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3 Lessons from the Rod Blagojevich Conviction

blagojevich-photo-02 Rod Blagojevich at his impeachment trial. / Credit: iStockPhoto.com

Rod Blagojevich was already hardy fodder for late night talk show hosts (you've seen his hair, right?) when he decided to become a contestant on a reality show , only serving to further humiliate himself in the public eye. Now, having been convicted of his crimes, he'll likely spend many years behind bars contemplating where he went wrong.

While his antics as governor of Illinois may not have won him any admirers, there are a few business lessons to be taken from Blagojevich's ultimate demise.

We're listening – Blagojevich thought he could trust the folks he was confiding in and spoke freely about doing something that was illegal. While you probably don't do anything that's against the law, you surely have conversations with your team that you wouldn't want to be made public. Be sure you know exactly who you're talking to and who they talk to. Better yet, make it a habit not to say anything at all out loud that you can't defend.

Get serious – One of Blagojevich's biggest downfalls was that he didn't know when to accept the jig was up. Once it was clear that he was in trouble, Blagojevich could have chosen to focus on his defense and repairing his reputation . Instead, he took to the airwaves in a series of ridiculous radio interviews and then appeared on "The Apprentice." Knowing when it's time to get serious and go into crisis mode is a key trait of many survivors – especially in business. If you find yourself suddenly in a bad business situation, the best thing you can do is figure out how to fix it rather than wasting time figuring out who to blame.

Tell the truth – The most ironic thing about Blagojevich's case is that he was – surely – caught doing something politicians do all the time. He was bargaining his power for something that would benefit him. Doesn't this go on all the time? Not that it's right, but it's hard to believe that everyone was as shocked about it as they pretended to be. Instead of denying the incident (which was on tape, for God's sake) Blagojevich should have just admitted it and turned the tables on his accusers by pointing out that he was just playing politics as usual. If you get caught doing something at work that everyone else does, too, maybe that should be your approach. Admit your wrong-doing, but then ask for a team -wide discussion of how the company can eliminate the overall practice throughout the company. You're caught anyway, why not make the best of it?


Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.