My reputation is exactly what I've made it. Is yours?

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday March 10, 2008.

I’m curious. I looked up the definition of “reputation” today and came across these.

From Wikipedia:
Reputation is the opinion (more technically, a social evaluation) of the public toward a person, a group of people, or an organization.

From Merriam-Webster:
overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general

Can someone explain to me how it’s possible to “own” a reputation? Like, literally own it. Not own it in the pejorative sense. And if that is indeed possible, isn’t that also a little scary?

Sure, this is a dumb question that is tackled constantly in meetings about branding. And I suppose it might also be tackled in meetings among lawyers. And if anyone would want to own a reputation, lawyers sound like the perfect group to take that on.

The problem is, it’s utter bullshit. If you want to own your reputation (and, as a result, have only good things said about you), then you might want to act accordingly. For instance, if you don’t want people saying that you punched someone in the face once, then don’t punch someone in the face. Simple, right? Sounds like it to me.

Anytime you have a situation where the collective opinion, feeling, or way of seeing things comes into play, you’ve lost control. Claiming ownership of such a thing is not only ridiculous, it’s a flawed way of thinking that will only backfire as more and more people become aware that you use strongarmed tactics to attempt to control that uncontrollable thing. If using such a way of thinking is how you find yourself, my best advice is to start a blog. You get to say what you want to say, and it only adds to the reputation you so desperately wish to control. It works for me.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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