“Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear.”
My previous background was professional services.
My role was easy — to serve. Period.
But when it came to my reputation, certainly when I started off in 1992, it was out of my control. All I could focus on was turning up, doing my very best and living my values — trust, honesty, respect and kindness. Of course, I tripped and crashed a few times, but I always kept one thing in mind — get better.
On a personal level, things haven’t changed but out there, in the Wild West territory of the Web, everything’s changed!
For my part, over the last four years, I’ve tried to shine a light on some of the more important Brand You issues, but I’ve witnessed little, if any, traction. In fact, I would go further and say I’ve failed.
I know why it is, or at least I think I know.
People don’t care
Let me repeat.
PEOPLE DON’T CARE.
You see if they did, they would:
- take their work seriously;
- stop living a shadow existence;
- adopt a givers mindset;
- see what actually exists online;
- create something of value;
- share their gifts;
- stand for something.
You might think I’ve missed the mark but I don’t think so. It’s one thing to receive a personal referral, but it would be rare these days if someone didn’t check you or your business out either via Google or a social media search (trust me you’ll learn a lot more about a person by what they say and do on Twitter or their blog than any dull website bio).
Perhaps you don’t want to invest time and energy building an online presence. Or perhaps you assume that your clients and customers will continue to do all the heavy lifting for you, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
One final thing, I’m sick to death of reading about all these things that companies/firms need to do — e.g. build a great brand, deliver brilliant service and innovate — when it’s the people who are the business, and that’s where the focus should go.
In fact, I don’t care if you’re Unilever or P&G or the one-person outfit doing great things in your area, no amount of advertising, pretty colours or clever copywriting is going to deliver if your people don’t care about the company and their reputation within it. Period.
Without wishing to appear narcissistic, your reputation cannot be left to chance and has to be worked on every single moment of every single day of every single year. This doesn’t mean that you’ve got to develop an unhealthy love for the Web or social media, but it does mean you have to practice self trust, meaning you ask yourself: are you credible, believable and someone people can trust? (I highly recommend you read Speed of Trust by Stephen M R Covey to gain greater insight into how you can build self trust.)
From reading this post you might think I’ve given up on Brand You. But you’d be wrong. If anything, it’s made me think more deeply about the work that I do and have still to do, and how I can make a positive difference in the world with my message, namely that each of us possesses amazing, life-changing gifts and the sooner we can tap into those the better the world will be.