There is often a moment in my public events when I talk about the greatest asset we have built in the company. I would bet people expect me to say something about our technology platform, or brand equity, or brilliant team, or the size of our community. All those things matter deeply but what I actually say is “Our greatest asset is trust.”
And while I know this statement is 100% true, I always feel compelled to apologize for how squishy it sounds.
Yet as a person who can read cultural, technical, and business trends, I know that trust is actually very thin on the ground. It’s a huge competitive asset.
It’s rare that you would implicitly trust a business. I think of trusting Whole Foods for screening products for a clear set of lifestyle and social values. I think of trusting Apple to deliver a new technology format when it is really ready for prime time. I trust Amazon to deliver a product swiftly but have zero trust that they are backing or endorsing the product. So trust can also be circumstantial.
At Grommet we want you to trust that we did the real, hard work to vet the most inspired, worthy products and companies on Earth. I don’t know another company that devotes all its heart and soul to do that job for another business–as a singular focus.
In our early days I knew we were just “getting by” on most of the functions of the business. We just did not have the staffing or cash to do things right. But I am proud that we always, consistently focussed on the quality of Grommets. I was willing to apologize for late shipments or limited marketing, or slow customer service. But I vowed never to be in the position of apologizing for supporting a poor Grommet. Could we make mistakes? Of course, once in a while. I even went ahead and apologized in advance for that back possibility in 2010. But we never cut corners.
Trust was the number one reason I asked Joanne Domeniconi to be my co-founder. Of course my professional and personal trust in her was a primary reason. But I was projecting forward to a large business in which I knew our community of Makers and supporters could also trust Joanne. You can see my highlighting this in the bio I wrote about her several years ago, on our site. Every word is still true.
So, I was particularly happy to see Seth Godin recognize this rare asset of trust in a recent short blog post. He wrote:
When you build a building, it stays around for a long time.
When you invest and staff a factory, it’s something significant, and it lasts.
When Heinz gets shelf space at the supermarket, the status quo is powerful and that shelf space might last a generation or two.
Today, the smart money is investing in digital assets, and legions of entrepreneurs are trying to build long-term value online, where it just seems so easy. 100,000 downloads of your new app, or a quick rise to #1 for your new ebook or a million ‘hits’ to a new website.
Easy come, easy go.
The digital asset that matters is trust. Awareness first, then interaction, and maybe a habit, but all three mean nothing if they don’t lead to permission and trust. The privilege of connection.
Everything else is slippery.