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Dov Seidman is the author of the New York Times bestseller HOW: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything (Foreword by Bill Clinton). He has been called by FORTUNE Magazine[…]

How donut sellers in New York City, the rock band Radiohead and the country of Indonesia make breakthroughs by giving trust away.

Dov Seidman: A fascinating story – I found a guy that sells donuts on the streets of New York.  And the guy kitty corner – this is a true story that was written about.  The guy kitty corner also competed with him by selling donuts.  Now they could have had an arms race about donuts – same price, equally delicious.  If not, one guy crosses the street, buys his donut, takes it home, reverse engineers it and every day they’re out donating each other by out productizing each other in that sense.

Well, one donut guy put a tray of loose change – and he said to his customers, I trust you to make your own change.  He stood there and connected with them and spoke to them and really worried about the donuts and the service.  That act of innovating and how he connected with his customers by extending trust to them, by letting them make their own change, created so much innovation that he started to outsell his competitor three to one.

And now you go all the way to Indonesia, a country fighting corruption on unprecedented scales.  And instead of more police and more controls which they’re still doing, they now have more than ten thousand honesty cafes where they are teaching citizens -  and now these are canteens in schools to take food off the shelves.  And instead of going to a cashier and having a transaction, they’re going to a jar where they’re putting money in and making their own change.  Literally teaching people the habits of honesty that come when someone extends trust to you to be honest in the first place.

And then when you open your eyes to this idea of giving trust away, you notice that the rock band Radiohead when they trusted their fans to pay what they thought the music was worth, they made more money in the fifth album than all the first four albums put together cumulatively when they put a price on it.  Or when Ritz Carlton trusts its employees up to two thousand dollars a day to solve a customer problem in a way that they think is the most valuable to the customer.  They get much more connection and loyalty than writing a bunch of policies or manuals as to how you solve customer problems.  This one idea that inspirational leaders find meaningful ways to give trust away as opposed to setting up elaborate controls for inspecting trust is a breakthrough idea in a HOW world.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton