S2Ep72: Why Does Credibility Matter To Your Startup?

In today’s episode, Allan welcomes Mitchell Levy. Mitchell is a Global Credibility Expert, 2x TEDx speaker, an international bestselling author of over 60 books, and an executive coach at Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches. Allan and Mitchell discuss why credibility is the character of your employees and is determined by the culture of your company. There are specific values associated with credibility and your customers and clients associate reputation with credibility. Credibility should be a priority for all entrepreneurs.

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As always, I’m your host, Allan Draper. excited to have you with me. Today, we’re going to be answering some questions today. And we’re gonna get to that a little bit about some questions that startup entrepreneurs have some things that we can do some things that we can answer to help you run your business more efficiently, and help you achieve your goals. If you find this episode, helpful, or any other episode, the best thing that you can do to help me and what we’re trying to accomplish with this podcast is just share it with somebody that could get something out of it. If you have somebody that needs to listen to this or could get something out of it, make sure to share it with them. Today, I’d like to introduce you to global credibility expert, Mitchell Levy, he is a two time TEDx speaker. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, he’s an international best selling author of over 60 books. I don’t know where he gets the time. He’s also an executive coach at Marshall Goldsmith. 100 coaches. Welcome to the show. Michell. Glad to have you on. Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Yeah, real pleasure, man, very accomplished. 60 books, how long have you been writing?

Well, so I’m also a publisher, which makes it easier. So I’ve published over 750 books. So that’s a benefit of being a publisher is it’s easy to do and have a process in place that makes it work. First Book was one that I did way back when  I was still working for corporate. It’s like 1988. But a lot of the books came as I was striving new processes. And what we do now is for somebody wants a book, we go straight publish, distribute, make him an Amazon Best Selling Author, we do it in six months. And here’s the cool part. The book is not a history lesson, the book is really the roadmap of where the person we’re working with is going to be going.

That’s interesting. So is that kind of what’s taking up most of your professional time right now is publishing books, or are there other things you’re involved with? Tell me a little bit about that.

So I’ve been in Silicon Valley for 35 years, I’ve started 20 ish companies, I have sat on the board of a NASDAQ firm for nine years. Probably if you asked me that, about two years ago, I’d say yes. What happened though, is when we were doing that transition from being a more traditional publisher to a done for you, publishing company, I ended up interviewing 500 thought leaders on credibility. And I just say I was shocked by the results. And as a result of that shock, I now have a life mission that I didn’t have before. And it centers around, allowing us as humans to be much more credible. And then the business side it is there’s some really straightforward and simple things we can do. That we’ve been taught to do things really elongated. And I just say there’s a lot of marketing cookie cutter approaches that we can actually say, hey, let’s not do that. Let’s focus on the most important thing.

When you say credibility, what are you talking about? Are you talking about the trustworthiness of the entrepreneur? Are you talking about the trustworthiness of the actual company? What are we talking

about? So credibility, the definition that came out of the interviews, it’s a quality in which you’re trusted, known and light. And underneath each one of those elements, there are 10 values associated with credibility. So the answer to your question directly, yes, and yes, it’s the credibility of the company in the marketplace, and more importantly, the credibility company is based on the credibility of the employees of those companies. So it’s the credibility that you bring in each and every relationship each and every activity.

So the credibility of not just the business owners but the credibility Have the employees also by definition,

because you know, if you’re buying stuff from a company, unless you’re doing business directly with the CEO, the person, you’re interacting with the person who you really get to trust, though, and like, by the way, if your clients do not like you, they will no longer be clients for a long period of time. Right. So who that is, that’s the people on the line, who’s actually doing the end results for you.

You know, what this reminds me of? Is there were these studies that showed that specialist physicians were like, some crazy number of times more likely to be sued than a family practitioner or a generalist. Right. So like, and I have a point here.

Well, I was curious, because you saw oh, by the way, they saw the expression on my face, for those that are listening. And it’s like, okay, I’m curious. where’s this going? I’m, I’m intrigued down.

Yes. So they dug for years to find out why the orthopedic surgeons and dermatologists and why are they getting sued at a higher rate than general practitioners? And so they started looking at like incidents like what, you know, maybe they’re more likely to commit malpractice. Maybe that was the issue. After a while they show that that wasn’t it, there was something else in play here, they started to survey the actual patients. And the typical patient response, when they were asked, Hey, as opposed to going after the general practitioner, when you had this issue come up, you went after the specialists to the general practitioner after they couldn’t figure out the issue, sent you to write and they said, Well, I could never do that to you know, Dr. Thompson, or Susan, or whoever, right, whoever the physician was, or Pa was, and what they found out was, they liked their general practitioner, they had a relationship with them, they liked them, and so they wouldn’t sue them. And so it’s kind of this analogy with our clients, right? Where it’s like, if you know, I have a couple of businesses that are focused very heavily on recurring revenue. And one thing that we’ve learned is that one of those companies is a pest control company. And recurring revenue is big, right? We come out every quarter every other month, depending on the market. And we’ve heard a couple of times, the customer would call in, they’re like, yes, you know, so and so came by my door, wanted to switch me to a different company. And I told them, Oh, I could never do that to John, their technician.

Days. He’s

right. And so we realized that the way to end a lot of times, John wasn’t our best technical technician. He wasn’t the one that would always solve the problem the first time. But he was the best with customers. People loved him. Right. So I think you’re right. So that’s a long explanation of me saying, I think you’re 100% Right. I think clients do business with people that they trust. And like,

I want to say yes, but I also want to say, although it was yes, long, and technically you should be in this normal relationship of the host and the guest. You know, the guest is supposed to be sharing their ideas. But in this particular case, Tallinn, that was such a beautiful way to present this information, and it gives me a bunch of ideas and make a whole lot of sense, because it really is powerful. And by the way, I’m going to switch topics just for a second, because I told you, I’d make you smile. All right, let’s say so at the beginning of the conversation at the beginning of this podcast, you said, By the way, if you like what you’re hearing share with your friends. So one of the words that came out of the credibility interviews is a word called cred dust. So if you want to look it up, CR Ed ust.com Cred does is that magic that happens when you share somebody else’s ideas, thoughts and actions. And so when I talk about I’m not gonna I’m gonna ignore the suing part. But when I talk about the fact that people were doing business with you, because the people on your line are people that they like, and trust, yes, I will be mentioning your name. And I’ll spread some cred Dustin, you want your fans? Do you want your listeners who are hearing this and go, Oh, my God, this is powerful. What you want to be able to do at the beginning, hey, you should spread some cred dust, and sprinkle that on. Because we’ve been taught by the way not to do that. I saw this model. We’ve got to take credit for everything ourselves. Yeah, that’s wrong. So you got people working for you to do amazing things, highlight them, spread their credit dust, if they’re competitors, who do things that are amazing. Highlight them, talk about them. They’re helping your industry overall. Spread some cried dust.

Yeah, I like that. I like that idea. Because it’s not just about the clients or the customers, right? It’s about and I always say like, I look at it as this never ending loop or cycle where it’s my job as a business owner, as a facilitator, as a leader is to take care of my people, right? If I take care of my people, my employees, my partners, my contractors, all of those people will take care of my customers. And then my customers will take care of me. And I think it’s important to include in this, you know, discussion about credibility, how that’s why I liked that aspect so much is when you you mentioned, hey, you got to increase the credibility of your company, people rely on that. I liked that you mentioned employees, right? Because very few of my customers or clients deal directly with me, right? And so it’s not necessarily their perception of me that matters. It’s their perception of whoever they’re doing business with. But the perception of me matters, and it affects the culture. So when we’re talking about credibility, what’s the cultural aspect of it?

Well, you sort of smacked it on the head, the so first, the credibility, your company is seen as the weakest link of all the people that your customers are touching, and culture comes down to, you know, it’s very an interesting thing, let’s put two words together, character and culture. So I’m gonna say, credibility is your character and other people’s perception of your character. From a corporate perspective, credibility is the character of your employees, which are generated or permeated through the culture of your company, which has to start from the top down.

No, I think that’s exactly right. And you know, what’s funny is a lot of times is, you know, and my listener is somebody that’s working on their startup, they’re getting there, or they just read recently launched, which means they’re still working on their startup. And they have so many pressures, Mitchell, they’re worried if they’re gonna have enough money for payroll next week. And it’s so hard. And I know this, because I’ve been there, it’s so hard to think long term, it’s so hard to think about this concept of credibility, it’s so hard to think about culture. And I always talk about, it’s common for me to say something like, if you don’t focus on it, now, you may never get really good at it, you know, you won’t focus on it until you necessarily have to. And there have been a couple of really popular shows recently on Hulu, and Showtime, about CEOs or scale CEOs, one from Uber, one from Theranos. And they had everything they needed, right. They had all the technology, they had the startup capital, they had the resources, they had the personnel, they personally were very skilled and talented, but they lacked culture and credibility, definitely lacked credibility shows what’s called Super pumped on Showtime. The other one that I just finished is the one about it’s a story about Theranos on Hulu, but it showed how it doesn’t matter. If you have everything else, right, you get everything else, right, Mitchell, if you don’t have those things, then your company is going to maybe it won’t fail, but it’s definitely going to have some hurdles, it’s definitely going to have some failures, you’re definitely going to have some mistakes that you would be able to overcome if you’ve got some of those things. So it would be my opinion, and I want to get yours. But it would be my opinion, that that’s why credibility matters to a startup.

Credibility matters, the best way to think about this is credibility matters. Because it’s all of your stakeholders. It’s their opinions of you. It’s how they interact with you. It’s whether or not they’re going to recommend you to others, whether you call it credibility or culture or like I don’t want to get stuck in the words because in some cases, until we have a common language, right, we may be saying the same things, just saying in a slightly different way. So let’s do it a different way, you’re in a startup, you’re going to do something amazing. First of all, who’s your client? How do you make your client happy? How do you reach your client? How do you make sure when you hire new people that you also generate the same level of customer service culture, the excitement that you want to deliver? You know, if you look at the startup, which was Amazon, who was no longer startup, as Jeff Bezos has left, the quality of customer service is not the same, right? Because the culture of the company is being changed from whether or not it was completely hyper focused on the customer to maybe hyper focused on profit with different model different approach. So when you’re looking at your company and what you do, do you feel comfortable with everyone your hiring, recommending them? Do you feel comfortable is probably the best way to think about it? After you provide a service for your client, whether or not it’s you or anyone else, would that client then recommend you to others? That’s a representation of how you’ve done and who they are and whether you call it credibility or culture or what have you. For me, when I’m thinking about credibility, when I’m often thinking about is, who’s going to recommend what we’re doing? Who’s going to say, this person, whether it’s a CEO or anyone that company made a promise How valid is that promise? Will it be delivered upon? Is this Somebody I want to go into business with, is this something. The example is perfect? When the competitor comes by at a cheaper price? Do you say no, because you just like working with this company?

Yeah, no, I think that’s great. So what are some steps that companies and owners can do early on to positively affect long term results with credibility?

I’m going to be I don’t know if I’m going to be controversial, but let me tell you what shocked me in the interviews. And this will be step one, which shocked me the interviews and I interviewed. Now 620 ish thought leaders, I’ve actually done this exercise with 1,098% of those people I talked to who cannot articulate in 10 words or less who they serve, and the pain point they address or the pleasure point they address. So I have a term it’s called see pop, customer point of possibilities. So what is the first thing you have to do? Throw out all the marketing cookie kind of stuff you’ve been taught? And start thinking about in 10 words, or less? Who is it that you serve? And what are you delivering them think of it this way, and what’s the playground you play in? And that’s for the CEO. Now, you should also be understanding the sea pops of those people who work with you. So you want the person in finance to focus on the things that are relevant for you to have the right models in place. You want the person in customer service to focus on customer satisfaction, you want the types of things in place? Can I share mine mines for worse? Absolutely. All right, so my see pop is focused on where I’m delivering value. So what I’ll do is I’ll share the seabob. And then I’ll talk about what comes next. So mine is simple. Leaders living their values. Now what happens when you hear those four words, is you go either, hey, that’s interesting to me, Mitchell, I want to make sure that I am living my values, I might be a client, I might want to play in the playground. Or you might say, you know, I got companies who really need you. So whether or not you’re one of those two, or you could be somebody says is not exactly my cup of tea, doesn’t mean you don’t like me, but I’ve taken one to three seconds. And this because I’ve taken a second for you to hear what playground I play we have in terms of trust, we have one to three seconds for somebody to go, Wait, tell me more. And we might get another 30 to 50 seconds, where somebody may want to get to know you more. As they’re getting to know you, they get to trust you more, and they get to decide if they like you. And so what I’d say is, you’re an entrepreneur, you don’t want to create a job for yourself, right? Creating an environment that you want to live in, create an environment that you want to every day wake up and go. I often get asked a question, Michel, when are you retiring? I’m going to retire at whatever point in time, I no longer can be of service to other humans. Which means most likely, sometime when I’m six feet underground, exactly right. Because I love what I do. Now, it doesn’t mean I don’t change what I do. And I do. So if you love what you do, and you’re starting a business, great, create an environment, create a culture, create the type of credibility that gets spread, because every one of your stakeholders are bought into that vision. They understand your see pop, they all have see pops, you know how we work together? And you benefit by making your clients happy?

Yeah, I think there’s some marketing misconceptions where businesses and their leaders think that the way to really reach somebody is to talk about how good they are, right? My company does this and my company does this. And we’re the best at that. And what I liked about your seat pop, was that it’s focused, and I guess by just the nature of a seat, Bob, it sounds like that’s how it is. But it’s focused on the customer, right? It’s not a lot of companies don’t realize this, but it’s not about the company and their taglines and their mission statements. And those types of things should be focused on the customer. And I read this book, Donald Miller great branding book, and he basically use an analogy of how businesses, they’re not the hero of the story, but a lot of businesses put themselves out to be, hey, this is what we do. The most successful brands are the ones that help people realize that the business is just a guide, and the consumers the hero,

I love that. So for me leaders living their values, there are 10 values associated with credibility and if your values happen to be credible, you by definition are credible. You talked about Lucas route, and Lucas is a partner I work with his see pop brands that don’t execute, right so he works with these larger companies who essentially they may be companies who who they want to come up with the ideas, the thoughts, the strategies, but they don’t want to work on the detail execution. That’s okay. It fits. It’s a playground he plays in. It’s another one. That’s four words. Once again, I typically like sea pups to be less than 10 words. But what happens? Here’s the cool part. When you have a CPAP, that is so powerful. I’ll give you one other example. There’s a woman I know. Absolutely adore her. Her name is Joe Fisher. And she’s a Hypnotherapist. I don’t know how to recommend, like, let’s say, one of your listeners, you know, is saying something like, oh, wait, I got a cool hypnotherapist for you like what are you want to think about me? So what happened is when we went through the CPAP exercise together, we started focusing on our clients and who she serves and who she loves serving. And her testimonial, for me is amazing. Because what she said was Mitchell, this has been my share what it is, this has been my client for 12 years. I just never thought of it before her see pop really, really amazingly cool. Mother’s man, mother’s looking. Oh, no. Here I am live. And now I’m freshly embarrassed by saying it was I queued it all perfectly. And then Ah, got it. Sorry. It doesn’t start with mother’s Thank you. So please keep this in, obviously, because this is part of being credible as being human. Absolutely. Her see pop is forwards as well. Last mom’s reclaiming themselves. Right. And so it’s interesting as I can now, besides potentially getting it wrong when I’m live, but I can actually go into talk about who her client base is. So if you’re listening to this, what you want to be saying to yourself is What is your CPAP? How can I articulate myself, so that people want to recommend me if they actually trust know and like you or trust, know, and love you? Then they want to recommend you? And so how can you make it easy for them to recommend you?

Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. Over the years, I’ve realized that the best lead is a referral. And my companies, you know, rely on recurring revenue, and repeat business from customers. It’s actually shown that customers that came to us from a referral, they stick with us spend more money, you know, refer us more, then the customer that actually referred them. So the person that gets referred is a longer term customer than the customer that does the referring, which is interesting. But it’s really interesting. Yeah. And I think it goes to show that, you know, the importance of this concept of character credibility, right, because when a company gets referred, you know, the person that’s doing the referring is kind of putting themselves out there. And so there’s this, you know, interesting correlation between the two. Well, this has been fantastic Mitchell, where, you know, it’s such an important aspect of starting a business. And sometimes it gets, you know, left in the background, one of those Yeah, I’m going to get there, I’m going to focus on our culture, we’re going to set core values, we’re going to talk about things that, you know, are real, why I think all of those things are related here. But sometimes it gets pushed off and I get it, you know, sometimes you got to focus on meeting payroll, and all the issues that come with a startup. So I understand that, but you really got to get to the point where, you know, this concept of credibility becomes at the center of your business, I like to say that if you get that, right, the business will come if you start just focus on the business in the revenue, sometimes it you know, it doesn’t. And if you’re a principle based entrepreneur, if you’re wanting to do something positive, you’re worried about your legacy. I don’t see how you do it without doing this type of credibility analysis.

I’m with you. You’re doing great. You’re singing the praise. I appreciate

that. Love it. Well, thanks so much, Mitchell. That’s been fantastic. Where can people go to find out more about all the great things that you’re doing?

You know, I’m going to do three things quickly. I know I should only do one, you could always check out the TEDx. I did. It’s called we’re losing our humanity. I’m tired of watching it happen. It was the 28th most popular in 2021. We do have a membership community called credibility nation that says credibility nation.com, but I want to steer you towards something that we do once a quarter and I do this with Lucas root. It’s ultimate credibility, boot camp.com And bring your employees with you. Bring your stakeholders with you. Because in this two day period, you will be successful word, it will be transformative. A lot of what we do is very if this conversation was oh, Michel, that was a lot of common sense. I’m gonna say yes. Just a lot of people don’t have it or we’ll just say common sense is not always common. And so if you want to bring your team with you to the ultimate credibility bootcamp, it will change means how you show up, you’ll get a common language around credibility and be able to then propagate it across your larger stakeholder system, which includes your clients

love it. Well, that’s fantastic. Mitchell, thank you so much for your time today and wish you nothing but success in the future.

Aaron right back at you. I’ll have you over on one of my podcasts. So thank you.

Let’s do it. Thanks, Mitchell. Take care everyone.

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