Steven Giovinco

Be honest and follow your path. Don’t listen to others or get distracted by fear. Instead, try to move through the challenges.


Steven W. Giovinco is an online reputation management and repair specialist in New York, holding Master’s degrees from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and Yale University.

He started Recover Reputation because of the need to build his own online presence and saw the value of focusing on high quality work that is completely hands-on. Previously, Steven ran a social media and SEO business working with small to mid-sized companies. Other experience include running Lifetime Television’s internal communication site and other applications, connecting over 500 users across the country, and being a consultant at Lehman Brothers where he redesigned their sites to be more user friendly for 10,000 employees.

Steven is an avid fan of tennis, British television shows and is an minor art collector.

Where did the idea for Recover Reputation come from?

Basically, I started the business because I had to. Since I had no web presence about five years ago, I needed to build my own. I was running a social media and SEO businesses, but besides word of mouth, few leads came online. So at night and in off hours, I learned online reputation management and built my own reputation (mistakes included), to gather more leads and business.

The big “light bulb” moment came, however, when a client asked if I could remove a negative Yahoo News link. Since this showed up at the very top when searching for their business, this was hurting their bottom line dramatically.

I thought about it for a moment, said yes, and used the skills I learned when building my reputation. After a few weeks, I was able to successfully remove it and they were ecstatic.

Right then I saw the immediate value of online reputation management. If something negative was on the first page of Google searches, it was extremely damaging for the business; if suppressed, they thrive. Unlike SEO and social media, where value and sales can be hard measure, I was able to calculate that a one negative link could cost a firm $30,000 or more.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

The day starts at about 8am, where I pause, think about the day ahead, and plan what to do. After starting with the obligatory email and social media check, I look for important news relating to reputation management by reviewing Twitter feeds, major publications such as the New York Times and Washington Post (which are usually check several times a day), and share or comment on relevant pieces.

Next, the focus shifts to client work.

A good deal of the day is spent reviewing strategy and pivoting to new solutions for clients. The status of each case is carefully reviewed daily to determine where improvements can be made.

Usually, this revolves around crafting original and well researched content, such as blogs, white papers, videos or presentations and finding the right place to share it on. For example, a completed blog might be posted to a handful of appropriate platforms and then re-written into bite-sized paragraphs for micro-blogging sites, or made in a slide presentation, which is also shared. Much of this research, writing and producing is more of a late-night activity, so the day might end at 10pm or later.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Essentially, by not being afraid new ideas. If a new approach or solution comes up, I let it percolate. If it seems to have merit, I jot down bullet points and perhaps codify it into a blog post. Once fleshed out, this might be appropriate for a client, or be implemented as a new business approach.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Being known as a “thought leader” or expert in a niche field. This has expanded further into many other industries to beyond just traditional ones such as finance, law and other professionals. It’s a great way to be have clients gravitate towards your business.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Ironically perhaps, pausing. When it feels impossible to move forward or it seems I’ve hit a brick wall, it might be time take a walk, go to the gym, have an early lunch or read the paper for five minutes. After a break, the solution usually comes. It’s something I learned from a boss when working as a consultant for a large investment bank. He “forced” us to take lunch together rather eat at our desks. As a result, productively–and happiness–was much higher. That’s something that I’ve never forgot and try to use it daily.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be honest and follow your path. Don’t listen to others or get distracted by fear. Instead, try to move through the challenges.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Facebook is a complete waste of time and is not useful. Maybe this has become obvious those of a certain age (younger than about thirty). It’s become the “department store” of social media, trying to offer something for everyone, but as a result, fails. It also charges for posts to be seen on news feeds. However, for reputation management repair purposes, it’s still a good idea to have at least a minimal Facebook presence, since Google still values it highly.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Follow your intuition. Although this has taken a while to trust, this has become one of my most important business tools. After extensive research and assembling all the facts, the final decision is based on instinct. This is especially useful when deciding what trends are brewing, where to shift focus, and what are the best repair solutions that are not quite on the radar yet. Intuition helps in determining who to form strategic alliances with too.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Being of service. This means always focusing on the client. For example, at the initial call, I start with giving information away, especially if it’s a quick solution that solves their problem. I would never charge for something they can do on their own, (certainly if it’s easy like requesting Facebook to remove a fake account).
This helps me sleep at night but it also is good business. I frequently get referrals from people I help. Also, by sharing real solutions online, it builds trust which translates into more leads and clients.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Working with the wrong clients. Initially, when starting out, I had little discrimination: I’d work with nearly anyone. As a result, some clients didn’t pay, and some seemed to continue to deserve their negative online reputation (they still were bad people).
I’ve overcome this by realizing I don’t need to work with everyone that requests my service and can (seemingly) pay. If there are red flags, I can move on or recommended to a colleague who might be a better fit.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Write blogs. Spend as much time as possible writing an original article or white paper that solves a common problem or that offers a solution. Give information away, and help others.
This shows you as an expert in your field, makes it more likely that you will appear in the top of Google searches, thus leading to more business.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Having a VPN account (and it might not even top out at $100). For business, it provides additional security and helps me see what local Google searches appear like in other states or countries for clients (since Google customizes searches based on location, among other things). For personal, it allows for watching British and Australian television shows that normally would be restricted in the US, and is essential for watching tennis and other sports.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I track leads and contacts using Salesforce. Two features that are extremely useful are calendar view that shows due dates by day or week, and email templates which make for efficient responses to inquiries, follow-ups and reminders. Both are invaluable.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

There are many excellent business or entrepreneurial books, so I’ll mention one that I remember from freshman English class,”The Elements of Style“, by William Strunk and E. B. White. This reminds me as an entrepreneur that things can be complex but also clear.

What is your favorite quote?

Focus on the solution, not the problem.” This means to not dwell on what is wrong, but to instead, determine how to move forward.

Key Learnings:

Follow your intuition. After extensive research and assembling all the facts, the final decision is based on gut instinct.

Be of service and always focus on the client. Helping and giving away real information is good for business since it builds trust and develops more clients.

Focus on the solution, not the problem.”

Be a “thought leader” by writing blogs and giving information away to help others. This shows you as an expert in your field, makes it more likely that you will appear in the top of Google searches, thus leading to more business.


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