One of the individuals whose updates I read fairly religiously is an incendiary music writer by the name of Bob Lefsetz. (I’ve mentioned him before; he’s basically a big-picture change-observant thinker disguised as a ballsy foul-mouthed music curmudgeon.)

A few weeks ago, Lefsetz wrote a post called “Credibility.” In my mind, credibility might be the number one “thing” many of us strive for. If we wish to be an entrepreneur, an author, a speaker, a thought leader, or a linchpin in any kind of business, we need to have it. And we need to have as much of it as possible.

In many ways, credibility is what defines our ability to have a career at all, and the amount of credibility we project will determine if we can get paid for what we do — and how big (or small) the check will be.

In his post, Lefsetz defines 12 things a musician needs to do to build credibility and have a career. I think the list is absolutely terrific, but to make it more meaningful for us “over here,” I’m going to translate this list into the business world.

I’ll post the first half today and the last 6 next week, so it’s not completely overwhelming.

The first 6 ways to build credibility are:

  1. Focus on the product, the art. To build credibility we need a “thing.” Whether it’s a book, or a company, or some kind of group, people need someTHING to latch on to when they think about you. Think about how people get introduced — as “the author of _____” or “the CEO of _____” or “the founder of _____”. Credibility means we’ve created something tangible — and remarkable.
  2. Gain fans. Before something like Twitter, it would’ve been hard to imagine how this idea works in a business context. No longer. We’re all famous now, if only to a couple hundred people. Make those relationships meaningful.
  3. Continue to reward the core with product and access. Let people get to know you, and give those who get “it” (whatever you’re doing) more attention. Why? If you’ve achieved any amount of success, these people are a big part of the reason why. Treat them like they’re special — because they are.
  4. Don’t try to blow it up too soon! I both love and hate this one. Bob says, “If you’re not willing to wait, you’re not willing to have a career,” and I know it’s true. (If you’ve read read Outliers, you know it too.) But, as a person who loves to make things happen, it sure is hard to be patient. Like a great relationship, or a good wine for that matter, credibility is built over time.
  5. Leave money on the table. This is about being both willing and able to say NO to things. (A good chunk of The Dip is about this.) Desperation is in complete opposition to being able to live a strong life. If we aren’t yet in the position to be able to walk away from money, it’s important we find a way to do that before we get too far “in.” Saying no to bad offers now will mean better ones down the road.
  6. Unless you play Top Forty music, forget about radio. In music, unknown artists look to radio as a “quick ticket” to the big time. In business this looks different, but we make these kinds of decisions all the time, don’t we? We take the promotion or job we know doesn’t “fit” us because the money’s good, or sign with a company that is shiny on the outside but empty where it counts. Don’t take the shortcuts — they don’t work.

I’ll post the last 6 next Monday!

Do any of these stand out to you? Have you used any? Disagree at all? Ideas to add?


One Reply to “How To Build Credibility, Part One”

  1. Megan says:

    Credibility is so important in the energy business right now – it seems like everyone has a solution, the next big thing, or groundbreaking technology in their pocket to show customers. Being a seller of solutions and ideas (no widgets and no costs to my customers), I often see a battle between my credibility and the “too good to be true” mentality. I’m interested in what’s coming next week!

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