Branding is in. How do you create and grow an organization? Brand it and its mission. Need to attract new members, donors or business? Brand your products and services. Looking to get that next job or promotion? Brand yourself.
Back in the day, branding was known as something else: your reputation. It was the sum of your efforts and choices up to that point. Until recently, most of us didn’t realize how little we knew about reputation. We simply followed good judgment, the guidance of our parents and reliable wisdom from reputable folks like Ben Franklin who cautioned, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it,” and George Washington who said, “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” Solid, if somewhat boring and predictable recommendations.
Today, you don’t just leave reputation to chance. First you must be mindful of your reputation. And you need “reputation management,” which Wiki refers to as “the influencing and controlling of an individual’s or group’s reputation.” Obviously social media and search engines have made reputation relevant again. Along with that photo of you during “beach week.”
This issue of PIN Points is focused on managing your professional/personal reputations — and the programs you are responsible for — along with solid advice on in-district meetings and engaging advocates, along with upcoming PAC webinars on professional development.
So how do you establish a reputation — at least a good one? Taking on challenges and working hard seem to be good advice. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos says, “You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” So does making good, thoughtful choices over a long period of time. Warren Buffet notes, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
David Ogilvy (founder of Ogilvy & Mather, and known as the father of advertising) had a slightly different take on reputation. He said “First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it.” Unfortunately, he did not provide much detailed advice on how to be a creative genius.
One final distinction: reputation is not the same as character. Comedy writer Michael Iapoce likes to point out that, “Reputation is character minus what you’ve been caught doing.” Basketball coach John Wooden said it better, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
Something to think about when you’re looking to improve your personal brand through mindful reputation management.