Designed by Nancy Singer Olaguera

I’m an avid reader. In my case it’s a sin, not a virtue. All too often, I read something, devour it, put the book down and forget about it.

It was the case with The SPEED of Trust too. Only when I sat down to write this review, I realized how much of a gem this book is, and how badly I needed to implement plenty of Stephen Covey’s teachings.

To give you a hint how extraordinary this book is: I added it into my daily readings list. Every morning, I read a few sentences from five books that shaped my personal philosophy. The SPEED of Trust is a sixth book I included on that list.

There are no CONS in this book. A nitpicking person would’ve maybe addressed verbosity and repetitiveness. But repetition is the mother of learning, and the author doesn’t beat the dead horse. He just covers so much ground that repetitions at the end are necessary for you to remember what was highlighted at the beginning.


They are numerous and deep. Well, check for yourself; I haven’t yet enumerated so many PROS to any of the books I reviewed.

1. Personal Development Manual.

At least, this is what The SPEED of Trust is for me.

If you get better at trust, it will make you better at everything else you need to do.

My personal growth is not a matter of hobby for me. It’s a matter of my life’s purpose. I’m always looking for something that I can add to my arsenal. Preferably, something that can enhance me in more than one thing. I found several ‘tools’ till now that serve this purpose – my personal mission statement, gratitude, habits, silence, and Stephen Covey gave me something I consciously haven’t worked on yet. Trust.

Plus, going over this book taught me many things that were hidden from me. Like my vices.

You don’t wait to confront reality. It doesn’t get easier. It doesn’t get better.”

That’s my sin #2, right after hubris. I wait too long hoping that problems will take care of themselves.

I’ve been struggling with self-love forever. I made some feeble attempts to learn it, to improve it. I’m certainly better at it than I was nine years ago. Yet, The SPEED of Trust taught me in a few paragraphs more than I learned in the last decade:

Often, the most difficult trust to restore is trust in ourselves.”

“Don’t expect more of yourself than you would expect of any other human being in your situation.”

“Be clear about what you expect of yourself.”

2. The Basic Concept.

When trust is low, speed goes down and cost goes up. When trust is high, speed goes up and cost goes down.”

Friction coming from lack of trust is so huge that it acts as the multiplier of all kinds of problems. The opposite is true as well – trust is an accelerator of anything good.

Without it [water], the fish will die. In a similar way, we as human beings discover trust last.”

Trust is a fabric not just of business life. It’s a fabric of the society. This is what keeps humans together in any group – family, church, tribe, club, team, country. Yet, we take trust for granted. We don’t even register it till it’s gone. And then it’s a bit too late. Then, we are dying.

Stephen Covey made a great job showing how trust makes or breaks the businesses (and every form of human connection and cooperation, starting from family) at the beginning of the book.

Then he proceeds and breaks the high-level concept into actionable and easy-to-grasp bites of information. For example:

[Trust] basically boils down to these four issues: your integrity, your intent, your capabilities, and your results.

Those four issues are at the core of every practical lesson in the book after highlighting the overall importance of trust.

3. The Nitty-Gritty Details.

My mind was blown when I considered how well-thought and detailed the whole book is. How every point was broken down and explained.

Let’s take, for example, only 13 Key Behaviors common to high-trust leaders around the world. They are named. The author demonstrates how to act to practice them. Then, he shows what is the counterfeit to them, which in my opinion, explains them even better than definitions and examples.

Then, Stephen writes how you can practice them in the private life and in the business life. And he methodically goes over every single Behavior, one by one.

Later in the book, he refers back to them to teach how to implement new quality of trust at every level – starting from you as an individual up to the whole society.

4. Stark Diagnosis of the Modern Era.

Stephen Covey didn’t try to write a philosophical treaty. He focuses on one topic – trust. Yet, his observations pertain to the condition of the whole humanity, or at least the Western culture he lives in.

We live in an increasingly victimized society.”

There can be no trust, when there is no integrity, and there is no integrity when everything is blamed on ‘them,’ whoever they are. The very act of hunting for the guilty makes us unable to trust.

Low trust breeds bureaucracy, and bureaucracy breeds low trust.”

COVID pandemic is the best illustration of this principle in action. Our government think we will take care of our health and our closest ones’ health only when they mandate that. They don’t trust people even with such an obvious case. So, they mandated us to death. Which only bred distrust toward the very means governments recommended.

No wonder we have now such a huge chunk of population of people who are anti-vaccines. There was no transparency, no 13 Behaviors at work. Just restrictions and orders.

BTW, the cost of such a course of action is tremendous. Because it’s the cost of distrust. I was shocked when I read about the costs of the Sarbanes-Oxley act quoted in the book. Implementing just one section cost 35 billion dollars! And this act was implemented in response to a couple cases of fraud which amounted together around 15 billion.

In my opinion, we achieved exactly the same effect with strict COVID regulations.

5. Marriage Advice.

Going over the Taxes and Dividends section, I discovered that my marriage was doing better than I thought. Just this one exercise alone was worth $1,000 for me, since the situation in my marriage has been in the back of my mind for several years. This discovery helped me to gain some much needed peace of mind.

But I also discovered how much I need to work to take it from the surviving mode into thriving mode.

I’m going to study the Taxes and Dividends section closely once again, make notes, and create an action plan. Thanks to a business book!!!

As I mentioned, the author often refers to personal relationships when talking about the trust principles, so I can easily pick something for a starter.

Stephen’s advice about marriage is as nitty-gritty as the rest of the book. Like this small exercise:

Write down the three biggest frustrations in your marriage. Then look at each frustration and ask this question:
What expectation do I have here that’s not being met?”

Even before I did this exercise, I knew it would be beneficial for me. Do you know the recipe for happiness? If not, here it goes:

Happiness = Reality – Expectations

The more and bigger my expectations are, including marital expectations, the smaller is my happiness.

6. Structure.

I wrote more than a dozen books, and I put some mindful reflection into how to map them out. But I feel in awe in the face of such mastery.

I have no clue how Stephen did this, but The SPEED of Trust is written so logically, chronologically, and it simply makes sense. One section leads to another. Each exercise and assessment is exactly in the right place. This book is a masterpiece in itself.


I opened my file with the highlights from The SPEED of Trust, and I immediately stopped in my tracks. I had 183 highlights! That probably puts this book into the top 5 of the books I read in the last nine years (several hundreds of them).

I highlighted so many passages partly because the book is long, but mostly because it’s very quotable. About 20% of my highlights are the killer quotes that Stephen Covey sprinkled throughout his book. Enjoy a handful of them:

Our distrust is very expensive.” — RALPH WALDO EMERSON

“Self-trust is the first secret of success…  the essence of heroism.” — RALPH WALDO EMERSON

“My life is an indivisible whole, and all my activities run into one another… My life is my message.”—

“You can’t talk yourself out of a problem you’ve behaved yourself into.”— STEPHEN R. COVEY

“To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.” — Confucius

And I’ve already shared in this review multiple quotes from the book’s content. Aren’t they lovely? What’s even better – they were impactful. I added a few into my personal philosophy quotes repository.

8. Business Advice.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Again, The SPEED of Trust is great in this regard at the high level, but also at the details level.

For example, there is one question, which is more predictive of team and organizational performance than any other question you might ask. Instead of abusing your employees with long surveys, or 360-degree assessments, you can ask one simple question:

Do you trust your boss?

Drop mike.

All the conclusions in the book are fact-based and metrics-driven.

In these top 10 percent of organizations, lower-level employees are treated the same as senior managers.”

Isn’t it a simple formula for being in the top 10%? Treat people like people. Supposedly, everyone is fighting for this nowadays – for gays’ rights, women’s rights, blacks’ rights, trans’ rights, and everyone between. Yet, only 10% of organizations actually do it. And they are in the top 10%.

The reality is that most organizational performance issues are actually trust issues in disguise.”

We are still in the industrial age with management while we live past the era of knowledge economy in the era of attention economy. Managers try – with the fervor worthy of better cause – to fix performance when they should be fixing trust issues.

Stephen Covey doesn’t stop at just describing the business landscape, but also gives concrete tips on what to do, here and now:

The style of leadership that succeeds in today’s world is one of “Trust and Inspire” — trust the people you work with and inspire them to make a difference.”

Another example: the tree metaphor. It’s fabulous. Have a look at it:

In a single image, the author explained the whole concept of how we can actually work on trust.

Integrity is like roots – invisible but absolutely necessary. No tree can bear fruits without roots. There is no trust without integrity.

The trunk is a visible extension of roots. In the same manner, intent is an expression of integrity. And they both are character based.

The division between character and competence is aptly demonstrated in the same image.

Character is a constant; it’s necessary for trust in any circumstance. Competence is situational.”

Each tree bears different fruits. But all trees have the root system and trunk.

Since studying Jim Rohn’s Cultivating an Unshakable Character, I’ve never met any other work capturing the utmost importance of character in human life. The SPEED of Trust comes close to it.

Nowadays, character is so undervalued. Everyone points at the fruits – results. This is what we are obsessed about. Have you found a viral FB or Instagram post capturing a moment of integrity in someone’s life? Not only is it hard to be expressed with a single photo, but they would have been invisible. But every post with a shiny car, great house or big figures gets shared and commented on like crazy. Sheesh!

It’s so refreshing to read in a business book that character is actually important.

And it’s not that competence is not important. Stephen repeats numerous times that without competence you cannot build trust. But competence is based on character. You cannot have fruits without roots and trunk.

9. Wisdom.

All the above points are boiling down to this one: The SPEED of Trust is full of wisdom. Life wisdom, business wisdom, which can be applied both at home and at work, at personal level and in the professional setup.

Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor.”

I read this sentence and my heart sank. How come we need to even articulate such thoughts? Why isn’t keeping commitments the background of our lives? No wonder the world is in shambles, since most people find a concept of keeping their own commitments a foreign idea.

We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.”

This is actually why this book even exists. Trust is such a complicated topic, both in theoretical divagations and in life practice, exactly because it’s a function of a human judgement. It’s a very messy measurement. Especially, if you have different standards for yourself, and different standards for others.

In every relationship— personal and professional— what you do has far greater impact than anything you say.”

What you say are your intentions. But people judge you by behaviors. So, it’s what you do that has the real impact. If your words and deeds are congruent, that’s great; they can enhance your message. But words alone are impotent, and words against your deeds are downright harmful, especially in the realm of trust.

See? Just a few thoughts and so much wisdom! And this book is jam-packed with such thoughts.

Summary – My Personal Story

I entirely buy into Covey’s message about trust? Why?

In 2017 I started my own business, and the core value which I based the business on was trust. No Equity Capital company would’ve bet on me. No bank would’ve given me a loan. I was just one guy, with a niche idea-running Amazon ads for books, with zero business experience.

It wasn’t easy. I made most of the mistakes in the book of wannapreneurs. Yet, I succeeded. How come?

Simple. High integrity, high intent, OK capabilities and results. High speed and low cost. It takes me about one week to onboard a new client and they stay with me for years. There is no friction because I don’t allow it in my business.

If my customers don’t trust me, I fire them. If I don’t trust them, I fire them.

You can’t draw up an agreement thick enough for people you don’t trust.”

That’s why I haven’t signed even a single agreement with my customers and freelancers who work for me. That’s how I kept the business growing while having a day job, church obligations, a writing career and more ordinary, everyday stuff. I wasted no time on legal agreements, and all of this drama that comes with it. If a customer wasn’t satisfied, I returned his money and said farewell. If a customer didn’t pay, I quit working with them.

We decided to design our rules for the 97 percent we can trust.”

I spent zero time on creating the rules to protect us from dishonest customers. By the way, the cases of no payment or demanding a return were about 3% of all the customers I’ve ever had. And most returns were justified, so wasting no time for a complaint policy was the smart thing to do.

Big Picture Summary

Trust is a fabric of business life. It works for small, nimble shoestring startups, like mine, and for big corporations – if they dare to create the high trust culture (*cough* integrity *cough*).

But trust is also a fabric of social life. Hmm, since humans are social to the core, it’s a fabric of human life.

Thus, you absolutely should read The SPEED of Trust. You won’t find a better book about this subject, and it will teach you how to create trust – and reap its benefits – in every relationship in your life, starting from the all-important relationship with yourself.

Seriously, if you are a human being and you can read, you cannot miss this book.

Book Review: The Speed of Trust

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