• February 24, 2019

    Jussie Smollett – Empire Crumbling Around Trust & Reputation

    As more explosive news reports roll out about actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged fabrication of his racial and homophobic attack in Chicago, people are left with questions such as, “Where is the truth?” “What is the truth?” “Why did he possibly do this?” Questions that are now in the hands of the Chicago court system. I’ve been asked lately how I would go about rehabbing Jussie’s reputation as this epic story of trust and reputation unfolds.  My answer is simple, “Nothing.  This is not the time to be focusing on rehabbing his reputation.” Jussie is in the crucible right now.  This is the period of time when his actions and words are vital.  How he acts, what he says, how he reacts during the court hearings will determine how he emerges and how rehabbing his reputation could be managed. As many are quick to judge and the court of public opinion sways, we should focus on one of the key issues here – trust.   If what the police allege is true, that Smollett orchestrated this attack to increase his public awareness in an effort to negotiate a raise, then this will become an epic story of betrayal of trust! “There are three things you can’t hide from – the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Confucius We are living in an age where only 30% of Americans believe that people are trustworthy. So, while the lawyers in Chicago build their cases, let’s look closer to home and reflect on how we are building or busting trust in our daily interactions! We are all responsible for trust in every interaction we have. Here are three actionable ways that we, as leaders or individuals, can build and strengthen trust today. 1. Pursue Understanding, Not Responding – How often do we listen to others and focus on what we are going to say instead of truly listening to understand their perspective and how you got to the current state? Asking more questions will allow you to better understand the situation and collaborate on action-oriented solutions. 2. Own Your Mistakes – As leaders we set the tone and expectations for our teams. It’s too easy for us to say that we are “running fast” and “have a full plate” and therefore rationalize our mistakes to others.  What example does that set for those you are leading? Remember, what they see is what they expect and, ultimately, what you get.  3. Keep Your Commitments – Following through on your commitments is critical.  Commitments are promises and whether you keep them or break them, they become an underpinning component of trust. If you find that you can’t keep your commitments, then you need stop saying, “yes” so much! Perhaps you need to delegate more? Perhaps you need to better manage your time? Keeping your commitments will always build trust! Yes, we are human and make mistakes.  So, these are also great strategies for rebuilding trust! Only you can change your situation! I’ll keep sharing reputation management insights and strategies as the Jussie Smollett case unfolds.  In the meantime, put these three strategies into play and see […]

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  • February 4, 2019

    Doing the Right Thing!

    Doing the right thing! Often easier said than done. We have the choice, or maybe better positioned as opportunity, to do this each day but what choice do we make? Does it depend on the stakes? Does it depend on who is impacted? Does it depend on what it would take to fix the situation versus just sweeping it under the rug? I experienced this recently with my son – and it was a great life lesson (for us both). On a late Sunday evening, a moving truck drove down our street and completely ‘pancaked’ the driver’s side of the car.  Literally every inch of the car, from front bumper to rear bumper and both front and rear wheels, were dented, gouged or cut down.  The picture doesn’t do justice to the damage, but the entire left side of my son’s car needed to be replaced! But, I noticed a note under the windshield wiper.  The person whose moving truck had ‘pancaked’ our car came back and left their contact info. What? This person actually took responsibility? Here’s the kicker – when I spoke with the person, I asked where they had moved into our neighborhood.  The response? “I didn’t. I was moving from Maryland to Alabama and we stopped in Huntersville for the night. We got lost and ended up in your neighborhood.” This person had so many reasons to become vapor. Really, they could have just drove off and went about their business. I had to ask why they decided to come back … the answer, “I was taught to do the right thing no matter how big or small the situation.” Who are the people in your life doing the right thing? How are you modeling this to yourself, your family, your organization, or your team?

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  • March 24, 2018

    Was Anyone Spotting for John Skipper?

    I feel for John Skipper, former ESPN chief.  It’s hard not to, in some capacity, when you see someone’s life work unplugged and unravelled.  But here is where my mind goes after reading his fall-from-grace story – he was not alone. I grew up watching ESPN and I know a lot of what I came to love about the ESPN brand and sports was a direct result of John’s efforts and passion. As a professional, I also had the privilege of working with ESPN on numerous occasions with NASCAR, NHRA, B.A.S.S., and other sports properties.  I can tell you that the people who worked there reflected John’s attitude and vision – they were first-class people. Now, I also believe that we make and must stand by our choices.  And, like John, we are not alone. In racing, we have spotters.  These people have an elevated perspective of the race track and tell drivers what is happening in their blind spots and how to navigate through wrecks happening ahead of or around them.  There is a remarkably high level of trust between drivers and their spotters to ensure their safety and ultimately their success – as a team. I don’t know who John’s spotters were in his years of cocaine addiction, or if they tried to help and he ignored them.  But I can’t believe he was alone. Can we learn from this? Yes. Who are your spotters? Who are the small group of people in your life that are looking out for you?  The ones to tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear.  We may not like what they have to say, but if they are trusted, then we know from where their words are coming – and we need to listen. So, who are they? Can you rattle off their names right now?  Do they even know that you consider them your spotters? Who are you a spotter for in your life? We are all in this journey together and need each other to have our backs when we are operating in our blind spots. Career stage does not matter.  Life stage does not matter either.  We all need spotters and they need to know that we need them to shoot straight with us and that we will listen! John, I have no doubt you will rebound from this and be stronger than before!

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  • February 4, 2018

    2 Critical Components to Rebuild a Reputation

    I am often asked if a person or company can recover from a reputation crisis.  The simple answer is, “yes”, but the effort and discipline it takes to do so is not that simple and is solely up to the individual or the leadership of an organization to act upon two vital elements – consistency and time. While reputations are fragile, and once cracked can never quite be put exactly back together, recovery can be achieved if there is genuine and transparent acknowledgement of what was done, if there is clear and consistent behavior to make amends, and this is done (again) consistently over time. Robert Downey Jr., comes to mind when I think of a person who rose to prominence, fell, and then repaired his reputation to find success (and work in Hollywood) again.  Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol brand is another example of a brand that lost confidence among consumers, but through diligent and consistent efforts, earned that trust back to regain its place as a global category leader, and a product welcomed back in people’s homes. Consistency – the key here is to recognize what actions or behaviors led to the reputation issue, make the proper amends, and then outline the ways in which you or your company will move forward in an authentic way to demonstrate your intent to regain trust and reputation – day in and day out! Downey Jr., took time to rehab his body from the addiction to drugs while also nurturing his mind and spirit to focus on what would be meaningful in his life and surrounding himself with like-minded people.  People soon saw that he was consistently working to make amends and move forward in a positive manner.  I’m not saying that the Iron Man franchise would not have happened without him, but there’s no question that his involvement and talent made it a blockbuster! Time – people can be skeptical as well as forgiving, so the critical element here is consistent behavior over time.  Commitment to a vision of regaining reputation is what will drive the consistent behavior over time.  Repetition (not only in how I ended the last two sentences) is the key to turning skeptics into supporters and from supporters to potential advocates.  Tylenol’s emergence from the cyanide tampering in the 1980s is an example of not only acting quickly (another form of time – see this story for the power of time), but also how leadership focused on creating a tamper-proof solution that would continue to demonstrate trust and reliability over time. If you or your company have been caught in a reputation crisis, it does not signal the end!  However, it will take deliberate planning to outline what must be done differently, clear communication to your family, friends, colleagues, customers or other key constituents as to what will be done differently moving forward, and then ‘walking the walk‘ each and every day!  Easier said than done, but your future and your reputation are more than worth the work! Don’t you think?

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