Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Do We Make Trust A Four Letter Word?

Hi!  Please watch this video of Daniel Newman, CEO of United Visual, who is a very smart and all around nice guy:

Amir and I had the pleasure of meeting with Dan last week to learn a little bit more about him, his business, and his management philosophies.  There were a host of good things that we discussed and I managed to capture some of that on video.  Today, I'd like to capture this first question we asked of him which was specifically around how, as a CEO he grants trust to others.

I've captured some of the things he said that piqued my interest and, needless to say, would like to get your input as well.  When he grants trust, it is because he believes:
  • that someone has the right intentions and has high integrity.
  • that someone is exactly how they present themselves.
  • the solutions offered are out of a genuine desire to help.
  • that it's best to give a little trust ahead of time and watch for results.
  • that because his time is precious, it's best to earn trust quickly because once you're "on the other side it's hard to gain it back."

Dan the CEO versus Dan the person.

You'll notice that in the beginning of the video that I asked him how, as a CEO, he grants trust.  And yet, the answer that Dan gave was as Dan the person and the sincere answer he gave was his personal model that he has adapted for business life.  Obviously, Dan the person is Dan the CEO but the lack of context in the answer is what I thought was so interesting as it could have been in any context.  

So let's talk about this further.  There are a bajillion really good, meaningful and valuable conversations taking place these days about authenticity and transparency in business, social media, etc.  And, you could argue that this question about trust fits within all of those good conversations about how human business interactions are taking place these days.  And you'd be right to do so.

I guess, sitting back, I wonder that we have to have these conversations in the first place.  Beyond our early school years and conversations at the dinner table as kids, we rarely have discussions about the processes we use to grant our trust to others in the context of personal relationships.  It's just something that becomes a part of us as we age, mature, have life experiences (good and bad), etc.  We don't have to over analyze it per se.

So why over analyze it in business?

Chiefly because we behave other than our authentic selves in our drive to win new customers or keep current ones.  The pitch is what matters and we're desperate to push features and benefits of things we want to sell (typically high margin) to people like Dan.  But senior leaders like Dan, though they assess a solution/product on its merits, what they are really looking for is a partner who appears to be the real deal.

Senior leaders like Dan want to sense that the person with whom they are engaging genuinely wants to help -- a radically different thing from someone who just wants to pitch.  As I said in this post, emotional drivers are the ones that make us give or withhold business.  We don't use emotions to justify rational decisions (based on features and benefits).  Rather, it's our emotions that color how we value/assess discrete facts and figures -- and ultimately drive what we buy.

If you don't believe me, I ask you to please watch the video again, share your thoughts and, if you've found this an interesting read, please share with others.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

1 comment:

  1. Very few people achieve "trusted advisor" status. Of course many people claim that they are a trusted advisor. You know when you arrive there when your desire to help, is genuine. As Idea Chef explains it here, putting your clients needs ahead of yours is critical. Its not selfish but the right thing to do. The few trusted advisors we have met, actually don't call or know themselves as one. However their clients and colleagues would refer to them as a trusted advisor. Whats most interesting of all, its the first 10-15 seconds of what they say that makes them stand apart. Thats how i felt when I first met Dan.