The High-Speed/Low-Cost Catalyst

Posted on October 2, 2014 by Robert Ringer


In the Preface to Stephen M.R. Covey’s book The Speed of Trust, his father, Stephen R. Covey (of Seven Habits fame), stated: “My interactions with business leaders around the world have made it increasingly evident that ‘speed to market’ is now the ultimate competitive weapon.”

Just think about that for a moment — the ultimate competitive weapon. What a remarkable thought: The most important thing you can do to win out over the competition is get your product to market fast. As I’ve said in the past, money loves speed, and one of the main reasons for that is that it gives you an edge over the competition.

In his book, Covey takes the speed issue a giant step beyond his father’s statement. He not only identifies the greatest catalyst for speed, he explains how and why it produces speed. The catalyst, he says, is trust.

Covey says that where there is a lack of trust, everything takes longer and costs more. And he’s absolutely right. Isn’t it a lot faster and less expensive if you trust someone enough to make a deal on a handshake rather than having to bring in a brigade of problem-creating, fee-building attorneys to cross the t’s and dot the i’s?

On a macro level, the greatest threat to America is not Islamic terrorists. Our greatest threat is our loss of virtues, and at the top of the list of decaying virtues is trust. Americans don’t trust religious leaders, they don’t trust schools, they don’t trust corporate chieftains, and, above all, they don’t trust politicians. And I hasten to add that all this distrust has been well earned.

Covey points out that trust is based on a demonstration of both character (most commonly manifested as honesty) and competence (most commonly manifested in results). It’s possible to trust someone’s honesty, but not trust him to deliver results — just as it’s possible to trust someone to deliver results, but not trust his honesty. Either way, dealing with such people will slow you down, because there is a lack of trust.

I never cease to be amazed by people who repeatedly make adamant promises, yet consistently fail to follow through on them and deliver results. I’ve grown weary of listening to those who always speak in the future tense, promising that they’re going to take care of this or that tomorrow. As one tomorrow rolls into the next, my trust in these folks declines at an accelerating rate.

At a minimum, I prefer to hear some speak in the present tense — telling me that he’s in the process of doing something. Even better is the past tense: “Yes, I’ve done it.” The past tense promotes trust. Words like “Not yet, but …” arouse doubt.

As for demonstrating character, Covey emphasizes that it’s not so much how people act in the presence of others, it’s what they do behind the scenes. (Anyone who doesn’t understand why this is so probably isn’t curable.) If they have a hidden agenda, a shrewd person will see it right through the facade they’re hiding behind.

You don’t even have to know the other person to detect the truth. In fact, I’ll bet you can think of two or three news commentators whom you do not trust because it’s so painfully obvious that they aren’t reporting the news at all. What they’re really doing is promoting their own agendas and passing them off as news.

If you have a hidden agenda, it’s best to trash it or bring it out in the open. If you want to be trusted, you have to play every card face up. Strive for consistency between what you do and say behind closed doors and what you do and say in public. You simply can’t afford the cost of people not trusting you.

Finally, there’s that tired cliché about “a level playing field.” I am convinced that nothing does more to level the 21st century playing field than trust, because in today’s fast-moving world, it’s speed, not size, that carries the day. Trust pays off in high speed and low costs, which gives David the best chance he’s had against Goliath since he used his homemade slingshot against him.

This fact was underscored by none other than News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch, when he said, in an interview, “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”

Do you realize how exciting that is — a multi-billionaire media giant saying that being big is not enough to win? That in this millennium — the age that you and I are living in — the little guy can beat the big guys just by moving faster. I don’t know about you, but that is a highly motivating thought to me.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

27 responses to “The High-Speed/Low-Cost Catalyst”

  1. Ragnar455 says:

    The first point of the Boy Scout Law is: A Scout is Trustworthy. We were taught that if you were not Trustworthy, the rest of the Law did not mean anything. Unfortunately, that is not what people are learning today. It is a travesty that people are growing up without learning the meaning and importance of trust.

    • Murray Suid says:

      Which people are not learning to be trustworthy? My three grandkids seem to have learned it. I volunteer at a middle school, and my sense is that the kids there are at least as trustworthy as kids in my circle many decades ago.

      But if there is evidence that people these days are less trustworthy, I'd be very interested in seeing it. My mind is open. I'm just skeptical that "people are growing up without learning the meaning and importance of trust." Or maybe I just can't grok such a generalization.

      • Tex says:

        "But if there is evidence that people these days are less trustworthy, I'd be very interested in seeing it."

        Just lend them money, Murray, and see if they even bother to try to repay it! I've lost over $1million lending to people whom I knew for long periods of time and who seemed to be honest in their dealings – – UNTIL I loaned them money. The minute they got their hands on my money, the whole game changed. One couple wound up in jail for 8 years but that didn't put a penny back in my pocket.

  2. Doug_Champigny says:

    And it's not just Murdoch, Robert – Richard Branson made the point that smaller businesses have the advantage today in his 2008 book "Business Stripped Bare". Keeping up with the speed of change and implementing innovation company-wide are much easier in small, dynamic companies than in the monoliths of the past.

  3. Serge says:

    Famous words are how do I earn your business or is it how do I earn your trust, the two seem to be intertwined. Earning someones trust is what I value the most, since if that is breached it's goodbye to that person or business. Trust does speed up any process from business to personal to politics.

  4. bullwink says:

    Robert again you do it !, seems odd to me that in my biz I've worked hard to be faster quicker , value oriented (cheaper….make the sale, make another…) on occasion I'm contacted by an individual w/ time on their hands who asks incisive questions and makes requests, informs me of their wishes, dog etc. I say "get lost" to them as the majority of my customers look at my "testimonials & sales history" buy what they want and I immediately ship it to them, recently I opened a new line of biz and a new customer needed something special and would be happy to pay extra for the service , I started immediately etc, have another testimonial..

  5. RealitySeeker says:

    "Americans don’t trust religious leaders, they don’t trust schools, they don’t trust corporate chieftains, and, above all, they don’t trust politicians."

    And, if they are smart, amerikans (sic) don't trust the CDC, either.

    • James Parker says:

      The general rule is to not trust anyone or anything that claims they deserve your trust, be it religious leaders and organizations, government leaders and organization, business leaders and organizations, or individual.

      Those who will prove themselves to be worthy of your trust don't talk about it.

    • Miriam miriam says:

      Or any government agency.

    • Serge says:

      The big picture for Americans is they could loose position to other countries who understand the speed of trust.

  6. Daniel says:

    "Our greatest threat is our loss of virtues…" Indeed. A virtuous society is a strong one. A society lacking virtue is weak. My mentor, Roger Woodward, often said: "When two forces are in opposition, that which strengthens the one tends to weaken the other, and vice versa." America's strength is in the character of its citizens; its weakness in the lack thereof. In business I found that telling the truth, no matter how difficult it made things in the near-term, always increased the volume and pace of transactions in the long term because my customers knew they could call me and get an accurate, fudge-free, "score"; and it helped keep my mind, and those of my customers, free of the impediments of worry and doubt. I'm pretty sure I learned that from Robert Ringer decades ago.

  7. RealitySeeker says:

    “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”

    Unless amerikans evolve into an acephalous society (and that societal transformation would require a true miracle) there is no long-term future for the uneducated masses. The only people "beating" anybody will be those who can adapt to a "very fast collapse".

    On its present course amerika, like dozens of other collectivist empires, shall undergo a complexity collapse. This isn't opinion. It's a historical, variable fact. The Western Chou Empire, the Harappan Civilization, Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Old Kingdom, the Hittite Empire, Minoan Civilization, Mycenaean Civilization …………. and everybody's favorite, the Western Roman Empire all of them suffered the same fate as amerika shall suffer. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    • John E. Gabor says:

      But all those countries and regions are still there, and life and business goes on…

      • RealitySeeker says:

        Reply to John E. Gabor:

        Excuse me?

        "Still there", you say? No, I say. I'm afraid not, e.g., the Dark Age replaced the Western Roman Empire.

        All of the the aforementioned societies and so many more not mentioned totally lost their means of production, division of labor, advanced agronomy, art, science, religion, medicines, trade routes, centralized government and even their written and spoken language. They lost everything and became a ruin. The very complexity that made those civilizations rise into a collectivist society ruled by a hierarchical bureaucracy, which, in turn, was governed by a figurehead, this complexity in all of its glory, was what ultimately crashed society back into simplicity.

        Fast forward: the complex biological, nuclear and kinetic warfare of modern man in and by itself has the potential of collapsing the entire globe into a dark age like no other. Technology is currently like a rolling snowball that is uncatchable. Nothing, and I mean nothing of importance, moves in amerika without the SCADA systems; and the SCADA systems are highly vulnerable on so many levels. The JIT (Just In Time) systems which support hundreds of millions of consumers are subject to catastrophic failure in more ways than one. And it only takes one Xclass CME; one megaton nuclear EMP detonated 250 miles above the Heartland; one pandemic virus which infects the microchips that support amerika's technological revolution; one mutation of– or a weaponized version of— an Ebola-like virus; just one of many things, and within a few months amerikans would be living back in the Stone Age absent the skills necessary to survive.

  8. joesugar says:

    Trust not only pays off in high speed and low cost, it offers an exceptional return on investment. I will gladly pay a premium to deal with people I know will deliver what they agreed to when they agreed to.

  9. Robby Bonfire says:

    The "trust gap" stems from the fact that people, all over the world, of every description, will do ANYTHING for money – hit contract murder, rob, cheat, lie, steal, burglarize, embezzle, swindle, con, entrap, spy upon, frame-up, sell-out, propagate war – talking defense contractors bribing politicians to keep us bombing away, mostly needlessly, funnel tax dollars abroad as "foreign aid," when it is mostly a banking commission fee heist – akin with Chase Manhattan Bank, years ago, reaping a 15 per cent commission on all "foreign aid" leaving this country, etc.

    Excessive taxation is also a form of dishonest expropriation of people's estate productivity, and a breach of trust. How about estate inheritance taxes – the wealth or equity you generated AFTER you paid your exorbitant fees and income and property taxes, being taxed AGAIN. Also labor union extortionist strikes have demolished many a solid company and put people out of work because some "organized mobs" are always looking to abuse power to get something for nothing.

    And let's look at the inflation curve which renders the currency unstable and is another form of legal larceny – the deliberate debasing of the purchasing power of your paper money – because the insiders profit when they repay massive loans with cheaper dollars.

    And how about phonies in church, praising God and Jesus while passing out their business card to their networking contacts in that venue? These people trust in God all the way to the bank, but no further. And they really don't bother to trust you because they don't even like you, they are just USING you.

    And how about professional athletes who risk all for that big pay day or contract – race car drivers, jockeys, boxers, football players, etc? Risking life and limb for money is old hat, grotesque television enticements just sweetened the pot in the last couple decades, while exponentially expanding the risk. I use the sports analogy, not to support my contention that people are not trustworthy, given that there is nothing deceitful about being a professional athlete, but to emphasize it's corollary that people will do ANYTHING for money, and this is what makes them dangerous as hell to YOUR well-being. Abuse of trust is just one component of that larger picture.

    And how about people you trust ratting on you when you conspired to commit a crime, so that they go free while you get 20-to-life? That's right, we really don't even have a friend we can trust, when it's down to him or us paying a price for freedom.

    I trust my three cats and NO ONE ELSE in this world, not even my blood relatives. Not so long as everyone in the world can be bought. I know a woman who spouts "Jesus Christ and biblical quotations" all day long, and who carries a 50-pound bible around wherever she goes, who is about as trustworthy in her financial dealings with people as a snake in the grass, which at least is not a hypocrite.

    So trust at your peril, bearing in mind that those who haven't betrayed your trust just have not yet had the profitable incentive to do so, but they will get there, rest assured. And if you think I am cynical, you are short on life experience and a Pollyanna clone 10 times over.

    By the way, my favorite original philosophical saying goes as follows: "PEOPLE are the root of all evil – money is just the medium of exchange which brings this fact to light."

    To simplify your life, secure and collateralize all your dealings with people. It really is the only constraint they can respect and understand.

  10. Richard Lee Van says:

    My father liked to "harp" on things. He would just talk to the air if I was in earshot. So from the time I was 8 I heard "Everybody hates a liar". "A liar can't keep his stories straight," etc. And other "harpings" all about honesty. His lessons are burned in my brain, and what he taught has made me a SUCCESS in my life both personally and in business and profession. Ben Franklin had a lot to say also! I love being a CREDIBLE person. No one doubts my honesty, except former wives.

  11. larajf says:

    I've owned that book for quite awhile. I guess it's time I pulled it off of the shelf and actually read it :-)

  12. JW Bill Toebes says:

    I trust in God but learned log ago everyone else better pay me cash.I am a christian which means I will not cheat you or steal from you or take a bribe or lie to you..True Christianity is this to deal my bread with the poor when my enemy is is hungry I feed him when he is thirsty I give him drink.I won't beat him around the head with a ten lbs bible.I win people by living the true christian life.I ad very difficult at time when some so called brothers in the faith lie cheat and steal to get my money.In my 81 years of living being an inventor of chemical process and new antibiotics I have met every crook you can name including Christian who have lot of explaining to do when they will stand before God and answer for every deed done.

  13. JW bill Toebes says:

    sorry missed a word LONG ago while i add this for the life of me I can't understand this new christian world "do them before they do you"

  14. Adefemi Afolabi says:

    Trust is the currency of profitable business.

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