noun: the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.
During a recent interview, Ted Lee explained the importance of a good reputation while discussing a time of financial hardship Lee Company faced after his father, Leon Lee, passed away. Ted shared that what got him and Wallace Lee through that rough patch was their good family reputation. Suppliers, customers, employees, and creditors stood by their side because they knew the Lee family had a reputation worth its weight in gold.
I often speak about the importance of having a personal brand and the deliberate investment that goes behind building one. But I had not given my reputation much thought.
First let’s establish the difference:
Personal branding is about how you market and establish yourself in the minds of others.
Your reputation is the sum of your track record, it accounts not only for your efforts but for what others say about you.
Brand is about relevance and differentiation. Reputation is about legitimacy.Richard Ettenson
We can agree that both our brand and our reputation are important. However, our reputation is more valuable and critical to our success as individuals. Brands go through refreshes and makeovers quite often. But I have never heard of a reputation refresh. Have you?
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.Warren Buffett
Something else I am learning is that when it comes to reputation building there is a fork on the road where genders part ways. Yes, that fork on the road exists, but I won’t dive deep because it is something I am exploring at this time.
The more we grow into our own skin, the less likely we are to please everyone around us – a reputation follows.Karol Hernandez
If a reputation is more vulnerable and valuable than your personal brand, but you don’t fully control it, what can you do? Focus on your character.
Make sure the people who matter to you personally and in your professional journey know your character very well. You can’t control what everyone thinks or says about you. You can put your best foot forward, you can be adaptable, flexible, humble, smart, and even then someone will be displeased with your presence or performance. So rather than focusing your efforts on the masses, focus on being genuine and consistent.
Be open to feedback, evaluate the source, and apply it or consciously disregard it. Remember, our brand and our reputation are constantly evolving, especially in a digital world with a 5-star rating system.
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.
Focus on your character and be intentional about your brand. Be bold and have managerial courage. Here is a funny thing about reputations: they are built with or without you. Know that having a reputation you helped shape is better than passively letting others build narratives around your name.