Always Stay Open For Business

Last week, I explained how the recent federal government shutdown crisis was illustrative of how the inflexible, arrogant attitude displayed by many of our leading politicians is just as devastating to your brand’s competitiveness as it is to the effective functioning of bipartisan government. This week, I will look at how you can make sure your brand always stays open for business, even when the shortsighted actions of others threaten to close it down (after all, Congress itself did not shut down due to its members’ poor decisions, but most departments of the federal government did!).

Rise Above

Unlike those poor federal employees who had no choice but to take a furlough while Congress slowly sorted out its mess, your brand does not have to get stuck in whatever maelstrom may surround it. Many offices are hotbeds of “office politics,” with all the rumor, innuendo, backstabbing and plotting that go with it. Or maybe a potential client wants you to agree to do something immoral or unethical as a condition of obtaining an assignment.

The best, and only, way to avoid shutting your brand down for business is to rise above the noise and the negativity. Playing office politics may provide some short-term gains, but in the long term will likely derail your career and shut down your once promising brand. Nobody really likes or respects a suckup, or a tattletale, or a Machiavellian schemer. A brand built on hard work and top-notch results may take longer to create than one built on office politicking, but will go much further for much longer.

And no matter how much short-term opportunity a client who asks you to violate basic principles may offer, in the long term your work for them will besmirch your brand’s reputation and shut the door on true success. Decline the opportunity if they will not budge on their unreasonable demand. Also if you find yourself in an office situation where playing petty politics is truly the only way to get ahead, find a new office ASAP.

Work through the Furloughs

I’m not blaming the furloughed government workers for staying home, they had no choice. But you do have a choice. You will encounter many “furlough” situations while building your brand – salary and hiring freezes, a reduction in standard invoice rates from clients.

If you let your efforts and productivity slump during these furloughs, your brand will not be the first one people turn to when times inevitably turn good again and the furlough ends. If your company cannot give raises or promotions (which means very likely their competitors cannot, either), by keeping up your top-notch efforts throughout the difficult period you will be in prime position to move ahead when the freeze is lifted. Accepting a reasonably reduced rate from a client during lean times makes them much more likely to call upon you when their monetary diet is over. I’m not saying you should sell your brand short, just make sure it stays open and busy.

Don’t Be a One-Trick Pony

Many politicians exclusively focus on only a few key issues or even one key issue. This myopic approach to running the country helps produce the environment that caused the shutdown. Exclusively focusing your brand on only one or a few key skills or areas of expertise will have the same results.

Build a well-rounded skill set and always take every opportunity to broaden your expertise base. Do this within reason, obviously – nobody wants to hire a banker/ dentist/salesman/drummer. But a banker/investment advisor/financial analyst/estate planner has a lot of options to keep their brand running.


For leadership coachingprofessional development training, customer service trainingcustomer service tips, college success tips, or to learn how to build a personal brand, how to improve customer service, or  how to succeed in college, contact Michael D Brown, a premier leadership speaker, customer service speaker, and college motivational speaker at,, or

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