Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Starting is the Hardest Part
What color do you want to paint the living room? Here are your choices: 18 decillion (that’s an 18 with 33 zeros). Yes, that’s actually a thing. Now, which ONE color would you like? Fun exercise, right?
This is how I’m feeling about my book project these days. It’s called paralysis of choice (too many choices can actually hinder a decision), or analysis paralysis (overthinking causes stagnation). Just check out this SMALL stack of books and notes at my fingertips:
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful problem, but… it’s still a problem. Yes, I’ve started. About twenty times, but I’m not getting the traction I’d hoped for to get me in the groove… yet. Maybe a random ramble might help. Brace yourself, this could get ugly.
Okay, let me back up. The original plan was to use Reputation Management (RM) as the overarching theme of my next book. I’ve done a good amount of research but haven’t found anyone writing what I’d like to see in an RM book (for use in one of my courses). My basic idea is to further divide RM into three sections: personal reputation, professional reputation, and organizational reputation. Nearly all the books I’ve seen only focus on the organization, and many of those leave out topics I consider important. Here’s an overview of how I planned to break it down:
In the personal portion, I’m very interested in discussing how one can become the actual, lived version of the “conscience of the company.” Whoa. Let that sink in. Dude… this is one heavy, loaded topic. Think about it. How do you define conscience? Whose conscience? And what ethical, moral scale are you using? And besides, is it conscious or unconscious conscience? You can see the conundrum. This topic includes all kinds of concepts from psychology, sociology, leadership, ethics, and can easily delve into spiritual matters (Yowza!).
In the professional segment, I wanted to address how one manages their professional-work reputation. This would dig into meaty topics such as commonly accepted business practices, behavioral expectations, communication in its many forms (verbal, nonverbal, social media, etc.), resumes, portfolios, and, of course, results. Like Janet says, “What have you done for me lately?!”
The third and final section would be about organizational reputation. As I stated, this section is what most RM books are about. It includes (or should include) excellent topics like goodwill, brand, image, identity standards, issues management, situational analysis, and themes like employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and crisis planning. Whew! Needless to say, there’s a lot going on here!
After meeting with a publishing consultant, and talking with several smart friends, I was strongly encouraged to reduce the scope of my book. “Each of these could be a book in itself,” was the common feedback, along with “focus on the part you’re really passionate about.” This was super helpful and led to an early inquiry of which area of interest to explore further. Easy-peasy. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m super passionate about personal growth (transformational leadership). In late August, I made the decision to significantly reduce the scope of my book and focus on personal reputation, using this phrase as my overarching directive: On Being the Conscience of the Company. Who knows, this working title may become the final title. I kinda like it.
Clear as Mud
That’s all great Bishy, but here’s the thing: I’m still stuck. Ugh. (Btw, you did not just refer to yourself in third person…?!). Anywho… allow me to continue with my rambling ways. Maybe that’ll help.
I love this idea of being, or becoming, the conscience of the company. It has real “teeth” in terms of content and it’s core to the business discipline of public relations. The world could use a few more peeps who are effective consciences of the company (hmmm, take note: quirky plural there). Am I right?! I mean, let me throw out a few names as train wreck examples: Michigan State and Larry Nasar; Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos; Bill Clinton’s definition of “is”; Trump’s big lie; Enron’s shell game; Bill Cosby; Roseanne; and on, and on. The headlines are filled with disasters, but very few exemplars. Furthermore, to my knowledge, no one is addressing it, particularly the way I’m envisioning it. Plus, it includes all kinds of fabulously juicy topics like character, consciousness, ethics, ego, personality, instinctual variants (what the…?), and all the things that geek me out like the nerd I am in this realm.
Alrighty! This is helpful. Let me start nailing down a general outline. Using my learnt skills, let’s organize the topic like a funnel, from general to specific, starting with Reputation Management:
1. Attention grabbing intro; set the stage; pique interest; maybe use real world examples
2. Reputation: What is it? What’s it consist of? Why is it important in business?
3. Reputation: Who’s responsible for this important business function?
A Good Start
Okay, this gets the ball rolling. From here, the topic naturally transitions into the heart of the book; being the conscience of the company. It’ll probably need a bit of tweaking and foreshadowing of all the fun that’s yet to come (like defining conscience and consciousness). That said, this was a helpful word vomit exercise, like tossing dirt under the tires. Hopefully this gives me a bit of traction to move along down the road. Hey friends, thanks for letting me ramble. ;)
Questions or comments about this or any of my other work? Feel free to post a message or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.