A Few Words About Transparency

Read time: 4 mins

“This isn’t even the rental application,” she confessed.

I contended, “40 minutes late, and didn’t even give us the right information. Wow.”

“The place is perfect, though. It’s exactly what we both want.”

She was right.

The place was a one bedroom condo in Arlington, VA in a brand new building. It’s across from a grocery store. Within steps to several restaurants. Spacious. And for a solid price.

An hour earlier, we saw a basement apartment. It’s a small, segmented space. The fridge, toilet, and window are so close you could a run a triple-option. No chance our furniture could fit.

The places were different. And so were the people behind them. The first is managed by a large, real-estate company. The apartment was an old nanny’s suite in the basement of someone’s home. It was part of her house.

My girlfriend and I needed to make a decision where to live.

Which place did we choose?


There is a lot of noise around the word transparency. It’s become a buzzword. Companies tout, “we value transparency.”

But what does transparency really mean?

Let’s take a look at a definition.

transparent (adj.) - easy to see through, understand, or recognize; obvious; open; frank; candid.

Do what you say. Share what you know. Tell the truth.

That is transparent.

Our generation believes in it. We are used to sharing everything. And we want the companies we deal with to do the same.

If there is a lack of information, we assume you’re hiding something from us. We tell people what we think - good or bad.

It’s starting to be adopted in business too. Buffer is a young company that is an open-book. Buffer shares financials, employee’s salaries, and even their sleep cycles.

Why?


People buy from other people for three reasons.

  1. They know you.
  2. They like you.
  3. They trust you.

You can spend money for people to know you. Companies buy attention all the time. Advertising?

You can be funny and generous to get people to like you. If we get 1,000 likes on Facebook we’ll donate to an orphanage. Lame.

How do you get people to trust you?

Make the other person feel important - and do so sincerely. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.

Do what you say. Share what you know. Tell the truth.

Be transparent. And you’ll earn people’s trust.

For example, when your company is hacked and the personal information of your customers is comprised, it can shatter trust. That didn’t happen to Buffer.

bufferapp-transparency.png

Because Buffer does what it says its going to do. They share what they know. And tell the truth.

Sure, Buffer lost customers. But several people stuck with them because they trust Buffer. The young company continues to grow, nearing $4 million dollars in revenue a year.


People share their money with other people they trust.

Jason Fried and Jeffrey Zeldman explore this topic on The Big Web Show Podcast. Jason shares a story about shopping for a car. He had a choice of where to buy the car.

He could pick a local dealer that could give him the car instantly. But that dealer’s salesman rubbed him the wrong way. He didn’t treat him well.

Or he could wait 30 days, and buy from a dealer in Chattanooga, TN. This car salesman was smart, informative, and made Jason feel important.

So which car did he buy?

Jason explains how someone told him something that completely changed his perspective on money.

Every dollar is a vote. And when you spend your dollars, you’re voting for the things that you want to see more of.

Jason Fried, Two Jews Talking About Business

Jason waited 30 days and bought the car from the dealer in Chattanooga. Because he wants more people like that salesman in the world. He voted for him.

Trust.


So which place did we choose to live?

It turns out the real estate company was shady. Shenanigans. Hidden application and move-in fees. Two people gave us two different answers about how much parking cost. Terrible reviews.

No, thanks.

After visiting the basement apartment, we exchanged emails with the owner of the home. She asked more questions about us - as people. She shared places to eat in the area. And more about herself.

She was transparent. And she got our vote.



Rock onThanks for reading!

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Find me on Twitter @cjgallo or GitHub @gallochris or Instagram @heygallo.