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Thought Leadership-Forbes "Reputation Matters"

Equifax: A Category 5 Cybersecurity Crisis Storm. Chances Are It Will Hit You

Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, September 9, 2017

You would really think that by now companies in crisis could get it right the first time.

But no, as Equifax announced its epic Category 5 Crisis — the cyberhack of 143 million consumers' social security numbers, drivers' license numbers, birthdates, addresses and credit card numbers affecting at least 44% of the American population — after stalling over a month to stop the hack and prepare for the onslaught of a public announcement, clearly got the apology algorithm all wrong anyway. Did they think no one would notice?

From a tepid apology from CEO Richard Smith — totally incommensurate with the size of the crisis — to a completely botched announcement of remediation, tying use of their free credit monitoring to forfeiting the right of a trial and mandating arbitration, they just got everything wrong.

Whenever you come out of the gate wrong in a crisis — either minimizing the problem, putting forth a totally tone-deaf message, trying to pull a fast one on your consumers by limiting your liability, or retaining some of your breezy marketing messages in the face of category 5 devastation — you court the fury of your customers, the public, regulators and investors.

Here's what Equifax has done wrong — so far. [...read more]

The Only Adults In The Room: Why Business Leaders Rose To The Challenge And Led The Country

Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, August 27, 2017

For a supposedly slow month, August has seen quite a lot of action in the C-Suites and Boardrooms of America. As CEOs bailed out of the White House Industry Councils, protesting President Trump's insufficient condemnation of events in Charlottesville, they filled a void — taking on a national leadership role whether they wished to or not. No one from the Cabinet or Congress was rising to the occasion, so in the midst of national crisis, business leaders proved themselves to be the only adults in the room.

Ever concerned about achieving favorable tax legislation, maintaining a stable economy, and paving the way for global expansion, corporate America has always had a major stake in how Washington operates. In some administrations relations have been more strained, and in others more collegial. But rarely have corporate leaders felt the need to exit en masse from White House-sponsored advisory councils, such as happened this month. [...read more]

Dear Uber, Here Are 11 Ways You Can Fix Your Culture To Support Women Right Now

Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, June 18, 2017

To rephrase Madeleine Albright: There is a special place in heaven for men — and women — who help other women. But for Uber, and so many other organizations, their cultures are in need of an essential transformation before they even begin to find their place in the firmament.

Of course Uber is not the only company to sport a "bro" culture that can be antithetical to women executives' presence, progress, and well-being. They're just one of the most flagrant.

So, as Arianna Huffington and Eric Holder began to publicly reign in the executive office, and board, I began to think of what it would really take for Uber, and other organizations, to immediately empower, support and profit from the women in their workforce. I decided that this, drawn from over 25 years' experience as a coach, reputation manager, and CEO dedicated to promoting women and girls' leadership at every level, would be the topic of my remarks: 11 Ways To Support the Women in Your Organization and Life. I am pleased to share it with you today. [...read more]

How United Became The World's Most Hated Airline In One Day

Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, January 18, 2017

It's no longer crisis as usual for United Airlines, or anyone else. Live social media posting has changed what you can get away with in a crisis -- forever.

It used to be that if an airline made as monumental a mistake as United Airlines just did by causing a paying customer who had done nothing wrong to be dragged off a plane screaming, bloodying him up along the way in front of all his fellow passengers, they might still have gotten away with it.

After all, on a plane, passengers were basically incommunicado, so people couldn't have protested easily, and they might not have been believed, especially if the airline denied it or called it an "overreaction." The populace tends to believe its leaders in these situations, if compelling evidence to the contrary doesn't exist. It rather makes one wonder about how many times such a debacle has happened before, and just not been caught on video.

But today all that changed. Live footage of the assault of an innocent passenger by security personnel was captured and immediately posted on social media around the world, instantly making United one of the most hated companies in the world. [...read more]

10 Leadership Blind Spots That Can Trigger Business Crises In 2017

Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, January 18, 2017

When you look closely at what triggers crises in organizations, you often see that there is a major leadership oversight or blind spot that has allowed the crisis to exist in the first place – and then grow, unrecognized, until it's too late. Just as many leaders want to be perceived as trustworthy in a rapidly changing environment, leaders themselves need to be aware of who and what they are trusting. Misplaced trust is a clear precursor to trouble.

As businesses look toward the coming year, here is a deeper dive into common crisis triggers, so that management teams and boards can recognize hidden risks and danger zones within their organizations. [...read more]

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Ancient Wisdom For The New Year: The 36 Chinese Stratagems For Psychological Warfare

Leadership, "Reputation Matters," Forbes, January 2, 2017

2017 is the perfect time to learn some new leadership and coping strategies for the battles ahead -- in business, politics, war, and life.

Last year we found out just how wrong we can be in our collective assumptions -- and how much we don't know about what others are thinking, or doing behind the scenes.

Whether it is because the Internet allows us to only hear from people who think like we do; polls relying on "Big Data" can be wrong; we are convinced of the wisdom of the crowd, even when the crowd is being manipulated; or we are just plain gullible -- it is time to realize that leaders need to listen to and learn from those who think differently from them. [...read more]

What They're Saying About You When You're Not In The Room -- And What You Can Do To Influence It

Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, April 4, 2016

When you're not at the table, you're on the menu, former Governor of Texas Ann Richards used to say. She may have been referring to politics, but this is equally true in the worlds of business, academia, and nonprofits.

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The biggest decisions about your career are often made when you're not in the room. Whether it's a decision about if you'll be hired, promoted, or fired; whether you are put forth by a headhunter to a selection committee and then asked to join a corporate board or become a university trustee; whether you make Managing Director or are passed over; are awarded tenure; or offered the CEO slot, your professional fate is often determined in closed rooms where people are talking about – and evaluating – you, without the benefit of your input. [...read more]

Advice To Martin Shkreli: 9 Ways To Stop Being The Most Hated Man On The Planet

Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, February 8, 2016

We all have a little Martin Shkreli in us. That unrepentant 2-year-old voice we've spent a lifetime burying deep within, every so often comes screeching out: I won't be good; I don't want to do what everyone tells me to do; Nobody understands me; I won't be quiet or go to my room, I'm just going to wail – so there.

And we all, occasionally, wish we could let our worst natures out at work: Congress, you're imbeciles; Boss, you're wrong – and a jerk – and I quit; Colleagues, stop pandering to the boss and get a life; Shareholders, you are SO gullible...

Perhaps this is why we are so fascinated by Shkreli's shenanigans – if you can call moves to raise a life-saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750 a shenanigan. But he's young and a little cute, and we keep feeling that, unlike Donald Trump, there may be some hope left for this guy if he can just get his head on straight. [...read more]

Resilience -- New Research Helps Us Bounce Back Quicker, Better From Life's Trials And Tragedies

Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, August 31, 2015

How do we become more resilient leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, parents, people? Here's a quick checklist, informed by new brain research:

  • Practice overcoming hurdles in everyday life
  • Have a purpose
  • Accept reality with a positive attitude
  • Learn how to improvise
  • Meditate (mindfulness training)
  • Exercise
  • Develop an abiding sense of humor
  • Build strong support networks
  • Look for role models
  • Keep your mind flexible
  • Face your fears
  • Reframe
  • Nurture a strong sense of self
  • Know when to be kind to yourself
  • Be compassionate

Resilience is a concept that exists in almost every culture around the world: the ability to bounce back from adversity, from whatever setbacks life deals you, in order to come back and conquer another day.

Resilience has been the Holy Grail for those individuals or organizations that have gone through crisis and adversity and want, literally, to "get their lives back."

But while it has always been known that some people, and some organizations, recover better than others, new brain and behavioral research is now shedding some light on why. Even better, it is showing that we can cultivate resilience in ourselves before we even need it. [...read more]

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Airbnb Meets The Bates Motel: Crisis Lessons For The Overly Trusting Traveler

Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, August 17, 2015

"Never get into a car with a stranger" my mom told me throughout my childhood. "Don't trust your safety to someone you don't know really well, and even then be vigilant, because they may not have your best interests at heart the way we do."

But how does this old-school advice jibe with the Airbnb, Uber, "sharing economy" generation who are driven by unlicensed strangers and stay in people's — who they don't know — homes around the world? What happens when your Airbnb host turns into Norman Bates? (Or your guest turns out to be the Zodiac killer?)

It is indefensible how ill-prepared Airbnb, Uber, and a host of other high-flying, trust-based sharing companies are for crisis, and customer and provider protection when trust goes awry. It is equally shocking how unprepared their trusting customers and providers are when they realize their trust is misplaced.

"Trust is hard won but easily lost," the saying goes. But in the new sharing economy, it actually might be the exact opposite: trust is too easily given, and too hard lost. And the lessons, to individuals as well as companies, are tough ones. So, what lessons should companies, and the consumers who patronize them, learn? [...read more]

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