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  • The Price of A Good Reputation

    You have to be willing to pay a ransom for your good name because there are people out there skilled at giving good guys a bad name.

    If you have any notoriety in your community, industry, or company, what you do is carefully watched by people who like you and those who don’t like you. So what? Your behavior and actions have to be “perfect”. But “perfect” behavior is like beauty — it’s in the eye of the beholder.

    I hired a consulting firm in my home town. The agreed-upon fee for their project was $6,000. To my surprise, when the project was finished they billed me $9,000 saying they had done extra work for me. I had no choice but to pay the top dollar. I had to pay ransom for my good name. A reputation of not paying would be an even higher price to pay.

    The consulting firm would be eager to spread chatter that, “She doesn’t pay her bills….she reneges on deals…don’t do businesses with her.” They wouldn’t spread the word that “we charged her 50% more than agreed upon….we surprised her with a claim of more work…we were not open or square in our dealings with her.”

    The ill repute doesn’t stay in the neighborhood either. A posting on one business owner’s blog (for the world to see) reads, “Don’t do business with M__ L__ in San Diego. He is dishonest, doesn’t pay his bills, and will, hopefully, soon go out of business.” It doesn’t stop there; more than one disgruntled ex-employee or ex-wife has had his or her rant repeatedly viewed on YouTube.

    To avoid the situation happening in the future I outline my understanding of our work agreement (even if they have also), and get written confirmation. I allow nothing nebulous or ill-defined to occur without immediate clarification and I document date, times, and content of discussions. These two rules go for work associates, partial friends and full-time friends if I’m doing business with them.

    Still, with all that effort, misunderstandings will occur. I usually elect to pay some bumped-up fee to keep heads cool. Sometimes the best practice means you pay ransom for your good name.

    D.A. (Debra) Benton has been helping great individuals and organizations get even better for over 20 years. Just as exceptional athletes rely on excellent coaching to hone their skills, Debra's clients rely on her advice to advance their careers. She focuses on what is truly important to convert what you and your organization want to be from a vision into a reality. TopCEOCoaches.com ranks her in the World's Top 10 CEO Coaches noting she is the top female. And as conference keynote speaker she is routinely rated in the top 2%. Her client list reads like a “Who's Who” of executives in companies ranging from Microsoft, McDonald's, Kraft, American Express, Merrill Lynch, United Airlines, and PricewaterhouseCoopers to the Washington Beltway and U.S.Border Patrol. *She is the author of ten award-winning and best-selling business books including The Virtual Executive and CEO Material. She has written for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company. She has been featured in USA Today, Fortune, The New York Times, and Time; she has appeared on Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and CBS with Diane Sawyer. To learn more Debra advising leaders, coaching, facilitating a workshop, or speaking: www.debrabenton.com

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