Extra! Extra! – Read All About It!

“As Economy Slows, Reputation Takes On Added Meaning.” (1)
This is the title of an article that caught my eye (the more cynical one on my right side). In this article, the author talks about the rise in demand for ‘Reputation Consulting’– apparently a new niche brought about by the number of companies that have managed to squander theirs. To quote the managing partner of a national reputation consulting firm interviewed in the article “Mending reputations can’t be done overnight” (a bit self-evident, but undeniably true). (2)

So – I have decided to expand into a new line of business (at least for purposes of this post) and provide “Reputation Consulting” services – for free. I feel compelled to do so since these principles were taught to me for free (3) by the best reputation consultants I have ever known – my Mom and Dad. So – here is my “secret sauce” reputation advice:

  • A good reputation is really important (regardless of the economy).
  • If you want a good reputation treat other people with respect, always act with integrity, always tell the truth, say what you do and do what you say, admit it when you make a mistake (then make appropriate amends).
  • Remember that even if you don’t think anyone is watching, someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows you know will likely find out if you do something you shouldn’t (that one always got me when I was teenager).
  • It only takes a brief moment to tarnish or lose your reputation
  • If it does get tarnished it’s a long and difficult road to recovery (with appropriate attribution to the consultant interviewed in the WSJ article).
  • The only person who can earn, protect or (heaven forbid) lose and then try to recover your reputation is you. From a business perspective you may have employees to be concerned about, but you are the example they (usually) follow.

Hmmm… Maybe I should rename this new line of business ‘Common Sense Consulting’… ?

(1)“As Economy Slows, Reputation Takes On Added Meaning” by George Anders, Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2008 page A2. Unfortunately, this link will only work if you have a subscription to the on-line version of the WSJ.
(2) In all fairness, my frame-of-reference as a consultant to owners of small to medium sized closely-held businesses is obviously different than those who work with fortune 500 public companies.
(3) Please note that ‘free‘ is a relative concept here and does not include the times I paid the price in unpleasant consequences for occasionally getting some of these wrong when I was a kid…


  1. Susan Janssen says:

    Dear Fred,
    I hope you share this with Mom at some point. She will share the humor and appreciate the acknowledgement! I keep a quote by Bob Kerry on our Dad’s photo in my room: “A hero is someone who over and over does the right thing even though there is no one there to witness it.”

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