Alabama Hills, CA, Gift from Mr. Sepp Schnaxler, Halfmoon Bay, CA

Building Reputation Through Advertising

The lecture by Douglas Melville, Chief of Diversity Officer TBWA Worldwide, this past Friday was one of the best lectures I have attended during my Sloan Program to date. It was inspirational and yet practical. It convinced me that advertising can play an important part in building our reputation. But, in order to be successful, like Doug, we must plan, practice, and do.

His “Seven Lessons in Reputation Management,” which I have listed in the EndNote below, provides a great framework on how we can do it. There are however five additional lessons, which are equally important. Doug talked about two of them, which include “Success overrides all doubt” and “Tell your own stories as no one else will.” I would like to discuss three additional insights:

  • Develop and use the design thinking mindset.
  • Pursue your dream with a full steam.
  • Remember and give the details.

Doug showed his creative mind to solve the many difficult challenges he had faced in his career. For example, the question posed by Magic Johnson on why he should hire him was not easy, especially given of the time and pressure he was facing. Such a question would be best answered through the design thinking rather than through the analytical framework. In fact, trying to answer it by using the analytical framework would have no chance to work. His background in marketing might have prepared him with good design thinking. But, to answer the question fast and well, under such an intense pressure, he must have the mindset of design thinking ready. In order to attain this mindset, we need to plan, practice and do design thinking routinely. This will take efforts, time and patience. But, we are very fortunate to be in one of the world best centers of design thinking and we need to take advantage of it.

Doug’s 7th lesson, “Know how to tell your story,” which was based on his work for President Obama, showed the strength of his determination to pursue what he believes. He followed his heart and pursued his dream with a full steam. He quit his job to campaign for President Obama. Our strong determination, in turn, can help build our reputation.

Doug’s final lesson is to “Remember and give the details.” He gave us some practical ways to start our reputation building: a) take a full advantage of LinkedIn; b) use a simple way to strengthen our curriculum vitae, enhancecv, and c) bring your iPad to tell your story during interviews. In class he showed how to find and to connect with the GSB alumni via LinkedIn. After class, I had asked him about a specific question. He needed to get back to me with the answer. And, he briefly borrowed my phone, clicked on the LinkedIn app, searched for himself, and started a conversation to him. He uses LinkedIn beyond what most do. He was clearly attentive to details. An hour later, he already wrote back. For me, the link led me to read more about him and to watch his TedEx (2nd one here). By taking time, remembering and giving details, Doug continues to advertise and to build his reputation.


Seven Lessons in Reputation Management by Douglass Melville:

  1. Prove, trust and consistency.
  2. Your reputation is the only thing that precedes you when you walk into the room (85% of decision about you are made without you).
  3. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
  4. Be ready and you won’t have to get ready.
  5. You pay for what you don’t know.
  6. Focus on your strengths, not your weakness (What is your superpower?).
  7. Know how to tell your story.