In a speech delivered at a University of Bridgeport presidential inauguration, the speaker, an academic of stellar worldwide repute, talked about what differentiates an entrepreneur from a professional.
The speaker also said that when it comes to a professional, the most important thing they have is their professional reputation. One works years to develop a positive professional reputation. The great difference between the professional and the entrepreneur is that while wealth can be reacquired, a good reputation is exceedingly hard to rehabilitate after it is lost.
Sacrificing the time we'd otherwise spend with our families, many of us spend a considerable amount of time taking postgraduate seminars and keeping up with the literature, constantly improving our skills and knowledge. We spend hours in the evenings and weekends attending to our medical records and emergency patients, and contributing to the many charitable and civic causes in our respective neighborhoods. We do the right thing, rather than taking the easy way out, simply because it's the right thing to do. These are fundamental attributes of professionals, and they progressively develop our positive reputations in our communities.
There was a recent assault on the reputations of about 250 sports chiropractors around the country. E-mails were sent out informing people that "someone" had reported something negative about those chiropractors on a "consumer awareness" Web site and that for $250, they could hire this person to help remove the negative information. There was a link to the Web site. A colleague, Dr. Todd Narson, told me he clicked on the link and found that he and hundreds of other sports chiropractors were being accused of some pretty heinous stuff.
One could have ignored it and expected it would go away. There was another easy way out: simply pay the $250 and have this person remove the information. But many of the people on the list were well-known and they were all great chiropractors with stellar reputations. There was no guarantee that if the payment were made, the harmful information would be removed from the Web site.
If information exists on the Internet for too long, it has the potential to exist on the Internet somewhere forever. It was imperative that this information be removed ASAP before it did some serious damage to the reputations of many great chiropractors.
One of Dr. Narson's patients is a police detective who connected him with a cybercrimes detective, and a case was opened. Immediately, the detective confirmed it was a scam and began investigating. Within a half hour, the investigator found that the Web site was being hosted in Nassau, The Bahamas. However, because it was out of the country, he couldn't do anything directly and had to partner up with some colleagues from other cybercrimes cases who had international connections.
The U.S. Secret Service was called into the investigation a day later. After a couple of weeks, it was able to find a good contact with the authorities in the Bahamas and the U.S. Secret Service worked its magic. Within three weeks, the Web site was shut down and arrests were made.
The important point here is that the reputations of good, hard-working professionals were in jeopardy and something had to be done. The doctors who were targeted appeared to be the members of the Florida Chiropractic Association's Sports Council and the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians. Several state board members were also targets. Our collective reputations hung in the balance.
One online mistake can have devastating consequences. Everyone has seen or heard of a video that "went viral." Imagine that same thing happening with a lie about your reputation. The Internet doesn't forgive or forget. When is your reputation worth drawing a "line in the sand" and not budging? Each and every time. If you've worked hard to achieve your knowledge and skills, and build your practice and your reputation in your community, then you understand the value of a reputation is priceless.
A good reputation cannot be purchased; it must be earned and once lost, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to rehabilitate. And yet despite how hard we work to develop, improve and maintain an outstanding reputation, far too many people will simply sit there and allow their professional reputation to be stolen.
Whether you want to be one or not, you are an ambassador for the chiropractic profession. Draw a line in the sand, as Dr. Narson did, and protect it at all costs. One mistake and you could be done. If you're done, the rest of us may not be too far behind.
Click here for previous articles by Stephen M. Perle, DC, MS.