Burnt Bridges: The Scorched Earth Style of Brand Building


I am a firm believer in the philosophy you reap what you sow. So I’ve tried to remain vigilant about the way that I treat other people, especially when it comes to business. I haven’t always necessarily been successful, but I’ve tried. Being Nigerian and an uber-Taurus, surpressing my pride, ceding ground in negotiations or admitting I’m wrong, are bitter pills to swallow. But I recognize that no one wants to deal with an asshole, and I comport myself accordingly.

Only you can prevent burnt bridges.

Only you can prevent burnt bridges.

There are others, I’ve come across, who take an entirely different approach to the public perception of their brand.  I call them ‘scorched earth’ brand builders because of their take-no-prisoners, devil-may-care approach.  They do and say what they want, when they want, to who (or is it ‘whom’?) they want, regardless (or in spite) of the consequences.  

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Don’t burn bridges” or “You attract more bees with sugar than with salt.” These (and many more like them) all speak to the principle that it’s better to curry favor, than alienate people. Scorched earth-ers could care less about currying favor.  They live life and treat people with a singular focus, themselves (think Benjamin Linus from Lost).

I tell my clients (and the youth I mentor) that you should never utter an unkind word about another (publicly) lest it come back to bite you in the ass. You don’t want to be known as a back-biter, hater or gossip. More importantly, maintain your reputation at all costs. So much depends upon reputation – guard it with your life (Law No. 5, 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene).

In business (and life) relationships are paramount. You never know who knows who (or is it whom?). So even if you have utter disdain for another, its always best to keep those feelings bottled up, and play it close to the vest. Maintaining a even veneer (even toward your enemies) will help you navigate effortlessly through fans and foes alike.

You always want to be cognizant of what you leave in your wake.

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