It Takes Many Good Deeds, and Only One Bad One...


"It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."  -- Benjamin Franklin.

Fannie Mae.  Freddie Mac.  Bear Stearns.  Countrywide.  IndyMac.  Lehman.  Merrill.  Once strong and even great corporate and financing nameplates now sullied by significant business reverses.

On the flip side: Apple.  Google.  Berkshire Hathaway.  Goldman Sachs.  Firms with gilt-edged reputations and prestige, admired the world over.

And the people that constitute both firms?  Ask any former Enron employee: whether deserved or not, their personal reputations have been sullied by the scandals and collapses suffered by their previous employers. In contrast, employees currently or formerly associated with corporate America's golden children benefit significantly -- even those that have had only a marginal impact on the businesses (like those who joined Google when its shares were at $700).

Whether we like it or not, our reputations, our incomes, our future prospects, all are massively impacted by the organizations with which we are associated.   In small companies especially, ALL employees have a meaningful impact on the company's reputation.  When any of us do great work and the firm is recognized and prospers, all of us benefit: in the short term, as the firm's reputation grows and in the medium and long term,  we enjoy a financial boon as the benefit of a good reputation yields financial results, given that reputation is a core driver of brand equity.

Arguably in the modern, flat world, the most valuable asset for all of us – firms and individuals – are our reputations.   And when any one individual in an organization, a community, a nation – shines, we all glow.  And when anyone of us falters, we all pay the price.   The price can be sometimes small, sometimes insigifnicant, but it is always paid and if it happens often enough, then eventually the law of numbers catch up and all lose.  Big time.  

My suggestion for all (including myself of course) – given our shrinking global village – let's be ever-vigilant to assure that we are consistently touched by "the better angels of our nature" when we get out of bed in the morning.  Each and every day.

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John West says

This line is golden. " let's be ever-vigilant to assure that we are consistently touched by "the better angels of our nature" when we get out of bed in the morning. Each and every day." Thanks for reminding us!
Posted at 8:47 pm
chris says

Kudos Jay for finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It isn't the business we create, but the relationships we gain that keep us going!
Posted at 2:05 am
Dumisani Mpafa says

Brilliant article, i love it....
Posted at 7:24 am
Christine Trice / Brown Bag Botanicals says

This article is right on point. And great timing as I've experienced the test of reputation from both ends of the spectrum just this week. So important to operate in full integrity & naturally you will continue to build trust & loyalty.
Posted at 7:15 pm
Mutalemwa Thomas says

You guys are marvelous!! Prestigious post,organization or association one belongs to brings fame and reputation (good one of coursse) that every human being in their right states of mind will always desire to have. I happen to agree with you because the efforts i put in my life and career are all trageted to build me a name,prestige and RESPECT. always going for the BEST!
Posted at 2:06 am
James Nyamongo says

This article is very candidy on the issue of reputation and One has to pay big a price to undergo the process of credibility and integrity.Reputation is all that makes a differnce in one's life.
Posted at 7:44 am
Rose Linda Gonzales says

The manifestation of a fall brings reality down to its basics. It makes us think what is important to us. This article revisits truth in integrity and what the worth of world success is!
Posted at 4:14 pm
Stephen Kobzik says

Great article, keeps the importance of character and integrity in perspectiv. Reminds me of the difference between The "Character Ethic" and the "Personality Ethic," that Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people speaks to. In looking at 200 years of successes of our nation, much of the literature for the first 150 tributes those successes to what Covey calls the "Character Ethic" (basic principles for effective living integrated into a persons character) Literature in the last 50 years is focused more on "Personality Ethic" (quick practices that a person can use taht will bring success i.e. smiling more, effective communication etc.) Though the Personality Ethic is important to effective and successful living, we ALL (myself included) must remember the Character Ethic and the principles that lead to effective living and happiness in our lives. Fairness/Integrity/Honesty/Quality/Excellence/Potential/ Growth/Patience/Nurturance and Encouragement.
Posted at 11:04 am
Stephen Kobzik says

Great article, reminds me of Stephen Covey's discussion of the Character Ethic and Personality Ethic that has become more popular in the last 50-70 years. The Character Ethic focuses on the principles that lead each of us to lasting happiness and effective living; Fairness, Integrity/Honesty, Human dignity, Quality/Excellence, Potential, Growth, Patience, Nurturance, Encouragement etc. More recently our culture has taught the Personality Ethic: "there is a quick track to success"; Smile more, communicate effectively etc. These are necessary to success though we all have to remember to keep the timeless principles of the Character Ethic in mind operating day to day. Covey's adds a great quote by Emerson I beleive "What you are speaks louder to me than anything you say." This was a great article and right on time for me, thank you.
Posted at 11:14 am
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