News & Opinion

Smart Trust

January 10, 2012


It seems that cynicism has become a national pastime. Politicians don’t trust each other. Businesspeople don’t trust the politicians and much of the public doesn’t trust either group.

It seems that cynicism has become a national pastime. Politicians don't trust each other. Businesspeople don't trust the politicians and much of the public doesn't trust either group. What's a society to do? According to Stephen M.R. Covey, son of legendary business and self-improvement author Stephen R. Covey, the answer is to learn to trust again. Not in a nave, get steamrolled sort of way, but in a smart way. His latest book, Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low Trust World, was written with Greg Link who is cofounder of CoveyLink and FranklinCovey's Global Speed of Trust Practice and with Rebecca R. Merrill, who coauthored First Things First with Dr. Stephen R. Covey and Roger Merrill and Life Matters with Roger Merrill. She assisted on The Speed of Trust. The authors' say their intent is:
"... to share these insights and applications with you—particularly the 5 actions these people and organizations have in common. In doing so, we will share some of the stories of these "outliers of success" and how the high-trust relationships and cultures they are creating result not only in the greater economic prosperity trust brings but—even more inspiring—in greater levels of energy and joy."
The book is replete with examples of how smart trust has been a catalyst for making things happen. One particularly enlightening passage involving high stakes:
Moments of Trust...Almost daily, most of us have what we could call "moments of trust," single instances in which our behavior enables us to build, extend, or restore trust or to diminish it. How we respond in those key moments, large or small, often has a disproportionate impact, sometimes beyond our wildest imagination. One remarkable moment of trust occurred for Mark Zuckerberg right after his social networking service, Facebook (then called Thefacebook), was launched in 2004. Zuckerberg had entered into a verbal agreement for critically needed funding with Donald Graham, the chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company. Just a few weeks later, the Accel Partners venture capital firm bettered the offer by $4 million. At a dinner with one of Accel's co–managing partners, who was trying to close the deal, Zuckerberg appeared to tune out of the conversation. He left togo to the bathroom and didn't come back. InThe Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick wrote:Cohler [one of the first executives hired by Zuckerberg] got up to see if everything was okay. "There, on the floor of the men's room with his head down, was Zuckerberg. And he was crying. Through his tears he was saying, 'This is wrong. I can't do this. I gave my word!'," recollects Cohler. . . "So I said, 'Why don't you just call Don up and ask him what he thinks?'" Zuckerberg took a while to compose himself and returned to the table. The next morning he did call Graham. "Don, I haven't talked to you since we agreed on terms, and since then I've had a much higher offer from a venture capital firm out here. And I feel I have a moral dilemma," Zuckerberg began. Graham had already talked to Breyer, so he was disappointed but not surprised. But he was also impressed. "I just thought to myself, 'Wow, for twenty years old that is impressive—he's not calling to tell me he's taking the other guy's money. He's calling me to talk it out.'" Graham knew that even his first offer was very high for a company so tiny and so young. . . . "Mark, does the money matter to you?" Graham asked.Zuckerberg said that it did. It could, he went on, be the one thing that could prevent Thefacebook from going into the red or having to borrow money. . . "Mark, I'll release you from your moral dilemma," said Graham after a twenty-minute conversation. "Go ahead and take their money and develop the company, and all the best."For Zuckerberg, it was a huge relief. And it further increased his respect and admiration for Graham. Obviously, Zuckerberg has many years still ahead of him, but what has happened following that "moment of trust" has been nothing short of astounding. Today Facebook has more than 800 million active users worldwide and is literally redefining our world in ways both small and great, from enabling youths to share everyday thoughts with friends to fueling massive social movements, such as the 2011democracy uprising in Egypt. In 2010, Zuckerberg was namedTimemagazine's Person of the Year, and today the company is valued at more than $80 billion and continues to rise.
The authors have observed five traits common in the successful, high-trust anecdotes they tell. They use those traits to provide what they call a "... lens to see how trust issues impact every situation and how you can cut through traditional either/or thinking to extend what we call 'Smart Trust,' enabling you to operate with high trust in a low-trust world by minimizing risk and maximizing possibilities." The authors have provided an extended look at what can happen when trust is again employed in a smart way. The book premiered yesterday and the authors are offering a private, interactive telecast on Smart Trust January 12th for all those who purchased the book this week. This authors say this will be a full hour of pure, informative content withnosales pitch. They have agreed to provide free access to 800-CEO-Read customers. Just go hereto register after buying the book.  

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