Whether we like it or not, the accumulation of our attitudes and interactions leaves a mark on the people around us, and this reputation will follow us throughout life. Your punctuality, your work ethic, whether or not you meet deadlines, whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, all reflect who you are and the community you represent.

Building a reputation will open or close doors to opportunities for you. For better or worse, your reputation will follow you even beyond business hours. A strange story about the hijacking of an airplane can give us an idea of the importance of this topic.

“Smile! You’re on candid camera!”

Allen Funt was a charismatic publicist, producer, and broadcaster who was known as a prankster. In 1947, he had the idea of playing practical jokes on people, recording them, and playing their reactions on the radio in a program he called “The Candid Microphone.” This program became so popular that years later it was adapted to television under the name Candid Camera.

At first it seemed that people did not understand the concept of the program. Many thought it was cruel to deceive people with practical jokes. Funt devised a way to combat the critics by adding an iconic catchphrase. When he played pranks on people, just before they lost patience, the show staff would say: “Smile! You’re on candid camera!” And in the end, everyone laughed.

The program became a success, making Funt a celebrity of comedy television and practical jokes. However, this fame would put him in trouble.

What made the hijacking of an airplane confused with a practical joke?

On February 3, 1969, Funt, his wife, and two young children boarded Eastern Airlines Flight 7 in Newark, New Jersey, bound for Miami, Florida. After about an hour in the air, two men rose from their seats, took out knives, threatened the stewardesses by placing a blade to one of their necks, and advanced to the cockpit.

After a few minutes, a voice came on the speakers in the airplane cabin and asked if anyone knew how to speak Spanish. A short time later the pilot made an announcement: the plane had been hijacked and would now head to Cuba.

The passengers were terrified. They looked at each other, trying to understand what was happening. It was then that a woman recognized Funt, who was sitting in a seat near the front. “Isn’t he the host of Candid Camera?” she said in a loud voice, pointing to Funt. The rest of the passengers began to look at him and gradually they started to laugh. 

Funt repeatedly tried to persuade his travel companions that the kidnapping was real, but to no avail. Many set out to find where the cameras were hidden. As Funt’s daughter recalled, there were even passengers who applauded and reclined in their seats to continue enjoying the trip. After a few hours, the plane landed in Cuba.

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What kind of impression are we leaving?

What kind of reputation do we have in our profession, in our community, or in our family? Are we known as being responsible and hardworking individuals, or as partygoers and lazy people?

At the end of the 90s, the concept of “personal branding” was introduced, a practice that has gained strength in the business world. It refers to the idea of caring for our professional image very meticulously, as if it were a commercial brand.

Keeping this in mind, take care of your personal reputation. Try to make a good impression on the people you deal with, and be especially careful about what you post on social media. In the words of the wise King Solomon: “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas? dbarahona@lanoticia.com