Fragility of Reputation

October 20, 2009

Fragility of Reputation

  Always try to get my CEO fix and today turned out no differently. For inspiration, went to Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers who has a super blog named Postcards.  I always learn something from her and I get my CEO jolt that helps me through the day. I was breezing through her postings this afternoon on an inspiration break and read what Susan Jacques, the CEO of Borsheims Fine Jewelry and Gifts, said about the best advice she has gotten from owner Warren Buffett. Buffett writes his top team a memo along these lines every year. The advice also contains a piece of my favorite quote regarding reputation. If you know me, you’ve heard me quote it. Had to get it down on this blog for posterity’s sake:
We can afford to lose money–even a lot of money. We cannot afford to lose reputation–even a shred of reputation. Let’s be sure that everything we do in business can be reported on the front page of a national newspaper in an article written by an unfriendly but intelligent reporter. In many areas, including acquisitions, Berkshire’s results have benefitted from its reputation, and we don’t want to do anything that in any way can tarnish it. Berkshire is ranked by Fortune as the second-most admired company in the world. It took us 43 years to get there, but we could lose it in 43 minutes.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

  • Paul Seaman
    Posted at 06:23h, 21 October Reply

    Lets try a little rebelliousness here. Michael OLeary runs an airline that soars above its rivals in Europe. Recently he threatened to make passengers stand instead of sit to fit more on board and he said that he was going to start charging them to use his inflight toilets. Such are the mainstream practices of Ryanair, the media believed him. Yet the more the BBC attacks him for his lack of CSR, the more business he wins from a public that loves to hate him and his airline.Moreover, Ryanair was the industry success story of the boom years and even more so during this recession. There is something counter-intuitive about Ryanair.

    Here are my two accounts of why Ryanair has great PR, and a great reputation, precisely because it bucks the CSR trend.

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