Even though we’re less than half way through 2014, I think that we can go ahead and give the hot mess of the year award to Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. As you already know, TMZ.com released a recording in which Sterling told his archivist/girlfriend on the side/silly rabbit, V. Stiviano, that he was not OK with her posting a photo of herself with Magic Johnson on Instagram. In Sterling’s words, he didn’t want Stiviano broadcasting her associations with black people and bringing a person of African American descent to the Clippers games.http://nba.si.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-nba-investigation-racist-comments-clippers/ The ramifications on Sterling’s personal life and professional career are continuing to wreak havoc, and I predict will for quite some time. Currently, Sterling has a lifetime ban from NBA games and practices, a $2.5 million fine, as well as being forced to sell the team, pending a vote from the NBA Board of Governors. http://nba.si.com/2014/04/29/donald-sterling-suspension-fine-adam-silver-clippers/ This punishment is fitting considering that a racially insensitive person shouldn’t be a position of leadership, especially in the diversified world of professional sports. Although I think the punishment could be taken a step further, with Sterling being forced to issue an apology and attend some sort of diversity program. There is something that we can all take away from this situation, besides be careful who you date on the side, oops, I mean hire as an “archivist”. In all seriousness, this situation reminds us to be careful what we say, because we never know who or what is listening to our conversation. Directly, we must think about how we present ourselves outside of the workplace. For example, consider practicing discretion not just on your business’s social media, but your own personal social media as well. This is especially true if you’re friends with clients on social media. Even if you’re not friends with clients, make sure your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook profiles have strict privacy settings so that you can only share among friends. If you are well known in the community, be mindful of what you say at local community events, such as fairs and festivals. Inappropriate racial comments are made commonly, but the reason why Sterling’s caused him so much trouble is because he is a public figure. We’ve witnessed how politicians on both sides of the aisle have put dents into their political careers because of comments made when they thought the microphone was off or when they didn’t think that someone had a tape recorder. Mitt Romney may have lost the 2012 presidential election due to his 47 percent comment. Joe Biden has a hard time being taken seriously as a Vice President due to the many gaffes he has made over the years. In addition, one may need to reflect internally to ask if they are prejudice. Some people may argue that people of Sterling’s generation grew up in a very different time in America, in which racism and prejudiced was somewhat the norm. Personally, I have very mixed opinions on this, considering that I know people in my life for whom this argument applies to, as well as other people in my life who defy this argument. I think that a happy medium between both arguments would be to look at a person’s character as a whole as a deciding factor in punishment and judgement. In Sterling’s case, this isn’t the first time he has made racist remarks. He also has acted misogynistic. Lastly, Sterling has paid women for sex. That was a definite taboo when he was growing up. http://deadspin.com/5263277/the-sordid-life-of-clippers-owner-donald-sterling As I mentioned earlier, be careful of who you associate with. As the old saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together”. In my opinion, social media, especially Facebook and LinkedIn, can perhaps be the best showcase of who your associated with. If your friends, family, colleagues, etc. have legal, successful, straight laced, and appropriate social media profiles, this can be a good reflection of you. However, if the opposite is true, well you can fill in the blanks.