Establishing Credibility–Yay or Nay?

A discussion among many good friends that I respect started out with one friend saying how much he hated presentations where the speaker spends time on the slide introducing themselves. I agree.

There is a reason, and a bit of a story that goes with my view.

About 20 years ago, I attended a sales seminar that was scheduled for four days. I had nothing on the books with a customer, so I signed up and hoped that I would be able to get some good information that I could apply to my work as a consultant.

Day 1 at 9am – In walked this short Iranian with a turban. He looked like he was about 60 or so. He was wearing khakis and a very basic white button-up shirt. No flash. He was the speaker/presenter. He came in, said hello, gave his name, and dived right into the subject. I remember, very clearly, that I was kind of turned off by his appearance, and I remember that I was thinking about ditching the rest of the week. All of these thoughts went through my head about how I was wasting my money. I was starting to plan my exit during lunch.

Day 1 at 9:15am (ok, it might have been 10 minutes in) – While, I was a little shocked with his appearance, he immediately struck me as a true professional. He walked us through his plans for the next four days, and threw out some scenarios that we would cover in each section of the seminar and that he would not just cover them in depth, but he would also explain how different methods would work or not work and why.

Day 1 at lunch – After completing several exercises and discussing several scenarios. I didn’t care if he was an alien from another planet. The guy was good. It was clear that he was the real deal. Actually, it was clear within the first few minutes, that it was going to be worth my time.

Day 4 at 9am – He walked in wearing a beautiful suit and was not wearing his turban. His long flowing grey hair was amazing and contrasted perfectly with his suit. This is what I was expecting when he first came into the room on Day 1. He was rocking it!

Day 4 at 3pm – After four days of incredible content and great information, he started to sum up the week, and at that point, he threw his resume up on the projector. Undergrad at Yale, MBA at Harvard, years of work experience with the biggest of the Fortune 500 companies at the highest levels. He resume was amazing and impeccable.

I asked him why he didn’t share his resume to start on Day 1 to establish his credibility. His response said it all (I am paraphrasing just a bit as I remember it very clearly), “You do not need to establish your credibility if you know your subject and you clearly care about helping those in front of you. Your value is in what you do to help those in front of you, not what you tell others about your past. You demonstrate your value through your words and actions, not through a piece of paper that talks about your past.”

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