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Carnival Of Trust

Welcome to the January 2009 Carnival of Trust, a monthly review of posts that explore the most essential ingredient in all our relationships, business and personal.  Charles H. Green, CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates, and an expert on trust in business relationships, is the creator of the Carnival of Trust, and I am deeply honored  that he extended an invitation to me to serve as host this month.

That trust is vital cannot be doubted, as even a casual glance at newspaper headlines makes plain. From the Bernie Madoff scandal to the impeachment of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to the refusal of U.S. banks to account for the money they received in the recent Wall Street bailout, it has never been clearer that trust matters — and matters a lot.  Violations of trust hit hard, whether public figures and national interests are at stake or between private citizens behind closed doors.

But these events that have unfolded on the national stage affect people locally.  It is at that level that trust is experienced — personally, immediately, intimately.  It’s that view at the ground level that this Carnival of Trust is dedicated to.  The 10 posts that I have selected all share something in common.  It’s their ability to capture, up close and personal, the meaning of trust — its significance, its bestowal, its loss, its redemption.  They bring us face to face with trust — and our individual and collective responsibility to preserve and protect it.

Taking us on a journey of trust  is a blogger identified only as Steve, who documents his and his wife’s strategies for creating and building wealth on a single income at  He asks and answers the question, “Should You Trust Your Customers?” through three compelling real-life examples drawn from the online business he and his wife run. To find out whether trust triumphed, read his story.

In “Lessons Learning from Improv“, marketing consultant John Moore of Brand Autopsy pauses to reflect on what 18 weeks of improv comedy classes taught him personally about everyday business life — important lessons he generously shares with his readers about fellowship, mutual support, and the value of trusting others to achieve success.

In “What’s Your Hook?“, Meredith Liepelt, a consultant specializing in marketing for women entrepreneurs, offers small business owners advice courtesy of ice cream purveyor Baskin-Robbins: give potential clients a free taste of your services to help them build confidence in you and your ability to serve their needs well. Liepelt demonstrates step by step the effect of the free sample on one prospective client.

Albert Schweitzer once wrote, “”No human being is ever totally and permanently a stranger to another human being. Man belongs to man. Man is entitled to man. Large and small circumstances break in to dispel the estrangement we impose upon ourselves in daily living, and to bring us close to one another, man to man.” That’s the message of an untitled post on the blog of Robert Bruner, Dean of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.  He exhorts the Darden community to remember how important ethics and reputation are to creating a sustainable legacy for the future.  He calls on every member of that community to take personal responsibility for encouraging others to do what’s right, to speak up when others err, and to make a commitment to serve as a living example of the ethos of trust.

Professional coach Christopher Edgar at Purpose Power Coaching wonders, “Do You Distrust Others, Or Just Yourself?“  Describing the struggle of one of his clients to come to terms with her own inability to trust herself, Edgar uses his client’s story to bring to life the lesson that trusting oneself is closely linked to success in business.

Rushworth M. Kidder at Ethics Newsline wants to know whether “Fighting Ponzi with Ponzi?” is a sustainable strategy in the wake of recent revelations surrounding Bernie Madoff. He sees lessons from the Madoff scandal for the current economic crisis and persists in asking the hard questions: “Are we at risk of becoming a nation of Ponzis? Are we building today’s bailouts and stimulus packages to guarantee a working economy tomorrow — or are we, like Ponzi, paying current dividends out of our children’s capital?”

Scott Greenfield, who blogs at Simple Justice, laments the demise of civic responsibility with the rise of an alarming cost-saving trend: “Cash & Carry Law Enforcement“, where citizens are charged for police and fire emergency services. Greenfield delivers a powerful civics lesson: “The fundamental concept of the common good means that we, as a society, sacrifice a little for the benefit of the whole.”

In “The Workplace as Moral Testing Ground“, Mark Brady, blogging at The Committed Parent, writes movingly of the important responsibility that parents, teachers, and others who mentor the young hold for the development of children as moral beings, and with unflinching self-honesty reflects on his own youthful errors.

Sam Sommers, a blogger at Psychology Today, recounts an eye-opening experience on an elevator to warn of The Power of Us, the irresistible influence that shared identity in a group can hold over us, swaying us in our judgments when we interact with someone who belongs to the same group that we do. He cautions, too, that “usness” — shared affiliations of culture, privilege, or class — can place obstacles in the path of women and minorities.

This has been a difficult winter so far for folks like me who live in New England.  An ice storm in December left numerous communities without power, some for many days.  For some, the response of utility companies was frustratingly inadequate as people were kept literally and figuratively in the dark.  Conflict resolution expert Tammy Lenski, herself without electricity for over a week in her New Hampshire home, brings the voice of personal experience to dispense wise advice for “Crisis communication and the impact on conflict, anger” at Conflict Zen.

This brings us to the end of the January 2009 Carnival of Trust.  I thank you for joining me.  At a time when trust is imperiled, perhaps we’d be prudent to heed the words of 19th century humorist Finley Peter Dunne who wrote, “Trust everybody, but cut the cards.” Yet I’d like to end on a more hopeful note with the following observation from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly, and they will show themselves great.”


Diane J. Levin

Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property… MORE >

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