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Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump might have listened to Buffet’s sound advice during their time in the spotlight.

As lawyers and marketers, our reputations and personal brands – even ahead of those of the firms we work for – speak loudly, and they deserve our attention and maintenance. When a crisis hits, a positive reputation can be the key factor in a successful, graceful exit from the ring of fire. Jared and Ivanka provide a great case study when it comes to professional reputation management.

You can’t have it both ways. For the past four years, it seems that Jared and Ivanka have been a bit wishy-washy. When it suited them, they were the loudest advocates for and closest allies of their father; but when it did not, they faded out of sight. The problem with this is that in the process, their reputations became difficult to discern outside of Donald Trump’s orbit. And when the insurrection happened, it became impossible to separate them from these events.

The demise of Javanka invites us all to take the time to strengthen our personal brands. When most people hear the term “personal branding,” they often think that this refers to building their social media presence or increasing their followers. Yet I believe that we as people each have our own personal brand that we subconsciously reinforce through our actions every day. When you write thank you notes on custom stationery or order the same dish from the same restaurant every time, you are creating patterns that people come to associate you with. This personal branding is also applicable in your professional life as a lawyer or marketer. When I think of my own personal brand, I imagine my friends, family and colleagues would mention that I’m a news junkie, love hot pink, always have a big iced coffee always in hand, and rock my “PR STAR” vanity license plate. These little everyday attributions, along with your work, experience, and actions, create the building blocks that become your personal brand. We each are maintaining and hopefully, growing, our personal brand integrity with what we do each day. It’s great to be aware of this, because then we can take more control of how others perceive us and take the reins regarding what we want to be known for – outside of any other person or entity.

So how can you claim and control your personal brand to foster brand integrity within your network?

First, take inventory:

Do your colleagues see you as the person who always closes the deal? Or are you the team member who is consistently running nine minutes late?

Then, start writing:

Write down your top five personal values. Then on another piece of paper, write what you would consider to be the tenets of your personal brand.

Once you have these bullets down, cross-compare them with your five values. Which notes reinforce these values, and which negate them?

Finally, start doing! Take action. Coming into awareness of your personal brand, as is, will allow you to make edits. If you don’t want to be seen as the person who is always running late, make all your watches run five minutes fast.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reinforce the need for us all to invest in our own reputation management. Even if it takes Buffett’s allotted two decades, it will surely be time well spent.

Julie Talenfeld

President & CEO

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