Reputation: Your Greatest Asset and Your Biggest Liability

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series. Click here for the previous article.

Gordon Graham here! As promised at the end of my last article, this article will focus on reputation risks in public safety. As I started typing, I remembered a quote from my dad from decades ago: “All you have is your reputation.” I planned on centering my article around his words. But I got to thinking, “I’ll bet there are other great quotes out there about the value of your reputation.”

I typed that into Google … and here are 35 of my favorite results:

  1. “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” – Abraham Lincoln
  2. “You can never take your reputation back. There really is nothing as powerful as a good reputation.” – Giuliana Rancic
  3. “What you post online speaks VOLUME about who you really are. POST with intention. REPOST with caution.” – Germany Kent
  4. “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos
  5. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
  6. “In a digitally connected world a byte of data can boost or bite your brand.” – Bernard Kelvin Clive
  7. “Reputations can be manipulated; character can only be developed and maintained.” – Bohdi Sanders
  8. “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – Booker T. Washington
  9. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  10. “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin
  11.  “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz
  12. “The way to gain good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” – Socrates
  13. “A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” – Baltasar Gracian
  14. “Being authentic, and being perceived as such by your audience, relies on your ability to ensure that every decision you make when it comes to your business is rooted in being true to yourself.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
  15. “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
  16. “Strong brands are built on unshakable values and authenticity.” – Simone Smith
  17. “Don’t entertain others at the expense of your reputation.” – Bohdi Sanders
  18. “In my opinion, the only real asset one has is one’s reputation, right? I mean, any company and institution can go belly up at any time. But if you have a good reputation, you know, you can usually find somebody who thinks they can use what you have to offer.” – Eric Betzig
  19. “Strong brands are not built through shortcuts and copycats.” – Bernard Kelvin Clive\
  20. “Unprofessionalism damages the business reputation and tarnishes the trust of society.” – Pearl Zhu
  21. “Building a profitable personal brand online is not a sprint, and something that happens overnight. Don’t aim for perfection early on. Instead allow your brand to evolve naturally over time and focus on providing massive value and over deliver to your target audience. Then you will get more clear over your message and brand as well. Always remember that!” – Navid Moazzez
  22. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
  23. “Image and reputation are just as important as finances and associations.” – Germany Ken
  24. “It is generally much more shameful to lose a good reputation than never to have acquired it.” – Pliny the Elder
  25. “When you’re not around, your reputation will speak for you.” – Frank Sonnenberg
  26. “There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.” – Brian Koslow
  27. “For individuals and organizations alike, a reputation is far easier to destroy than it is to build.” – Andrew Griffin
  28. “The idea of reputation, influence, and influencers in the offline world is as old as the hills. It’s not new on the web either, but semantic search is creating a portable sense of identity, reputation, and influence that in the days before it simply did not exist. And this is changing everything.” – David Amerland
  29. “Brands are like shoes, they come in sizes and styles; one size and style doesn’t fit everyone.” – Bernard Kelvin Clive
  30. “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” – Joseph Hall
  31. “Your personal brand is a promise to your clients … a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.” – Jason Hartman
  32. “Personal branding is about managing your name—even if you don’t own a business—in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your ‘blind’ date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” – Tim Ferriss
  33. “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
  34. “Remember that your reputation is everything. You build your personal brand through everything you do, whether big actions or small decisions, and that brand will stay with you throughout your career.” – Jan Fields
  35. “A reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.” – Ernest Bramah

And, finally, one more for good measure:
“Demonstrate respect for your coworkers and for yourself. Your reputation and the reputation of your agency depend on it.” – Gordon Graham

Some of you have been reading my “ramblings” since I started this series several years ago. I hope you have figured out that I am not lazy. Yes, I have used up nearly the entire word count for this article with other people’s words. But I like all these quotes, some for different reasons. Some apply to organizations—like your police department, fire department, correctional facility, dispatch center or local government organization. Some apply to individuals—like you and me. So I will leave it as is, but I promise you that in my next article I will give you some hints on how to best address the risks to your reputation in public safety.

Gordon Graham

GORDON GRAHAM is a 33-year veteran of law enforcement and the co-founder of Lexipol, where he serves on the current board of directors. Graham is a risk management expert and a practicing attorney who has presented a commonsense risk management approach to hundreds of thousands of public safety professionals around the world. Graham holds a master’s degree in Safety and Systems Management from University of Southern California and a Juris Doctorate from Western State University.

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