I hope you had a great weekend. Welcome Back to another episode of Ask Ash, where I interview WatchMojo Founder & CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and ask him questions on various things, ranging from covering the news to career advice for students & entrepreneurs.
Today, I wanted to talk about Trust. Trust is important in any type of scenario, whether it is working with your peers, to your relationships with your friends, family, and loved ones out of the office. When Ash first founded WatchMojo, trust must have played a vital role in developing the company to what it is today. I wanted to get his thoughts on how he views trust, and what it was like to trust people when first starting WatchMojo.
1) Why is trust so important when managing people?
Because trust is actually three things.
1) Character: honesty, truthfulness, integrity. This is really the key pillar of the foundation. If people are dishonest, it’s a matter of time before they burn you. You can’t teach this. I am open to the notion that those who may have been cheaters, liars, thieves and so on can change… though those are the exceptions to the rule (to avoid any confusion: from a social policy, I am all for giving former inmates an opportunity provided they want to improve their lives and so on). Beware of those in particular who brag about how they screwed people in the past, they’re foreshadowing your future.
2) Conduct: Are they reliable and professional? Will they act/play the part and yes, that last part has played against some people, but in general it’s less about first impressions and more about the proper way to treat humans and conduct yourself in social settings. You can be the top salesperson in the country, but if at the awards ceremony you are dancing naked on top of your boss’ table… yeah, you may be out of a job come Monday.
3) Competence: this could be based on the past (your experience and training), the present (current results and output), or the future (a know-how you bring to the table).
Ultimately, all of these things have various degrees of shelf life and time to earn, and that plays into how easily you trust people.
Now mind you, some people can’t trust their own shadows, they will monitor their employees and micro-manage them. I think you have to be able to trust people, but you need to learn from your experiences. Anecdotally, I was dealing with two intermediaries. One of them insisted on securing the sale-side mandate and then having me sign confidential docs before sharing any material with me… this dragged things out. The other eventually learned to trust me and knew I would not share any confidential info. This helped foster a better relationship and the second middle person prevailed (each party was bringing me different opportunities).
2) How did trust play a key role when you founded WatchMojo with the other co-founders?
I used the term experience just now, but experience means different things based on one’s perspective.
Early on, I would my co-founders at WatchMojo in terms of Conduct and Character to see how they would be and react to others and in various situations, and each time, they showed me I could trust them to represent me/the company and to make more and more decisions without me in the room.
With regards to Competence, they had some skills but lacked others (which is normal). I found a way to position them to succeed as they gained experience… so they over time trusted my judgment even though I lacked the skills they had. That’s part of it: if as a leader others see that you understand your limitations and don’t speak out of turn, then when you do, they are more likely to trust you.
Building trust takes a lot of years, losing it can happen quickly. Moreover, I had learned at my previous company that trust amongst partners can be broken easily, so I really focused on avoiding those situations. In other words, I spared them some of the headaches and heartbreaks that I’d endured.