Book Review: “Trust Agents”

Trust Agents – by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith (published 2009)

In the first chapter, he introduces six characteristics of trust agents, which role out to be Chapters 2-7.
1) Make your own game – most trust agents “break out of the mold” and stand out. Learn to get past the gate-keepers by being a gate-jumper. Talks about seeing life as a game, and three approaches: playing, cheating or “hacking” (modifying the conditions of the game you are in).
2) One of us – the community you are trying to impact must see you as “one of them”. Page 102 – Work hard at promoting others 12 times as much as your promote yourself. Raise up newcomers instead of sucking up to the industry’s top dogs. Bring wine to the picnic. Page 107 Sidebar – First Steps in Engaging Communities (A Checklist).
3) The Archimedes Effect – leverage. Similar to building retirement long before you need it, trust agents build channels, and they do it before they need them. Stop trying to find readers for your blog (one at a time approach is not worth your time, compared to passing out fliers on the street corner). Starting doing your own books and research; use personal assistants/aggregators to save time and leverage yourself.
4) Agent Zero – building your network and developing access
5) Human Artist – people or “soft” skills, developing understanding
6) Build an Army – power of collaboration, asking each person to push a little can help become an avalanche

The next two chapters kind of wrap it up and tell what’s coming. The book begins with the story of Donnie Brasco, who infiltrated and busted up a large mafia ring. He did this by becoming an “Agent of Trust”, i.e. he gained the confidence of the “con-men” (remember of course that a con-man is a confidence-man, one who obtains your confidence). He also tells of a man who went around pretending to be Stanley Kubrick (before the internet), and fooled people who even knew Mr. Kubrick.

Great quotes:
1) Authorities don’t just talk, they write.
2) Comments [on your blog] are a great way to reinforce your reputation and people’s trust in you.
3) From Wayne Gretsky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”
4) page 243 – “The new web is to the old web what TV was to radio in the 1950s”… keep your eyes on tomorrow’s radios.
5) page 250 – “There are two ways to get to the top of the pile: Push other people down or raise yourself up.” (be constructive and collaborative)

WebSites I’ve started following since this book or ones that I was impressed by:
1) – How to be a better blogger.
2) – author Chris Brogan started this site for Dads to blog about being Dads (got 50 authors in 30 days)
3) – another Chris Brogan site, paid membership
4) – web competition, analytics, compare “hits” from two-three websites
5) I’m pointing you to his “about” page for his picture; from his photo alone, I got some ideas about improving my “mug shot” by trying some new shots with various San Francisco office buildings in the background. I like the way he is casually leaning back (which also kind of expands the chest).

Critiques – enough about Gary Vaynerchuck and his wine business, example is overused in this book. I’ve already read his book “Crush It”. (Perhaps this is because the book was published in 2009, and I’m just now reading it in 2011, thus it is started to be dated already). I saw a lot of the author Christ Brogan in the book, but little of Julien Smith.

Topics that I plan to return to for more info:
1) Laszlo Polgar, a Hungarian chess teacher, and father of three chess champions (the Polgar sisters) believes that geniuses are made not born.
2) Learn/Follow-up on “Life Hacking” – playing the game smarter,
3) Todd Huffman, grad student at Arizona State University – implanted a magnet into his finger to see if humans could develop a sixth sense – i.e. a magnetic sense (via sensing the pressure of the magnet under the skin when near various metal objects or other wave generating devices).
4) Edward de Bono, Rhodes scholar, physician, author and creator of the term “lateral thinking” – books: “Serious Creativity” and “How to be More Interesting”.
5) Robin Dunbar – first to analyze social networks in primates and find the number at which it becomes difficult to maintain authentic relationships hovers around 148.

Things to apply in business:
1) It’s okay to sell the same thing as everyone else – but differently, e.g. Christopher S. Penn with Student Loan Network, set up “Financial Aid Podcast”
2) Goal: Establish yourself as a thought leader in your space.
3) Sidebar – Page 85 – “Signals of Trust” – for a website – good checklist to review occasionally.
4) Tip to respond to people (email): “How, exactly, did you want me to help you with that?”
5) The three “A”s for corporate blunders: Acknowledge, Apologize, Act
6) The wider your network, the easier it is to get things done. Powering your network and growing it into something far-reaching and diverse means a world of difference.

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