"Mayor Rahm's 'trust' problem, huh? You wanna help him with that?" The cop narrowed his eyes, looking me over hard as he handed back my ID. "Back of the line is 'bout half a block south down Clark Street."
"Half a block?"
"Yep," said the cop. Whole lot of people want to give the mayor advice. Eight, nine hundred a day."
"Nine hundred people a day got advice for the mayor?"
The cop chuckled. "You can call it advice."
Taking my place at the back of the line. January in Chicago. Like always, it was you and the cold, bitter wind. But the line moved fast. Talking with folks in the line, I asked the lady in front of me why she was here. She took a deep breath and spit out, "To tell him to resign! Tell him he is finished! Tell him he's kaput!" I asked her what would happen then. Instead of answering she said, "Well, why are YOU here mister smartypants?"
"I'm here to help him with his trust problem. I tried to help him with finding jobs for people so they wouldn't keep shooting grandmothers and babies. Tried a few different ways of getting my book Finding Work When There Are No Jobs to him so we could put it to use. Even included him in the book. But I never heard back. So I thought, maybe he has a bigger problem than unemployed Chicagoans. TRUST! I'd help him with his trust problem. And that's why I'm here.
The lady said, "He's doomed. But you're crazy." Then she turned around and didn't speak to me again for the next three hours as we wound our way up five floors of City Hall to the mayor's office.
Around 4:00, after an all day wait, I got to the front of the line. An army of shining bright twenty-somethings with clipboards was greeting people with the news that the Mayor was in an important meeting but that they could help us. I drew Laci. Wide-eyed, blonde and eager to serve.
"Laci, it's nice to meet you, but I thought this was where we got to talk to the mayor?'
Cocking her head, face welling up with concern. "I totally understand. I get that. You're frustrated. You love Chicago. You don't feel safe on the . . ."
"Laci, no. I'm fine. I'm just here to help the mayor and I thought he'd be available. Does this mean he isn't seeing ANY of the thousands who have waited in line these past few days?"
"Oh, no! He's seeing lots of people!" Then lowering her voice, in fact I think he's in a meeting with my Dad right now."
"Who's your . . .oh never mind. We'll try and do it this way. Can I give you the message about how to help with the trust problem and you can tell him?"
"Sure! Just a few questions. Who sent you?"
"Um.. nobody sent me. I just wanted to help."
"Well that might be a teensy problem. Ahh wait. I know. Even if they didn't send you, do you know anybody who might umm. . . recommend you to the mayor."
"Sure, lots of people would . . ."
"Ok. Like, I mean people like in government or business or something?"
"Well, I went to high school with a lady who was a law professor at Harvard and taught President Obama."
"Gosh, that might be too long ago,"
"O.K. I was housemates in college with the daughter of a former federal judge and congressman. Pretty respected guy."
She shook her head
"Oh I know! My uncle ran for mayor! It was in the 80's but . . ."
She brightened and started writing on the clipboard till I said, "Course he was a republican . . ." And she dropped her pen. "OK, tell you what. Can you sum up really fast how you will help the mayor with his trust problem? You seem like a nice guy and you remind me of my grandfather. So you tell me, I'll tell my boss and she might tell the mayor. 'K? Now how can you help the mayor with his trust problem?"
The Trust Equation
"The problem with trust is that it means something different to everyone. What's needed is a common way to think about and even measure trust. Can't manage what you can't measure, right?
"I guess so. . . but how do you measure trust?"
"Start thinking of trust as an equation. Start with:
Trust=Reliability + Credibility. Or T=R+C.
Reliability means I can consistently count on the person. Credibility means I believe the person knows their stuff.
Then add 'I.' "
"What's the 'I' stand for? "
"Oooo. I don't think. . ."
"Laci, trust is personal. Can't be mass-produced. So now you have T=C+R+I. Got that?"
"I went to Wharton. I get it!"
"Great Laci. Now we have the top line."
"Numerator! So, what's the denominator?"
The bottom line is SI. Self interest. You can have all the credibility, reliability and intimacy in the world. But when it's all about ME, no one will trust you. So the beauty of the trust equation is that you can use it to figure out all sorts of things. You can figure out in a common language what it takes to build trust. You can even figure out what is MISSING in building trust."
"So, you invent this?"
"Oh goodness no. Google the names Maister, Green and Galford. You can get the details."
"If the Mayor ever saw this, what would he do with it? Maybe call in one of his consulting companies?"
"He could. Or he can call me. I could put a few folks together and we can begin building trust again. Real trust. The kind you can measure. Of course I'd charge nothing like the connected consulting companies would charge. I'd be much, much cheaper. Do you think that would be OK?"
"Gosh, said Laci. No one's ever asked me that before."