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Preview: reputation*watch


Reputation*watch is intended for those interested in news, information and commentary on building, sustaining and recovering reputations. This blog will pay particular attention to corporate and CEO reputation worldwide.

Updated: 2017-06-21T22:20:51.601-04:00


Starting Over


Dear ReputationWatch readers,

Thanks for visiting my blog over the past several months. It has been a pleasure sharing my thoughts on reputation with you. (If you just started, thanks too.)

I have moved to a new firm. You can find my new blog at I hope you will join me.

Google Trends


Google Trends was launched today. I thought I would try it and typed in "reputation." I am not sure what I learned from looking at the chart. The "reputation" trend is most prominent in New York followed by Chicago. Not surprising. Then I typed in Ford and General Motors. Ford had many more trend mentions (if that is what it is called) than General Motors. The most common mentions were in Detroit. Not surprising. My sense is that there is as much coverage of General Motors as Ford which makes me suspicious of what the chart reflects. I will have to go back and figure out how to make better use of the new service. Sounded like a good idea.

Also tried CEO Reputation but a chart was not possible because the volume was too low. Again surprising.

Sounded like a good idea.

Buffet's Lonely Successor


Interesting and endearing article on Warren Buffet's thoughts on what will happen when a new CEO is chosen to lead Berkshire Hathaway sometime in the future. The article appeared on MarketWatch and was written by Alistair Barr.

Apparently Buffet gives his chosen successor about "one year or so" to prove to the marketplace that Berkshire Hathaway will carry on with business as usual. Buffet forecasted that his successor would not get as many calls at first from businesses looking to sell to Berkshire Hathaway but that would only be temporary. I could not help but think of the lonely Maytag repairman who received so few repair calls due to the dependability of Maytag appliances. By the way, how does Buffet know that this loneliness will last only one year? I would give it two years at best.

As Barr quoted Buffet: "Indeed, Berkshire may emerge from succession stronger than before. Once it happens, Berkshire may even be stronger because people will then realize that the culture was institutionalized and not just tied to one person."

Ironically, Buffet was quoted in Fortune a few years ago on what makes a most admired company: "People are voting for the artist, not the painting." The sage of Omaha was making the point that leadership matters. It will be hard for any CEO to stand in Buffet's shoes but his forecasts have traditionally been right.

Only time will tell.

Healthcare Reputation


PRWeek posted some findings in its April 24th issue about healthcare CEOs' perceptions on reputation. Thanks to FischerHealth, Porter Novelli and PRSA's Health Academy for adding to the reputation research stockpile.

Interestingly, 73 percent report that negative shifts in a company's reputation impact the bottom line "significantly." That we know to be true and I could not agree more.

What struck me "significantly," however, was the reported finding that about four out of 10 (39 percent) have NEVER measured their company's reputation. My sense is that these CEOs are not Fortune 100 type companies or that they are just plain clueless. The pharmaceutical and health care industry suffers daily from poor public perception and CEOs need to better understand how to communicate the good they do. There is a saying that people do what you inspect. If measuring reputation is not on the agenda, employees will not share the responsibility for protecting reputation as if it were their own.

New CEO at ADM -- A Girl!


Good news that ADM -- supermarket to the world -- hired a female CEO, rounding out the number of women in Fortune 500 companies to "10." Sounds like Patricia Woertz is ready to take on the challenge.

Although the media always provides a chart on how few women are at the top, research shows that women are ambivalent about climbing to that top rung. One of the major deterrants often cited is the lack of work/family balance.

An article in today's Wall Street Journal reminded me once again how difficult it is to combine family and career. The article described the difficulty companies have in recruiting women to run manufacturing plants. The women managers interviewed turned down more senior jobs because of the lack of flexible hours, too much travel and child care problems. When these women are single mothers, the work/family issues are compounded multifold.

From what I read, Patricia Woertz has three grown children which makes her choice only somewhat easier. Every new CEO says, however, that there is no preparation for the CEO position. We will have to check back on her progress on her first anniversary. I wish her luck!

Repairing Bush's Reputation


BusinessWeek's Diane Brady asked several management gurus what President Bush should do to repair his reputation. She reports what they said in the April 17th issue (I am just abit behind). Some of the suggestions include bringing in more outside voices, pausing before making big decisions, building a team that consists of more than "yes" people, and bringing in some thoughtful critics. Many of these suggestions focus on bringing people to the president. Seems that it would be better if it were the other way around. How about taking President Bush out of the White House to meet with people from all walks of life in their own environments. Could help to provide fresh perspective. Or set up a Citizen Advisory Panel made up of ordinary Americans who could meet with the President quarterly and exchange points of view.

Like new CEOs who sometimes turn to retired CEOs, perhaps Bush could call on some retired presidents who might have some insights. His father might be one good source. Former President Clinton? Former President Carter? Might be worth a try.

Just wanted to add my two cents on repairing the President's tarnished reputation.

24 Hours Makes All the Difference


Today's papers are now featuring new Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz's picture finally. So I was a day ahead with my comments on his photo-absence. Would have been nice to see the two together in yesterday's papers but they obviously wanted to give McNealy his day in the Sun.

Sun Screen


This morning I read with interest the coverage on Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy's handing over his CEO title to Jonathan Schwartz. McNealy is one of the longest-standing CEOs in Silicon Valley. What fascinated me was that the only picture that appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times was that of McNealy. You would think that a photo of Jonathan Schwartz might have surfaced somewhere. Afterall, he is the new CEO. And Schwartz is no typical CEO -- he sports a pony tail and is a mere 40 years old. Just those two factors alone merit a photo in the major business media. It is not like he is so shy that there were no photos available. Just go to the Sun Microsystems web site where there are several digitally-enhanced photos of the new CEO begging to be used.

Not sure what to make of the MIA young CEO but let's hope he gets some photo ops soon.Thought I would give him some free advertising on my blog so that's him up above.

Old Fortune Rhyme


I saved this business poetry from when I was in charge of marketing at Fortune. When someone left the company, he gave me this promotional brochure that I saved for posterity. The brochure was magnificently designed and elegant as could be. That I distinctly recall.

The words below certainly speak of days gone by. Business in the 1960s was all about men. My how things have changed (and not changed).

I can not figure out if the rhymer was actually thinking about "change" as in cents or as in "change management." Tend to think it is the former. Who knew about organizational change then? The world was so much more manageable.

The Rhyme of The Ancient Manager (1969)

“For the men who manage business,
Wherever they may range,
Are the Men in Charge of Dollars
And the Men in Charge of Change.”

CEO Apologies


When I entered "CEO" into Google images, one of the pictures at the very top was an illustration (shown here) about CEO apologies. I found that ironic since I had cut out an article from today's New York Times (April 20) on "The High Cost of the Korean Mea Culpa." Two companies with Korean connections had apologized for misdeeds -- Lone Star and Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. The photo in the Times shows top executives bowing in an act of contrition. Apparently apologies like this are standard operating procedure in South Korea and are done in the hopes of reducing legal punishment. In addition to apologies, South Korean companies contribute funds to good causes. Hyundai's deep executive bows were accompanied by a $1 billion gift to social welfare programs (no small change). The entire act of donating money for wrongdoing in South Korea has its critics but certainly does not condone the misbehavior in the first place. Reputations cannot be bought.

The 80/20 Rule in CEO Coverage


Today I spent some time reviewing saved articles in my files on CEO Celebrity. I turned back the clock to the late 1990s and early 2000s before Time Warner and AOL merged and the bust. The topics of CEO charisma and CEO as Brand were everywhere. Soon after the toppling of the CEO icon as Enron imploded, GE's then CEO Jack Welch was interviewed on the Jim Lehrer Online Newshour report (December 2002). He was asked about CEO celebrity and I couldn't help but applaud him as I sat alone in my office despite the four years that passed since these comments.

Welch said: “We resist 99.9 percent of all interviews. It happens when you’re in a big company and your company is successful because of a lot of people, you end up getting your mug shot all the time. You end up on television all the time and then you’re called a quote, charismatic CEO, out trying to do something. You’re not trying to be charismatic. You’re trying to motivate employees, you’re trying to work internally, you are trying to improve processes, you are not trying to get publicity because half the time it’s crappy. You’d like the mole to go away.”

Welch is so right. Most CEOs never start out wanting to be the center of media attention. In fact, even in the crazy heady celebrity CEO days, most CEOs just wanted to keep their heads down and take care of business. The few that did get the frenzied attention agreed with Welch that rallying the troops and communicating the message were good enough reasons to accept invitations to appear live.

As a research study pointed out, 20% of CEOs generated 80% of the media coverage leading up to the scandalous years. We were seeing the same CEOs in the spotlight over and over again -- John Chambers (Cisco), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Jack Welch (GE), Jacques Nasser (Ford), Carly Fiorina (HP), Michael Eisner (Disney). Perception did not exactly match reality. The way the media reported on CEO celebrities made you think that all those Fortune 500 CEOs were grabbing mikes and throwing their shirts to the ground during employee pep rallies.

No way.

CEO-ing in India


Google sent me an interesting article this morning about CEOs in India. According to the Economic Times, Indian CEOs are trying to fit in better with their employees and appear less imperial and hierarchial. Instead of staying at five-star hotels while traveling, Indian CEOs are now staying at company guest houses with employees and even using vending machines like the average guy or gal. As I have noted over the years in my work on CEO reputation, the link between the CEO's reputation and the bottom line is being felt in India. This is the reason given for CEOs turning into "cool dudes" as the article says.

One particular point caught my attention."Take the age-old tradition of attaching a Saheb, Babu and a Ji to everyone’s name. Though most Indian employees would still be acutely uncomfortable calling their bosses by their first names like the Americans do, Indian CEOs are now persuading them to call them by their initials as a first step. So Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani is MDA, Kumar Mangalam Birla is KMB and Sunil Bharti Mittal is SBM to most and Sunil to quite a few."

Got me to thinking about CEOs we hear about often. Here is an unrepresentative list.

GE's Jeff Immelt = JI
BP's John Browne = JB
Microsoft's Bill Gates = WG (for William)
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer = SB
Ebay's Meg Whitman = MW
Starbuck's Howard Schultz = HS
Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffet = WB
Ford's Bill Ford = WF (for William)

Somehow these initials do not have a ring to them. Maybe because we need to use their middle initials if they have them. Hard to imagine calling Bill Gates WG or BG. Interesting idea, however.

Fighting Words from GM


Interesting that Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman, is fighting back. "We are removing the gloves at G.M and are going to be much more aggressive about telling our side of the story. It's time to strike back." (The New York Times, April 13, 2006). Those are fighting words.

Lutz mentions that GM has reached an inflection point. I think that he is not only speaking for his company but for companies in general. Over the past two years, it has become increasingly clear that companies are not rolling over when they think they are right and believe that their point of view is not being heard. Wal-Mart comes to mind after trying hard to keep a low profile and not ruffle any feathers. McDonald's is working on its game plan to counter the new movie "Fast Food Nation" which criticizes the food giant.

There is definitely change in the wind.

Support from GM's Troops


Friday's The Wall Street Journal (April 7,2006) contained "An Open Letter to America From GM Dealers." The full page advertisement described its support for embattled GM CEO Rick Wagoner:

"Mistakes have been made and lessons have been learned. Today our CEO Rick Wagoner is leading the best management team since Alfred Sloan. It is a difficult job that requires balancing the needs of customers, employees, retirees, shareholders and dealership employees. Given the hand that exists, it appears that Rick Wagoner and GM are taking very bold steps and they are making a difference. We believe that Rich is a man of excellent integrity. His values are that of the best of America. He is an excellent leader, father, husband and human being. He needs and deserves support for the enormous job he is doing." The ad is signed by individual GM National Dealer Council and GM Dealer Advisory members.

Thought the advertisement was good and I welcomed hearing what they had to say. Due to the many rumors about Wagoner serving out his last days, I think that sticking with Wagoner during these tough times is the right direction. If you have not read Fortune's Alex Taylor on the subject, you should (He writes: "Why, after the UAW has been feasting on the largesse of GM chairmen for four decades, does Wagoner get accused of giving away the store?")

Back to the advertisement. I was struck by the references to Wagoner as spouse and parent in such a business-laden declaration. Those kinds of personal statements usually end up in obituaries or retirement speeches. I presume that the dealers were attempting to round out the full shadow of the man that goes beyond his nightmarish day job. Being that GM has those true middle American roots, the values being espoused seem to fit but definitely took me aback. We rarely get a glimpse of CEOs beyond the corner office unless they are being sued for divorce.

I do know one thing. If GM's CEO were a woman, an advertisement like this would never mention how good a job she did as a wife and mother.

Politicians and CEOs


When I was in Vienna this week to launch my book, our affiliate Hochegger/Com honored the most admired Austrian CEO from their research at the event. The CEO of energy group OMV, Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, was number one in the Austrian survey. He spoke about what CEOs need today to be successful. Since he spoke in German, I only heard what he said through someone else. Apparently he said that communications was critical to being a CEO in the 21st century. The oil major CEO remarked that he learned about the importance of communications from his government position which he held for three years. As a politician, Mr. Ruttenstorfer learned quickly about communicating daily with diverse and demanding constituents. Without that prior exposure, he said the CEO job would be very much harder.

I continually see the narrowing of the gap between politicians and CEOs. In many ways, people are voting for each every day. Politicians have to win daily support from constituents and CEOs have to win over customers to buy their products. Politicans have to get people to believe them enough to vote in their favor and CEOs must persuade stakeholders to support them by buying their stock, joining the company or giving them the benefit of the doubt in bad times. As things are going, I would not be surprised one day to see politicians with corporate governance advisory boards and CEOs running for election every four years. How crazy would that be?

To Separate or Not to Separate?


We all know the story of how Enron had a separate chairman (Ken Lay) and CEO (Jeff Skilling). The un-perfect company actually followed good corporate governance procedures by disallowing executive power to remain with one person. We all know the unhappy ending to this story.

Over the past several years as more scandals unfolded, there has been increasing discussion in the media about separating the two positions in an effort to curb CEO power. Alas recent research noted in Harvard Business Review (April 2006) found that there is no statistically significant difference between companies that have two people or one person at the top. The authors used stock price and accounting income as their metrics (Yale professor Roberta Romano, Yale Journal of Regulation). Similarly, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has been unable to find a correlation with market performance for separating the two roles.

On the other hand, when we asked this question in 2003 in our reputation research, we found a pattern leaning towards separating the chairman and CEO roles. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. business influentials reported a preference for splitting the two roles (63%) vs. less than one-fifth (17%) who thought they should be combined. A fairly large group -- 20% -- remained undecided. I have always wondered if respondents were offering what was an expected response in light of the abuses of CEO power at the time.

I think it is good that evidence is still unclear that splitting the roles makes a difference. Decisions such as this depend on the company’s culture and individual personalities. Citigroup’s chairman Sandy Weill is soon to depart (April 18) and there is no doubt that while he delivered on what he said he would do(no interference), Weill and current CEO Chuck Prince are probably looking forward to an amicable divorce and less close quarters.

Blogging from Vienna


Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Vienna Stock Exchange on CEO Capital. My book on CEO reputation was just translated and launched by Linde International.

Although many Austrian CEOs are not well-known worldwide, I found out a few interesting facts. The energy drink Red Bull is Austrian and founded by CEO Dietrich Mateschitz, one of Forbes' wealthiest people. This brand is probably Austria's most global. Other fine companies with less global recognition include energy group OMV, Erste Bank and Wienerberger (the world's biggest brickmaker).

Back to the Wiener Borse Ag. The Vienna Stock Exchange was actually founded by a woman in 1771. Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresia's fine reputation was marked by major reforms which modernized the country's administration, reorganized the army, eased the life of the peasants, introduced compulsory school attendance and abolished torture. She set the standard for Austria today by exhibiting an outstanding sense of responsibility, credibility and diligence to the end of her days. Her impressive legacy carries on as noted in yesterday's The New York Times Business section (Off the Charts by Floyd Norris). When it comes to best performance for country stock market indexes around the world, the greatest change and number one leader comes from none other than Austria (+375%). Comparatively, the U.S. stock market index has increased only +59% since September 2002. Maria Theresia knew what she was doing. The Austrian stock market is as hyper-caffeinated as Red Bull.

In light of all this financial success, Austrian business is trying to now distance itself and its reputation from its biggest banking crisis in decades -- the Austrian Trade Union's ownership of Bawag bank and its risky business dealings with Refco. The good news is that the trade union, OGB, is trying to sell the bank. The Bawag bank is a blemish on Austria's reputation but quick action might be able to lessen the sting.

Without a doubt, I will be asked about how long it takes a company or organization to recover its reputation.

Blogging in Europe


A UPS survey surveyed nearly 1500 business leaders from Europe's top 15,000 companies by revenue and found that 37% were not aware of blogs. An even larger 42% had heard of them but had not read them. Only 11% of top European execs read blogs and as expected only 2% write them. By country, here is how it shakes out:

Not aware of blogs
Germany -- 57%
Netherlands -- 56%
Belgium -- 48%
Spain -- 37%
Italy -- 32%
UK -- 31%
France -- 16%

Germany and the Netherlands were the least knowledgeable about blogs.

Although blogging has spread like wildfire in the US among business executives and businesses are rapidly monitoring the Internet to see what bloggers are saying about them, European business people have not caught the blogging fever. Maybe that is a good thing. Sometimes we have to stop ourselves in the U.S. from thinking that the entire world is staying up at night blogging or rssing or podcasting.

There is hope. The UPS Europe Business Monitor does hint that change is on the horizon. In 1999, 11% of business executives used online sources (including blogs)as their primary source of information on business issues. In 2005, online usage shot to 25%. Now that's progress.

Falling Asleep at the Wheel


Crises start as ripples and eventually turn to tidal waves. It is the "near misses" that accumulate and nearly kill a company's reputation. Another good way of describing the incremental missteps that can do harm comes from a German shareholder talking about the quality problems at Mercedes: “You don’t break a car company over night. You really need to fall asleep at the wheel.” The statement appeared in the Financial Times (4 March 2005) article by James Mackintosh and Richard Milne, “The Ultimate Way of How Someone is Judged Is Not only By the Bottom Line."

Thought it was worth sharing.

CEO Calendar Vertigo


Just finished reading a Financial Times interview with Merck's CEO Dick Clark. It is worth repeating below because this is not the first time I have heard a CEO talk about underestimating the demands on his or her schedule. Wal-Mart's CEO Lee Scott had similar thoughts:“The biggest mistake I made was not controlling my schedule. I was not prepared for the demands of my time -- internally and externally…I have to make sure I am in the stores and that I understand what is going on with the business.” My real sense is that CEOs get vertigo looking at their calendars.

"FT: Can you describe how your day has changed since you’ve become CEO?

DC: That’s a great question. The variety of activities you do in any one given day are just incredible. They go from very strategic, to interface with investors, to meeting with employees. You have much more visibility inside and outside the company, so the variety is just incredible in the different types of experiences you have.

And the thing that’s probably the most difficult for me right now is to balance the demands on my schedule. Not internally as much as the demands that are being asked of me externally. I made a commitment when I took this position that I was going to spend a tremendous amount of my time, a majority of my time, internally running the company, getting the strategy in place, making sure we’re doing it right – before I decided to have this external exposure.

Whether they are different associations and boards or government officials, I underestimated ten-fold the external demand that is placed on a CEO

FT: By how much?

DC: 10-times, 10-fold. I had no idea the impact it would have. And there tough decisions, where the President of the United States, of the UN secretary general or this particular congressman or senator; you’ve got to attend these two board meetings and the council of competitiveness, and on and on and on. Which are important decision for the company as well, to represent the company and you help whoever’s asking you to provide input.

But at the same time you have to balance that. Your mission in life is to your stockholders, your employees and your patients. And getting that right is something I’m still working on."

CEO Blogging


I listened to an interesting session this week. The teleconference call was set up by WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) and had several interesting speakers talking about blogging -- Richard Edelman, President & CEO, Edelman Public Relations; Laurie Mayers, Senior Vice President, Deputy Managing Director, Hass MS&L;and Michael Wiley, Director, New Media, General Motors.

Richard Edelman identified several rules of the road that he abides by when writing his blog (e.g., make it ethical, yield control of the message, make sure it's not spin, engage your critics). Richard says that he checks Technorati to see if anyone is commenting on his blog and writes them a comment if his words have been misunderstood or taken out of context. I thought that was a smart idea. Will try it myself.

Hearing about General Motors' Fast Lane blog was also illuminating. Laurie Mayers works on the Fast Lane blog and noted that it received 8,000 comments in its first year. She mentioned that GM's return on investment with Fast Lane is many more times greater than what you would get if you had to pay for conducting focus groups to obtain the views of 8,000 car enthusiasts.

Michael Wiley made good points too. I was particulary interested in his comment that Fast Lane had become a feeder to various news media and that it was often picked up verbatim. Nice way to get the GM message out and speak directly to the public while bypassing a critical press.

All of the speakers agreed that the hardest part of CEO blogging was content creation. Tell me about it. For me, the pressure to come up with new and interesting content is hard enough. For CEOs, it has to be nearly excruciating. Yet, it is being done and clearly the ROI is bountiful.

Managing Your Reputation Online


When companies undergo a crisis, they often forget that visitors go to their websites to check out or confirm what they may have heard. Unfortunately, many companies overlook how important their web sites are in managing their reputations during bad times. This topic was on my mind today as we presented our recent findings to a client on crisis-stricken companies online.

Some background. A few days after 9-11, we (Idil Cakim and I) examined Fortune 500 and most admired company websites to learn how their sites fared. We learned that companies quickly turned their business sites into information hubs to communicate to employees, customers, and families about the tragedy. Most companies were quick to provide a message to the public, update information on how to volunteer or donate funds, identify locations for giving blood, list counseling services or tell people where to go to donate products. In addition to monitoring web sites, we also surveyed the public and learned that they would have also wanted more updated news reports, being notified about the status of operations (what happened to my package?), emergency hotlines, email addresses for crisis updates and a message from top management. Many missed opportunities although we all learned alot about online communications during these unthinkable times.

9-11 got us seriously thinking about how companies manage their reputations online when they are in the spotlight or making headlines. Did companies take the lessons from 9-11 and apply them going forward? It is always surprising to us how little information companies make available during times of trouble. Undoubtedly, legal considerations get in the way and prevent companies from communicating fully with the public. Yet some companies manage to do a stellar job of managing their reputations online in bad times and good times. These companies provide special contact numbers (on the home page no less!), issue press releases or statements that answer questions on what might be troubling the company, feature a letter from the CEO (in a variety of languages!)and point visitors to other sites (such as government sites or non-profit sites) for further information. Some companies provide glossaries of terms, FAQs and positive and negative news accounts.

Just pick any simmering issue or crisis tomorrow, go to the company's web site and see what they are saying or not. If you have to dig beyond two page views, forget it.

Thumbs Up for Citigroup


One of the markers of reputation recovery is making signs of progress visible. Of course if you have the choice, the best way is to get someone else to broadcast it for you. That's what happened yesterday to Citigroup. In Clint Riley's Wall Street Journal article, "Citigroup Gets Higher Grades for Its Corporate Governance," the writer underscores the positive progress being made by CEO Chuck Prince's journey to become "the most respected global financial-services company." Riley gathers votes of confidence from several corporate governance rating experts who give Citigroup a clean bill of health. One of the experts even called the financial services giant, "the new Citigroup."

+++Howard Sherman, COO, Governance Metrics International
+++Ric Marshall, chief analyst, Corporate Library
+++Robert A.G. Monks, founder, Institutional Shareholder Services and now Lens Governance Advisors

Prince's plan to overhaul the company after its Japanese trading scandal and European bond-trading misstep is bearing fruit. His "five point" plan includes intensive employee training ("Our Shared Responsibilities"), good corporate governance practices, better communications and board independence. The video on the company's long history that is part of the training appears on the web site and goes a long way towards educating Citigroupers as to their shared history and obligation to the revered franchise.

Although early positive endorsements can be reversed with the slightest misstep, these thumbs up for Citigroup go a long way in building momentum and energizing its 300,000 employees. The key is not to forget that recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. Repuation recovery is never finished.

Cures for the Company Blues


Terrifically fun week. We launched our little 5X5 book, Cures for the Company Blues: 15 Early Warning Signs of a Company's Failing Reputation.

published the pocket guide and launched it mid-week.

How did this book come to life? We were brainstorming last December about how to release the findings from our recent reputation survey. Just the thought of another press release was too much for me to bear. Alas, a light bulb went on in my head and I knew that a mini-book was our solution. Years ago when I was at Fortune, I had a similar brainstorm and published Fortune Cookies: Wit and Wisdom from Fortune. This little book included quotes from Fortune edit that were instructive and resonated with readers (like me) -- e.g., Innovate or Evaporate! was my favorite.

Cures for the Company Blues identifies the 15 early warning signs of organizational failure, describes the symptoms that leaders need to pay attention to and provides several sure-fast remedies. The basic idea is that CEOs can address the problems that destroy their corporate reputations by keeping a watchful eye out for what is happening inside their walls and right under their noses.

C-Suite Reputation Rises


Hill & Knowlton just released their latest wave of research on reputation. Their global research among financial analysts found that perceptions of the C-suite are more important in investment decision-making than business unit heads, chairmen or board members. Of course, the CEO still remains critical to driving investment dollars but the top team is now increasing in importance. Burson-Marsteller's research has found similar results.

A great example of showcasing your company's senior team comes from Cisco. Take a look at how Cisco provides information to investors and other stakeholders about their leadership team. Not only can we read these top managers' bios but we can browse through their speeches, presentations, perspectives, videos, etc. The top team is smartly on display and practically in your living room. You can choose whether you want closed captions or translations. Cisco makes it easy to witness the talent of their top team and vote in favor of the company. Worth studying.