Reputations are Built On Actions

“When people show you who they are, believe them; the first time.” – Maya Angelou

Mary Moore Headshot
Mary Moore, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Pulse Design Group

My friend, Mary, worked for the same firm for nearly a decade.  Her work was stellar; she built solid relationships; she enjoyed her assignment.  However, with two young children at home and a third on the way, she and her husband made the decision she would resign her post and stay home with the kids.  She was excited for this new adventure!

Life was good… everything was going as planned… and then, BAM!  Out of the blue her husband’s position in medical sales was eliminated.

Once the initial shock wore off, Mary went into problem solving mode – she needed to find a job and FAST!  Thinking about what a great experience she had had with her former employer, her first call was to them.  And, guess what… she was offered a position on the spot!

That’s not all.

Since her original job had already been backfilled, both Mary and her former employer recognized that working at the old firm probably did not make sense long term.  They told her she could stay as long as it took for her to find another position and, by the way, they would help!  And, they did.  Mary, with her former employer’s assistance, found a perfect opportunity for her to help grow an organization in a related industry in a discipline she loves.  It’s been just over a year since Mary took the new assignment and she has never been happier in a professional capacity.

As I learned about Mary’s good news story, these lessons came to mind:

  • Social capital is acquired by doing great work and building solid, trusting relationships. If you are in need, those with whom you have earned social capital are more than willing to let you cash in.
  • Never burn bridges. It should go without saying, which is precisely why it bears repeating!  Whatever the circumstances, remain professional and never sever relationships completely – you simply never know when those very people are the ones you will need to rely on to help you out of a bind.
  • Live your truth. Always behave in line with your principles and most deeply held values.  People will know who you are by the way you behave – through your actions, you will build your brand.  It’s the things you do – not just the things you say – that define who you are.  If you want to be well-respected, liked, admired, turned to… you must earn it.

Do you have a story of a time when you were able to cash in on earned social capital?  How about a story of time you burned a bridge?  Or, were you on the receiving end of one of those transactions?  Please take a moment to share your story at

4 thoughts to “Reputations are Built On Actions”

  1. One of my most valuable professional experiences began after closing a company I co-founded. I emailed the more than 2000 people I’d met during that chapter explaining my interest in special projects, another CEO position, or employment – all with a succinct list of criteria. Then at UMKC, Dr. Patricia Greene, now at Babson, responded with a series of projects for entrepreneurship program development that sparked a new chapter of opportunity and restored my energy for the entrepreneurial life I love (even when disappointed by failures!) It was the perfect bridge to my continued work developing my own ventures while mentoring other solopreneurs. I recommend this approach often to those between sources of income, which is what we all need – right? Could come from a job, a gig, or self employment.

    1. Fabulous story, Dodie! Isn’t it amazing how our network rises to the occasion when we are in need? How wonderful that you have built such a solid one. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. I had worked for a company for almost six years and had moved into a role I loved and excelled at. An opportunity arose to be CFO of a small start-up organization, and I jumped at the chance. During my exit interview with our CEO, I was honest and direct about the reasons I chose to leave, but did not bash individuals or the organization. I left them with ideas on what I saw that could be improved, as well as what I should have done differently to remain engaged at the organization.

    Five weeks later I resigned from the new organization for a variety of reasons. When I called my former CEO for a reference, he not only agreed but offered me interim consulting work while I searched for a new role that would engage me. Ultimately they got some extra help while they conducted their search for my replacement, and I was able to generate an income while I looked as well.

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