Archive for August, 2007
Recently read an article in a Wharton newsletter that I receive regularly. The article underscored how reputations are often created by the smallest gestures. The examples given reminded me of The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s oped a few months ago about how everyone’s behavior today provides an open window into someone’s true character. The newsletter mentioned a book by Stephen Harrison, now chairman of Lee Hecht Harrison, titled The Manager’s Book of Decencies. Sounds like a good book to read for someone who wants to get ahead and build a good reputation.
In short, common decencies make the man or woman. Two good examples are cited in the newsletter. One is from former Dial CEO Herb Baum who used to have “Hot Dogs with Herb” at facilities to give those on the shop floor a chance to ask questions of the CEO. The other example was from current CEO Doug Conant at Campbell Soup who writes handwritten thank you notes every day to people he meets in the regular course of business (internal and external). From a personal point of view, I once met Baum who arrived at a meeting after flying into New York in an economy seat. No private jet for this humble CEO. And I have mentioned in a previous posting the personal handwritten thank you note I once received from Conant. Who can forget that? I saved the note. Both these personal encounters still stand out to me among the many CEOs I have met and boosted their reputations in my eyes.
The newsletter also mentioned what can be learned from company reception centers. I often think that if you wanted to learn about a CEO or top officers, all you need to do is sit in their company HQ reception center for one day. How receptionists are greeted can tell a great deal about CEOs and the type of culture they are trying to instill? Do the top guys breeze by without a word? Do they even know that the receptionist has children? Do they stop for one moment and ask how things are? Or are they too busy and too important?
When I started at Weber Shandwick and had some time off between jobs (“garden leave”), I received a basket of gardening tools, plant seeds and other goodies from my new boss Andy Polansky. I was very impressed and also startled since it was terribly thoughtful. A very decent gesture on his part that spoke volumes about the organization I was about to join.
CEOs and officers who are mindful of the smallest gestures are good role models for all employees, regardless of level. As I said in the title, reputations can be strengthened by the smallest decencies.
If you followed me from my previous url, thanks for making the journey.
“If Mr. Murdoch degrades the Journal, he will be destroying the very thing for which he is paying such a premium–the paper’s reputation.”
Simply said and the simple truth.
Reputation is immeasurable.
An article today in The Wall Street Journal on the Mattel toy recall poses a question about whether any harm has been done to Mattel’s reputation. “And the steps it has taken so far haven’t stopped some experts from questioning the fate of the Mattel brand in the wake of the bad news.” One commenter said that this could be Mattel’s reputation tipping point. Decided to make up my own mind and went to the Mattel web site to see how Mattel was handling its crisis.
Mattel’s home page had a clearly designated space for recall information. Well done. Next I found Mattel CEO Bob Eckert’s video statement on the recall and found it to be credible. [As an aside, we now have a new genre of video today called the "video apology." Everyone knows exactly what this is -- the CEO standing before a logo-ed background with an earnest and forthright apology about the crisis or issue facing the company.] Without a doubt, Eckert did a fine job getting the facts out, explaining what the company intends to do going forward, and sharing the pain with parents who may have bought the recalled toys. I particularly liked his honest statement that further recalls could happen in the future. Since this is Mattel’s second major recall, the pressure is on the company to strengthen safety precautions in the Chinese plants where the toys were tainted. Mattel was smartly able to get a lot of bad news out all at once.
For sure, Mattel has a long path ahead of itself as it prepares for the holiday season with a question mark hovering over its reputation. I think that Mattel will fare well because it has steadily built its “industry standard” reputation for quality over time. Mattel has substantial equity in its reputation trust bank that it can now draw down upon. In addition, trust in its well-respected leadership should sustain the Mattel reputation as events continue to unfold. This is when “CEO capital” helps pays off debt to stakeholders.
Mattel recall, reputation, CEO Bob Eckert, Chinese manufacturers, video apology, Web site, Wall Street Journal, reputation tipping point, CEO capital, reputation trust bank, sharing the pain, credibile, honest, safety, reputational equity, crisis
I find it fascinating that Home Depot’s former CEO Robert Nardelli is now back in the saddle at Chrysler. Although he left Home Depot under unpleasant circumstances, his resurrection at Chrysler is a noteworthy reminder that second chances are worth giving. Nardelli has the skills to turn around a company and has to have learned mightily from his mistakes at Home Depot. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Reputations are redeemable. He might surprise us all.
Robert Nardelli, Home Depot, reputation, redemption, Chrysler
Had a pleasant surprise today. I was searching in Google blog search under reputation. Among the top blogs noted was reputationXchange. [As you can tell from my last blog entry, I've been exploring beyond the main Google home page.]
Good Reputation Sleeping – http://keithwj.typepad.com/commentary/
Reputation Advisor – The Online Reputation Management Blog
Online Reputation Management – http://www.onlinerepmanagement.com/
Reputation World – http://reputica.blogspot.com/
Google blog search, reputationXchange, reputation, Wikipedia, USC Santa Cruz, reputation score, Professor Andrew McAfee, Enterprise 2.0, exclusionists and inclusionists, juries, amazon reviewers
This morning I was reviewing which pictures show up when I search for “reputation” in Google images. It is always surprising to see what appears. For me, this is a silly form of entertainment and gets me wondering why certain images are chosen.
Today I found a line of business furniture called “Reputation” from Paoli. The company has an entire series of business people’s desks. I was wondering how this one particular desk was able to enhance an individual’s reputation. Perhaps I was missing something important.
I got to thinking about it. I imagine the the leather chair connotes masculinity and the dark mahogany grain represents permanence and seriousness. The edges are somewhat curved which surprised me. I gather that reputation can be strengthened if a desk has some feminine undertones to build up an executive’s emotional quotient (EQ). Since there are no papers or work lying around, I presume this person has better things to do than execute and implement ideas. They do have a laptop indicating they are technology savvy and likely to be on the road.
Bottom line — I think I am reading too much into the powers of this line of furniture.