A Whistleblower Journal

How I Learnt
My
Lesson

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by: Heidi Weber

There’s an old timey saying that many parents have said to their kids as a warning, mostly. It’s the kind of¬† “official” parent¬† thing you say, when you want your kids to pay attention, and take note. You know, one of those life lessons that we all hope they will carry to keep them safe, with an extra bonus, it sounds very authoritative and profound.

“Did you learn a valuable lesson from this”. “I hope you learnt your lesson.”

[See also [the hard way]

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the phrase:¬† Learn your Lesson as: “to decide¬†not to do something again because it has¬†caused¬†you¬†problems¬†in the past”

The Free Dictionary  has a couple of definitions for it: 

  1. To learn through painful experience not to do something, often something one had been warned about or knew might be risky. 
  2. learn what to do or what not to do in the future because you have had a bad experience in the past

All those definitions sound scary, and very ominous. Notice that they all have something in common: painful, knew might be risky, bad experience, caused problems

I know, you’re thinking what does this word salad have to do with whistleblowing?

I was at the top of my then, career of 20 years, and a college, “Instructor of the Year”, and Corporate Program Dean of 1800 healthcare students when I was the one who really….. learnt my lesson.

If you don’t already know my whistleblowing story, you can read a bit about it at WhistleblowerRevolution.com. It was also featured as the season one finale of CBS Whistleblower with (Fmr Judge) Alex Ferrer, which also led me to become an associate producer to season two. (Nice guy, great people, another story, another time.)

Long story short, I became a whistleblower.

However, before I earned that title, I, like everyone else, didn’t really know what it meant.¬† Whistleblower, hmmm. I mean, I could give you a basic overview of the word. I knew it was when a person finds something bad going on and speaks up. Then, from college, I remembered there was something about something else being “protected speech”, whatever that meant, but the part about blowing the whistle that pretty much everyone knew was what happens to whistleblowers.

Like most people, I thought, it was trivia that would never apply to me, but after seeing tens of thousands of students lied to for so long, and a kind stranger consoling me with words that changed my life forever in the Atlanta Airport at 11 pm on the day of my dads funeral, I blew the whistle, loudly.¬† Only to be fired 3 days later, with the Corporate Operations Officer sending out an email to solicit dirt on me in the interim. I still never put two and two together. It wasn’t until a friend said to me two weeks after I was fired, “Heidi, they can’t fire you for being a whistleblower. ¬†That’s against the Law. You need to find an attorney.”

Several random calls from blind yellow pages searches, and two attorneys telling me I’d “never win a whistleblower case in MN, led me to an amazing whistleblower attorney who believed in me and was¬† just as outraged and the rest is history, (actually, it is and I’m proud of that). I learnt so many things, like without my whistleblower attorney partner, none of it would’ve been possible. I wouldn’t have had a chance at justice.

¬†I never knew there was a whole legal realm and process to it. I never realized, thanks to whistleblowers, approximately 5 BILLION taxpayer dollars are recovered EACH YEAR from corrupted organizations who have wasted, abused, and defrauded the government and American Citizens….and while I knew what happens to most whistleblowers, I didn’t know the price that whistleblowers ultimately pay, (even when they win)¬† for doing the right thing.

There’s an “old timey” saying that parents have said to their kids for eons. It’s the kind of¬†“official” parent¬†thing you say, when you want your kids to pay attention, and take note. You know, one of those life lessons that we all hope they will carry with them to keep them safe. Plus it sounds very “parent-like”.

“I hope you learnt your lesson.”

[See also [the hard way]

The¬†Cambridge Dictionary¬†defines the phrase:¬†¬†Learn your Lesson¬†as: “to¬†decide¬†not to do something again because it has¬†caused¬†you¬†problems¬†in the past”

The Free Dictionary has a couple of definitions for it: 

  1. To learn through painful experience not to do something, often something one had been warned about or knew might be risky. 
  2. learn what to do or what not to do in the future because you have had a bad experience in the past

All those definitions sound scary, and very serious, and they all have a few things in common: painful, knew might be risky, bad experience, caused problems

I know, you’re thinking what does this word salad have to do with whistleblowing?

I was at the top of my then, career of 20 years, and a college, “Instructor of the Year”, and Corporate Program Dean of 1800 healthcare students when I was the one who really…..¬†learnt my lesson. The irony of this…..just when you think you have a grip on this whole life thing.

If you don’t already know my whistleblowing story, you can read a bit about it at¬†WhistleblowerRevolution.com. It was also featured as the season one finale of¬†CBS Whistleblower¬†with (Former Judge) Alex Ferrer, which also led me to become an Associate Producer for Season Two. (Nice guy, great people, another story, another time.)

Long story short, my teaching career ended and my title changed to whistleblower.

However, before I earned that very polarizing title, I, like everyone else, didn’t really know what it meant.¬†I didnt know how much it would change my life and I sure as hell, didn’t know the process and the legal journey it would take me. I’d never been in a corporate lawsuit.

What I did know was that I couldn’t just sit there and allow so many people to keep being hurt anymore. The rest, I guess, I would just find out.

Whistleblower, hmmm. I mean, I could give you a basic overview of the word. I knew it was when a person finds something bad going on and something to do with speaking up. Then, from college, I remembered, there was something about something else being “protected speech”, whatever that meant, but the part about blowing the whistle that pretty much everyone knows was what happens to whistleblowers.

Like most people, I thought, it was trivia that would never apply to me, but after seeing tens of thousands of students lied to for so long, and a kind stranger consoling me with words that changed my life forever in the Atlanta Airport at 11 pm on the day of my dads funeral, I “made a decision” that would change my life. I blew the whistle, loudly, (I never seem to do anything quietly.)¬†Only to be fired 3 days later, with the COO sending out an email to solicit dirt on me in the interim. Even with this, I still never put two and two together from a legal standpoint. It wasn’t until a friend said to me two weeks after I was fired,
“Heidi, they can’t fire you for being a whistleblower.¬†¬†That’s against the Law. You need to find an attorney.”
So, I started making several random calls from blind yellow pages searches, and after two attorneys telling me I’d “never win a whistleblower case in MN”. Instead of giving up, somehow, I thought, I’d try one more time, and randomly stumbled “accidentally” on to an amazing whistleblower attorney who believed in me and was¬†just as outraged and the rest is history, (actually, it is and I’m proud of that).

I¬†learnt¬†so many things, like without my whistleblower attorney partner, none of it would’ve been possible. I wouldn’t have had a chance at justice.

I never knew there was a whole legal realm and process to it. I never realized, thanks to whistleblowers, approximately 5 BILLION taxpayer dollars are recovered EACH YEAR from corrupted organizations who have wasted, abused, and defrauded the government and American citizens….and while I knew what happens to most whistleblowers, I didn’t know the price that whistleblowers ultimately pay the rest of their lives, (even when they win)¬†for doing the right thing.

Well, I¬†learned my lesson¬†alright, and I’m not done learning that lesson. I learnt about people, and how wonderful a few can be and how shallow, careless, and selfish many others are. I learned not to trust anyone and that most people only care about themselves or what you can do for them. Don’t get me wrong, I tried so hard to¬†ignore that lesson, and pretend it didn’t happen, in the hopes that maybe I could just go on like before, climbing my own stable, oblivious, corporate ladder.

Wrong. 

I think each whistleblower has a different take away, but let me share the main lesson that I learnt from this whistleblower experience. It gave me a lot of time to start really do some serious soul searching. I mean really looking at my life, and the events in my life, who I am and what it all means.

In my adult life, my view of religion and God etc. has changed from my younger days of “just say your prayers and all will be ok”, and I won’t get into that here, but my whistleblower journey is the one event that opened my eyes to the fact that the path we are on in this life,¬†is not random.

I don’t have any answers beyond this knowledge, and I don’t claim to be able to explain to you why or how. I don’t know whether its science or religion, and I don’t have any major revelation in how this whole thing works. (I probably never will), but¬†the older I get, the more sure I am of this “non-randomness phenomenon”, and the more aware I am of details, logic and the importance of taking the time to meditate and evaluate events in my life.

There were so many times where my footing was so unsure and my faith in people, (and basically, anything) was at its lowest. It was then that I really realized that:

  1. there was no way that all these things and events that happened, could ever be just coincidence.
  2. I started logically looking back at everything that had happened, and even farther back in my life. I have had, not one, but several, life or death severely altering experiences in my life, and after investigating, I discovered, more than anyone I know. Some of them were not in my power and some of them definitely, were, but each involved a decision that could’ve saved, or ended my life.

There is no way that I could be that lucky (or unlucky) statistically, but more than that, I started paying attention, and found that events that were “meant to be” just happened without any or little effort, and those that I had to¬†force or thought I could control,¬†rarely worked out.

{I explain all of this much better, and how I’ve learned to recognize, hone in, and use this very basic view to help me survive, get through horrible events, and not be a miserable cow, which I’m documenting in writing my book.}

My whistleblower lesson was the most lonely, and painful, but unlike the definitions above, it’s a lesson I would do again. For whatever reason, whether I was scared or not, it was what I needed to be doing at that time. It was the just and right thing, it feels right and seemed to always “come together”. It helped a lot of people.

It’s one of the major lessons I try every day as Host of the Whistleblower Revolution Podcast and in speaking engagements, to teach others.

Want to learn more lessons? Or find out how to hone your own inner whistleblower? Listen in to the WhistleblowerRevolution.com and everywhere podcasts are available.

 Join US, because THIS revolution is (still learning every day, and) definitely #NoTeaParty

Heidi

“NoStop” Heidi Weber

Landmark Higher Ed Whistleblower, Advocate, Speaker,

Host of “The Whistleblower Revolution Podcast‚ÄĚ

Listen in at Apple Podcast, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, IHeartRadio, Google Podcast, ITunes, or anywhere you listen