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Michael Toebe is the founder and specialist at Reputation Quality, a consultancy, advisory, coaching and communications services practice.
Margaret Thatcher

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

Margaret Thatcher

Overcoming adversity requires psychological and emotional strength, endurance and perseverance. It often demands far more attempts at recovery than one might initially speculate. The same holds true with a crisis of reputation, whether for you as an individual or as an organization.

Why is this? Even responding with what we believe is our best intentions, what we do can be experienced emotionally as woefully insufficient by those receiving our apology.

There are usually good reasons for it too. People and organizations don’t always “get it,”…


Ryan Holiday, author, columnist, thinker and podcaster

“Some people lean in when their friends take heat, some people lean away.

“I decided I wanted to be a lean-in type, even if I didn’t always agree, even if it was their fault.”

Ryan Holiday

There is so much being communicated here and it’s important to recognize what is and isn’t being said and what else can be learned and valued.

Often, people step away from their friends when those friends are under attack because they are afraid of being too closely associate with them and getting their reputations (and maybe, well-being) “burned.” That’s natural though, for us to…


Question: “Is reputation a form of currency?”

If it is of sufficient or excellent quality, reputation is absolutely a form of currency in definition and on some level.

When you are credible, trustworthy, respected and maybe admired, you are going to gain 1) benefit of the doubt 2) cooperation and 3) opportunity.

When your reputation is less than quality, you will struggle, often terribly and unsuccessfully to gain what you want, think you need or “deserve” or really do need.

Yet some people and organizations don’t seem to care how their thinking, judgment, beliefs, attitudes and behavior lead to reputation harm, decay or destruction. In turn, they…


Les Brown

“You can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.”

Les Brown

Or as also communicated, “It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside of the frame.”

In difficulty or crisis — personal or organizational — we can certainly suffer from “vision” problems of what occurred that we should have seen coming or what is still happening that we are still not wisely responding to correct. That vision problem can take the form of acting nearsighted and farsighted or have healthy “vision” one way and be woefully deficient in another.

It is no surprise that we made…


People are watching and scrutinizing you after you’ve been given a second chance to be in a relationship — professional or personal. I think we often forget that because we’re focused on our relief to be restored with some level of trust and opportunity. This essay’s purpose is to serve as a reminder.

There is a recent story from which we can briefly discuss as an example.

It’s about a professional in the sports industry, yet the lesson is not really about sports as it is about egregious error, consequences, punishment and showing resilience, regardless of someone’s profession or personal…


Self-policing might work for ethical people and organizations yet how trustworthy and reliable is it when healthy character and ethics are missing?

The following question within a headline caught my attention: Should the military continue to be allowed to police itself on sexual assault? Retired general and Pentagon weigh in

The following essay is not about the specifics of that case (although it is an interesting, important story). Instead, it is is about what we can learn, the risks present and what we could be considering as a wiser alternative.

Here’s what self-policing doesn’t accomplish:

It doesn’t inspire trust and…


Do you have the humility, courage and strength to confess significant errors to those who count on you? Not all leaders will own their errors and communicate it humbly to other people.

Warren Buffett has done so here (Warren Buffett’s $10 Billion Mistake):

“I was wrong…in judging the average amount of future earnings and, consequently, wrong in my calculation of the proper price to pay for the business.

Then he says this:

“PCC is far from my first error of that sort. But it’s a big one.”

Look at the responsibility he shows. That failing could not have been easy…


Disputes and conflict do not always bring out our best selves. We tend to want to avoid both or fight for what’s important to us. Rare is it that we think “the way” through the negativity or drama is to build bridges.

Yet that is one of the ultimate “people skills” and no hyperbole to claim the capacity to build bridges as a superpower.

This is not some new idea either. As humans, we’re just slow to learn certain truths and wisdom, much to our detriment, not only culturally but in our closest relationships, personally and personally.

“We build too…


Investing time and generosity with the media to build a healthy relationship before you want or need the attention, trust and benefit of the doubt with reporters or columnists is an idea to think about and pursue. Your future self could very well thank you.

Introduce yourself briefly to media professionals and make it clear with (unspoken) unselfish motives that you are accessible as a source for your knowledge, expertise and insights, while providing your contact information. Back up this offer by being promptly and pleasantly responsive and of value in the media’s mind if contacted. …


Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash

Reporters are not immune to mistakes, errors and facing the intense heat of crisis in name and career due to damage to their reputation. They too must accept punishments for their judgment, decision-making and behavior.

Two New York Times journalists are in the midst of that pain now, having resigned due to actions deemed to be unacceptable to the brand of the media giant.

In his article at The Hill, Two New York Times journalists to leave amid criticism of behavior, Tal Axelrod details the end of the work at the paper of Donald McNeil, a science reporter, and Andy…

Reputation Specialist Essays

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