Rashmi Airan, a first generation immigrant of Indian parents and the oldest of three daughters, was raised with high expectations to achieve. She had both professional and personal pressures. Rashmi’s father came to the United States with just $8 in his pocket to attend school and achieve the American dream for the hope of a better life for his family. He obtained a masters degree and a doctorate degree in engineering and is now on his second career after obtaining a juris doctor and masters in law degree. In the Indian community, there is a strong desire to achieve good grades, go to the top schools, win awards, get hired by big companies, and make money.
In addition to being a mother of two, Rashmi was a successful lawyer who graduated with honors from Columbia Law School. After working for several major corporations, she launched an independent law practice in Miami, Florida. During the housing boom, she was recruited to work with a local real-estate developer who later engaged in questionable business practices. Rashmi’s drive to succeed financially and to give her children the best life possible created an ethical blind spot for her. She chose not to question her client’s behavior despite her inner voice screaming “ask questions!” Her involvement resulted in a six month sentence to Federal prison, alongside a $19M judgment against future earnings, required community service hours, and 3 years supervised release.
Before beginning her sentence, Rashmi’s community of friends and family embraced her. Though previously believing only a high level of success would make them proud, she now felt for the first time the true power of what building strong relationships meant. A close family friend remarked quietly “You will eventually learn that this is not happening to you, it is happening for you.”
In prison, Rashmi felt shame and remorse for her decisions. Taking in six months of federal prison life, Rashmi came to a place of peace and self-forgiveness. While being immensely humbled by this life-changing experience, she emerged with invaluable lessons learned both personally and professionally. Rashmi shares her emotional development of living with remorse, but not letting it define you. She is determined to create a culture of conversation around ethics and compliance and to integrate ethics into all aspects of our lives.
Rashmi continues to tour the country as a public speaker, sharing her story to illustrate the ethical perils that can result from a drive to succeed and the blind spots created when we are pursuing our goals. She mines her vast legal and business expertise and tells her powerful story to deliver game-changing messages to universities, law firms, corporate teams, and trade associations around the United States. Rashmi redefines what it means to be successful in an American culture where success is often obtained by any means necessary.
Ethics Keynote Speaker and Consultant
Children in immigrant cultures are raised with high expectations to achieve, be the best, and be perfect; yet there is a hidden secret. Our culture will embrace and provide unconditional love even when we fail, which we all will in our human experience. We are all driven to succeed and prove ourselves. The fear of failure and fear of losing our image controls us. Our power emerges when we can release our fears. Rashmi, university speaker, shares that redefining success and love and recognizing our imperfections will lead us to a path of breaking the mold that immigrant children place on themselves.
One moment: a prominent and successful lawyer. The next moment: A one way ticket to federal prison. It can happen to you. Students and young professionals have a sense of invincibility and a desire to achieve at the highest level. Rashmi, university speaker, shares that no matter how intelligent you are, walking the line between right and wrong must be highlighted and given thought daily. Learn how to make intelligent ethical decisions and safety checks to ensure that you are on the right side of the ethical line.
Above me was a prostitute heroin addict, to the left of me was a homeless woman, and above her was a 24 year old meth dealer. Never before in my life had I been exposed to women who had experienced so much. I ate, slept, worked out with, watched movies, cooked, and lived with these women for six months. I was honored to learn from and humbled to get to know these women. Rashmi, university speaker, shares that not passing judgment on others, no matter their circumstances, is vital for the next generation of leaders.
We are taught that success is perfectionism and receiving accolades and status is the pinnacle of that perfection. But at what cost? As students, we cheat on tests to get higher grades; as professionals, we skirt laws to make more money. Our world continues to emerge without asking questions or reviewing the ethics of decisions made. Rashmi is a university speaker on a mission to promote a culture of conversation around ethics and compliance starting at home, in academia, in our places of work, and in our communities. Ethics must permeate ALL aspects of our lives and it starts with conversation.
As immigrants in United States, we face internal and external pressures to succeed for our families and ourselves. As a first generation woman from India, Rashmi knows all too well the cultural, familial, and self-induced pressures inherent for individuals from an immigrant background. The drive to achieve the American dream led Rashmi to seek perfection to please her family and friends but it blinded her from making good ethical choices and kept her from asking for help. Rashmi shares her personal story to inspire hope and to teach you how to make exceptional ethical choices despite our cultural barriers.
Our failure is our success. On June 16, 2015, Rashmi was sentenced to federal prison. On what might be one’s worst day, why does Rashmi consider this moment one of her most successful? Supported by her entire community, Rashmi, university speaker, learned that developing strong relationships with an authentic desire to learn, grow, and share love has the most defining impact on our lives. The greatest gift you can give yourself is the time to learn from others’ experiences.
Good people make bad decisions. Most people travel down a road of bad decisions unknowingly at first, but soon walk a set path from which they decide they cannot return or do not want to return for fear of losing money, a client, their reputation, or more. Rashmi shares that the question of ethics is one that must be ingrained in our minds daily lest we find ourselves down a road of trouble. Learn from Rashmi as she shares lessons learned from her experience making bad decisions as a prominent attorney.
Our children are our legacy and our future. As parents, raising our children is our most valuable and significant role. Faced with separation from her two children for six months in prison, Rashmi honored her children with truth every step of the way in an effort to teach them lessons learned. Rashmi encouraged her children to be their best, without pressuring them on the need to fit into society’s notion of success. Learn how Rashmi continues to inspire mothers and fathers to broaden their parenting approach so that our next generation learns that it’s the relationships in our lives that bring true joy.
Our lives are made up of moments of sidesteps, diagonal lines, downward spirals, and upward rocket launches. We will surely get thrown off our set path and get knocked down. During these times, our strength, tenacity, and willpower are learned and matured. Rashmi shares her downward spiral experience of losing her business and going to prison. Join Rashmi as she teaches you how to overcome downward spirals in life and fly high again.
Our corporate cultures are designed to condone perfection with a perception that strength comes from knowing all the answers. Rashmi shares that this is not the case. We must ask questions and show our true colors. Rashmi was raised to be tough, strong, and independent with a belief that she could never ask for help or fail, for fear of being weak. In spite of extreme difficulties in life, Rashmi teaches that our true strength emerges when we openly live in vulnerability and shame.
We all make bad decisions and do not always recognize our wrongs immediately; it could take days, months, or even years. Once our errors are put into light, it is vital that we own them and take responsibility for our actions – no matter what the consequences will be. Rashmi committed a crime and faced a prison sentence, lost her business, and wasn’t able to take care of her children. Learn how transparency in your life can give you strength to move forward and inspire.
Above me was a prostitute heroin addict, to the left of me was a homeless woman, and above her was a 24 year old meth dealer. Never before in my life had I been exposed to women who had experienced so much. I ate, slept, worked out with, watched movies, cooked, and lived with these women for six months. I was honored to learn from and humbled to get to know these women. As a corporate speaker, Rashmi shares that not passing judgment on others, no matter their circumstances, is vital for the next generation of leaders.
There is a belief that lawyers are too smart to make wrong decisions. Therein lies a massive ethical pitfall: A lawyer could be making a wrong decision and refuse to admit it to themselves and others for fear of losing prestige and reputation. After years of schooling and time perfecting their craft, lawyers do not want to be seen as weak or needing to ask for help. Lawyers face ethical decisions to gain new customers, reputation, and community notoriety. If we’re not careful, we can begin to rationalize questionable behavior to achieve even good goals. Rashmi shares that as professionals, a culture of conversation around compliance and ethics is critical.
Rashmi is an ethics keynote speaker teaching the need for ethical vigilance across the United States