Zen and the Art of Trust ?

It’s hard to believe it’s March already. Life moves fast at a full service marketing agency, and bonds are built quickly. In the trenches, where ambition, creativity, and the genius of branding intersect, there’s never a dull moment. Team members who have only been at Zen for a matter of weeks quickly begin to feel like blood brothers, and what matters most at the end of the day is not having all the answers, but being curious, caring about the experience, and relying on each other through the ups and downs. We’ve all heard the saying, no one cares what you know until they know how much you care. Yup, it’s all about trust this week. There’s no connected consumer without the social glue and capital of trust. But, trust is never simple.


Rachel Botsman, author of Who Can You Trust and Visiting Lecturer & Researcher at Oxford University, reminds us that technology is part of what complicates trust.

How is it that we’re willing to get into the car of a stranger for the convenience of an uber ride, and yet find it so difficult to trust politicians, salesmen, or corporate interests?

She describes the evolution of trust in three phases: local, institutional, and distributed. It’s relatively simple when we place our trust in those we consider our kin, those closest and dearest, but when we shift to institutional trust, there is both greater power and greater potential for abuse. Finally, when we arrive at distributed trust, through innovations like blockchain or business models that depend on crowdsourcing, it can appear as though we’ve reclaimed a utopia of one-on-one interactions and egalitarian modes of engagement; however underneath the idealism, there are still monopolies at work.

The insight Rachel’s work ultimately offers is that no matter how advanced we become technologically, we still need trust, which is at the end of the day, a deeply human need and capacity, and brings with it important considerations around leadership, culture, and choice.


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She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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