy says, “You know what, I'm sorry for all of the mistakes I made that led me up to this point.” It’s not just one mistake. It was the one before that and before that and before that and before that. And the very initial one? “Hey, you know what would be a good idea? Let’s smuggle drugs.” And that was 50 decisions before the bad decision that I was making now.
Brian Beckcom: Right.
Jake Banks: So, the whole fucking thing was just idiotic.
Brian Beckcom: Hey, Brian Beckcom here. If you like the Lessons from Leaders podcast, do me a big favor. Go to YouTube and subscribe, or if you listen to it on your podcatchers, subscribe to it on your podcatchers. Rate it if you can, like it, and share it.
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Brian Beckcom: So, you're going through customs. You think you've got everything solved. You think you're this big kingpin. And next thing you know, boom, you're pulling your pants down and they busted you.
Jake Banks: They had us there. They had us because of the shipment that got stopped on a prior trip. They had us on video and they were looking for us and they had been able to trace us and they knew who we were. And so, they had some kind of APB or whatever out, whatever they call it in France, to look for us. So, when I walked through the airport, they're like, “Oh, there they are. Go get ‘em.” And it was no surprise. They said to me, “We knew you would be back, but just not so soon.”
Brian Beckcom: “And we didn't know you would be so stupid to stay at the same hotel three times in a row, so we could tell the hotel person, ‘When he comes back, call us up instead of—” the way you described it in the book is you think that the hot French girl at the hotel desk has the hots for you. You thought she wanted you. But really, she was in on —
Jake Banks: She's like, “Oh my God, we got a red slip for this guy to notify the police so I’ll do whatever he says, because I don't know if he's a bad guy or what he is.” And I'm thinking, “Oh yeah, let's go have a drink, miss.” And she was like, “Uh, no.”
Invisible. Right. Just not even above the law, just invisible to the law. “Nobody can see me. Nobody can see what I'm doing because, because there's no reason why.” Everybody saw what I was doing. Except for me.
Brian Beckcom: And it's just like at the end of Goodfellows when they get busted with the drugs, you remember, they take Henry and Karen, his wife into the police station and they look around and the whole operation is there. Like, they busted everybody. It was kind of the same thing. Same with you.
I mean, they busted you and you talk about this in the book. You go through a series of denials and you're trying to throw them off the trail and they're showing you pictures and then they're showing you a video and then they're showing you receipts. And at some point, you're like, “I'm fucked.” Like, “This is it. It's over with.” So, when you finally hit that point, Jake, what went through your mind? What did you feel like?
Jake Banks: Yeah, I mean the prosecutor or the chief of police just laying, I mean, you see some of these movies where it's the good cop, bad cop, and just trying to beat it out. Man, that shouldn't ever work. It's like, “We got this one. We got this paper. We got this.” And just beaten the shit out of me with slips of paper.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: Just whipping the fuck out of me with pieces of paper, punching me in the face. Just one slip of paper and this photo and this photo. Oh, and this is your buddy and this and thinking, “Yeah.” You know what went through my mind is the same thing that it came out of my guts. I leaned over and puked in the trashcan because it was like, “Yeah, dude, you're fucked.”
Brian Beckcom: It’s over. It’s over.
Jake Banks: They got me. Not only do they have you, you’re so fucking stupid to make it so easy for them. So, what's the biggest thing you can do to an egomaniac is make him feel like an idiot or prove that he is an idiot. And so, you go from, like, “I'm invisible,” to “I'm the dumbest motherfucker that ever walked the face of the earth.”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. Jake, tell me if I'm thinking about this right. Because I'm sure you felt like complete shit about getting busted, but the fact that people were going to know how stupid this was, like, the shame of it. Like, that kind of emotion, that probably was even worse in a way. Right?
Jake Banks: No, it wasn't that. It was self-shame. It was, you know, “How could I be so fucking dumb? I'm not a stupid guy. But this thing that I did is the stupidest thing that anybody has ever done in their life.”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: In my life. And I'm the dumbest person to walk the face of the earth. Not that I was worried that “Oh, you know, somebody's going to think that I'm dumb.” I thought that I was dumb. I lost, you know, I've always felt like a confident person. Like I can do something that I set my mind to.
And then have that whole thing shattered just in an instant to be like, “Yeah. Hey dude, you're a dumbass.” And have your own conscious telling you you're a dumbass. And there is no escape from it there. There’s no, like, “Oh, Jimmy said I'm a dickhead,” or “Jimmy said I’m a dumbass. Well, screw Jimmy. I don't care what he thinks.” No, I care what I think. And my thoughts were, “You're the stupidest person that ever lived.”
So, to overcome that, it took me 10 years. It took me so long to overcome the shame of it all and the stupidity of it all. I didn't really think I would ever overcome it and it's not like there's probably not a day that goes by that I don't think about it. But one day I'm in Panama and I got a house on the beach. Got two kids, wife, no debt. Everything's great. And I look around and I feel like, you know what? I'm satisfied. I'm satisfied. I've reached a level of satisfaction in my life.
And that's very difficult. It's very – I don't know if anybody ever – not anybody. I think it's rare that a lot of people get, like, satisfaction and just to sit back and realize, “Okay, I'm not that guy that did that thing. I am that guy that did that thing, but I've come out of it. And now I can put that shame aside because I got my shit back together.”
Brian Beckcom: For sure. For sure. That reminds me of the saying that, you know, I tell people, like, when I'm ashamed of something I did or something like that the voice in my head, if that voice was another person, that would be my worst fucking enemy, right? That voice that’s criticized in you.
Imprisoned in France
Brian Beckcom: But tell us a little bit about what it was like being in a prison in a foreign country where you couldn't even really, at least at first, communicate with your fellow prisoners. What was that like?
Jake Banks: Yeah. So, the setup is, you know, Monday I'm in Fort Worth, Texas. I get on a plane and I'm in France for a few days. And then the following Monday, I'm in a prison cell outside of Paris. With no one knowing where I was. Nobody. Me not knowing, “Where the fuck am I? I'm in France.” How do I communicate with anybody what's going on? You can't tell me. You're telling me, but you're speaking French. So, I don't know what the fuck you're saying.
And not having any idea about, like, where I’m going, what the procedure is, what am I doing? Do we get food? Are we taking a shower? I'm going to be here for a year, a hundred years, am I facing the death penalty? What the fuck is going on?
So, man. The thing that killed me and probably is one of the most difficult things to deal with on so many levels and so many businesses and so many different people's lives is uncertainty.
Brian Beckcom: For sure.
Jake Banks: And to be, like, “What is going on?” And nobody has an answer. “How long will I be here?” “Don't know.” “What's going to happen?” “I can't tell you. Go back to your cell and sit there.” And sit in that cell for 23 hours a day. And then that one hour you can go out and walk around in a circle and ask everybody else what they're doing. And they’re gonna tell you the same thing. “I don't know what's going on. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.”
So, the uncertainty, man, just drives at you and your mind goes into this place of, “Oh, God, if I could go back a time, if I could, I know that's impossible, but oh, if I could have done this differently, I know it's impossible. What I'm going to do now? I don't know what I'm going to do now, cause I can't – I don’t know what there is to do to help myself.” In fact, there is nothing that I can do to help myself except not die. Or, not go crazy. And that is a really, really difficult position to be in for somebody who I feel like me, I've been always kind of taking care of myself and managing my own stuff and now having to totally rely on everybody else to help me get out of this jam.
It was, God, it was so frustrating. And so, just, mind blowing. Groundhog Day. You said earlier, Groundhog Day, but Groundhog Day where you're, like, being hazed all day. “What's gonna happen tomorrow?” “Well, you're gonna sit here and be miserable all day and look out the window at a brick wall and then wonder what the fuck's going on. And then tomorrow, you are gonna do the same thing.”
No break in the monotony. No break in the, “Hey, something good happened today,” or – none of that. Just trying and hoping and just holding on that your crew's gonna come through for you. That's really what it was. And it was so extremely difficult to not be able to help yourself.
Brian Beckcom: And it's not just that, Jake. Like, you talk about this at the beginning of the book. People in America don't appreciate that the French legal system is not the same as America. I mean, you're asking for a lawyer and they're just like, “You don't get one. Sorry. We're going to interrogate you. We're going to interrogate you. You can ask for a lawyer all you want, but you're not getting one.”
And they're just, and so not only are you, you don't know where you are. You don't know what's going to happen. But unlike the American legal system, you don't even get your own lawyer at first. I mean, they're just hammering you with questions.
So, what did you – well, let me ask you this. So, how long did you spend prison where it was 23 hours a day with one hour being able to walk in a circle? How long did you have to go through that?
Jake Banks: Two years
Brian Beckcom: You spent two years. Every day pretty much just like that.
Jake Banks Yeah.
Brian Beckcom: So, what in the fuck are you doing for 23 hours a day for two years? What are you doing in that cell?
Jake Banks: Man, being alone with your thoughts. Alone with yourself and thinking, “You're the worst fucking human being that ever walked this planet because you broke your fucking parents’ hearts.” You know, thinking, standing in front of the mirror and thinking to yourself, like, “All you had to do was not fuck up” All you had to do was not decide you wanted to get into an international drug conspiracy and you got it made, you know? All you had to do was just not be a fucking crook. You had it made, you know? You don't have any student debt. You don't have this. You got kickass building that you just bought, which is fantastic. It's paying for itself. You know, your angle is going straight up. All you gotta do is keep on doing what you're doing, but no, you thought it was a good idea to come over and do this shit that ended up fucking just destroying your ass?” And thinking how moronic you are. Right?
So, being alone there, the thing that helped me the most was, at the beginning, was the Bible. I swear to God. I had never, you know, I'd been to church, Been to the synagogue a few times. I don't claim any one particular religion over the other, but I think at the base of it, treat everybody like you want to be treated is kind of what they're all saying. But I read the Bible, man. I read it cover to cover. And it made me realize that I wasn't the worst person on the face of the earth. That the same thing that I did, betray my friend, lie, cheat steal, do all these things. This is what humans do and have done since recorded history. And that I'm not the only one that's ever been in this position. And I'm not the only one that has done this kind of shit and then redeem themselves at some point later. It wasn't a death sentence. It wasn't that I had gone – that I wasn't evil.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: I wasn't an evil person. I was a dumbass. A fucking idiot. And to feel so shitty about yourself to think, “How can I break out of this?” The stories in the Bible pointed me in that direction and helped me uplift my spirits to where like, “Okay, I'm not the worst person that ever lived. I'm not the worst. I'm not the only person or the first person that's ever done something like this. There is hope.” And so, that helped me out tremendously.
Brian Beckcom: We have a mutual – I didn't know this until last week, but we have a mutual friend who is a very prominent military officer. And I learned recently that he sent you a letter every single week for two years when you were in jail.
And I’m sure stuff like that helped, too, because you know, one of the things that I think you were probably worrying about is, I would be worried about it in your situation is, “Are my family and friends going to abandon me because of what I did?” And I'm sure it helped a lot when you realized at some point that you had a family and a group of friends that were not going to abandon you. They were going to stick with – they weren't going to say, “Hey, Jake, that was really smart. We support your drug dealing.” But they were not going to quit on you. Right?
Jake Banks: It was straight up tough love. Very tough love. And I think the lowest point there, the lowest point I'm looking at a maximum of 10 years in France because French doesn't penalize drugs the way the United States does. Their whole legal system is set up differently. They want to punish the individual. They don't care about the other conspirators. In fact, if five guys are caught, they don't ask you to incriminate the other person because this goes against their judicial theory of, you know, “We caught you. You confess. And you pay.” And not, “Hey, we caught you and we're going to put you in jail for life. We're going to take your kids, put them in the custody of CPS. We're going to put your wife in jail. Unless you rat out everybody else,” like in the United States. “You want a deal? Then tell everybody.” France doesn't do it like that. And part of that is because of World War II, where the Nazi collaborators got a lot of other French people killed. They accepted that like, “We're not going to do that anymore. We're not going to” –
Brian Beckcom: That was the Vichy government, right? The Vichy government. Interesting. I had no idea that that had such an impact on their legal system. That's fascinating.
Jake Banks: Yeah. That's why they're like, “Look, you know, we don't want to get back into this deal,” that really just, you know, a huge division in France during World War II of, like, people ratting each other out because Germans wanted them. “Okay. We caught you, you know, a French underground person. Tell us the other guys. If you don't, here's your kid right here, we're going to blow – so, these were all, you know, it was a very, that's how they think about it. And plus, the sentences there, you're looking at a maximum of 10 years, not life. And even on a 10-year sentence, you're out in five. So, the difference being those five years are in a cell 23 hours a day. Much more intense than a general population or something else you'd have in States.
But I'm going back to your original question. The lowest point I'm there and the letters that I got from my friends and it wasn't like everybody – I was surprised, actually, a couple of people were so mad at me. So mad at me. “I'm not going to write you because I'm so mad at you for what you did.” And I thought, “Well, fuck you. I'm the one sitting over here in jail. Not you, goddammit.” You know, it took me a while to realize, “I'm mad at you. I'm mad at you. Because I love you so much and you fucked yourself up so bad. Because you had it made, and I'm so mad at you for doing that. I'm so mad at you for doing that. I’m so mad at what you're doing to your parents. I'm mad at you for doing that, so I'm not talking to you right now. I'm mad at you.” It took me a while to understand where they were coming from, but it was totally justified. Totally deserved.
But as far as the letters coming, the only person that wrote more than our buddy was my mom. And she almost wrote every single day. And I got a letter and I haven't told this much, but it was really impactful because I think my attorney from the States had sent me a letter and said, “Look, you're looking at 10 years in France. And then you're looking at up to life imprisonment for each count for each trip. For each trip and each count on each – basically, I don't know, 10 life terms in United States. And you're thinking, “Okay, so, what, I can do 10 years over here and then go back to the States and spend life in prison? Fuck. I might as well kill myself.” I might as well quit. Might as well quit.
And so, just like stick it out the first semester. Don't quit. You know, you signed up for it. Don't quit. I get a letter from my buddy. And saying a lot of positive things. Keep it up, you know, a lot of – and then another letter that that buddy had been killed in a car accident.
And I talked to myself and I was sitting on my bed with a fucking razor that I had taken from a shaving thing. Thinking “What the fuck, dude, I'm not gonna wait around just to wait around, to go to prison for the rest of my life. What the fuck is the point of that? End it now, get this shit over with. Fall out of the race. Quit. Punch.
And I get this letter. Says he's died. And it made me feel like the biggest – made me feel like the biggest pussy in the world to think I was going to take my own life. Here, his life had been taken from him. And I was thinking about doing that to myself. And it just totally changed the way I was thinking about it. It was, “I want to quit,” and then “Hey, stay till the end of the semester.” And so that's what I did, and it really changed my mind. But yeah, the book is dedicated to the letter writers, man, because there is no way I could have –
Brian Beckcom: Dude. I just got chills. I just got chills that just went right down my spine. I'm not kidding you, man. I just, because I remember at the very beginning of the book, it says, “To the letter writers,” and I was wondering what you meant by that. I thought what you meant was to the people that have been in prison that had written letters for whatever reason, like, to those kinds of people. But you dedicated that book to the people that wrote you letters.
Jake Banks: Yes. Because that was my – there was no phone. There was no communication. There was nothing for me to like, “Hey, what's going on? Oh, it's good – Mom, it's good to hear your voice,” or whatever. It was a letter and wait and write a letter. And, like, a three or four week delay between letters.
But every day it's 3:30 or 4:00, hearing the guard come down the hall, hearing the footsteps and just being, “Come on, please, please, please, please, please, please, please.” And if he walked by your door, fuck, day was shit. Letter slid under your door? Hey, best day ever, Christmas. And just relying on those slips of paper to keep your spirit up. And, man, that's what did it. That’s what did it.
Brian Beckcom: So how did you end up going from potentially 10 years plus life in prison to two years in France? Like, how did that go?
Jake Banks: So, France, they don't punish the – all drugs are the same there and it's not important the quantity, either.
Brian Beckcom: Really? Interesting.
Jake Banks: There was something that, I guess if you're a kingpin – not even kingpin. There was some slight part of the law that basically, it was a misdemeanor case that I had. 50,000 pills, however many kilos. That was a misdemeanor case because all drug cases were misdemeanor. Unless – there was some caveat, I can't remember what it was, but they would kick it up to their version of a felony.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: And so, everybody in the prison was a foreigner. I mean, everybody in there was from South America. Traffickers. Bringing drugs across. And the average sentence was three years, and you get out at halftime at a year and a half, and you're exiled from the country for 10 years. And so, my sentence was a little bit longer than most other people, like six months longer. The original sentence was for years, but it was reduced.
You get out at halftime by law because you are a foreigner and you're going to be exiled. So, 10 years will be the max. Hardly – I didn't know anybody that got the max. I don't know anybody that got five years. It was all “This guy’s a foreigner. He’s not French. Get him outta here. We're sick of paying for him. Send him back to the States and let them do what he's gonna do there.”
Brian Beckcom: How long were you in prison before you found out that you had a chance of getting out in a couple years? Like, how long did that take?
Jake Banks: Probably, like, three or four months.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. And I bet those three or four months fucking sucked.
Jake Banks: Yeah, just insane. Just insane. I mean, there's a lot of, and I'm coming straight from being a prosecutor. So now I've literally been a prosecutor a month before and now I'm in prison with a bunch of all these defendants and they're telling me this and they're telling me that I'm thinking, “Oh yeah, jailhouse attorney, jailhouse attorney. You guys don't know shit.” But they were actually pretty accurate. I mean, they were actually pretty good on what they said because it was across the board. “Hey, they're all foreigners.” I mean, maybe the provisions were at a different sentence, or I don't know. But they were trying to get the foreigners out of there because they were sick of housing them and the paying for them and feeding us. So that was to my benefit there, for sure.
Back in the U.S.
Brian Beckcom: And what happened with the stuff in the United States?
Jake Banks: So, in the United States, my other co-conspirators, there were two of them. And they were in Arizona. They had the information that the federal prosecutor and the DEA and the ICE guys wanted. I didn't have any connections. I didn't sell the shit. I didn't deal the stuff. All I did was work out a deal, try and figure out a way to ship it, and then collect the profits. And so, who they were dealing to, who their consumers were, and where these, you know, 50,000 – I guess 125,000 pills altogether, where they were going. Who was buying all these pills?
And so, one of the co-conspirators went to work as a confidential informant, and so he didn't get prosecuted. The other guy who was really the ringleader gave up all kinds of people and they busted all those guys, so he didn't get prosecuted. And so, the federal prosecutor looked at me as like, “Hey, you know what? The other two guys aren't going to prison. You've done enough shit over there. Don't practice law for five years.” Handshake deal. This is all a handshake deal. “We trust you. Don't practice law for five years. And don't get in any trouble and don't communicate with these guys and you're good here.” So, I thought, “Fucking A. Okay.”
Brian Beckcom: That’s easy, right? “I can do that. I can do that. No problem.” And so, then you come – and, by the way, what a contrast in the mentality between the French legal system in the United States legal system.
So, you come back to the United States and then you quickly leave the United States. You've talked a couple of times about being in Panama. So tell us kind of how, when you got out of prison in France and you come back to the States, how you put your life back together.
Jake Banks: It was difficult. I come back and, you know, I'll never forget. You see guys get off the plane and they kiss the ground. Man, fucking A. I got to Dallas and I was like, see my Texas people, smell the Texas air. I mean, it is home. It's home. And just, thank God I made it back.
I lived with my mom for a couple of months and I remember coming back and I just sat down at the computer and just wrote down everything that happened. And just, “Oh yeah. And then this and this and this,” and I'll just write and write, write, write, write, write, write, write, because it was all in my brain and some notes and I just wrote everything down and it was very therapeutic, I guess, just to put it out there on paper and not for any purpose of trying to make any book or anything like that, but just to write it down and get it down and think, you know.
And this is the beginning of trying to reconcile with my parents and reconcile with my best friend and reconcile with my own self about is it safe to cross the street? You know, I've looked both ways 17 times now, should I – before, I would, you know, it was not anything I thought of because my confidence was there and just your confidence is totally blown. So, trying to rebuild that.
But yeah, I sat down. Wrote. And then I thought, you know, out of sight, out of mind. I just need to – If I'm not around, I can't get in any trouble here. I can't be asked to do something. I can't be maybe – not picked on is the right word, but I definitely don't want the DEA to come over and say, “Hey, you know what? We need you to do this,” or, “We need you to do that.”
And so, I got in a car and I drove to Panama with my girlfriend at the time who became my wife. And sure as shit, as soon as we got to Panama, things, you know, it was like, “All right, you're supposed to be here.” The first year I was there, I made a quarter million doing shit, nothing. Looking for a spot to surf. And one thing led to another and, “Hey, great. You had some – maybe you weren't supposed to be a trial attorney. Maybe you're supposed to be down here in Panama doing this stuff.”
Brian Beckcom: You bought some land and had a bed and breakfast down there, I think, right?
Jake Banks: I had a – I met a couple of people and then it was, it's just a crazy story, but yeah, I ended up brokering, like, a lot of different property deals because I was just there and Panama was blowing up and people wanted to buy property. And I mastered the flip, or the option, where I would option something for a penny and then sell it for $2. A penny a meter and then sell it for two bucks a meter.
And the landowner was happy. I made a ton of money. The buyer was happy. And then it was happening all over for, like, a couple of years. It was gangbusters. And so, I guess, you know, I'm lucky. And I know that luck is good or bad, so I'm lucky. You know, I've had them both ways.
But I'm sitting in the office in France being questioned by the federal prosecutor from Arizona and the DEA agent and an ICE agent and a couple of other people, and the DEA agent looks at me, he's like, “Oh, I just need to get some background from you. You know, where are you from?” “Dallas.” “What school did you go to?” I said, “A&M.” He was like, “I bet you were a non-reg.”
Brian Beckcom: You immediately knew he was in the Corps, right?
Jake Banks: I said, “No, I was a cadet.” And he was like, you know, almost has a fucking heart attack because that dude was a cadet, also. And we’re in a French judge's office on the other side of the world and the guy that's questioning me is the cadet that had been there 20 years before me.
Same experience, different time era, but the same fucking thing. And he looks at me, he's like, “What the fuck happened to you?” And I couldn't answer it. I got greedy. Greed. And that's not even a good enough answer. “What the fuck happened to you to think that this was a good idea?”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah,
Jake Banks: But him being on the case definitely helped me not get prosecuted in the United States. That guy was a TCPIP [1:35:20] up there, shit, I’d be in prison in the United States right now.
The War on Drugs
Brian Beckcom: That's kind of the perfect segue into a more general conversation about the drug war itself. And so, I'll just tell people right off the bat. I have very strong feelings about this. I haven't always felt this way, but I feel like the drug war is the dumbest public policy that we've had in the United States ever, other than maybe slavery and some other things that were obviously really bad.
But this idea of the war on drugs is the dumbest thing. And plus, it's caused – and this is all my opinion, by the way. It's caused so much problems in certain communities. It's caused the police to be militarized. It has literally destroyed South American countries. I mean, we're constantly bitching about the immigration problem. Why are these people coming over here from Mexico? Because the drug cartels have fucking torched the country. And you know why the drug cartels exist? Because we fucking created them with the war on drugs.
So, I have a pretty strong feeling about this and, by the way, for the law enforcement officers that are listening. I love you guys and girls. I'm against the war on drugs cause I think we're sending you into an unwinnable war. It's the same thing with Vietnam. At least we were smart enough after 10 years to get the fuck out of that country. When are we going to wake up and realize that we will never win this war? Ever.
Like, I, you know, you see these stories, Jake, on the news all the time. 200 pounds of cocaine seized in New York Harbor. And I'm like, “Cool. We won the drug war now. Right? Right? It's over with. Right?” And what I don't understand, Jake, is we did this before in the early 1900s with prohibition and what happened? It created the fucking mafia and all sorts of crime and it didn't work. And we were smart enough to fix it.
I don't understand why we can't figure this out and figure out that this shit is not working. Like, we have to have a different approach. So, what are your thoughts on the drug war in general?
Jake Banks: Yeah. Okay. Well, let me start by saying this. There is not another crime – there is no other crime where the victim asks to be victimized. Let's see somebody out there. “Hey, come Rob me. Hey, come murder me.” But the drugs are, “Hey, give me drugs. Sell me drugs.”
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: So, to say that person is a victim is a little misleading, I think. And so, what is the drug war fighting? Well, we want to keep people from becoming addicts. We want to keep the drugs off the street from our kids. We want to keep this and that and the other. That's a good idea. But the people that want to get drugs are going to get them. Cause the guy whose cell phone is blowing up all day is the drug dealer. And it's because the demand is so high to get the product that he wants, that he's going to sell it.
So, the drug war. This is the one thing I don't understand because it's very winnable. Let's talk about heroin. Let's talk about the war on terror and how it overlaps with the war on drugs. We go to Afghanistan. 2002, 2003. Since then, there have been 45,000 bombs dropped in Afghanistan. All right. That's a lot of bombs, right?
Afghanistan is a little bit smaller than Texas. Okay? The Taliban uses the sale of poppy to finance their terror war. That finances the murder of Americans and other civilians around the world with their terror plots. 90% of heroin is grown in Afghanistan. Since the United States has been there, opium production has increased by 300%.
Brian Beckcom: Wow. I did not know that.
Jake Banks: So, what the fuck are we bombing? I mean, we've got a satellite in outer space that can tell how big my nose is and how big your fucking head is but you can't tell me that there's a hundred hectares over there that's growing poppy?
And so why aren't we going in there, burning – drop some agent orange and all that shit. Burn all of their fucking supply of heroin or opium to the ground so that we take out the money that they use for terror and at the same time, remove the threat of illegal drugs coming onto our streets. Why the fuck don’t we do that? I don't understand it.
I mean, it doesn't even take a bomb. It takes a John Deere tractor over there to spread that shit. So why did that – why has it not gone from zero production to take out their military effectiveness or their funds for terror and also the drug off the street? It's gone the opposite. It's increased. It's increased. So, what the fuck are we doing? It’s not real. It's not real. It's not a real war. Columbia produces –
Brian Beckcom: It's not real war, and, you know, the other thing, Jake, is like, just, here's another thing. How do we define winning the war? Like we're fighting a war. We've been fighting a war for 70 years. It's not, like you said, not only have we not quote won the war, but it's actually, there is more drugs out there now. People are using more drugs. So, when are we going to wake up and say, “We've been doing the same shit for 70 years and not only have we not fixed this problem, but it's gotten worse.”
And I'll tell you, the other thing that really bothers me is, and people can look at the history of this, okay? After prohibition ended, the head of what was – it wasn't called the DEA back then, but it was the predecessor to it. Guy named Harry Anslinger. He didn't have anything to do. And so, he started looking around and saying, I mean, this is a typical government bureaucrat story.
If you have a government bureaucracy, the problem is you can never get rid of these bureaucracies. They got to have something to do. So, he starts looking around and he goes, “You know what? There's this ‘mar-i-juana’ that all the blacks and the Mexicans are using.” And so, they start this reefer madness and they literally planted made up stories in newspapers about how it was making black people rape white women. It was completely racist from the beginning.
And so, fast forward into the sixties when Nixon's president, and there are literally tapes of Nixon talking about – because, in the sixties, psychedelics were legal. And they were actually using psychedelics like MDMA and others for therapy reasons. Right?
Jake Banks: Up until 1988. MDMA.
Brian Beckcom: There you go. And so, and Nixon's talking on tape with one of his campaign advisors and he says, “Who does drugs? The minorities and the hippies. And so, we're going to restart this war on drugs to attack our political opponents.” That is the only reason it was started.
People that have an idea that we somehow did some sort of scientific study that said, “All right, this drug is really dangerous, so we need to make that illegal. And there's—” None of that happened. It's all political and the vast majority of it, frankly, was pure and unadulterated fucking racism from the very beginning.
And so it's not surprising to me at all that when you start a war or a public policy that specifically targets certain communities, that those communities are going to be negatively impacted by the war on drugs. I mean, the most dangerous drugs in the world right now are stuff like fentanyl and these opioids that you can get with a prescription. This is madness. The idea that cannabis, which has been used for 2,500 years, would be on a higher schedule than fentanyl is absolute and utter insanity. In my opinion.
Jake Banks: Absolutely insane, especially now, what, there's 11 or so states that have legalized it, but it's still on a schedule one next to heroin, cocaine. And schedule one says there is no medical –
Brian Beckcom: Cocaine is scheduled, too, because they use it in surgical applications. That's what I'm talking about. This is madnesss. This is –
Jake Banks: There's no medical value to it. There's no medical value to it. And the high probability of addiction.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. And you walk into a liquor store and in five minutes, buy enough liquor to kill yourself that night.
Jake Banks: Shit, every case that I've ever read involving family violence. There's a form at the bottom of it. Alcohol involved. On the form. Check, yes. Check, yes. Check, yes. Marijuana involved? I've never seen a family violence case where marijuana was involved. They're not smoking dope and fighting. They're smoking dope and fighting over some Cheetos, but they're not fighting each other, you know?
Brian Beckcom: It's crazy because, and then you've got this complete double standard, like Joe Rogan, who I like watching his podcast and stuff, but he's literally smoking weed and doing mushrooms on air and nobody says shit or does anything about it. But if you're a poor person in a poor community and you get busted doing literally the exact same thing, your ass is going to jail. And so, we don't enforce the laws equally. We target certain communities. And it doesn't work. I mean, that's the bottom line.
And again, I need to say this. I could not be a bigger supporter of law enforcement. My stepmom was an undercover narcotics agent for 30 years. My older brother was a DPS agent. You and I both have a bunch of friends that are in law enforcement. I'm the biggest supporter of law enforcement in the world. And that's exactly why I think we need to end this stupid fucking war so they can focus on the violent guys.
Jake Banks: The bad guys.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, the bad guys. The real bad guys. Come on.
Jake Banks: The bad guys. And you think, “Oh, he's a,” you know, you hear this, “Oh, drug dealer.” Well, okay. Is he a drug dealer? That's one thing. Is he a drug dealer and a murderer? Is he a drug dealer and a murderer and a rapist? Because two of those are violent crimes and one of those is an economic crime.
When you put, “Oh, he's a drug dealer,” you automatically think, “Oh,” because the term is life. You can go to jail for life for doing that. Go to jail for life for giving people what they're asking you for.
Brian Beckcom: Unless you run a corporation and you give hundreds of millions of dollars to various charities and then you get away with selling opioids. There was a county in West Virginia that had something like a hundred thousand people and there was something like 30 million opioid prescriptions made in this one county.
I mean, the biggest drug dealers in the world are legal. Nothing happens. And, again, if you want to talk about the negative health impacts and the addiction, these prescription drugs, by and large, are far more dangerous than the other drugs.
And then the last thing I'll say about this, Jake, is I don't personally believe, and some people might disagree with this, but I don't personally believe the government should be telling people, consenting adults, what the fuck they should do – they should have no right to tell me what I can and can't put in my body as long as I'm not hurting somebody else.
So, it's a freedom thing to me. Like, where are all the libertarians and the conservatives and the republicans? We all need to be on the same page. This is about individual freedom to me. You want to be a dumbass and shoot heroin? You're going to die. That's stupid. Don't do that shit. Okay? But, as long as you're not hurting anybody, man, it's not the government's role to tell you what you can and can't do with your own biology.
Jake Banks: I agree a million percent. And, you know, you made a point earlier about the two things you thought were the stupidest policies of the United States: slavery and the war on drugs.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: You know, those have merged into the prison industrial complex.
Brian Beckcom: Bingo. Bingo.
Jake Banks: Instead of plantations, there are prisons. Instead of producing a crop to where the plantation owner sells the crop at market, the government pays the plantation or the prison owner, the private prison owner, because now there's so many private prisons.
This is an industry now. Prisons, privately run prisons, are a tremendous industry. They are paying that person, the owner of that prison, to house people. That's their crop, that's their product. And the reason they're there is just like you said, because the people that are going to prison for drug crimes, it is affecting Black and Latino communities at a far more disproportional rate than white people.
So, has it really changed that much? We're using different words and different, you know, not a product, but different mechanism to get to the same point that we were 200 years ago. So, it's just another way to keep the prisons full because we’re in the prison industrial complex and the military industrial complex. Like Eisenhower warned about, after World War II, was like, “Keep that shit in check because it's going to grow to be outrageous.”
The U.S. military is bigger than all the other militaries in the world combined by two or three. You know, we're the shit. No doubt. Not nobody can sniff. And now we're getting into – or, now it's already there that the prison industrial complex, we'll put a prison out here in the middle of nowhere and now a town is here and now a village is here, now a Walmart's here and a Whataburger.
And so. Wow. If that prison goes away because we can't keep it full because we can't keep it stocked with lifers that are there because of drugs, then all this economy from this town is gone. And that is the most fucked up thing I've ever heard of is to make a town off the back of somebody that has been sentenced to life in prison for a crime where the victim wants to be victimized.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah. It's insane. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the famous Russian author, he judges society by the condition of its prisons. The idea that there are people in this country who profit off of imprisoning human beings is a moral abomination. I cannot believe that in the United States of America, we have allowed ourselves to get to the point where we allow people to literally make tens of millions of dollars in profit for imprisoning human beings. This is a moral issue to me.
And I don't know if you've ever seen the Netflix documentary, 13th, Jake. Oh, you gotta watch this. And everybody listening, please watch it because, Jake, what you said about the drug war basically being a continuation of slavery. You watch this documentary and that is exactly the thesis of the documentary. I mean, there are contracts right now with private prison companies that require the States to have a certain number of prisoners or they got to pay the company anyway. There are lobbying companies that literally write the laws for the congressmen. They get paid to write the laws in order to benefit the private prisons. In my opinion, the private prison industry should be outlawed.
Jake Banks: Absolutely.
Brian Beckcom: Immediately. And there should never again be any way in the American justice system to literally profit off of throwing human beings in jail. This is a moral issue and we really need to fix this. And the nice thing, Jake, is this is an issue that I think is becoming very bipartisan. I think there are people on both sides of the aisle that agree that we need massive criminal justice reform and the private prison industry is part of that. Of course the problem, as you know, Jake, is when you've got a big corporation, a big industry, making tons of money, they started feeding money to the right politicians, it's very hard to get these laws changed, even if most people agree that they’re stupid laws. Right?
Jake Banks: Right. I agree. And the whole thing backs up to, “Oh, we have this prison. It's got a thousand beds. We've got to keep these beds full.” So backup, backup. When your case goes in front of the judge, you don't get probation. You go to prison because there's a bed for you and it's gotta be filled.
And I'm not saying that every person that gets busted for a joint, those guys don't go to prison. But to think that you're looking at life in prison for smuggling? But, you can rape a child and be out in seven years. Fuck you.
Brian Beckcom: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. This is madness and this has to change. And I don't know why people don't connect these dots. And again, I feel pretty strongly about this, but I am totally convinced that you could solve the problem of police brutality that we see. You could solve a lot of the problems in some of the poorer communities that we see. You could solve a lot of the immigration problems. If you would just stop thinking about this as a war.
It is a – what it is is it's a war on human beings. It's not a war on drugs. It's a war on human beings. And we need to rethink this and start thinking about this as a medical issue and an addiction issue. Let's try to help people that are having addiction problems. I mean, throwing people in jail for a medical addiction is stupid in my opinion.
Jake Banks: Okay. I don't disagree. But we're talking about, let's – we've got a war on terror. Yeah, let's go kill all the bad guys. Let's go blow up other stuff. Let's get their money. Man, fucking A. Do it. War on drugs. Okay. What does the war on drugs entail? Is it a war – are we trying to stop the flow of drugs? Because that's not happening because we're not going down to Columbia or Bolivia or Afghanistan and destroying the – cutting the head off the snake. If we destroyed the product, the crop. You pretty much could just make a massive, you know, take a massive advantage in the war on drugs. It would definitely gain some ground there by destroying the product where it’s grown.
Are we talking about treatment? Can we have a war where a part of the war is to treat these people that think or believe that they need to go do meth, and that they need this heroin? And get that out of their mind. Is that part of the war? Because I don't see that part.
Brian Beckcom: I don’t either.
Jake Banks: And if the war is just an all-encompassing thing and there's casualties and there's civilian casualties and all this other stuff, what part of that war, and who's fighting that to address the people that are addicts?
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: You know, there's no doubt, I mean, the DSM is, you know, addiction is a disease.
Brian Beckcom: No doubt. No doubt.
Jake Banks: There’s no doubt. Okay. So, do we want to get these people treated or we want to throw them in jail? Depends on the situation, I mean, every single case, but for fuck's sake, if they never get any treatment, they're going to come back and do it again.
Brian Beckcom: And you know, you talk about methamphetamines, which are obviously a dangerous drug. Very addictive. But we got a lot of kids right now, they're getting prescription methamphetamines. I mean, that's what Adderall is molecularly. Adderall is essentially a form of meth from a molecular standpoint. And we give those to kids that have concentration issues and things like that. And nobody says we're giving kids meth because we got a nice little brand name and we got a corporation.
Jake Banks: And a doctor prescribes it.
Brian Beckcom: And a doctor prescribes it. And so, it's all good now because we've named it something different, even though fundamentally it's the same thing. And so, you know, and in my neighborhood, I know it's the same as your neighborhood. I got people walking around, they're on all sorts of antidepressants and all sorts of prescription drugs. And these things are addictive. They're dangerous. And most of them don't work that well.
Now with that caveat, I totally support anybody that has mental issues that these drugs help. I think there's nothing at all wrong if these drugs help. But the point is there's people running around my neighborhood, people running around your neighborhood, that are on very powerful prescription drugs. But they don't think about that. There’s nothing wrong with that to them.
And then they’re the same person that says, “Oh, I just busted this poor guy, smoking a joint on the corner. That guy needs to go to jail.” I mean, this is, again, this is a really screwy way of looking at the world, in my opinion. And then, you know, you got former US Congressmen like John Boehner, who was the Speaker of the House. He was writing laws, throwing people in jail, and now he runs a marijuana company or he's on the board of directors of it. I mean, are you kidding me? No wonder people are mad.
Jake Banks: The hypocrisy is overwhelming. And it’s so hypocritical that I just can't make heads or tails of it. I can't understand, like if this is a war, why are we half-assing it?
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, exactly.
Jake Banks: I know those Marines over there in Kandahar and the troops over there and the pilots and everybody that's fighting a war. They’re not fucking dicking around.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: But the politicians who are in charge of it, I guess, or directing it, don't really want it to end. If the war on drugs was curved back, you're talking about losing private prisons. You're talking about losing courts. Losing probation officers. Police. Money that goes to police and money that goes to courts and all of the things that takes a cop to arrest a dude from smoking a joint to get him to probation or final adjudication. All that money is going to be gone.
There's not a single politician anywhere that's going to say, “Yeah, we're going to go ahead and give that away.” They don't want to. They're not gonna. It's such a bureaucracy. It's a part of this country now that is not going away. The only thing we can do is hopefully to revise it in some way that makes sense. And, you know what, at the end of the day, if you just did your drugs in your house, you would never have a fucking problem ever. You know?
Brian Beckcom: Right. Yeah. Just don't be an idiot and try to smuggle shit from France after losing 50,000 pills.
Life Regrets and Lessons
Brian Beckcom: Well, you know, we can talk about this for a very, very long time. And like I said, I've talked to a Marine Corps officers. I've talked to some law enforcement officers, district attorney. I got a Texas ranger coming up. And I'm optimistic because I think – I talked to a judge here in Harris County. And I think most of our generation at least believes that we got to rethink this. I mean, we cannot be throwing people in jail and throwing away the key for these medical issues.
So, Jake, I've kept you way longer than I told you I would. But I anticipated at the beginning of this podcast that this one will go a little long because your story is so fascinating.
I got a couple more questions before, if you'll give me a few –
Jake Banks: It’s going long because you're fucking charging me by the hour. I think I’m gonna get a bill in the mail here next week.
Brian Beckcom: Okay. Let me ask you this question, dude. You ready?
Jake Banks: Let's hear it.
Brian Beckcom: What major regrets do you have in your life?
Jake Banks: Fucking getting involved, going to France.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah.
Jake Banks: Yeah. That's it.
Brian Beckcom: What's the biggest lesson you took out of that?
Jake Banks: Do you know how to make a person not greedy? Fucking take everything they have and I see how you feel about yourself. I came out of there with a different understanding. Before, I felt like my value was somehow entailed to what I had. And then after going there and not having shit, I mean, having a pair of shoes on my feet, having a blanket, and having shitty ass food and being thankful for that? Made me appreciate it a lot more and not to judge myself by what I have, but who I am.
Brian Beckcom: I had that same experience. Not like yours, obviously, but in January I was sitting there one night and all of a sudden I looked around and I said, “You know what? I got everything I need. I got a nice house. I got a nice family. Nice wife. I've got a nice car. I play golf with my good buddies. Got good friends. Got a great practice. What am I so stressed about? Why do I feel like I need to have more and more and more? I've got enough.”
It reminds me of a quote I saw one time. Two guys were talking and they were talking about some billionaire. Guy One says to Guy Two, “Well, I have something he'll never have,” and Guy Two is like, “What? Wait, what do you mean you have something? He's a billionaire. What do you have that he doesn't have?” And Guy One says, “I have enough.”
Jake Banks: Yeah. Yeah. And that was the question. When the DA asked me how many – how long was this going to last? Until there was no end, because when you're think about it, there is no enough, it's just more. How – what do you need? More. What's your end? What number do you need to stop doing what you're doing? More. There is no number. This is the always chasing, chasing, chasing, chasing, and trying to get something that you already had.
It’s like The Rolling Stones. Get satisfaction. And when you can sit there and look around and be like, maybe you got a hundred million in the bank, maybe you got five bucks in your pocket. But if you have that feeling in yourself of like, “I'm good. People love me. I got family. I got this. I got that. I got – I'm good.” That's all you need. That's it.
Brian Beckcom: That, to me, is true. Well, there's two ways to be wealthy. You can make a bunch of money or you can be satisfied with what you have. And I think the second one is a lot easier, and frankly, a lot more fulfilling.
Jake Banks: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Brian Beckcom: Well, Jake, this has been an incredible time and, you know, so the reason I think that you are a perfect guest for Lessons from Leaders is because you went through one of the most traumatic, I mean, you're thinking you're going to spend the rest of your life in jail. Your entire world has collapsed around you. You spent two years, 23 hours a day in a French prison, and you want to talk about resilience.
And right now, during the pandemic and during the protests and all the political turmoil and stuff, I've really been trying to feature people that show what I think is maybe one of the top two or three personal skills we need right now, which is flexibility and resilience. And so you show that and you literally took your life when it was, you know, the bottom of the well. Like, the bottom of the bottom of the well. And you dug yourself out.
And now you got great kids. You got a great job. You got a great group of friends. And I think you are a perfect illustration for everybody listening that no matter how bad things seem, if you just stick with it, finish the semester, be persistent. Ultimately, things will get better.
So, man, I really, really appreciate you being on the podcast. I really appreciate your candor. I really strongly recommend that people read this book and this book needs to be a movie, bottom line.
Jake Banks: Let's do it. Let's do it. You can play the gay guy that was in the jail
Brian Beckcom: Very well. What was his name?
Jake Banks: His name was, uh, I can't remember.
Brian Beckcom: Pepé Le Pew. All right, motherfucker.
Jake Banks: I appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me on, dude.
Brian Beckcom: Yeah, I had a great time.
Jake Banks: Alright.
Brian Beckcom: See you, brother.
Jake Banks: Take care.
Brian Beckcom: Hey, Brian Beckcom here. I hope you really liked the latest episodes of Lessons from Leaders. I really, really appreciate all the thousands and thousands of people that have commented, that have listened, that have subscribed, that have seen the shows. And if you're liking the show, it would really, really help me and all the guests if you would give it a rating. If you would subscribe. If you would comment and share on it.
The algorithms that run the underlying platform, like I've talked about earlier, really like that. And so, I'm not getting paid for this. The people that are on the show are not getting paid for this. We're doing this for one reason. We're doing this to spread some positive leadership, some positive stories, some fun stories out in the world.
We've got far too much fighting going on right now. And so, Lessons from Leaders is designed to focus on basically 100% positive leadership. And so, if you're liking the show, if you want me to keep doing it, if you want me to keep getting good guests, boy, I would really, really appreciate it if you could like, comment, share, subscribe, do all those things so the podcast algorithms will continue to serve it up and more people will see it. And hopefully my guests and their views will have an even wider impact on the world then they already have. So anyway, thank you very much. And onto the next episode.