Your most valuable intangible asset (personal or business) is your reputation. Guard it carefully.
This is kind of a sad story. When I was in Law School, I was given a senior law student to act as a mentor. They were called: “Big Brothers or Big Sisters”. They were our (the freshman law students) “go to”, should we ever have a question on how to study or answer questions in class, etc.
My big brother lived in the building next to us in married housing. In my freshman year of law school, I would be at his front door at the end of the school day, at least 3 to 4 times a week. He was wonderful and answered all of my questions—even when I realized later on, they were not really very important questions. While in law school, he collected exotic birds. When I visited his married housing apartment, there would always be birds flying all over the place.
When he graduated from law school, he got a very important job working for the U.S. Government and then later, opened his own law office handling criminal law cases. He had an excellent reputation as an attorney. Without his knowledge, the FBI secretly taped the telephone conversations that he was having with several of his criminal clients. The FBI heard a lot of Latin words mentioned in those taped conversations.
A couple of weeks later they arrested my “Big Brother” and charged him with being the head of a drug ring. These charges ended up appearing as the headline on the front page of our local newspaper. As a result of the newspaper article, he immediately lost the majority of his clients.
A couple of days later, the charges were dropped against him and a very brief article stating the charges were dropped against him appeared on an inner page of the local newspaper. But by that time, his excellent reputation had been ruined. In order to have a successful law practice, he decided to move to another part of Florida.
By the way, as it turned out, he was not the head of any drug ring. The Latin words used in the conversations were the Latin words for some exotic birds that his clients were going to bring to him from South America. Again, having and saving your good reputation is very important.