famous CEO flame-outs
  • | November 11, 2016
Getting ahead in business is tough, and any CEO will tell you that. There are over one million CEO’s in the United States today and many of them make it through the day as relative unknowns to the prying eyes of the public. Being a CEO takes a lot of hard work, determination, and grit. It typically doesn’t come without a few missteps along the way as well.
Whether you’re sitting in the corner office or want to be there one day, there are several lessons to be learned from these famous CEO flame-outs.

  1. Brian Dunn – Best Buy 
    In 2012 the former Best Buy CEO stepped down after it was revealed he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a female employee. Dunn was a rags-to-riches story, having worked his way up to the executive level after starting as a lowly salesman for the electronics giant. For Dunn’s part, both he and the employee in question swear the relationship was strictly platonic, however an internal investigation suggested otherwise and he stepped down.

    The Takeaway: It’s unlikely the relationship was as platonic as Dunn argued. The report found money, gifts, and a lot of phone calls and text messages being exchanged. It calls to mind the old adage don’t $#@& where you eat.

  2. Harry Stonecipher – Boeing 
    Stonecipher actually came out of retirement to take the reins of one of the biggest aviation companies in the world. His tenure lasted just 18 months as graphic emails surfaced detailing his affair with a female executive of the company.

    The Takeaway: Seriously, don’t $#@& where you eat.

  3. David Edmonson – RadioShack 
    David Edmonson made two mistakes. It was bad enough that he falsely claimed to receive two separate degrees from Pacific Coast Baptist College in California, theology and psychology. It was worse when it turned out that not only did he only attend two semesters at the college and never graduated, but Pacific Coast Baptist doesn’t even offer psychology as a major.

    The Takeaway: Inflating your resume is not only common, it’s practically expected. However, there’s a difference between fluffing it up to make yourself sound better and blatantly lying about your achievements. Especially when they’re ones that can easily be checked.

  4. Lance Armstrong – The Lance Armstrong Foundation / Livestrong Foundation 
    It takes a certain kind of person to be ousted from the chair and board of a foundation that you started and is named after you, but in 2012 Lance Armstrong did just that.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he was banned for life from competitive cycling and stripped of 7 Tour de France titles.

    The Takeaway:As If cheating wasn’t bad enough, Armstrong went to great lengths to conceal his deceit, often slandering or trying to discredit those who suggested he may be using. As far back as the 90’s there were rumors that Armstrong was doping and it was generally accepted among cycling insiders that he was a cheater, though no one dared challenge him on it. It just goes to show that the truth always comes out. Armstrong built an empire only to see it come crashing down.

All of the cautionary tales on this list can be broken down to making better decisions, having integrity, and being honest not only with yourself but those around you. Being the boss means living under a microscope at times. There’s always someone gunning for you, waiting for you to slip up. While no one is perfect and mistakes will happen, there is always a point of no return. Don’t cross it!