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Men in Suits

In what ways can I repair my tarnished reputation?

“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.

Buffett is correct in this comment on personal branding and reputation management. A person's reputation can be ruined in an instant.

No matter how long or hard someone has worked, their career can be ruined in the blink of an eye by a tweet or a business leak. Simply ask Buffett's pal, Bill Gates.

Most of us have had our reputations harmed at some point in our careers. After all, this is life, and life is full of errors. Don't we all have at least one story that makes us cringe?

But what if you find yourself on the receiving end of some serious reputational damage? Will you ever be able to recover?

The quick answer is yes, but you must handle it correctly, which requires a tremendous degree of humility.

How the Mighty Fell and Arose

A few examples of personal reputation disasters may come to mind. Consider Bill Clinton. As president of the most powerful nation on the planet, he was literally caught with his pants down in the Oval Office (see the video below). He reclaimed the stage by luck and costly reputation rehabilitation and is acknowledged as being a primary architect of the Good Friday Agreement.

Lance Armstrong, once the darling of the American athletic press and a national symbol, became a pariah after it was discovered that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs. He apologized, accepted responsibility, expressed regret, and even performed in films that mocked himself and his behavior in the past. He's become something of an unintentional cult hero.

Winona Ryder was arrested in 2001 on allegations of shoplifting and illicit prescription drug possession. Her career had come to a halt. For years her talent was placed on hold, only to emerge anew, a stronger, more appreciated person and the leading woman of the smash Netflix series 'Stranger Things'.

Martha Stewart was a multimillionaire media mogul. Her life and reputation were shattered when she was charged with insider trading. She was imprisoned for five months. Stewart arose, accepted responsibility for her mistakes, apologized, and re-established herself as a successful personality. Her company also regained profitability.

Then there are the numerous CEOs that fall from favor. Perhaps there are too many to mention. But don't be fooled; most of these people will hire reputation management experts and try to re-establish themselves with a new track record and possibly a somewhat more humble view of themselves.

But let's get back to reality. What can you do if your reputation has been harmed and you can't afford to hire PR consultants and reputation managers?

Accept accountability for your actions.

Accept responsibility. Nobody is interested in someone who lacks honesty.

Individuals who admit their errors in a real, human manner are regarded more seriously.

To rebuild your brand and image, you must first identify and address your flaws.

Be open to comments and dedicated to self-improvement.


  • Make no excuses.

  • Don't shift the blame.

  • Don't add comments to lessen the impact.

  • Don't brag about all of your great work; instead, acknowledge the pain you've caused and apologize.

Develop a repair strategy to re-establish your reputation.

A reputation rehabilitation method entails balancing any existing perceptions.

Examine what occurs when you search for your name on the internet. If bad news is ranking on Google's first and second pages, you must suppress them; you cannot eliminate them.

Improve your abilities

If your strategic competence has suffered, why not earn an additional qualification or do an online course or Bootcamp? A fresh look at your abilities can lead to a better understanding and appreciation for them.

You can also boost your reputation by providing peer ratings on platforms like LinkedIn. Be known as the person who recognizes and rewards good effort.

Make yourself the most dependable person in the room

If you say you're going to do something, do it. Allow no one to point to your conduct and say, 'Look, I told you so.'

Begin practicing self-promotion

You must take the initiative and make your good work visible to others. Make an impression. Share your articles on LinkedIn and Twitter. Maintain consistency.

Meet new people and step outside of your comfort zone

Make an effort to join new groups where you can truly make a difference. Consider donating your time and expertise to a non-profit organization. You'll broaden your network and move outside your immediate peer group. Look for authentic methods to give back.

Learning from your failures and sharing your experiences with your peers can also help you present yourself as a battle-tested veteran, rebuilding trust in your brand.

The most important thing is to be truthful. Sincerity can never be faked. People must believe you.

Our Directors’ Institute- World council of Directors can help you accelerate your board journey by training you on your roles and responsibilities to be carried out in an efficient manner helping you to make a significant contribution to the board and raise corporate governance standards within the organization.

Our ESG Expert certification will help you to amplify your understanding of corporate governance in a detailed manner paving a way for you to become a globally recognized ESG leader.

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