Yes, you do. Through your actions, performance, behavior and insight you can add to or subtract from that fine reputation.
Are you adding or subtracting??
Dr. Laura Schlessinger tells the following story: “Guy comes to the guru in the road and says, “Guru, which way is success?” Guru points off silently, because gurus don’t talk when they’re wearing white robes.
Guy goes off in that direction and then you hear SPLAT. Guy comes back, a little bloody, a little worn, his hair’s messed up. Says, “Guru, which way is success?” Guru points in the same direction. Guy takes off.
Bigger SPLAT! this time. Guy comes back crawling, nails broken and bleeding, dragging himself along the ground. This time he grabs the guru by the collar, yanks him about and says, “Guru, which way is success?”
Guru points off in the same direction. Guy gets hostile and crazed and yells, “I went that way twice and all I got was SPLAT SPLAT!”
“What is the way to success?” Guru finally speaks.” Success is that way, he says, “Just a little bit past SPLAT.
There is a saying that ” The power to shape the future is earned through persistence.” No other quality is as essential to success. No matter what endeavour you choose, persistence is what will overcome all obstacles.
In your communication campaigns it will be persistence in getting the message across that will be the deciding factor in achieving a successful outcome.
As a consultant it will be the value you add on a daily basis. Every step, every effort and every inch helps. In training we know that repetition is the mother of skill.
As Nike says: “Just do it!”
One of my all-time favourite quotes is this :
” The power to shape the future is earned through persistence. No other quality is more important to success. It is the sandpaper that breaks down all resistance and sweeps away all obstacles. It is the ability to move mountains one grain at a time”.
This ties in nicely with the poster on my wall depicting a Chinese proverb:
“The man who moved a mountain is the one who started taking away the small stones”
Persistence is about little steps. Removing or moving little stones.
Are you one of those culprits that do not promptly return e-mails, phone calls or direct tweet messages?
Then read on. It can be the key to success or failure. One of the reasons why the SA e-commerce security company Thawte came to be worth so much to US Competitor Verisign was that the owner Mark Shuttleworth managed to get the company’s name embedded in the popular browser software.
The story goes that in 1996 Thawte was run out of a garage in Durbanville in South Africa, and Shuttleworth was handling all correspondence himself. The future of the company hinged on persuading browser developers that Thawte was important enough to include in their software, so that companies wishing to sell their goods and services online would be steered towards Thawte when they needed security certificates.
After spending months hitting a brick wall to convince Netscape to take him seriously, Shuttleworth was visiting London when he decided, on a whim to check his e-mail. There, in the pile of everyday messages from friends and colleagues was a bombshell: Thawte would be included in the new version of Netscape navigator browser if he responded by the …. NEXT DAY.
A few frantic telephone calls and heart palpitations later and the arrangements were made. Not to be outdone, Microsoft rushed to ensure that Thawte was embedded in the next version of its Explorer browser, and the rest is history. R3 billion rand history.
To this day Shuttleworth cannot say what made him check his e-mail, but he is the first to admit that he came within a few hours of missing his multi -billion dollar deal”.
The lesson from this piece is clear. E-mail is instantaneous and sometimes the sending party wants an immediate answer.
How prompt are you?
Today rapid response to a tweet or an e-mail can be the difference between failure and success.
Or are you willing to risk on the basis of doing business as usual. Today’s speedy economy and rate of change dictates immediacy as the key between success or failure.
The reason for the custom header photo – Reputation is like a flame, easily blown out and fickle unless you keep the flame going.
A person’s or Business’s Reputation needs constant attention – building it, sustaining it and protecting it, and when the time comes that things go wrong – effort and attention to restore it.
I am here to assist you.
They say first impressions count.
This statement is not always correct, since you cannot judge a book by its cover. However, making an initial good first impression goes a long way to establishing credibility and a favourable reputation.
One of the ways to create this impression is to act as if you are in control and that you can do things quicker, faster and more elegantly than others.
I find that many technological tools and techniques exist to become more productive and create that impression. But, not just that.They set me free to be able to think more, do more and have more leisure time.
In my own consulting work I have found a few tools and techniques that help me.
Getting Things Done (GTD) is an organizational method created by productivity consultant David Allen, described in a book of the same name.
I picked up a copy of this book – ‘Getting Things done’ three years ago and since then his book has had a huge impact on my working style and has really helped me to become more in control.
The GTD approach(Just google the word GTD – and see how many hits come up), once you understand it makes a lot of sense and has set me free to become even more creative (I am right brain dominant)
I even did a cheat sheet on GTD – Check this out if you want to get up to speed.
These days I use the GTD add-in Outlook 2007, and I find that it works well.
The ancient art of placement always serve as reminder to me that clutter destroys energy. I am very aware of energy fields and find the subject interesting and thought-provoking.
I like to read about it and compare it to what the GTD system suggests, which is often closely aligned.
The 4- Hour Work week and Body
Since recently reading the 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, I have become a convert of testing and self-experimentation.
I have just started the 4 –Hour Week and will write about it.
Both his books are highly recommended reading and I will embrace some of these principles in the months to come.
I like the fact that you can always have your stuff when you need it with Dropbox. Recently whilst I was in China I needed access to a document. Luckily my son was home and all he had to do was search for it and drag the document to my Dropbox folder on the desktop. Minutes later I had it on my smartphone and could arrange for copies for my delegates. Job done.
Check it out:2GB account is free! Sign up at http://db.tt/OIcCJuJ
I love Evernote. Not only is it free, but it is my favourite note taking application. It offers benefits such as:
- You can access it anywhere, from any net enabled device.
- Free to use. No functionality restriction free users.
- Not only note, you can save anything that you see on internet .
- You can create categories of your notes and tag them, which makes search easy.
- You can even post your notes directly from twitter or Outlook to Evernote.
- AND, you can share your notes on Facebook or e-mail it.
The other day a client wanted a copy of research I quoted. I used my Android HTC Smartphone to e-mail the info to the client there and then. All about impression and efficiency and ultimately my reputation of being hands-on.
FeedDemon is the most popular RSS reader for Windows, with an easy-to-use interface that makes it a snap to stay informed with the latest news and information.
It offers Google Reader Synchronization and keep your feeds, tags and shared items synched between locations.
For me Twitter is not a networking tool, but one of the fastest learning tools and news breaking sites available.
TwInbox is a add-in for Microsoft Outlook. It seamlessly integrates Twitter into Outlook.I like to use it as it allows me to move some tweets to a reading folder for later.
I also use Tweetdeck in conjunction with TwInbox for better search functionality.
My Android Phone
Currently I use the HTC Desire which I have found to be fast and just what I needed. My favourite applications on my phone include Evernote, Dropbox, What’s App, Astrid Task Manager, Tweetcaster which allows me to tweet from my phone and Imo – a super-sleek and fast messenger application for Android.
I find that these days I do the following in the evenings:
1. Check my e-mail. Using the GTD philosophy I quickly sift through my mail, deleting, moving or acting upon e-mails. Where next actions are required I immediately use the GTD-Add in to set up projects or tasks.
2. I then check my Twitter for interesting feeds. These I use to a folder so that I can read them later.
3. I access FeedDemon after checking my e-mail and Twitter. Sift through, flag those articles I want to read and delete the rest.
4. As I read and find information I wish to keep I use the Evernote widget to save the information and tag it.
Saving the information to specific notebooks, helps from a search point of view.
5. Later I update my status on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. It is at this stage that I open my desktop synchronised copy of Evernote, so that I can decide whether there are articles that I can share.
6. Where possible I use my smartphone to do most of the above.
These are some of my favourite tools. What about you – What do you use?
Last week I facilitated a Stakeholder Reputation Management Master Class in Johannesburg. On the 2nd day I always end off the Master class by getting delegates to develop a set of ground rules of engagement with Stakeholders including a list of tips on how to foster better relationships and reputation.
The title of this article is what the one group suggested.
Differentiate your Suppliers and pay them accordingly.
This really made me think, and prompted me to share a very disturbing trend.
I run a one- person consultancy. My cash flow is key to business continuance. Yet, this year I have had spend more time on collecting money than ever before.
This is what is happening:
1. Managers attend courses and events. I advertise events as prepaid. Registration forms are completed and signed and invoices promptly sent out. But that is where it ends. I meet these lovely & dedicated people and work with them. However, now comes the crunch – To get my money.
Sometimes I have to wait up to 9 weeks to get paid. And, I have to deal with unhelpful back office staff.
- Even worse, the lack of attention is frightening. How can it take 2 weeks for a clerk to inform a secretary that the VAT number she gave the client is wrong and that they need an amended invoice?
- Even worse, my own Bank sent a senior manager on course and it took them 8 weeks to pay me. Yet, if I go over my overdraft limit by R2 they have the audacity to sms me that same day. Is that fair? In fact, it is 6 months since it happened and I am still angry about it.
- How on earth does it take 5 days to process a payment? That after they have all the documents and the invoice? It is nothing other than an admittance of poor administration and stalling payments.
- Recently I even wrote to the Head of Finance on two occasions to get paid. He did not even bother to respond.
2. The new tendency. In order for a manager to attend a once-off event I need to complete supplier database forms that need to be signed off by the Bank, sometimes SARS and often by a Commissioner of Oaths.
Sometimes I am sent these documents after an event – and it can take a day out of my time to comply with all this administration. Billable consulting time.
Who says I want to be an official supplier? Surely there must be a way to fast track certain expenses?
3. Supplier Database Forms ask for your type of business.
Why I don’t know. What difference does it make? If you state that you are a SME or sole proprietor, it makes no difference. In fact, you will probably be paid even later than some of their key clients.
Yet the South African Government wants to assist SME’s. Companies write that they care for their customers and suppliers.
Well, if they did their systems and service surely do not suggest that.
I agree with that group.
Why can they not:
- Fast track sole proprietor and SME payments? (Or do they not understand the different problems experienced by different types of businesses?)
- Why is there no provision for once-off payments such as event attendance?
- Why can managers who attend courses and events, not accept the responsibility for following up the payment of that supplier?
- Why can they not respect my payment terms?
Something is clearly wrong with Stakeholder Management in companies and there is no better place than to witness the lack of focus and lip-service than getting your invoice paid.
If companies were really stakeholder management focused, they would pay more attention to their service providers needs and expectations. As an external service provider who often has already rendered a service, I expect my payment terms to be respected. I expect them to be more sensitive to my needs.
I am not interested in the internal systems and procedures. That’s your problem.
Pay my invoice on time.
It is simple. Differentiate your suppliers and pay them accordingly. Surely it is not that difficult.
Or is it just that Stakeholder Management thinking is just a fad?
It is time for the annual Reputation destruction event again – the annual Office Party!
How many people have you not seen over the years who manage to destroy their hard-earned reputations at the office party!
Ok! Jokes aside.
From an reputational perspective there are a couple of dangers inherent in the annual XMas office party.
Will you be serving alcoholic beverages? Will this be on the company’s account? If so, your organisation face danger.
- For instance, what would happen if an employee drinks too much and becomes abusive? What then?
- What happens if an employee drinks too much and has an accident on the way home?
- What happens if an employee goes home and verbally and physically abuse his or her family?
I would hate for the following to happen. This essential TAC Campaign YouTube video is not for sensitive viewers and is a rude awakening for what can happen on the way home from any event.
Watch it and give it a thought. How can you plan an office party that will be exciting and safe?
A Few years ago someone was paralysed when they dove into a swimming pool during an event. This had huge implications for the company, both from a legal and a human resources point of view. Some managers believe that they can transfer this risk through legal documentation, such as getting staff to sign that when they go on an outing that they assume the risk.
The problem about Reputation, is that it cannot be outsourced nor covered through legal frameworks and paper arrangements. A Company’s name will be mentioned in a negative light.
Now the company could argue in a court of law that getting home is an employee’s own indaba and that according to the Occupational Health & Safety Act that they are not responsible, but indirectly they will be.
The company could argue that they are not responsible for clearing the world of social ills.
But can they?
These days stakeholders will scrutinise all actions, performance, behaviour and intent, and it will be even worse if a company’s marketing documents reflect that they state they are a responsible employer and corporate citizen and losing in a court of public opinion can have far more damage than winning in a court of law.
Questions could be raised that could damage the organizations’ reputation:
- Like why did you serve alcohol without adequate controls and safeguards? As a responsible citizen, why did you not think through the whole process, etc.?
I am not trying to be a stick in the mud, but corporate reputation is an important asset and huge risk. I would suggest that you perhaps rethink how you will handle the annual party.
You could always use this test with managers and staff, but I do not think it will pass the efficacy test.
Few people realize that every single day is a Reputation Building day. From the moment you get up till you go to sleep that night you are involved in things and activities that will either add or subtract from that reputation, as the following article illustrated.
This was shared years ago with me (unfortunately I do not know the original source) – An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house.
He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."
The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we’d do it much differently. But we cannot go back.
You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Each day you work on your Reputation.
"Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow. Build your Reputation wisely.
Just read an interesting piece in the Sunday Independent that the popularity of the Tour de France among French people has fallen dramatically, according to a survey. The survey claims that only 44% of French people said they like the Tour, which is down eight percentage pints from 2007 and five points from 2008.
It says that public has grown increasingly disillusioned with the event since the slew of doping –related scandals of recent years. After the Floyd Landis incident some even started calling it the Tour de Farce.
Now this might just be a survey, but in the light of other scandals such as Tiger Woods and the French team not performing according to expectations at the World Cup Soccer tournament in South Africa, this results makes sense.
Parents want sportspeople to be role models for their children, and even in the quest of winning at all costs, sportspeople and especially cyclists have a huge role of responsibility to show that they are balanced individuals. Not, just obsessed with winning at all costs.
In other words, they have to factor the aspect of reputation into their success drive. Simply you can win , and lose your reputation. And, then you are nothing, because the blemish will obscure your efforts and hard work.
Cycling is also an example of how long it can take to weed out malpractices. It also illustrates the importance of the role of governance, ethics and compliance in ensuring that reputation risk does not emerge.
Next to soccer, cycling is in fact the second most popular sport in Europe. Hopefully, there will be few doping scandals in this year’s tour and public sentiment will rise again in this wonderful sport.
This question has been asked so many times and answered so many times in text books that I thought you may appreciate an alternative look at it.
When the circus comes to town and you put up a sign, that’s advertising.
If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and you march the elephant through town, that’s sales promotion.
If the elephant, still with the sign on his back, tramples through the mayor’s flower garden and the television cameras record and broadcast the event, that’s publicity.
If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. And if you planned the elephant’s walk, that’s marketing.
An alternative version of the circus coming to town – Imagine you walk into a bar and across the room you see a beautiful woman.
If you were in advertising you would march right up to her to tell her how wonderful you are, how you are the partner of her dreams and are going to make her life like heaven on earth.
If you were in marketing then you would plan your approach. First you would strike up a conversation and attempt to find out her idea of perfect partner. Then you would go away and have a make-over before coming back and explaining that you’re exactly what she’s been looking for.
However the public relations professional would simply take a seat at the bar and order a drink. The beautiful woman would soon approach you and breath sexily into your ear: "I’ve heard how wonderful you are and I’d really like to get to know you."
You’re at a party.
If a member of the opposite sex tells you he/she is a great lover, that’s advertising.
If a member of the opposite sex asks you about your bedroom "interests" and shows how he/she fits the profile, that’s marketing.
If a member of the opposite sex walks up to you and says "I hear you’re fantastic in bed" — that’s PR.
And that is when you know that your Reputation Building efforts are working….All that practising, reading the Kama Sutra……
We admire companies and this is reflected in our choices as consumers, investors and in other forms of business. But what about the managers that have influenced our own behaviours and performance? Our own reputation?
Many times we had no choice, but even then, they influenced us. Even if it was to never to be like them.
The following self-directed exercise will help you to reflect about those managers and mentors that shaped your own reputation.
- What gave them the reputation of being an excellent manager and/or mentor?
- What is that they did to earn that reputation?
Read through the following paragraph and then follow the necessary instructions.
‘’As all of us grow up and grow older, we have our own personal heroes and heroines – friends, teachers, coaches, idols and mentors. By their actions and their advice, they have influenced and inspired us. The people we admire give us courage and direction. They exemplified a positive reputation.
Take a moment to think about these special people. Perhaps it was a parent, a relative, a neighbour, a teacher, or an sports coach. Perhaps it was someone you did not know that well but who still had an influence on you.
How did they influence you to act in a more reputable manner and to be conscious of your own reputation?
Tell me how that person made a difference in your life and career. What were some of the qualities that made that person stand out from others around you?
What made them a reputable manager and person in your life and career?
Now answer the following questions:
- In remembering them, what do you see, hear or feel right now?
- How did those people affect your life right then?
- What did you admire most about these people?
- What is the most important contribution these people made to your life?
- How is your life affected right now by these people?
- List those qualities (Motivational attributes and characteristics) that made these people special for you.
Building a favourable reputation as a manager is a daily process of action. Becoming conscious of the impact and influence you have on others should become your own guiding beacon.
What will others say about you?
Yes, but then asks a clued up client “’Which type?’’
How do you respond? What do you say? What is your elevator speech handle? (An Elevator speech handle is what you should say to someone about what it is you do for a living, between two floors in a high rise building – Short, sweet and succinct)
Which type are you, and what is your focus?
The same misconceptions arises in the Crisis Management industry. As a customer with a need, who do you consult?
A Crisis Management consultant or a Crisis Communication consultant? This distinction is important as it will influence your decision on which consultant to use.
This is a vital decision, because PR consultancies tend to deal with the communication challenges only, whilst Crisis Management consultants tend to deal with the whole Siamese twin. (I call a Crisis a Siamese twin because I do not believe that you can separate a crisis into its reality and perceptual parts) and ultimately offers more comprehensive services.
In the same vein, it is important for companies to decide what type of Reputation Management consultant, they want to deal with.
The proliferation of online or internet reputation consultants have created this misconception about reputation management consultants, i.e that they are either Social media experts or are just another PR consultancy.
I am here to set the matter straight.
There are three types of reputation management consultants available today. They are:
1. Online reputation management consultants;
2. Business reputation management consultants;
3. Personal reputation management consultants.
Online Reputation Management consultants focus on internet reputation and predominantly social media tools and usage. The 3rd one – Personal Reputation is often taken care of by PR consultancies, Image specialists, Coaches and counsellors that can assist a person to not only change their behavior but for instance, act out a plan to improve their personal position or standing in a community or workplace.
The 2nd one, Business reputation management consultants provides far more comprehensive services, including management consulting, advice, strategic planning and capacity building in the organization. The skills needed by these types of consultants I wrote about in my blog post – The Skills needed by a Chief Reputation Officer – http://bit.ly/4HCefv
Traditional PR consultancies tend to gravitate between Nr 1 and Nr. 2 – however their focus is different, and deals more with communication, marketing & perceptual challenges.
Thus, it becomes an important decision of whom you want to work with. Do you need only a communication solution? Do you need help with a blog attack or a bad presence on the Net, or do you want to change your position on the World’s Most Admired Company survey rankings?
When you want to put a skylight into your home, do you obtain the services of a General Handyman or do you enlist the services of someone who specialises in installing skylights?
Because reputation is a very complex asset and risk, and can be affected by so many issues and peculiarities, the use of a business reputation management consultant should be preferred, because not only do they understand the nature and value of reputation and communication, they also understand people and organisations as complex systems.
So, just like going to restaurant, choose your service provider and dish with care!