A Lust for Trust – the interview

Lust for Trust A Lust for Trust   the interview

Trust is a prerequisite for any transaction.

We talk a lot about getting to know, like and trust people but we often fall short of understanding exactly how to go about establishing trust.

You can’t just say “You can trust me” or “I’m trustworthy”. Its a bit like telling someone you’re funny when what you need to do is make them laugh.
Part of the trouble of defining trust is that it is usually recognised as a “gut feeling”.

How do you describe “trust”?

Feelings such as trust and loyalty are established by our limbic brain which is responsible for all of our feelings. It is also responsible for our behaviour and decision-making. Unfortunately this part of the brain has no capacity for language so we’re relying on recognising the feeling and then the language part of the brain takes over when we rationalize our decisions.

Trust is so important in the world of business and government that Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, has been conducting trust surveys for  14 years.

We believe that trust is an asset that enterprises must understand and properly manage in order to be successful in today’s complex operating environment. Unlike reputation, which is based on an aggregate of past experiences with a company or brand, trust is a forward facing metric of stakeholder expectation. Edelman.com

Engagement and Integrity

Their latest Trust Barometer shows that Engagement and Integrity are two of the priority areas for  building trust. While trust in government, institutions and media has waned, trust in our peers has increased, which is great news for small businesses that relate on a very personal level with clients and customers.

Trust is a measure in of the belief in the honesty, fairness and benevolence of another party, and most importantly, in our belief that it will be reciprocated. In other words, trusting and being trusted in return gives us a chemical feel good rush.

I interviewed Sunil Bali, author of A Lust for Trust. (The book hasn’t been published yet so if you’d like to know when its available, follow Sunil’s blog)

Listen to the  interview here:  (apologies, the last few minutes are cut off – my fault!) 

The last few minutes of the recording were mostly me talking about other brands that demonstrate trust including Fair Finance, a company that offers disenfranchised people loans at reasonable interest rates because they believe that most people want to pay back what they borrow and when lending is designed to make this easy, very few people default  (unlike Wonga which is designed to create more debt).

The other company I mentioned is Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company that has always delivered on its promise to produce clothing that won’t wear out and to use materials that are kind to the environment. This has resulted in a healthy re-sale of items and Patagonia, rather than trying to suppress this and encourage people to buy new, has opened a store on E-bay with the sole purpose of making it easy for customers to re-sell their goods, further building on the trust that people have in the brand.

You can listen to interviews with Clive Rich of Lawbite and Faisel Rahmen of Fair Finance in The Radical Redesign of Business post.

When a brand is trusted people pay more, come back and tell others. 

If you’d like to share your own thoughts on what makes you trust people, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below or on The Inspired Group on LinkedIn or Google Plus

Are you humble, arrogant or just unaware?

Justin Timberlake Are you humble, arrogant or just unaware? “Pleased to meet you”

Do you know the name of the guy in the picture?

I’m not the best informed when it comes to pop stars but I was utterly bowled over when I watched an episode of The Voice UK   when a contestant was taken to meet the international superstar Justin Timberlake  - that’s him, in the picture.

As the unknown approached the star, he (the superstar) proffered his hand  and said “Hi I’m Justin”.

Now a guy like that could be forgiven for assuming that most people in the music industry know who he is. He could even be forgiven for assuming that a lot of the general public know who he is but there he was, INTRODUCING HIMSELF.

I immediately took notice. Someone with that level of awareness of putting other people at ease, of not making assumptions, is worth taking notice of.

I’ve been to networking events where the idea is to meet people, get to know, like and trust them and maybe do business with them, where that level of self awareness would work wonders.

A place where everybody knows your name?

People, there is no such place. You may think you are a big fish in small pond and that folks know (or should know) who you are.

You may simply be so unused to such gatherings that you’re not aware that someone would like to introduce you but has forgotten or never knew your name.

Either way, please, ease the social interaction by simply copying the superstar and saying your name every time, as many times as necessary, always and forever, so that no-body feels awkward or worse, walks away without ever  learning your name.

That simple gesture  turned me into a fan of Mr. Timberlake that has nothing to do with his prowess as a musician, singer, producer and entertainer. I’m a fan of his awareness and humility and his desire to put someone at ease.

It’s such a simple thing to do but it speaks volumes.

In any interaction, its never about you, its always about the person you’re meeting. If you focus on them and not on you, you’ll be the superstar.

Passion and Purpose

Kiss Copy Passion and Purpose  Why we should do business with people who share our passion and purpose

In his charismatic TED talk, Simon Sinek says that our goal shouldn’t be to do business with everyone who needs what we provide, our goal should be to find the people who believe what we believe and who want to work with us as partners.

Tesco has recently had an epiphany. It discovered that a large number of its customers, suppliers and employees regarded the company as a predator. It  has taken the decision to change the way it operates and, in the words of Matt Atkinson, CEO, “to rebuild the business to be a partner, not a predator”.

Why? Perhaps because in 2012 Tesco posted the first drop in profits in over 20 years and they’ve recognised that, as the internet and social networks make customers and their views more powerful, the whole way businesses treat their customers needs to change.

The art of making partners of customers applies to all businesses and it starts with the passion of the business owner and the purpose of the business. 

Its not enough to say our businesses exist to solve a problem for our customers, what we need to do is make it clear what we believe about the work we do so that those who believe what we believe want to become our partners, not just our customers, suppliers or employees.

Here’s my example:

The purpose of The Inspired Group is to Inspire Business Owners to Help Each Other Through Collaborative Learning.

“Members of The Inspired Group believe that people who start their own businesses have put their hopes and dreams into what they do and that its important to take care of each other and help to nurture those dreams. We believe that its great to learn with and from each other and to share what we know. We believe in aligning what we do with who we are.  We believe that building a business is about building a life, not just a living. Want to join us?

What is your purpose and passion? Will it attract the people you really want to work with?  Need some help to get it clear?

Are you ready for the Collaborative Economy?

confusion Are you ready for the Collaborative Economy?

The Collaborative Economy is going corporate.

Million dollar businesses like Airbnb, Lyft and LendingClub are a few examples of  businesses that use technology to enable large numbers of people to rent or borrow or otherwise pay for things that other people want to get paid for, whether its a spare room, a spare seat in a car or some spare cash. 

These businesses are being branded as part of the “sharing” economy, tapping in to people’s desire to deal directly with each other rather than use the traditional agencies.

At the other end of the spectrum there are some stunning examples of collaboration in the use of of creative commons licences and open source programmes that encourage the free sharing of things published on the web.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of sharing images on Flickr and the code used for free blogging platforms like WordPress. Some recent additions to this are open source architect’s blueprints via Paperhouse and plans for prosthetic limbs that can be made with 3D printers, making both of these expensive items available to many more people. General Electric is making its patents available to crowd sourced inventions on Quirky. This is sharing that is not about making money.

Sharing or renting?

However, most things that are described as being part of the “sharing” economy are simply using innovative technology to create collaborations and new, profit making business models.

A recent survey of 90,000 people by Crowd Companies showed that most people use these services because of convenience and price and not for any altruistic reasons.

Paradoxically, the growing rejection of big corporations and their dominance in the consumer world and a desire to support locally sourced solutions is fuelling the growth of collaborative initiatives.

Big brands see the opportunity

Not to be outdone, the most recent entrants to the sharing economy are big brands that have seen the opportunities.

BMW is offering a subscription based car-sharing scheme, big retailers are crowd sourcing new designs from their customers and making over part of their stores to Etsy’s artisans, Patagonia is providing a buy back service for its customers worn-wear items, simultaneously providing a platform for people to talk about the adventures the clothes have seen while emphasising the quality of their items.

In all this confusion of terms and ideals, one thing is clear: New business models are all around us and it’s an exciting place to be.

Small businesses in particular have a great opportunity to collaborate and use crowd sourcing and crowd funding or to work with those brands that want to be seen as being part of this new economy.

How does your business fit in this world? Are there new opportunities and collaborations to be explored?

If you enjoy this blog you may like to explore my  on-line solutions to a better business :
“The Social Media Opportunity for Small Businesses”
“The Seven Steps to Your Successful Business”

Why you should blog with passion

 Why you should blog with passion Blogging with passion gets great results.

In this refreshingly honest and funny interview Sam Collett talks about how she became an award winning blogger with her property blog “What Sam Saw Today”

Sam started her blog because she loved writing about her adventures in the property market. She doesn’t use catchy subject lines, optimise for SEO or employ any of the other techniques that most professional bloggers recommend.

She attracts approx 5,500 readers a month – not huge by some standards but numbers that many bloggers would envy.

Techniques v Content

While an undeniably smart cookie in many areas, Sam professes to know little about the mechanics of blogging and uses the same WordPress theme that she started with in 2010.

She mentions in the interview that, in an attempt to become more “professional”, she started following some of the popular “How to Blog” blogs but found that the techniques they espoused detracted from her writing and she stopped enjoying it. She decided to go back to her natural style of writing and to forget all the techniques that are supposed to make your blog more popular.

Blogging led Sam to successfully pitch for a regular column with the Evening Standard Homes & Property, and two book publishing deals for How to Buy Property at Auction and Property Investment: The Essential Rules.

On being proactive on both these fronts Sam says, “You can’t just blog and sit back and expect people to notice you and come and offer you things. My blog is the proof that I can write but I still went out and got the deals I wanted and made things happen.”

Be true to yourself

Sam puts the success of her blog down to a very simple thing: she writes in a way that she enjoys about things she loves.

I see this simple strategy work time and time again in many different ways. Transparency, openness and lack of attempts to manipulate lead people who share your values to connect with you and want to be part of what you do. In Sam’s case, creating great content is easy because she talks about what she believes in.

Sam is a regular tweeter @whatsamsawtoday , and can be found on FacebookG+ and the online property forum: “Landlord Network” on LinkedIn. She describes her social networking as “having conversations with people” and doesn’t use it to incessantly plug her blog.

Listen to Sam’s disarming interview and Q&A from Cambridge Bloggers Meetup 


I’ve just heard that Sam has won  Best Blog AND Best Blog Post in the PrimeLocation Blog Awards.

How do you create trust?

blame 4 How do you create trust?
People may know you and like you but will they trust you?

The know, like and trust formula is bandied around a lot in business but the big question remains. How do you get people to trust you enough to do business with you?

My good friend Sunil Bali wrote this on his blog:  

There are 5 reasons people don’t buy (your product or service). The first four are easy to deal with.

  1. No want
  2. No need
  3. No money
  4. No hurry

The 5th reason is the most difficult to contend with. That 5th reason is no trust.

You can only build trust by being yourself.

You win people over by consistently sharing your values, your beliefs, and your stories.

Wearing a mask on the other hand wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be who you know you’re not.

When you choose you, there’s a good chance that others will choose you.

Being personal is far more important than being perfect. 

Follow Sunil’s blog for more like this but beware! He includes groan inducing jokes in every post!

I have recurring conversations with people about their presence on social networks. It’s usually along the lines of “Will I upset potential clients or harm my brand if I reveal too much about myself?”

My reply is always: “If you try to hide who you really are you’ll end up with clients you hate who don’t appreciate you.”

Social networks provide the ideal opportunity to show the world who you really are, what your values are and, more importantly, that other people trust you.

They’re also a good place to see who other people really are ………

Lately I’ve been quoting Simon Sinek a lot. His answer to the trust question is simply this:

“Don’t try to sell to everyone who might need your product or service, find the people who believe what you believe and they will gladly buy from you.”

I recently interviewed Paul Taylor from Bromford, a social business that actively encourages all of its 1200 staff members to usual social networks freely to connect with each other and their clients. Since taking this bold step they have recruited more talent and got more business because the world can see the real values that the organisation embodies.

Another revealing interview came from Sam Collett, the award winning property blogger of What Sam Saw Today.  When I asked Sam why her blog was so popular (5,500 readers a week) she said she doesn’t employ any of the usual techniques of catchy headlines and keywords, she writes exactly what she feels and attracts readers who appreciate her for who she really is. This approach earned her a weekly column in the Evening Standard and a book deal with a major publisher.

“Being yourself” definitely pays!

If you enjoy this blog you may like to explore my  on-line solutions to a better business :
“The Social Media Opportunity for Small Businesses”
“The Seven Steps to Your Successful Business”

Are you solving problems or creating delight?

 Dance Are you solving problems or creating delight?

Most businesses are started to solve a problem.

A few create delight.

If you can do both you should not only be very successful but you’ll probably be very satisfied and fulfilled as well.

Do your customers have a pain they need your solution to alleviate or do they have an irrational passion for something that you can supply? Can you combine the two?

It’s not always as obvious  as it might seem. It all comes down to what you’re really selling.

These three famous brands seem to have it nailed. What do you think they’re selling?

Revlon1 Are you solving problems or creating delight? Harley Davidson Bike Are you solving problems or creating delight? nike tick Are you solving problems or creating delight?









On the face of it (sorry) Revlon could be seen to be solving the problem of imperfect skin or ageing. Harley Davidson might have started by solving a transport problem and Nike is solving the need that sports people have for high performance equipment and garments.

According to their own PR Nike sells winning; Revlon sells hope; Harley Davidson sells freedom.

Could you combine a winning combination of need and want for your business? 
What are you favourite examples of businesses that combine problem solving with creating delight?





You don’t need New Year resolutions!

New year resolution jpg You dont need New Year resolutions!

To make changes, what you need are some new friends and new habits!

It’s been said we are a combination of the 5 people we spend most time with. 

Look at the people you hang out with all of the time. its likely that your eating habits, overall health, wealth, and levels of success are similar. What does that mean when you want to make changes?

We can’t change in isolation. Everything we do affects the people around us so this means that if you want to change, either you friends need to change with you or you need to associate with different people.

Most things happen without a plan. Many of them are good things: friendships, falling in love, finding great music, food or art, or things that make you laugh. Spontaneity and serendipity are important.

However, if you want to achieve something it means making space in your life and taking action until you’ve created new habits that become an integral part of your life.

If you’ve struggled to stick to a plan to achieve your goals (and who hasn’t?) it may be useful to think of goals in these two very different ways.

A RESULT oriented goal would be to lose a stone in weight by a particular date. This can sometimes result in embarking on a plan of action that you hate and you have to grit your teeth every day to move closer to your goal.

A PROCESS oriented goal would be to eat healthily and exercise every day and because you focus on the process you are more likely to choose one that you enjoy and can keep at until it turns into a new life habit. An important point about this is that however much you want the result, if you hate the process you are unlikely to succeed. Finding a process that is enjoyable is the best way to achieve any goal.

How long does it take to make a new habit?

The popular view is that it takes 21 days to create a new habit but a new book by psychologist Jeremy Dean  “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick” reveals that this figure is wrong. Dean’s research shows that the length of time it takes to create a new habit varies enormously so don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up if the new habits don’t come easily.

You don’t have to do alone.

There are four crucial people that you need to have on your team in order to make the changes you’ve identified:

A Mentor – This is someone you know who has had success in the areas in which you want to be successful.  If you’re unfit and want to be healthy and strong, find somebody who used to be unfit and is now healthy and strong and find out how they did it. (Remember you have to like the process or it won’t work for you).  If you want to earn more, learn to sing, open a shop, win a medal, find somebody who has had that experience and learn EVERYTHING you can about how they did it.

A Buddy – This is someone who is struggling with the same things, working on the same stuff as you.  When you have a bad day, this person knows exactly how you feel.  Because you’re both striving for the same goals, you have somebody to bounce ideas around with, share triumphs and struggles with. Caution: don’t take the buddy support as far as going down the plughole together. Understanding its hard doesn’t mean you support each other in giving up.

A Student – The BEST way to get better at something is to teach it to somebody else.  If you think you need to be an expert in order to teach, think of expertise on a scale of 1- 100. If you’re a 5 you can help out the 1-4′s.  Find somebody that needs help, maybe a co-worker or friend who wants to do what you’re doing and teach them how to get started.  As you get better and learn from your mentor, you can then compare are share this with your buddy and then help teach it to your student.

A Cheerleader – This is the person who will always be in your corner, cheering you on. They’ll believe in you more than you believe in yourself, have high expectations, keep you on your toes, push you outside of your comfort zone, make you try new things, not let you settle for less, dust you off when you fall and push you back out there.

The best year of your life is within reach if you focus on creating new habits. The first step is to begin.

This is an extract from the workbook “How to Have Your Best Year Yet” If you’d like a copy of the workbook just ask 

What are your best tips for making changes that stick?

What does Auld Lang Syne mean?

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4232051574 235755bef9 m What does Auld Lang Syne mean?

Train Tracks in the Snow by Adam Hawkins

Why, when we gather to celebrate a New Year, do we sing the song that hardly anyone understands?

Auld Lang Syne – the song that everybody sings and nobody knows is often attributed to Robbie Burns but the song is actually much older and RB just added a few verses sometime in the 1790s.

The band leader Guy Lombardo is credited with making the song a New Year’s tradition after hearing it sung by Scottish immigrants to Canada. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929. After that, Lombardo’s version of the song was played and broadcast every New Year’s eve from the 1930s until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria.

Looking back and looking forward

There are those who see the end of the year as a chance to look back on their achievements (or what they failed to achieve) and look forward to achieving more but the song asks us to reflect on our relationships with the people who have shared our journey in life while we think of what has passed and what is to come.

More than any other achievement it is the connections to other human beings that give life meaning, bring us a sense of belonging and make us emotionally healthy.

Auld Lang Syne urges us to call up memories of old friends and to lift a glass to toast them even if they are no longer with us or we haven’t seen them in a long time. When times are bad it is especially good to remember those who cared for us and supported us and remember that these same people celebrated with us in good times.

People are the most important things in our lives

The media continues its relentless fear-mongering, trying to make us believe that danger and evil lurks around every corner but there are also countless stories of the kindness of strangers and more especially, most of us are fortunate enough to know that there are people we can rely on and who can rely on us to be selfless and kind with no thought of reward.

We sing the song that we barely understand because we know instinctively that it is these relationships that we should celebrate at the end of a year and know that spending time on building and strengthening them  will be the most important things we can do with our time in the years to come.

Appreciating that life has had good moments with good people is what sustains hope and makes us want to experience that feeling again in times to come.

May you have many such moments in 2014.

Here is my version of the old song:

For times long gone, old friend, for times long gone
We’ll drink a toast to kindness shared in times long gone.
Let’s remember our old friends
Who helped when times were bad
Let’s remember the celebrations
That we shared when times were good.
You get yourself your favourite drink
And I will get mine too
And we’ll drink a toast to kindness shared
In times of long ago.
We used to run quite carefree
Picking flowers in the sun
But we’ve also trudged a weary way
And some good times have gone.
We used to paddle in the stream
And play till we were tired
But oceans flowed between us
And pushed it from our mind.
Now take my hand my trusted friend
And give me yours to shake
And join me in a good-will drink
To good times that we shared.

If you want to see the traditional words just go here:


Happy New Year!

Why you need your face on Twitter

12 Why you need your face on Twitter
There is overwhelming evidence that your face has a huge impact on-line.

It seems that every day I have a conversation with someone about whether they should have their face or their business logo on their Twitter account.

Their argument is that they want to get brand recognition. My response to that is that brand recognition is much, much more than someone seeing your logo in a pile of other logos and immediately associating it with a particular product or service. A small business on Twitter is like a snowflake in a snowstorm. Every one is unique but none stands out just because they add themselves to the pile.  

A small business on Twitter is like a a snowflake in a snowstorm.

The way big businesses get brand recognition is by spending millions on advertising. The advertising doesn’t just put their logo in front of us on a regular basis, it gives a very carefully crafted message that creates powerful emotions and expectations. Creating brand awareness and recognition needs specific skills, time and money. Sticking your logo in a stream of thousands on Twitter has no impact at all – in fact it can have a negative effect.

Even the biggest brands don’t rely on their image to get traction on Twitter. The ones that get the best results have recognised what works and they spend millions personalising their accounts and training their staff to interact in a personal, human, friendly, authentic way with real names and smiling faces.

If you join Twitter to get more business this can seem confusing. If you’ve been told that social networks are a great place to do your marketing you’ve only been told a very small part of the story.

Imagine a room full of people all brandishing their business cards and all shouting at the same time “Buy from ME!” This is what happens when businesses flock to social networks to do their marketing. The people they are trying to sell to are not listening. They are either too busy shouting about their own business or having fun pursuing their own interests and getting to know interesting people.

So, how DO you use Twitter to get business?

Simple. When people meet you for the first time, on-line or face to face, their first question is “Who are you? The second is “What do you do”. 

Nobody cares about what you do until they care about who you are. Click to read this post.

 In the same way that you network face to face, the first thing you have to do on line is create rapport. You look for things you have in common with someone, you check out their interests and values. You aim to be an interesting and useful person that others want to hang out with. You gather a bunch of friends and fans who will go from liking YOU to being interested in what you DO.  These people may never become your customers but they’ll be happy to promote you to their friends and this is where the magic happens. You build TRUST.

You post interesting and useful stuff that draws people into your website – and the first thing they do is check out the “About Us” page because everyone wants to know WHO they’re doing business with. If you haven’t got a picture of yourself and a great story on your website you’re wasting your most valuable on-line real estate.

Why is your picture so important?

There are millions of studies that show how human beings react to pictures of faces. In any print or web page our eyes are immediately drawn to a face and we experience emotions based on how we react to the expression on that face. Eyes are particularly important in creating feelings of trust. A real, open smile, one that makes your eyes crinkle, has a huge impact.

When you follow someone on Twitter they will look at your profile to see if they want to follow you back. Your name and picture are the biggest influencers in this decision. A lot of people simply won’t follow a business account because they assume you are there to sell to them. Even when someone does follow you, they will have trouble picking your tweets out of the ever changing stream, especially as most people use Twitter on their phones. They’re a lot more likely to do this if they recognise the general outline of your picture so don’t change it too often!
I’ve lost count of the number of people who have started out on Twitter with a business name and logo and got very little traction. When they change to their own name and face they get more followers and more interaction and this is what leads to business.

“Social Media Marketing” is a myth

No-one ever joined a social network to be sold to. Social networks are where people talk to friends and family and interact with businesses only when they want something . They are not “media” in the way that TV, radio, press and billboards are. A lot of the most successful marketing agencies are dropping the term completely and teaching their clients about ‘social business’ or ‘open business’.
If you approach Twitter as a way to build your network, bearing in mind that most people are there to waste time and have fun, you will get much better results than any attempt to market your business. That comes AFTER people have grown to like and trust you and is done by drawing people to your website where you can show off your logo as much as you like!

Ann Hawkins is a business mentor who will help you to make more profit, keep you accountable for your success and introduce you to a support network of your peers. Ann is the founder of The Inspired Group, co-presenter of The Business Hub radio show and owner of The Social Media Show. If you’d like to talk to Ann about how to take your business from OK to Excellent call her on 07711 705038

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