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Opinion Editorials

Are You a Bad Boy (or Girl)?

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You may be and not even know it!

A few times a year I will get an email from my dad asking a random question, such as: “Why were you quoted in an article on the latest ocular surgery practices in Alaska?”

What the …. ???

As much as the world has its hands full with one, yes, there is at least one other Brandie Young who apparently is an expert in the ocular surgery field (sorry to disappoint dad, I’m not a doctor).  My dad likes to Google my name every now and again.

Reputation management

Have you Googled yourself lately?  Your clients or potential clients most likely have, and if you don’t know what comes up on the first page when you Google your name, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

More than your name alone …

Don’t just Google your name, Google phrases.  For example, When I Google ‘GE Spokesperson Brandie Young’ I get an entirely different set of results than if I Google my name alone.  (ugh, bad memories from the result of that search …)

If potential clients Google you, they are probably entering Your Name, realtor, city name, your company, your previous company, etc.  Try a number of combinations, including misspelling your name, make note of each search and any unfavorable results.

:: Pause :: Search yourself now

Did you do a search with more than just your name?  Or did you add other key words, such as agent, complaints, real estate, etc.

Please share your results in the comment box, particularly any surprises!

Your reputation – guard it with your life!

To quote a book I love called The 48 Laws of Power:

“Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win: once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides.  Make your reputation unassailable.”

While it may take some work, it is probably worth it to correct, comment on (or, if possible, have deleted) any instances where you are mentioned in an inaccurately unflattering light. (Emphasis on inaccurately)

Vigilance is vital

Most important is any negative comments from previous clients or peers.  If you find them, the best course of action is to work to resolve the issue in person or over the phone, then see about updating negative online commentary.

Keep in mind, however, this doesn’t include anyone that takes you to task or disagrees with your point of view on your blog, or a comment you left on someone else’s blog.  That makes you a real, substantive person with an opinion.

According to Nielsen’s “Trust in Advertising” Report from October 2007, 78% of people trust the recommendations of other consumers over ads (I’m sure that stat has increased since the study).  And, with more and more trust placed on the opinion of bloggers it’s vital to be vigilant.

Monitor

Once you have all your phrases, set up a Google alert for each of the phrases as well as your name (include variations, i.e. Bob and Rob in addition to Robert).  You will get an email anytime one of those phrases appears online, saving you the time of searching yourself on a regular basis.

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Lisha Fabris

    April 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Great article Brandie. I was never one to track myself online but now that I’m in the PR game, I find it critical. Thanks for the tips & reminders.

  2. Annie Maloney

    April 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Well you had me feeling sort of paranoid for a second. My husband handles all the internet and SEO stuff and I have never really “Googled” myself. Thankfully everything has come back OK. Sorry, no dramatic results to report….

    Nice post.

  3. Missy Caulk

    April 30, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I love Google Alerts, it is the best for reputation management. I also follow some competitors too. LOL

  4. Tom Vanderwell

    April 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Interesting story about google alerts. I discovered that there is another Tom VanderWell who lives in Iowa. He’s in the quality control/call center consulting business. We are now facebook friends and also linkedin and have discovered that his daughter’s fiance just got done volunteering at a mission in Haiti not far from where the orphanage we’re involved in is located. Fortunately, both of us Tom Vanderwells have pretty good reputations.

    I tell you, it was really weird when he called me about mortgages, the phone rang, “Hi, Tom Vanderwell here.” “Tom, this is Tom VanderWell and I had a question……”

    Tom

  5. Danilo Bogdanovic

    April 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Google Alerts is your best friend in reputation management! And as Missy said, you can even use it to follow your competitors 🙂

  6. Brandie Young

    May 1, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Lisha – yep, now that you hve PR responsibilities under your belt, Alerts are critical. You may want to add your Exec. names to the alerts as well as competitors (per Missy).

    Annie – glad there were no surprises! Hope it stays that way.

    Missy – awesome (as usual!)

    Tom – that’s crazy! Vanderwell’s are clearly great people!

    Danilo – thanks for chiming in!

  7. Bill Lublin

    May 2, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Brandie;
    I think everyone should Google themselves, and I do (though not so frequently as to cause damage to my eyesight) – I love the idea of googling a phrase though – that was a new one for me – Thanks for the idea!

  8. Paula Henry

    May 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Brandie – I have Google Alerts for my name. There are a few Paula Henry’s who show up for my name, so phrases actually give me a better return for the termsI want to be known for.

  9. Brandie Young

    May 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Bill – Glad you picked up something!

    Paula – Great – let me know if anything suprising appears!

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Opinion Editorials

Do women that downplay their gender get ahead faster?

(OPINION) A new study about gender in the workplace is being perceived differently than we are viewing it – let’s discuss.

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The Harvard Business Review reports that women benefit professionally when they downplay their gender, as opposed to trying to focus on their “differences” as professional strength.

The article includes a lot of interesting concepts underneath its click-bait-y title. According to the study by Professors Ashley Martin and Katherine Phillips, women felt increasingly confident when they pivoted from focusing on highlighting potential differences in their perceived abilities based on their gender and instead gave their attention to cultivating qualities that are traditionally coded as male*.

Does this really mean that women need to “downplay” their gender? Does it really mean women who attempt this get ahead in this world faster?

I don’t think so.

The article seems to imply that “celebrating diversity” in workers is akin to giving femme-identified employees a hot pink briefcase – it actually calls attention to stereotyped behaviors. I would argue that this is not the case (and, for the record, rock a hot pink briefcase if you want to, that sounds pretty badass).

I believe that we should instead highlight the fact that this study shows the benefits that come when everyone expands preconceived notions of gender.

Dr. Martin and her interviewer touch on this when they discuss the difference between gender “awareness” and “blindness.” As Dr. Martin explains, “Gender blindness doesn’t mean that women should act more like men; it diminishes the idea that certain qualities are associated with men and women.”

It is the paradox of studies like this one that, in order to interrogate how noxious gendered beliefs are, researchers must create categories to place otherwise gender-neutral qualities and actions in, thus emphasizing the sort of stereotypes being investigated. Regardless, there is a silver lining here as said by Dr. Martin herself:

“[People] are not naturally better suited to different roles, and [people] aren’t better or worse at certain things.”

Regardless of a worker’s gender identity, they are capable of excelling at whatever their skills and talent help them to.

*Though the HBR article and study perpetuate a binary gender structure, for the purposes of our discussion in this article, I expand its “diversity” to include femme-identified individuals, nonbinary and trans workers, and anybody else that does not benefit from traditional notions of power that place cisgendered men at the top of the social totem pole.

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Opinion Editorials

Why I paused my career to raise our child

(OPINION) Our children are like tiny little sponges that absorb everything that we give them — your job and the sentiments it produces and evokes included.

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I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home-mom. Not in a million years did I think I’d find myself choosing to press pause on my career, but here I am, a mother for just nine months, doing just that.

HBR recently published an article about how our careers impact our children focusing on parental values and the emotional toll of our career involvement on our families. It got me thinking about my own childhood.

Growing up, my parents’ discussion of work was almost always negative. A job was something you had to do whether you liked it or not. As a child, I listened to my parents fight over money; I observed them in constant worry about the future. I watched them stress over unsatisfying jobs.

There was never any room for risk, no money to invest in a new career path, and no financial cushion to fall back on to give a new career time to grow.

Later, when choosing a path of my own, I would often wonder what my parents had wanted to be or who they could’ve been if they would’ve been able to choose careers they might’ve thrived in. All I ever knew is that my parents hated their jobs. While they’re on better financial footing now, the residue of their negativity persists in the career choices of their children.

While I was pregnant, I was working at an international tech startup in Silicon Valley. The company suffered from poor leadership; the week I was hired, my team quit and I was left to piece together a position for myself. The company continued to flounder, its culture unable to recover from interim toxic leadership.

I constantly worried about my son and the stress of a toxic culture on my pregnancy. Going into the office made me anxious. Leaving left me feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Instead of imagining a bright, beautiful baby boy, I closed my eyes and saw a dark and anxious bundle of nerves. Of course, I blamed myself for everything.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I promised my baby that when he arrived, I would do things differently. This would be the last time I accepted a job that I only felt lukewarm about. Never again would I participate in a culture that could diminish my talents and self-worth. I’d seen this kind of thing during my childhood and I’d be damned to repeat it.

During my career, I’ve watched coworkers hire full time live-in nannies, missing their baby’s developmental milestones and their children’s school events. I listened as one CMO talked about moving into his backyard yurt when the pains of parenthood became too much for him. He left his three preteen sons alone to fend for themselves in the mansion they shared in Silicon Valley.

We pride ourselves on the amount of work we put into our careers, but we rarely measure our success through the eyes of our children.

Children are mimics, they absorb everything we do, even during infancy. So, what are we offering them when we abandon them to make conference calls from yurts? What message are we sending them when our eyes are glued to texts, emails and push notifications? What are we teaching them when we come home stressed out, energy depleted and our values compromised?

We try “disrupting” anything these days so what about the working parent model? Would it be worth it?

My husband and I decided that it was and we’re doing things differently.

My husband works in the service industry. He doesn’t leave for work until late in the afternoon which means he spends all day with our son. At nine months old, my son has a strong emotional relationship with his father.

I carve out time during my days and nights to schedule writing work. I’ve recently returned to freelancing and I find that when I’m working with clients I believe in and doing work that I enjoy, we’re all much happier.

Everyone who’s ever had children says the first year goes by incredibly quickly. It’s true. My career will be there next year and for years after that. My son is only a baby once and I wouldn’t miss it for all the money in the world.

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Opinion Editorials

Zuckerberg makes eyeroll-worthy new years resolution

(EDITORIAL) This year, instead of losing weight, Zuckerberg is going to save himself and the world another way.

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Like the rest of us, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has announced New Year resolution – public talks on the future of technology in society. In a post on his personal profile page, he has pledged to participate in and host these discussions. Quite the step down from last year’s resolution to “fix Facebook.”

We get it, Mark, baby steps.

2018 saw Zuckerberg grilled by U.S. Congress and the European Parliament. His company suffered a drop in stock due to these hearings, was caught in the Cambridge Analytica firestorm and federal investigations, etc. It’s evident Zuckerberg bit off more than he could chew and his deciding to pull back isn’t surprising.

Here are the positives: the public needs more discourse on the future of tech and how it will affect the fabric of society. We want to connect with each other – we should pay more attention to what that truly means.

The entrepreneur titans leading the charge should be part of those discussions. Politicians, people elected to wield power for the public, are placed in debate situations regularly. Why shouldn’t the face of a global, digital platform be exempt from this basic practice?

If Zuckerberg is willing to truly have a candid talk (without prep or talking points), could we learn something new about his personal views? Does Officer Data have a soul after all?

But when all is said and done, talk is… just talk. The dangers with privacy on Facebook are already here.

The stakes are rising as the political and cultural landscapes are changing every year. It’s been two years since the problems with Facebook’s user information surfaced after the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (and Ukraine actually blew the whistle in 2015). Zuckerberg has had quite a bit of time to reflect and “talk” about what needs to be done.

We try to keep to our resolutions every new year, and we’ll see if Zuckerberg can uphold his, or if his efforts disappear as quickly as my will to ween off my daily coffee routine. Even from a skeptic’s standpoint, I’ll eagerly wait to watch what goes down in this upcoming discussions.

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