You have only one chance to make a first impression.

Author:Graves, Earl G., Jr.
Position:Publisher's Page

To have a successful career, whether as a working professional or a business owner, now, more than ever, you must approach your life as a business and see yourself as a brand. You have to market yourself, your abilities, and your knowledge just as you would any product or service. Above all else, you have to value your brand--that is, your reputation--as it is perceived by those you have relationships with--your colleagues, customers, clients, family, and community. Business and professional success is not just about whom you know, but who knows you, and what they believe about you. Whether you're selling computer software for a major corporation, teaching at a public high school, or selling shoes at the local mall, your real and most important product is yourself. Those who dismiss or ignore this fundamental truth will pay a high price, both financially and otherwise, regardless of their chosen profession or industry.

All of this was brought starkly into view as domestic violence by pro athletes, and their employers' (their respective teams and the NFL) initially poor and less-than-credible response in addressing the issue, dominated the news as the new football season began. Needless to say, the athletes involved are paying a high price--professionally, financially, and personally--following the revelation of their conduct and the resulting damage to their reputations, beginning with the loss of employment and endorsement income. The athletes, the teams, and the NFL placed a higher value on image and popularity than they did on integrity and reputation--until they were exposed. The easy thing to do is to accuse and condemn the violators. But the smart thing to do is an integrity check on your own conduct, habits, beliefs, and treatment of others. Is your personal brand intact, or is it threatened by your choices? Are you putting your own success, ambitions, and earning power at risk?

A common characteristic of most scandals that destroy careers, companies, and fortunes is quite basic and one I do not tolerate in myself or anyone else: lying. As the NFL's unfolding drama demonstrated, sometimes it seems there is an epidemic of lies and deceit in the business world. Every week someone else is exposed who has lied on a resume, betrayed the public trust, or destroyed an institution, a company, or an entire industry because of fraud and deception. Maybe you won't get caught in a lie, but odds are you...

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