First off, let me be clear that this is not going to be about Donald Trump.

Sure, I’ve read about 16 articles today about the Donald.

Most of them focused on how awkward and embarrassing the pre-inauguration concert was for everyone who attended, watched or even performed.  I cringed a bit even reading about it.

So while the presidential inauguration is on everyone’s mind today, I thought I’d offer an alternative focus for those of us who are getting pretty tired of that topic.

Let’s talk about trust.

Think for a moment, about those people in your life you trust.

Honestly, take a moment.

When you think “Who do I trust?”, who comes to mind?

Now think for a moment about those people in your life who have the power to impact you the most.

I bet that the people you trust are largely made up of the people who can really impact your life.

Your partner, your doctor, your financial advisor, your child (maybe, depending on the day).

Trust is important for things that matter.  You need to be able to rely on those people to do what they said they would do, when they said they would do it.

The less the consequence of a mistake, the less trust you need.

I hope that the barista at Starbucks makes my coffee the way I ordered it.  I wouldn’t say I trust them to do it right.  I certainly hope they will, but if they don’t then it isn’t that big a deal.

The more a mistake matters, the more trust I need to have in that person.

If my doctor recommends a course of action to deal with a health issue, it matters if they get it right.

I need to trust them.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all trust-assessing machines.

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy has been studying first impressions for more than 15 years, and she has found that people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you:

  • Can I trust this person?
  • Can I respect this person?

In essence, we’re talking about warmth and competence.

These are two very important questions – but which do you think matters most?

Here we run into an interesting difference between what matters to us and what we think matters to others.

Cuddy says that most people feel that respect is the important factor, particularly if the person is doing something for you.

We assume that if we’re providing a service, it’s crucial the client or customer first sees we are knowledgeable and competent.  After all, when we’re the customer, we want to feel confident that the person is able to do what we need them to do.

But in fact, Cuddy’s work shows that it is warmth, or trustworthiness, that is the most important factor in how people evaluate you.  “From an evolutionary perspective,” Cuddy says, “it is more crucial to our survival to know whether a person deserves our trust.”

This means that while competence is highly valued, Cuddy says that it is evaluated only after trust is established.

At first this seemed strange to me, but I realized that for any relationships I have with service providers who can have a big impact on my life, it is absolutely right.

I naturally want my doctor to be highly competent and worthy of my respect as a medical professional.

That being said, if I don’t get a sense of warmth or that I can trust them when we meet, I don’t care if they are competent or not.  Without trust, I don’t want them to be involved.

If we think back to Starbucks, the most important factor for me is whether I respect the barista as a knowledgeable, diligent and competent preparer of coffee.

In my career as a Realtor, I have met a number of agents who don’t succeed and eventually leave the profession.  All of these agents have taken the required courses and in many cases I would consider them competent individuals who know how to perform the various roles and activities for a buyer or a seller.

They fail because they do not inspire trust in the person selling their home when they do a listing presentation.

They fail because their buyer client keeps losing out in multiple offer situations because the listing agent and the seller don’t feel they can trust them to close the deal successfully.

They fail because being competent isn’t enough.

Every year I grow more and more experienced, effective and competent at my job.  None of that matters if I don’t show my clients that they can trust me to keep their best interests in mind.

When I look back on the success I’ve achieved in real estate, I see that the turning point came when I stopped focusing on all the things I can do and started focusing on what my client is going through.

It is because I care about what happens to my clients that I came up with my tagline “Responsible for what comes next”, and it is because I care, that my clients trust me with such an important job.

If you or someone you like are considering buying or selling real estate, I’d love to have a chance to show how I’m worthy of your trust and respect.  In fact, you could say, I’d love to be responsible for what comes next.





When people eat together, they may actually be together in spirit – or they may be far apart.  Some rooms invite people to eat leisurely and comfortably, and feel together, while others force people to eat as quickly as possible so they can go somewhere else to relax.

The specifics of this lesson focus on light and how if there is the same level of light both over and all around a table, the light does nothing to hold people together and there is no sense it is a special gathering.  When there is light directly over the table with dark walls and less light around the table, people’s faces are lit up and the table is a focal point for the whole group.

I love this lesson because it makes me think of fantastic dinner parties I’ve hosted or been to over the years.  I never considered that the lighting would impact the feeling of the meal to such an extent, but when I think of great gatherings, it has been in spaces where it seemed the whole world was reduced to just the table and the friends and family around it.