Photo Credit Willie Holdman

Intelligently Brief Insights on The Speed of Trust posted occasionally from the wild wild west of North America.

Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Smart Trust Telecast Replay Available

Friday, January 13th, 2012

If you missed last weeks telecast on Smart Trust or if you want to share it with colleagues or friends (please do) it is available now at  Thanks for all the tremendous feedback and positive reactions as evidenced by the continued strong sales of Smart Trust!  

Please help us spread the word:  Go to the help us spread the word tab on to access numerous free resources, a picture of the book, excerpts  and other digital files you can use to blog, tweet or write newsletters including Smart Trust.  Become an advocate of Smart Trust by forwarding links to friends, colleagues, and other stakeholders.  Together we can start the ripple effect of a global renaissance of trust

Thanks for being an ambassador of Smart Trust

Trust Across America Names 2012 Thought Leaders

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012


Trust Across America, the respected international think tank and research firm known for developing pragmatic criteria for identifying the most trusted organizations, today announced their 2012 list of Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behaviors.  Stephen M. R. Covey and I are honored to be included for the second year in a row in this unique and prestigious company.  We join many of our  North American mentors, and peers including Barry Rellaford, one of our business partners,  Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo who wrote the foreword to our new book Smart Trust, Tony  Hsiesh, CEO of Zappos who we interviewed for our book and numerous other long time friends and colleagues.   We are humbled to be included and intend to do our part to follow the lead of Trust Across America to amplify the significance of growing high trust cultures and restoring trusted behavior as a recognized driver to restoring our global economic growth.

Renowned leadership authority Warren Bennis, also on this list, had this to say when he read our new book: “Smart Trust is without doubt one of the most powerful and seminal books of our age. It exposes and helps solve the most dangerous crisis apparent in almost all human institutions: how to trust in a low trust world.”  

We feel that Trust Across America is contributing an important platform to as Steve Jobs said: “put a dent in the universe”  as it relates to transforming our toxic economy as it relates to trust.  We applaud their efforts.


Forbes Interviews Stephen M R Covey Smart Trust

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Forbes’ Dan Schwabel interviewed Stephen M. R. Covey about Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy and Joy in a Low Trust World in an article he called How to Build a Company People Trust.

Stephen told Dan in part:

“At its core, building trust comes down to your credibility and your behavior. In the book, we identified 5 Smart Trust “actions” that were common to high trust leaders and organizations. For example, the 5th action of Smart Trust is to “lead out in extending trust to others,” highlighting the reality that one of the best ways to create trust is simply to give trust. This is because of the reciprocity of trust—when we give it, people return it; when we withhold it, they withhold it.

Yes, a few may attempt to abuse it: but we shouldn’t allow the few that we can’t trust to define for us the many that we can. Instead, focus on building a high trust culture around the many that will help us weed out the few. And it’s the leader’s job to go first in extending trust. That’s what leaders do. The first job of any leader is to inspire trust; the second job is to extend trust. Leaders need to be smart about it, of course, because there is risk in trusting. But there is also risk in not trusting—in fact, not trusting is often the greater risk. Smart Trust helps us find the sweet spot and develop the judgment of how to wisely extend trust in a low-trust world.”

Rare new book: Touchpoints

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Rarely does a leadership book garner as much credibility as does Touch Points by Campbell’s trusted Chief Executive Doug Conant and respected intenational leadership authority Mette Norgaard.  It is a perfect blend of Mette’s hard won and informed perspective consulting leaders of many of the World’s top organizations and Doug’s real time and full time leadership of fortune 500 organizations including as the current CEO of Campbells. Norgaard has consulted such well known organizations as Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, and Finnish Broadcasting and Conant led giant Nabisco prior to taking the helm at Cambells several years ago.

As you know Stephen M R Covey and I read a lot of books.  I have been averaging one per week this year.  That said this is a clear stand out informed by two insiders that really know leadership.  Stephen M R Covey said this remarkable book will forever change the way we view leadership.  I could not agree more.  The practical reality of leading by moment to moment Touchpoints makes so much sense and is so internally validating to real world leaders and practitioners it is hard to imagine it has not been written about before.  Finally a guidebook that actually guides you on how to lead effectively now. Not now. Right now.  I strongly recommend you read it right now. You can get it at Amazon. Enjoy!

8 Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Google, in an apparent effort to regain its start up magic, started Project Oxygen to see how to stem the friction of bureaucratic management by studying the management behaviors of googles most highly effective and highly trusted managers.

Statisticians inside the Googleplex not typical HR types, gathered data (“just the facts mam” to quote Sgt. Friday).  Faux pas i know.  My reference to Sargent Friday does not cross global or generational boundaries.  Guess you’ll just have to google it.

Googles mission was to devise something far more important to the future of Google Inc. than its next search algorithm or app.

“They wanted to build better bosses.

So, as only a data-mining giant like Google can do, it began analyzing performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations for top-manager awards. They correlated phrases, words, praise and complaints.

Later that year, the “people analytics” teams at the company produced what might be called the Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.” (NY Times).  The cynics say they are reinventing the wheel and relearning what leadership experts already knew.  From our perspective their findings validate and reinforce the 13 behaviors of high trust leaders from the Speed of Trust and add reputable credence to their value.  Google has tremendous credibility here as they were #1 on Fortune’s best place to work list in 2008 and have remained in the top 5 ever since.  Google’s study reinforces the evidence that high trust organizations out perform low trust organizations and that high trust is a key to the magic found in start ups.  Magic that still works in large older enterprises like SAS 2011 Fortune #1 best place to work.

What’s next for Oprah

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

This months Fortune cover story on Oprah is worth the read.  Several interesting threads and insights into what is next for one of my favorite influencers. Early last year Zaslav hired Peter Liguori, a former programming chief at Fox Broadcasting, to be Discovery’s COO and the overseer of OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Liguori finds working with Oprah to be a little different from working with the big boss at Fox, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch:

“Rupert uses a bit more fear and intimidation,” Liguori says. “Oprah barters in hope and expectation. Both get results, but one is a lot better to experience than the other.” This is a great example of our definition of leadership: getting results today in a way that inspires trust the next time.  And there is always going to be a next time!  In addition to results trusted leadership should deliver energy and joy.

Trust is the coin of the realm.

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

“Trust is the coin of the realm.” So said then Secretary of State George Shultz in his memorable testimony before the Congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandal, on the importance of trust for credible and effective leadership. More recently, as President Obama dramatically declared in his State of the Union address, our nation’s well-being and security are hindered not only by a burdensome financial deficit, but also a crippling trust deficit.  Read this Harvard Blog post

Kellogg Financial Trust Index

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Our friend Matt Hutcheson, a global authority on 401k regulation who regularly testifies for congress, sent us this link today to a blog entry on Brightscope showing trust in organizations is only 12% as of December 2008.  They call 2009 the year of Transparency in an articulate call for more light in financial regulation.

” . . . something important was destroyed in the last few months. It is an asset crucial to production, even if it is not made of bricks and mortar. This asset is TRUST. While trust is fundamental to all trade and investment, it is particularly important in financial markets, where people depart with their money in exchange for promises. To study how recent events have undermined Americans’ trust in the stock markets and institutions in general, we have launched the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index.”

The Kellogg Financial Trust Index called trust:

The Missing Link 

“Something important was destroyed in the last few months. It is an asset crucial to production, even if it is not made of bricks and mortar. While this asset does not enter standard national account statistics or standard economic models, it is so crucial to development that its absence — according to Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow — is the cause of much of the economic backwardness in the world. This asset is TRUST. As stressed by Arrow: “Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust, certainly any transaction conducted over a period of time.” Without trust, cooperation breaks down, financing breaks down and investment stops. One can bomb a country back to the Stone Age, destroy much of its human capital, and eliminate its political institution. But, if trust persists, the country may be able to right itself in just a few years, as in Germany and Japan after World War II. Conversely, you can endow a country with all the greatest natural resources but, if there is no trust, there is no progress.”

We could not agree more.  We must all step up and behave in ways that inspire trust if we are to hope to turn the tide any time soon.  The tide will turn and this dramatic correction will shock us into taking trust more seriously much like 9/11 sparked a national sense of patriotism.  Let’s hope our paradigm shift of awareness sparks a behavior shift that is sustainable.

Trust Trumps Fear

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Sunday in a rare television interview that fear is one of the biggest challenges remaining to restart the US. Economy.  Duh!  This interview is a conscious effort on the part of the US Fed to become more transparent and restore trust.  Restoring trust again is seen as the recipe to hope.  Restoring trust on the corporate or individual level requires the same deliberate effort.  The good news is confidence is building and will continue to grow slowly as leaders continue to behave in ways to restore trust as Bernanke did by just taking this interview.

What equivalent gesture might you make to restore trust in your team, organization or relationship?

Jeff Jarvis on Trust in What Would Google Do?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Previously I mentioned that I was reading Jeff Jarvis’ new book What Would Google Do? I was just struck by his comments on market trust: “Leaders in government, news media, corporations, and universities think they and their institutions can own trust when, of course, trust is given to them.  Trust is earned with difficulty and lost with ease….Trust is an act of opening up; it’s a mutual relationship of transparency and sharing.  The more ways you find to reveal yourself and listen to others, the more you will build trust, which is your brand.” We of course, agree whole heartedly.  Jeff does an excellent job of giving us a glimpse of the implications of violating trust in a post google transparent world.  His experience with Dell is worth the price of the book alone. How we behave in this financial crisis will effect our credibility, reputation and brand for years to come.  Are you behaving in ways that inspire the trust of your stakeholders, especially your customers?

I will resist the almost overwhelming temptation to quote Jeff further and will instead, again, strongly urge you to read this book right away.  In times of trouble we need to challenge ourselves to get better and to reframe our thinking.  Jeff provokes new thinking that I believe, regardless of your profession or industry, will either excite you about the possibilities of the future or scare you enough to confront reality and change your expectations.  You know I read a lot of business books so I have a somewhat informed judgement.  I predict that this is another Tipping Point and as such will top the business lists for years to come.

Tribute to an Influencer–Dr. Blaine Lee

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

One of the world’s great business influencers graduated this week. With honors! It is with great love and profound sadness that I report the passing of a great soul, friend and author last Saturday, January 24th, a few months shy of his 63rd birthday–Dr. Blaine Lee.

Blaine was a beloved friend and mentor of 26 years to me and countless customers and associates of FranklinCovey.  His big heart and tremendous passion endeared him to all who worked with him.  His ability to bring executives to the real issues of their personal responsibility, first surprised and then delighted them.  But it certainly endeared him to them for life.  I was with Blaine when we taught the 7 Habits to Oprah and the executives at Harpo. I remember O asking me how Blaine expected her to write a mission statement when she “did not know what was around the corner”.    Watching Blaine challenge and engage Oprah was a sight to behold and he definitely influenced her with honor.

Blaine was a co founder of Covey Leadership Center which became FranklinCovey and he was instrumental in our success.  Blaine inspired countless people to influence with honor and use their legitimate power rather than resort to coercive authority.

Blaine was the author of The Power Principle: Influence With Honor which Kenny Blanchard called “profound” and Stephen R. Covey called “life changing”.  Yes it was both to me and thousands of people around the world.  Blaine Lee was one of the most influential business thinkers and influencers of his generation.

I was moved by the reminder by Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations as we wept together at Blaine’s funeral that one of the core teachings of the 7 Habits is imagining you were at your own funeral and thinking about what you would want to be said about you.  The idea is to live your life accordingly.  Well there we sat at Blaine’s funeral and realized he did just that.  Judging from the remarkable tributes to Blaine from his brother and sons and our own direct experience of him, Blaine lived up to that challenge. He left this world a better place than he found it and took with him the only thing that accompanies us out of this life, his indomitable spirit and a significantly informed intelligence.

We are confident Blaine will continue his influence beyond this world. It’s certain his influence will continue to touch our world. My dear Blaine you will be sorely missed and always remembered.   As his son Ben said: ” See you in the morning Dad!”

President Obama emphasizes trust in Inaugural Address

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Today in his inaugural address President Obama emphasized trust: “Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account—to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day—because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”  Let’s hope that he can live up to that ideal.  To overcome decades of a control based culture in the US Federal government is going to take intense effort.  Restoring trust is mission critical to the entire global economy on many levels right now.  We are fighting to fuel a global renaissance of trust or as Obama stated to do our business in the light of day.”  

Speed of Trust in Huffington Post

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Stephen Baum  in a post in the Huffington Post, one of the most widely read blogs in the world, entitled Traits of a Leader: Obama challenges President Elect Obama to do Signal Acts.  One of which will be to keep his promise to make his thinking visible, transparent, notwithstanding the need to keep some things confidential. It is crucial to bringing us all along and keeping the trust he has built. Stephen M.R. Covey has it rightThe SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

President elect Obama emphasizes trust on 60 Minutes

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

In his first global interview since being elected, President Elect Obama told 60 minutes Sunday night: “We actually have a consensus among conservative leaning economists and liberal left leaning economists and  the consensus is this that we have to do whatever it takes to get this economy 
moving again.”

I was encouraged to hear his recognition of trust as a core element to 
restore our global economy.  Obama said:

“A top priority we have to restore a sense of Trust, transparency and openness 
in our financial system.  Keep in mind the deregulation process, it wasn’t 
just one party I think there is a lot of blame to spread around.

(You will remember a post last month where I quoted British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s comments on CNN: “The most precious asset of all is something that if lost, can only be restored not by words, but by actions, that is the asset of Trust and confidence “ ) Glad Obama and Brown both seem to get it.

I also resonate with his statement of bipartisan responsibility for the 
problem.  Obama continued:

“Our basic principle that this is a free market system and that it has 
worked for us that it creates innovation and risk taking is a principle we 
need to hold to as well.  But what I don’t want to do is get bottled up in a 
lot of ideology, is this conservative or liberal,  my interest is finding 
something that works and whether its coming from FDR or from Ronald Reagan 
if the idea is right for the times we are going to apply it.”

I applaud his assertion that the best idea wins.  This alone can transform 
our leadership. As an American It has been embarrassing to watch our 
Congress and Senate under Bush and Clinton, bicker instead of influence and 
lead.  The world is losing respect for our democratic free market system 
because of our poor example.

As Obama went on:

“I want to make sure that I can recreate a bond of trust between the 
Presidency and the public that I think has been lost.”

Finally he again appealed for synergy:

“There were a number of reasons that someone would not have voted for me, 
but what was absolutely clear was whether people voted for me or against me 
they were making the judgment based on, is this guy gonna lead us well.  Is 
this guy going to be a good president.”

We all must behave our way out of the problems we have created in the 
economy by behaving with each other in ways that inspire trust.  Our leaders 
can only be as good as the people they lead. Now that the election is over we must sustain our leaders.   Let’s all take responsibility 
to rise to the occasion to be credible and act to inspire others in moments 
of trust to fuel a ripple effect for a global renaissance of 

Will President Elect Obama earn trust?

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

(CBS News)” In an extraordinary moment in America’s history, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has won the 2008 presidential election and will become the 44th president of the United States and the country’s first African-American leader. ”

I resonate with the possibilities President Elect Obama represents and congratulate him on his historic victory.  We challenge all to sustain our new leader and rise to the occasion to restore trust in ourselves and each other.  This new Presidency offers us all a microcosm to observe the workings of a change of leadership.  The same principles and challenges face new leaders in schools, companies and even the corner store.  Let us all have a propensity to trust in our leadership. 

Obama said it best: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” he added. 

“A new dawn of American leadership is at hand,” Obama said. 

He pledged:

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state (Lincoln) who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.”

 Today’s USA TODAY Thursday November 13th 

In an section call THE FORUM

Cal Thomas a conservative columnist and Bob Beckel a liberal democratic strategist as longtime friends often can find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot. Today’s biweekly series they entitled:  

 Words vs. Action

Bob: “He talks a good game but what’s he look like on the court? That’s essentially what the commentariat are asking when it comes to President Elect Barak Obama.  He’s been the poster [child] for common ground, yet there is much hand-wringing about whether he’ll veer left.  Anyone who thinks he’ll do so while ignoring the Republicans hasn’t been paying attention.  Even the week before the election, Obama campaigned almost completely on the common ground theme with which he began his run for the White House.  His eloquent speech in Grant Park in Chicago on election night was vintage bridge-building.”

Cal: ” As an American first, I sincerely hope you are right. It isn’t often I agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid–in fact, I can’t think of a single time–but I wholeheartedly endorse his summation of the main message from this election. “This is a mandate to get along, to get something done in a bipartisan way. This is not a mandate for a political party or ideology.” (more…)

Klaus Schwab Chairman of The World Economic Forum

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Klaus Schwab, Chairman and Founder, World Economic Forum had this to say  The Speed of Trust… is even more relevant in the world we have seen evolving over the last months. Congratulations and thank you!” 


Speed of Trust on CNN

Monday, October 13th, 2008


Mellisa Long & Stephen M. R. Covey

Mellisa Long & Stephen M. R. Covey

Stephen M.R. Covey talks about what role trust plays in business and relationships.  Stephen was interviewed by Mellissa Long on CNN about trust in themarketplace. 



CNN:British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today on Trust

Monday, October 13th, 2008

“The most precious asset of all is something that if lost, can only be
restored not by words, but by actions, that is the asset of Trust and
confidence “
   British Prime Minister Gordon Brown CNN Oct 13th 2008

The Steve Jobs of China: Yang Yuanqing

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Yang Yuanqing

Stephen was pleased to speak again to Yang Yuanqing, Chairman of the Board of Lenovo.  Lenovo is rapidly becoming a major global brand after acquiring the IBM PC and as the one of the lead sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  This merger was one of the most visable multinational mergers between a Chinese and a U. S. firm.  Stephen first met Yang Yuanqing when Stephen led a global executive team 2 day  meeting for Lenovo last year.  They have an impressive collection of talent and an excellent product and are poised to be a powerful force in their industry.  Of note is the decision that Lenovo made to drop IBM from their product  branding long before their rights to use the IBM name expired in their contract.   This was a bold vote of confidence in their global brand and reputation.  Well done!

Yang Yuanqing is a local rock star of business much as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are in the U.S.  He was mobbed by dozens of press and TV cameras as he left the stage.  Stephen managed to speak to him for several minutes. Yang was genuinely pleased to see Stephen again.  We gave him as set of the Speed of Trust 13 behavior cards translated into Chinese.

World Economic Forum, Tianjin, China

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Stephen and I attended The World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China.  Stephen presented the Speed of Trust and participated on several panels. At the close of the World Economic Forum’s “summer Davos” we participated in a general table discussion on the topic of what are the top challenges facing organizations in the coming year.  Each table of the 2000 plus participants identified one issue and then using keypad voting every one voted to force rank the top issues (now keep in mind this was taking place the weekend that the US congress and Senate were working on a rescue program). We were all surprised that the global financial crisis was voted #2.  The #1 challenge was a crisis of Trust and Confidence.  The consensus was that the impact of the financial crisis is exasperated as trust declines.  The financial crisis at is root is a trust crisis. Especially because it involves credit and everyone is afraid to part with their cash and are rightfully reluctant to risk because they do not know who they can trust given the downfall of several hundred year old institutions. Think about it—credit is trust and trust is credit. 

BBC debates how global financial crisis effects China

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

On the weekend that the U.S. Congress and Senate were debating a financial package Stephen and I attended a BBC televised  debate from the World Economic Forum on the impact that the economic crisis would have on China.  It was fascinating.  The woman pictured was from Taiwan, others were from Mainland China and Western firms.  Consensus was that China has not yet gotten involved in the financial industries like the west.  Their economy is still growing in the more stable and traditional industries of manufacturing, agriculture and real estate. They are also cash rich and actually may benefit by buying Western assets for low prices.  The ultimate threat is lack of demand for their exports if other economies loose buying power.

A passionate case for women in leadership

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

This very articulate woman from Pakistan made a powerful case for the underrepresentation of women in leadership through out the world and even on the panels of the World Economic Forum.  I attempted to speak to her but the press of the nearly 2000 people in the room prevented me from getting to her.  I also have searched the photo album of participants to find her name but was unable to find her.  If you know her, email me.

I resonated with her straight talk in respectfully confronting the forum about this unfortunate reality in business and government.  I am a staunch advocate for women in leadership and have a bias that they have traits of intuition, vision, and empathy lacking, or at least way underdeveloped, in many of their male counterparts.  It has also been my experience that women are more influential in negotiating.  This is the purest evidence for their case as a disproportionate number of women excel in sales which is the ultimate level playing field with no ceiling, glass or otherwise.  Trust is an extraordinary gender neutralizer.   We trust people based on their integrity, performance and behavior regardless of gender or ethnicity.

Crisis of Trust

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

“Politics” – the antithesis of trust and standard operating procedure for many industries, governments, organizations, and relationships. In today’s world, everyone is a politician, trying to get ahead, but it is an illusion, spin. Add to that the very real consequences of stop-loss measures like bailouts, leaving what many media outlets call a “crisis of confidence.”  We call this a crisis of trust.  

A recent BBB-Gallop poll indicates a 24% decrease in trust of business during the past year.  This was before the current financial crisis. Steven Cole, President and CEO, National Council of Better Business Bureaus, asserts, “The continuing decline of consumer trust is just not sustainable for businesses, but, interestingly, the issue highlights a clear opportunity for competitive advantage among businesses that embrace consumer demand for trust in the marketplace.”

The fastest way to get the US economy back on track: rebuild and restore trust, in every industry, every organization, every government, and every relationship. Seventy-two percent (72%) of those surveyed in the BBB-Gallop poll say it’s as simple as businesses “doing a better job delivering on their promises.”

The numerous endorsements by CEOs in The Speed of Trust obviously indicate the appeal to executives, but the real proof is that organizations around the world are embracing The Speed of Trust by having it presented to their most important audiences.

 Proving the economic case for trust and demonstrating that it can be measured AND that the needle can be moved is what engages the executives.  This topic resonates! 

 Trust is a mission-critical competitive advantage in the new global economy, and the good news is that it can be dramatically increased by learning 13 behaviors common to all high trust leaders around the world. 

Trust is being spotlighted on the global stage; Stephen and I are currently en route for him to present The Speed of Trust to 1,500 leaders from over 60 countries at the World Economic Forum. in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, September 27-29, 2008.  The China forum is a meeting for what are termed “Global Growth Companies.” This second “Summer Davos” will bring together the emerging multinational companies – the New Champions – that have the potential to reshape the global economic landscape. Under the theme “The Next Wave of Growth,” CEOs of the New Champions will engage with a diverse group of the most important players shaping the future of business and the global agenda.

Do you trust your boss?

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Leading-edge companies are asking one important question in employee evaluations:  Do you trust your boss?  These companies have learned that the answer to this one question is more predictive of team and organizational performance than any other they might ask.  The number one reason for costly employee turnover is the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor.  We are facing a crisis of trust and business ethics.  In the U.S., only 51% of employees have trust and confidence in senior management.

Covey returns to China to Speak in Global Forum

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Stephen M. R. Covey has recently been invited to present The Speed of Trust to the World Economic Forum  in China September 27th.  The China forum is dubbed “summer Davos” and is a meeting for what are termed “Global Growth Companies”.   Stephen said “ It is such and honor to address this group of influencial world leaders who’s motto is entrepreneurship in the global public interest’. They believe that economic progress without social development is not sustainable, while social development without economic progress is not feasible. I agree.”

The forum will be hosted in Tianjin, China just 90 minutes east of Beijing and across the bay from Dalian the site of last years forum. 

The World Economic Forum’s Community of Global Growth Companies forum was created to recognize the next generation of industry leaders. It supports them as they navigate the challenges of new geographies, markets, cultures and regulatory systems as they become a major driving force in social and economic development.

The World Economic Forum’s Community of Global Growth Companies consists of companies that:

  • Are expanding outside their traditional boundaries
  • Experience growth rates exceeding 15 per cent year-on-year
  • Have revenues typically between US$100 million and US$ 2 billion
  • Have demonstrated leadership in a particular industry
  • Have an outstanding executive leadership.

Stephen and I will join CEO’s and senior executives from the world’s leading organizations including Nokia, Deloitte Touche Tomatsu, Duetsche Bank,  Peking University, KPMG,  Infosys,  Swisscom, Chevron, Dabur India, Harvard, Best Buy, Burger King, Volvo and journalists from CNN, The Financial Times, China Daily, New York Times, Time magazine and many others.  This is a meeting that will make the ultimate ripple effect of influence and we are privileged to be invited to address them.


Shout out for Speed of Trust in Huffington Post

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Stephen Baum author of What made jack welch Jack Welch,  had this to say about The Speed of Trust in a blog entry in the Huffington Post: “Stephen M.R. Covey’s important recent book, The Speed of Trust : The One Thing That Changes Everything, reminds us of the business case for being trustworthy and being seen as trustworthy. Character is first among equals in leadership requirements. Reputation takes years to build and seconds to destroy.”

Stephen interviewed by Forbes

Monday, June 16th, 2008

In an interview with executive editor David A. Andelman, Covey explains the significance and mechanics of trust–how to build it, keep it and profit from it.

Stephen M. R. Covey: I use a very simple definition of trust. By trust, I mean confidence. Confidence. The opposite of that–distrust–is suspicion.

See, I don’t trust someone if I’m suspicious about his motive or agenda or integrity. I do trust when I feel confident about it. It’s like Jack Welch said–I could give you a dictionary definition of trust, but you know it when you feel it. And what you feel is confidence.

Meet Stephen in Chicago June 22

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Come visit us at SHRM! The Society for Human Resource Managements

60th Annual International Conference

June 22-25, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois

Preview our new Speed of Trust DVDs, 

and meet Stephen at booth # 5320.

Trust is a Competency: Chief Learning Officer Magazine

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

The Speed of Trust is a powerful way to recession-proof your career and your organization.  When the going gets tough; projects, money, promotions, and jobs gravitate to trusted high performers. The last to be laid-off or outsourced are those “go-to” players who are trusted. A 2005 study by Russell Investment Group showed that Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” (in which trust comprises 60% of the criteria) earned over four times the returns of the broader market over the prior seven years.

The May 2008 edition of Chief Learning Officer (CLO) magazine featured The Speed of Trust in an article entitled: Trust is a Competency.   This prestigious magazine is well known by leading executives around the world.  CLO called trust “a critical characteristic that is more essential to business performance than ever.”   The article goes on to say: “Increasingly more and more, leaders today are ‘rediscovering’ trust as they begin to see it with new eyes.  Looking beyond the common view of trust as some soft, intangible, illusive social virtue, they’re learning to see it as a critical, highly relevant, and tangible asset.  They’re discovering that trust affects—and changes—everything within an organization…literally every dimension, every activity, every decision, every relationship.  They’re also beginning to recognize that trust is quite possibly the single most powerful and influential lever for leaders and organizations today.”

Stephen concludes the article with this practical advice for executives: “So what is the role of learning practitioners with respect to trust?  I suggest it’s three-fold, corresponding to the three ways of seeing trust with new eyes:   (more…)

WSJ names top 20 Influential Business Thinkers

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Richard Branson is the most surprising new addition to the top 20.  A deserving one at that.  It is interesting the new balance of power between Academia, Business Consultants, Business leaders and now journalists. Erin White in an insightful commentary for The Wall Street Journal touts a new breed of Guru.

We of course, are delighted to see Dr. Covey still in the top ten after all these years.  Dr. C is “still crazy after all these years” as Paul Simon would say. One of the most memorable insights he taught me years ago is that “each great class teeters on the edge of chaos”. Well said.  His 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  still dances on and off the bestseller lists this year nearly 20 years after its publication.

We would all do well to be life long learners at the feet of these remarkable mentors and hundreds of others like them.  Re-read their books and articles.

Ken Blanchard’s new book: The One Minute Entreprenuer

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Ever thought of starting your own business? Our good friends, Ken Blanchard and Ethan Willis, have teamed up to write Ken’s next bestseller: The One Minute Entrepreneur. I first met Ken 23 years ago when I lived in San Diego, just after he had published The One Minute Manager and before it became the New York Times bestseller (and sold more than 12 million copies in 27 languages). It was Ken that introduced me to a new entrepreneur in 1986, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, who had an idea for a book.  We all know the rest of that story.  Every time I see Kenny, he asks me, “Link, what has become clear to you since we last spoke?”  A provocative question.  Well Ken, what is clear to me is that The One Minute Entrepreneur is a must-read book.

Speed of Trust workshop in Washington DC May 7th

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Trust is the key to collaboration.  Warwick Business School in the UK found that “outsourcing contracts that are managed based on trust rather than stringent agreements and penalties are more likely to lead to trust dividends for both parties – as much as 40% of the value of a contract”.  

Leading at the Speed of Trust in Washington D.C.

May 7 & 8, 2008 (with Train-the-Trainer May 9th)

First time on the East Coast and only time this year!

Training Announces Top 125 for 2007

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Training Magazine announced today the top 125 organizations that invested the most in corporate training initiatives this year. Organizations were measured on quantitative (75 percent to total score) and qualitative (25 percent to total score) data. Criteria included: number of corporate trainers, level of employee retention, Training focused on business strategy, revenue spent on training, number of trainers certified in new 3rd party content, existence of a formal corporate university, % of payroll spent on training, leadership development, tuition assistance for employees and several other factors.  
Training magazine used an independent statistical company to process and score the data.

Many of the top 125 are the usual suspects like Aetna, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, IBM, Marriott, Baptist Health Care, Verizon and others are more surprising like US Naval Undersea Warfare Center and 1-800 Flowers.  Did your organization qualify?

Stephen speaks to Chicago Business Leaders

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Response to Covey’s recent remarks to ChicagoLand Business Leaders:

“The Speed of Trust is not a topic, it is a movement — one that I encourage all Chicago businesses to engage in.”

–Jerry Roper, President & CEO, ChicagoLand Chamber of Commerce


Stephen M. R. Covey in June CEO Magazine

Thursday, June 7th, 2007


June 2007

Chief Exeuctive Magazine this month has an article entitled The Business Case for Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey

Almost everywhere we turn, trust is on the decline. We find low trust in our society at large, in our institutions and in our companies. Research shows that only 51 percent of employees trust senior management, and only 28 percent believe CEOs are a credible source of information. This compels us to ask two questions. First, is there a measurable cost to low trust? Second, is there a tangible benefit to high trust?

Few argue with the notion of trust.

Everybody is in favor of it and nobody is against it. But at the end of the day, many CEOs don’t really believe that internal organizational trust is directly connected to their company’s bottom line. Instead, they believe that trust is merely a soft, nice-to-have, “social virtue.”

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations quotes Stephen M. R.

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

In late April Stephen spoke to the executive team of the U.S. Navy led by Mike Mullen Chief of Naval Operations which included all U.S. Navy Admirals and Senior Leaders at their annual leadership conference in Annapolis, Maryland.

In a current article entitled “Sailors building trust, one person at a time” published in The Hill, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations, had this to say about trust, Stephen M. R. Covey, and military service on this past Memorial Day:

 “In the Navy, it’s a big part of who we are.  It’s what we do. Trust is what we offered our friends and allies in the Arabian Gulf when we sent a second aircraft carrier there…  Trust is what we share when we tell our brothers and sisters in the Army and Marine Corps that we are going to pitch-in and help them out on the ground, and then we do it…  Trust is a Corpsman racing to a fallen comrade…  Trust is the engine that literally runs the global maritime partnerships of the ‘1,000-ship Navy’…  As Stephen M. R. Covey put it in his new book, The Speed of Trust, ‘When you build trust with one, you build trust with many.’… That’s exactly what your Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen are out there doing every day on your behalf… On this Memorial Day, as we pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives for this country.  I hope we also pause to remember the sacrifices our service members are making as they build trust with millions of people around the world, one person at a time.”

We are honored to have these fine people join us in our attempt to spark a global renaissance of Trust.

After Virginia Tech, How Can We Trust?

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

After Virginia Tech, How Can We Trust?

Once again, fear has been incited by an act of terrorism – now what? How can we recover and extend trust again?  Who can we trust with our children, our friends, and our own lives? Again, our societal trust is compromised as headlines read:

  • Witnesses Paint a Grizzly Picture
  • Struggling to Find Order
  • Asia Fears Backlash
  • 32 Reasons to Question Freedom
  • Legislative Remedies – Gun Bans
  • How Safe are Local Campuses

In contrast, Wednesday, April 18, 2007, the USA Today Headlines read, “Gen Y shaped, not stopped, by tragedy.” In this compelling piece, Frank Harrison, student body president at the University of South Florida in Tampa, remarks about his generation’s experience of shared tragedy, “It shocked us into a sense of community. It’s not a sense of fear—‘Are we next?’ ‘Could it happen here?’ It’s more a sense of urgency that we have to stay together.” Stephen had this to say, “This generation has recovered from numerous national tragedies; the Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine, September 11th, the Space Shuttle disaster, Hurricane Katrina, and now Virginia Tech. They will recover from this one and inspire others with their example of resilience and trust in a free society ”

Stephen suggests: “Trust is an integral part of the very fabric of our society. We depend on it; we take it for granted – until it becomes polluted or destroyed. Then we come to the stark realization that trust may well be as vital to our own wellbeing as it is to society as a whole. Without trust, society closes down and will ultimately self-destruct. As Thomas Friedman contends in his bestselling book, The World is Flat, trust is essential to a flat or open society.  As he puts it: ‘Without trust, there is no open society, because there are not enough police to patrol every opening in an open society. Without trust, there can also be no flat world, because it is trust that allows us to take down walls, remove barriers, and eliminate friction at borders. Trust is essential for a flat world…’”

Lastly, he asks, “What if we fear that the simple act of getting out of our car at a gas station might put us in the scope of a deadly sniper, as was the case a few years ago in Washington DC?  The thought that trust cannot be restored is a common myth, but it is just that—a myth.  Trust can be restored.”

Leadership Shortage

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

According to Chief Learning Officer Magazine  we are smack dab in the middle of a leadership drought, and this dearth of qualified leaders is wreaking havoc in companies large and small.  This is no surprise to us at CoveyLink.  Our research has consistently shown that poor, low trust leadership at any level in an organization will ultimately translate into disgruntled customers, rising costs, lost profits, slower speed, thwarted growth, and an anemic bottom line. So, just how bad is the problem? 

From CLO Magazine:

“Even more disturbing is the impact these [leadership] shortages are having on growth. Some companies indicated they are literally sitting on capital, unable to expand into new markets or make critical acquisitions, due to a lack of leadership talent. In one large organization, there were more than 100 leadership vacancies . . . 

“The researchers, led by Dr. Eileen Antonucci . . . note that some 70 percent of companies in the study reported moderate to major leadership shortages. ‘Leadership shortages are not just inhibiting growth,’ Antonucci states, ‘they are driving up costs.’ Some companies are spending millions on recruitment as they scramble to fill key positions. The cost of training a parade of new managers and executives (not to mention money lost while these individuals ‘get up to speed’ in their new positions) is equally taxing.”

So what does all this mean to you?  From our perspective, this creates an opportunity for individuals to “become the solution” by making themselves more qualified, more trusted leaders, in short, more promotable to these crucial leadership positions. Our research indicates that leadership and trust can be taught and that people who build a strong reputation for producing results with integrity have more leadership influence and have a better chance to be promoted. (Incidentally, they are also those people who are more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs.)  At CoveyLink, we call this the SPEED of TRUST™.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler, Author of The Third Wave

When workers catch the vision of the strength of a high trust leader within an organization and work to be just that kind of individual, they suddenly become an invaluable asset in the workplace—one that gets noticed, one that gets promoted.  In essence, they develop into the very asset their struggling company most desperately needs. 

Says CLO Magazine,

“Of greatest concern are the costs of poor decision-making as companies are forced to place less qualified individuals into critical leadership positions. Poor leadership at the top of the organization can translate into millions in lost profits and missed opportunities.”  (July 11, 2005 Volume 2, Issue 27)

A poorly qualified leader is a leader who cannot be trusted to perform, and this problem often doesn’t show up until the profit reports come in.  The more critical the leadership position, the more critical the cost of poor performance.  We’ve said it before: the high cost of low trust can be measured and the dividend and speed of high trust in teams and organizations is measurable directly to the bottom line. 

We believe a powerful Global renaissance of trust has begun—trust in terms of capability, trust in terms of character.  Sparked by recent world events, business ethics, and the transparency of conversations enabled by the worldwide web, this call for a renaissance of high trust leadership is reverberating around the Globe.  It’s affecting our bottom line, it’s affecting our ability to compete, and it’s affecting our peace of mind. 


Michigan loves The Speed of Trust

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Grand Rapids kicked off the new year last week with their 119th Annual meeting and The Speed of Trust.

Jeanne Englehart, President of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, shared this reaction to The Speed of Trust:  “Stephen M.R. Covey recently delivered the keynote address to 1,000 business and community leaders at our 119th Annual Meeting of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce… Stephen’s message — trust is an economic imperative — really hit home with the audience… His presentation came alive with real-world examples our audience could relate to. Interest in the topic was high — as we sold out two weeks prior to the event and had to move to a larger venue!… The Speed of Trust presentation is relevant to each and every business owner, board member, leader, and employee. Anyone who cares about growing their business, empowering their people, or saving time and money walked away with ideas and behaviors they could immediately put into action.”

Behavior Shift

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

One of the most profound things we have learned over the years from Dr. Stephen R. Covey is his insight: “If you want to make incremental improvements, work on your behavior; if you want to make quantum leaps in improvement, work on your paradigms.”  We have proven this insight repeatedly through our own experience and the experience and reports of countless client executives and workers over many years. It is true that our paradigms, or world views, dramatically affect the way we behave.  We submit that the corollary is also true – SHIFT your behavior and you will shift your paradigm.

What we actually do—our behavior—affects our thinking and our paradigms.  Consider thinking about the benefits of exercise.  We know that it is a beneficial health practice.  If we study it hard enough and meditate about it, we may shift our paradigm and, in turn, may behave by exercising.  Shifting our behavior and actually exercising affords direct benefits that conversely can shift our paradigm about exercise.  What we call a behavior shift.

People trust us based predominantly upon our behavior.  Behavior is the outward expression of our integrity and our intent.  We tend to trust others by observing their behavior and trust ourselves based on our intent.  Ultimately, it is our actions not our intent that is evident to others.  We contend that trust is affected by both character (who we are) and competence (our strengths and results) and that our behavior and our results tend to color our reputation, credibility, and influence with others.

Consider this: Who do you trust? What separates great leaders from good ones?  What makes a manager a manager of choice by their reports, peers, and boss?  What makes an individual credible with customers, suppliers, distributors, investors, and other stakeholders?  While there are many dimensions to these questions, there is one common thread throughout:  being an individual who can be trusted. 

Perhaps a more important question than, “Who do you trust?” is the far more personal question of, “Who trusts you?”  There are some organizations who ask all their employees directly the following simple, key question in formal 360-degree feedback processes: “Do you trust your boss?”  These companies have learned that the answer to this one question is more predictive of team and organizational success than perhaps any other question they might ask. 

A high trust leader is an individual who has unquestionably strong personal credibility, has the ability to create and grow trust with others interpersonally, and is then able to extend that trust organizationally.  High trust leaders are managers of choice who understand the impact trust always plays on two key outcomes—speed and cost—and how low or high trust either extracts a tax or produces a dividend on every activity and dimension within a relationship, team, or organization.

High trust leaders have learned how to interact with others in ways that increase trust levels while avoiding the pitfalls that deplete trust.  While there are numerous actions and behaviors that affect trust, we have identified the 13 key behaviors common to high trust leaders throughout the world.

What’s most exciting is that these “13 Behaviors of High Trust Leaders” can be learned and applied by any influencer at any level in any organization.  The net result will be a significantly increased ability to generate trust with all stakeholders in order to achieve better results. You will become more promotable and your company will become more profitable. According to Watson Wyatt research in 2002, “Organizations with high trust outperform organizations with low trust by nearly 3 times.”

To trust and to be trusted amplifies your leadership influence and causes a ripple effect that makes your world and, ultimately, the world at large a better place. CoveyLink emphasizes action and the energizing vitality and influence this ripple effect creates.


Good Idea vs. Compelling Vision

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Ever had a good idea?  Believe me, we have heard a lot of good ideas over the years and a rare few made the leap to a real possibility – or vision, as distinct from mere thoughts, conversations, and hollow promises.  What distinguished them from the others?  By the sheer expectation and faith of the individual generating the idea, it is transformed into a real possibility and a compelling vision. The distinction . . . a visceral passion to make things happen.

As hockey legend Wayne Gretzgy put it, “Skate to where the puck is going to be.”

Anticipation . . .  Expecting success . . .

Steve Young, super-bowl MVP quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, told us that when he first started to play in the NFL, the linemen were so big, he could not see his receivers.  He had to have faith to throw the ball to where the receiver was going to be and “trust” that they would be there.  His trust was rewarded by becoming one of the NFL’s all-time leaders in pass efficiency.

The expression of a vision has a power far beyond a good idea as evidenced by its effect. Vision engages people to act.  Like Kennedy’s vision expressed in a speech, “The time has now come to send a man to the moon and return him safely again.”  That was 1962, and the fuel necessary for such a feat had not even been invented yet.  Guess what happened the summer of 1969?

A vision is distinct from a good idea by the conviction of the person articulating it and is colored by our trust in their credibility and track record.  “When E. F. Hutton speaks, people listen.”  When Steve Jobs speaks, people listen. When Tiger Woods speaks, people listen.  When Warren Buffet speaks, people listen. When you speak, do people listen?  Do you have a record of integrity, pure intentions, and consistent results?  Or, are you perceived as talking about work rather than working.  Or, as our friend and author, Brent Peterson, calls it, “fake work,”  Are you perceived as always preparing to sell or as someone that lets your results speak for themselves?  Are you constantly discussing fabulous business plans, yet have never launched a successful business?

Good ideas transform into visions when they are expressed with both the conviction and the credibility that moves the listener in a visceral way to envision possibility.  As Werner Erhard put it, “The role of leadership is the transformation of an ideal into a possibility or vision.”  Jack Welch adds, “Vision is the essential element of the leader’s job.”  You must have the credibility and platform to convey your vision in a way that makes people believe it will go forth regardless of the circumstances.  Good ideas are dependent on the argument that supports them.  Vision is a possibility and expectation with no evidence to support it.  In other words, expect miracles.

Look to your own experience to validate this.  How many seemingly impossible things have you accomplished?  Things that you were worried about, yet hoped for, that ultimately came to pass?  For example, did you find your soul mate, make a sale, get a job, write a book, graduate, start a company, get promoted and on and on? Things that, at the time you anguished over, yet somehow believed in the possibility of, had faith in? Even successful people have doubts.  Oprah once asked me, “How can you have a vision when you don’t know what’s around the next corner?” (“O,” it seems it turned out!)

Children are brilliantly optimistic about possibility.  Unfortunately, we socialize it out of them and turn them into “realistic” adults.  Many adults are arguments for negative possibility.  They question everything.  The hidden agenda behind their questions is really a request for certainty.  They do not have a propensity to trust but a propensity to distrust.  A scarcity mentality.  Glass half empty and all that.  As George Bernard Shaw aptly put it, “All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  Certainty is an illusion.  As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing”.

Take some risks this year. Be open to the possibility that things may just turn out.  Elevate your good ideas to a visceral vision worth living into — a  stand worth taking.  As Chairman Peter (Drucker) liked to say, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Where were you when you realized the world is flat?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

That’s the profound question New York Times three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas L. Friedman asks his readers in his thought-provoking #1 bestseller, The World is Flat, A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.1

Wait a minute, are you still convinced that everything you once learned about Christopher Columbus and the Santa Maria is true?  Well, maybe it was—back then.  But today, if you plan to stay in the game, Friedman suggests you reconsider and re-learn.  In an interview with Tom Nissley of, Friedman explains:

“What I mean when I say that the world is flat is that sometime in the late 1990’s a whole set of technologies and political events converged—including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of the Internet, the diffusion of the Windows operating system, the creation of a global fiber-optic network, and the creation of interoperable software applications, which made it very easy for people all over the world to work together—that leveled the playing field. It created a global platform that allowed more people to plug and play, collaborate and compete, share knowledge and share work, than anything we have ever seen in the history of the world.”

Friedman asks people in his book where they were when they realized the world was flat.  Amazon’s Nissley asked Friedman where he was.  His response:  “I was in Bangalore, India, the Silicon Valley of India, when I realized that the world was flat.  I was doing a documentary for the Discovery Times Channel about “outsourcing.” After 60 hours of interviews with Indian entrepreneurs who wanted to write my software from Bangalore, do my taxes from Bangalore, trace my lost luggage from Bangalore, read my x-rays from Bangalore, and draw my Disney cartoons from Bangalore, I realized that something big had happened– the world had been flattened–and I needed to write about it.”

Friedman suggests that when the tech bubble popped in the late 90’s, followed by the distractions of Y2K mania, the tragedies of 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we westerners blinked and missed the fact that the flattening of the global economy was beginning to accelerate at a hang-on-to-your-seat pace.  Friedman interviewed Henry Schacht, who, during part of this period, was watching the whole process from the side of corporate management.

“The business economics, [he told Friedman] became ‘very ugly’ for everyone. . . .  ‘Cost pressures were enormous,’ he recalled, ‘and the flat world was available, [so] economics were forcing people to do things they never thought they would do or could do . . . Globalization got supercharged’—for both knowledge work and manufacturing.  Companies found that they could go to MIT and find four incredibly smart Chinese engineers who were ready to go back to China and work for them from there for the same amount that it would cost them to hire one engineer in America.”

Let’s think about this.  Besides the fact that your accountant is already outsourcing your tax return work to India, your most recent CAT scan or MRI was most likely deciphered in Australia, you’re having a hard time understanding the English spoken at the other end of the help-line, and the MP3 you just bought came with directions in 14 different languages, what does this flattened world really mean for you and your future—both personally and professionally? 

Friedman asked this question of Jaithirth Rao, whose Indian firm, MphasiS, is successfully and lucratively able to handle outsourced tax work “from any state in America and the federal government.”  Said Rao, “It is a good question. . . . We are in the middle of a big technological change, and when you live in a society that is at the cutting edge of that change [like America], it is hard to predict.  It’s easy to predict for someone living in India. In ten years we are going to be doing a lot of the stuff that is being done in America today. . . .  Any activity where we can digitize and decompose the value chain and move the work around, it will get moved around.  We can predict our future.  But we are behind you.  You are defining the future.  America is always on the edge of the next creative wave.”

Defining the future . . . the edge of the next creative wave. . . .  Just what is this future, this creative wave we’re all going to want to catch?  Friedman supplies a solid answer through L. Gary Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting in Manhattan KS, who explains, “Those who get caught in the past and resist change will be forced deeper into commoditization.  Those who can create value through leadership, relationships, and creativity will transform [their] industries, as well as strengthen relationships with their existing clients.”

According to Publishers Weekly, Friedman agrees with the transnational business executives, who are his main sources, that these [world flattening] developments are desirable and unstoppable and that American workers should be preparing to “create value through leadership.”2

At CoveyLink, we couldn’t agree more.  The global call for capable, innovative, trust-based leadership is intensifying.  World-class leadership and business relies on trust and trust has been the lubricant of commerce since the world’s first merchants began trading seeds, then beads, then goods and services.

“Fortune favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur

The growth of knowledge work both leads and informs this important global trend.  Knowledge work is dependent upon relationships and relationships, of course, thrive on trust.  Trust fuels this new global economy just as trust magnifies or diminishes every other leadership competency you have, including your vision—a vision which must now include the entire globe regardless of your industry or profession.

The world is not becoming flat, it is already flat.  And, yes, it will get flatter.  If you haven’t yet caught onto this fact, read Friedman’s book.  In fact, we recommend you read it now, then read it again every year as a gauge to hold up against your most recent, brilliant strategic assumptions. 

One last memorable thought from Friedman:

“In China, Bill Gates is a Britney Spears – they scalp tickets to hear him speak.  In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears. That’s the problem.”



1 The World is Flat, A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Friedman, Thomas L.,  Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005

2 Publishers Weekly, April 5, 2005



Tribute to a legend: Chairman Peter

Tuesday, November 15th, 2005

One of the world’s great business minds graduated last week.  With honors! It is with great respect and even awe that we acknowledge the passing of revered business authority Peter F. Drucker last Friday, November 12th, a few days shy of his 96th birthday.

With 39 books written over 75 years, Chairman Peter (as he was affectionately called) was, in our estimation, the most influential business thinker and writer of the 20th Century.  He has influenced our thinking as well of the thinking of the most respected business authorities of our day including Jack Welch, Jim Collins, Stephen R. Covey, Ken Blanchard, Warren Bennis and countless others we are not personally aware of.

Early last year, in an interview with Forbes magazine, Mr. Drucker was asked if there was anything in his long career that he wished he had done but had not been able to do.

“Yes, quite a few things,” he said. “There are many books I could have written that are better than the ones I actually wrote. My best book would have been “Managing Ignorance,” and I’m very sorry I didn’t write it.”  We wish he’d gotten to that one too.

Mr. Drucker consulted business leaders and non-profit leaders well into his 90’s leaving the legacy of staying productive and contributing throughout one’s life.  He strongly believed and taught that people were assets, not costs and thus shifted the thinking of several generations of business leaders.  He extended pro-bono to non-profits, again modeling high ground behavior for other business leaders. He encouraged business leaders to give back to the community by developing a parallel career in  non-profit organizations.

Chairman Peter’s words continue to echo through the halls:

“Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two – and only two – functions: Marketing and Innovation. Marketing and Innovation produce results. All the rest are costs.”

“The number one difference between a Nobel prize winner and others is not IQ or work ethic, but that they ask bigger questions” 

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

“One either meets or one works.”

“The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are disorder, friction and malperformance.”

“Stock option plans reward the executive for doing the wrong thing. Instead of asking, ‘Are we making the right decision?’ he asks, ‘How did we close today?’ It is encouragement to loot the corporation.”

Jack Welch attributed a simple question by Drucker for one of Welch’s most profound insights. In Jack’s words, “Drucker said: ‘If you weren’t already in this business, would you enter it today? And if not, what are you going to do about it? ‘Simple, right? But incredibly powerful’.”

Drucker’s simple question ultimately led to Welch’s operating maxim that if a GE unit could not be No. 1 or No. 2 in its field, it should be sold.

“Peter could look around corners,” philanthropist Eli Broad, who knew Drucker for 30 years, told the LA Times, Friday. “He would say things that seemed rather simple but in fact were very profound. He saw the future.”

In the foreword to one of Drucker’s last books Jim Collins wrote: “Drucker liked to tell the story of a Greek sculptor from 500 BC who was commissioned by the city of Athens to construct a set of statues to ring the top of a building.  The sculptor toiled for months longer than expected, making the backs of the statues as beautiful as the fronts.  The city commissioners, angered by this extra work, asked:  ‘Why did you make the backs of the statues as beautiful as the front?  No one will ever see the backs!’  ‘Ah but the Gods can see them,’ replied the sculptor.”

In essence this brief story lends insight into how Peter chose to live his life.  He left this world a better place than he found it and took with him the only thing that accompanies us out of this life, his indomitable spirit and a significantly informed intelligence and experience.

We are confident Peter Drucker will continue his influence beyond this world. It’s certain his influence will continue to touch ours. Bravo Peter. Way to finish strong! 

“Aude aliquid dignum” (16th century Latin: “Dare something worthy”)

Trust: Hot Leadership Topic

Monday, October 31st, 2005

The Center for Public Leadership at Harvard has just published their 2005 list of America’s Best Leaders in the October 31st issue of US News and World Report.  A prestigious panel of experts, who are leaders themselves, led by David Gergin, Director of the Center, and Warren Bennis, a noted leadership authority, made the selections from more than 300 nominees.  The bipartisan panel took turns advocating and then opposing the finalists.  We at CoveyLink were not surprised by any of the 25, and it was very validating to see high trust as a thread through the best leaders’ behavior.

Collin Powell, one of the 25, had this to say about leadership, “You’ve got to trust people…you’ve got to let people make mistakes and not ground them off about it.” US News added this quote from his autobiography, “When they fall down, pick ’em up, dust ’em off, pat them on the back, and move ’em on.”  Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, speaking of terrorists said, “They take ordinary objects from our daily lives, shoes and backpacks and airplanes, and turn them into weapons of mass destruction.  They try to destroy the trust that is the very fabric of our open society.”  Oprah said, “What I’ve learned is when I don’t know what to do, do nothing. Sit still and listen for that small voice that will always lead you and guide you.  If you’re quiet and listen, you will hear it.”  Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, said, “The greatest leaders are those that serve others.  A good leader exists for the people, not the other way around.” Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News Channel, says his recipe for leadership success is: “Take responsibility and make decisions, encourage your troops, joke with ’em, make sure work’s fun, tell ’em the truth, stay open, take responsibility if you screw it up, change the decisions that are bad as quickly as possible.”

We resonate with and strongly advocate the behaviors of these high trust leaders. Trust remains the most relevant and refreshing aspect of leadership and business today. Not only do the best leaders tout it, but everyone seems to have a trust story or example about how trust has affected their relationships, careers, and businesses.

For example, our new friends, Arthur and June Sueko Fong, are owners of Fong Imports, an Asian antique shop in Laguna Beach, California.  When we were in their shop last week, Arthur asked what we did for a living.  We told him we were leadership consultants and helped companies increase their profits through the speed of trust.  His immediate response was that trust was instrumental to his success in business. He shared this with us: “When I was 12 years old, my uncles were in the import business in Chinatown in L.A.  They trusted me to take the deposit to the bank.  It was thousands of dollars, yet they trusted me, 12-year-old Arthur Fong.  Not only did they trust me to go to the bank, but they had me go to the docks and sign for the shipments of the imports. Because they trusted me, I did not let them down.” 


Arthur commented further that it was the trust of his uncles that put him in the import business as an adult and that, to this day, trust is the backbone of his business.  He does not need to go to China and Japan on buying trips, but relies on trusted relationships in Asia to both select and ship merchandise to his shop in the USA.  Trust is also critical to his customers.  He adds, “They know they can trust me to charge fair prices.”  We can attest to that; we purchased several items that would have been twice as much in another shop!

Who Trusts You?


Stephen Covey Greg Link

About CoveyLink

Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg  Link are co-founders of CoveyLink & The Global Speed of Trust Practice with worldwide license partner FranklinCovey. We advise and train leading organizations, government agencies and educational entities to transform toxic relationships, toxic teams and toxic cultures to high trust, high performance, fully engaged growth engines.  We have presented keynotes is over 40 countries around the world based on our  New York Times and Wall Street Journal #1 bestseller, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything and our new, already #1 book, Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy and Joy in a low Trust World.



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