HBO, Trust Agents and How to Do Business With a Pinky Swear

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)There’s a lot of talk about trust these daysWhy are we as business people so focused on re-educating ourselves about such a basic human emotion that we naturally should be calling on

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

There’s a lot of talk about trust these days

Why are we as business people so focused on re-educating ourselves about such a basic human emotion that we naturally should be calling on everyday. Are things that bad with our society and our way of doing business? Can people like the right honorable Chris Brogan and his amazing book TRUST AGENTS (required reading for the trust challenged) with his mission to make it a cornerstone of every facet of consumer interaction be so alone in his thinking?  Can the idea of a perceived or potential threat be such an ingrained assumption that it needs to be applied to everyone and everything, no matter what?

It seems so…and that makes me sad. 🙁

To some people, trust is an inherent behavior, a default setting in their brain. Those are the people I surround myself with, enjoy the most success with and those are the people who tend to smile the most it seems. Don’t assume we are naive. We tend to sniff out a rat pretty quick. But it’s important to note that there are those among us who assume the best in people, not the worst. We tend to base decisions by giving everyone the benefit of the belief, not the doubt.

Here’s a personal example:

A few years ago I sat across from a new potential client. It was Lucinda Martinez, VP of Marketing for HBO.  Lucinda had just been exposed to a project Zemoga launched for our client A&E, through an industry friend. “Who did that for you?” she immediately asked her friend at A&E impressed with the work and the results. Our client willingly gave us the props and shared our info with Lucinda. The client let her know that Zemoga “have never let us down”… and “…always deliver… no matter what” Strong endorsements indeed.

But that’s not the story about trust…it gets better. Not long after that Lucinda called me out of the blue to request a same day meeting on a Friday. We rushed immediately up to her office. (who does not want to jump at the opportunity to work with HBO, especially when they reach out first). As Sven Larsen and I sat across from Lucinda listening to her challenge, telling her about how we approach projects and sharing some case studies she stopped me in my tracks.

“Can you start Monday?”

Gulp… see Lucinda had her entire stakeholder team in NYC for other meetings and she wanted to leverage this collective brain trust in the discovery session we were suggesting HBO embark on.

“Can you have a team here Monday so we don’t have to fly everyone in again?”

Although I appreciated her desire to be efficient with the HBO travel budget, I respectfully reminded her of the obvious need to execute the necessary SOW’s and MSA’s would preclude us from being able to accommodate her request. This was an assumption I made. The assumption that HBO would require a substantial legal effort to get me the assurance I would need to spend money on HBO’s behalf.  I knew Zemoga could rally, that’s how we roll…but my doubts were there as I explained this need…until she did this.

“I pinky swear you have the job and you’ll be covered.” as she reached her arm across her desk inviting me to lock our smallest of digits.

I looked at Sven, grinned and did not hesitate for a second. I knew she was senior enough to be able to commit HBO, but more importantly I could see her appreciation for how we did business. The vibe was there and it was real. She had never met us, but she trusted us. Why would I not do the same? I base my business and personal dealings around a simple assumption that all people are good until they themselves give you reason to think otherwise. I knew the protections would be in place in due time, but this woman needed us now.

So with interlocked pinkies (MSA was eventually executed) we ventured forward with a team onsite the next Monday. We continue to this day to service this most wonderful of clients who hired us on a childhood promissory with very adult implications. That foundation permeates through our relationship to this day. Trust allows us to talk openly and manage fairly all the work we do for HBO. Trust is what drives Lucinda to introduce us to other stakeholders within HBO. I know it was the basis of trust that got us there in the first place and it is trust that drives them to think of Zemoga first.

I suggest we all start to give everyone the benefit of the belief. It will get us all where we need to be faster and those who prove through actions that they don’t deserve said benefit, will certainly find themselves quickly staring at a bridge in flames.

About the author

DJ is CEO & Founder of Zemoga. He has worked in the digital design and production space for over 30 years specializing in developing customer engagement strategies & building teams and technologies that provide groundbreaking solutions for F500 Co's.