Does reputation matter? Why companies with bad reputations can still grow, and politicians can get re-elected.

What does Berlusconi’s and Trump’s election victories have in common with companies that can continue to grow, despite numerous scandals?

Can you remember the name of the company that had an emissions scandal 1-2 years ago?

No, neither can I. I can just remember they were a German company, and a Japanese company had a similar “scandal” in recent years.

The point being, scandals come today, and are gone tomorrow. That reminds me of a conversation I had with a client a few days ago.

He agreed I could share his story online, as he thinks it is one of the best business lessons that can be given.

He is about 63 years old. His business partner is decades younger. They run a digital marketing agency.

To cut a long story short, one of their clients complained about a year ago. Not just to them, but to forums, the traditional media and the new media.

The younger guy (his business partner) was furious. How dare he complain, when we have proof, via email correspondence, that his complaint is not valid?

My client, who has seen it all before, just told him to chill out. “It will all be forgotten in 1-2 weeks”.

Not satisfied, his business partner was furiously reporting the client’s posts to Facebook, going to the office of one online expat magazine to get the story taken down and even arguing with some forum members who took the side of the complainer.

He wasted 2-3 days doing this. About a week later, they had a drink together. “I think you are right. Everybody has forgotten about it”.

1-2 months later, sales and revenues were higher than ever! Nobody gave a damn about who was right or wrong. They enjoyed the gossip, but that is all

Today, probably nobody even remembers the “scandal”, even though he was worried about it at the time.

It reminds me of one of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes, which the vast majority of my network above the age of 60 agree with;

I know countless people who don’t try business ideas, because they assume that they will be judged by the market.

A new Youtube video which is a bit risqué and sarcastic? Who could take us seriously after that?

Not mentioning our professional qualifications on LinkedIn, or how many years experience we have? Who would want to deal with us?

Doing something crude, like wearing company branded y-fronts with slogans about “big investment returns”? What sort of people would take us seriously after that?

Well actually, nobody gives a damn. People want credibility, but they aren’t taking you as seriously as you probably think.

So try ideas, and don’t worry about failing with some of them. Nobody is probably watching you too carefully in any case.

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