Guy Kawasaki: Aspects of Building Trust | Summary and Q&A

March 7, 2011
Stanford eCorner
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Guy Kawasaki: Aspects of Building Trust

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In this video, the speaker discusses the concept of trustworthiness and the role it plays in relationships and success. Trustworthiness is established when you trust others first, and they, in turn, trust you. Three examples of organizations that embody trustworthiness are, Zappos, and Nordstrom. The speaker also highlights the importance of being a "baker" rather than an "eater" in terms of mindset and approach to life. Trustworthy people see the world as a non-zero-sum game and focus on creating and sharing opportunities rather than solely seeking personal gain. Lastly, the speaker emphasizes the significance of defaulting to a positive and helpful mindset, always asking, "How can I help that person?" when meeting others.

Questions & Answers

Q: How does trustworthiness occur?

Trustworthiness occurs when you trust others before expecting them to trust you. This sequence of events fosters an environment of trust and reciprocity. By trusting people first, you are taking the initial step in building a relationship based on trust.

Q: Can you provide examples of organizations that embody trustworthiness?

Yes., Zappos, and Nordstrom are great examples of organizations that prioritize trustworthiness. trusts its customers by allowing them to purchase Kindle books and return them even after five days. This level of trust demonstrates their confidence in customers. Similarly, Zappos has established trust by enabling women to buy shoes online without trying them on. They offer free shipping both ways without any questions asked. Lastly, Nordstrom, a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, has also built trust with customers through their exceptional service and customer-centric approach. All these examples highlight the significance of trust in establishing strong relationships with customers.

Q: How can trustworthiness be related to being a "baker" or an "eater"?

Trustworthy individuals embody the mindset of a "baker." A "baker" sees the world as an opportunity to create more and bigger pies, symbolizing growth and abundance. They believe in a non-zero-sum game where everyone can benefit. On the other hand, an "eater" perceives life as a zero-sum game, where someone's gain means another's loss. Trustworthy people focus on growth and collaboration rather than solely seeking personal gain.

Q: What does it mean to default to yes?

Defaulting to yes is a mindset where your first instinct is to think about how you can help the other person when you meet them. This is in contrast to approaching relationships with the mindset of "How can that person help me?" By defaulting to yes, you are prioritizing the needs and interests of others, which fosters trust and genuine connections. While some may worry about the potential trouble or inconvenience this may cause, it is important to note that most people are reasonable in their requests. And for the rare instances where someone is unreasonable, they are likely not worth investing your time and effort into trying to enchant.

Q: How does defaulting to yes enhance networking and social interactions?

Defaulting to yes can greatly enhance networking and social interactions. By constantly thinking about how you can help others, you position yourself as a valuable and trustworthy connection. People appreciate those who genuinely care about their well-being and are willing to offer support. Defaulting to yes helps build strong relationships and opens the door for future collaborations and opportunities.

Q: Are there any drawbacks to defaulting to yes?

While defaulting to yes is generally beneficial, there may be some instances where it can lead to potential trouble or inconveniences. However, based on the speaker's experience over 30 years, these occurrences are very rare. Most people make reasonable requests, and by defaulting to yes, you display a willingness to go above and beyond for others. It is important to use judgment and assess whether someone's request aligns with your values and capabilities. In the rare cases where someone is unreasonable, it is advisable to reconsider investing time and effort into that relationship.

Q: How can trustworthiness benefit individuals and organizations?

Trustworthiness is a highly valuable trait for individuals and organizations alike. It lays the foundation for strong relationships, fosters collaboration, and promotes loyalty. When people trust you or your organization, they are more inclined to engage, support, and do business with you. Trustworthiness enhances credibility, reputation, and overall success in various aspects of life.

Q: Is trustworthiness only about trusting others?

Trustworthiness goes beyond trusting others. It encompasses being trustworthy in your actions, maintaining integrity, and fulfilling your commitments. Trustworthiness stems from a combination of trusting others and being reliable, honest, and ethical. It is a holistic quality that encourages mutual trust and respect in relationships.

Q: Can trustworthiness be developed and improved?

Yes, trustworthiness can be developed and improved. It starts with self-reflection and understanding the importance of trust in relationships. By consciously choosing to trust others first, adopting a growth mindset, and defaulting to a helpful and positive mindset, one can cultivate trustworthiness. Building trust takes time and consistency, but with effort and practice, anyone can become more trustworthy.

Q: How does trustworthiness contribute to personal and professional growth?

Trustworthiness plays a significant role in personal and professional growth. Trustworthy individuals are more likely to be seen as leaders and collaborators, leading to increased opportunities and advancement. They attract trustworthy relationships based on mutual respect and support. Trustworthiness also enhances one's reputation, credibility, and overall influence. By being trustworthy, individuals can create a positive and conducive environment for personal and professional success.


Trustworthiness is a vital quality in building successful relationships and organizations. It begins with trusting others first and establishing a foundation of mutual trust. The mindset of a "baker" focuses on growth and collaboration rather than zero-sum gain, fostering an environment of abundance. Defaulting to yes and adopting a helpful mindset benefits networking and establishes trust with others. While there may be some factors to consider, defaulting to yes generally leads to positive outcomes. Trustworthiness can be developed through self-reflection and conscious effort. Ultimately, trustworthiness contributes to personal and professional growth, opening doors to new opportunities and creating a positive impact in various aspects of life.

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