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  • Richard Bistrong

Cartoons, Crime and Compliance

The full animation of “Why We Say Yes,” is now available by clicking on the above image. As a companion guide, here is my interview with  Nicole Rose (, creative founder, and CEO of Create Training and The Centre for Excellence.

Hi Nicole, so first, how about sharing some of your background,  and how that brought you to the founding of Create Training?

NR: Well, Richard, thank you for inviting me to today’s Q and A and for bringing your story to life through Create Training and the Centre for Excellence. Your journey has really been a source of inspiration for us here, which we did not foresee when we started this project. My background is not as a traditional artist but as a lawyer working for 17 years in law firms and companies dealing with workplace crimes. However, my passion for art, animation and cartoons led to convert from lawyer to trainer and to “fighting workplace crime one animation at a time.”

Richard, it’s quite simple. I believe that animated training has the ability to take serious topics and make them palatable by attracting the learner’s attention and engaging deeper thought with more discourse and critical thinking.  I found through my career as a lawyer that the length of time, and lack of engagement with traditional online training, made significant issues a burden for employees, and hence led to lack of interest and consequential lack of compliance. That was a ‘lose-lose’ given the lack of attention, the expenditure of resources, and a failure to engage.

So, what does Create Training do in order to address those shortfalls?

NR: Create Training which I founded 2 years ago is a creative training company based in Australia working with multinationals around the world, turning workplace training into an animated, appealing experience not to be forgotten. We have an online licensed training portal of over 30 compliance and workplace-training topics all animated with personality, specifically designed to engage and stimulate individual and group learning. As to how, Richard, well, the case for the cartoon is a strong one.

People like to be entertained, and at the same time intellectually stimulated. Cartoons, allow serious issues to be presented in a manner that is not just funny, and hence more socially acceptable, but also designed to influence the viewer’s opinion. The explosion of political cartoons and animations in the First and Second World Wars is case in point of this. Today, you only have to open a newspaper to find the latest scandal or political issue turned into a cartoon.

What we do, is to tell important stories that people remember by using animation as the means to increase attention, focus, and to encourage discourse and dialog as a result of the training features. I saw first hand how employees would often turn on their online training course, go back to their work, and then simply document at the end that they completed the training, and maybe even answer a few elementary questions. That’s not training.

We have seen, through our own research and surveys, how animation increases interaction and connectivity between front-line employees and their supervisors by the absorption of information and positive framing of the message. It’s story telling taken to the front-desk and field in a way that is compelling. Richard, when you come visit us, you will be surprised at how often I can be found in front of a whiteboard pitching new ideas to clients or walking them through storyboards. As a lawyer, I get it, and I take these messages quite personally, as I know how they can make a difference, a real difference, in the field.

But Nicole, the ‘law is the law.’ Why should a company go through all this effort to share what should be obvious: ‘Don’t break the law.’

NR: Richard, my passion, along with art, is about changing behaviors. While I specialize in compliance, I am particularly interested in the behaviors that cause people and companies to take risks and ultimately end up on the wrong side of the law. Telling people, “the law is the law” is not enough. If it were, people wouldn’t take unnecessary risks. I passionately believe that if you help companies to identify and break these patterns of behaviors before it’s too late, then you can avoid unnecessary risks and unnecessary pain. That’s why our team created a collection of short animations focusing on how the brain causes us to make bad decisions at work and leads us to wrongly justifying our actions.  That would be pretty boring from a textbook, in animation it’s absolutely intriguing!

Nicole, I remember when you first approached me, it was “thanks but no thanks.” I equated animation with humor and didn’t think there was anything funny about bribery and corruption. Then I started talking to friends and colleagues, many of whom work for Fortune 500 multinationals, and who shared how their own organizations were using training animations. They all said the same thing: “get her back on the phone!” So, Nicole, “why me” and why this project?

NR: Richard, you are being modest about the impact of your experience, but I am thankful to all your friends who encouraged you to reconsider!

So I thought, what would happen if I combined the experience of one ex–offender who was imprisoned for foreign bribery, who now specializes in anti-bribery and compliance training, with a unique animation training company? Well, that would be the first ever animated, true-life story of a real person who had a real-world experience with the world of corporate bribery and corruption.

I wanted to turn your story of ‘good to bad to good’ into an animation. Richard, your story is not unique, but you certainly are, and those attributes caused me to pursue you relentlessly (sorry) until you would tell your story. Why? The temptation of a true story was too good an opportunity to miss. When people can hear and see it from the ‘horses mouth’ it  becomes far more meaningful and consequently memorable. Then you said “yes,” and when you introduced me to Robert “Bob” Appleton, who agreed to share his investigation of you while he was at the UN, this project turned into something much greater than we all first envisioned.

Richard, you don’t try to deflect, dilute or justify your conduct, you embrace it and do something far more interesting: you explain your mindset. You dissect your downfall into a number of behaviors and environmental elements. In essence, Richard, you are not just a walking case study about what can go wrong, you have turned it into a formula for how to go right! If we have a formula for criminal thinking, then we can have a formula for good.

Thank you Nicole, those are very kind words and are really well appreciated. So, if there were a sound bite for this animation, what would it be?

NR: It’s: Richard Bistrong: Why we say yes, a real life case study that demonstrates the dangers of rationalizing your actions to break the law and shows the formula that turns a good family man into a criminal. It includes the real-voice and appearance of Robert “Bob” Appleton, the UN Attorney and Investigator, who spells out the dangers of your behaviors, giving this animation an unprecedented dimension.

Richard, for the first time ever, employees can experience this true animated story narrated by the main characters involved. The best news is that they can experience it for free. While ‘Richard Bistrong: Why We Say Yes’ may not be the next blockbuster at the movies, I certainly hope it’s a ‘best seller’ for compliance organizations around the world

Thank you Nicole, and I have put the full animation right here on my website, but what if someone wants to know more?

For more information on this video or any other compliance or workplace training videos, contact or go to

Also, Richard, perhaps your readers could take some time to complete this short survey to share their thought on the video by linking here. It would help us a great deal to hear everyone’s feedback.

Cartoons, #crime & #compliance Does animation & imagery increase our attention & engagement? — Richard Bistrong (@RichardBistrong) September 14, 2015

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