A Reading List on Trust (For these Untrustworthy Times) from Our CEO

Recently, I had the privilege to meet with fellow CEOs and marketing leaders and present on the topic of trust. Specifically, how trust is changing – rapidly – and how businesses need to get ahead of these major shifts and become trusted themselves.

To help inform my talk “How to Win Customers in an Age of Distrust,” I consulted with some of the following resources. I hope you find them as illuminating as I did.

Rachel Botsman, Who Can You Trust?

Rachel Botsman is an advisor on trust to numerous companies and professor at Oxford. In studying trust relationships, Botsman has a unique grasp on how trust is shifting from what began as local, person-to-person trust, to upward-flowing institutional trust, to our current phase of what she calls “disseminated” trust – trust spread over hundreds or thousands of people in technology-enabled networks (think the Uber network of drivers).






Stephen M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust

During my presentation, I asked the audience to ruminate on the following quote from Covey: “Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust… In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.”

This is tantamount to why you need to build trust before something happens, not after.





B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy

This updated edition of Pine and Gilmore’s classic The Experience Economy discusses the relatively new idea of information parity – that consumers, aided by technology, now have much more information that they previously relied on companies to give them. This information makes them more discerning customers, but also fatigued by the obligation to research and choose what’s best. There’s an opportunity for businesses to become genuinely trusted and, by extension, forego the consumer’s need to research them.





Harvard Business Review, “Broken Trust” (five-part series)

As if it read my mind, Harvard Business Review released this five-part series on trust as I was putting the final touches on my presentation. From articles on our present-day trust crisis up to how to apologize well when your company makes a mistake, this series is a great primer for where trust is right now.




Business Insider,A Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on 2 criteria when they first meet you

One of the attendees at my presentation sent me this article: A Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on 2 criteria when they first meet you from Business Insider as part of a thank-you note (clearly, everyone’s thinking about trust, now!). I loved these subconscious questions that Harvard professor Amy Cuddy has identified people ask themselves upon meeting a stranger:

  • Can I trust this person? (warmth)
  • Can I respect this person? (competence)

Warmth is an added dimension to trust that can’t be discounted.

Cuddy’s book Presence is a great read, and her Ted Talk is one of the channel’s most popular with more than 53 million views.


Have you read anything on trust lately? Have opinions about these readings? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn @MediaFace.

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