Fresh out of the Marines in 1969, I studied ethics. We read the famous early philosophers who gave us the foundation of ethical thinking. Dry, boring and academic. I'm interested in "thinking about something" only as it affects behavior. So, this articles brings your behavior and ethics together. Now, I call that exciting!

What do these words mean to you: respect, integrity, communication and excellence? Can you see in them a secret formula to produce vile disregard for humanity? Those four words were the cornerstone of Enron's code of ethics.

As you know, the corporate ethical breakdowns didn't stop with Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Adelphia, and the United States Olympic Committee. They touched our own industry in a very private place. Were you offended when you saw headlines announcing SEC investigations of Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Prudential Securities, Bank of America, Fidelity and Wachovia. Is it unfair to list the financial firms with the likes of Enron? I say NOT. For it was the compliance department of one of them that asked, "What does character have to do with providing financial services?"

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