Recently the Los Angeles Times ran a front page article about the national college admissions scandal. While it might have made news across the country, it is even bigger news here because of the University of Southern California (USC) being such a big part of the scandal.

In reading the article it struck me how both you and I are directly impacted by the college admissions scandal, BUT not how you think you would be. You may not be super rich like the business titans and Hollywood stars who paid to get their children into top schools. You and your children may have already completed college, or that was never even a plan.

So how could this impact you directly? The scandal was all based on networking, referrals and who you know. And if you’re growing a business you’re looking to network with other people, do a good job, get referrals, and/or build a social media following. You either have a good reputation, or you don’t, and you can’t buy a good reputation.

In the scandal, William “Rick” Singer was a college admissions counselor and he did a professional job for Chuck Kenworthy, getting one of Chuck’s daughters into college and providing “great advice.” Kenworthy worked for Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, an entrepreneur reportedly worth $7 billion and the owner of the Los Angeles Times.

Then Singer used Kenworthy to get referrals to other wealthy people, including Pat Haden, the athletic director of USC. Fortunately, Pat Haden was not charmed by Singer, and he did not end up in the scandal. However, it appears some of Haden’s underlings were charmed, or bribed, by Singer and may have cooperated in admitting people who should not have qualified for admission.

Here’s the takeaway: You and I, and most people you know, rely on the recommendations of others. It could be for a plumber, painter, doctor, realtor, or business coach. Rick Singer took advantage of that structure by doing a good job for one wealthy family and leveraging that to meet other wealthy people and then taking and paying bribes.

Here is how to avoid having this scandal impact you directly:

  1. Always do the best you can for your clients.
  2. Ask for referrals with integrity.

Just in case your next prospective client asks if you can be trusted, you want to be sure you have always acted in an ethical manner and always worked for the best interest of your client.

If you want a simple two-sentence referral script, send an email to: Rick Singer used referrals to get bribes and create a scandal. You can use it for good.

To Your Prosperity,