Stealing a pen at work could turn you on to much bigger crimes

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I have always been impressed by the extremely successful and talented; appreciating all of the hard work that got them there, while believing the same could happen for me. Most of the winners share their stories hoping to teach others how to do the same. These are the people who genuinely care about bettering humanity. They were true to themselves when embarking on their dreams and they're sincere in their attempts to willingly help others.

Having read my book or a few blog posts, you've probably picked up on the recurring theme of bringing out the best in you. I've emphasized the importance of identifying your core values, developing your brand and making sure that every decision along the way supports who you are and what you want to be in life. We are each responsible for navigating our own way and we face plenty of decisions each day that allow us to get it right. Unfortunately, despite all of these attempts, there are still far too many of us who get it wrong.

If you have watched the news lately, you're probably familiar with the story of the 51 year-old Google Executive, husband and father of five, who was murdered on his boat by a heroin using call girl. Stories such as this blow my mind.

How on earth do people who appear to have it all or to be living the dream, take that dreadful turn to lose everything? I write about such cases and this phenomenon in Welcome to the Big Leagues. When researching the topic, I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of cases. In fact, to prevent one chapter from becoming too gloomy, my publisher removed the piece on Ted Kaczynski, the Harvard graduate and mathematician who is now best known as the "Unabomber".

It is important for all of us to be aware of such cases and to know how to avoid making similar mistakes; which is why I ask business world newbies to hold themselves accountable to live by their highest values. As big tobacco attempted to target children in its advertising, I am trying to reach our future executives at their purest state.

Listed below is a short article that was forwarded to me by a good friend. I believe that this further illustrates my point. In addition, I will leave by reciting a couple of lines that my grandmother repeatedly instilled in me since the tender age of eight. "Always think of the worst that could happen before the good," she said, and that "Lying leads to cheating. Cheating leads to stealing. Stealing leads to Killing." These words were shocking to take in as a child, but just about as registering as this...

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Stealing a pen at work could turn you on to much bigger crimes

Steal a pen from your office and you could find yourself on a path toward becoming the next Bernie Madoff.

That's the warning of a new study, called "The Slippery Slope: How Small Ethical Transgressions Pave The Way For Larger Future Transgressions," by David Welsh of the University of Washington, Lisa Ordóñez of the University of Arizona, Deirdre Snyder of Providence College, and Michael Christian of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, minor unethical behavior at work, if undetected, puts workers on a "slippery slope" that could lead to worse behavior over time.

Stealing a pen is basically a gateway to massive corporate fraud.

To most of us, fairly innocuous sins like taking a pen from work or neglecting to refill the office coffee pot are much easier to justify than, say, racking up $2 billion in trading losses. But over time, the researchers found, those minor misdeeds make it easier to justify more and bigger evils in the long run.

If you're considering taking home a ream of copy paper, just think: doing so could land you behind bars.

“People rationalize their behavior to justify it,” Ordóñez, one of the study's authors, said in a press release. "They might think ‘No one got hurt,’ or ‘Everyone does it.’ The next time, they feel fine about doing something a little bit worse the next time and then commit more severe unethical actions.”

The researchers tested this theory by watching subjects in a number of different situations. One interesting experiment found that subjects who were given 25 cents for doing a minor unethical thing were much more likely to take $2.50 to do something more egregious later on than those who were offered $2.50 to do a big no-no at the start. According to the researchers, this shows that people are less likely to commit what they call "abrupt and large dilemmas" when they haven't already committed gradual, small transgressions.

The study cites Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history and spoke of this phenomenon to his longtime secretary, according to Vanity Fair:

“Well, you know what happens is, it starts out with you taking a little bit, maybe a few hundred, a few thousand. You get comfortable with that, and before you know it, it snowballs into something big.”

So what can you do to prevent yourself from becoming the next Jeff Skilling?

The researchers offer a number of tips to discourage the minor stuff, like putting in place a firm set of ethical guidelines and calling workers out for the small things, like taking home too many office supplies.

“The ideal is for employees to recognize when they’ve committed a minor transgression and check themselves," Michael S. Christian, one of the paper's co-authors,  wrote.

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"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found that it brings clarity to events that have affected my own professional career. I strongly recommend the read."

Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

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Steve Menchen, Scientific Fellow, ThermoFisher Scientific

"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found Continue Reading

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"Very creative! Welcome to the Big Leagues is a unique thesis on how to make an impact on the corporate environment. Using baseball as the backdrop, the reader is able to easily absorb and remember the lessons, the author, Carmine Del Sordi, is conveying. Very few business books speak to both physical and mental wellbeing; which further makes it essential Continue Reading

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"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Continue Reading

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"As a manager and mentor of recent college graduates throughout my whole career, I have finally found a guide book to recommend to those that want to succeed. Welcome to the Big Leagues gives straight-forward advice to new entrants to the maze that is corporate America. Passionate, practical and with a purpose!"

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"Welcome to the Big Leagues is a very enjoyable read that’s packed with many insights on how to succeed in corporate America and life in general. I strongly recommend it for all new college graduates who are now ready to up their game."

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"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed Continue Reading

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"Welcome to the Big Leagues embodies Carmine's passion and commitment towards achieving greatness. The valuable tips and concepts apply throughout all industries and business sectors. With three corporate rookies of my own, I bought each a copy."

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"Welcome to the Big Leagues does a very good job of guiding the corporate rookie through the minefield of joining corporate America and providing a path to a successful career. Having played the game for close to 40 years; which included owning the roles of coach and mentor, I highly recommend this book for rookies and veterans alike."

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2014-03-26T20:17:43+00:00

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"Every business rookie and professional will recognize themselves somewhere in Welcome to the Big Leagues, as it presents thought provoking stories and solutions to the challenges we face in our daily lives. Del Sordi creates a powerful tool that helps readers to align actions with who they want to be and where they want to go in life."
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