Paul Revere’s Ride

Mary Rosenbaum | June 24th, 2009

This is an article I wrote some time ago but thought it is a great way to highlight the importance of having a strong reputation – a strong personal brand. Enjoy.

We have all been hearing about the importance of networking, being knowledgeable and credible in your industry, knowing your target audience, and having a strong compelling message. Whether you’re involved in a job search, growing your own business or franchise, or developing your career, the aforementioned skills are critical to your success. I want to share the following story I read about in Malcolm Gladwell’s book  The Tipping Point.

On the evening of Paul Revere’s famous ride, there was another man who took a different route on his way from Boston to Lexington. His name was William Dawes.  It’s no surprise that few people have heard of him. Although he went to as many towns in a similar amount of time as Revere, he was unsuccessful at rallying the troops. Why is that? It was the same message, the same urgency, an identical audience, but yet he did not mobilize the troops in any effective way. It was initially believed that the towns Dawes went to were British sympathizers when in fact that was not true.

Can you figure it out? Well, it turns out the Paul Revere was intensely social, a great networker and connector. He knew a lot of people and had traveled extensively between Philadelphia and New Hampshire, stopping at the many towns in between. So when he made his famous journey from Boston to Lexington, he knew on just which doors to knock and who would help mobilize the townspeople. He knew his audience and how to propel them to action. Where he was less known, his strong social skills enabled him to persuade them of the impending danger.

Throughout his life Paul Revere was known for gathering and passing along valuable information to the people who would make the most of it. Specifically, he was considered highly credible when it came to information about the British. His compelling message was given greater weight by his strong reputation as being knowledgeable about the British and having reliable information.

William Dawes was not equally blessed with the same skill set or experience as Paul Revere. He was less well traveled; much of his work was centered in Boston. Consequently, he didn’t know the right doors to knock on. Additionally, he didn’t have the reputation that prompted others to believe his message of the dangers ahead. Without a strong reputation and credibility that preceded him or knowledge of the people he was calling on, Dawes was doomed from the start as an effective messenger.

Great story! So continue networking, building relationships, and building a strong reputation because you never know when you’re going to have to knock on someone’s door.