Love as a Trust Strategy

EPISODE 21

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In this week's episode, we're talking about the elephant in the room: trust. Without it, you will never be able to have a high-performing team, but how do you build trust amongst your co-workers? We answer this question and discuss our experiences with vulnerability-based trust in 'Love as a Trust Strategy'.   

 

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff Ma
Director

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MohProfile

Mohammad Anwar
President

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ChrisProfile

Chris Pitre
Vice President

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frank_danna

Frank Danna
Director

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Jeff Ma
Hello, and welcome to Love as a Business Strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business. But we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at Softway, an agency based out of Houston, Texas that specializes in digital transformation, culture, and branding. Now, each episode, we dive into a single element of business or strategy, and we test our theory of love against it. And if you follow the show, you will probably know that we talk about trust quite a bit. And well, that might be an understatement. We talk about trust all the time. It's a fundamental part of almost every element of Love as a Business Strategy. And it's kind of a secret ingredient in ways to so many parts of ultimately achieving success in business. So while we use this simple word over and over, we haven't really taken the time yet to dive a little deeper into what it really means and what it really looks like. And I think there's a lot more to it. So I've assembled our original cast of characters here today to break it down. So I'd like to welcome Mohammad Anwar, President and CEO of Softway. Hey, Moh.

Mohammad Anwar
Hey, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
Chris Pitre our Vice President.

Chris Pitre
Hey, Jeff, and everybody else.

Jeff Ma
Chris being inclusive here. Thank you, Chris. And and Frank Danna, our Director of Culture. Okay, Frank's just gonna stare at me quietly. Alright, well, Frank's here. Trust me, guys. He's here. We'll get we'll get Frank talking with some icebreakers. We'll let him go first. Frank, your question today is, what childish things do you still do as an adult?

Frank Danna
Oh, my gosh, what childish things do I still do? I have a hard time picking up my clothes. Like, it's, it should be so simple. But my I just honestly, like I just don't pick up my clothes very often. My wife is like, how are you an adult, a fully-formed man that still is incapable of picking up his shirts and shorts off the ground? Put them in the hamper. Yeah, so that's a real thing.

Jeff Ma
The question should have been what adult things are you capable of doing? As an adult?

Frank Danna
Very few apparently. Also, Hey, everybody, I'm excited to be here.

Jeff Ma
Chris, what is the best gift anyone's ever given you?

Chris Pitre
Life, my mom.

Jeff Ma
There you go, can't beat that.

Jeff Ma
Moh, if you could eliminate something...

Chris Pitre
I should thank my dad too, my mom and my dad. I am so sorry. I should be inclusive in that.

Jeff Ma
Moh, if you could eliminate something from your daily routine, what would it be and why?

Mohammad Anwar
Sleep so that I didn't need to sleep to be in a good mood and do more productive work. I would eliminate sleep, so I could just work.

Frank Danna
Sleep so I could work more. There we go.

Jeff Ma
So you're taking the question, you're taking the question as like this magical thing that you could remove but still function? Like, like, Yeah, okay.

Mohammad Anwar
Okay. So I can I basically get more time to do the things I want to do, not just work.

Jeff Ma
Absolutely. I think we can all agree with that. Let's dive into trust guys. And as you know, the three people I I trust most in life, I trust that we're gonna have a great conversation around this. Frank, let me start with you. Can you just open us up about trust? How do we at Softway, even view trust, just high level.

Frank Danna
So I think at a high level, we understand that trust is fundamental to a company performing well, and to to Softway performing well. And we, we saw this topic of trust come up time, and again, where and if you've heard anything about Softway's story and the struggles that we've been through, and the things that we've done, it's it's important to recognize that trust has been kind of the, the make or break thing for the way we perform as a team and as as individuals. And so, you know, the way we perceive the way we look at trust is it's foundational to building a healthy, vibrant culture. And it's not just like the the definition of trust is that the belief that someone or something is reliable and effective, like it'll do what it's supposed to do. But what we have started to recognize is that trust goes way beyond just believing that your car is going to turn on or your tires are not going to pop on the drive into work. And, and it's it's it's beyond that. It's it's relational. You know, so just to kick us off, trust is a core component. But when you talk about it, there's so many different layers. I hope hopefully we can unpack some of those layers in this conversation today. But the reality is, it's more than just saying I trust you. It is an action beyond that.

Jeff Ma
Right. So I'll we can dive right into those layers. I know we define trust as two main types of trust, right? Predictive trust and vulnerable trust. Mohammad, can you break those down for us?

Mohammad Anwar
Yeah, sure. I think before we break it down into predictive trust, and sorry about that. Before we break it down to predictive trust.

Chris Pitre
This is live recorded. I just wanna let the listeners know.

Frank Danna
Chris sitting over here laughing.

Jeff Ma
That's okay. I love I love.

Mohammad Anwar
That was my alarm.

Jeff Ma
A lot of vulnerability going on here. It's good.

Mohammad Anwar
Yeah. So I would say I think I think what's important to understand is that there are different levels of trust, right. And, you know, you can trust someone, but how much you trust someone is a level, it's on a spectrum. And you can trust someone more than others. And that's first and foremost, very important to understand. So with that being said, there are two types of trust that we talk about at Softway, which is predictive trust and vulnerability-based trust. And predictive trust is when you are trusting your, your team members or coworkers to a point where you know that they have historically performed at. You're like, I know that Jeff has done this in the past, so that's what I'm going to trust him with. But something I've never seen him do, I wouldn't trust Jeff with that. And vulnerability-based trust is, you're able to trust someone, knowing that there is a risk that they may have never done it before. And you don't know if they can do it, but you trust them fully and wholeheartedly. And you're able to, like, let let them do what they need to do in the workplace without having their historical records or even failures come in the way of trusting them. So that's kind of the two easy, distinct, distinguishable trust levels.

Frank Danna
So Mohammad, you're saying that that type of trust isn't built off of the work product, necessarily?

Mohammad Anwar
No, it's it's essentially you trust someone wholeheartedly. Regardless of their performance, or what they've done in the past, or what they've not done in the past. It's just ultimately, I trust you fully, as a person, as a co worker, all of it.

Frank Danna
I think that's an interesting concept, though, to kind of harp on a little bit, because in a business context, you're typically going to give more trust to people that have proven themselves, right? And so if you've proven that you're capable in this area, I'm going to trust that you can do it here. But my question to you, and maybe the rest of the group is like, how do you get past that predictive trust into pushing into vulnerability? But like, how does that? How does that bridge work?

Mohammad Anwar
Got it.

Chris Pitre
I, I'm probably going to be the like the skeptic of the four of us. Because you know, I've always been the one that's like, you can't just start with trust, like nobody's walks in a room I trust you, we good, right? That feels foreign and illogical for someone like me, who is, you know, whether we like it or not, perhaps maybe someone who likes to take their time getting to know people, etc. But to get to the, the understanding that I've come to realize around trust is that if you really want to dig past that sort of veneer of predictive trust, and sort of that just, you know, you're doing a job, I'm doing a job, and we're both competent professionals, right? So of course, you know, you're going to do it, is to really start having conversations. And those conversations may start with work, but it should venture and can venture to things that are beyond that. And that's what I've learned is that, like, I naturally build trust, when I get to know people, right, when I get to know who they are, what they've gone through their lived experiences, their, you know, upsets their, you know, honestly, their vulnerabilities and the things that they perhaps may not would have shared otherwise. You get to see them in a whole new light, but you also get to understand and appreciate their shortcomings as well as their victories, right? Nothing is seen as a threat and nothing is seen as an overshare. But everything is put into context where it's like, when you're honestly reviewing that work, you appreciate it that much more if it's great. But also if it's not great, you understand maybe the challenges they had creating it. And you trust that when you go and talk to them about it, they're going to understand, listen, etc, right? But also, you can you can actually share your own struggles as to like, you know, when it comes to technology stuff, right? Like, I can't do it for you. So like if you're struggling with the I'm struggling to like right, so you can identify that struggle. And you can also still be an encouragement, you could still hold them accountable, right? and accountability doesn't have to be punitive. But to me when you have that ability to see beyond what's surface and get to the meat of someone's core, their character, their experiences, their background, you know, the things that they've gone through as a human. You can actually find it very easy and simple to start building that trust, right? And it's not something is it's, it's a journey that you take, it's not a line that you cross.

Mohammad Anwar
Yeah. So I think to that point, Chris, you're talking about the importance of relationship in building trust. And I know that there are like three elements of trust, right? There's, you know, does this person have the knowledge or the expertise to be able to do the task?

Chris Pitre
I do.

Mohammad Anwar
Right? And, and do you? Do you consistently walk the talk, are you able to deliver on what you say you, you strive to do? And then lastly, it's relationship. These are like the three main elements of trust. But, you know, I read this study on Harvard Business Review where with these three elements of trust, if someone isn't really knowledgeable on something, you know, the trust level can drop a little bit. And same thing with walk the talk, basically, your trust level can drop a little bit, but it's easy to rebuild it back, provided you have relationship. But if your relationship with a person goes sour, and it's not on the good terms, no matter how strong you are, with the knowledge and consistency in doing what you say you'll do, it doesn't matter, your trust will drop dramatically. So relationship is extremely important to build trust with your coworkers.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, and I think when we when we talk about this topic with others, so often, the question is laid out so simply right? Like, do you trust your team? Or do you trust someone else? Frank, do you trust Chris? It's such a like, this is a simple, straightforward question And it becomes this yes, no thing. When in reality, like Mohammad, you mentioned, there's three facets to it. And, Frank, you mentioned it's a it's a scale, it's a gradient. It's not a binary yes or no. And so I think people don't take the time enough to think about that question. When we say do you trust somebody? Because especially in business, if you're asking, do you trust your team? We've seen this as we poll people, the majority of people just instinctively blurt out, yes. Because they're looking at results and maybe they work pretty well as a team. But the reality is, a lot of times they're saying, yeah, I trust them because they're thinking, I trust that if I assign them something, they're gonna get it done. I trust that if they have a tough challenge, they'll step up to it. And that's great. That's, that's relevant. But when it comes to like, this is real trust, like, would you trust them with, you know, your vulnerability? Would you trust them enough to tell them that you don't like something they're doing? And the question suddenly changes completely, right? We'll ask the same group of people, do you trust each other? They'll say, yes. And then you'll say, do you guys give each other critical feedback? And then it's all of a sudden, not really. And you go back and you ask, then, did you do you really trust each other because the word trust has to encompass this ability to actually like, hold each other accountable as well.

Chris Pitre
I also think that in that situation, trust actually can help you get or prevent from going to a place of anger or resentment, right? Because if you have that situation where someone has messed up, or you need to give critical feedback, you are actually less likely to be triggered by any of their reactions, no matter how bad or positively they take it. And you're more likely trying to figure out how can I help this person, right? Like, I want to make sure that they understand I am not their enemy. And my feedback is not meant to hurt them. But it really is trying to ensure that what I'm looking for, or my expectation around this, or what we agree to is not here. And in order for everyone to be successful, I need to make sure that you understand that, right? And I'm going to pivot, adjust, and adapt to any way I need to in order to help you get there because I trust you enough to give you that type of benefit of the doubt or give you that type of accommodation.

Frank Danna
Yeah, for me, I've seen it in teams where, when you have when you have trust amongst people, that that actually deeply care about each other, you resolve conflict faster, which means you actually get to to work faster. And so if you if you need to solve problems, what I've seen is that teams that are able to solve problems in ways that don't worry about and I know this may sound, this may sound bad up front, but don't worry about hurting each other's feelings, because they have such a good relationship that they know they're all assuming good intent, right? So if I'm able to give critical feedback to Chris, in real time, he's able to process it and say, I recognize that Frank cares enough about me to give me this feedback. I'm not going to hold it against him. Let's move on. Right. So in those situations where the dynamic is of a high performing team of people, you see that trust there, where you can move faster past the red tape and the bureaucracy that typically comes by way of worrying about hurting people's feelings, worrying about slowing things down, when you're when you're all able to to work in a way together, where you're open and honest and genuine, then it creates this momentum. Right? And that momentum is really powerful. And it unlocks innovation, for teams and for businesses.

Mohammad Anwar
I agree. So, Frank, on the opposite spectrum.

Frank Danna
Yeah.

Mohammad Anwar
You know, you've been talking a lot about vulnerability-based trust right now. Can you, can you speak to what are the impacts of only allowing your trust to go to a predictive layer? How does it hurt a business?

Frank Danna
So if you break down what predictive trust is, right, so if it's built out of consistent observation, so you're constantly seeing someone or a group of people just doing the same tasks, and you're not giving them anything that pushes them or creates opportunities for growth or innovation, then you're essentially closed to failure and risk. And that's one of the biggest issues and the hindrances that that holds people and teams and organizations back is you're limiting the trajectory of where people can go, and their capability because you're refusing to allow them to move forward. So unfortunately, a vast majority of teams are operating from this place of predictive trust. Because when we only rely on what's visible, and we don't see the possibility of other people being able to do things, we are closing their ability to grow. And we're also saying that we're not willing to risk putting in the benefit of the doubt for someone. So I think predictive trust is actually a really, it's, it's a it's a bad place to set to stay. But leaders get lazy. And teams could get lazy, and they start to only rely on predictive trust as the way forward. Right. And so we've seen that in our own organization, when we're closed to, you know, other people, we're closed to giving people things if we have unforgiveness towards someone, if we're frustrated by someone, and we are unwilling to do something, or we just simply don't know the person well enough. What is the opportunity that you leave on the table? That's the question. When you're operating from a place of predictive trust, the question that I always ask myself is, what innovation was just around the corner, but I refused to take those extra few steps. And I refuse to see the opportunity beyond it. That's that's really the, the the damaging nature of predictive trust, as it pertains to teams, and, you know, growing and a company wanting to innovate.

Mohammad Anwar
I agree. And I think one of the problems with that type of an approach to trust is when these teams who do not operate from a place of true vulnerability-based trust, they can be limiting even in making decisions around process or technology, right. So if you have teams that are setting out to your leadership teams and leaders trying to build processes, or take decisions around processes or technology for the strategic initiatives, if they operate from a place of mistrust, you can see that reflected in your processes, right? Like you will see, wherever you see too much bureaucracy, in a process that takes you know, you almost wonder why do I have to go through so many steps to get something done. That's truly a reflection of how much trust exists in that organization. Because those processes are a reflection of the level of trust your organization practices. If you have more trust, you will see the processes are nimble. And they come from a place where you're trusting the people to do what is right, and what is the best thing to do to get through processes and decisions. And that unlocks efficiency, you're able to speed up things, you're able to get things to finishing points faster. And many organizations don't recognize that if you are unable to operate from a place of vulnerability-based trust or high levels of trust, you are actually slowing yourself down you're creating inefficiencies. And same thing goes with innovation. If there's a lack of trust within the organization, and you know, then the team is unable to unlock innovation because they may not trust each other to give ideas or to share ideas. There are many organizations that actually pit people against each other through ranking systems and performance reviews where you're ranked against each other. At that moment in time, people are going to keep their ideas to themselves, or try to do what they think is best to get their name recognized and to be able to climb the ranking system, so collaboration is killed. Collaboration doesn't exist when you don't have that trust with each other. And that kills innovation, and you're unable to maximize and unlock true innovation, with technology and process and ultimately, you look at all these digital transformation initiatives and many different strategic initiatives that go on in our organizations. And you know, a lot of them fail. And they point to a, well, the technology was bad or the process was bad when you really look at the root causes and not the symptoms, you will see that it stems from lack of trust. Ultimately, it all boils down to lack of trust. That's why a lot of these initiatives fail.

Jeff Ma
So, talking about applicability, we understand the importance. But when they're when you don't have this trust, how do you get started?

Chris Pitre
So I think, from a process perspective, I think one of the best places to get started, honestly, is to have a recruiting process that helps you really build relationships and understanding around people, right? When you hire people that you can inherently trust, it's not that you've built that trust in the recruitment process, but you find you find people who reveal themselves in ways that allow for you to really see who they are, you actually are naturally bringing in people who can, you know, sort of contribute to that vulnerability trust that could be existing already in the company, team or environment. And it's honestly, you know, a way to ensure that who you're bringing in, resembles the values and the things that are cherished internally.

Frank Danna
And I think like Mohammad, you, once someone is in an organization, I've always been inspired by how you position starting with trust, right? Can you talk a little bit about how like after that, after that recruiting of the individual comes in, and you let's say, Mohammad, you meet them for the first time, from a full to empty meter, empty, being zero percent trust full being 100% trust, how do you walk in the room with someone that you just met,

Mohammad Anwar
I start with them with a full tank of trust, I have to start there. And that's what you know, we strive at Softway is like, you start with trust, you don't have to earn your trust or build up trust over time, you should start with trust. And that's, that's what vulnerability-based trust is, you trust everyone from the get go. And when you're able to create that environment, Frank, it, it's very powerful, because the new new team member coming in, when they see their leaders trust them from the get go and genuinely trust them, they will actually give it all they got to make sure that they don't disappoint and lose that trust. That's how powerful it is to start from a place of trust. And that way, you are also able to build trust towards you. When they see leaders start with trust and easily that trust is reciprocated towards the leaders, and then you're able to complete that full circle of trust between you and your teammates. Because if every each person is waiting for the other person to start trusting, then you might never get to a place of trust. Right, right. I always say the burden of creating the environment of trust in the organization always has to start with leaders. Leaders have to take the first step, to create an environment of trust, if the leaders are non trusting, then you will see those same behaviors in the rest of the team no matter what level you go. Because the leaders who are not trusting will create processes and environments that foster more mistrust. So even if there are individuals inside of teams that really want to trust each other, but the systems are against them, they're not going to trust each other. So if they want to work in a team, but their performance management system is all about ranking and pitting people against each other, then the team isn't going to ever trust each other because they're all going to want to make sure that they are in the top rank. So that the team interest is destroyed and self interest takes precedence, and, you know, all of those things that it has to start with leadership.

Chris Pitre
I completely agree, I completely agree and I think that that sort of hinges on the philosophy around Theory X versus Theory Y, right, like with Theory X, you know, Theory X organizations inherently believe that people are evil, they come in to do bad and they need to be, you know, I would say punished, you know, in order to get motivated to do the work. Whereas Theory Y is more, you know, the belief that people are inherently good, and they come to work to do good and to do great things and they should be trusted right? And some organizations through a variety of you know, experiences or you know, what they consider bad apples, you know, sort of, you know, start off with this intent to be Theory Y, but then their processes and systems and need to be you know, more compliance driven and oriented, create these Theory X systems and processes like forced ranking that bring you back to that place of, you know, whatever little trust we could have fostered has been sort of taken away, because technically, like one of us is going to survive this and but not everybody, right?

Mohammad Anwar
And it's a risk averse mentality, right? Like, you're like we don't we want to avoid risk. So let's put in all these processes that stem from a place of lack of trust in place, so that nobody ever has a chance to, you know, falter or make mistakes or, you know, take advantage of our systems or policies. And when you look at Theory X organizations, they start from a place of no trust, that's why those processes and policies are built that way.

Jeff Ma
And it has this kind of, kind of chicken and egg or catch 22 kind of effect, right? Because when you fall for like, let's, for example, you have a policy of very, very, very like forgiving vacation policy, just for example, something where people can take as much leave as they want, whenever they need, and a Theory Y would kind of put that out there. But then let's say Frank comes in, and starts, you know, from an outside perspective, abusing the policy, basically taking every Friday off, and you know, falling behind in work and things like that. And so Theory X will say, that policy was a mistake, let's take it away from everybody. And, and the problem with that is, while you might get the results you're looking for is now nobody's abusing your system. You never really addressed Frank, you never really understood his motivation, his intent behind it, you don't understand, you know, what the situation really was playing out like, and, and you punish everybody else. And so like my question for you guys, is Theory Y sounds good in theory. But if I'm trying to be Theory Y, but I still have these predictive trust issues. For instance, I want to be Theory Y and build relationships with everybody, but Chris, historically, and traditionally does not deliver on time. You know, like, I, I don't trust him to get the work done. But I'm trying to trust I'm trying to still build that relationship with him. What can we do to kind of bridge that gap to prevent going to Theory X?

Chris Pitre
Well, I would hope, Jeff, that you would come and talk to me and ask me if there's something that I you can do to help or if there's something that you don't know, that's preventing my on time delivery, and we can sort of figure out a solution that might actually get us there. But and then, in that situation, we would actually be building trust, because you would have more empathy or insight into what's happening on my end, I would also understand that, oh, this is very serious to Jeff. I didn't realize that perhaps my nonchalant approach to this work, or the delivery of said work was bothering Jeff, or was being sort of, you know, is hindering Jeff in some way. But you coming and talking to me about it, like we start building that that bridge, right, and it becomes less of a punishment, and we're going to punish everybody. And it's more of just like, oh, now I got it, we all got it. We're on the same page, right? We're you know one happy ship, like, let's keep it moving. Right. But I think that that is, to me, the honest way to go about it is when you see something, say something, but say it in a way that is you know, empathetic, or at least considerate of there are things that you may not know that could be happening away from your eyesight or line of vision that that person is going through that might actually be justifying why they are doing something that you find either unacceptable, offensive, unprofessional, whatever the case may be,

Jeff Ma
And the irony of Theory X is, like I was saying earlier, the catch 22 part is that once you implement the Theory X, you now close, you further close doors for those conversations to happen, because now that's the policy, those misbehaviors apparently disappear, like just disappear. Even though the people who would have done those things are still the same people they have not been addressed or discussed. And those problems pop up in other places, right?

Frank Danna
Yep. And then it creates, I mean, ultimately, what type of culture does that create? And what type of workplace what type of environment is produced when, you know, people look up and go, oh my gosh, why are things so slow? Why does nothing get done here? That's by design. It was designed that way, you know, so is that is that the type of culture that you want to create opportunity for innovation and creativity? Like is that the type of place that you want to build? And it all stems from trust? So even though people may be like, well, how does trust ladder up to business outcomes? But then you see the the policies and the processes that are putting people in these states of mind where they don't want to do work, or they don't enjoy being a part of the team or the company. And it stems from a lack of trust.

Jeff Ma
And so as we enter the realm of culture, I'll kind of bring us to that point, right. What What is trust and love together? What is the connecting point here?

Mohammad Anwar
So I would, I would have to say that when you think about, from a family perspective, you know, you love your parents, you love your family, so much so that you trust them unconditionally. Right. And I know that, you know, at a workplace, you can't say that you can have the same level of family unconditional love. But if you borrow the principles of why you are able to trust your family so much, and try to borrow those philosophies into your environment at work, it all comes down to relationship, you know, the, the, the fact that you have so much that you may have gone through together from a vulnerability standpoint, you're vulnerable to each other, you have emotional exposure, you're dealing with the risk together. And you're also dealing with uncertainty together, like any family does, through the course of their livelihoods. If you're able to bring those philosophies and, and make an environment inside of your workplace where you can mimic those, those three components, you can truly build that vulnerability-based trust. And by having empathy with each other, that care and compassion, and looking for the goodness in each other, instead of assuming bad intent of each other, all of these principles of love, if you're able to bring to your workplace and your team and your coworkers, then you can definitely build those high levels of trust. And so that's how I see the correlation between love and trust, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
Absolutely. And as you can see, Mohammad just listed off like a greatest hits of the Love as a Business Strategy podcast. So you can see that trust is basically at the center of so much that we talk about, you check out any of our other topics, you probably hear this word come up, because it's just so foundational, right? To, to being able to if without it, you're not going to be very successful in many of your other endeavors when it comes to culture and love as a business strategy. So with that, let's bring this episode to a close. You know at Love as a Business Strategy, we're posting new episodes every Tuesday, and hopefully you enjoyed this topic about trust. We're always looking for more topics that you might be interested in, you can let us know at softway.com/LAABS. And please leave us a review. If you like what you heard, you have feedback for us on Apple Spotify, a review would be great. And with that, I want to thank my friends, Mohammad, Chris, Frank, for this great conversation around trust. And we will talk again on another topic next week.

Mohammad Anwar
Thank you, Jeff. .

Frank Danna
Thanks, guys.

Mohammad Anwar
Thank you guys.

Chris Pitre
Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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