THE BLOG

Online Ads: Can They Ruin Your Reputation?

09/02/2010 03:24 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Susan Harrow Media Coach, Author of 'Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul'

Perhaps. If not handled carefully.

I visited an Aikido site that appeared to be run by a serious teacher who stated that he was "an author and Aikido instructor, 6 dan Aikikai." He also teaches the sword art iaido. He seemed to have substantial credentials but as I scrolled down his home page there was an ad for an Asian dating site where I could browse photos.

Although Aikido is a physical training that can feel intimate given the close body contact mixing carnal ideas with the rigors of self mastery felt inappropriate.

In addition, the subhead of this Aikido site was "the peaceful martial art." The video clearly demonstrated what the website's owner had a certain level of mastery, but all of that good will and trust was shattered when I saw a photo of a comely young Asian girl thrusting out her chest invitingly.

The next Google ad that popped up was from a firearms training institute, which made me ask myself is this in keeping with the author's promise of promoting "a peaceful martial art?" As much as Aikido is Budo it doesn't advocate guns as part of its martial practice, so it goes against one of the core teachings of peacefulness.

I imagine that this instructor may have no idea that these Google ads are viewable on his site since they rotate regularly -- yet it warrants attention, the same close attention that's paid to technique, attitude and comportment -- in and out of the dojo (training hall). Part of the philosophy of Aikido is to consistently carry your training off the mat into your life to live a harmonious existence.

In an instant your reputation can be hampered or destroyed with such simple thoughtlessness. I remember one accomplished senpai (mentor or teacher) in our dojo losing his temper quite dramatically when he hit his head on the wall taking ukemi (the art of falling or doing a roll) when he was thrown. While it didn't destroy his credibility as a teacher, his intense anger and outburst did give me pause. We are all human after all. Still, it says something about his character.

Everything you do, say, are and think from your words to your website add up to the message you give to the world. One of Benjamin Franklin's 12 Rules of Management is, "Deliberately cultivate your reputation and legacy." Don't be silly about making a few pennies from your website at the expense of your business, your reputation and ultimately your legacy.

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