In August 2007, Jennifer and I attended the 2007 Annual Conference of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the professional trade association of people who lead the 150,000 other trade associations in the US. Located at Chicago’s McCormick Place that year, it’s a huge, sprawling event – thousands of attendees, a massive exhibitor area, and hundreds of education sessions. Traditionally, this conference will feature several keynote speakers (or Thought Leaders, as they are often called).
This particular scorching August afternoon featured Stephen M. R. Covey, and his topic was the title of his then-recently-released book, The Speed of Trust. Make no mistake: Covey is a compelling speaker. He winds his way through 60 minutes of content in a seamless, seemingly effortless way. He is a terrific storyteller!
Jennifer and I had been working with NASMM for a year at this point, and we had big plans for this small, but mighty group of senior move management professionals. Covey’s words about the “speed of trust” never left me because we’ve basically adopted it as our business model. He believes, “Nothing better accelerates a transaction, a task, or project, than trust.” Trust is the “hidden variable” in the formula for organizational success. The challenge of establishing trust has never been greater, however, as we connect less face-to-face and more in cyberspace.
Trust is woven throughout everything we do each day. Jennifer and I must trust each other. As a small staff association of just two individuals, we must trust that the other person will not let us down. There is no Plan B, back-up person, or safety net. We are each other’s parachutes.
The NASMM Board of Directors must trust us to lead this 600-member association of small business professionals, and we must trust them in return – to honor our contract and empower us to do our best work on their behalf.
The NASMM membership must trust both us and the Board. They need to trust what we say is true. Our members must truly believe us when we say “Your success is OUR business.” They must trust that we “have their backs” in the highly competitive, profoundly challenging world of small business.
NASMM members must trust each other. One key benefit to participating in your profession’s trade association is the opportunity to network and seek referrals. So many older adults move from one region of the country to another that NASMM members often rely on their NASMM colleagues to conduct the beginning or end part of the move.
The deeply intimate relationship between the older adult and the senior move manager requires all kinds of trust at every turn in the downsizing and relocation process. (Who else will you allow into your medicine cabinet, underwear drawer, and photo albums?)
- Older adult clients need to trust the senior move manager will handle their lifelong possessions with care and confidentiality.
- They must trust the SMM is charging them fairly ~ for the time and expertise involved in planning and executing a successful move.
- They must also trust their senior move manager’s recommendation of a moving company.
- They must trust the SMM to advise them well, and with good intentions, regarding the distribution of unwanted possessions – such as donating to identified charities, conducting an estate or garage sale on the client’s behalf, etc.
The list goes on . . . and one thing I know for sure: trust is the centerpiece of senior move management. Everything else is secondary – marketing brochures, website domain name, etc. Peel it all away, and it’s simply trust that will lead clients, referral sources, colleagues and others to your business. Stephen M. R. Covey may have spoken of it that summer day four years ago, but it’s a feeling I will never forget.
Trust is everything.