Is Telling The Truth Bragging?

I wrote nearly a year ago about personal brands and reputation – “Personal Brand” – An Exercise In Linguistic Olympics? That post briefly looked at the debates that were then raging about personal brands. For me – it’s all about reputation (as my post made clear).

Last week, I talked with someone about bragging – specifically, whether telling the truth was bragging. The other person suggested that telling the truth is not bragging. I think the answer depends on the source of the statement, the context, and the audience. Even telling the truth can be bragging.

Why should you care? Reputation is important. We constantly engage in conversations – in person and online. And we rarely wonder whether our truthful statements could harm our credibility. They can – especially if others think we’re bragging. Watch the 3 minute video and let me know what you think. Is telling the truth bragging?

Keep Things In Perspective

It is not unusual to get bent out of shape, become angry, and to express our frustrations when things don’t go as planned. We do this when a potential client doesn’t select us for an assignment, when someone says something negative about us, our companies or people we care about, and in many more situations.

When we are presented with frustrating news and situations, we often forget to keep things in perspective. An incident several months ago reminded me about the importance of perspective.

Due to very heavy snow fall and rain in Chicago, many areas experienced flooding. The neighbors immediately next to our house were out of town – we called them to let them know about the flooding and to see if they had someone check their house. They already knew about the flooding. It turns out that they were visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. and just as they had completed their visit, they received a call from their home alarm company reporting about the flooding and letting them know that their basement had more than a foot of standing water.

Our neighbor’s basement was ruined completely, but it paled in comparison to what they saw during their visit to the Holocaust Museum. The news about the flooding certainly wasn’t good, but when put in perspective, it wasn’t much.

I am not suggesting that you ignore frustrating news and situations. But when you presented with such news and situations, keep things in perspective.

Worry About What You Say More Than What Others Say About You

he blogosphere and print media are full of articles about corporations leveraging the Internet, including social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter (among others), to provide customer service and to manage their online reputations. I recently wrote about “personal brands” and whether people are brands.

We spend far too much time worrying about what others say and write about us and not nearly enough time thinking about what we ourselves say and write. For some, a blog article or post on Twitter is solely a sound-bite to generate controversy and “followers”, with little regard for the impact our words might have on others.

We all become frustrated and angry at one time or another. And there are times when we want nothing more than to demonstrate our mastery of the written word by leaving insulting and negative comments online.

You don’t improve your reputation by lowering the reputation of others. When you direct negative comments or insults to someone, your words impact both their reputation and yours.

Don’t fall prey to the temptation. Follow the examples set by those who understand that “a reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.” [Ernest Bramah – an English author]. Think twice – think three times – before you put your own reputation at risk by attacking someone else.

“Personal Brand” – An Exercise In Linguistic Olympics?

People find reasons to disagree about many things. Sometimes, what appear to be substantive disagreements turn out to be little more than smoke and mirrors.

Take for example the subject of “personal brand”. David Armano’s new “Brand U.0 Blog focuses on personal brands. Chris Brogan recently listed 10 articles from his blog about personal branding. And shortly thereafter, Jason Bender wrote a short article in his blog titled “People Aren’t Brands. Ever”. Jason Bender disagreed with Armano and Brogan – and argued that “people ain’t brands.”

Here’s the irony. They are all saying the same thing. A personal brand is your reputation. Pure and simple. There’s a great simplicity to the term reputation – everyone knows what that word means. There’s less simplicity to what is a brand – that’s been the domain of agencies and marketing specialists.

But let’s not fool ourselves. Reputation has always been important. The Internet didn’t create the notion of “personal brand”. Web 2.0 didn’t create the notion of “personal brand.” Gary Vaynerchuk didn’t create the notion of personal brand (although he is demonstrating firsthand how one can build a great reputation online). There is no new “movement” of people as brands.

Reputation has always been important.

And that’s why the debate about “personal brands” is purely linguistic olympics – it’s a debate about something that’s not really in dispute. There’s no real disagreement about what it takes to build a good reputation. Among other things, it takes time, effort, and the sharing of insights and ideas. This is what it takes to build a brand. And marketing-speak doesn’t shortcut that process. Nike didn’t become a “brand” overnight. Neither did Apple, Google, or any of the top brands in the world. Similarly, the people whom many admire online – Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jason Fried, Guy Kawasaki, David Armano (among others) – they gained their reputation after investing time, effort and the sharing of insights and ideas. Over a lengthy period of time.

And that’s why the disagreement about personal branding is a lot of smoke without much substance. I wanted to accept Chris Brogan’s statement that a “strong personal brand is a mix of reputation, trust, attention and execution.” But at the end of the day, I don’t buy it. When you have a strong reputation, you have built trust. When you have a strong reputation, you command attention. When you have a strong reputation, you can execute better because of that reputation. If we want to call this a brand – fine – but we can call it an elephant and it’ll still be the same thing – reputation.

Those people who have built a strong reputation are trusted by people who listen to them, command attention, and can execute better. How did they do this? Time. Effort. Sharing.

There’s no secret formula. There’s no secret sauce. It’s always been about reputation. Reputation has always been important.