At a Glance
Yoram Solomon, Founder at Innovation Culture Institute LLC
Focus Areas: HR, Culture, Leadership, Innovation
Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio: Yoram Solomon
Availability: Check Yoram’s Availability for Speaking
Thought Leader Interview
Thinkers360 thought leader interviews profile prominent members of the Thinkers360 community who embody the power of ideas in their work. In this edition, we speak with Dr. Yoram Solomon, Founder at Innovation Culture Institute LLC, teaching companies and individuals how to build trust in teams, be trusted by others, and know who to trust. His trustworthiness model is based on years of original research and service at the IDF 35th Airborne Brigade. He is also an entrepreneur, consultant, and author that has sold over 150,000 copies of his books.
He published 14 books (including The Book of Trust, Un-Kill Creativity, Culture starts with YOU, not your Boss, and Bowling with a Crystal Ball), 22 patents, more than 300 articles at Inc. Magazine and Innovation Excellence, and was one of the creators of Wi-Fi and USB 3.0. Named one of the Top 40 Innovation Bloggers and one of the Top 20 Global Thought Leaders on Corporate Culture.
He was recently featured in the Thinkers360 article The Year’s Most Popular Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders (1H’21) and also highlighted in the Thinkers360 leaderboard Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on HR (August 2021), as well as Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Culture (February 2021).
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Thinkers360: Tell us a bit about your background and areas of expertise
YS: If you would have told me 30 years ago, when I worked as an engineer, that 30 years later I would be publishing my 14th book about trust and be a sought-after keynote and workshop speaker about trust, I would have thought you were crazy… My path started with technology innovation. I helped companies invent stuff. I earned 9 patents in the process. But then I noticed that new ideas don’t catch. When I had to come up with a topic for my doctoral dissertation, I decided to answer this question: why are people more creative when they work for small startup companies than when they work for large, mature companies? You see, I worked in startups, founded startups, sold startups, and even bought startups, but at the time I was working for a company that with 35,000 employees was anything but a startup, and I could feel the difference. The simple answer was Innovation Culture. Startups have it, and large companies don’t. That’s when I published the book Un-Kill Creativity, How Corporate America can out-innovate the startups. But it took one more turn for me to get to where I am today. I met with a potential client, and as I was trying to understand why they don’t have the components of a culture of innovation, I realized that the reason was that they lacked trust. So, as my book Culture Starts with YOU, Not your Boss! was being edited, I wrote a 6-page epilogue chapter called Building Trust. That was the first time I wrote about trust, and the first time I presented the foundation to what is now the model for building trust. I incorporated my experience as an executive, an adjunct professor, an elected official, a pilot, and a member of the Israeli 35th Airborne Brigade into The Book of Trust, my keynotes and workshops, and my online courses.
So, my expertise is, in plain words, that I’m dealing with trust issues… But not mine, yours…
Thinkers360: What are your current responsibilities and what’s a typical day look like?
YS: I started my company in 2005, but started building it in earnest only in 2015. I set the direction, develop the content, write the books, stand in front of the video camera at the studio to record my videos and online courses, and deliver keynotes and workshops. My day starts at 7am (when I’m not writing a book, and at 4am when I do). Personally, I’m most creative in the morning, so I start with writing and developing content. I’m also committed to release a new edition of my main “battleship” book: The Book of Trust every year, so there is something that I write for it almost every day. Once I developed enough new content, and I feel that I’m only being marginally creative, I stop. At some days this happens early, and in other days I could be creative until well into the night.
Then, I follow up with clients, and focus on marketing.
Thinkers360: What’s the favorite part of your current role?
YS: Really, it’s almost everything. I’m blessed to be doing something that I love doing so much. I love developing content and writing books (currently working on book #15). I love creating videos (not only standing in front of the camera, but also editing the videos).
But there is something I love more than all. More than all, I love standing in front of an audience and explaining what trust is, what makes a person trusted, and what they can do today to start being more trusted. Yes, I love it when the customers show their appreciation when they pay my fees, and can’t even count how many times they said it was worth more. But there is nothing like seeing the expression on someone’s face when they get it, and find what’s holding them back from being more trusted, and what they can do about it, starting today
Thinkers360: How do you utilize Thinkers360?
YS: I don’t do sales. No, really. I hate cold-calling people. In fact, show me someone who likes it. Whenever I get a cold call from a telemarketer, I can tell from the sound of their voice that they don’t like it either. Here is my philosophy: would you rather call someone who doesn’t need what you have to offer, doesn’t have budget, and never heard about you, or someone who needs exactly what you have to offer, has a budget for it, researched you and believes you would be perfect for their needs? Let me guess, you prefer the latter. So, my focus is not in trying to find the right person and see that in 99.999% of the time they are the former case, but be known as a thought leader, advertise it enough, and let the right client find you. That’s where Thinkers360 comes in. I keep my profile updated with Thinkers360 and keep informing them of anything new that I published or done. Their seal for me as a thought leader is important to me, especially since they were named in 10 Most Disruptive Companies to Watch in 2021. This adds credibility to me, and through that and the networking among Thinkers360 members, the right clients find me. I don’t have to look for them.
Editor’s Note: See Yoram’s Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio.
Thinkers360: How do you like to work with brands who wish to engage you as a thought leader?
YS: I like working with them the way they like to be working with me. For that reason, I give them many opportunities to engage in different ways. Obviously, I love the in-person keynotes and workshops the most, because of the immediate gratification of seeing how they learn, and observe their “aha!” moment. But I make my programs available in-person and virtually (I was one of the first five to become a Certified Virtual Presenter by Speakers), I offer the content through online courses (www.trustedatwork.com), and through books. I offer multiple formats and high flexibility that would fit their needs, and not my preferences.
I make one simple promise: you will learn what trust is (and it’s not what you were told it was) through my 8 laws of trust, you will learn what makes you trusted through my proprietary 6-component model, and you will get your individual 7-step plan to be trusted.
Thinkers360: What’s your main advice for upcoming thought leaders?
YS: I have four pieces of advice, that worked for me, and that I religiously follow every day:
The first is, be you. Don’t try to be anyone else. Be what makes you excited, what makes you unique. Learn from others. See what they do. Adopt what you like, and reject what you don’t. When someone tells you there is only one way to do things (their way), ignore them. What works for them may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for them.
The second is, focus. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Be one thing, but be better than anyone else on that topic. You can call me a business consultant. You can call me a leadership consultant, but really, I’m an expert in trust. I decline opportunities that are “generic.” I only accept opportunities in the field of trust. By being “generic,” you make yourself a commodity, and there are thousands (or millions) like you. Being unique, expert, one-in-a-million, you are special. Be a thought leader.
The third is, put the work. Often, people think that becoming an expert is something you can do “on the side,” while keeping a full-time job, and you will only make the transition once the income from your “side business” is high enough to quit your day job. When someone shares with me that this is what they think, I asked them if they are willing to allocate one hour every weeknight, after work, to build the business, plus five hours every weekend, and commit to doing that 50 weeks every year. People find this too much effort. Well, if you did that, you would have spent 500 hours every year to build the business. My own business started growing, with clients calling me (instead of me cold-calling them) after I spent some 12,000 hours building the business. I worked 80 hours a week (I still work more than 60) for three years before that turning point occurred. Other, successful thought leaders I interviewed reached that turning point after anywhere from 7,000 to 40,000 hours. At a rate of 500 hours a week, it will take you between 14 and 80 years to get there. Being a though leader is not something you can do “on the side.” You must put the work.
Finally, be consistent and persistent. You will not see results to anything immediately. Make the plan, know what actions will help, and keep doing them. Often, we stop doing the right things because we don’t see immediate results. It took me years of not seeing any results before I started seeing them. It takes time to be a thought leader, but more than that, it takes consistency and persistence of doing the right things, and having people seeing you over and over again.
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