What is the meaning of “truth” in an age of uncertainty?
What resilience techniques helped Soering survive 33 years behind bars?
What does the state of US prisons tell us about the state of American society?
Jens Soering helps audiences understand the difficulties of finding “the truth” in an age in which all traditional sources of authority — the church, the court system, the mainstream media, and even science — have been called into question.
Jens explains the key resilience techniques that motivated him never to give up and always to keep fighting — for 33 years. He gives a fascinating insight into the hell-on-earth in America’s prison-industrial complex.
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The double murders of Derek and Nancy Haysom in 1985 have continued to fascinate the public for nearly four decades. In 2023, Netflix released the four-part series “Till murder do us part: Soering vs. Haysom,” which reached Number One in thirteen countries worldwide.
The case continues to attract attention in large part because of Jens Soering, the German diplomat’s son and scholarship winner who was convicted of killing the Haysoms at the age of 18. Instead of accepting the court’s verdict, Soering embarked on what he calls his battle for justice and freedom. In prison, he wrote six books and attracted the support of five police officers, including the original lead detective on the case and celebrities like John Grisham and Jason Flom.
The turning point in the case appeared to come in 2016 when DNA tests showed that blood at the crime scene, which had previously been linked to Soering, had a different genetic profile than his. Two renowned genetic scientists determined that Soering was excluded as a source of the blood; two unidentified men probably left it. This finding was confirmed by further DNA examinations in 2022.
Despite this new evidence, the Governor of Virginia released Soering on parole — without the full pardon Soering had hoped for. That decision saved the taxpayers of Virginia $1.4 million in compensation. But now Soering must live with the stigma of being a “convicted double murderer.”
Beginning in 2022, Jens Soering took to the stage as a public speaker in Germany. His clients include small and medium-sized businesses and law firms, trade associations (Bundesverband mittelstaendische Wirtschaft), industry conferences (Verband fuer Sicherheitstechnik), universities (Maastricht University, Netherlands), human rights organizations (Amnesty International, Rhineland-Palatinate chapter) as well as luxury hotels (Hotel Liberty) and restaurants (Consilium Cologne).
This philosophical question has a direct, practical relevance to the corporate, marketing and political environment that C-level executives and communications and marketing staff have to negotiate.
These days we are all bombarded with information whose accuracy and truthfulness is entirely uncertain. We no longer know whom we can trust. All traditional sources of authority have been called into question and undermined.
Virtually all churches have been rocked by financial or sexual scandals; the court system produces a flood of wrongful convictions; the mainstream media shade their reporting to suit their audience’s preferences; and the scientific community has the vastly underreported problem of the irreproducibility of research findings.
Whom can we trust to tell us something close to the truth? That is a problem we all face as we try to find our way forward amid the flood of dubious “facts.”
But it is essential to understand that our customers, business partners, interest groups, and political leaders also have to deal with this prevalent uncertainty. How can corporate leaders reach customers, for instance, when those customers no longer trust the claims made in advertising?
The controversial case of Jens Soering, and the Netflix series in particular, offers an interesting springboard and case study for exploring the malleability of “the truth.” The Netflix series tells one version of part of the truth. But what pieces of evidence were left out of the series, and how would they change the opinion of observers?
The “seven pillars” of resilience are now widely known. Studies have shown that these seven pillars, or character traits, can enhance the ability to survive crises and emerge stronger on the other side. That’s why many corporations now hold resilience workshops or hire speakers who motivate staff to never give up, no matter what.
But how does one communicate the principles of resilience in a new and exciting way? How does one engage the imagination of employees, so they begin looking for these character traits within themselves?
That’s what Jens Soering can do as your speaker: He can make resilience fresh and interesting again.
Soering fine-tuned the seven pillars of resilience during 33 years behind bars. He spent three of those years under direct threat of the death penalty, he was housed in two different “supermax” prisons, he witnessed a prison rape was nearly raped himself, he was shot, he found his cellmate hanging from his bunk bed, he spent six weeks isolated in the punishment block … and on and on.
Through trial and error, Soering developed a system that was based on the traditional seven pillars of resilience, but gave each of these seven principles his own “twist.” That his system works cannot be doubted: Soering survived prison unbroken in spirit and fought his way to freedom.
Now he wants to bring his system to your employees. The same principles that helped him survive and thrive behind bars also helped him build a new life in freedom after his release. The seven pillars are universally applicable, not just in prison.
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” wrote Alexander Solzhenitsyn. If that is true, then America’s prisons say disturbing things about the United States.
During his incarceration, Jens Soering wrote six books; a seventh was published after his release. Four of his books deal with the prison-industrial complex that emerged in the US in the 1970s. Soering describes how 2 million inmates are systematically dehumanized in American jails and penitentiaries for a variety of disturbing social, political and financial reasons. Some of Soering’s books and articles excerpted from them have been used in criminology courses at small US colleges.
According to Soering, American prisons are generally a microcosm of US society — a window through which many things about the United States can be seen more clearly. But unlike academics who have studied this subject from the outside, Soering lived in this hell-on-earth for three decades.
He was under direct threat of the death penalty for three years. He witnessed a prison rape and was nearly raped by another inmate himself. He was housed in two different “supermax” facilities — and was shot in one of them. He found his cellmate hanging dead from his bunk bed. He spent six weeks isolated in the punishment block after publishing his second book, “An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse.”
Soering’s first-hand experiences are fascinating by themselves. What makes his speeches on prison life so valuable, however, is that he embeds his stories in a philosophical and historical context that opens listeners’ eyes to the dark underbelly of the United States.
Jens can travel and speak in any country except the USA. He can also be booked to speak virtually. He presents fluently in English and German.
Contact Promotivate here for further information.