Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

P Publisher’s Point by Jean Loxley-Barnard
Trust But Verify


I prefer to lead with trust and believe that most people are good and honest. Also, because we aren’t always the best we can be, Ronald Reagan coined a phrase – “Trust But Verify” – when dealing with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev. It has a built-in trust element but gives us a way to protect ourselves through verification. This approach has wisdom.

Over four decades in business, I have enjoyed relationships with thousands of clients, and have been disappointed in maybe just a dozen. Those are excellent odds.

While some disappointing rela-tionships have not disabused me of my underlying belief in the goodness of most people, I have learned that the responsibility to verify is my own.

Once in business, I realized that my biggest temptation would come from what is also our greatest advantage. We tell the stories of good people – those whose mission is to help others – and those who seek to do business with their neighbors ethically. The flip side is the potential to do harm with this very element we use to do good – the power of the press! I committed, when publishing our first issue in 1981, that I would never use The Shopper to harm, despite temptation.

 They did not have to do anything wrong
to have not done
everything right.

This year I faced a dilemma when a friend compared three reputable companies’ insurance rates for my commercial building to what I was paying for my policy. I could hardly believe these three companies were all about $2,500 a year while my policy was $14,400. I had trusted people I considered friends with my insurance and yet paid more than five times what other companies charged for that coverage.

So what did I learn? The most important thing I learned is that I am the person in charge of my business affairs. I want to assume that people can make a mistake and they can get complacent and not check up on policies that simply renew. They did not have to do anything wrong to have not done everything right.

Author Malcom Gladwell, appearing on TV with Fareed Zakaria on September 22, discussed Trust or No Trust as I was writing this column. I was inspired that their consensus was to lead with trust and I will, but I will verify.

Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.