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May 05, 2009


micro CEO

Reputation in terms of business success or ethical integrity?
Can both be rebuilt as easily?


Richard Nixon, Michael Milliken...


Agree with the first part: Reputation is a Fragile Thing.

One can always try to rebuild it but whetherone can rebuild or not depends on what you did to loose your reputation.

Ex RableRouser

How true! "Confucius" said "It takes 100 years to establish a reputation; comparatively only 10 years to produce usable timber." (Not hardwood, I know) But we can't live in fear for our reputation, few of us live to "100". Success is a relative thing but integrity is priceless. By the same token, it takes years to forge a friendship but only minutes to destroy one. Both Reputation and Friendship are fragile. For that matter life is fragile. But humanity survives!


The first part of your message is undisputable : It takes a lot to build reputation and it cannot be taken for granted. If you don't watch it, get tempted or distracted, the entire reputation can collapse within a very short time. That Attorney General in New York, John Edwards are recent cases. Same things happen to companies when they fail to deliver on commitment to stake holders.

Second part rebuilding is situational. It is relatively easier for companies. They can restore thier honor by getting new management, change in location, plans etc and improve performance.

It is more difficult for individuals to rebuild if they ruined their reputation for ethical or moral reason. (Unless one is Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon)

FR Team (A note from a friend)

I totally agree with you Sir. I just want you to know that I really enjoy this Friday Reflections that you’ve been sending… I think it really helps on the morale especially in this hard economic situation. Regards, IS

California Guy

At the most basic level, reputations are built upon interactions between individual people based on what we observe with our physical senses (logic) and how these observations impact us emotionally (heart).

Reputations are easier to re-build from bad-to-good if there is low impact to heart. Conversely, if heart feels strong personal betrayal, reputations may never fully recover to previous good level despite what logic says.

Easier to forgive a stranger (low betrayal factor) versus a friend/relative (high betrayal factor). More likely to buy Honda/Toyota (it just works) versus Ford/Hyundai (a lower sticker price won't fix my car when it breaks down unexpectedly/repeatedly on the highway). Coca-Cola (first soda taste from childhood memories) versus Pepsi (it tastes different than Coca-Cola). Nokia (it just works) versus Ericsson (forget all the features, just need it to power-up when needed). Etc.

micro CEO

I think it is important to note that reputation is not something we actively build, but rather a side-effect of our daily activities and how the integrity of these actions/words is perceived by others. In other words, reputation is the side-effect.

Reputation is undeniably important in the realm of human relations, as well as in business (arguably an extension of the former).

But I think it can be over-emphasized to the sacrifice of other more important things. Society can easily be hoodwinked or hypnotized by reputation into choosing bad over good. A case in point is the story of mathematician Gregori Pereleman. (

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