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Be true to your principles: Stand by your brand

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Being highly "connected" through social media, search engines, and instant, invisible, and relatively anonymous commenting, it is more important than ever to be principled, and stand by the "brand" that you have created for yourself. Deviations are easily spotted, and damage control is difficult. Do not be persuaded to abandon your principles.

It used to be that we could manage our "reputation" through personal interactions and tangible work. It was relatively easy to do a quick adjustment when cameras were spotted. For example, someone once told me to "Never be photographed holding a drink, unless your are toasting with a solemn face. You will otherwise appear inebriated." With today's phone cameras and instant posting on the internet, it is much more difficult to follow this advice.

Since what we say, do, and produce is so easily available to others, it takes significant diligence to maintain what has evolved from a reputation to a "brand". Even simple emails and text messages have to be vetted for anything that could be considered offensive - especially if taken out of context. A new level of trust is necessary to be able to relax and interact casually with others.

In the modern world of instant gratification and rapid turnaround, we are often pressured to take "shortcuts" to meet a deadline. Crises are manufactured by those used to getting what they want immediately. Since quality is usually sacrificed for speed in such interactions, we can quickly find ourselves associated with substandard work.

I once asked a professional chef how he constantly produced such high quality dishes. He answered that he didn't. He did not serve his mistakes, and experimented with trusted friends and customers before adding an item to his menu.

What is your "brand"? What do you want to be associated with your name? How is your brand threatened by the demands of others or temptations to take a shortcut? What can you do about it?

Start my - even to yourself - saying "no". If you say "Yes, but...", they'll only hear the "yes". Agree on specific parameters and expectations before work begins. Give yourself the time to prepare, execute, and follow up. Celebrate each success - no matter how minor - and express gratitude for any degree of flexibility you are given. Be associated with the quality of your best work. Let that be your brand.

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