Courage of Conviction: Rashmi Airan's Journey From Felon to Ethics Evangelist

July 9, 2019 LRN Corporation

“I now recognize that I was so focused on getting the client that I didn't see all the red flags going up all around me"

Rashmi Airan

This Principled podcast series comes in celebration of LRN Corp.’s 25th anniversary. Today, Rashmi Airan is interviewed by LRN’s Marsha Ershaghi Hames.

Airan is someone who once was caught up in the grandeur of goals, rather than paying attention to real and detrimental consequences of her actions. She grew up a perfectionist, and pressured herself to succeed. She achieved tremendous success and eventually opened her own real estate and law practice.

Everything changed when she started working with a big developer client and became mixed up in some “creative” transactions. Not realizing the severity of her actions, Airan stayed quiet. She received a visit from the FBI in May 2011, and was interrogated for four hours.

Two years passed after the interrogation before she was charged with bank fraud. Airan pled guilty and owned her mistakes. She realized she had ignored red flags and was silent when she should have spoken up. She served six months in prison.

Since her release, she’s been sharing her story with others. Looking back, she realizes she got lost trying to keep up with appearances. If she had it to do over again, Airan said she would pay closer attention to details. She learned while the situation happened, it doesn’t define her.



Rashmi Airan is a corporate and motivational speaker, a “recovering lawyer and investment banker,” a woman leader. and an entrepreneur. She is an internationally recognized keynote and motivational speaker, and TEDx presenter with clients that include the FBI, Sotheby’s Int’l, MGM Resorts, and Columbia Law School. 

A first-generation immigrant of Indian parents, Airan is a mother of two, and a lawyer who graduated with honors from Columbia Law School. After launching an independent law practice in Miami, during the housing boom she was recruited to work with a local real-estate developer who then engaged in questionable business practices. 

Airan’s involvement resulted in her receiving a six-month sentence to federal prison for bank fraud, alongside a multi-million dollar judgment against future earnings, community service hours, and three years of supervised release.

She continues to share her story to illustrate the multitude of factors that influence our choices, and tells her powerful story to deliver pivotal messages to universities, law firms, corporations, global multinationals, and trade associations.



  • Could you share a little bit about your background? [0:58]

  • What happened with the interrogation? [4:53]

  • What have you learned looking back if you had to go back and coach yourself? What would you do differently and where were the red flags? [7:24]

  • Were you so focused on the outcome you couldn’t stop and ask the right questions? [10:07]

  • Are we developing and coaching the next generation of leaders to be culturally aware and culturally sensitive? [12:53]

  • How are you charting the path forward? What are some of objectives you have? [14:52]  

Don’t miss our next episode! Be sure to subscribe to Principled on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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About the Author

By combining values-based education, rich insights, and expert advisory services into innovative, comprehensive solutions, LRN can help elevate behavior and the bottom line for your company.

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