I don’t often do book reviews. I read TONS of books, usually several simultaneously, and I suppose I’m just not usually focused on them as part of my blogging (and I probably think other people do reviews better than I do). But I wanted to share my initial thoughts after voraciously consuming Chris Brogan and Julien Smith‘s newly minted Trust Agents. Why?
- Chris and Julien are good friends of mine. That means I’m biased toward their success, I’m excited about the book, and I wanted to draw attention to their acheivement. (No they didn’t pay me or bribe me or give me a pony to write this. They were kind enough to send me an advance copy of the book.)
- They’ve earned my trust. Ironic? I think not. Did I mention I’m biased?
- The book is GOOD. Really good. And worth your attention, if it’s not on your radar already.
One of the principal things I love about this book – or the topic, really – is that the conversation around trust and what builds, defines, and removes it never gets old to me. Especially in a business context, and in an online universe where our attention and sense of what’s useful is more splintered than ever before.
Chris and Julien aren’t going to tell you how to win trust. That’s up to you. (Sorry). What they do do, however, is very artfully point out some of the behaviors and actions – especially amongst the anonymity online – that engender trust in others.
They do so simply. Clearly. Articulately. They say it’s about trust, but I’m saying it’s even more about just new human dynamics and behaviors in a digitized world. And Chris and Julien beautifully bridge some ideas and concepts that we often brush past, but rarely articulate. Things like:
- There is great power in how the web enables you to spread, propegate, and share information without immediate presence
- Reliability is a consistent thread among people that rock what they do
- There’s a delicate balance between “leveraging” and “using like yesterday’s washrag” (my indelicate words, not theirs, but a concept that I’d love to introduce to some people personally)
- Doing good things is as much about faith about the return than the expectation of same
- Sucking up isn’t the smart game, but raising up those around you is
- The absence of non-verbal cues on the web makes communicating (and interpreting) there far different
- Build community by protecting them, not using them
- Sharing your influence exponentially builds yours
- The choice about whether or not to immerse yourself in this new era is yours alone.
Simple ideas, yes. But damn hard to do well. Here’s what I wish you’d do.
If you’re the person that would call yourself a Trust Agent, buy the book anyway as credentials of your membership in that tribe. Read it. Be affirmed. Learn a few new things along the way.
Then buy two, five, or a hundred more copies and give them to the people that AREN’T. Use your knowledge of the importance of these concepts to share them with the person who most needs to read this book (and might be the least likely to buy it, since they don’t think they need it). Tell them what you found valuable. Make sure they read the parts you need them to read.
I have several extra copies on their way to my house as we speak. What I’m going to do with them yet I’m not sure. I’ll definitely give them away. But I’m thinking of ways to put them in the hands of people that want to be Trust Agents but might need some guidance to get there. The new web is a tricksy place, and I think Chris and Julien have written an awfully good guide to the principles behind it.
It’s a human book about human principles. I know it’s a business book technically, and I think businesses seeking to understand the social web will do well to read it. But the real power is going to be in how the people behind those businesses absorb and put those lessons to use.
I learned a few things and scribbled down a dozen ideas. If you haven’t ordered yours already, what are you waiting for?
Kudos to my friends Chris and Julien on saying many things that needed to be said, and doing so with clarity and elegance. Congrats, you guys.