Can I tell you a story?

You’ve heard me talk about the power of stories. They are truly how us humans communicate best and have done so even before we had the spoken word. I’d like to tell you the story of why my company’s tag line is and has been, “Truth is the New Currency”. And I hope after you’ve heard my story, you might adopt something similar. But first, here’s some key reasons for my position on trust and truth.

  1. The economy doesn’t run on money–it runs on truth and trust.
  2. Just like our parents told us, tell the truth – trust is hard to earn and so very easy to lose.
  3. Lack of trust = skepticism. It’s a direct, ugly result. It’s hard to measure “healthy” skepticism. Although many people like to say that’s what they have.

There’s tons of examples of people and companies doing things that make it seem as though truth is unattainable.

My story on truth and trust runs deep. I was raised in a household that didn’t offer as much safety as others, so trust was not all that innate to me. Early on, I got into the commercial real estate industry, where there’s lots of reasons to not trust the people and the companies that make up the culture. Along the way I had a driving need for truth and transparency and began a learned journey to have it. I wanted to work with people that I could trust and I knew in my gut that it was going to make a big difference in my career. A difference worth focusing on. Heck, a difference even worth evangelizing about. As part of my commitment to grow my business based on trust and mutual benefit for all parties, I discovered and read a book, The Death of Competition by James F. Moore. Wow! I found my guiding light. This was around 1997, a time when doing business collaboratively seemed tough and talking about business ecosystems seemed out of step with current thinking. When the “information age” started – with so much content available from so many places, I worried that it would be hard to separate truth from non-truth. It seemed to me that many of the trusted sources some of us had grown up were going to be crowded out with both reliable and unreliable information. That’s when my mantra, “Truth is the New Currency” was born. And yes, it was born, not “created”. No branding exercises. It just came into existence and I’ve never looked back. Truth = trust and that’s all I needed.

So, that’s my story. I hope you have a similar one. I hope too, you believe that customers will pay more, tell others, and come back when they trust you. I hope you believe that skepticism and suspicion destroy motivation and teamwork, brings everything into question, promotes suspicion and slows processes and results. I’m not telling you anything you haven’t felt and seen for yourself. Consider the insurance scandals, misconduct by our highest government leaders, athletes hiding drug use, entertainment icons involved in sexual abuse, the mortgage and banking meltdown, financial fraud, and the generalized and pervasive executive greed that has bilked investors and employees. Where’s the truth? When it’s not present, we have a giant petri dish breeding lack of trust.

The cost is high. How high? Research from a study of 453 buyer-supplier relationships of automakers dealing in three countries (Japan, South Korea, and the United States), gave empirical evidence of the economic value of trust. The research showed the automakers’ transaction costs were five times higher with the least trusted supplier than with the most trusted. It just costs more to do business when people aren’t truthful. Trust can’t be present without truth.  I could cite lots of studies that yield similar results. And facts, otherwise known as “truth” build trust. There’s good reason my dear friend and business coach who often quotes Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former presidential adviser, Harvard professor and four-term United States senator with – “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” Facts are truth. Truth builds trust. Think about how we are using technology to create both truths and trust. One of the best examples is your credit score. It’s really a trust score – if a bank trusts or doesn’t trust you on the basis of your historic (truthful) financial responsibility, your ability to borrow money is impacted.

Where there is trust and truth, money will follow. Sorting out the truth and gaining trust in business is way more than delivering good stuff on time at reasonable prices…everyone can and does that. I acknowledge that trust is a big and fuzzy word. Really, what is it? Can you measure it? How can you build it? Coming from a place and demanding truth helps. We know that when it’s not there, and when it is, we feel it, but we can’t always describe it. It’s sometimes elusive. The best I’m able to describe it is as that feeling that comes when one makes decisions easily because there’s been a relationship built based on honesty and trust is present. I know I’m helping others trust me when I share things that make me feel a little vulnerable. I do that by sharing with others the pitfalls, setbacks, mistakes and challenges I’ve faced which have made me the business owner, wife, mother, friend and professional, all of which are jumbled up to create the person I am – always operating with integrity and looking for truth. I know it’s working as I look at my surroundings filled with people like you who let me into your world with my written and spoken words. And for that I’m grateful.

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