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To speak or Not to speak – that is No More the question!

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Who doesn’t know the opening phrase of Hamlet Nunnery Scene “To be, or not to be, that is the question …”. I like to borrow that same phrase for this post as it fits perfectly into my own life drama. In my recent blog entry I wrote of a particular moment of my private life. It tells in short a very special experience I’ve made that even today after more than 20 years it doesn’t want to go away easily. That case is so daunting and unbelievable that makes it difficult to tell – but I must.
The 50minCoach Blog is my business blog that deals with topics related to my coaching and mentoring work. So why am I sharing private matters here? First of all I need to do it for myself. I need to empty my mind and get rid of what clinches on me without forgetting the experiences. Some may argue that I should write a book – I will. But in the mean time I need to vent and that is why I post it on this blog. Second, it is an experience only very few will do or have done to that extend during their life time. I want to share it with anyone in the hope that it can be avoided or for others the negative impact being minimized. And third, this life experience can be crucial in a Globalized Business environment. For me and my family it has cost us millions and we know that we never will be able to recover the amount lost. In a Corporation you want to avoid losses in profit and you want to optimize it. In both cases it is crucial to know how to circumvent or if already affected by similar happenings how to get out.
Let me now share my story that has for two decades disrupted my life and my private and business network. The broad picture is essential to understand the magnitude of what happened. At this moment, do not expect details as I want to stick to the main points for clarity.

The Case
In the late 1980s Switzerland was shaken by a huge Socio-Political Scandal that has become known under the name Fischenaffäre or in English The Secret Files Scandal. The dimension and the impact can today be compared to the revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013 on NSA and GCHQ surveillance. Those files have being found more or less by accident while investigating another corruption case involving the then Swiss Minister of Justice Elisabeth Kopp. In the early stage investigators found index cards containing short messages with date and code on locations that where either under the jurisdiction of the Local or State Police. With the help of the media and by insisting to know more on the meaning of those contents, huge piles of files were uncovered containing detailed records of ordinary citizens. At that time over a million citizens – over 10% of the then population – (some pretend it was less) have being spied on, registered, filed and as we know today harassed, old friendships and families driven apart, provoking divorces, bankruptcy and probably even suicides. Employers where informed in ways that led from not being employed to being sacked from the job. In short, their lives have being disrupted from mild to the most extreme ways.
Now who were those disrupted people? Left leaning Politicians, Academics, Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers, Journalist, Labor Parties and their members, Activists and any other who were engaged in an open and active life and where not necessarily agreeing with the Elected Government or other officials. In short; people who voiced dissent on topics they felt the authority is not sufficiently carrying for. At that stage it is worth mentioning that Switzerland does NOT forbid criticizing officials publicly. But dare you do, there are plenty of ways of harassing you and making your life become worthless without the use of laws but through a well-established closed network where the Army, Economical powers, local and state Government are forming the core elements.
In less than a year later, the Government proudly announced that the Secret Files Scandal has being solved and “the people have gained trust again” into the Government (hmm). They then declared the case as closed. Of course they could in such a short time not assess the state of mind of the many affected and others who felt deeply disappointed by a Government they deemed Democratic. 

The dimension and the impact can today be compared to the revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013

So where does my issue start? I try to be brief. Our business was not too bad going but we were still investing. I started a new service helping companies protect their investments by offering them my help in dealing with “addiction problems at the workplace” without the need for sacking their staff. In late 1989 I was in need for a new office location and gave my number here and there. A bit later we heard the police was investigating me. We never found out for what but believe it had to do with our distribution of contacts for the new office location (sounds to me like USSR). The file was closed after a few weeks. At the same time we got news that another high ranking employee grabbed the closed file and reopened it (to the amaze of all others). I need to give him an identity, let me call this high ranking official “PHu”. I called PHu to ask why he wanted to talk to me. The moment he heard my name he replied (it’s hard not to remember that); “Yes Mr Castelli I wanted to call you. Give me 2-3 weeks and I’ll call you back”. Fair enough I though. Nearly 2 months later after not hearing from PHu I called him again from my office (as the first time) using the same phone and number (as the first time). After my introduction – “Good morning PHu this is Eddie Castelli. You wanted to call me some times ago.” – he seemed totally changed, closed, repellent and at some points aggressive. “Anybody can pretend to be Eddie Castelli” he replied. After reminding him that the Swiss Government can see on their display not only the phone numbers but also the names of the callers (yes the Swiss could this by 1990), it would be a good idea to trust their own system. His next question showed me how unimportant or even banal the whole story was; “how I would know he wanted to call me back?”. Wow, what a stupid question, I though, and asked myself if he is senile not remembering such a matter after a few weeks only. We had a short verbal back and forth where I several times asked and wanted to know his reason for talking to me but he refused to reply. I reminded him at that stage, that only a short while ago our Minister of Interior “proudly” announced the Government will change and be more transparent but he seemed not to have gotten that message. Loud and clear I told him “he is sitting on the wrong chair” unfit to hold such a powerful position and closed the phone.

I never, ever heard back from PHu in any direct form. But we noticed never before experienced changes in many parts of my daily private and business activities. Those ranged from apprehending my business snail mails and later eMails, listening to my phone conversations for then abusing those information to harm my person and business (they made several mistakes), being followed by unknown right behind me throughout the city, sitting in a coffee shop and observing me what I do who I meet (trust me on that as I knew that place in and out), I was issued a non-official gag order and being forbidden to speak with others in a community center, losing customers one after one over a short period and many other unexplained small and not so small happenings. I know of a few cases where – as example a trusted friendship with a family broke apart – suddenly. A Journalist got an assignment to interview me and write extensively about my new service. When the story was published it came out as tiny article where one sentence didn’t fit the next and the whole story was out of context and made no more sense to any reader. We later learned that there was a last minute instruction to cut it down as apparently their where accusations against my person. And this one was a direct and daunting attack against my business, here in short. Over the past months I’ve build a prosperous business relationship that – suddenly broke: I had a meeting with a prospective client offering them my new service. The GM told me that they do have a Manager with addiction problems that he was technically good and would like to keep him. I was asked to come back 5 days later as they first wanted to speak to that Manager in question. That first meeting was friendly and extended. When coming back, I was ready for anything from “sorry he doesn’t want” to “please help us”. But no, without even greeting me the GM told me in an offensive manner right into my face “With you Mr. Castelli, we will not work together!”. Wow, what happen here? What provoked that change within 5 days? I can’t share with you the sound of that spoken sentence but read it again in a strong manner, you will understand. The only logic to us was that someone must have spoken to that GM about me saying what ever to make that person feel abrasive toward my person.

In 1993 we had to close our family business and write off all our investments. I was incapable of getting even the smallest assignment. But before I left Switzerland I got news that the Government started to offer a “new service” to Corporations to deal with “addiction problems at the workplace”. Aha, ok – got the message! Unfortunately the story is far from over. It would at that moment take way too much time and space to describe the following years – will be done in my book. I only can tell you so much, it was brutal unpleasant.
After repelling and surviving all attacks toward my person and my professional work I feel ok today. But the damage is done and it is substantial; to body, mind, spirit, my person, economically and private! Some I could restore, others will take longer and for the rest it will never recover. I did rebuild my Company but will never gona be able to recover our lost assets, I will have to live for the rest of my life knowing that Character Assassination has and most likely will in the future haunt me in one or the other form.

When it comes to privacy, trust is a complex value to earn.

Let me start this brief conclusion with a question; what you think will happen if you go to your local police station to place a complaint against a police officer? Right, depending where you live on this planet they laugh you off or kill you either physically or through character assassination. So often the Swiss Government proved never doing their homework when it comes to wrong behavior of their own employees. Practicing free voting does not imply you are democratic. It only says you are fulfilling “one part of Democracy”. In the case of Switzerland they lack the ability to deal with dissent through discussing, debating, disputing. If you call yourself the oldest Democracy you must lead to the fullest extend and with all consequences no matter the dissent. And if you can’t – then don’t call yourself a Democratic Nation. PHu clearly abused his position, power and Tax money to pursue a very personal oriented campaign against my person with far reaching effects and consequences that affected my family, our business and those he intimidated and blackmailed along the way.

When it comes to privacy, trust is a complex value to earn. I can tell! As a Coach and Mentor I always uphold my believe to empower my clients, to give them what they pay for, to give them self-confidence and to keep confidential the direct spoken words. I know I am different in the way I deal with others (that is part of my success) and I can deal with those differences. This seems to create problems for others. Those, with whom I worked, do value my stand on such fundamental issues and my professionalism.

My Life is My message – and all the experiences mentioned here are today part of it. What was not anticipated by others is the strength I developed and how I navigate the storm. And those made experiences I now can incorporate into my work and teach my clients. Let me close this post by sharing this apt quotation from a marvelous and true story on being different in a dominating environment (have seeing the movie) as it fits perfectly how I view and deal with difficult and diverse matters: “No arrow flies straight. There’s nothing wrong with a crooked arrow. As long as it follows its own path, it will find its way!” (from Crooked Arrows). If you understand this quote you have learned much about my tolerance in what surrounds me.

Enjoy being you ● enjoy being different!

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5 Responses

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  1. Hi Eddie, This is great. Congratulations for creating this blog and for sharing your experiences and ideas for moving forward. I look forward to reading more from this medium and for meeting with you soon in Bangkok. Ed Grant


    Ed Grant

    14. December 2014 at 5:53 pm

    • Thanks Ed, great to hear from you. Agree it was time to make this public and hope many will help sharing it. It was so brutal that I was busy to navigate around it. Time is good.



      14. December 2014 at 6:25 pm

  2. Quite schocking; glad that it’s all over and you have a new life & career!


    Mymy Lam

    14. December 2014 at 6:22 pm

    • Good to hear from you Mymy. Yes agree! I lost 20 valuable years where I could have helped much more people.



      14. December 2014 at 6:30 pm

  3. […] than 20 years that put me under such enormous distress and ended me getting burned-out (read more here and here), this task is not so trivial at all. I promise that this year you will see posts on The […]


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