This is the “CEO Playbook”, and the questions posed here will change the way you create and cultivate your corporate culture.

Recent events have led us to a number of examples where those in charge of any business, the CEO, the individual in charge, should be asking themselves a simple question.

In light of what these people have done, would you hire them? Would you give them a second chance, and why? And for those who are not yet in charge of a company, pose the same question. If you were in charge, would you hire them?

Links to news stories on each case can be found by clicking on the headline. So, let’s dive in.


Texas Teacher finally fired for handing out insulting "joke award" to students



A Texas middle school teacher thought it would be funny to hand out mock awards to students at the end of the school year. Certainly, there should be nothing wrong with trying to inject some levity into the proceedings. And not a bad idea to send the kids out for summer vacation with something to think about, perhaps inspiring them to greater things when they return in the fall.

Not a bad idea. Until you consider two of the awards were “Most Likely to Become a Terrorist” and “Most Likely to Blend in with White People”. You can see how these might not sit well with parents.

One side will say she just went too far and meant no harm. Another side will say she’s insensitive, potentially racist, not very bright to even consider something like this a joke, and deserved to be fired.

Would you have fired her? And if she showed up at your place of business for either a teaching gig or something completely unrelated, would you hire her?


Fired TV reporter Colleen Campball receiving violent threats for anti-cop tirade





Philadelphia TV reporter and producer Colleen Campbell’s broadcast career took a fatal video swan dive after the release of her verbally vicious tirade against a cop outside a local nightclub. I commented on this story as both a veteran broadcast professional and one who consults on corporate culture and leadership. My take remains that her broadcast career is most certainly over, and I question why anyone would want someone so irresponsible working for them in any capacity.

Here come the step back. A lot of people contacted me and asked about the sympathetic need we all should have to give people a second chance, maybe even third or fourth chances. I get it, but stand by my opinion that she has done nothing to warrant that chance. Read my original post with a few ideas about how she should have handled this and needs to address it in the future for her to get her life back on track.

Knowing that this video lives forever, and if she works for your company people will always be able to watch and hear this incident, would you take a chance on having her represent your brand? Could you take the chance that she has indeed learned a valuable lesson and it could never happen again? For that matter, what constraints would you place on her employment?


Ten Students Lose Haarvard Scholarships over Obscene Memes



“Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens” was the Facebook page created by a number of individuals, specifically designed to pass on hateful, racist, sexist and alarmingly insulting memes as humor. No one was laughing at Harvard when they uncovered what was going on. In response, the University rescinded offers of admission to 10 young men. Anyone that spends a few minutes on the Internet can come up with the names of every person involved, every person punished, and the memes themselves. I have copies of them all and will use them in the appropriate workshops and speaking engagements, but only to push home how vile these pictures and the comments were.

Those names are now public. These individuals are being punished for something incredibly stupid, and their lives are now forever altered. For some of them, it’s possible that a “youthful transgression” will cost them a profitable career and the chance of being a person of honesty and integrity. However, let’s be very honest here. This incident could have revealed an exceptionally dark nature in the souls and character of these people. It could be so deeply rooted that it will rear it’s ugly head again in the future. There are many who will indicate something of this nature can be forgiven, but certainly never forgotten.

So there’s the issue. You, the employer, have one of these individuals sending you a resume. It could be impeccable on paper. Yet, doing your due diligence, you uncover or are told about this incident. Do you stop the consideration process right there? Do you give the individual a chance to explain themselves? Seeing the vile nature of the pictures and knowing the individual approved or them or perhaps created them, could you forgive? Would you be willing to take a chance that this person is indeed contrite and can be trusted with your brand?

And for you, the prospective employee, knowing that your name is viral and will never disappear from the Internet, what do YOU do in that first meeting? More to the point, do you bring this up in your introduction to a prospective employer and get it out of the way? It is possible that will be seen as a sign of integrity and responsibility. It’s also a good chance you’ll be blackballed in most chosen professions no matter what you do.

What do you do?


Shopper goes on racist rant in NJ store, now famous around the world.




This is sadly becoming almost a daily occurrence in America. Someone going off in a public place with a racist rant about random people simply because the line is too long, the clerk isn’t working fast enough for their tastes, they’re having a bad day, whatever. And, of course, all captured on video for the global audience.

We don’t know who this woman is, but employers are looking across the Internet in almost every instance to see if prospective employees have been caught doing something stunningly stupid or criminal. Someone may yet identify this woman and add it to the various web posts, and she will always be known as “that lady in NJ with the racist foul mouth”, or something to that effect.

Here comes the debate. Those who say she’s obviously an evil hateful racist that has likely been this way her entire life and there’s no reason to think she would ever apologize or learn a lesson. She’s radioactive. Don’t touch her, instead let her stew in her own vile and hateful broth. But there are those who will seek to make excuses about having a bad day, a bad experience, and we all “make mistakes”. Sure we do, but making one so publicly and so racist?

This woman sits across from you seeking employment, Everything checks out, but you recognize her from the video and she admits to being that person. She apologizes, makes an excuse, and wants you to believe she’s not that person in the video. What would be your criteria for hiring her? Would you even take the chance, especially if you have a business that deals interactively with customers? Or could you forgive this and move on? It’s not nearly as cut and dried as it seems, keeping in mind the people you hire represent YOU, your BRAND, and also your PROFITS.


Woman busted after late night booty call goes bad



More humorous to some than it is dangerous, but still germane to the discussion. Woman makes a bad decision, and it certainly speaks to her level of being able to exercise common sense. She also decides to break a few laws, and now her name and face is plastered about various websites. If you’re an employer and doing due diligence, there’s an excellent chance you’ll find her on this site and several others. Certainly a background check with local police departments will turn up this transgression.

So then, would you hire her? And for those who are employees and seek to be part of a team at ANY job, would you make this known right up front in any job interview or application? Understand that if you don’t make it known, you are in essence lying about your past. That makes for an automatic firing at any number of companies, large and small. It certainly would be embarrassing to admit, but it’s on the record. You made a mistake and have to take full responsibility for it. Would you expect an employer to give you a break and perhaps give you that second chance? Certainly if you own up to it upfront, that’s an attempt at repairing your level of integrity and accountability.

This one has perhaps more twists than other discussed here. It certainly is a mistake that can be deemed “repairable” to someone’s image. But if you’re an employer, you would naturally be concerned it could happen again, putting you and your organization in possible jeopardy. So then, where do YOU draw the line, and what would lead to your decision?