How To Build Trust and How Leaders Learn

I originally drafted this with the title of “What do you stand for? Chris Brogan and Seth Godin Know”, but then I realized that might not be a good headline so I changed it before posting – who knows if either were good to begin with….

Back story and foundation for this post:

In a recent article from Chris Brogan, he shared his frustration with Timberland regarding a pair of boots he saw advertised on TV on Thanksgiving day, but couldn’t find locally in any brick-and-mortar stores. His story sufficiently details a negative experience with shoe representatives at various stores in his area with conclusive thoughts on why brick-and-mortar stores are failing and how that leads consumers to make online purchases when they would have done it at a local store. While I did not see his first version of the blog post, it was apparently very negative and he was prompted by a reader to reconsider his narrative (and for good reason too according to his followup post entitled “With Great Power”).

Any how, the original, but revised post: What Timerbland Taught Me About Retail says:

I changed this post around 100% after a conversation with Pat Phelan. He was upset at my handling of the post, and I think I can see his point. More about that in a subsequent post.

Now you should know that Chris Brogan is a prolific writer, consultant, and book author who blogs frequently about his thoughts on what it takes to be successful in today’s world, how to run a great blog and all things social media. Chris happens to be the #1 blogger in the country according to AdAge and all this from a “normal” guy sharing his thoughts on his own blog. His online success stems from his experience, authority and expertise + transparency + consistency around thought leadership. The word ‘trust’ fits in there somewhere too since he can be trusted for what he says and is coauthor of a new bestselling book, Trust Agents.

Why does Chris Brogan or this Story Matter?

I respect what Chris has to say and what got my attention is how he reconsidered his own thoughts and opinions about his experience after hearing others chime in. Not just personally, but as it related to his brand and his blog and seemingly how he viewed himself and how others view him. This shows that leaders really are learners too. As he learned more about this experience, he revised his views and then went on to share his new view post haste. Remarkable to see such transparency in a leader.

Stand up and Stand Out

This brings up two key thoughts. What do you stand for and how relationships are built online.

Continuing with Chris as my real world example (hope you don’t mind Chris), I’ll just keep working through this scenario to reveal how important it is to stand for something and how relationships are built online.

What do you stand for?

People are quite familiar with this question, but it can often be hard to extract or define because we tend to stand for things based on situations and we typically stand for things based on core beliefs. I can’t claim to know exactly what Chris Brogan stands for, but I’m guessing it’s based on trust, leadership and transparency.

According to Seth Godin, another thought leader and online trail blazer has a better way to illustrate this concept and shares it well in his Authenticity post from a few months ago:

Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not “being who you are”… because if you’re inconsistent, you’re going to get caught.

Yep, that’s a good way to be recognized for what you stand for, how/what you are. So, in the quest to stand for something, start by being authentic, which Chris does in his blogs and video posts.

This gives way to how being authentic is at the core of building relationships online (and in life). Mainly because people want to trust and if you can be trusted you’ll win and keep them. Again, Seth Godin chimes in:

People and brands and organizations that stand for something benefit as a result. Standing for something helps you build trust…”

How do you build online relationships?

Being authentic is a key factor. That authenticity leads to trust which is at the foundation of all relationships. In another blog post regarding Seth Godin, Small Biz Bee shares another insight from Seth:

Seth says we should be asking ourselves “Are their people out there I’d go out of my way for, and would they go out of their way for me?” That’s what you should be tracking.

And how do you get there? By going out of your way for them, and earning the privilege of one day having that connection be worthwhile.

While that may seem obvious, we can not all go out of our way for everyone all the time. That’s what leads me back to Chris Brogan. In his post, “With Great Power”, he actually brings you into his thoughts and experiences and the consequences of his actions with the earlier Timberland post. By sharing his new findings, he creates more trust in all of us who follow and read his blog. This new level of insight on how Chris thinks and sees this allows us to buy in a little more. Its this buy in that makes us connect to Chris even though he may not know us. In business terms, we are increasing our loyalty to his brand – just because he consistently can be trusted.

For me, this leads me closer to him, I make a note to read him daily instead of ever few days, I revise my mental note of “maybe” buying his book, to “I will buy his book”. This is social media at it’s finest. Chris like Seth sells himself, his thoughts, his ideas, his passions and I buy into them, one blog at a time until ultimately, the trust, the relationship, and the message is solidified into action. That’s how you build a relationship online.

What this means to you:

If you are considering how you build relationships, what you stand for, and how to use social media in your life, start with authenticity and trust, act consistently and don’t stop learning or sharing. Also, take Lucy Beer’s advice on social media because she’s right, when it comes to a life online and social media, it is about self expression, being personal, and growing as an individual.

Are you trust worthy? Do you stand for something? How are you growing as an individual?

Fear or Confidence – Unclutter Your Mind

The mind is the most powerful computer in the world, but it’s vulnerable and hackable. If you are feeling overwhelmed or having problems “shutting off”, change the way you are thinking about things. Try running a personal defrag on your biological hard drive and separate your cluttered mind into black and white sectors – free up your mind for good.

The things on your mind are like the people in a crowded room, you can’t really think with all that noise, but you try. While you may feel like you have many things on your mind, most of it can be grouped into these 2 categories: Fear and Confidence.

The Looming Buzz of Fear:
Things that you fear will gnaw at you like a fly flitting around your food or a mosquito in your ear. These fear clouds tend to hover over you, raining on your actions, ideas, and goals often producing a double negative impact by locking up your mind and also interfering with the things you have confidence in. Your fear factory includes these things:

  • New ideas or concepts you don’t understand but want too
  • Problems (work, personal, intellectual) that you don’t know how to solve
  • Statements you want to say but are unsure or wish you said, or regret saying
  • Something you did or didn’t do that you regret

The Funhouse of Confidence:
Things you are confident in tend to be more like a pinball game in your mind often beeping, bumping, and bouncing around in constant action only limited by your time, energy and circumstances. It’s your confidence in these things that keeps your mind playing with them, juggling them until you can deal with them. These things are labeled as “easy” or “fun” items but often flood your mind and chew up brainwidth until you act on them. Your cockpit of confidence includes these things:

  • Tasks and to-do items of all shapes and sizes and priority
  • Problems (work, personal, intellectual) you have a solution for
  • Ideas you want to develop
  • Statements you want to say or will say in the future
  • Good intentions

Once you know that crowded room in your mind is really just full of fear clouds and pinballs of confidence then you’ll see that crowded room take shape to something manageable – very manageable.

Now that you have them in black and white, or rather categorized as fear of confidence, get them out! Process the demons, write the tasks, schedule the activities, move the ideas to goals and goals to task items and take action on the good intentions and things you want to say or already said.—- just start doing it – don’t think about it, get it in motion from inside of you to outside of you… This purge will free up your mind and make you more productive and more focused. I call it “buffering” once you move the simple stuff out – on paper, in a note, in an email, whatever, your brain no longer has to buffer it. Your mind can just let it go, trusting the note or activity of getting it out will be enough and it will move on to other things.

In short, brain dump on paper or the white board, or whatever is best for you as often as possible. That stuff, the stuff you are juggling, really doesn’t need to be stuck inside your head chewing up your brainwidth.

Take action – do it today and feel better and be better.