The Reputation Formula

UPDATED: December 11, 2018
PUBLISHED: December 14, 2018

Have you ever faced a turning point in life? In an instant, what was there before is no longer, and the future is suddenly uncertain. Maybe you knew it was time for a change and chose it for yourself, or maybe change was foisted upon you.

Now what?

In our case, the professional lives we had built disappeared, virtually overnight, and we were faced with that ultimate choice.

It was self-assessment time. What we had done working together before was no longer an option. Our financial futures were at stake.

We looked at ourselves and realized we still had one particular expertise to offer, which we had never provided as a service before. We could take all the things we’ve done for ourselves, as individuals, all the information we’ve learned, all the mentoring we’ve received and most importantly all the things we are passionate about and build something brand new.

Related: How to Make a Living Off Your Expertise

As we started to focus on the future and rebuild, we realized that we still had something that nobody could ever take away.

We still had our reputation. We still had the trust of many people who believed in us because they had seen us produce results and do things the right way for a very long time.

We wish the same to be true for you, because building a business isn’t nearly as valuable as building a reputation. Your reputation is everything, and we’re here to help you master the equation that it’s built upon. But first you have to understand what is truly at stake when it comes to your reputation in your career or in business.

A lack of revenue or income is not your greatest problem; a lack of reputation is your greatest problem. In our daily lives we are constantly running around trying to find ways to make more money. But in that frenetic search for more revenue, more income or more profit, we too often overlook the thing that is truly most valuable in the long run: our reputation.

Reputation precedes revenue.

If you focus on building an indestructible reputation, then you will find that sooner or later revenue and income always show up. But if you focus only on trying to increase revenue, then you will find that sooner or later the quality of your reputation goes down.

And the reason is simple: Those who are focused on building a great reputation always treat people the right way. They take care of customers. They value colleagues. They follow through on commitments. They respect competitors. They do the right thing even when it’s not the easy thing for them to do.

Conversely, people who are solely focused on growing revenues put profitability over people, treat customers like numbers and cut corners on necessary change and investments that would make their products and services better for those who use them. They start to think of team members as expendable. They start to make decisions on what is most convenient instead of what is necessary. And where they really get into trouble is when they start doing what is easy instead of what is right. Those people always lose in the long run because they compromise the cornerstone of unique competitive advantage: reputation.

So how exactly do you build a great reputation?

That is something that we and the team at our new business, Brand Builders Group, are researching, studying and practicing. Brand Builders Group is perhaps now one of the only true personal brand strategy firms in existence. We only work with individuals, not companies. We only brand people. Why? Because the story of our team is one where everything we had built was taken away. Everything except that one thing that people can’t take away. And what we’ve come up with is a simple construct for calculating the strength of any reputation. It’s what we call The Reputation Formula and it works like this:

Results x Reach = Reputation

Ask yourself, what results have you achieved in your own life? What results have you helped your clients or colleagues achieve?

Results speak for themselves; and results are more powerful than awards or titles because they are objective, factual, and unbiased. That’s why some of the most successful people in the world expect to be paid not for their time or effort, but for their results. Because results are the ultimate litmus test and measure of success that cut through the noise and speak clearly to who is capable and who is not.

So, again, what results have you achieved in your life? What deliverables have you provided to your clients or in your past work? What impacts have manifested directly as a byproduct of your good work?

Those are your results, and results are inarguable.

Now onto the next component of the equation: Reach. While results can be positive or negative, reach can only be zero or greater. You can’t have negative reach. In a world dominated by social media and online audiences, the impact of zero reach is one of the worst pains you can endure in today’s business landscape.

To this day, the concept of reach is still far undervalued by the majority of business professionals. Most of us are living with the antiquated mindset that it’s our company’s job to make sure people find us—or even worse that it’s the customer’s job to find us! No. It’s your job to make sure customers find you. You are living in a YouEconomy world where you are directly empowered to build your own personal brand and your own direct reach like never before. It’s a world of solopreneurs, independent contractors and independent salespeople, consultants, freelancers and do-it-yourselfers. So you’ve got to make sure that the story of your results and your capabilities has reach—you’ve got to make your story heard.

This is a personal branding gold rush. We believe that people follow people more than they follow companies. People listen to people more than they listen to companies. You will never hear an interview with a company in the media—that’s right, only people get interviewed. We are in the people era, and people are now businesses unto themselves.

But you have to first realize that if someone doesn’t know about you, they can’t do business with you. Your “reach” is your problem. It’s a problem you should care about and it’s a problem you should take ownership of. Your audience is something you should be passionate about building.

So, ask yourself, how many people do you have direct access to? How many people can you immediately get a message out to? More specifically, how many people are on your email list? How about your social media profiles? Your blog? Your podcast? If you don’t have any or all of the above, and you’re not actively trying to expand your reach on each of those channels, you aren’t doing all that you could be doing.

The number of people and potential partners your message touches is your reach. Big results and a big reach equal a big reputation. But ultimately, most importantly, it’s not only the size of the reputation that counts, but rather the quality of the reputation.

Trust: The Reputation X-Factor

While reach is something that can be expanded with a little bit of knowledge and execution, and results are a testament to your skill and work ethic, your ultimate success is more a matter of personal character. So when it comes to how you treat people, how you talk about people, and how you interact with people, always place the highest emphasis on putting people first.

In the long run, your focus on reputation as a higher priority than revenue will set you apart from your competitors and showcase you in a crowded market. However, if you choose to put revenue first, you will probably succeed in the short run, but over time the customers will fade, the revenue will decrease and your reputation will be worthless.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a corporate executive, a commission-based salesperson, a high-powered entrepreneur, a mom blogger or any other position, you should never sacrifice your reputation for revenue. You should never trade away the trust that people have in you just so that you can cash in another dollar. But unfortunately people do it all the time. They compromise their values for the sake of making a buck.

Invest in your positive reputation, and it will pay dividends. In our case, our reputation meant everything when we needed it most.

You can never predict when change will arrive, but you can predict your ability to meet it head-on based on your results, your ability to reach other people with that message, and the trust others have in you.

Related: The Choice of the Purpose-Driven Leader

Rory & AJ Vaden are spouses, entrepreneurs and co-founders of Brand Builders Group. For a free personal brand strategy call, visit