Building and maintaining a solid reputation.
Don't let yours get damaged, learn how to protect it.
Michael Toebe is a Reputation Coach and a specialist for reputation and crisis communications. He serves both individuals and organizations. Michael is dedicated to helping both of these to solve their reputation problems through communication management and with protective measures. He is the Founder of the Reputation Times newsletter and author of the Reputation Crisis. He has also published some of this works in Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, Corporate Compliance Insights, Training Industry and the New York Law Journal. Let's get to know more about Michael:
WikiExpert: Reputation coaching is indeed a very unique type of coaching, what inspired you to do this?
Michael Toebe: While most people do quality work in building, protecting and correcting their reputation, some people and some organizations struggle with it and compound damages. There is a need for advising, consulting, coaching and communications, services that other organizational professionals are not specialized in doing. Regarding individuals, there really isn't a specialist to help you unless you can afford a public relations firm, which can prove expensive and maybe something you don't want to pursue anyway. Most people choose themselves to build, protect and correct reputation or they assume they need a lawyer, yet lawyers and the law doesn't build a reputation and it doesn't protect or correct it outside of legal context. One can win legally and still "lose" in their profession, career, business, and personal life.
WikiExpert: Enlighten us about your journey as an Online Reputation Coach?
Michael Toebe: I help people online as another way of making myself available and another way to serve people. It also allows me to help people from distances far away from where I live and in a manner that provides great privacy and psychological safety for them. The internet is a technology that makes it possible for what didn't use to be possible. Not all services are a strong fit for online yet mine is one that works very well if a client doesn't live where I do, doesn't want to travel to me or doesn't have the ability or desire to pay for me to travel to them.
WikiExpert: What lessons have you learned along the way?
Michael Toebe: People don't really understand the damage they can do to their business, career or personal life. They also become afraid to ask for help or believe it will be expensive and not prove helpful. That mindset, decision making, and emotional belief are understandable. It's a barrier though to what is factual, possible and helpful to them.
WikiExpert: In your opinion, what is the definition of a good reputation for both individuals and businesses? Are there are differences between the two?
Michael Toebe: Good question. A quality, a strong reputation is one that both empowers you in regards to your goals, peace and mental and physical health and doesn't bring harm to your name and ability to achieve your objectives. There are differences yet, generally speaking, there are more similarities.
WikiExpert: You help businesses with solving their reputation issues, how can a negative reputation ruin a business and how do you help your Clients to solve this?
Michael Toebe: A damaged reputation brings with it lost trust, credibility, revenue, and profits and can in worst-case situations drive a company out of business. I've seen that happen. It usually happens because of not only recklessness but arrogance in resistance when it comes to responding wisely to the reputation crisis. I offer smarter problem solving, which focuses on communication and behind-the-scenes remedy of the issues to restore or rebuild reputation with a business’s stakeholders, which can be more than clients/customers and prospects. It can be employees (I see this often these days), media, the court of public opinion, vendors, etc.
WikiExpert: How would you advise an individual or a company who has lost their online reputation? What are the first things they should do? A bad online reputation seems more difficult to solve. However, is it possible to recover from this?
Michael Toebe: I would advise them professionally while also showing compassion to them as a person or persons. It's difficult emotionally to be in a reputation crisis. I want people to know I care about them first and in a business relationship, I'm going to take care of them as people as well as what is important to them. Just as trust and quality reputation go hand in hand, a healthy relationship, it is the same between me and a Client. I will research and diagnose the issues. Sometimes the Client may assume one or more concerns are the biggest reputation issue, not knowing and seeing what I do. I want to help provide clarity. I also determine their goals and align my services to what they want to accomplish. The first things they should do? Remain poised and be bold in reaching out and ask for assistance. Having someone who can think objectively is critical and beneficial to problem-solving. Recovering from a bad online reputation is not impossible in the vast majority of circumstances if you know what the problems really are, how to properly solve them and are willing to do them or let someone do them for you and with you.
WikiExpert: Can you give an example of a situation where an individual or company had previously lost its reputation but managed to overcome it?
Michael Toebe: You might be surprised to learn this is more common than you think. Look at Martha Stewart. Prison. Now back being successful professionally. Robert Downey Jr. was a humiliated drug user and his career is the strongest its ever been. Chick-fil-A might have a name that is repulsive to some yet they are both financially successful and loved by others. Why? Because of their attitude in their stores, the service and the product so many enjoy. They also just announced they will not provide financial support to organizations that caused pain to a segment of the population. I expect their reputation will improve even more over time. American cars once had a reputation as an inferior product in comparison to imports. That is no longer true. The public now values domestic vehicles greater than it once did.
WikiExpert: In one of your previous articles, you spoke about how your reputation can win inside of the court but lose on the outside of it. Why do you feel this way and has this happened before?
Michael Toebe: First, thank you for noticing the article. Many times when people have their reputation in an adverse situation or crisis, they get angry and fearful so they do the only thing they can do, legally. Since they can't take matters into their own hands, they believe their only recourse is hiring an attorney. If an out-of-court settlement can't be reached, that means court. Whether someone gains remedy, whether psychological, financial or vindication though the law doesn't necessarily mean their reputation is golden outside of the legal system. A business could lose customers, Clients, and prospects. The media might still report unfavorably about them. The public might believe that justice was not done. An individual may "win" in court yet the media might report more on victims. A person could lose their career, romantic and family relationships. A famous person may lose sponsors and endorsements. Or look at President Trump. Even if he is not impeached, will he really "win" in the eyes of so many in the media, government, and public? I know you know the answer to that question. O.J. Simpson was once found not guilty of two murders. His reputation, however, was as bad as it could be because the public didn't believe justice occurred. Simpson then behaved poorly afterward, further angering the public. Yet he "won" in court.
WikiExpert: How do you advise Clients to maintain a healthy and solid reputation?
Michael Toebe: This is a more complex question than you might imagine and depends on a Client's personal situation and specific challenges.
WikiExpert: What was the most complicated case that you have worked on?
Michael Toebe: Honestly, there are complexities to every Client challenge for which I've been asked to provide services. I find them all challenging. I did have one request, for which I provided a proposal, a proposal that the Client did not feel comfortable doing, that was going to be a very difficult project. It was a well-known person in a high-paid profession who was charged with domestic violence that cost him his career. Reportedly, and since I was hired, I did not research it, it was a not-unheard-of reaction to a medication he was taking. Yet the abuse was terrible. He was never going to be reinstated unless he could problem-solve that crisis. His reputation was ruinous professionally.
WikiExpert: What makes reputation coaching an absolute must for businesses? How can they benefit from it?
Michael Toebe: I would answer this way - reputation building is an absolute must for any business as well as any professional. Learning how to respond wisely to conflict and adversity is vital. Yet many people can do this reasonably well. When it comes to a reputation crisis, most people do not respond wisely and skillfully. That's just factual. Yet firms, companies, hospitals, Doctors, Politicians, law enforcement, athletes, entertainers, etc. firmly believe they respond well. That is self-deception.
The wisest know they don't know everything. As a college roommate once told me, "you don't need to know everything. You just need to know people who know what you don't." I don't know who taught him that but I had never heard it and it was a revelation. That is the value of knowing and having a reputation specialist for your professional and personal life and for business. The services act as capital building, a form of insurance and risk management.
WikiExpert: You are currently writing a book about reputation crisis. Which is great! How is this going and when will it be launched?
Michael Toebe: That is so kind of you to say, thank you for mentioning it. I am in the proofreading and editing stage and hope, financially permitting, to publish in the first quarter of 2020. It is loaded with insights, interviews and takeaway lessons, for both individuals and businesses.
WikiExpert: Apart from reputation coaching, you also offer other online services such as stress and anger management. What do you cover in these sessions?
Michael Toebe: My primary services are advising, consulting, coaching and communications for reputation and crisis communications, for high-profile individuals and businesses. Yet you're right, I do private coaching too for stress management, assertiveness, emotional intelligence skill development and mastering healthier anger responses. I help people understand their triggers, how to self soothe and in essence rewire their interpretations, reframe language in their heads when triggered and respond, not react in a more beneficial manner, protecting their best life and reputation.
WikiExpert: What do you enjoy the most about your career? What is the best part of it?
Michael Toebe: Great, great question. I enjoy helping people in an area where they need a specialist they can trust who can help them navigate stressful, high-risk situations in life and do it safely. The best part is helping them succeed, leaving them to feel better or safer or redeemed.
Now, let's get to know a little more about Michael:
WikiExpert: If there was anything that you could change about your past, what would it be?
Michael Toebe: We all have regrets. I'm no different. I look back and wish I would have made different decisions professionally and personally. I wish I could go back and correct mistakes and errors. I too have learned the benefits and costs of reputation. I allowed stress to be larger than it should and made poor, costly decisions. I allowed anger to do the same. I had my reputation attacked and assumed I knew how to protect it and despite responding to it, I failed, terribly. It was painful. That's one reason why reputation is personal to me so a Client can know I walked in reputation crisis myself and did it on my own and suffered. They can learn from my mistakes and choose a professional.
WikiExpert: Have you ever been in a challenging situation in which it seemed like there was no way out of it, but you managed to overcome and recover from it?
Michael Toebe: I love reading or hearing stories like the one you're asking me. I'm a person of faith so I believe the times I've been able to overcome or overcome and succeed were because of God's grace, mercy, and help. I've also been blessed to have angels around me. What I mean by that is God placed good people in my life, seemingly out of nowhere, to help me through valleys and deserts.
WikiExpert: When you're not coaching and helping others to build their reputation, where can we find you? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Michael Toebe: You can find me at home, coffee shops, out walking or home reading, writing, cooking, enjoying music or following sports. When the family has time for me, I enjoy that gift. When I can spend time with a friend, that too is a wonderful life.
WikiExpert: Name three things that you cannot live without?
Michael Toebe: Are you a genie granting me wishes? I'll take you up on this question. I'd say my family, health, and friendship (which I've learned is not only beautiful but invaluable in the hard, painful times in life).
Book a session with Michael Toebe today to win back your lost reputation!