Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. It is a special holiday because it brings families and friends together over food as a new season takes hold. Before walking the dog this morning, I read an oped about keeping a gratitude diary. I thought of my neighbor who told me that he begins his day by reciting what he is thankful for. I thought this was a nice idea but not for me. I don’t have time for breakfast, let alone another list of things to think about. He is retired, I thought as he spoke, so he has the time to be thankful, walk the dog in the park for an hour and stop to chat on the sidewalk about his family, new granddaughter, travel to his second home. Not for me.
The last few days, I have been thinking what drives me, besides my family of course. I have to say that my passion for the topic of reputation is at the core of what I do. I am thankful for my obsession with “reputation” and its many dimensions. About one year ago at this time, I was wondering what was new in the world of reputation that would excite me enough to write a book (not again!) or article or ignite an idea for new research on reputation. Everyone seems to be an online reputation manager or expert. The Internet lets everyone or anyone hang out a shingle! What more could I add that needs further exploration. This challenge to myself was not easy because I had covered many aspects of reputation over the years — CEO reputation, reputation recovery, reputation rankings, executive visibility, thought leadership, social media reputation, reputation risk, reputation loss and online reputation management. Yet, something did come to mind and I bravely sent off an email to an editor at Harvard Business Review.
Nearly one year later, with a pile of drafts,articles and reports on the floor in my office, my article on Reputation Warfare appeared. I am joyously grateful that an idea that came to mind last Thanksgiving came to fruition and now sits proudly inside the HBR December issue (and online). What amazes me is that I never lost interest for one minute in the topic of how companies can learn lessons from the military on how to defend themselves against online asymmetrical attacks from reputation detractors or snipers. Even now as the issue sits with readers, my interest in reputation defense in this brave new world has not diminished. I regard that as a gift to be grateful for. A colleague wrote me yesterday after reading the article that even more challenging and complex reputational assaults lie ahead. How true. That’s good news to me.
My laptop has a yellow post- it notes feature and I am contemplating a gratitude list. Maintaining a passion over months and years for an idea such as reputation is high on the list. Happy Thanksgiving.