Manage Smarter 143 — Mitchell Levy: The New Definition of Credibility

BY Audrey Strong
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Mitchell Levy is a TEDx speaker, Global Credibility Expert and international bestselling author of over 60 books — including his latest "Credibility Nation."

As the CEO of book publisher ThinkAha, Mitchell's superpower is extracting the genius from your head in a three-​hour interview so that his team can ghostwrite your book, publish it, distribute it, and make you an Amazon bestselling author in four months.

He is an accomplished Entrepreneur who has created twenty businesses in Silicon Valley including four publishing companies that have published over 850 books. He's provided strategic consulting to over one hundred companies and has been chairman of the board of a NASDAQ-​listed company.

In this episode, Audrey, Lee and Mitchell discuss:

  • The new definition of credibility in today’s COVID-​19 climate
  • The 3 Pillars of Credibility
  • Specific steps and strategies to build your credibility
  • Lee's new book, SalesCred, and the importance of credibility in buyers qualifying sellers

"The quality of how you are known, liked, and trusted is your credibility."

Mitchell Levy

Connect with Mitchell Levy:

Build Credibility and Effective Leadership with the Manage Smarter Show:

Connect with SalesFuel:

Manage Smarter episode 143 — Mitchell Levy The New Definition of Credibility


This episode is brought to you by SalesCred, the definitive book on sales credibility by our co-​host, C. Lee Smith. Sales credibility is the quality all sales people must have in abundance before they can ever hope to earn trust and become a trusted advisor, and SalesCred reveals how salespeople build and lose credibility with the things you say and do every day. Pick up a copy now at amazon​.com or other fine online business book sellers. 

Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, with host C. Lee Smith and Audrey Strong. We're glad you're here for discussions on new ways to manage smarter, hire, develop, and retain talent, improve results, propel team performance to new heights. This is the Manage Smarter Podcast. 


Audrey Strong: You Know, Lee, I think credibility, if you don't have it, you want it. And if you do have it, people will pretty much buy in and follow you just about anywhere, right?

Lee Smith: Well, credibility is the foundation of everything that a manager and most especially a leader needs due for the team. And so we thought we would bring on somebody on the show this week who is a credibility expert. 

Audrey Strong: That's right. Welcome to Manage Smarter, everyone. Thanks for coming back. And if you're here newly, hello and welcome. I'm Audrey Strong. I'm the vice president of communications here at SalesFuel.

Lee Smith: And I'm C. Lee Smith, the president and CEO of SalesFuel.

Audrey Strong: One of our favorite people, global credibility expert, Mitchell Levy is here today. Hi, Mitchell. 

Mitchell Levy: Hi, Audrey, great to be here. Hello, Lee.

Lee Smith: Hi, there. 

Audrey Strong: Hey. Well, Mitchell is a TEDx speaker — I want to be one of those, I got to figure out a topic — and an international bestselling author of more than 60 books. His super power is in extracting the genius from your head in a three-​hour interview so his team can ghost write your book, publish it, distribute it, and make you an Amazon bestselling author, all in four months. He's an accomplished entrepreneur who has created 20 businesses in Silicon Valley, including four publishing companies that have published more than 850 books and provides strategic consulting to more 100 companies, and chairman of the board of a NASDAQ listed company. So he's just been a little busy in his career, just slightly. 

Mitchell Levy: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah.

Audrey Strong: A little bit.

Mitchell Levy: And other couple things.

Audrey: Yeah, a few things. So, Mitchell, credibility is your jam, though. So, how did you get sort of into this topic as sort of the thread through all of your work?

Mitchell Levy: It's really interesting. I recently listened to Evan Carmichael's Your One Word. And I already knew what the word was, and it's credibility. How that came about is a series of morphs throughout my career. And of course, we morph and change all the time. I've been in Silicon Valley for 35 years, I've focused on thought leadership for the last 25. And as a publisher in 2018, I started doing done for you book publishing. And at the time my title was the aha guy or the thought leader architect. Those are cool titles, but the aha guy, people sort of know. Thought leader architect, nobody knew what that was. And so I went to a branding session, I rebranded global credibility expert. For the last nine months, I've been interviewing thought leaders on credibility, and coming up with a new book, coming up with new products, figuring out what does it actually mean to be credible. It's been a absolutely beautiful journey. And I would say serendipity brought me to this spot and now that I'm here, I am in flow and happy. 

Lee Smith: So what are some of the common threads that you've picked up on from interviewing all of these leaders about the topic of credibility?

Mitchell Levy: If I was going to simplify it to a set of actions, it's to show up when you show up, and what I mean by that is to come early, to be prepared, and to come with your heart. And so when I look at the numbers — so by the way, this is one of those things I did not expect to keep track of. I need to keep track of who comes on time. Let me share a couple numbers. It's really interesting that 17% of people come early, earliest between 10 to 15 minutes. And if you're doing a live show, trust me, the host is always happy if you came early. 53% come on time, which I define between nine to four minutes. It's interesting that 24% come late. So if you're running a live show, this is coming between three and zero minutes. Now, Audrey, if you said wow before, your jaw's going to hit the ground, 6% of people come super late, that is a after the hour. Let me be clear. Somebody's coming to be interviewed by the global credibility expert on their credibility, and they think it's credible to come after the half hour for a live show. 

Audrey Strong: This is music to my ears because Lee knows that my number one pet peeve is people who are late, and that's why I'm always early. 

Lee Smith: And what is it that you always say, Audrey?

Audrey Strong: Early is on time and on time is late.

Mitchell Levy: Yeah. And you guys, here's the interesting part—if you're in sales, you guys are in sales and you talk about sales, let's say, I have an appointment with somebody and they're going to sell me something. If they come late, they're not going to make the sale. They're not going to make sale then, they may not make the sale ever. It's just one of those things in life is we all respect — if you respect somebody else and you respect their time — you can't say I respect you but then come late to a meeting, because it shows that you don't respect them.

Audrey Strong: So other than on time, what are some of the other elements that demonstrate and give credibility, follow-​through maybe? Is that one of them? 

Mitchell Levy: Well, I was going to say coming prepared, so if you have a meeting with somebody and you haven't spent five minutes Googling their name before you talk with them. So, if somebody is trying to sell me and the first and they say is, "Hey, can you tell me what you do?" And I go, "Well, I've got 25 active websites. Did you at least Google my name and see any of them?" Because if they say, "Tell me what you do," it's like, I'm not sure I want to pay attention. 

And then the thing is, coming with heart, the old guard was simply that we would try to be this command and control person, this perfect person. We would never show any errors of vulnerability, any errors of problems. And what happens is, if you don't come with your heart, I can't see you. If I can't see you, I can't get to know you. If I can't get to know you, I certainly won't trust you. And if I don't trust you, I'm not going to do business with you. And so, I'd say the definition of credibility that I've redefined. 

So first, let's talk about what's the definition — definition today according to dictionary​.com is the demonstration of trustworthiness. So, when I did my TED talk, I defined trustworthiness as having three characteristics, and that's vulnerability, integrity, and authenticity. And after doing all the research, I'm going to ask one more, and Audrey, you cued me up perfectly well, because the thing I want to add to that is sort of that reliability, it's that follow-​through, right? And so you need to be authentic. You need to have integrity. You need to show vulnerability and you need to basically say what you do and do what you say. 

Lee Smith: What are some of the stupid things that managers do to actually sacrifice or forfeit the credibility once they've achieved it, other than showing up late and disrespecting their–

Audrey Strong: And I want to know which one of those three pillars is the one that most people fail at.

Mitchell Levy: By the way, great questions. It's one of those funny things. The question really becomes is how do you show — when you're asking me this question, I'm thinking to myself, how do you show heart? How do you demonstrate? So, here's a great question, and I'm going to bring in personal stuff. My father died recently of brain cancer. And here's the interesting part, I have integrity that the six meetings I had during the day that I couldn't possibly make, I at least sent a note saying, "Listen, family emergency. I'll get back to you." And so integrity is I have a really — at least I thought he was a good friend, who I had scheduled for my interviews. He sends an email an hour before the interview saying, "Hey, my girlfriend wants me to do something with her. Can we reschedule?" I'm sorry. To me, that's a lack of integrity. Like, wait, we have time scheduled. Maybe your time is free and you have a lot of availability. I don't. 

It's people who say they're technically good at what they do but they — if you use calendar tools these days, there's a button at the bottom of the calendar tool that typically says "reschedule." So when you're interacting with people that are busy, instead of trying to send an email or a text saying, "Can we reschedule," click the button. I think what comes to mind, as I'm answering your question, are the things people do because they think it's easy for them versus the things that you can do to make it easy for the person you're interacting with. And there's a whole slew of those types of things that are really simple, like great example, like today, later in the day I have 15 interviews. And so all of the bios for those interviews have been lined up ahead of time. My team is phenomenal. I've got a great sheet of going from person to person. I've already looked at their LinkedIn profiles, their websites. I've got their bios already lined up. 

So, if somebody an hour ahead of time sends the bio say, "Hey, please use this one, the old one is bad," but they actually signed up for the interview weeks ago or months ago, I'm like, "Hey guy/​girl, you had quite a while to use it. No, we're going to use the one we have because I have a system in place." And so I think it's not having heart. And here's the best way to think about it. It's not having heart for the person you're interacting with, and that's probably the best thing. If you have an employee and they have some issue in their life and you say, "Where's the report," and that's the first word track of your mouth versus how are you doing, that used to be how we used to do business. That's not how we do business today.

Lee Smith: That's interesting. It's not how I expected you to answer the question, Mitchell, because it's like, when I think of credibility and how people achieve credibility, I think like most people. They think of they're doing a TED talk. They're a keynote speaker. They're an author of a book. They're a thought leader. They're a blogger, a columnist. They're up on stage. I think what a lot of people think come to mind when they think credibility, but you're describing something different.

Mitchell Levy: By the way, thanks, Lee, for pointing that out. Let me tell you something I've been struggling with for a long time, as I had the word thought leader, right? Because thought leader has such a huge connotation, and what I want to do and it's a lot easier, I try to sort of broaden the word thought leader, and it's harder to do because of who it is. Let's look at the word credibility. I'll mention my wife, but we won't tell anyone we did. My wife has credibility. And what I'll say is that she has credibility to about [inaudible 00:12:36] and that's all she cares about, right? It's that set of friends. It's that family members. She doesn't want credibility. She doesn't need to get credibility. She just is. And so the question is, if we're making assumption that credibility only applies to people who are rocking the world, she is rocking the world. It's just her definition of the word world, say that five times fast, is different than other people's. 

And so what you have to realize is that credibility is more of or is as much of an internal thing as it is an external thing. And one of the first things I'm going to say is if you're not credible with yourself, you can't be credible with other people. And in terms of who you're credible with, you don't have to be credible with the world if that's not the market you're going after. Does that make sense? 

Lee Smith: It does make sense, yeah. 

Audrey Strong: I was going to say, when you talked about the friend who canceled for the girlfriend, that could have been a totally naive, simple decision he made because he literally just wanted to spend time with her, but the message that I would be on the receiving end of, that he may not have realized is, what he's essentially saying to you is my time is more valuable than your time.

Mitchell Levy: Audrey, that's the message I got now. If he used the automatic calendar tool, (a) I wouldn't have noticed, or if he said, "Hey, my girlfriend's having a bad day. I'm concerned about whatever that big concern is, I'm going to need to reschedule. I appreciate you." If he said something else, I would've understood. And so what's interesting is, in this word, credibility, your actions — oh, this is really good one, guys — speak louder than your words.

Lee Smith: And they need to be congruent with what you're saying. You got to walk the talk. 

Mitchell Levy: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Yes.

Audrey Strong: Nobody wants to work for a manager who's like, it's just their world and we're all sort of living in it. 

Mitchell Levy: It used to be that was the definition of thought leader in the past, the definition of the thought leader, because the publishers told us who we were going to read, the movie companies. The broadcast companies told us what actors we were going to watch. The recording companies told us what music we were going to listen to. And what happened when that happened is these foreign entities would spend a lot of time, money and effort making and propelling the thought leaders. They wanted there to be one and only one thought leader in the space. And so that is how the industrial age work. That is how people used to think both thought leadership and credibility was. 

And what happens today, because we all have a microphone and we all have a camera, is anyone who wants to build an audience, once again, the audience could be 10, the audience could be a 100, audience could be 100,000 or 100 million. Anyone who wants to build an audience can. And what happens is those people who are followers, those people who will, if you're a good boss, your people will follow you to the ends of the earth. A good boss means that people like, respect, trust, they want to do business with you, you're credible. And so the rules have changed, and if you're in the old paradigm, if you're thinking that commanding troll is the way to succeed, trust me, you're going to lose your business, you're going to lose your customers. You're going to disappear. 

Audrey Strong: You mentioned finding a place of serendipity. I just want to let everybody know that your Twitter handle is @HappyAbout, which I love, and Facebook too, HappyAbout, mitchelllevy​.com. This is the fastest 20 minutes in the face of podcasting. We have a few minutes left. Mitchell, do you want to talk about what you have going on, share with our listeners?

Mitchell Levy: The thing that's interesting in terms of credibility, maybe there's 30 plus things you could do for credibility. We have a done view book publishing. For those that are interesting, I'd bring out your genius. If you go to thoughtleaderlife​.com, what we're doing are credibility sizzle reels. So whereas a speaker sizzle reel sizzles and has all these sparkles and all this stuff, a credibility sizzle reel shines and it allows the person to actually come out, and you can see who they are. Essentially for those doing sales calls, if your prospect looked at your CredReel prior to talking to you, you're going to increase the efficacy of those calls. And then fairly shortly, there'll be a series of courses. First one's going to be on LinkedIn, and how one can create a LinkedIn profile that truly attracts those people that are interesting to you. It's all things credible, and it's fun to have partners, fun to have people I work with. Lee, love your book. That was fun to actually work on as well, is having a book that–

Lee Smith: It was great to work with you on that as well. 

Mitchell Levy: Yeah, yeah. What's fun is bringing out people's genius. I mean, to me, that's fun, and to me that's also credible. And so I think if people are allowed to shine, if people are allowed to be who they are and demonstrate who they are, what happens is the audience follows them. The audience is attracted to them. And to me, that's the idea. I typically send people to MitchellLevy360​.com. It's M‑I-​T-​C-​H-​E- L‑L- L‑ You could see a customer testimonial video of customers and how they reacted. You can connect to me on social. And if this is of interest to you and you want a book time on my calendar to see if we should write a book for you, or you want to create a CredReel, please you could sign up directly at Mitchelllevy360​.com and get on my calendar. 

Audrey Strong: Sounds great.

Lee Smith: Something interesting came into my head, as we are having this conversation, which is the role of little white lies. Again, the intent is there, is to spare somebody from bad feelings. And so from an emotional standpoint, that's great, but at the same point in time, it doesn't do much for your credibility because you're really lying, even though it's a little white lie. Do things like that harm a leader's credibility, in your mind? 

Mitchell Levy: Lee, I think we're out of 20 minutes, but I'll say yes. I'm going to say yes and. What I do these days is I actually don't tell white lies. I either don't say anything, or if it's appropriate to say something, or somebody asks, if it's somebody that works for me, I'm going to say, "Hey, let's make sure we sit down. I got to tell you something." If it's somebody who either works for me or family, and it may or may not be important when they ask, I just ask them a question, "Do you want me to tell you?" And that's sort of the hint that — so sometimes people say, "Yeah, no. Thanks, Mitchell. And that's really okay. 

Audrey Strong: That would be me. What, what? No. 

Mitchell Levy: And remember, it's only one person's opinion, right? What happens though is, Lee, you and I had a conversation recently, where I said, "Hey, Lee, do you mind if I tell you how I perceive the words that you said?" And you said okay. If you said no, I wouldn't have told you. Credibility means that if somebody says something and it comes across the wrong way, that at the right time you bring it up and that you are as honest and open and transparent with those people you interact with as possible, because then what happens is they get to know you, they see your heart. And if they see your heart — sorry, I talked a little bit longer.

Lee Smith: And seeing your heart does not mean brutal honesty, okay. It actually means caring for the other person's feelings and how they're receiving it and making sure that they're hearing you in a manner in which they can actually do something with it. And if you're brutal in your honesty or whatever, that's not going to work. 

Mitchell Levy: Thank you, by the way, for clarifying that. Answer is yes. They need to see your heart and they need to see what your intent is. For me, it's from the intent of credibility, this is something that you might be doing that's limiting your credibility, right? You have to be careful about that. And thanks, Lee, that's a good clarification.

Audrey Strong: Those are great tips. You guys could have told me a white lie. I don't have any makeup on today. You guys, when we logged on could've said, "Oh, you look great today." 

Mitchell Levy: Honestly, Audrey, I thought you did look great today when I saw you but I — and that's not a white lie.

Audrey Strong: Well, we know Mitchell from the C‑Suite Radio Network and C‑Suite Network, so check that out, everybody. And again, mitchelllevy360​.com is where you want everybody to go. And we encourage everyone to subscribe, rate and review the Manage Smarter Podcast. Please share this episode with a friend, colleague or a family member, and the show lives atmanagesmarter​.com so check that out as well. Mitchell, thank you, been a pleasure, sir. 

Mitchell Levy: Absolutely, my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and recommend on iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcast. You can also get more great information at SalesFuel​.com.

This podcast is a part of the C‑Suite Radio Network. For more to top business podcast, visit c‑