Rick Miles is a potato farmer in Idaho. Every year, Jerry Murrell buys approximately 5 million 50lb bags of potatoes from Rick.
Who is Jerry Murrell? He is the CEO of Five Guys.
That number of bags makes Rick Miles pretty close to being the sole supplier of potatoes for Five Guys. To me that is too much of a precarious position to be in. You know that adage, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. But they have been doing business together for over 19 years. If you're wondering how comprehensive that agreement is, or how many lawyers were involved in hashing out a delicate agreement like that...the answer will surprise you. The answer to both questions is none, zero! No written agreement.
Their story begins with Jerry tasting some quality potatoes. He tracked down the farmer and flew to Idaho to meet Rick. They talked about potatoes in an open-air food court and ended up shaking hands on an agreement. A verbal agreement. After 19 years, the quality of the potatoes has not deteriorated. A shipment of potatoes has not been missed. A payment for the potatoes has not been missed.
Right after I said WOW, the question in my mind was, what makes such a relationship possible? What is the drive behind such a relationship that makes it consistently strong?
The answer is Trust. Trust can be innate – like the relationship between a child and the parent. Trust also can be acquired. The majority of Trust, out here in the public, is qualified and earned. There is something very important, I want you to remember is that Trust is never a deal that is made nor negotiated.
So then how do we build Trust? How do we create this intangible, brittle, and yet dynamic force between two or more people?
Three values are integral in building Trust. I will share them with you in no particular order. One value does not take precedent over the other.
1. AUTHENTICITY – The relationship must be a clear reflection of the partners. There is no room for pretension. Authenticity brings genuineness to the relationship. Authenticity gives confidence to the bond. Now you may have seen people who are being overly nice, just to get the deal done. The reason is, we perceive niceness as authenticity. Niceness is not authenticity. Absolutely not.
2. INTEGRITY - Always keep your word, deals and your commitments. Promises made are promises kept. Your word is your currency. If you promise something or anything, then deliver it. It's just that simple. Following through is just as important as what you have said and how you have said it. In the event, you can’t deliver, immediately communicate your difficulties as clearly and openly as possible. Integrity is HONESTY. *
3. ACTION – Make real connections by setting clear expectations. This is your behavior. Through your actions, show that you try harder than anyone else. Listen closely, communicate openly, and directly. Encourage the broad involvement of your partner. Become inclusive. Become flexible. Be open to change your mind when persuaded by meritorious argument. *
The three values align your thoughts, words, and behavior. They are consequential to building Trust.
As you begin to build a Trusted relationship, you will realize proximity plays a big role. It is a human trait that we desire close (physical) presence with the people we want to bond. Because it promotes closeness. It increases the attraction. Nothing confirms familiarity than being face to face and looking at someone in their eyes. We can take it a step further with a strong shake of hands.
In the business world, Trust is not just between a seller and customer, but also between the leader and the employee. When the employees fail, the chances are high that they weren’t provided with clear guidelines or clear expectations of the responsibility. Here’s a news flash. The employees can’t read minds. As the leader, it is critical to be aware of the knowledge gap between the leader and the employee. It is the same as understanding the customers’ need to better serve them. Therefore, it is the leaders’ responsibility to establish a culture of Trust in their enterprises!
Now we understand that cumulating all three values, requires a Conscious Commitment. Trust is difficult. Trust is challenging. Yet, Trust is dynamic. Trust is essential. On the flip side of the coin, why do people have difficulties in maintaining Trust? Why do people damage their relationships that they work on very hard? The simple answer is, because of our ego. The results of our actions can be so intoxicating that the results will betray us. Our successes, our stardoms, can make us feel invincible. In those moments we may be motivated to cut corners or astray from our core believes, our relationships, thinking that we will be insulated from any wrongdoing or others just won’t care. That leads to losing our authenticity, losing our integrity, and taking opportunistic actions.
Let me share a simple story from the Aesop fables to highlight my point.
Once upon a time, there was a farmer and a baker who did business with each other. They were friends and maintained a very good relationship with each other. The farmer bartered a pound of butter every day for a pound bread from the baker. One morning, on his way to his home, the baker suspected that the farmer might be cheating him on the pound of butter. As soon as he arrived at his house, he weighed the butter. The weight showed the amount was under a pound. This made the baker very angry and so he took the farmer to the court.
The judge asked the farmer to explain. The farmer replied, "your honor, every morning when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him an equal amount of weight in butter.” Remember, your actions, will catch up to you.
Trust can only exist where these three values – Authenticity, Integrity, and Action - are present. For Trust to be realized, all three values must occur in harmony. Why? “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”- Dale Carnegie.
We want to work with someone we Trust. We WANT to be Trusted.
Trust has to be earned. Trust is delicate. Trust is Fragile. Trust is the strongest relationship you will have with anyone, yet it is also the most brittle relationship you will have with anyone.
So I encourage you, in personal life and business life, always be yourself (Authenticity), keep your word (Integrity), and deliver what you promised (Action). Because "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." - Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
*Delta Rules of the Road