Personal branding: Bring a lost reputation back to life

"It is possible to rebuild a lost business reputation, says Luke Johnson, Chairman of Channel 4 Television Corporation in his Financial Times' column: "In fact the most popular speech I have given is a catalogue of my worst mistakes and what I hope I have learnt from them."

"One of the great myths of business is that your reputation is your most precious asset – and that you can only lose it once. In truth, throughout my business career I have been meeting buccaneers who have been rehabilitated and are now feted. They might have been personally bankrupt, mismanaged companies or been thrown off boards for scurrilous behaviour. But, provided someone has not been convicted of mass murder, it seems most things are forgivable;" writes Luke Johnson, Chairman of Channel 4 Television Corporation in his Financial Times' column.

"As François de La Rochefoucauld said: “Whatever ignominy or disgrace we have incurred, it is almost always in our power to re-establish our reputation.”

The most straightforward way of repairing your reputation is to become very rich. It is extraordinary how large sums of money bring on bouts of amnesia in the grandest investment bankers who would previously have been the harshest critics."


Luke Johnsons favourite corporate resurrection is that of William "Billy" Durant, the heroic industrialist who founded General Motors, lost the company and won it back six years later.

If you risk you can fail
Luke Johnson writes: "(...) Those who take risks are human and will sometimes fail. In fact the most popular speech I have given is a catalogue of my worst mistakes and what I hope I have learnt from them. I delivered it as a contrast to the endless boasting we hear from too many TV-star entrepreneurs. Invariably, those who have stumbled and then recovered are more rounded characters for the experience (...)."

"Apart from money, the other cure for “financial difficulties” is time. The merry-go-round of commerce revolves swiftly and, after a few years, most of the faces are new: fund managers, analysts, journalists, bank officers and so on. In bull markets, greed will soon overcome those concerns about a slightly chequered history and, for the right proposition, investors, lenders and cheerleaders will soon be queuing up," notes Mr. Johnson.

His favourite corporate resurrection is that of William "Billy" Durant, the heroic industrialist who founded General Motors in 1908. He built an automotive empire in just two years through 30 acquisitions: "The manic corporate activity led to losses, and eastern bankers forced him out. So he resigned and founded Chevrolet, which was sufficiently successful that, six years later, he was able to regain control of GM."

"He was a rogue who cut corners but he still created in a few years what rapidly became the world’s largest business. If capitalism becomes so bureaucratic that it cannot cope with such freewheeling adventurers, we are all doomed."

Luke Johnson likes George Bernard Shaw’s remark: “My reputation grows with every failure.”

"The vital thing is to keep grafting away, and ignore the critics and brickbats as far as you can. Talent, originality and persistence will normally get you to your preferred destination in the end, whatever the sceptics say," Mr. Johnson states.

Luke Johnson studied medicine at Oxford and subsequently joined investment bank Kleinwort Benson as an analyst. In 1992 he organised the acquisition of PizzaExpress and floated the business on the stock market at 40p. He was chairman of this business until 1999, at which time the share price was over 800p and the business had a market capitalisation of over £500m.

Mr. Johnson is Chairman of Channel 4 Television Corporation and on the board of Interquest, Superbrands, Giraffe, GRA, Seafood Holdings, Patisserie Valerie and APT Controls. Previously he was Chairman of Signature Restaurants and a Director of IDH.

---
Read more:
www.ft.com

 


The rise and fall of Billy Durant

William Crapo "Billy" Durant (December 8, 1861–March 18, 1947) was a leading pioneer of the United States automobile industry, the founder of General Motors and Chevrolet who created the system of multi-brand holding companies with different lines of cars. He made several come-backs during his career - but ended up by living on a small pension provided by Alfred P. Sloan on behalf of General Motors. Mr. Durant managed a bowling alley in Flint, Michigan until his death.

Read full story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_C._Durant