Cheating on a spouse has been the downfall of many a business owner or CEO. Some of these stories aren’t too surprising. Consider the case of the founder of the famously hacked website Ashley Madison, created specifically to make it easy for people to cheat on their spouses. At one time the cheaters’ website claimed earnings of $115 million and a membership of 39 million around the world.
So can anyone feel surprised when it was revealed that founder Noel Biderman had cheated on his own wife, despite his claims to have a strong marriage? He called himself the King of Infidelity and in June 2014 when asked if he had ever cheated on his wife, he said, “Not yet.”
He got outed by the hackers, as did thousands of others whose extra-curricular activities were uncovered. Many divorces and some suicides have been linked to the hack.
Obviously it’s not good for anyone to cheat. Not on their taxes, not on their spouses. But it’s even more critical when you’re a CEO or business owner. You stand to lose a lot more than your marriage.
Yet, it happens. All the time. Take the case of the married president of a pipe manufacturer I worked with. In addition to running his business, he wanted to craft a racer with an innovative design.
He was successful and was asked to be on the cover of a prestigious industry magazine. Sounds great, right? Except when the photographers came to shoot the cover, his girlfriend was there, in her revealing bikini. Did he ask her to make herself scarce for a bit? He did not. And who shows up in the background on the cover with him? Yep, the girlfriend in the bikini.
It didn’t take long for his wife to figure out what’s up. And oh yeah, her husband had started the business with her father’s money. She filed for divorce and he lost control of the company. I’m not sure what he did with that magazine cover, or whether he got to keep that racer or not.