Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category


Stephen, thank you for kicking off our 2020 Trust Insights series. What is your trust insight?

Trust is both earned and given—therefore to build trust, it’s not enough to be trustworthy; you also have to be trusting.  Stephen M.R. Covey





Can you expand a bit on this important insight?

We earn trust through our character and competence—our credibility—along with our behavior.  This makes a leader trustworthy.  But consider this:  you could have two trustworthy people working together, and no trust between them . . . if neither person is willing to extend trust to the other. 

While I believe most leaders today recognize the need to be trustworthy, I’m not sure if most recognize the equally vital need to be trusting.  And that’s where I think we’re got to put special focus in our leadership work by learning to lead out in extending trust (smartly) to others.

And it’s the leader’s job to go first.  Someone needs to go first; that’s what leaders do—leaders go first.  Yes, there’s risk in trusting people.  But there’s also risk in not trusting people.  And in today’s collaborative world, filled with multiple generations and characterized by disruption, not trusting people is quite often the greater risk.

Extending trust to others not only improves performance, it also generates a reciprocity of trust: when we give trust, people receive it and return it.  When we withhold it, they withhold it. 

Indeed, the act of extending trust to others is the defining act of leadership.  It’s a game-changer, both for the leader extending the trust and for the person being trusted.  Indeed, to be trusted is the most inspiring form of human motivation. 

That’s why the first job of a leader is to inspire trust, and the second job is to extend it.

Can you provide a real life example of a trust “challenge” where your insight has been effectively applied.

I recently presented at the University of Missouri with David Novak, former CEO of Yum! Brands for over 16 years.  David validated the impact of applying this approach of leading out in extending trust to others as he shared with me his experience of when he first took the job as President of KFC and inherited a situation where there was massive distrust, and even hostility, between the corporation and the franchisees.

In his own words, he said:  “My first official act as president was to get together with my executive team and let them know things had to change…. I said, ‘I want you to know something.  I love working with franchisees.  And from now on we’re going to trust our franchisees.”

From this decision to extend trust, new ideas, collaboration and innovation began to emerge from the franchisees and new products resulted from it.  The business experienced a dramatic turnaround in both results and culture. 

Novak continues: “If you ask the finance people what ignited the business, they will tell you it was the new products, but my answer would be that it was the triumph of the human spirit.  It all started with one simple decision: to trust franchisees.  That opened the way for them to trust me and the corporation in return, and together we unleashed the power of our people to succeed.”

Stephen, generally, do you think the global “trust” climate is improving or worsening? What actions are making it better or worse?

On balance, given the current state of our society and politics, I believe it’s worsening.  And the internet, social media, and 24/7 connectivity immediately highlights untrustworthy behavior and often exacerbates the challenges we face.  The danger of a low-trust world is that it tends to perpetuate itself.  When we see scandals, corruption, self-serving and untrustworthy behavior, we tend to become more careful, guarded and suspicious because none of us want to get burned.  Distrust and suspicion tend to create more distrust and suspicion, and we can find ourselves perpetuating a vicious downward cycle.  Distrust is contagious.

But thankfully, trust is also contagious.  And there are increasing actions by leaders and organizations and movements that are seeking to counteract this decline in trust.  Both because it’s the right thing to do, and also because it’s the economic thing to do.  In other words, there’s a compelling business case for trust. 

And the internet, social media and 24/7 connectivity can also immediately highlight the numerous positive actions being taken by leaders and organizations everywhere to model trust, trustworthiness, transparency, integrity, service and contribution—ranging from ethics initiatives to good governance frameworks to effective leadership development in establishing high-trust cultures within organizations, among countless efforts.

Many claim we have a crisis of trust. Do you agree?

Yes, I do believe with all the changes and challenges going on in our world and in society that there is, in many ways, a crisis of trust.  There’s a lot of data that would back that up. 

But I also believe that simultaneously, and paradoxically, there is also a “renaissance of trust” taking place.  A renaissance of trust in the sense of having people, leaders, organizations, and movements that are saying, in effect, “there is a better way to lead, a better way to operate.”  And they’re modeling the way, and pointing out to others a better way.  I believe Trust Across America-Trust Around the World is one of many such organizations.

So the paradox is that in the midst of the crisis of trust, there’s simultaneously a renaissance of trust taking place.

I hope to be a co-catalyst, with countless others, in helping to bring about this renaissance of trust.

Stephen, how has your membership in our Trust Alliance benefitted you professionally?

I like to think that Trust Across America-Trust Around the World is part of the renaissance of trust.  It brings together like minded leaders, practitioners, thought leaders, and organizations to focus their best thinking and energies on how to bring attention to this critical currency of trust—and how to increase trust in our lives, our relationships, our organizations, and our society.

I like being part of and aligned with such an effort that’s so vital to my personal and professional mission to help increase trust in the world.

Stephen, thank you so much for your time and more importantly for your commitment to elevating organizational trust. What would you like our audience to know about you?

Stephen M. R. Covey is The New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust, which has been translated into 22 languages and has sold over 2 million copies worldwide.  He is co-author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Smart Trust.

Stephen is the former President & CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which became, at the time, the largest leadership development company in the world.  A Harvard MBA, Stephen co-founded and currently leads FranklinCovey’s Trust Practice. 

Stephen has taught trust in 55 countries to leaders and organizations, spanning business, government, education, healthcare, and NGO sectors.

And while you are here, Tap Into Trust and complete our 1 minute/1 question quiz. Find out how the level of trust in your workplace compares to hundreds of others.

Contact us for more information on elevating trust on your team or in your organization.

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.


, ,



Today marks the release of a new book (UK & Canada, US in early April) by Peter Cook called “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” with Bloomsbury books. I met Peter through my friend and colleague Nadine Hack, and was fortunate to have Peter include our FACTS Framework in his new book. Nadine, Peter and I are firm believers in the power of collaboration. I asked Peter for some insights into the book, the 11th he has written or contributed to over 21 years in business.

What should readers expect to gain from this book?

Bloomsbury commissioned the book due to the unique synthesis of theory and practice in the art and discipline of creating great ideas and converting them into even greater innovations in business, society and the world. Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise draws upon durable concepts and research from academia, rather than the latest management fads. 

 The book includes many case studies and deals with questions such as:

  • What are the roots of creativity and imagination?
  • How can we create the physiological and mental states under which creativity happens naturally rather than having to rely on creative thinking tools like some kind of mental crutch?
  • How can you lead Brain Based Enterprises?
  • What is the role of technique in engendering creativity within teams?  What are the most effective and reliable recipes for team based creativity?
  • How do culture, leadership style and values support or limit innovation and creativity?
  • Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise is informed by academia but not stuffy in its writing style. An unusually good fusion, which I call ‘pracademic’.

How did you get Sir Richard Branson and Sir James Dyson’s involvement?  

The headline answer to your question is through networking. I’d won a prize for my work in leadership from Richard Branson. This led to gaining a job as an author for and delivering events that blend music and business for Virgin. By the time I asked for the interview I was almost a family member! Although this seems simple, I observe almost daily that people expect to gain similar results without the investment of time and care that often goes into a relationship based on trust. (Amen, Peter!)

I know trust matters in your work. How do you think about it?

Although it is very difficult to quantify, we all know someone who is trustworthy when we see it. A case in point arose recently in my dealings with Marcus Ryle, CEO of Line 6, who make guitar effects units. I had a problem with my Line 6 HD POD500X, as used by the likes of Elbow, Avril Lavigne and session musicians who work with Eric Clapton, Pink and Van Morrison. I could not be more impressed with the turnaround that Marcus performed. Moreover, because he handled the issue personally as well when I’m sure he had better things to do. If more companies were able to act in this way, their reputations would soar and their repeat business with it.

Your own work in terms of demonstrating the “net present value of trust” is a vital contribution to the debate. It seems that corporations need proof for such things to “move the dial” in terms of behaviour. Although I’m in no doubt as to the value of trust at a personal level in my own dealings with people as I m sure you are as well, we do need the data to help people place a value on doing the right things in corporate life these days.

What do you see as the future in terms of ethical leadership?

The 1970’s was a tipping point for business ethics when Milton Friedman wrote his article in The New York Times, where he stated that the primary role of a business was to make money for its shareholders. This was followed by Agency Theory in 1976 which completed the volte face from the more humanistic outlook on the purpose of businesses. Managerialism has probably informed the last 40 years of corporate development in leading business schools. Charles Handy, Tom Peters and I are united in our complete disagreement with Milton Friedman et al. If you look after the people, the profits look after themselves. Great leaders do the right things for their customers, their employees, society and their stakeholders.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What prompted you to write this book?

Creativity has been at the heart of the three passions that have fueled my life – science, business and music.  When I was four years old I wanted to be in The Beatles. By nine, I wanted to be a brain scientist. At 18, I joined a pharmaceutical company as a chemist and traveled the world, fixing factories and scaling up life-saving drugs, including the world’s first treatment for HIV / AIDS. By 29 I became fascinated with management and started working in a Business School alongside my day job. At 34, I started my own business and some 5 years later I began the synthesis of science, business and music via The Academy of Rock. Creativity has been a constant in my three “Shumpeterian” 18-year long cycles of innovation in my life. The book has therefore been maturing for nearly 20 years, having written my first book on creativity and innovation in 1996. This represents tens of thousands of hours of diverse experience, working as a business practitioner across a wide range of sectors and fueling my thinking via my work as an MBA academic and adventurer. Crossing the chasm from science to art has informed my writing as a business consultant much more than traditional MBA driven textbooks.

Thank you for granting this interview and for including us in your book.  Best of luck Peter and “Rock on.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO & Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust and integrity. She facilitates the world’s largest membership program for those interested in the subject. Barbara also serves as editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Copyright 2016, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , , , , , ,




The truth is, being the leader of a healthy organization is just plain hard. But in the end, it is undeniably worth it. – Patrick Lencioni

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post called Trust & Leaders: Warmth or Strength? citing a recent research study on trust and leadership.  I decided to follow up with one of the authors and take a deeper dive into the impact of trust on organizational health.

Peter Glick, PhD is the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor in the Social Sciences at Lawrence University. As a Visiting Professor of Management and Organizations, he co-designed the first course on diversity management at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Dr. Glick co-developed award-winning theories on benevolent sexism and the warmth-competence model, recognized as a “breakthrough idea for 2009” by the Harvard Business Review. Tested worldwide, both models are among the most highly cited theories in social psychology.


Question: Peter, why is trust important to organizational health?

Without trust, organizational costs go up and effectiveness goes down. Trust breeds commitment and motivation among an organization’s members to accomplish the organization’s goals. Without it, leaders need to exercise heavy-handed control and surveillance to make sure that others perform their roles, creating a downward cycle in which trust erodes and organization members have little enthusiasm for their work. Although a trust-poor organization may get by when technology makes it possible to track key work outcomes, mistrust pits subordinates against leaders and prompts counter-productive behavior (e.g., evading work, pilfering, etc.). When people view the organization as untrustworthy, they feel exploited and, therefore, justified in pursuing self-interest rather than organizational goals.

Question: What role do business schools and executive education programs play in building trustworthy business cultures?

Business schools and executive education programs play an important, but necessarily limited role in promoting trustworthy business cultures. What business schools and exec ed programs can do well is to make the strong case that leaders cannot be effective over the long haul unless they promote genuine trust. By emphasizing research and focusing on teaching cases that establish the crucial role trust plays in securing organizational commitment, business schools can get the message out. Ultimately, however, organizational leaders are the ones who have to carry it through by behaving in ways that promote trust (and not just the appearance of trustworthiness).

Question: Do we have a trust crisis?

I think we do! And it is likely to be a perpetual one unless leaders work consistently and diligently to promote trust in their organizations. Here’s why: It’s not that leaders today are less trustworthy than leaders of the past, but in contemporary culture they face more scrutiny than ever for several reasons. Trust thrives best in small, close-knit groups where people interact with each other over the long haul and accomplishing group goals is integral to personal well-being. This is the environment where humans evolved – tightly knit groups where working hard for the group enabled the individual to survive and thrive. In our contemporary environment, such long-term, interdependent relationships are rarer. As a result, we are generally more skeptical about leaders and their motives, both in politics (where personal attack has become the modus operandi) and business (in which short-term profit motives too often trump building long-term trust).  

Second, any misstep now blows up on the internet or social media. Combine general skepticism with increased scrutiny and trust becomes hard to build and maintain. For example, Microsoft CEO Satyep Nadella’s recent comment that women should trust the corporation to recognize their talents rather than asking for raises elicited a firestorm precisely because women have learned not to trust that companies will reward them for silently doing good work.

Question: What one question did I forget to ask?

Why is trust so easy to lose?

Leaders need to understand that trust is a precious commodity that is hard won and easily lost. Why is that so? Think about the contrast between establishing trustworthiness and competence (the two fundamental dimensions in how we perceive people, as established in my joint research with Susan Fiske and Amy Cuddy). When people doubt your competence, successfully performing a difficult task, landing a big account, or pitching a great idea can overcome others’ doubts. By contrast, think of what happens when people doubt your trustworthiness — how can you prove they are wrong? Although you can prove your abilities, if I doubt your motives, then anything you do can be interpreted as manipulative, part of a plan to gain my trust only to exploit me. Consider this scenario: you overhear a person who has always been nice to your face tell a demeaning lie about you behind your back. Will you ever trust that person again? Probably not. We all understand that untrustworthy people have strong incentives to seem trustworthy: “con man” is short for “confidence man” because you can’t “con” another person unless they are confident that you are trustworthy. Therefore we take a single instance of untrustworthiness as indicating another individual’s “true colors.” Once trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to gain it back.  

Thank you Peter for your valuable insights on organization trust. Please keep us posted on any new research on the subject.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and the Executive Editor of TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

Nominations are now being accepted for Trust Across America-Trust Around the World’s 5th annual Global Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business.

Have you seen our brand new magazine TRUST! Fall 14 Trust Magazine-Cover


Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

, , , , , , , , ,





Barbara Kimmel: Deb – tell us a bit about your background, qualifications and expertise. If you have written a book, please provide the title.

Deb Mills-Scofield: I was raised to challenge and question the status quo. I went to Brown University and helped create the Cognitive Science concentration and went to Bell Labs after graduation where I received a patent for one of AT&T & Lucent’s largest revenue generating products. I have my own strategy and innovation consulting practice, am a partner in an early stage Venture Capital firm, teach a class on business model innovation at Oberlin College. I love spending time at Brown on the Engineering Advisory Council, as a Visiting Scholar mentoring students in entrepreneurship and social ventures, and guest lecturing. I also blog for Harvard Business Review. I’ve done a few startups that failed and succeeded and love working with young entrepreneurs to keep my business acumen nimble and open-minded.

Barbara Kimmel: Trust Across America’s mission is to rebuild trustworthy business behavior across the globe.  How would you generally define trustworthy business behavior? 

Deb Mills-Scofield: The golden rule is a great start – do unto others as you would have them do unto you, no matter what the situation.  This means keeping commitments and promises, being accountable, acting with integrity, being vulnerable and humble, and understanding that having the right doesn’t make it right.  It means always being able to look your customers and employees in the eye because you know you’ve done the right things.

Barbara Kimmel: In your opinion, what are some of the specific components of trustworthy business behavior?

Deb Mills-Scofield: Treating people (customers, employees, etc.) fairly, which isn’t always equally; taking the 2nd, 3rd etc. order consequences of your business’s operations and offerings into account in decision-making (for customers, employees, communities, environment); focusing on profit and money as outputs (means to an end) which enable outcomes (ends) of purpose and meaning; first truly understanding customers’ needs and circumstances before rushing to a solution.  This starts with the people around you, your personal relationships with peers, bosses, those that work for you and goes on from there.

Barbara Kimmel: We all know that the erosion of corporate trust is a big problem. What are companies doing to combat this, and is it enough?

Deb Mills-Scofield: Companies are trying in various ways.  A common way is compliance – which is obedience of the mind, not heart – to the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law.  I think it has to start with leadership making themselves vulnerable, admitting they are wrong, that they need input and don’t know all the answers but know the direction.  Leader need to trust their people: treat them like adults, reward, recognize, give autonomy and permission to try, fail and learn, let them create their own jobs and self-organize.  And this is done in sincerity and authenticity towards the goal of freeing one’s people to delight customers instead of constantly checking to see if it improves the bottom line (outcome vs. output again).

Barbara Kimmel: Is the global “trust” climate improving or worsening? What actions will turn things around?

Deb Mills-Scofield: At a macro level, I think it is worsening.  Even if it is getting better, there is a time lag before people will trust again.  In my practice, admittedly self-selecting, I see a concerted effort to increase genuine trust and integrity within the organization and with customers and suppliers.  The issue is having the tenacity to stick with while you’re building up credibility and a track record.

Barbara Kimmel: Can you provide a few examples of companies that are doing the “right” thing in your opinion? What steps are being taken by these companies that sets them apart?

Deb Mills-Scofield: There are the famous ones you hear about – Whole Foods, Zappos, etc.  I know several ‘unknowns’ that are remarkable.  One is Menasha Packaging, a 164yr old 6th generation family business over $1B that has to be one of the most incredible teams I’ve ever worked with in terms of compassions, integrity, honesty, transparency resulting in terrific profitability and growth. Their president, Mike Waite’s (who is joining me for the Feb 13th  Trust Across America radio show) primary concern is making sure his people, at all levels, can live their dreams at home.  The leadership lives up to their commitments, gives their people autonomy, allows failure, encourages self-organization and keeps a flat organization with a true open-door policy.  The other company is Thogus, a 21st century manufacturing polymer and 3D printing company.  Matt Hlavin, the president, makes sure he owns the culture – keeping it vibrant, open and transparent about his strengths and weaknesses.  It truly does feel like a family.

Barbara Kimmel: Anything else you would like to add as a closing comment?

Deb Mills-Scofield: I’m a bit concerned that trust will become, if it hasn’t already, a buzzword.  The issue and importance is that it has to come from within the person, from the heart.  It should have only one real motive – it’s about ‘the other’, not about you. It shouldn’t be a way to achieve corporate growth, career advancement etc.  It should be because you genuinely want to be trustworthy and that you want the best for your people, your customers, and your stakeholders.  Anything less is not sustainable.

Barbara Kimmel: Deb, I share your concerns that a new industry of “trust-washing” will emerge, if it hasn’t already.  I appreciate your insights and all you do to foster trustworthy business.

Deb Mills-Scofield can be reached at:

Do you have questions or comments? Email


, , , , , , , ,




Barbara Kimmel: Michael – tell us a bit about your background, qualifications and expertise. If you have written a book, please provide the title.

Michael Hopkins: My main aim in life is to promote the issue of corporate social responsibility for peoples, communities, companies, countries, governments and NGOs around the world.  I help to accomplish this as a teacher (University of Geneva Graduate Courses on CSR and through my company; as a researcher through research and advisory services with a strong focus on creating employment strategies through MHC International Ltd.  (MHCi: London, Washington DC & Geneva); and as the author of thirteen books of which the last two: The Planetary Bargain:CSR Matters (Routledge 2003) traces the history of CSR and proposes a framework; and CSR and International Development (Routledge, 2007).

I have also worked on developing and evaluating human resources and labour market issues in over 120 countries around the world, inter alia, Colombia, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Dubai, South Africa, Malaysia, China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Portugal, and Azerbaijan.  I blog with CSRwire and in MHCi’s regular monthly features which are now in their 12th year.  I am currently working, interalia, with my sister-in-law, the just appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia, to promote trust and development in Somalia…it will work just wait and see!

Barbara Kimmel: Trust Across America’s mission is to rebuild trustworthy business behavior across the globe.  How would you generally define trustworthy business behavior? 

Michael Hopkins: Trustworthy business behavior means treating the key stakeholders of a company or institution ethically or in a responsible manner, which I equate with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). ‘Ethically or responsible’ means treating key stakeholders in a manner deemed acceptable according to international norms. Social includes economic and environmental responsibility. Stakeholders exist both within a firm and outside.  In fact acting responsibly toward your stakeholders is obviously good for business and so there should not be special tasks.  However, the financial crisis, the fall of Enron, the pyramid scheme of Madoff etc. indicated that companies need to be persuaded either by vigorous NGO activity or by new forms of legislation.

Barbara Kimmel: In your opinion, what are some of the specific components of trustworthy business behavior?

Michael Hopkins: Being British, I am often challenged by our colonial past and am not impressed by many of my forbearer’s ruthlessness and scant regard for indigenous peoples.  Yet curiously, my country is known for fair play and, in business, that a gentleman’s honour is his handshake – note rarely she, maybe not needed? We men can learn.  I am told these days that nothing is now done without a written contract and I have also been often disappointed with the lack of respect of verbal agreements.  Now, more and more, the old joke rings true and that is why does the sun never set on the British Empire?  Because you cant trust ‘em after dark.  I wish this to become less and less true and why I greatly support the notion of trust, and Trust across America with the hope that the movement becomes ‘Trust Across the World’.

Barbara Kimmel: We all know that the erosion of corporate trust is a big problem. What are companies doing to combat this, and is it enough?

Michael Hopkins: Today just about 90% of large corporations produce social or sustainability or CSR or corporate citizenship reports since they are well aware that reputation can be lost in a heartbeat.  Many add that all these reports are simply green or white washing and, of course, there is some truth in that.  However, imagine a company of more than 100,000 people and then note how difficult it is to keep your own close family of, say, 10-15 people to agree to work together for the good of the whole family.  In a large company it is, of course, incredibly difficult to get everyone following best trustworthy practice.  Even if the CEO is trustworthy and swears by social responsibility at events such as Davos, down the chain of command to the operational level all sorts of shortcuts are taken to improve the bottom line.  Then imagine how difficult it is to convince employees that it is not the pursuit of profits at any cost that is good for you and the company but how profits are made.

Barbara Kimmel: Is the global “trust” climate improving or worsening? What actions will turn things around?

Michael Hopkins: I am forever an optimist especially since hard numbers for whether the global climate is improving or worsening are hard to find.  Globescan does an annual report on trends in Sustainability as does Price Waterhouse and both give optimistic figures on progress on such things as climate change, democracy around the world etc.  The one global figure I often use is life expectancy, which is improving right across the world even in dear old USA, which is a laggard in some respects but has shown improvements.  You can’t live long without such hard to measure issues as trust and level of living.  The recent resignation of Hillary Clinton was notable for the review of her work (nothing major accomplished gloat the press) and yet her final remark rings true: “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.”  So what actions will turn things around assuming they need to be turned around is simply that – the millions of kindnesses and measures of respect one finds right across the world.

Barbara Kimmel: Can you provide a few examples of companies that are doing the “right” thing in your opinion? What steps are being taken by these companies that sets them apart?

Michael Hopkins: I am asked this a lot and my response is often the same and that is it is simply hard to pronounce since to use a cliché ‘one swallow does not a summer make’.  For instance, the oft-praised Nike has worked hard to achieve decent labor practices across its supply chain.  Yet Nike does not produce anything itself, all is from sub-contracted suppliers.  Thus poor labor practices can surface in remote locations that Nike didn’t even know worked for it.  It has suffered on this count but has vigorously addressed labor issues right across its supply chain.  I am also impressed by the small group at the US Chamber of Commerce who pursue corporate citizenship, albeit imperfectly, but I am glad my former young associate accepted my mentoring and is now documenting with Google and Microsoft the many splendid things that companies are doing to improve development right across the world and yes, I’ll mention her name, Taryn Bird.

Defining what is meant by ‘best’ is also not easy, for instance it may surprise readers but there is no objective way in which to set a ‘living wage’ despite demands for many to do so.  The ILO’s labor policies have recently been augmented by a pressing concern for ‘decent work’- laudable in theory but almost impossible to define.

Barbara Kimmel: Anything else you would like to add as a closing comment?

Michael Hopkins: One can find trust right across the world.  I have been lucky to have lived and worked in over 120 countries.  In any of these countries, 99% of the people are wonderful yet so few give the rest a bad name.  Don’t be fooled!  I look out of the window as I write here in Nairobi and see bustling and extremely friendly activity from smiling, friendly and trustworthy Kenyans.  Yet, before setting foot in the country I am warned against sporadic violence, armed robbery, kidnapping, gang warfare etc.  which of course exists prompted by appallingly bad distribution of income and wealth.  All countries must be extremely careful not to fall into the Orwellian trap of the few having a lot and the many with little or nothing – please watch out America!

Barbara Kimmel: Michael, you have had a truly outstanding career. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Michael Hopkins can be contacted at:

Do you have questions or comments? Email



, , , ,






Barbara Kimmel: Randy – tell us a bit about your background, qualifications and expertise. If you have written a book, please provide the title.

Randy Conley: I’ve been a part of The Ken Blanchard companies for nearly seventeen years, where I hold two roles: Director of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader. I think my dual role allows me to have a “real world” perspective when I work with clients to help them improve their abilities to build trust in their leadership practices. I have a Master’s Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego, and although I haven’t written a book (yet!), I do quite a bit of writing on my blog ( On the personal side, my wife and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year and our relationship has definitely been a living laboratory on the importance of trust in relationships!

Barbara Kimmel: Trust Across America’s mission is to rebuild trustworthy business behavior across the globe.  How would you generally define trustworthy business behavior? 

Randy Conley: I would define trustworthy business behavior as “doing the right thing” regardless of the circumstances. This applies to individual leaders as well as organizations as a whole. Of course there are many different components that fall under the umbrella of “doing the right thing” and that’s the beauty of the trust alliance Trust Across America has put together. All of us have strengths and passions in the different aspects of trustworthy business behavior and together we can make a big difference in organizations around the world.

Barbara Kimmel: In your opinion, what are some of the specific components of trustworthy business behavior?

Randy Conley: My specific focus is the component of interpersonal trust. I believe that trustworthy business practices start at the individual level. How do you and I build trust as leaders and members of an organization? Once you’re clear on that, then I think you can apply the same principles and practices to the other areas of your business such as organizational governance, sustainability, public relations, brand management, etc.

Barbara Kimmel: We all know that the erosion of corporate trust is a big problem. What are companies doing to combat this, and is it enough?

Randy Conley: Some companies, not enough, but some are starting to “get it” when it comes to understanding the value of being trustworthy organizations. They are realizing that being trustworthy is not just the right thing to do in terms of ethical business practices, but there are bottom-line economic benefits to being trustworthy.

Barbara Kimmel: Is the global “trust” climate improving or worsening? What actions will turn things around?

Randy Conley: When you look at the various surveys and reports it appears that the climate of trust isn’t improving. It’s been at historic lows and is continuing to stay there. Leaders have to take specific, proactive steps to build and maintain trust with their stakeholders. Trust doesn’t “just happen” over time. It takes intentional effort over an extended period of time.

Barbara Kimmel: Can you provide a few examples of companies that are doing the “right” thing in your opinion? What steps are being taken by these companies that sets them apart?

Randy Conley: I think Whole Foods is a good example. Their CEO, John Mackey, is a proponent of trustworthy business behavior and puts specific focus on it as part of how he runs his company. I also work with a range of companies, from those in the Fortune 500 to small businesses that understand the importance of trust and are implementing training and development programs to create cultures of trust.

Barbara Kimmel: Anything else you would like to add as a closing comment?

Randy Conley: The last thing that I would add is that I don’t see a more important leadership competency than that of building trust. Trust is the foundation of any successful and healthy relationship and the most successful leaders in the 21st century are going to be those that have the ability to create trustworthy relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

Barbara Kimmel: Randy, it’s always a pleasure hearing your insights on building cultures of trustworthy business. Thank you for your time.

Randy Conley can be reached at

and more information about The Ken Blanchard Companies can be found at:

Do you have questions or comments? Email

Barbara Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America, global leaders in information, standards, data and Who’s Who in trustworthy business.






, , , , , ,



Barbara Kimmel Interviews Jim Gregory, CEO CoreBrand

Barbara Kimmel: Jim- tell us a bit about your background, qualifications and expertise. If you have written a book, please provide the title.

Jim Gregory: I am the CEO of CoreBrand. My company focuses on building corporate brands and we are pioneers in the measurement of corporate brands. We have a proprietary database know as the Corporate Branding Index® that includes 20 years of consistent research of 1000 companies across 54 industries. This allows us the unique ability to connect the corporate brand to market capitalization. I’ve written four books on the subject, the most recent being The Best of Branding.

Barbara Kimmel: Trust Across America’s mission is to rebuild trustworthy business behavior across the globe.  How would you generally define trustworthy business behavior? 

Jim Gregory: Trust is built through the process of consistently meeting the needs of your key constituencies over time. Each constituency views trust from their own perspective and their own needs. Understanding how trust is built is critical for creating corporate value.

Barbara Kimmel: In your opinion, what are some of the specific components of trustworthy business behavior?

Jim Gregory: There are three elements of trust that can be managed by a corporation.

1) Business Processes must be in alignment with the overall brand strategy.

2) The Culture and Behavior of the company must adhere to the brand guidelines.

3) The Communications, whether planned or unplanned, should consistently reflect the brand over time.

Barbara Kimmel: We all know that the erosion of corporate trust is a big problem. What are companies doing to combat this, and is it enough?

Jim Gregory: We know from our proprietary research and models that trust is directly related to brand power, which is directly connected to market capitalization. Education of management and consistently reinforcing the importance of trust is the best way to rebuild corporate brands.

Barbara Kimmel: Is the global “trust” climate improving or worsening? What actions will turn things around?

Jim Gregory: Trust in corporations has been declining since 2004. CoreBrand’s research of Corporate Brand Equity as a Percentage of Market Capitalization for the average Fortune 1000 company shows a decline from 7.4% in 2004 to 5% in 2012. We believe this decline is leveling off and we are hoping for a rebound in 2013.

Barbara Kimmel: Can you provide a few examples of companies that are doing the “right” thing in your opinion? What steps are being taken by these companies that sets them apart?

Jim Gregory: Google’s brand has been consistently growing for years. Now they are ranked as the number one company to work for, and they have great programs in place to support this ranking — that is consistency.

Barbara Kimmel: Anything else you would like to add as a closing comment?

Jim Gregory: CoreBrand tracks 1000 companies across 54 industries. If your company is one of them we have information to share with you. If it isn’t one of them we will consider adding your company to our research survey. Please let us know more about your corporate brand.  Our data can also be combined with Trust Across America’s FACTS® Report to provide further depth and perspective on the trustworthiness of our company.

Barbara Kimmel: Thank you Jim for your ongoing research on the construction and measurement of trustworthy brands.

Jim Gregory can be reached at

and more information about CoreBrand can be found at:

Do you have questions or comments? Email

Barbara Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America, global leaders in information, standards, data and Who’s Who in trustworthy business.


, , , , , , , ,



Barbara Kimmel: Bob, tell us a bit about your background, qualifications and expertise. If you have  written a book, please provide the title.

Bob Whipple: I have been in the leadership and trust business for about 40 years. Working as a senior leader in a major corporation, I found that trust is the most significant enabler of exceptional performance. To build trust, you must have exceptional leaders.

I have three books published, and a fourth one under construction. They are:

The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, 2003, Productivity Publications

Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, 2006, Productivity Publications

Leading With Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, 2009, Executive Excellence Publishing 

Building Trust and Unity During a Merger or Acquisition, 2014

I have written over 300 published articles on trust, leadership, and other topics on personal excellence in numerous journals and in the online environment. “Leadership Excellence Magazine” has named me as the #14 top rated consultant on Leadership Development, and Trust Across America has identified me as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. 

Barbara Kimmel: Trust Across America’s mission is to rebuild trustworthy business behavior across the globe.  How would you generally define trustworthy business behavior? 

Bob Whipple: I think it’s pretty simple. Trustworthy business behavior means doing the right things at all times, especially when nobody would know if you did something else.

Barbara Kimmel: In your opinion, what are some of the specific components of trustworthy business behavior?

Bob Whipple: Personally, I think the acronym for TRUST below is a good place to start. There are literally hundreds of components that embody trust, but if a leader can consistently apply these five components, he or she is going to do well at enabling trust.

1. Trusting Others – To receive more trust, show more trust.
2. Reinforcing Candor – Praise people for speaking their truth – drive out fear.
3. Universal goals – High trust requires alignment: all pull in the same direction.
4. Sincerity – Treat people the right way: Golden Rule is a good one.
5. Transparency – Share all the information you can legally share.

Barbara Kimmel: We all know that the erosion of corporate trust is a big problem. What are companies doing to combat this, and is it enough?

It is situational. Some organizations continue to shoot themselves in the foot on trust just about every day. Their leaders believe they are heading in the right direction, but they are quite blind to the damage they are doing.  It stems from a lack of Emotional Intelligence.

Fortunately, I am seeing more and more CEOs who are starting to realize what they leave off the table when there is low trust. These enlightened leaders are willing to at least consider the notion that they are a part of the problem when there is low trust. The ones that really “get it” are seeing dramatic productivity gains.

As the word spreads, some of the jerks are starting to wonder if there might really be something to this trust stuff.  That is encouraging, but there are still way too many losers out there. Turning a non-believer into a true enlightened advocate for higher trust is one of the true joys in my life.

Barbara Kimmel: Is the global “trust” climate improving or worsening? What actions will turn things around?

Bob Whipple: I believe the pendulum is heading in a good direction over the past few years. There are still a lot of snakes in the grass, but I believe the worst times of abuse may be behind us.

As the Edelman Trust Barometer shows, the level of trust fluctuates country-by-country depending on what has happened in the prior year. In general, trust in the USA is lagging many other countries. That is why the work of Trust Across America and the individual contributors to the trust movement is so critical for our collective future.

Barbara Kimmel: Can you provide a few examples of companies that are doing the “right” thing in your opinion? What steps are being taken by these companies that set them apart?

Bob Whipple: There are four outstanding companies in my hometown of Rochester, NY who are leading the way with trust. They score well on the top companies to work for in America every year. They are Wegmans (grocery chain), Dixon Schwabl (marketing and advertising firm), Eastman Savings and Loan (Federal Credit Union), and Klein Steel.

All four of these organizations invest heavily in their culture, and it shows in the results they are getting. In each case it is the result of enlightened and passionate leaders that is causing this remarkable track record.

Barbara Kimmel: Anything else you would like to add as a closing comment?

Bob Whipple: I am highly supportive of the work of the Trust Across America Organization and am a proud founding member of the Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts (ATBE). Our work is critically important, and we are making a difference. The next two years are going to show wonderful progress on trust in business across the globe.

Barbara Kimmel: Bob, thank you for your time today and all you do to advance the cause of trustworthy business.

What do you think? Send your comments to

Barbara Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America, global leaders in information, standards, data and Who’s Who in trustworthy business.


, , , , , ,


[DISCLAIMER: I am not retained by Frank Sonnenberg or

receiving any compensation for recommending this book.]

Frank Sonnenberg has published four books and over three hundred articles. In 2011, Social Media Marketing Magazine (SMM) selected Sonnenberg as one of the top marketing authors in the world on Twitter (@FSonnenberg, @A_Conscience). In 2012, Trust Across America named him one of America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior. Industry Week named the first edition of his book, Managing with a Conscience, one of the Top 10 Business Books of the Year. The second edition of Managing with a Conscience: How to Improve Performance Through Integrity, Trust, and Commitment ( was released in November 2011.  


KIMMEL: Why is your book a must-read for business leaders?


SONNENBERG: In the dog-eat-dog times of the past few decades, many believed that the only way to achieve success was to be unscrupulous. Acting like slumlords, corporations let their assets deteriorate by exploiting customers, mistreating employees, and squeezing suppliers. What they overlooked, however, was that their obsession with short-term results significantly damaged their company’s long-term performance as well as its competitiveness. Today, it is more critical than ever to put an end to these shortsighted tactics.  


KIMMEL: What is the premise of your book?  


SONNENBERG: In the twentieth century, a company measured success by the number of tangible assets (such as property, plant, and equipment) it posted on its balance sheet. In the Information Age, however, intangible assets rule the day. Soft assets such as trust, innovation, focus, speed, flexibility, relationships, loyalty, employee commitment, and the ability to adapt to change are some of the factors that determine success. Just because these intangibles are difficult to measure and quantify doesn’t mean they’re less important. The truth is, leaders who have a jaded view of intangible assets will never make the commitment required to reap their full potential.


KIMMEL: Can you provide me with concrete examples of how current management practices are hurting the bottom line?  


SONNENBERG: Sure. Sometimes it seems like businesses can’t get out of their own way.


Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing? If you randomly selected 50 employees and asked them basic questions about the heart of your organization, would their answers be similar? For example, ask them: What is our organization’s mission? What are our core values? What factors are most important to our future success? What are our core competencies? How does someone get ahead in our organization? How do we differentiate ourselves from the competition? Unless your employees give similar answers to these most basic questions, waste, redundancies, inefficiencies, confusion, and anxiety are likely; the result—employees working at cross-purposes.


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Just as pollution damages the environment, an air of fear is toxic to companies. When people believe they lack control over what happens to them, they become fearful. And whether their fears are real or imagined or arise over things that are concrete and immediate, such as loss of a job, or things that are more ephemeral and long term, such as personal embarrassment or damage to personal credibility or career mobility, the results are still the same: inaction, withdrawal, hiding mistakes, misrepresenting facts, or procrastination.


Take this wall down. Bloated corporate bureaucracies crush aspirations, stifle creativity, suppress ingenuity, and slow down responsiveness. Unfortunately, once bureaucracy develops, it is as difficult to control in business as crabgrass on a suburban lawn. It causes people to thirst for power, value personal ambition over team gain, and put paperwork before people.   In bureaucracies, people choose the political solution rather than the best answer. Promotions are earned through political savvy rather than performance; the “show” becomes more important than content; and rumor becomes the primary form of communication. This causes organizations to focus inward and lose touch with reality.   Do you want more examples, Barbara? How much time do you have?


KIMMEL: Your book introduces a powerful prescription for business. How do people manage with a conscience?  


SONNENBERG: Good question, Barbara. Here are some examples:  


Talk is cheap. Having integrity means sticking to your principles, no matter what. It means making sure that your actions are consistent with your words. If it’s the last day of the sales month, and the numbers look lousy, are employees still encouraged to do what is in the best interests of the customer or are they asked to sell something for immediate gain? Are managers rewarded for the development of their people as well as for the bottom line? Is a promise made to a customer kept, even though circumstances have changed in such a way that the agreement is now less profitable? The answers to these questions will tell you whether your company values principled behavior over short-term business gain.


People live up or down to your expectations. Companies that search for the best and brightest people must learn that their efforts shouldn’t end when those people join the organization. To retain these employees, companies should invest heavily in them, both personally and professionally. Today, employees demand trust and respect. They want their input solicited, their strengths utilized, and their contributions valued. Furthermore, they want and should be given challenging new responsibilities that stretch their potential. The opposite is also true: Employees who feel like helpless drones perform that way.


Communication isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Management must accept responsibility for fostering an open and honest environment. This requires letting go, unlearning many management practices of the past. But that is not easy, and it does not happen quickly. It requires managers to leave behind many skills, sources of status and power, and implicit assumptions about the workplace. In the past, leaders assumed the role of controlling the information employees needed to make day-to-day decisions. Leaders who continue along that path will become frustrated as they lose the confidence of employees whose desire for timely, customized information is not satisfied. Leaders must view communication as an avenue to release the creative genius of an organization, not as a bothersome chore. After all, communication acts as a powerful agent of change, a source of continuous improvement, and a catalyst for moving the organization forward.


Lifetime customer relationships. Customers must not be viewed as isolated transactions but rather as the potential lifelong relationship that they represent. Every customer deserves to be treated as your organization’s only client. Companies cannot afford to spend the time and effort that it takes to develop new business only to lose customers shortly thereafter. In fact, companies should be so outraged when they lose an existing customer that they immediately search for ways to improve themselves so that it never happens again. Think about the effort of bringing in new customers; the way they are courted; how you accommodate their every whim. Then, when they become customers, the honeymoon ends. Think about your major customers. When they call, everything else is dropped; when they make suggestions, everyone listens; and when they need something done, everyone responds. Now think about all your other customers. We can’t accommodate them because it’s against company policy; we don’t listen to their suggestions because we know better than they do; we can’t take their calls because we’re in meetings; everything that takes a little extra effort is a bother.


KIMMEL: Are you currently doing any other writing?


SONNENBERG: I launched a new blog a little over a year ago: My mission is to spur conversation about the urgent need to reawaken personal values and personal responsibility.


KIMMEL: We’ll have to have you back to talk about the new trust model that you introduced in your book.


Thanks, Frank.


Do you have questions or comments pertaining to this interview. Don’t hesitate to leave comments.  


Earlier today Jordan Kimmel interviewed Bob Eccles on Trust Across America radio. The archived interview will be available in the next 48 hours.

Robert G. Eccles first joined the faculty of Harvard Business School in 1979. After receiving tenure, he started doing research on corporate reporting, a topic which remains of great interest to him from a research, managerial practice, and public policy perspective. His book  One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy (with Michael P. Krzus) is the first book on this subject. This is the Amazon link. tag=trustacrossam20&camp=213381&creative=390973&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0470587512&adid=1AM99F52MSMW1MTA2CMV&

Bob is a member of the Steering Committee of the International Integrated Reporting Committee (

Jordan and Bob spent the hour talking about Integrated Reporting and why it is so timely. Highlights from the interview are reproduced below.

What is integrated reporting?

It is a single report produced by a company that combines material financial and nonfinancial data into one document.

Why is integrated reporting gaining in popularity?

Bob highlighted four main reasons:

1. Technology has made it easier for companies to share information with their stakeholders via their website.

2. Sustainability is becoming more mainstream.

3. The recent financial crisis has prompted companies to provide their stakeholders with added transparency.

4.  Companies are becoming more aware of the importance of corporate repuation as an intangible asset.

Who benefits from integrated reporting?

1. Employees

2. Customers

3. NGO’s

4. Investors

5. Society

What are the key challenges in implementing an integrated report?

1. Companies must gather information from many different (and often independent) silos within the organization.

2. Internal measurements of nonfinancial reporting are not well developed.

3. Companies are not always willing to be, or comfortable in being, more transparent.

4. CEO”s must embrace the integrated reporting concept.

5. A lack of clear integrated reporting standards makes auditing difficult.

But the good news is that, over the next year, there will be more examples of public companies issuing integrated reports and more groups will be developing standards and frameworks.

In mid-October a workshop entitled “Workshop on Integrated Reporting: Framework & Next Steps” was held at HBS and sponsored by their Business and Environmental Initiative. This culminated in the release this week of a new e-book on integrated reporting, reflecting the input and efforts of 64 workshop attendees. The Landscape of Integrated Reporting: Reflections and Next Steps is now available at the following link:

In summary, the development of corporate integrated reporting (IR) standards is potentially one of the great business innovations of the 21st century, and could be pivotal in restoring public trust in business institutions. We are all stakeholders in some way, whether as employees, customers, or investors. As such, we can all play a role in encouraging companies to adopt IR into their culture.

Professor Eccles can be reached for comment at

or you can direct questions and comments to:

Thank you Professor Eccles and Jordan! Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Barbara Kimmel, Executive Director, Trust Across America

, , , , ,