In the book, Who Owns the Ice House? authors Clifton Taulbert and Gary Schoeniger discuss eight powerful life lessons derived from an unknown entrepreneur named Cleve Mormon. Growing up in the 1950’s, Taulbert had the opportunity to work for his Uncle Cleve at the Ice House. In doing so, Taulbert acquired more than just a paycheck each week but valuable insight, stories, and experiences that impacted his outlook on life and his own entrepreneurial development. In each chapter, Taulbert introduces a different life lesson and how we can apply Uncle Cleve’s key messages into our daily lives to achieve success and make our lives count. One chapter that I found to be persuasive and inspiring was chapter 6, “Brand”. This chapter focused on the growth mindset and belief that building a strong brand or reputation on trust and reliability will give you the power to overcome challenges and gain exposure to new and exciting opportunities that lead to real world success. “Your brand is your reputation. It is the message you send to the world about who you are and what you stand for” (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010, p. 135). Being a student and a member of the USF Track and Field team, I found myself inspired by how this simple life lesson on building your brand or reputation could benefit me as a student athlete and lead me to a successful career in Sports Management. Whether a student in school or a professional in the working world, the value in a reputation empowers anyone to find success, achieve their goals, and make their brand known.
Connections to Personal, Business, and Military Life
Over the course of being a student athlete and employee, I have rarely missed classes, work, practices,or submitted late assignments. Because of my notable pattern of attendance and discipline, I gained the reputation of being responsible and reliable by my instructors, coaches, and employers. Recently when completing applications for employment and financial assistance, I was asked to provide two letters of recommendation from non-relatives. In response to the request, I obtained three letters of recommendation from my coach, instructor, and neighbor all validating my trustworthiness, work ethic, dependability, and praising me for “earning a first-rate reputation” at my high school. It was at this time that I experienced the value in a reputation that empowered me to secure employment and awarded a monetary scholarship. “Your brand is the reputation you acquire as the result of what you do” (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010, p. 136).
Throughout the chapter “Brand”, Taulbert reflects on his Ice House memories of Uncle Cleve stressing the importance of building a reputation on reliability. According to Taulbert, “Reliability is a basic concept that can expose a world of unlimited opportunities, regardless of where you are right now” (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010, p.136). One connection he made to Uncle Cleve’s key message on the lesson of building a reputation or brand was when he started his own marketing business. After selling his first machine, he quickly learned the value in a reputation and the role he had in every sales transaction. He understood that his customers were not only buying his products, but they were buying his reputation too (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010). A brand that he controlled and developed based upon reliability, integrity, trust, and a promise made to his customers. A reputation that empowered him to become an award-winning author and a successful entrepreneur (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010).
Another connection made to the value in a reputation was during the time Taulbert served in the military. His reputation of exhibiting a strong worth ethic and respect towards his peers and command superiors followed him throughout his military career and empowered him to quickly advance in the ranks landing a permanent assignment in the commander’s office (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010). An assignment that required a top-secret security clearance where his friends, relatives, and employers were asked to define the characteristics of his reputation (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010). “Your brand is the result of your actions, and your actions stem from your beliefs” (Taulbert & Schoeniger, 2010, p. 135).
What the Experts Say
In a recent article entitled “How Your Reputation Affects Email Marketing and How to Improve It”, it reflected on the impact a company’s reputation or brand has in the email market. A company’s market reputation is critical to whether its product or service gets sent to its target audience as normal delivery or spam (Roesler, 2017). In a recent study conducted by Return Path, it examined over 4 trillion email messages to determine and measure the impact a company’s reputation has on email market and inbox placement (Roesler, 2017). The study confirmed the value in a reputation indicating that highly reputable email marketers were more likely to reach their intended target market on a consistent basis compared to other marketers (Roesler, 2017).
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In an article entitled, “Should Entrepreneurs start with a Reputation or Idea?” it compared the different approaches that leads an entrepreneur to success. One idea was to build a reputation with a personal brand while the other referred to creating the perfect idea and allowing the reputation to form itself (DeMers, 2018). Research conducted by Kauffman Foundation examined the different approaches and supported the concept that building a reputation first may be better than starting with an idea (DeMers, 2018). In addition, the research confirmed the value in a reputation indicating that founders with a pre-established reputation had more access to resources and a larger target market to release their ideas and find success (DeMers, 2018).
Another article supporting the value in a reputation was found in Psychology Today where it discussed the importance of building a good reputation and how it is one of the most important assets a person has (Lickerman, 2010). It listed the benefits of a good reputation indicating that it serves as a great marketing strategy, inspiration to others, and a motivation to continually improve yourself (Lickerman, 2010).
In reviewing the different life lessons illustrated in Who Owns the Ice House? I found the common concept behind Uncle Cleve’s key messages was the importance of developing an entrepreneur mindset. When you apply the life lessons on choice, opportunity, action, knowledge, wealth, brand, community and persistence to our daily lives, you are sure to recognize opportunities, overcome adversity, and experience real world success. Whether a student in school or a professional in the working world, the value in a reputation and developing an entrepreneur mindset empowers anyone to find success, achieve their goals, and make their brand known in the world today.