Fall of a Billionaire

The New York Times ran a story about the FBI’s conviction of Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire investor and owner of the Galleon Group, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. On May 11 he was found guilty of insider trading with 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy. Even before he was caught, at the height of his success, Raj was already spinning out of control. His abusive business practices were about upend his career and his life.

The case of Raj Rajaratnam shows that spinning can happen to anyone. He’s a business graduate from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His hedge fund once held over $7 billion. He catered to high-profile clients such as the Swiss Bank UBS. Yet this wildly successful investing titan was found guilty of a blatant and serious Wall Street crime.

How can we learn from his example? How can we recognize spinning and stop it before it destroys us?

These important coaching tips may help you stop the spin:

  • Think hard about the consequences of your actions. For example, if you consider breaking a rule or a law, recognize that you would likely be caught and punished. If that occured, what would your life become?
  • Be accountable to colleagues who will remind you to be the person you want to be. Understand that they do so for your benefit.
  • If you are spinning, change your momentum immediately. Talk to a professional counselor, or possibly a lawyer and PR expert. Make amends as necessary and take every action to get your life back on track.
  • Be honest with yourself and with those around you. Denial only worsens the problem.

Raj Rajaratnam made a series of decisions that has cost him his career and years of his life. No one is immune from spinning out of control, but the decision to stop is ultimately your own.

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