The Importance and Value of Your Personal BrandApr 06, 2011
"We can afford to lose money -- even a lot of money. But we can't afford to lose reputation -- even a shred of reputation."
~Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, as quoted by The New York Times' DealBook blog
Wow! What an incredibly compelling statement about the value of a brand. If Warren Buffet believes it's better for his company to lose a lot of money rather than a shred of its impressive reputation, what does that say to you about the value of your personal brand?
There are a couple of critical lessons here, one directly from this statement and the other for the reason Mr. Buffet said this to begin with. Briefly, Mr. Buffet's deputy and likely successor, Mr. David Sokol, purchased shares in a company and then, days later, recommended that their company Berkshire Hathaway purchase the company. This earned Mr. Sokol a $3 million profit in the few months between his stock purchase and Berkshire Hathaway's purpose of the entire company.
The result, Mr. Sokol resigned from Berkshire Hathaway shortly after the news came out. For the future of the company it had to be this way. Clear. Decisive. Immediate. Warren Buffet has built his company and reputation on integrity, an important quality if you are going to trust your life savings to someone. In one felled swoop, Buffet protected his personal brand, the corporate brand and Mr. Sokol's personal brand was severely tarnished.
Consider for a moment the difference in perspectives of both men and their actions. For Mr. Buffet, losing money was preferable to losing reputation. Mr. Sokol chose money over reputation, and in the process lost his opportunity to take over the helm of Berkshire Hathaway, perhaps his opportunity to work in the securities industry at all (who would want to hire someone who would do something like this).
While there are certainly some shades of gray in the details of the story, the key take away is the importance of personal brand. Your brand is your reputation. The value of your brand affects everything in your life from your earnings to who associates with you.
What people often forget or overlook is that ultimately your brand lives in the hearts and minds of everyone you associate with directly and indirectly. While you can shape your brand, ultimately it is your audience who decides what your brand its. When building and maintaining your brand, it is critical for you to find out what others see and how they experience you. The 360°Reach Personal Branding Assessment is an easy way to find out if the way you see yourself and the way others see you is in alignment.
What are you doing to enhance and protect your personal brand?
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