Article Reputation_masks

Published on August 8th, 2014 | by Dan Walsh


Your Collective Reputation Mask

Michael Ellsberg’s The Education of Millionaires left me feeling both satisfied and hungry in the way only a book with substance can do. My brain was at capacity and salivating for more at the same time. I was in the throws of this animal curiosity when I dug up everything Ellsberg had written and discovered an enlightening interview between himself and Victor Cheng, a Fortune 500 strategic consultant.

Their conversation sparked a mild epiphany for me: I am who the world collectively thinks I am. The way people see, think, and feel about me determines how they react to me, and in turn what opportunities are available. It’s like I’m wearing a mask that someone else put on my head – and I don’t even know what it looks like. In a way, we’re all wearing masks that others have made for us.

If we want to move others with our ideas, we have to understand what our mask looks like to everyone around us. What is our reputation? We can either let this happen without our consent, or we can take control and build a reputation that will help propel us ahead in life.

Ellsberg and Cheng begin discussing reputation and personal brand around the 7:35 mark, and get to the meat of the topic at about minute 13. Here is the salient point, paraphrased:

“The word ‘brand’ probably has more fluff and B.S. written about it than any other word in the business lexicon. It almost gets to a mystical point. What I want to do right now is cut through that B.S. I will give you a one sentence definition of ‘brand’: Your brand is what people think of when they hear your name. If people hear your name – online or in conversation – what do they talk about?  If you’re manipulative or a bad communicator or have temperament problems or are disorganized, that’s your personal brand. Of course, you can think of positive attributes as well. It’s the general tenor of conversation that people have about you.”

They go on to discuss the best way to build and leverage a no B.S. personal brand: honestly listen to what people say when they talk about you, then work to remove the negative attributes and double down on the positive. I encourage you to listen to the full, original audio on, or you can stream it below.

Image credit: Walter Callens

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