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Don’t Do This: 5 Shocking Missteps That Cost People They’re Highly Regarded Reputations

The value of a reputation cannot be overstated, as it requires years of effort to establish but can be irreparably tarnished in an instant. A captivating query was posed, seeking the most compelling examples of situations where it took decades to build a reputation, only for it to be shattered within minutes. This thought-provoking question encourages individuals to recount stories where a meticulously nurtured reputation was swiftly undermined due to a single event or behavior.

In Exchange For Scholarships

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One user shared, “The director of financial aid at the college I worked at posted an ad on Craigslist offering scholarships for sleeping with him. When he arrived at the apartment, it was the police who were waiting. His wife worked at that college, too. She was pregnant, and they had other small children.”

A Rouse

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A second user posted, I worked with a guy that had 30 years in our trade. Other people from other companies would call him for advice. He was a master of his craft. And he was Ned Flanders nice. He was fired for downloading inappropriate photos of children on his work computer. A lot of it. Even after he was fired, most people assumed he had been caught using company materials to help do service work at his church or maybe, at worst, doing drugs.”

To Blow Off Steam

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A third user added, “There’s was a professor of Chemical Engineering at my university He’s internationally acclaimed, had a very successful lab, has earned countless awards in his field as a professor, and he wrote a textbook used by many different universities for their ChemEng programs. A few weeks ago, he was caught doing inappropriate acts with his dog outside the restroom of a state park near the university. He told police, “he just does it to let off steam.”

Brand Banned

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A poster commented, “At my old company we produced consumer goods and licensed lots of high-end pop culture brands. On a call with a team representing a very popular and iconic space movie franchise owned by a mouse, one of our senior partners was sitting through a call on rights or sales numbers or whatever with like 20 people….. I thought he was on mute and said,, something to the effect of “How much longer do we have to listen to this obese idiot talking about his nonsense anyhow!?!” The Call was abruptly ended. All follow-ups were ignored. Maybe a week or two later, we got a letter terminating all current and developing licensing deals for cause citing contract violations, and the company was effectively quietly banned from ever doing business with any brand under that massive umbrella.”

Overseas Advertising

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Someone added, “This guy who lives in my town and owned his own successful business sold his old company truck to a used car dealer and ended up seeing it in the news with some terrorists in the middle east driving it. Mounted guns and everything on that thing with his business and his name painted on the side. He was forced to close shop after because of the bad Rep.”

Double Life

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A poster said, “My father. I grew up believing he was an honest, hardworking, and loyal man. While he was absolutely a hard-working man, I found out when I was 21 that he had another house, woman, and child 20 minutes down the street that he went to on his frequent “business trips” dispelled the notion that he was honest and loyal.”

Like He Never Existed

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This commenter shared, “A minister in my hometown passed of asphyxiation while with another woman. His congregation didn’t even hold a service for him. His family disappeared, and within a week, it was like he had never existed.”

Finger Guns

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A top-liked comment said, “A large government organization I was working for had another related organization added to its portfolio. After the merger, the two organizations met up in the main building, so probably about 3k people. The head of the newly formed organization was giving a speech about the merger. There were national news cameras and media everywhere, as it’s a big deal politically here. As one of the cameras pans to the crowd, it catches a guy on one of the walkways on the 3rd floor making the machine gun fingers and pretending to shoot thousands of government workers below. We now call him “former middle management.”


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One user posted, “The director of a place I worked sent an employee a lewd pic as a “long shot.”  The employee was at a party where she promptly showed other people wondering, “What just happened.” He had access to her phone number, but she had never willingly given it to the director for social engagements. Obviously, he went through files and found it and thought this was a good idea. He came in after his weekend and after a brief HR visit, walked out never to be seen again.”

Virtually Mismanaged

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Someone shared, “During covid, my company was fully remote. I was in a video meeting, and my pomeranian was in my lap. Webcam was on. My project manager sent me a message to the effect of “WHAT are you doing?!” All he and everyone else could see was me petting/stroking something in my lap.”

Spicy Pics

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This person recalled, “A local couple – the husband was a city alderman/real estate agent, and his father was a former mayor, so their surname and family were very well known. The wife was a beloved teacher and cheer coach/sponsor at the high school. Apparently, she was trying to snap someone explicit pics on Snapchat and accidentally sent them to everyone on her snap, including students, friends, family, fellow church members, etc. She was fired, and her husband divorced her because he wasn’t on Snapchat and wasn’t the intended recipient of her spicy pics.”

Cheap Junk

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A top-liked comment said, “There was a cheap jewelry company in the UK whose whole schtick was that its stuff was just as good as the high-end stuff but cheaper. They had a decent chunk of market share and were on their way to being the largest jewelry store in the UK. Then their CEO has a big meeting with the shareholders, and one of them asks how they keep their stuff so cheap, to which the CEO jokingly remarks, “Because our gems are all cheap junk” or something to that effect. That remark got out to the press out of context, and it ruined the company within the year.”

No Room In Business

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A commenter posted, “There was a social media influencer who was doing quite well with promoting her fitness wear brand. She was even working on deals with the three big sportswear heavy hitters. She was set to move into the million-dollar income bracket. Until a single post. She showed a picture of her and her family eating tacos with the following caption: “We missed Taco Tuesday, so we’re having (racial slur) Wednesday.” Everyone instantly canceled her, and her brand deals shut down immediately. Pretty much killed her career in a single post.”


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This person added, “My former stepfather. He went from a job he had for 15-plus years, bi-monthly bonuses, 1-hour lunches every day, and 3 days off a week, to smoking meth, hoarding junk to tweak on, and stealing anything he could to get more.”

Bad Doctor

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Finally, a user shared, “My Uncle was a surgeon but was pretty bad at it, so he transitioned to medical director at the hospital. In 2018 he started to slack off and be rude to people and just be a miserable person. He got fired and went on a horrible rampage about how he resented it. He was well-known in the city, and everybody heard about it. He now works at Lowes, lives at his 84-year-old Mother’s house, and lost his kid due to his wife leaving him. He’s an Ivy League surgeon, has a Ph.D. on top of his MD, and works at Lowes. Sad.”

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