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"Reputation Matters" White Papers seek to offer deeper insight on a wide range of topics we help clients address.

It's Not over Until It's over: The Perils Of Declaring Victory In Crisis Too soon
Chaos Leadership: When Does Global Crisis Turn Into Chaos and How Do we survive It?
Chaos Rules: 8 Ways to Navigate Through the Fog of Crisis
Crisis Leadership in Real Time: 8 Pandemic Best Practices
Great Crisis Management Is Counterintuitive
Communicating in Crisis: How to Build Trust in an Untrustworthy World more»

Netflix CEO’s “Non-Apology Apology” Over Dave Chappelle Show Misses The Mark As Sarandos Struggles To Navigate Culture Wars

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, October 20, 2021

No one has ever said that being CEO was easy. And today, as the top leadership role has expanded to encompass “spinner-in-chief” — getting the message right becomes mission-critical.

But, as Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos is so publicly finding out, this is awfully hard to do, especially when you’ve placed yourself squarely in the middle of the culture wars.

And you know what, “Voice-of-God,” “from-the-mount” proclamations do not work so well anymore. Sensitivities are on high alert. Inclusion means that you really have to listen and be sensitive to diverse voices, even when you disagree. And you need to communicate to all of your key audiences orders of magnitude more than you ever had to before. So it’s hard. And the rules are changing fast. […read more]

Disney Ignites A Firestorm By Dissing Scarlett Johansson: How To Damage An Iconic Company Brand In One Move

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, August 1, 2021

Disney just shocked the industry, movie goers, Marvel fans, Scarlett Johansson lovers, and media watchdogs alike with its unnecessary, nasty response to Johansson’s suit regarding “Black Widow’s” changed distribution plans. 

Instead of taking the high road in their public response to what is essentially a business matter — albeit an important financial one — they decided to go low and go mean. And in so doing not only have they angered industry leaders like Johansson’s agents at CAA, action movie fans, and women’s rights advocates, they have seriously put a dent in their reputation with their “un-Disney-like,” off-brand behavior. Nasty, mean-spirited ad hominem attacks are just not what the public expects from Disney, or Marvel. These are supposed to be the good guys, after all. […read more]

Chaos Rules: 8 Ways To Navigate Through The Fog Of Crisis

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, April 3, 2020

Forbes Chaos Rules 4-1-20

In wartime they call it the fog of war.

In crisis I call it the fog of crisis — but what it really amounts to is chaos.

So as we’re surrounded by a deteriorating civic infrastructure and national political response; as our lives and businesses are put on indefinite hold; as working indefinitely from home becomes untenable in many situations and organizations; as family pressures or the pain of isolation mount when we’re all sequestered at home; as joblessness careens; as the products we need the most – in hospitals and in our own lives – continue to be unavailable; and as more people get sick and die (this time, who we know) — the result is the fog of the coronavirus crisis.

It’s murky, dense and difficult to navigate. And it probably will exceed most of our abilities to cope at one time or another.

Chaos Rules

So, here are 8 ways that might help you get through it… [read more]

Chaos Leadership: When Does Global Crisis Turn Into Chaos And How Do We Survive It?

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, March 27, 2020

Forbes Chaos Leadership 3-27-20

As we balance on the cusp between global crisis and total chaos — and we could make the jump into full-bore chaos at any moment — it is time to explore the difference between the two.

It also is time to talk about how the rules for handling chaos differ substantially from those that govern crisis response. Because if we cling to crisis management rules in order to address chaos, it will be as ineffective as if we treat coronavirus the same way we treat the common cold. […read more]

Expert Advice From Front-Line Physician On Leadership Needed To Combat COVID-19

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, March 18, 2020

Forbes 3-18-20 Reputation Matters

Earlier this week I wrote about Communicating in Crisis – Building Trust in an Untrustworthy World, and ended with the suggestion that true expertise and expert advice are critical to building trust. But it is almost impossible to sort out the expertise from all the misinformation floating about out there.

So, I asked my own trusted physician, Dr. Jacqueline Jones, one of the country’s leading ENT specialists, currently on the front-lines of fighting COVID-19 especially in children, for her expert advice. She shared it, both for patients, and for leaders in business, insurance, and medicine — and it is excellent. I would like to share it with you now. […read more]

Communicating In Crisis: How To Build Trust In An Untrustworthy World

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, March 4, 2020

3-16-20 Forbes Communicating In Crisis

As we enter the first full week of the global pandemic and crashing financial markets, we are all looking for who to listen to, and who to believe.

We’re looking for a trusted voice in the storm to help guide us, one that can steer us toward the truth as it unfolds, and away from lies and misstatements, be they well-meaning or malicious. This is the leaders’s task — to provide that “True North” to employees, community, customers, investors, and stakeholders.

But this is an almost impossible task in such a topsy-turvy landscape, where it can be impossible to distinguish sky from ground.

Sequestered — quarantined by choice or fiat, or simply avoiding exposure by working from home — our choices for who to listen to have changed. No more can we comfortably sit across from our boss in a group meeting and use all of our senses to tell whether he or she is telling us the whole truth. Working remotely, half of the sensors we are used to using are missing.

And while we’re incredibly lucky to have video and teleconferences, podcasts and webinars, live streaming, virtual chat rooms, and virtual galas, salons, board meetings and policy meetings — still that personal touch is missing, and with it many of the clues we use to determine integrity and truthfulness.

So who do we trust? And how can leaders establish trust? […read more]

Crisis Leadership In Real Time: 8 Best Practices For Public Healthcare Emergencies

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, March 4, 2020

Forbes 3-4-20

So, it’s here. We now have a public healthcare crisis in front of us that is already disrupting global markets, businesses, and lives, and has the potential to do much more damage. Or not, depending upon who you are, and what and who you believe.

Just as with the climate crisis, while the facts are the facts, how we respond to the COVID-19 crisis says more about who we are, and how we lead, than it does about the crisis itself.

So, it’s probably a good time to begin recasting more generic crisis management rules into a specific set of rules for our current challenge. Whether the current Coronavirus crisis is ever dubbed a pandemic or not, we surely need to develop some advanced thinking on how to deal with it.

Following is a new set of 8 pandemic ‘best practices,’ for your consideration. […read more]

Great Crisis Management is Counter-Intuitive: That’s Why Boeing, Wells Fargo Are Getting It So Wrong

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, April 7, 2019

4-8-19 Forbes Reputation Matters

It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, especially for huge companies facing huge problems. But too many companies, like Wells Fargo and Boeing, are getting it all wrong time and time again.

The stakes for their failure – doing the wrong things in crisis and not understanding why – are too high. And consumers, investors, partners, and stakeholders are suffering the consequences. Why the blind spots? Why the inability to get it right when crisis hits?

Why Companies Are Getting Crisis Response So Wrong

The core reason that so many big companies, who should know better, fail in crisis is because the best crisis management is counter-intuitive, sometimes even illogical, and they absolutely do not understand that.

So they listen to the wrong people, consider only partially the impact and ramifications of their actions, ignore emotion or the zeitgeist of the moment, reflexively make the wrong decisions, dig themselves into holes, and then are loathe or incapable of digging themselves out again. […read more]

How To Bring Down A Bully Or Extortionist – Lessons From Jeff Bezos, Nancy Pelosi And More

Leadership, “Reputation Matters,” Forbes, February 11, 2019

Forbes-How-To-Bring-Down-A-Bully-2019Sometimes it takes the richest man in the world to bring down a bully; sometimes, the Speaker of the House. But this is what heroes are made of.

Lately as a nation and world we’ve been idolizing a lot of adult bullies. We’re not talking about the schoolyard anymore: From reality TV shows like The Apprentice (“you’re fired”) and Survivor to the White House and the National Enquirer — we seem to like our power misused and abused — taking advantage of those weaker, poorer, kinder, in trouble, or with a disability or two. Compassion seems to have flown out the window as survival of the nastiest prevails.

This does a number on our soul, of course. But few people — including religious figures — have been able to turn it around. Until Jeff Bezos and Nancy Pelosi. Both hugely powerful, rich (mega rich in Bezos’s case) and successful in their own rights — they are charting a roadmap for how you can challenge a bully and win. So whether it’s the current president or his tabloid-publishing buddy, or your boss, co-worker, client or relative, here are some new ideas on how to publicly vanquish a bully. […read more]

What Would Bezos Do?

Davia Temin, Directors & Boards, February 11, 2019

Lessons for boards on how unexpected boldness sometimes wins the day


“If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”

With those words, written in a Medium blog post last week announcing that he would not give in to extortion by American Media LLC (AMI) and its publication the National Enquirer, Jeff Bezos set off a firestorm, and charted a course that few CEOs or boards have equaled.

What the founder of Amazon, and the richest man in the world, did was show us how the head of a public company could put it all on the line to stand up to bullies. “Courage comes first,” he essentially told us, no matter what the personal or professional cost.

And apparently his prestigious board agreed. […read more]

White Papers»

"Reputation Matters" White Papers seek to offer deeper insight on a wide range of topics we help clients address.

It's Not over Until It's over: The Perils Of Declaring Victory In Crisis Too soon
Chaos Leadership: When Does Global Crisis Turn Into Chaos and How Do we survive It?
Chaos Rules: 8 Ways to Navigate Through the Fog of Crisis
Crisis Leadership in Real Time: 8 Pandemic Best Practices
Great Crisis Management Is Counterintuitive
Communicating in Crisis: How to Build Trust in an Untrustworthy World more»