Branded By The Company You Keep

I remember when President Obama campaigned the first time and I was awestruck just like everybody else.

And then they said he went to a church led by an anti-Semite, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and I said ho-ha, that’s really stupid of you to judge the candidate by a few statements by a pastor.

I said, look at Obama standing there in Sderot (Israel) saying that he would protect his own daughters from missile attacks. You are wrong about him and he understands the situation that Israel faces.

And now there is an adviser to the President, Valerie Jarrett, who clearly has a very strong hold over him. I am not sure what the story is with her, or with anti-Semitism in the White House. But one thing I do know is this: When I send tweets to the President with personal comments, I include his Chief of Staff in the note.

That, right there, is a powerful statement about branding. It’s not just you anymore. You are branded by the people you hang out with.

Sometimes my kids will tell me to pull stuff off of Facebook. I am a fairly opinionated gal and I put stuff up that’s out there. In particular I find pedophiles the most vile and putrid class of humanity, if one can call them humanity, in existence. And if a Jewish person, or worse a rabbi is found guilty of hurting little kids then I go absolutely ballistic online.

So I’m not tame. And sometimes they’ll say, I know you’re passionate about the cause and you’re right about what you’re saying, but can you tone it down a little bit, Mom? Because my friends read up on what my family posts, and I am known by the company I keep, which is you.

Jewish people who do matchmaking the old-fashioned way check up on one another’s families. We don’t go by the the boy and girl alone. We want to know who the parents are, the grandparents, the brothers and the sisters, and so on. If you’ve got a Torah scholar in your lineage that’s what we call “yichus,” or great lineage. Maybe it sounds archaic but everybody wants to line up with a “purebred.”

You’ve probably thought about this when you take a job. If the company has a good brand name, you’ll be more motivated to work there: Apple, Google, Starbucks, and so on. I can tell you that one time Microsoft talked to me about a job, but I sort of went yeccchhh because they’re such an uncool brand, it’s actually negative for me in terms of brand equity.

You are known by the neighborhood where you live, too. Remember “Pretty in Pink,” that ’80s movie with Molly Ringwald (my teenage heroine)? She didn’t want her wealthy boyfriend Blane to see where she lived, because she was poor, and it would have marked her as lesser than the status she aspired to.

When I want to know about a person I talk to them, but I am more curious about the people they hang out with. Their life in the group tells me more about their identity than any psychologist could want to know.

Who is in your “circle of trust?” Look in the mirror: It’s really you.

Other people know it also.


All opinions my own. Photo credit: Cloudtail/Flickr

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