For more than twenty-five years, my professional life has been defined by disasters and tragedies. I have been asked by presidents, attorneys general, the secretary of the Treasury, the Congress, and judges to design and administer compensation programs aimed at alleviating the financial plight of innocent victims. I have been tasked with determining what corporate officials should earn. In so doing, I have learned firsthand how compensation and human nature interact, how they feed off each other. The decisions I have had to make would have been impossible without an understanding of how people react to tragedy, how they view compensation, and what they expect in receiving a check. In my work I benefit from neither a degree in divinity nor one in psychology or psychiatry. But these specialties come to the fore in trying to do justice, in attempting to compensate fairly.
Understanding the mind-set of those receiving compensation, their reaction to dollars-and-cents calculations, is critical to success.