Not everyone, however, was raised with the same values and ethical standards. While some were taught to value the “Golden Rule”, others learned to value money, possessions and status over all else. Bernie Madoff is an excellent example. He swindled investors out of an estimated fifty billion dollars in a Ponzi scheme that lasted for years. Unscrupulously, he promised clients massive returns on their investments, which for some was their entire life savings. A judge recently sentenced him to over 100 years in prison and deservedly so; but the money, and consequently, many retirement funds and livelihoods are gone (Henriques, 2009).
The Ponzi scheme mentioned above is named after its originator, Charles Ponzi. He was an Italian immigrant who, in the 1920s, deceived people to invest in mail coupons and promised returns eight times what banks were offering and in far less time. Even then, Ponzi received millions from investors looking to make quick, and large, sums of money. To establish legitimacy, Ponzi paid some of the earliest investors what he promised. Millions of dollars later, it turned out he was a conman and had only purchased less than fifty dollars worth of the investment he sold. He also went to prison (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,2001).
Clearly, what these men valued was personal gain and money. Neither had any ethical standards and both preyed on other people's value of getting rich quickly. Although these are extraordinary examples, the relative impact on one's career success from not applying good moral values and ethics could be just as damaging.
Professional values and ethics are mere extensions of the values and ethics learned from family, spiritual leaders and teachers. What one is taught to value growing up will carry over in the professional world. Professionals with upstanding values and ethical standards are easy to identify, as is the company that employs them. Values based business decisions and ethical guidelines adhered to by all are the benchmark for success. Those who accept less can have a detrimental impact on their company and maybe, the rest of society.