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How To Develop A Spotless Reputation

October 2017Words by Mr Alfred Tong

Illustration by Ms Giovanna Giuliano

Your reputation is the foundation upon which your life is built. A reputation for dishonesty will hurt your social life. A reputation for incompetence will do your career no end of damage. And yet, how many of us think about our reputations in a deliberate and strategic manner? The reality is that we tend to coast along hoping that our essential good nature and hard work will eventually be noticed.

A good reputation means you win life’s prizes without having to put in anywhere near as much effort as your less-illustrious competitors. Mr Casanova’s reputation for being a master seducer meant that women threw themselves at him to see what the fuss was all about. The Mafia’s reputation for deadly violence meant that cooperation with business associates was ensured without a drop of blood spilt. More prosaically, renting out a flat on Airbnb becomes much easier and more profitable if you have a clutch of glowing reviews.

Reputation is a game that we all must play, whether we like it or not. So why leave it to chance? This is the thinking behind Messrs David Waller and Rupert Younger’s new book, The Reputation Game, which is out now. In this new volume Mr Waller (a former FT journalist who now works as a consultant to governments and financial institutions) and Mr Younger (director of Oxford University’s Centre for Corporate Reputation), aim to demystify the process of reputation-building, offering up a few vital lessons in the art of getting people talking about you (and your business) in the right way. Suddenly desperately worried about our own reputations, MR PORTER caught up with the authors to try and find out how to play the game. This is what they had to say.