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 ‘Societal Trust–Contribution’ Category

Stephen R. Covey

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

What can I say to capture a glimpse of the significance of the life of Stephen R. Covey?  For me his influence came flooding back last summer when I realized the homework I was helping my 6-year-old grandson with was a worksheet to write his personal mission statement.  Yes, I knew he was in a Leadership elementary school modeled after Stephen’s work, but this personal incident drove to my core that the magnitude of Stephen R. Covey’s legacy was in educating future generations.

You can get a hint of a person from their words, but those words are not the person. Actions speak so much louder than words. And Stephen’s actions and his words were congruent; he walked his talk.  I had the privilege in the 25 plus years of working closely with Stephen to see him not just on the stage, but behind the scenes. The sincerity and passion that he communicated to a class or audience was the same respect he showed an individual. I repeatedly saw him treat not just the dignitaries he met with reverence but their staffs as well.  Anyone who has spoken with him privately reports experiencing that the spark in his eye and his glowing smile and countenance verified his sincere concern and empathy for them at a visceral level.  He affirmed them. He always sought to bless not to impress and admonished all to do the same. I echo what our friend Tom Peters just said about Stephen, “I just liked being around the guy.”

Stephen believed we are here to learn and to contribute. As Steve Jobs put it, “We are here to put a dent in the universe.” Stephen R. Covey was a visionary man. This was evidenced in his declaring to the executive team of his publisher, Simon & Schuster New York, that his new book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was destined to sell 10 million copies in its first decade.  I watched the wave of skepticism wash across these seasoned publishers as they rolled their eyes at his naiveté.  While their skepticism may have been justified, so was his vision, as his book, not yet published at the time, has gone on to sell over 20 million copies in 40 languages around the world. Although his pronouncement was bullish, he made it with deep humility, and he was always first to point out that his work was just common sense but would always add that it was also not common practice.

Stephen would not want us to aspire to be him, but many times suggested, as the old adage goes, to:  “Follow not in the footsteps of the masters, but rather seek what they sought.”  Stephen sought what they sought – in his words, “to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.”  And leave a legacy he did—in an extraordinary family and a body of work that includes numerous books and encompasses an enterprise that teaches his work in over 100 countries and, more importantly to him, thousands of schools around the world.

Stephen repeatedly encouraged me to read a book a week and reminded me that knowledge and experience were all that we take with us when we die. I am sure he is joyous that his passing is triggering a renewed reading of his works and hopes it may reach even one more person that will be inspired by it.

One of his favorite quotes was from Teilhard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  He inspired and changed my heart to that end.

I conclude with another favorite of his that is relevant at this tender time; the epitaph Benjamin Franklin wrote for himself:

The Body of
B. Franklin
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stripped of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By the Author.


Stephen, I love you buddy, stay close.

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.


Smart Trust Book to be published January 2012

Friday, May 27th, 2011

We know things have been quiet on the blogging front for CoveyLink this year but we have been completing research and writing  a new book entitled Smart Trust to be published by Simon & Schuster NY in January 2012.  You can look forward to much more frequent blog posts in the last half of 2011 in anticipation of this new look at Smart Trust around the world co-authored by Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg D. Link.

Following one of his presentations, a man approached Stephen backstage with a question that was obviously troubling him deeply. “Are you really serious about this?”, he asked incredulously. “Are there really people out there who operate with the kind of trust you’ve described?” This man lived and worked in a country where there was ripe corruption, characterized my massive distrust. He was clearly feeling deeply torn. He sincerely wanted to believe what we’d said, but was finding it almost impossible in the context of his environment.

In many variations, this question has been posed to us repeatedly by people around the world–in organizations, businesses, schools and government. In this era of profound distrust, are there really those who succeed and experience the benefits of trust in their personal and professional lives? If so, who are they? What are they doing? And how?

This new book is written in response to these questions. The short answer is, “Yes—absolutely!” There are hundreds of examples of people, companies and countries—individuals, teams, organizations, markets and industries—that have created cultures and relationships of high trust and are enjoying the wonderful benefits demonstrated in this forthcoming book—prosperity, energy and joy. In fact, one of the most exciting dimensions of our work over the past seven years, even predating The Speed of Trust book, has been to both sense and see first-hand the groundswell renaissance of trust that is gaining momentum and transforming lives and leadership around the globe—even in the midst of the “crisis of trust” that fills today’s headlines.

Newsweeks first ever best countries rank

Friday, May 13th, 2011

For the first time Newsweek has rank the countries in the world based on well being. NEWSWEEK chose five categories of national well-being—education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment—and compiled metrics within these categories across 100 nations.

Warren Buffet likes to say that anything good that’s ever happened to him can be traced back to the fact that he was born in the right country at the right time.  While trust was not a specific criteria all these indicators correlate with trust.

Pray for Japan

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Our sweet friend Terada Kazumi  says it best on Facebook:  Pray for Japan.  Watching the pictures of the devastation in Japan brings me intensely into the present.  ”Power of Now” and all that.  It brings an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the blessings we have in our safety and trusting relationships with family, friends and associates. Gratitude for simple things we take for granted like running water and an internet connection.  Our prayers go out to our friends in Japan, their friends and their friend’s friends.  We are all connected and are reminded of how fragile those connections can be.

To Quote Steve Jobs: “When I was 17 I read a quote that went something like “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”  Steve Jobs

Donate to Japan Relief

Trust Each Other. Vancouver Sun

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Insightful article from Canada.  The Vancouver Sun Newspaper and my vote for the most beautiful city in North America.  Article on Trust Each Other.  Research contradicts common beliefs that trust is soft.  ”How do people -and societies -learn to trust?   Working with the ideas of Erikson, a University of B.C. psychologist/anthropologist came up with a groundbreaking new theory last year when he provided evidence that trust increases in societies that are committed to world religions and a functioning market economy.
Many judge free-enterprise markets to be ruthless, but Joe Henrich maintains that working markets have generally been a force for good over the last 10,000 years, helping to drive the evolution of more trusting societies. Given the impressive economic track record of Nordic countries in recent decades, combined with their effective social programs, there appears to be something for Canadians to learn from such studies of trust.
Societies in which citizens have a strong degree of faith in each other appear to have stronger economies and are less likely to promote selfishness. It’s hard to find fault with that kind of society.

Gladwell draws brilliant distinction on trust in social media

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell, with his usual piercing insight, debunks false assumptions of the true cause and effect of social media and movements.  His in depth review of this increasingly more influential medium is worth the read in the November 2010 New Yorker.  From our perspective your high trust relationships form what he refers to as “strong ties” while many of our social acquaintances and “friends” in our social networks are “weak ties”.  Both are valuable but it is important to remember the distinction.

Speed of Trust USA Today Bestseller

Monday, November 8th, 2010

The Speed of Trust again graced the USA Today bestseller list as clear indication that momentum is building by leaders interested in learning to lead and get results in a way that inspires trust.  We judge others by their behaviors and ourselves by our intents.  The art is to behave in ways that inspire trust.  To walk our talk.  My daily challenge.

Speed of Trust # 1 Bestseller Washington Post

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

The Speed of Trust topped the non fiction book bestseller list in the Washington Post today.  I would like to think that this is an indication of our leaderships intent to restore trust.  I am confident that the ripple effect of responsibility and accountability felt this month in Washington and around the USA will continue to increase trust.  Leaders must go first and make restoring trust a strategic imperative.  At this time of the lowest trust and confidence levels in history paradoxically we are also seeing tremendous examples of high trust.  Leaders, teams and organizations around the world are prospering and growing by behaving in high trust ways.

2009 most trusted countries

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Trust perception varies from country to country throughout the world.  Paul Zak and other researches have even correlated trust levels with GDP.  Countries dealing with similar global conditions have markedly different outcomes.   Transparency International publishes an annual report on the perceived levels of trust in various countries based on 13 surveys and various other criteria.  What is clear is that trust levels are different in different countries.  The 2009 most trusted country was New Zealand, followed by Denmark, Singapore and Sweden.  The US ranked 19th and Japan 17th.  Go to the link above for the complete ranking.  As we have said, trust more that Euros, Yen or Dollars is the currency of the new global economy.  By learning the components and behaviors that make up trust we can all learn to raise the levels of trust in our families, our organizations and even our countries.

The International Anti-Corruption Conference will be held 10 to 13 this November in Bangkok.  The theme is Restoring trust: Global action for transparency. The conference will offer innovative perspectives on the role of anti-corruption in restoring trust.

The Ripple Effect

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

We often ask the question: who do you trust? to organizational leaders and workers around the globe.  In both the public and the private sectors there is now an uneasy caution about who you can trust.  The more penetrating question is who trusts you?  Imagine if you could grow trust in an environment of ever decreasing trust.  What a competitive advantage that would be.  It is more important than ever for you to give people someone they can trust.  Starting with your self by behaving and leading in ways that inspire trust creates a ripple effect of influence.

Test this for yourself.  Think of the person you trust the most.  What is it like to work with or be with that person?  Do they have influence on you because you trust them?  Does it speed up business to work with them?  What IF?  What if, everyone on your team had that level of trust?  At worst it would be a lot more energizing to work together.  At best trust makes the playing field really fast and becomes a performance multiplier that has a ripple effect on your team and your organization.

Religious understanding grows trust.

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Atheists, agnostics and other non believers outscored believers on Pew Nationwide survey of U.S. religious literacy.  Non believers averaged 66% of questions right to only 50% for believers. In a thought provoking editorial in today’s USA Today, Stephen Prothero confirms that the U.S. is a nation of religious illiterates. A couple of questions that jumped out at me were that only 47% knew the Dali Lama was Budhist  and only 27% knew that most of the population of the Southeast Asian country of Indonesia are Muslims. No wonder we don’t trust each other–we don’t understand each other.    Listening to and understanding our differences can go along way toward growing trust.   The 3 million people living in Mauritius for example have 3 dominant religions, Christian, Muslim and Hindu and one of the lowest crime rates in the world.  The police do not carry guns and the people celebrate each others religious holidays. Just sayin understanding grows trust.

Trust in neighbors top 10

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Top 10 States, Trust in NeighborThese findings, encompassing more than 170,000 interviews from the first six months of 2009 reveal that nationwide, 70% of Americans express trust in their neighbors, but this varies within a range of 25 percentage points across states.

Tough Times Test our Propensity to Trust

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Are you more suspicious?  Who can you count on?

We all are sitting straight up right now and have a high level of suspicion of others especially as it comes to our money.  I was just listening to Tom Brokaw’s commencement address to Emory University from 2005.  He said this about money to these graduating seniors as they started their new life: “In this new life you will also have to think about money in a new way, life after all is not an ATM, now you have to earn the money.  Think about how you can hang on to some of it, and if you are fortunate, use the money that is beyond what you need, to save a life, to save a neighborhood, to save the world. You may be surprised to learn that it is that use of money, that is the most satisfying and gratifying.  In our family where we began with no money, we like to say that we have  discovered that God invented money so those that have it can help others.  More over while money helps, it is discounted somehow if it does not carry your full personal value and commitment.  A few years ago in a ceremony similar to this one, I declared: ‘it is easy to make a buck but it is tough to make a difference.’  A father of one of the graduates, a Wall Street success wrote to me suggesting a rewrite of that line, he said it’s tough to make a buck but if you make a lot of bucks you can make a hell of a difference. A or B because there is no wrong answer.” Tom went on to tell this, “Class of 9/11″ as he called them (because they entered college the month of 9/11) that they had a responsibility to rise to the occasion to right the global ship of state.

Now is the time to have a propensity to trust each other and risk again.  Now is the time to give to others and have an abundance mentality, when everything in us and around us, screams for us to have a fear based scarcity mentality.  Now is the time to use our time, not for worry, but for lifting others with our time and our treasure as history tells us we have again and again. Trust that the ripple effect of extending trust will create a tide that will raise all of us–again.

This brings to mind a quote from George Bernard Shaw that my wife Annie and I love so much.  We first heard it from Werner Erhard in the 70′s and Annie shared it with Stephen R. Covey who quoted it in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It sums up my feeling today as it has these last three decades.  We invite you to join us in sparking a global renaissance of trust.

George Bernard Shaw:

This is the true joy in life–that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.  That being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.  I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it what ever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.  For the harder I work the more I live.  I rejoice in life for its own sake.  Life is no brief candle to me. It’s sort of a splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

May we all be a force of nature.

Twitter’s Speed of Trust ripple of influence

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Twitter is remarkable. Follow us.  I ignored it too long thinking it was not scalable or professionally relevant.  My strategic business thinking is obviously sometimes my biggest handicap.  I was wrong, it scales the entire globe. It is both personal, i keep up with kids and grandkids, and professional,  I connect and communicate with like minded thinkers around the world.  Short story first.  A new friend on twitter Dinesh connected me to some wonderful TV footage on the Economist of an interview with Jaya Kumar, the Chief Marketing Officer of one of our clients, FritoLay, and Tony Hsieh,  CEO of talking about trust, transparency, high trust culture and specifically the Speed of Trust.  This is something that in the “old days” in the late 80′s early 90′s when we launched the 7 Habits book would have slipped through our fingers and not been shared with as broad and committed of an audience.  This conversation would not have been transparent to me so that I could engage it, leverage it and share it.  I also now have the opportunity and intend to acknowledge and thank Jaya for it.

Another new friend in Denmark gave me tips on what to see on my upcoming trip to Amsterdam.   Another did the same in London.

The longer story that comes to mind is the significance of the realization of the transcendent potential of the world wide web so eloquently described by Christopher Locke at the turn of the century (the 21st century that is) in 2000 in his book the cluetrain manifesto:

“More important, all of us are finding our voices once again.  Learning how to talk to one another.  Slowly recovering from a near fatal brush with zombification after watching Night of the Living Sponsor reruns all of our lives.  Inside, Outside, there’s a conversation going on today that wasn’t happening at all 5 years ago (95) and hasn’t been very much in evidence since the Industrial Revolution began.  Now, spanning the planet via Internet and World Wide Web, this conversation is so vast, so multifaceted, that trying to figure what it is about is futile.  It’s about a billion years of pent-up hopes and fears and dreams coded in serpentine double helixes, the collective flashback deja vu of our strange perplexing species.  Something ancient, elemental, sacred, something very very funny that’s broken loose in the pipes and wires of the 21st century. There are millions of threads in this conversation, but at the beginning and end of each one is a human being… This fervid desire for the Web bespeaks a longing so intense that it can only be understood as spiritual.  A longing indicates something is missing in our lives.  What is missing is the sound of the human voice.  The spiritual lure of the Web is the promise of the return of voice.

Twitter is clearly a giant leap forward in that direction.

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?

Radical Transparency

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Emile Durkheim once said, “when mores are sufficient laws are unnecessary,  when mores are insufficient laws are unenforceable.” Our financial regulators could learn from this premise. The transparency of the web creates the possibility of self regulation Durkheim envisioned.  Ebay pioneered this self regualation that enabled as, founder Peter Omidyar said “that the miracle of Ebay was that 135 million strangers could trust each other”. A brilliant article in Wired Magazine Road Map for Financial Recovery: Radical Transparency Now! By Daniel Roth Email 02.23.09 lays out a very doable solution for our financial train wreck:

“That’s why it’s not enough to simply give the SEC—or any of its sister regulators—more authority; we need to rethink our entire philosophy of regulation. Instead of assigning oversight responsibility to a finite group of bureaucrats, we should enable every investor to act as a citizen-regulator. We should tap into the massive parallel processing power of people around the world by giving everyone the tools to track, analyze, and publicize financial machinations. The result would be a wave of decentralized innovation that can keep pace with Wall Street and allow the market to regulate itself—naturally punishing companies and investments that don’t measure up—more efficiently than the regulators ever could.

The revolution will be powered by data, which should be unshackled from the pages of regulatory filings and made more flexible and useful. We must require public companies and all financial firms to report more granular data online—and in real time, not just quarterly—uniformly tagged and exportable into any spreadsheet, database, widget, or Web page. The era of sunlight has to give way to the era of pixelization; only when we give everyone the tools to see each point of data will the picture become clear. Just as epidemiologists crunch massive data sets to predict disease outbreaks, so will investors parse the trove of publicly available financial information to foresee the next economic disasters and opportunities.”

This is an idea whose time has come.  The sunlight of transparency is the ultimate accountability.  What information in your team or organization would improve accountability?

“By virtue of its immensity, the global effort to restore trust will …

Friday, February 27th, 2009

“By virtue of its immensity, the global effort to restore trust will… almost certainly succeed.” Business WeekJames C. Cooper, Senior Editor and Economist, for BusinessWeek actually said this in an article in BusinessWeek last October but it rings with new hope in light of the unprecedented stimulus package signed in my home town of Denver today. The Stimulus package violates my sense of the free market principles but may be better than the alternative of letting market forces bankrupt miss guided companies as it would in a normal market. It is a slippery slope, however.  The medicine may prove to be worse than the illness.  Not holding organizations and individuals accountable for their actions is a clear violation of market trust.   James Cooper clearly described the problem:  “Individual governments are rapidly filling in the details as they move unilaterally to address their own needs, but with the common purpose of attacking the broader problem of eroding confidence in the financial system. Modern finance, in which a relatively small base of capital supports a much larger volume of credit, depends on three things: sufficient capital among banks, liquidity to keep funds flowing, and trust that everyone will get paid. The problem with this financial trinity is that trust is not only dependent on the first two, but also turns on human emotion. Too much fear can bring down the house. By virtue of its immensity, the global effort to restore trust will almost certainly succeed.”

I remain optimistic that keeping a cool head and having a propensity to trust the free market system will ultimately right the global economy.  We each have to do our part to restore confidence by behaving in ways that inspire trust.  We also must spend and invest and act as if we believe in the system.  I have confidence that just like the savings and loan crisis, the dot com bubble, 9/11, and numerous other market disruptions in recent history, that the economy will recover more quickly than the press would have us believe but only if we each step up in our own circle of influence and restore trust and confidence.

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!”

Dangerous trend in trust.

Monday, December 1st, 2008

In an ethics study  released today of nearly 30,000 high schoolers entitled The Ethics of American Youth by the Josephson Institute in Los Angeles, 83% of teens report lying to their parents about something significant. 64% say they have cheated on an exam in the last year and 30% say they have stolen something from a store in the last year.  The shocker is that 93% say they are satisfied with their personal character and ethics revealing an alarming gap in their perception of their self trust. 

These are our future workers and leaders and we desperately need to change their perception of the importance of trust and ethics or our global crisis of trust is destined to deepen. 

I agree with what Michael Josephson, the institute’s founder and president had to say about the results: ”What is the social cost of that–not to mention the implication for the next generation of mortgage brokers? In a society drenched with cynicism, young people can look at it and say ‘Why shouldn’t we? Everyone else does it.’”

Clearly as a society at large it is critical for us to teach that trust is paramount to a global economy.  We must all make growing trust an explicit objective and behave accordingly to set the standard for the next generation.

European Weekly quotes Speed of Trust

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

The European Weekly in an article entitled The 2007-2008 crisis – a breakdown of trust? 

By Peter Gakunu,  the IMF Executive Director for Africa, and a member of the Jury of the Robin Cosgrove Prize for Ethics in Finance, called the global financial crisis a breach of the public Trust.

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 

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!” 


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

Fatal Flaw in Facebook, Linked in and other Social Networks

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

As I see it, the ultimate value of the Social Networks is still up for grabs even though it is growing worldwide.  The potential fatal flaw is that rather than enhancing your reputation you may damage it by loosely giving access to your most trusted relationships. Consider this: Do you have a multiple year, deep trusted relationship with your social network friends or a 1 year acquaintance repeated multiple times? With Trust depth matters.

Social networks are filled with loose mutual acquaintances but rarely our most trusted influencers. Why? Because it would violate the very level of trust the relationship is based on to openly expose your most influential high trust relationships to random access from others you barely know! This is the same reason customers are reluctant to risk their reputation by referring their trusted colleagues and friends to salespeople. The speed of your trust and reputation, your social capital and influence, resides in your carefully nurtured “Trustwork” not your loose network of acquaintances. Mix the two haphazardly and you risk your reputation with your most trusted friends.  Many of the acquaintances in your social networks, are simply “potential” candidates for you to up-level and earn deep mutual respect with, and they with you,  by demonstrating consistent behavior over time that inspires each person’s trust. Facebook,  Linkedin and others provide a rich opportunity to meet new friends trusted by people you trust.  This  is the ultimate value of networking. In fact research shows that loose acquaintances were more likely to lead to a job referral. So social networks do have value.  Just be sure to extend smart trust and check new friends track records before introducing them to your Trustwork™ of long nurtured high trust relationships until they earn that extraordinary level of trust.

The game of friending anyone and everyone to show a large network number also seems risky.  Clarify your expectations and think of how you would like others to access you. Build your network strategically based on your objectives.  The intent of the network providers is to attract eyeballs and mindshare any way they can and find ways to monetize that attention.  The jury is still out on how they will do that.  Meanwhile, we are trusting them with considerable information so be smart out there.

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. 

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.

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.


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.

Global renaissance of Trust in full swing: Stephen to speak in 13 global cities

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

As Jerry Roper CEO of the Chicago Chamber of commerce said last year:  ”The Speed of Trust is not a book it is a movement.”  We hope so.  Stephen and I are thrilled at the tremendous reception The Speed of Trust is receiving from all corners of the Globe.   We are convinced and passionate about the prospects of sparking a Global Renaissance of Trust.  Momentum is building,  keep telling your friends.  Be an advocate of Trust.

Stephen speaks in these 13 Global Cities in the next few weeks:

In Australasia:

  • Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, May 19, 2008
  • Auckland, New Zealand, Tuesday, May 20, 2008
  • Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, May 21, 2008
  • Sydney, Australia, Thursday, May 22, 2008
  • Singapore, Monday, May 26, 2008
  • Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 28, 2008
  • Shanghai, China, Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Europe:

  • Zurich, Switzerland, Monday, June 16 and Tuesday, June 17, 2008
  • Luxembourg/Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday, June 18, 2008
  • Birmingham, UK, Thursday, June 19, 2008
  • The Netherlands, Friday, June 20, 2008

In South America:

  • Puerto Rico, Wednesday, April 30, 2008
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Speed of Trust continues to sell strongly in the USA, remaining on the New York Times’ list for the last 12 weeks.  The Speed of Trust was #12 of all books in USA Today on February 14th and #1 in The Wall Street Journal business books on February 15th.  It is #13 on the New York Times’ list for this Sunday. It was also the #1 best-selling book for the entire year of 2007 by CEO-Read. 

“Trust is not only the right thing to do, it is the economic thing to do!”

Friday, September 7th, 2007

The reaction to our plea for a global renaissance of Trust is building momentum thanks to many influencers and early adopters that resonate with this important topic.   Here’s a couple of examples of what Stephen has been up to:

“TRUST is a shamefully elusive quality in business, leading organizations to make poor decisions, go to market more slowly, and waste time and effort in unproductive pursuits…  Stephen M. R. Covey says the secret of speed to market, loyalty, responsiveness, and a high-functioning—even remarkable—organization may be the most elementary (but all to often absent) component of effective human relationships: TRUST.”

AssociationsNow, July 2007 – Newton Holt

On August 14th Stephen M. R. Covey presented his new book and keynote The Speed of Trust to the attendees of the ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago. Stephen says, “Associations have an opportunity to be a trusted resource, a trusted advisor, and liaison…  Associations can literally help to elevate the behavior of an entire industry, trade, or profession. Getting results in a way that inspires trust is not only the right thing to do, but is the economic thing to do . . . and that is good business for us all.”


This compelling message is resonating with business and association audiences every week as my road warrior business travels the globe delivering what William Parrett, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, calls a “red-hot relevant” message.

 “What makes one company or organization successful while another flounders? Why are some employees rock stars while others become disgruntled and irrelevant? There are many reasons of course, but, according to author and business strategist, Stephen M. R. Covey, a single distinction often makes the difference: TRUST.”

Oklahoman, July 2007 – Penny Cockrell


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.”

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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