Working for Trust

Work for people’s trust. Everything else will follow, with time.

Six years ago this month, Austin Stone and I founded Beck & Stone.

At first it felt like we were pretending—and in a way we were: nothing changed with how we’d been working together already. “Beck & Stone” was just Beck and Stone trying to build things bigger than themselves, one month, one project, one brand at a time.

But growing a consultancy that preached a message of “be driven by design” in a niche where few saw the value in thoughtful, evocative brands and modern technological solutions was more challenging than we thought. Conditioned by other vendors to be skeptical of anything outside of the very practical and functional, they lacked trust. Consultants who understood what they were about and who had the skill and the will to help them do it was hard for many in the rarified circles of public intellectuals to believe without seeing.

A few took a chance. They rejected low expectations. These editors and executives wanted to build, too; knowing that growing their brands and orgs would take the disruptive risks carried by transformation. But they counted the cost and the inevitable drama and said “worth it.”

Anyone who has sold services knows that selling services is hard. There’s nothing to show upfront. Only pretty words and pictures and charts. So a sale isn’t just “we see the thing you have and want one, too.” It is “we trust you to do the right thing for us, to steer us in a good way, and believe we'll see success as a result.”

That is why hearing a “yes” was such a confidence boost. It wasn’t only giving time and resources to what we recommended building and doing; it was giving us something sacred: trust. A “yes” from a client meant they liked what we wanted for them and saw what we envisioned for ourselves, too. It was saying “I’ll invest in us. And I’ll invest in you.”

I don’t exaggerate when I say I love our clients, especially the first few. People like Roger and James, Rusty, Sam, Laura, Sarah, Ben and Austin himself with his other ventures. They don’t now how much they validated by giving me what I wanted most—not money, not fame—trust.

Now six years in, the vision we had is at last coming into view for all: a brand consultancy for the mass intelligentsia, stoking the minds of educated and self-educated people with ideas that influence, driven by desire to design. We’ve changed and grown. A full-time staff of twelve, a handful of freelancers, a body of work, reputation that comes with results… all on trust. Without trust, we are still just pretending. So we work for it. I work for trust. &