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Senior Correspondent

Your reputation is built on being noticed for the right things in the right way by the right people. Reputation is about credibility, trust and influence. Good reputations create opportunities.


Good reputations are earned slowly and lost quickly. One major blunder outweighs many contributions.

Building your reputation:

  1. Focus on results even though the environment isn’t perfect. If the only power you have is pointing out deficiencies, you are weak.
  2. Transform complaints to solutions or you’ll be a weak whiner.
  3. Work hard and do the dirty work.
  4. Listen before you speak.
  5. Frequently ask, “Am I being who I want to be?”
  6. Frequently ask, “What am known for?”
  7. Align with meaningful initiatives. Align…align…align…
  8. Connect with mentors.

Choosing mentors:

Doug Conant, recently retired CEO of Campbell’s Soup explains finding mentors.

  1. Look at or near the C-Suite.
  2. Choose people you admire.
  3. Consider someone you can learn from.

Approaching mentors:

  1. Approach them directly.
  2. Go through HR.
  3. Consider leaders in other related organizations.
  4. Explore individuals in trade associations.
  5. Tap into business organizations like Chambers of Commerce or S.C.O.R.E.

Doug’s life includes many mentors. His advice is, “Just ask. You’ll be amazed at the people who will say yes. In my experience the success rate is 3 to 1.”

Doug told me this personal story. “When was a junior junior guy, mid-level manager, I saw an article about the CEO of Reader’s Digest and thought I’d like the opportunity to talk with him. I called his office and ended up spending an hour over lunch listening to him talk about his career.”


Building a reputation includes intention but requires contribution. Mentors improve your ability to contribute.

Don’t impose on your mentor’s time. A visit every six months with someone in the C-Suite is a treat.


How have mentors helped your ability to contribute?

Where can emerging leaders find mentors?


This post is based on several interviews: (Listed in order of their interview):

Doug Conant
John Bell
Steve Farber
John Spence
Mike Myatt
Facebook contributors
John Bernard
Dr. John Snyder
Jesse Lyn Stoner

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