I recently overheard a conversation between two people and it went like this…..
“Did you see that magazine article on ‘John Doe’? Didn’t you work for him a while back? It was a great article, nice write up, good photos, very positive description of how he grew the business!” The response from the other person was surprisingly lukewarm. ”Too bad he was not a very nice guy.” That response surprised me a bit and I started wondering how I might be described by people with whom I had previously worked.
One of my favorite books is “Values, Prosperity, and the Talmud – Business Lessons from the Ancient Rabbis,” by Larry Kahaner. In a concluding section of the book, it states, “…the Talmudic rabbis would sum up the secret of business success in one word: Reputation!”
We all have a reputation, but I don’t think we spend much time actively thinking about it. It might be productive once in a while to consider if the reputation we want is actually in line with the reputation we have, and I mean professional as well as personal. I don’t think the goal is necessarily to be viewed as “nice” by everyone, although I actually don’t know anyone who wants to be described as “the biggest jerk I ever met” either. If you are in the frame of mind for some introspection, here are a few questions to get the process started:
1. What do you want to be known for in your work? Maybe it is great customer service or being a subject matter expert, your quick response time, being principle driven and ethical. Maybe it is all of these.
2. Is there a gap between where you’d like to be and where you are now? Is there a process in place to evaluate how you are doing? If you are in a position of leadership, do you model the behavior that you value?
3. With family members, maybe you want to be known as a firm but fair parent or respectful and attentive to your elderly relatives? Maybe you think of yourself as considerate and respectful as a spouse or partner? Do you think you are viewed this way currently? If your answer is no to the last question, then ask if there are any changes you can make to bring the situation into alignment with the reputation you want?
In my business and in my family relationships, service is an important consideration. I hope my clients would agree, but I am confident my family would agree that I try to be of service whenever possible. (In the interest of fairness and balance I should also mention that patience is not one of my professed values, and that is a good thing because no one in my family would describe me as a “patient man” nor do I suppose I will ever have a reputation for patience.)
According to the author Ernest Bramah “A reputation for a thousand years may depend on the conduct of a single moment.” Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Bernie Madoff, and the Underwear Bomber all have a reputation…as do we. Let’s be sure that our reputations reflect the values that we esteem.
Frank C. Bucaro
Frank C. Bucaro & Associates, Inc.