Posts Tagged ‘ethics’





Yesterday I wrote about a commonly repeated expression “Trust Takes Years to Build But Can Be Lost In a Second” and why I believe that it doesn’t always hold true.  Then late in the afternoon I saw another interesting and somewhat popular statement “Character, Either You Have it Or You Don’t.”

The actual quote is credited to Anthony Bourdain.


“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.”

― Anthony BourdainKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly


Sorry, but again I have to disagree. Character is a learned trait. It is a skill that can be honed throughout life.  It’s built from our earliest experiences, our family values and the influence of our childhood friends. In other words, it’s mostly “nurture” not “nature.”

Michael Josephson (Josephson Institute) created a popular youth-centered program called Character Counts. His framework contains basic values called the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. The program has been working effectively for decades. I like that the first pillar is trustworthiness.

So it seems that character is really a lifelong learning opportunity for those with an open mind and a motivation to elevate it. With the right mentor, the right leader, the right boss, the right spouse, the right friends, character can be learned and perfected throughout life. There is no deadline for developing character.

Imagine if C-Suite compensation was partially based on an annual character test! Would we see a sudden and positive shift in the way businesses are run? What do you think?

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. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft


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Yesterday at lunch my colleague made a statement I hear rather frequently.

“It takes years to build trust but it can be destroyed in a second.”

I don’t agree.

A person with high integrity, a leader with outstanding character, an organization that has committed the time to build a trust bank account will not have trust destroyed as quickly as those who haven’t.

Yes, trust building takes time.  In the long run it’s worth it. Your next misstep (and we all make them) may not be the one that brings down the house.

Why not start today?

What do you think? Leave your comments below or  send them along.



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. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft

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Leaders Often Overlook the Obvious
Remember, What You Give is Often What You Get 


The following comments are sure to reduce the level of trust among your team.
How often have you heard these?


  • Who works for whom?
  • Because I said so.
  • Fudge it if you don’t know.
  • Who do you think you are?
  • Not now.
  • So what? Who cares?
  • Don’t make a mistake.
  • Who do you think you’re talking to?
  • My door is closed for a reason.
  • Because I make the rules.

What would you add to this list of things trustworthy leaders should never say?

Please share your comments and suggestions! Email:

Barbara 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.

PrintND Trust CEO cvr 140602-ft

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June is “Talk” Month 


according to Trust Across America’s


2014 Calendar


Your stakeholders need to know what steps you are taking to build a trustworthy organization. Quarterly numbers are no longer the “be all and end all.” In fact, evidence is mounting that a trustworthy culture and profitability go hand in hand.

During the  52 weeks of 2014 you can build trust in your organization by thinking about, discussing and following the advice of the experts. Below are weekly reflections on trust for the 5 weeks in June 2014.

Week 1:  It’s going to take a substantial collaborative effort to bring trust back to the heart of how we live and work. Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Trust Across America – Trust Around the World @BarbaraKimmel

Week 2: There’s nothing more destructive to trust than deceit, and nothing more constructive than candor, Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge @KouzesPosner

Week 3: Doctor-patient relationships that don’t foster trust don’t work because the doctor or the patient has not sought a way to share or relinquish control. Shirie Leng, MD

Week 4: When people trust an organization, they are more likely to exhibit supportive behavior. Linda Locke @Reputationista

Week 5: Corporate trust and reputation matter, and they are the most valuable asset of every enterprise. Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC, Beyond Philosophy @Lowen42

Please share your comments and suggestions! Email:

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Executive Director, Trust Across America – Trust Around the World

Editor  Trust Inc. Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset (a 2014 Nautilus & Eric Hoffer Book Award winner)

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What stops companies from building a culture of authentic long-term trust? As transparency increases, so does the ability of every citizen to look behind the curtain, with the click of a Google search.


I’m not trying to win a popularity contest with this blog post, at least not with corporate America. But hey, ask most C-Suite folks about trust issues in their organization and they won’t hesitate to emphatically tell you they have not a single one.

Last week I attended an event featuring two guest speakers (also sponsors) from large global companies in different industries. At the end of their respective speeches everyone in the audience applauded loudly except for me, and one other attendee. The other attendee “gets” trust like very few others. Based on their professional credentials, it’s understandable. Think nurse or military leader.

What made these speeches so excruciatingly painful?

First the canned, compliance-approved content, and second, the cult-like focus on the corporate responsibility programs of both organizations. While Trust Across America’s FACTS® Framework shows us that no company is perfect, both of the sponsor firms have recently paid massive fines for, let’s (politely) say, ethics violations. Not the first fine for either, and probably not the last, and just a mere “blip” on the quarterly earnings radar. So whom are they kidding? Judging from the applause, the vast majority of the audience.

As transparency increases, so does the ability of every citizen to look behind the curtain, with the click of a Google search.  All it takes is a few minutes and a curious mind. Corporate responsibility is an important component of a trustworthy organization but it’s only one component. I’m not suggesting that companies air their dirty laundry in public. What I am suggesting is that they stop using the corporate responsibility officer as a public relations pawn.  It may work now, but it is a short-term, unsustainable strategy.  When the next ethics “oops” occurs, it may be the one that brings down the house, and nobody is going to care about the organization’s philanthropic efforts.

What if the C-Suite were to lead with a culture of trust by creating a long-term trust-building strategy and sent their CR officer into the field to talk about that instead? What if they discussed the company’s values statement or corporate credo, and how it meets the needs of all their stakeholders?  What’s stopping companies from building their culture around authentic long-term trust? Is it the legal department?

And finally, the cherry on the weekly “trust cake” is contained in this article in which the author suggests that telling the truth undermines trust.

Next week is the start of spring. It’s also my birthday. Maybe the cake will be a bit less stale. Maybe the most popular flavor will change from artificial vanilla-coating to trust.

For more information on building trust in your organization you can read our new book, Trust Inc., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset.


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2013 represented a pivotal year for our program.

Perhaps we have finally pushed the proverbial trust “boulder” to the top of the hill!

Highlights from the first year of our Campaign for Trust included:

Changing our name to Trust Across America – Trust Around the World, reflecting our global membership and presence.

Initiating the following programs:

What’s coming up in January?

We started the year with a great writeup in Investor’s Daily

We will announce our 2014  4th Annual Top 1oo Thought Leaders on Jan 14

We will be holding a planning retreat on Jan 17 (more info following meeting)


Let’s make 2014 the Year of Convening and Collaborating!

Suggestions, comments or questions?

Please contact me, Barbara Kimmel, Executive Director


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How does one say “Thank you” to friends and colleagues who have helped foster trustworthy relationships?

We hope you enjoy our 2014 Weekly Reflections on Organizational Trust, another collaborative effort of the contributors to our new book  Trust Inc., our Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts, and friends of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World. (Listed alphabetically)

If you are receiving this gift, we know that trust is important to you, and we hope you will share it with your audience.

Thank you to all who have assisted Trust Across America – Trust Around the World in building organizational trust.

May we continue to make progress in 2014.

With much gratitude and trust!

Barbara Brooks Kimmel

PS- This poster prints 11×14.




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How often does your phone ring with a “mystery set of letters”  showing up on caller ID?

Logic would dictate that a non-profit that relies on voluntary donations would “get” the value of leading with trust. But apparently “trust” has become such a “yesterday” word, that even charities are choosing a different path.

Let me explain what has led me to this conclusion.

Almost every day, without fail, our home phone rings with the following caller ID “LFA Pickup Service.” Who is LFA? The Lupus Foundation.  No matter how many times I ignore them, they just keep calling.

This morning a new caller rang in. This one simply read “MOD.”  I answered the phone, and the caller, after mispronouncing my name, identified herself as a solicitor for the March of Dimes. When I asked to be removed from this duplicitous calling list, I was told “no go” unless I verified certain information.

I would like to meet the marketing “team” at these organizations who decided on this approach as a strategy. I would like to know how trust fell out of favor at these charities.  I would like to know whether this deceptive and unethical practice is leading to a higher level of donations. But most of all, I would like these untrustworthy organizations and others who use the same tactics to stop the intrusion.

Shame on the Lupus Foundation and the March of Dimes, and all other non-profits who don’t lead with trust. When did your culture implode? Have your leaders lost their way?

Does anyone know the CEO’s of these two organizations? Send me their name and address.  I’ll be glad to provide them with an autographed copy of our new book, Trust Inc. (and a request to be taken off their calling list until they choose to lead with trust.)

Trust Inc.

Trust Inc.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America – Trust Around the World whose mission is to help build organizational trust.

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I don’t eat cookies, except for Mallomars. I love Mallomars. They take me back to my childhood. I ceremoniusly pull off the tops and eat the cookie separately. I wait for Mallomar Week every year and then I indulge in a box (or even two)!

So when I walked into our local chain supermarket earlier today with one of my teenage sons (he also has the Mallomar excitement gene) and we were greeted with an ENORMOUS display of Mallomars, we high-fived each other and added two boxes to the shopping cart (at $1.99 a carton). And then we read the fine print. “Sale is in effect for 4 days from September 11 through September 15 (today is September 8).  And my son said, “That’s deceptive advertising” just as one of the store managers walked past, and he must have heard the comment.

He politely asked if he could help and I explained the issue to him. At first he “pretended” (I’ll tell you why I chose that word in the next paragraph) not to understand until I pointed out that anyone who bought the cookies between now and  September 11 would not do so at the advertised price. And not only did he agree, but he immediately removed the signs; and my son and I felt like we had all won (including the store manager for doing the right thing) and we had all done a good deed for the shoppers who would have mistakenly paid full price before the sale date.

And then we went shopping, discussing how people can, and do act with integrity and will admit their mistakes…until I realized that I had forgotten the tomatoes, which were on display next to the Mallomars, where the signs had been put right back up, as soon as we walked away.

And that, my friends, is today’s story about trust, or lack thereof. And when I finally do buy that box (or two) on Wednesday, I bet they won’t taste quite as good as in the past. The bitter taste of today’s experience may linger for a while.

Shame on all the companies that try to “put one over on their customers.” Remember, without your customers, you have no business.




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Who is tweeting on trustworthy business? Here are just some of the “Best of the Best!”


Patricia Aburdene   @paburdene

Randy Conley  @RandyConley

Kellie Cummings @Kellcummings

Charles Feltman @CharlesFeltman

Linda Fisher Thornton @leadingincontxt

Robert  Galford  @RobertGalford

Bahar  Gidwani @CSRHub

Charlie Green @CharlesHGreen

Jim  Gregory @CoreBrand

Parveen  Gupta @ParveenPGupta

Nadine  Hack  @NadineHack

Stewart  Hirsch @Stewartmhirsch

Michael  Hopkins @mjdhopkins

Noreen Kelly @NoreenJKelly

Kimmel, Barbara @BarbaraKimmel

Jim  Kouzes  @Jim_Kouzes

Deb Krizmanich  @Powernoodle

Mike Krzus @mikekrzus

Par Larshans   @PLarshans

Greg Link  @CoveyLink

Linda Locke  @Reputationista

Eric Lowitt  @ericlowitt

Elsie Maio  @Soulbrand

Jon Mertz @thindifference

Deb Mills-Scofield @dscofield

Carol Sanford  @carolsanford

Omer Soker @OmerSoker

Frank Sonnenberg @FSonnenberg

Roger Steare @RogerSteare

Davia Temin @DaviaTemin

Robert Vanourek @BobVanourek

Bob Whipple @Rwhipple

Who should be added to this list. Drop me a note and let me know.

Barbara Kimmel, Executive Director, Trust Across America Leaders in information, standards and data, and the “Who’s Who of Trustworthy Business”

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