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7 Hard Ways to Build an Extraordinary Reputation in Business

No one wants a bad reputation in business.

This might seem so obvious it’s not worth the keystrokes… and I would agree if the opposite were true, but it’s not.

While everyone would prefer a good reputation, few use intentional actions to build a quality reputation they can leverage into personal and organizational growth.

“You can’t buy a good reputation, you have to earn it.”

~ Harvey Mackay

The “Earn” part of that quote is why reputation is an under-appreciated, underutilized, and oft-taken-for-granted aspect of business.

We know reputation permeates through every interaction and every transaction (or lack thereof), yet because of the long-game nature of reputation, we rarely give it focused and purposeful attention.

The lack of attention in developing our reputation stems from the indirect nature in which it is built.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

~ John Wooden

We cannot control how others perceive us. Everyone has their own biases and beliefs, which filter their view of the world and the people in it.

We can be intentional with our actions and reactions.

We can act with integrity, spread abundance, and be accepting of those we engage with each day.

We can epitomize the reputation we wish to build and hope through a lifetime’s effort that we someday earn it.

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7 Hard Ways to Build an Extraordinary Reputation in Business

Here are seven character traits you can weave into your everyday life, which, over time, can help you build an extraordinary reputation and become someone people seek out with business opportunities…

1) Show Up

Because most won’t unless the result is guaranteed.

Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.

~ Brene Brown

Showing up is scary because it puts you in a position to fail. But it also shows you care. It shows you’re willing to try.

It shows you’re someone people can count on.

2) Do What You Say

Because most will talk shit and then give up when things get tough.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

~ Thomas Edison

Will you persevere through “The Dip” (as Seth Godin describes in his book by the same title)? Every business, every project, and every relationship will inevitably endure in its lifespan.

…or do you give up when things get hard?

You cannot answer this question with words.

3) Be Kind

Because most are self-oriented, status-driven, and petty.

Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else’s expense. And I find that that’s just a form of bullying in a major way. So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else’s feelings.

~ Ellen DeGeneres

This goes for business as it does for comedy, parenting, or engaging with someone at a local convenient store.

You can be strong and kind. You can be driven and kind. You can successful and kind.

When I drop my kids off at school each morning, I say the same things to kids every day right before I walk out of the classroom, “Be kind. Have fun. Learn something.”

This order is intentional based on the importance of the type of people I hope they will become.

4) Give More Than You Take

Because most can’t see past what’s in it for them.

Takers believe in a zero-sum world, and they end up creating one where bosses, colleagues and clients don’t trust them. Givers build deeper and broader relationships – people are rooting for them instead of gunning for them.

~ Adam Grant

I have a simple mantra I remind myself of every morning, “Give more. Expect less.”

Without intentional action to the contrary, we’re all selfish bastards.

This is a lizard brain, our limbic system, the ancient programming responsible for fight or flight, which operates with a single directive, “Survive at all costs.”

It would be naive to think we are so evolved as to disregard our lizard brain’s influence over every thought in our mind.

To combat this, I remind myself, “Give more. Expect less,” to live in abundance, to embrace serendipity, and to win favor with The Muse.

5) Have Conviction

Because most don’t the guts to believe in something.

Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.

~ James Cook

Want to know what conviction looks like? Follow the work of Seth Zaremba and Jason Cass. They create things in places most people wouldn’t think to look and do it under the constant scrutiny of people and organizations who would otherwise prefer they fail.

Right or wrong, these guys stand for something.

Their conviction is admirable, endearing and inspiring whether you agree with their beliefs or not.

6) Make Connections

Because most believe their network is a scarce resource to be guarded and defended.

My Golden Rule of Networking is simple: Don’t keep score.

~ Harvey Mackay

Don’t just connect, be the connector. Open your network to each other and encourage those connections to expand even further… beyond you.

Value isn’t access to your network, but rather the openness of your network.

7) Be a Mentor

Because most are too busy defending their status.

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.

~ Oprah Winfrey

To live in abundance is to share what you have learned through experience with those who have yet to do so.

Let those who would come next stand on your shoulders so they can farther than you would have imagined.

Mentors are the foundation of growth.

The Rub

An extraordinary reputation is a gateway to opportunity in business. It greases the wheels of trust and respect.

People don’t want to take the time to figure out if you’re trustworthy.

They want to know you are trustworthy before engaging with you in business. An extraordinary reputation, built over time, is the ultimate job security.

“The only real failure is abandoning your principles. Killing what you love because you can’t bear to part from it is selfish and stupid. If your reputation can’t absorb a few blows it wasn’t worth anything in the first place.”

~ Ryan Holiday

What does your reputation say about you?

Yours in strength,


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