Sunday, April 8, 2018

Response to HBO's Movie "Paterno"


Last night HBO aired a movie about Paterno's fall from grace as Penn State's admired football coach. It failed to reveal the Paterno I experienced when coaching with him and Sandusky as an assistant Penn State football coach in 1987 and 1988 and how Paterno's true colors facilitated Sandusky's rampant pedophilia.

I experienced Paterno as a bully who demanded bizarre player witch hunts and staff behaviors. These contradicted his win the right way mantra. He also threatened staff and players with personal violence, he made racist statements, and he isolated, belittled, disenfranchised, and demeaned decent players and staff with tyrannical rage while projecting a calm and concerned public persona in the media. His true self so contradicted his beloved public image to this day people refuse to acknowledge Sandusky's crimes and Paterno's culpability.

Paterno's ruse and permission set the tone for Sandusky to model and create a sham of a charity where Sandusky committed the most vile form of bullying. All abuse is rooted in a predator's disturbed needs for power and contol. Abuse flourishes in organizations only where complicit officials allow it. Great teams elevate their most vulnerable. Bad teams, like those officiated by Paterno and Sandusky, exploit and abuse them.

We are all flawed, and there is a spectrum. The movie failed to show how Paterno's own bullying and his deceptive, selfish, and narcissistic true colors allowed and facilitated Sandusky, whose disorder is on this spectrum with sociopaths and serial murderers, to rape children for decades.

The movie failed to show Paterno's most ruthless, mean spirited, and deceptive character and how THIS facilitated Sandusky's crimes. Paterno was so focused on spinning and projecting his own web of lies he got caught in Sandusky's deception.

As a result of my exposure to Paterno's debilitating actions and organization, I pursued an MBA and have dedicated my last 27 years to helping organizations around the globe thrive with healthy leadership and teamwork while rooting out bullying and abusive behaviors. Simon & Schuster will be releasing my book,"Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies" in September.

It's based on cases I've experienced in my international consulting practice and is written to help readers identify, stop, address, and transcend all forms of bullying and abuse, including childhood sexual abuse.

Thank you for your consideration and support. Please let me know if I can help you or your organization overcome horrific setbacks to thrive.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies!

This weekend, HBO will release "Paterno", and Simon & Schuster announced the September release date for my book, "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies".

The film stars Al Pacino as Paterno and chronicles Paterno's fall from grace in November 2011 when he eclipsed the NCAA's all time coaching wins record AND was fired from PSU for his culpability in allowing Sandusky to sexually molest young boys.

I worked as an offensive line coach at Penn State with Paterno and Sandusky in 1987 and 1988 and their bizarre power dynamics and narcissism turned me off to coaching.

It also motivated me to earn an MBA and help organizations rid themselves of bullies and bad management practices.

The film appears to allow the viewer to decide whether Paterno was complicit and knowingly allowed Sandusky to molest boys for the sake of Paterno's drive to become college football's all time most winning football coach and to protect his and Penn State's reputations.

Having dedicated my life to helping leaders and organizations stop, address, and transcend vile bullying behaviors to help organizations thrive, two truths have proven evident and consistent in officials in management positions where bullying, including the sexual abuse of children, flourishes. Either

1. at best, due to their own narcissism, selfishness, and deceptions, these officials do not have the moral fortitude to understand and acknowledge the evil being practiced under their noses, or

2. at worst, these officials knowingly keep these abusive and bullying behaviors secret to remain in power and to maintain their and their organizations' false appearances.

As a protected, and bullying, assistant coach under Rip Engle at Penn State, Paterno was known by players as "Joe the rat". He knew, and would screw, on every player who stepped out of line. He knew everything about everyone.

I found this to be the case when I worked for him when he was head coach. He'd even create typical bullying traps in an attempt to target and catch players he suspected might tarnish his brand and image. With Paterno, I choose option 2. He made it his job to know everything about everybody in the Penn State football program, including Sandusky. Paterno was complicit.

These are the options, so you decide. Either Paterno was too evil to recognize Sandusky's evil or he knowingly kept Sandusky's evil secret to protect his own ass.

Just as a coach, who was trying to encourage me to work for the late, great, Don James instead of Paterno said to me: "don't let JoePa smoke you." His veneer was slick and his brand was impressive.

But, there is no way in hell Sandusky's brand of evil ever, ever, exists under the watch of a true and great leader, or man.

Paterno was a phony and I only thought his duplicity involved his pontificating about winning football games the right way while overseeing a corrupt football program. A fish stinks from the head.

Enjoy the movie, and I hope you enjoy my book, written to help good leaders and bullying targets stop and transcend bullying, scheduled to be released in September.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sources: Police arrest Larry Nassar's Michigan State University boss

A fish stinks from its head!

The only root cause common in bullying and abusive organizations is it is ALLOWED by complicit officials!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Please, Let's Stop All Forms of Bullying!

Attached please find a very moving testimony from a man who confronts his childhood bully, now the newly selected respective school superintendent.

Over the years, I've counseled grown men, shaking and crying, who were bullied by a disturbed boss or executive.

To be released later this year is my book entitled, "Successful Leaders Aren't Bullies; How to Stop Abuse at Work and Build Exceptional Organizations".

It presents research and examples culled from my 27 years of observing and experiencing corporate bullying while consulting internationally.

It's written to help readers identify, stop, and transcend bullies and bullying organizations.

The book contrasts workplace and schoolyard bullying. Both forms exist because they are allowed by complicit organizational officials.

All bullying is based on deleterious power and control dynamics and, I believe, evil; selfishness, deception, and narcissism.

Bullies are cowards. If you see someone being bullied, or it's reported to you, please report it through the ranks up to and including legal authorities.

As we've seen, bullying can lead to tragic consequences.

If you see someone being bullied, please, within safe boundaries, say something and do something to stop it!

Thank you for your consideration and courage!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Truth Will Set You Free II

Let's reward the courageous who report and shine a light on bullying sex crimes rather than those who keep it in the dark.

Realize this is divisive, but very much worth discussing.

The facts:
Penn State has paid over $100 million in fines resulting from being found guilty for allowing a known pedophile, Sandusky, to abuse vulnerable boys on Penn State property. Also, it is a fact Paterno, PSU's athletic director, vice president, and president were all found guilty, aware of, and complicit in not elevating and reporting Sandusky's crimes.

It's a fact I experienced Paterno as a bully when I coached PSU's offensive line as a graduate assistant in 1987-1988. I also experienced Sandusky as a goof ball who had no physical boundaries with junior high and high school players who attended PSU Football camps nor with Penn State players. I addressed him about this, as it made me uncomfortable, and he said: "I just love kids".

The facts are Schiano and Bradley both were full time Penn State assistant football coaches during the time court documents prove Sandusky was molesting boys on PSU facilities and some, if not all, full time staff members were aware of these crimes. Court documents state then inside linebacker's coach Joe Sarra entered a meeting, pale as a ghost, when I was on the staff but not at this meeting, after Sarra witnessed Sandusky molesting a boy in the PSU facilities and announced this to the staff. Bradley was on the staff at this time.

It is a fact one of my greatest regrets to date is not being more aware, or trusting my instincts, and reporting Sandusky's crimes in 1986, to stop and prevent Sandusky's pedophilia path of destruction 25 years in advance,when I first interviewed with him and the staff and then worked with him. I never witnessed Sandusky committing any form of sexual abuse or heard of any such crimes while I worked on the staff in 1987 and 1988.

His crimes were beyond my expectation, but not beyond my comprehension. The grad assistant coaches, there for 18 months, were kept in the dark about Sandusky. I suffered the consequences resulting from the acts of a comparable, depraved, predator as a boy. In large part, football and great coaches helped me transcend my horrific start in life.

It's why I chose to pursue coaching as a career upon graduating from Brown, to help others as Coach Monica and Coach Francis and good coaches had helped me. Documents not allowed as evidence in court suggest Schiano and Bradley were aware of Sandusky's crimes and did nothing to stop or report these crimes.

Assumptions:
Schiano and Bradley were aware and complicit. Anyone in a role dedicated to developing young men would run, not walk, to the authorities once aware of the factual abusive behaviors Sandusky committed. The staff and administrators were more concerned with keeping these crimes in the dark and allowing these boys to suffer and to be destroyed for the sake of their own careers and the football team's and associated university's reputation.

If we've learned anything from this most vile case of Paterno corruption and Sandusky bullying, it's to err on the side of caution, for the safety and well-being of children, and not for the rights of some coaching applicant with tons of smoke swirling around his resume caused by Sandusky's evil fire.

If they had been strong and true and decent men, they would have intervened and addressed and stopped Sandusky's behaviors. In return, with their coaching talents, they'd have the choice now of any head football coaching job in America.

All they needed to do, and all we need to do, is shed the light.

A child's soul is worth more than all the wins in NCAA Football History. These men lied, they failed to address their own weaknesses, and they were selfish. Check out the Good Book. These behaviors equal evil. Knowingly hiring someone who may have allowed this to perpetuate at Penn State is enabling behavior and absurd.

If Schiano and Bradley did know, they should not be allowed to work near people, much less with young men. If they didn't, too bad. Please consider how one of Sandusky's victims might feel about Schiano and Bradley deserving a second chance or a better shot in life despite Schiano or Bradley failing to offer this right to, or to protect, these survivors.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Truth Will Set You Free: From Penn State to the State Pen!

From Penn State to the State Pen!



Light beats darkness.

Positive beats negative.

Good (honesty, selflessness, self awareness and self criticism) beats evil (lying, selfishness, narcissism).

There's hope, healing, and support.

You're not alone.

It's not your fault.

Healing is possible.

It's never too late.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why Celebrate Joe Paterno?

Joe Paterno’s self-professed grand experiment, to treat major college football players as regular students, created an impressive legacy of Penn State Student Athletes over his coaching career. Paterno’s public image, highlighted by his blending academic (tweed jackets, ties, oxfords, and khakis) and athletic (white sox and black athletic shoes) attire was embraced by the public.

The Joe Paterno I experienced in private as a Penn State graduate assistant football coach was much different. That Joe Paterno was a bully who threatened players and staff, made offensive comments, and twisted bad and manipulative behavior to appear good in the media. Staff and players denounced him. His true behavior, behind closed doors, contradicted his public image. And worse, Paterno’s false appearances, his cognitive dissonance, his power and control, enabled Jerry Sandusky’s evil to flourish.

I know. I am a healthy survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). I am a big advocate of what makes teams and organizations great. The positive aspects of football helped me overcome the abuse and trauma I experienced as a child.

I played on three consecutive undefeated high school state championship teams and was a captain and an all-state player for the top team in NJ as a senior. Also during this senior season, my mother succumbed to her eight-year struggle with Melanoma. Our success allowed me to be recruited by all the Ivy League Universities, Service Academies, and I received several Division One football scholarships. In college I was named to the All-Ivy League Team twice and then had several, failed, NFL tryouts.

Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort humans feel when they balance contradictory opinions or manifest behaviors inconsistent with their beliefs. And there’s a lot of that going on right now with Penn State’s decision to honor Joe Paterno this Saturday, September 17.

Penn State alumni and athletes who shared classrooms and victories have every right to celebrate their cherished memories. For me, rather than Celebrate Paterno, I choose to celebrate the great Penn State players and to recognize the impact his deceptive and controlling behavior had on me and others, how he allowed an evil assistant destroy young boys’ souls, and how my disdain for him and power and control dynamics motivate me and others to encourage good people to:

Trust your instincts when sensing or seeing any signs of child abuse. Report this to local authorities. I addressed Sandusky when his lack of boundaries; his pinching, head-locking, and grabbing PSU Football Campers made me uncomfortable. He laughed and said he “just loved kids”. I wish I’d known more about identifying, reporting, stopping, healing from, and overcoming CSA.

Signs a child is being abused and where to seek help

Predator signs and signals

Responding to Child Sexual Abuse

Impact of sexual abuse on a child

Overcoming a bad childhood.

My experience at Penn State


When the Sandusky scandal broke, Paterno and his supporters were in a pivotal position to be true leaders and to exercise the Athenians’ intent for sport; to elevate human thought and conduct and, in turn, to benefit society. They could have made a positive difference, to bring awareness to the vile epidemic of child abuse, to do what Paterno always claimed was most important – to teach and to learn.

They dropped the ball, and with Penn State’s plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Paterno’s first game as head coach on Saturday, it’s a good time to reflect on something that only gets attention when there’s a scandal.

For targets, victims, and survivors of childhood sexual abuse, football season, and any time vulnerable kids are left alone with unsupervised others, offers a variety of threats and triggers and opportunities. I knew Sandusky and when I heard the charges filed against him, read the statements from his victims, and saw his hollow responses in the media, I got sick, and enraged.

I also felt great remorse for not being more aware and protecting his future victims from him. I never saw Sandusky assault a child. His evil was beyond my worst expectations, but there were signs. Since then, I’ve met a survivor Sandusky was molesting while I was on the staff in 1987 and 1988. I wish I’d saved this young man from years of torment.

I know, first hand, the suffering victims experience from this pernicious behavior. I also know pedophiles who assault boys average 150 victims. According to research, in the United States, 1 in 6 boys is sexually molested. Only a very small portion, 6.2%, of all male survivors of CSA choose to repeat the cycle of abuse. However, the majority of child molesters are victims of CSA, derived from this small group. Early intervention is key to stemming this destructive cycle.

This compelled me to do what I could to help vulnerable kids, those involved in abusive relationships, and survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I spoke out to offer support and counsel and to condemn power and control dynamics in organizations, like Penn State, facilitating abuse.

Sexual abuse is not sex. Sex is a consensual act between compatible adult peers. Sexual predators target, abuse, and attempt to control younger, smaller, weaker, poorer, disadvantaged, vulnerable people to fulfill a devious need for power and control, and to destroy. Abuse is the opposite of love.

The following effective processes are intended to free survivors from trauma so they can get started on the good life they have ahead.

First is to share secrets with a licensed, highly regarded, expert in CSA, trauma, and PTSD.

Second, identify cognitive distortions caused by the abuse and associated, negative, behaviors.

Third, in the moment, select new, healthier, responses leading to more positive outcomes, and

Fourth, integrate the new, healthier, sense of self with healthier people and organizations.

These are the steps I, and many others, took to stop abuse and to take ownership and to be empowered to live a healthy and fulfilled life. Unhealthy distortions and responses to abuse are learned when one’s a victimized child. More effective, healthy, responses can be relearned as a mature adult survivor. Peace is possible!

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse can come to realize the truth will set them free. For all, living well is the best revenge!

It's not your fault!

You are not alone!

Healing is possible!

Matt's SB Nation Radio Interview on Honoring Paterno

Matt's Interview on Honoring Paterno with Glenn Clark Radio


Matt Paknis is a senior management consultant with 6 years of college football coaching, ten years of playing football, 5 championship seasons, an MBA, and 25 years of experience working with organizations, athletic teams, and communities to implement tools and practices distinguishing thriving behaviors and performance influenced by great and healthy leaders and teams. Matt serves as Executive Secretary on the Board of Directors of Male Survivor.