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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.

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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

Dispelling the myth that women don’t get raises because they don’t ask

(EDITORIAL) It has been accepted as fact that women don’t get raises because they don’t ask as often as men, but new studies indicate that’s not true at all.

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women female negotiations

Many of the seemingly universal “truths” of business often come down to assumptions made about workers based on their gender.

Among the most oft-repeated of these “truths” is that women and other femme-identifying people are bad at self-advocating, particularly in matters involving compensation.

These include: Women don’t negotiate their salaries. Women don’t get promotions or leadership positions because they don’t “lean in.” Women don’t ask for raises.

This last truth is finally being discussed as the myth it is.

Over at The Cut, Otegha Uwagba discusses her own experience successfully and not-so-successfully negotiating a raise, but more interestingly how increasingly research has shown that there is no “gap” in between the genders when it comes to asking. Rather, the disparity really arises when it comes to which ask is heard.

As Uwagba explains, “While men and women ask for pay raises at broadly similar rates, women are more likely to be refused or suffer blowback for daring to broach the topic.”

This blowback comes from the inability of some people in leadership positions to think critically about the ways in which business still actively dismisses women’s leadership qualities while simultaneously praising less-competent men who demonstrate these very characteristics.

The HBR article acts as good reminder that the cumulative effect of all of these misguided “facts” about women and business often perpetuate the toxic culture that creates and circulates them.

The implication of all of these myths creates a sense that women are the ones responsible for the unequal treatment they often receive. When the message that women receive is that the reason they don’t get a raise is that they didn’t ask—even when they DO—that tells them that their lived experience isn’t as valid as the pervasive “truth.”

This is, simply put, gaslighting.

Even more, telling women that women face challenges because they didn’t do something or know something, rather than the addressing the very real fact that professional women face sexism at almost every step of their career does not help them.

It only helps those already in positions of power blame women for their own archaic beliefs and actions.

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Opinion Editorials

Funny females are less likely to be promoted

(CAREER) Science says that the funnier a female, the less likely she is to be promoted. Uhh…

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funny females promoted less often

Faceless keyboard warriors around the world have been — incorrectly — lamenting that women just aren’t funny for years now (remember the “Ghostbusters” remake backlash?).The good news is they are obviously wrong. The bad news? When women dare to reveal their comedic side in the workplace they are often perceived as “disruptive” while men are rewarded.

That’s right. Women not only have to worry about being constantly interrupted, receiving raises less frequently than men despite asking for them equally as often, and still making nearly $10,000 less than men each year, but now they have to worry about being too funny at the office.

A recent University of Arizona study asked more than 300 people to read the fictional resume of a clothing store manager with the gender-neutral name “Sam” and watch a video presentation featuring Sam. The videos came in four versions: a serious male speaker, a humorous male speaker, a serious female speaker and a humorous female speaker.

According to the researchers, “humorous males are ascribed higher status compared with nonhumorous males, while humorous females are ascribed lower status compared with nonhumorous females.” Translation: Male workers earn respect for being funny while their funny female coworkers are often seen in a more negative light.

There are, of course, several reasons this could be the case. The researchers behind this particular study pointed to the stereotype that women are more dedicated to their families than their work, and being perceived as humorous could convey the sense they don’t take their work as seriously as men.

Psychiatrist Prudy Gourguechon offered another take, putting the blame directly on Sam the clothing store manager, calling out their seemingly narcissistic behavior and how society’s tolerance for such behavior is “distinctly gender-based.” She says these biases go back to the social programming of our childhoods and the roles mothers and fathers tend to play in our upbringing.

So what are women supposed to do with this information?

Gourgechon’s status quo advice includes telling women to not stop being funny, but “to be aware of the the feelings and subjectivities of the people around you.” While recommending an empathetic stance isn’t necessarily bad advice, it still puts the onus on women to change their behavior, worry about what everyone else thinks and attempt to please everyone around them.

We already know that professional women can have an extremely hard time remaining true to themselves in the workplace — especially women in the tech industry — and authenticity is often a privilege saved for those who conform to the accepted culture. We obviously still have a long way to go before women stop being “punished” for being funny at work, but things seem to be progressing, however slowly.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared her thoughts last year on the improvements that have been made and the changes that still need to happen, including encouraging men to step up and do their part. In the wake of the #metoo movement, CNBC recommended five things men can do to support women at work. There are amazing women in STEM positions around the world we can all admire and shine a spotlight on.

All of these steps — both big and small — will continue to chip away at the gender inequality that permeates today’s workplaces. And perhaps one day in the near future, female clothing store manager Sam will be allowed to be just as funny as male clothing store manager Sam.

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Opinion Editorials

Two common business myths that could get you sued

(EDITORIAL) Two misconceptions in the business world can either make or break a small business.

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trademark lawsuit cartridges initiative

When you’re an entrepreneur with a small staff, you may be in the habit of running your team casually.

While there’s nothing wrong with creating a casual environment for your team (most people function better in a relaxed environment), it’s wise to pay close attention to certain legal details to make sure you’re covered.

It’s easy to misinterpret certain aspects of labor law since there is a lot of misinformation about what you can and cannot do inside of an employee-employer relationship. And since labor laws vary from state to state, it can be even more confusing.

As an entrepreneur, it might be strange to think of yourself as an employer. But when you’re the boss, there’s no way around it.

Here are two employment myths you might face as an entrepreneur along with the information you need to discern what’s actually true. Because these myths carry a lot of risk to your business, it’s important that you contact an attorney for advice.

1. Employees can waive their meal breaks without compensation

It’s a common assumption that any agreement in writing is an enforceable, legally binding contract, no matter what it contains. And for the most part, that’s true.

However, there are certain rights that cannot be signed away so easily.

For example, many states in the US have strict regulations around when and how employees can forfeit their unpaid meal breaks.

While meal breaks aren’t required at the Federal level, they are mandated at the state level and each state has different requirements that must be followed by employers. While some states allow employees to waive their meal breaks, on the other end of that the employer is usually required to compensate the employee.

For example, in California an employee can waive their 30-minute unpaid meal break only if they do so in writing and their scheduled shift is no more than 6 hours. In other words, when a shift is more than 6 hours, the meal break cannot be waived.

Additionally, when an employee waives their unpaid meal break, they must be paid for an on duty meal break and be compensated with an extra hour of pay for the day.

Vermont, on the other hand, provides no specific provisions for meal breaks and according to the Department of Labor, “Employees are to be given ’reasonable opportunities’ during work periods to eat and use toilet facilities in order to protect the health and hygiene of the employee.”

As you can see, some states have specific regulations while others have general rules that can be interpreted differently by each employer. It’s best not to make any assumptions and contact a labor law attorney to help you determine exactly what laws apply to you.

2. You own the copyright to all employee works

So you’ve hired both an employee and an independent contractor to design some graphics for your website. You might assume you automatically own the copyright to those graphics. After all, if you paid money, shouldn’t you own it?

While you may have paid a small fortune for your graphics, you may not be the legal copyright holder.

Employees vs. independent contractors:

When your employee creates a work (like graphic design) as part of their job, it’s automatically considered a “work made for hire,” which means you own the copyright. An independent contractor, however, is different.

While any legitimate work made for hire will give you the copyright, just because you created a work for hire agreement with your independent contractor doesn’t mean the work actually falls under the category of a work made for hire.

According to the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 101) a work made for hire is defined as “a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas.”

This means that unless your graphic design work (or other work you paid for) meets these requirements, it’s not a work made for hire.

In order to obtain the copyright, you need to obtain a copyright transfer directly from the creator, even though you’ve already paid for the work.

The boundaries of intellectual property rights can be confusing. You can protect your business by playing it safe and not making any assumptions before consulting an attorney to help you discern the specific laws in your state.

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