CEO Reputation Can Kill or Strengthen Your Business

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship Personal Branding / October 19, 2013

 Michael Ballmer

Imagine for a moment, the immense pressure that must come with the control of a multi-million or sometimes billion dollar company. How many jobs are at stake with every decision that must be made? How many product releases will be delayed by your indecisiveness?

Some people are cut out for the pressures of this job. For others, the work is less becoming. Some are outright failures who ought to be ousted, and yet somehow persist. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, know that the things you do in your personal life can easily cross over into your professional world. Consequences can be dire too, often costing millions to settle differences or manage reputation in times of crises.

Ballmer’s Culture Kills

Perhaps the most consistent aspect of Steve Ballmer’s career is that his instincts have almost always been wrong. Ballmer’s decisions on mobile music, his failure to successfully launch the Zune brand and his troubles breaking into the tablet market punctuate a career full of missteps. Seemingly unaware of the speed at which technology moves, Microsoft has consistently underwhelmed PC users since 2002. Within two years of taking the helm, shares tanked to $20 down from as high as $60.

New products were constantly delayed, and those that did make it out (like Surface and Windows RT) have been looked at as failures. In fact, the products released by Microsoft were so bad that customers actually tried to actively avoid upgrades by purchasing older versions.

Ballmer’s risky strategy on Windows 8 ultimately killed his opportunities at Microsoft, but he’ll be stepping down within the next twelve months. So it goes.

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Mike Duke Caught Bribing

When Wal-Mart expanded globally, Mike Duke’s International business unit bribed officials in Mexico, and along with other executives, attempted to cover the whole thing up. The company is currently under scrutiny by the US Department of Justice, which has ordered Duke to appoint a law-firm to scrutinize company practices.

Wall Street is even less satisfied with Duke, whose enthusiasm about online growth is less than stellar. Rising competition from dollar stores, and a seeming unwillingness to adapt to the online sector have some whispering of his demise. Wal-Mart’s employment policies and the scandals those have created have also tarnished the brand reputation, inspiring entire towns to rally against the construction of new stores.

Whatever the board decides to do with Duke, one thing is clear: shares aren’t skyrocketing under his leadership.

Mike Jeffries and His Preferences

CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch Mike Jeffries made a remark in 2006 about not wanting unattractive people to wear his clothes. He admitted that he was glad his clothes did not appeal to a certain segment of the market, saying that he wanted “the cool kids” to wear his merchandise.

The interview, conducted in 2006, found new life when the Web found it and created a social media uproar. Jeffries’ marketing strategy is deliberate, but off-putting. His advice? Deal with it.

Bob Parsons Kills Elephants

When the CEO of GoDaddy posted a video of himself killing an elephant, the social media back lash was almost instant. Gurus across the Web were asking site owners to pull their domains from GoDaddy, including high-profile websites like Wikipedia.

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Apparently Parsons intended to kill a raging elephant that was destroying crops, and provide food for the people of a starving village. He dismissed critics as good natured, but ultimately wrong. This only threw fuel on the fire and gave more credence to statements against Parsons.

Eventually the backlash did soften up, but GoDaddy definitely lost business from the trouble.

Marissa Mayer’s Effect at Yahoo

When Yahoo announced that it was hiring Marissa Mayer as its CEO, investors were shocked. Mayer has since met every challenge with her own style, making unexpected acquisitions and actions at Yahoo that have continued to turn heads.

She bought Tumblr for Yahoo, and has been steadily working toward integrating more of Yahoo’s services with mobile applications. Then she ended work-at-home programs for her employees and introduced a new logo as part of Yahoo’s 30 days of change program.

Mayer’s moves are bold, confident and show she is willing to take the reins of the ailing search giant.

Reputation Management Tips

Safeguarding your reputation comes down to awareness most of the time. Set up alerts for your name, and add variations like “scam” or “scandal.” These trigger words are easy to search for and may be suggested by Google if you don’t take steps to correct your image.

Create a Web use policy for your company and your employees where everyone knows what is ok to share with the public at large.

Kevin is an account director at Online Rep Management and has been working within internet marketing and public relations for over 8 years. Kevin got his start working online in SEO, link building, and some affiliate marketing. Kevin is most passionate about helping good brands become online entities. Check out ORM or follow Kevin on twitter!

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About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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