An Inconspicuous Question
Woke up to the New York Times and an article on the WalMart shareholders meeting in Benton. I was curious how the meeting was going to go because of the recent alleged scandal involving Mexico bribery corruption. And I was particularly intrigued by the backdrop they used for for the presentations. It was an adaptation of the first 5 &10 cent store of Sam Walton. I have always had a soft spot for WalMart because when I was at Fortune, Sam Walton was revered as a hero of small and big business. And John Huey, the editor at the time, had written a book on Sam Walton that really resonated with me. So I was also abit taken aback when the article mentioned a question asked by an analyst at Raymond James. He asked executives what they though the effect of the Mexican problem would be on the company’s reputation. CEO Mike Duke responded, We will be a better company because of this.” Because of my long history in the reputation field, I am still surprised when questions about “reputation” get asked as if it was the same as what’s the weather going to be tomorrow? or what did you have for breakfast today? It is such a natural question today of most CEOs and leaders (how’s your reputation? what’s your klout score? whose reputation do you admire the most?). Reputation-asking has become an ordinary, humdrum, conversational, colloquial question. At least there are people around like me who still know that years ago, this would not have been the case. And it was particularly interesting that the analyst was asking it since analysts are usually thought of being the first to ask about a problem’s impact on the bottom line and share price. Not on a company’s reputation. They usually are not defenders of intangibles. So let’s just say that progress is being made and reputation is now squarely on the business agenda.