November 7, 2010


The formula for trust (hand-drawn with Adobe Ideas for iPad)We won't get fooled again ... we hope.

Who can we really trust? That question keeps resurfacing in this blog because it keeps resurfacing in life.

Back in 2007, I thought I found a formula: chemistry + credentials + continuing education. The three components are still sound but not reliable enough.

This time we'll look at a better measure.

What Is Trust?

There are many definitions. Here's the best I've found:  trust is expertise plus intent. This comes from Let's Get Real by Mahan Khalsa and (now)  Richard Illig.


We can easily measure expertise through degrees, designations, awards, experience and testimonials from others like us. LinkedIn makes this easier. If you're thinking of dealing with someone who there isn't there with a thorough profile, be cautious. What are they hiding? Why are they hiding?

You're on LinkedIn too, aren't you?


"... he took out a fountain pen and wrote out a cheque for a hundred dollars, conditional on the fund reaching fifty thousand." — Stephen Leacock, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
In grade six, I saw a poster showing a cute girl helping a cuddly chick. The caption said the smallest of actions is bigger than the grandest of intentions. Another poster showed a hippo's open mouth and a caption saying that when all is said and done, more is said than done.

Since talk and fancy brochures mean little, how do you measure intent? The easiest way is with ongoing visible proof.


Recently, we discussed how the ideal advisor has chemistry, credentials and generosity. Here's the connection with trust.

Chemistry: your intuition tells you if you like them. If you don't, you can stop here because you have many other choices.

Credentials: this is covered in the section on Expertise. You'll want to deal with people who can do the underlying technical work according to today's standards.

Generosity: this the best measure of intent. Look for proof that's consistent and persistent. And unconditional. The best place is online in text, audio or video.

Fooled Again?

Yes, we can still get fooled. Applying this new definition of trust is an excellent filter. Will it last? Let's check back in another three years.


Podcast Episode 91 (3:21)

direct download | Internet Archive page

PS How do you decide who to trust?

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