top of page

Your Reputation

This Expert Adulting Module Will: 

  • Help you understand just how much your Reputation affects your life every day - positively or negatively

  • Show you how you can manage your many reputations

Most Important Things To Understand

  1. Your Reputation is what OTHER people believe about you - right or wrong. Based on it, people will decide how they will treat you, if they will hire you, if they will date you, if you will get that apartment & much more.

  2. You can affect your Reputation by consciously choosing and, if desired, changing, the actions you take / don't take and the words you speak, text, write, Tweet, etc.

  3. The better your Reputation, especially in the minds of the people and organizations you care about, the easier your life will be and the more opportunities you will have.  

5 star Reputation

Questions For You to Answer

(see info below for how)

  1. What’s my in-person Reputation now?

  2. What’s my online Reputation now?

  3. What am I willing to do if I’m not completely happy with any of my Reputations now?

Related Topics

Why Do I Care About My Reputation?

The quality of your adult life depends on what THEY find – whether the information is true or not.

In many adulting situations other people have the power to decide whether you will get what you want or not. What they decide is based on what they learn and think about you – your Personal Reputation.  

Your Reputation will help decide:

  • If you get that JOB or not

  • If you get that DATE or not    💘💘

  • If you get that special OPPORTUNITY or not

  • If someone will give you that RECOMMENDATION you need  🗹

  • If you get that MONEY (scholarship, loan, credit) or not  💲💲💲

  • If you get into that SCHOOL or not

  • If you are able to rent that APARTMENT or not

  • If you get to KEEP your job or not

Black women shrugging shoulders

​Your Reputation will significantly affect your future and what opportunities you will have. 

Personal Reputation - Jeopardy TV Show Host


Mike Richards

Not so long ago the news talked about a man, Mike Richards, who auditioned to be the next “Jeopardy” game show host against many well-known celebrities. He got the job and it was announced with a lot of fanfare. Someone then dug up a podcast from years ago when he said some things that were judged by others to be improper. Those past remarks immediately changed his Reputation in the eyes of the people who were making the hosting decision and he has since lost the new hosting job AND the job he had been working in previously.

#MeToo Movement

“Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to Reputation.

The #MeToo movement has destroyed the careers of many actors, celebrities, politicians and others – probably including at least a couple of innocent people. Innocent or guilty, those peoples’ entire lives changed as soon as they were accused – that’s how influential your Reputation can be. 

Personal Reputations in the News

Personal Reputation cost this lawyer a lot of money

Lawyer Loses Clients

     There’s a lawyer I know who lost a lot of money and at least several customers just by doing one simple thing that changed his Reputation. What did he do? He put a political sign in the front yard of his office. 

     By putting his personal views on public display some of his customers’ opinions of him were changed (his Reputation changed in their minds). For some, his Reputation improved because he supported who they supported.   For some, his Reputation didn’t change because they didn’t care. For some, his Reputation dropped enough that they took their business somewhere else. 

     The important question is – did he think about the possible repercussions to his Reputation and business BEFORE he put the sign out? Did he think ahead to what he wanted out of life and his business and then make the decision that putting up the sign was a good idea? 

     That’s what Reputation management really is – thinking about what you say, where you are saying it, and the potential consequences BEFOREHAND.

What Is a “Personal Reputation"?

Personal Reputation - what other people believe about you based on what they’ve seen and heard.

If you are a serial killer but hide your misdeeds and publicly donate a lot of money to charities, you may have an outstanding Reputation. Your image as someone who cares about people because of your donations doesn’t change who you are - a serial killer - but it does change what people believe you to be. What others believe about you is your Reputation.


Your Reputation follows you everywhere and for all time. Technology can now keep records and media (photos, videos, podcasts, etc.) available forever. 

Warning Light - Your Reputation follows you everwhere


Your Reputation frequently ‘arrives’ before you do. People know something about you before they ever meet you in person or you speak a word to them.  What they find could prevent you from EVER getting to see them or it could open doors to opportunities you would have never known existed.

Warning light - frequently your Reputation arrives before you do

How Did I Get My Reputation?

Pictures of last night ended up online

I'm screwed, oh, well . . .                    

“Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry

Your Reputation comes from other peoples’ interpretation of your current and past words and actions (including those pictures that ended up online like the song says! 😊). 

Since other people can’t know everything about you, your Reputation is based on only the part of everything you’ve said and done that that person or organization has learned about. 

The important thing is if the Reputation you have (in the minds of the people and organizations you really care about) will encourage them to help you get what you want or prevent you from having it.

Whether your Reputation is based on the truth or lies, the whole story or just a part of it, you have to deal with the Reputation you are given and the consequences of that Reputation.

How Many Reputations Do I Have?

In-person Reputation; Man smiling
Online Reputation
Credit Score is your financial Reputation

Nowadays everyone has at least 4 types of Reputations to Pay Attention to:

  1. Your In-Person Reputations - the Reputations you have with the people who actually know you or know of you – your friends, bosses, co-workers, landlords, former dates, professors, fellow students, creditors, neighbors, etc. (You will actually have a different Reputation with each of them based on what they know about you.)

  2. Your Online Reputation - the Reputation you have from what you have posted online or others have posted about you.

  3. Your Financial Reputation – commonly summed up as your Credit Score.

  4. Your Tenant Reputation – found on your Tenant History Report if you have rented an apartment or home.  

What Can I Do to Affect My Personal Reputation?

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Warren Buffet

Chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

2021 Net Worth: $103.8 Billion

Warren Buffet quote about Reputation

Building up or tearing down your Reputation is something you do EVERY DAY. Every word you speak, everything you do or don’t do, everything you write, share or comment on all affects your Reputation. Some will have a minor effect (e.g., generally you’re seen as positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful, friendly or unfriendly). Some will affect your Reputation in a very big way (e.g., the stories in this module). 

Lightbulb Tip - Nothing is private online. Protect your Reputation.

TIP:  Nothing is private – especially online. Someone can always get to the information if they try hard enough.  Your best chance of managing your Reputation is not giving them anything negative to find!

Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy and can take no time at all to mess up your Reputation (at least for a while). Rebuilding a good Reputation is a hell of a lot harder than losing it because it takes a long time to get people and companies to trust you again. 

To build a better Reputation takes time – often years – but it can be done! Keep directing your actions and words towards the Reputation you want, both in-person and online, and they will keep building up until you have an 'updated' Reputation. 

Suggestions on How to Build a Better Reputation:

Dance like no one is watching but TEXT, POST, and EMAIL LIKE IT WILL BE READ IN COURT ONE DAY

  • Think Ahead about What Reputation You Want or Need to Have for What You Want to Do Next 
    It might be fun to have a Reputation as a party animal with your friends but if you want to get an important, high-paying job, that might not be the Reputation you want to promote (it also might not impress the man / woman you want to date when they check you out!).

  • Change / Improve Your Words and Actions Now & Going Forward 
    Since your Reputation is based on your words and actions, changing your current and future words and actions will start changing your future Reputation.

  • Clean up your online Reputation (see section below).

Plan for the Future sign
  • Think about the people, organizations, and situations you are associated with. 
    Consider distancing yourself from any people or situations that might be bringing your Reputation down. Consider building relationships with people or organizations that might enhance your Reputation.

  • When you leave a job, try to do it in a way that your boss and co-workers will still respect you and will tell others that you were a good employee.

  • When you are renting a place, make sure the landlord has reason to put good notes about you in the tenant screening database. 

How Can I Improve My Online Reputation?

Your social media profiles are possibly the first encounter that someone is going to have with you.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

Links, images, videos, social media posts, social media profiles, tweets, likes, shares, mentions, dating site accounts, retail wish lists, blog articles, comments, pins - it all gets taken into consideration when someone is trying to learn about you.

If you are not proud of what a potential employer, date, creditor, rental company, or other important person might find out about you or if you think some of it might work against you, you can work on improving what they will find when they search for you (and they WILL search for you). 

Find Out What They Might See

To get an idea of what they will find, try searching yourself.  Try multiple searches such as:

  • Your legal first and last name 

  • Your maiden name

  • Any common misspellings of your name

  • Your first & last name and each city & state you may be associated with (e.g., “John Doe, Cincinnati, OH”, “John Doe, Portland, ME”)

  • Any nicknames you go by or have gone by

  • Your name and any organizations / groups you have been or are associated with (e.g., “Dante Williams, Miami University”, “Mary Johnson, Proctor & Gamble”)

  • Your phone number

Google Search on Phone
Lightbulb Tip - Google Alerts can help you manage your Reputation

TIP:  You can set up a “Google Alert” that will e-mail you when there are new Google results for your search terms (e.g., your name).  Be sure to put your name in quotation marks so Google correctly searches and delivers results.

Improve What They Will See

If you think that anything you have found might negatively affect you in your next phase of life, put in the time and effort to clean up what you can but realize that much of it will be there forever. 

Examples of some things that may harm your Reputation:

  • unprofessional behavior

  • criminal behavior

  • drinking

  • drug use

  • offensive behavior

  • violence

  • bullying

  • sexism

  • bigotry

  • provocative or sexually inappropriate content

  • discriminatory views related to race, religion, or gender

  • comments speaking negatively of friends, colleagues or previous employers

You may also consider keeping your public image “neutral” on political and religious topics.

To Make the Results Better You Can:

  1. Remove posts you’ve made

  2. Remove pictures you’ve posted

  3. Change the privacy settings on your social media accounts to limit what can easily be seen by others

  4. Un-tag yourself from pictures posted by others (or ask the person who posted it to take it down)

  5. Follow other suggestions that can be found in the articles listed below in “Learn More (My Sources)

  6. Search “personal reputation management”, skip the ads at the top of the page (since they are trying to sell you something) and read 2 or 3 articles written by credible sources and follow their suggestions. 

Edit key on keyboard


Piggy Bank - most people don't need to hire someone to manage their Personal Reputation

Most people do not need to hire a personal Reputation management company unless 1) they are not willing to try cleaning up their own social media or 2) there is something seriously negative out there about you that needs to get “buried” by more positive items. 

What To Do Now

  1. Find your own answers to the Questions for You to Answer.

  2. Review the Most Important Things to Understand.

  3. Start really thinking about your own words and actions (ideally before you say or do them! 😉) and whether they will help you get what you really want out of life or if they may be keeping you from it.

  4. Think about how what you or others post or say about you might be interpreted by the folks whose opinions you care about (e.g., the hiring manager at the company you want to work for, the man/woman you want to date, your current boss or the Human Resources representative at your company).

  5. Can you think of anyone who might want to know this? If so, please share! 

bottom of page