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How the Language of Trust Translates to Brand Success: LinkedIn Live with Ingrid Christensen of INGCO International

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  • Why speaking to the heart is so important (5:51)
  • How to start building trust in your organization (11:40)
  • The role of vulnerability in authentic communication (16:37)
  • How EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) can transform your business (28:03)
  • Letting core values guide HR decisions (32:56)

Video Transcript

Justin: Hello everyone! Thank you for joining us today. My name is Justin and I am the brand advisor and founder of Mercury Creative Group where we grow brands and we build community. Over the last 25 years, I’ve had the honor and pleasure to work with so many leaders and their teams as both their brand advisor and strategic growth partner, which is why I’m excited to bring one of my latest guests, Ingrid with us today, to highlight what she’s been working on, what her team’s been working on through transformations of the organizations that they also work with. And a fun fact, Ingrid has a new book out. So we’re going to talk a little bit about The Language of Trust as well. So I like to bring communities together because there’s a lot of power for us to grow together, and that’s why I do these episodes.

Ingrid and I met at the young professionals at the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce about 17 years ago, as we are still young professionals, right? Over the years we’ve brought our networks together to build a really powerful community as we’ve brought that network in to help organizations that we serve, and also have a lot of fun doing it and growing our businesses.

So we’re going to share today a lot of information about trust that Ingrid has written in her book. And some of the topics we want to talk about is how investing in the currency of trust pays big dividends in your personal and professional life. We’re also going to discuss the importance of good communication and how to ensure that each individual has a seat at the table by using authentic interpretation. We’re going to dive deeply into trust and why it’s important to trust yourself before you can trust the rest of your team.

Trust impacts everything, especially your bottom line as a business leader, organization leader, et cetera. So we love to hear your thoughts. Let’s bring our communities together. I would like you to meet one of my best friends, Ingrid Christensen, founder of INGO International, and the current author of The Language of Trust. Welcome, Ingrid. Tell us a little bit about you and your organization.

Ingrid: It is an honor and a privilege to be here, and I can guarantee that this will be super fun for all the attendees because fun is one of my core values and I know it’s one of your core values as well. So a real quick recap on how the heck I got here. So I had the fortuitous idea to start INGCO International 17 years ago. A few weeks after I graduated from college, I accepted my first job as a Spanish interpreter, I walked into the children’s hospital in Minneapolis and I saw this beautiful baby girl in the arms of her mom and dad. They were worried, they had no idea what was going on. She was crying, inconsolably, and couldn’t figure it out. I, on the inside, was nervous as heck. My knees were shaking. I had sweat rolling down my neck.

I had no idea what I was really getting into in this new profession, but the minute that I started interpreting for this family and their medical provider, I could instantly see their faces melt with release with relief. And I had this overwhelming sense of what we just created here. This bridge of communication created trust, and this concept, this theme of trust has really been relevant and elevated over the last 25 years in this crazy industry of language services. And so it was really kind of throughout that very first interpreting assignment and over the trajectory of my career that I realized how important trust was. So we’ll get into a little bit more of that, but yeah, I did dive into this whole research project on trust, what trust is, what it means, what it doesn’t mean, how do you keep it, how do you get it back once it’s gone; all the things.

Justin: I’m curious, have you stayed in touch with that family or any families that you worked with early on in your career?

Ingrid: No, I have not. And there’s a very specific reason for that. So interpreters are not supposed to have any sort of an emotional bond or relationship with the people that they’re interpreting with. So really you’re there to be a bridge of communication and to facilitate equitable access to communication, not to be friends, not to maintain relationships. So it can be a little bit daunting in the career path,

Justin: That’d be a little hard for me. I’m going to jump right into the book and I’m going to share some excerpts from the book to lead into some conversations because I really do want to spend the time on all that you know about trust. And honestly, we all know this, but what you’ve brought out is so important and simple. So in the language of trust, I’m going to begin. Trust is the center of being human. To be successful in any business, you must be able to establish a trusting relationship with your stakeholders. By building trust, we can create partnerships that last employees that stay. And for those of us in language services, translations that speak to the heart of the reader, I’m going to go on, interpreters are the gateway to trust between speakers of different languages. Ingrid just shared a couple of stories and you quoted Nelson Mandela, Ingrid, and this is powerful. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart”, I want you to tell us why speaking to the heart is so important.

Ingrid: I think that trust is paramount to what it means to be human. I think communication is also what uniquely defines us as human beings and our ability to evolve and to communicate with one another is really what drives trust. So I don’t think you can have one without the other. I do think that they’re intrinsically connected and intrinsically combined in a way that sets us up for a very unique opportunity to create trusting bonds with one another, with the people that we interact with every single day. I can’t think of a single more important trait, quality, noun, verb, because in the book I get into what the heck is trust, all of those things. But I can’t think of a single more important article than trust. It is what unites us. And to be honest, it is what divides us, right? If we’re having contentious relationships, it’s usually because there is a breakdown of trust, and we do talk about that a little bit in the book as well, but that’s really what makes or breaks us, right? It is the thing that gets us going and it is the thing that we need the most.

Justin: Well said. You shared a while back that a true gift of the interpreter allows the individuals to speak authentically bilaterally. Talk a little bit more about that because that’s very important.

Ingrid: It is really important, and the role of the interpreter, the role of the translator is a very unique role. As you just mentioned, there was a tiny little comment you made about how that would be difficult for you to take on that role. So the linguist in our field of translation and interpreting is there to only facilitate communication between people and organizations that do not speak the same language. It’s an incredible gift. It’s an incredible honor. It’s a huge responsibility, but it is in no way a means to a friendship, a means to establishing a relationship. Now that’s really, really hard almost I would say impossible. Not impossible, but super challenging, right? Because as human beings, our nature is to forge relationships and it is to get to know people. But the linguist, the translator, or the interpreter doesn’t have that opportunity. It’s well outside of the realm of their professional scope. So while it’s very important to pick up the nuances, to pick up the emotion, to pick up those little unspoken words, we are truly there to be that bridge of communication. It is a hard professional role to fill one that we do not take lightly, and one that our interpreters and translators, they deserve a heck of a lot of respect and admiration for the work that they do. It’s hard work, really, really hard work. To be the voice of someone else and not get to have speak your own voice is really challenging.

Justin: Can you talk a little bit more about that? Is there training to speak authentically as both the individual there to interpret for, but also listening from the other side? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Ingrid: There’s a lot of training, there’s a lot of requirements that go into being an interpreter or translator. It is well beyond simply being bilingual. A bilingual individual is by no means prepared to interpret or translate. The kind of training that our interpreters and translators go through includes ethics training. It’s skills training is language training. It’s knowing how to interact in different settings. We put interpreters into pediatric mental health settings that require very specific training on how to work in that environment, which is very different than, for example, our interpreters that walk into a jail or interpreters that walk into a corporate boardroom. Every single setting that they walk into and every single different kind of job that they take on requires very specific skills and training to that industry. But before you can even get there, you have to understand and know what your role is in that interpreter or translator position because it’s not to be the friend, it’s not to build a relationship. You’re there to establish trust, but you’re there to establish trust via your professional skills as a translator or an interpreter.

Justin: So this seems like a whole other language, Trust is a whole other language on its own.

Ingrid: Trust is a whole other language on its own. Trust is very powerful and something that I think deserves a lot of respect and a lot of thought, right? Because trust doesn’t just happen. Just like most things in life don’t just happen.

Justin: You talk in the book that trust is a key driver for successful organizations. My future book, I’m putting it out there, is invest in your people, invest in your brand and your business organizations going to be extremely successful. I want you to talk a little bit about whether are there ways to create trust in an organization or to build communities of trust within small or large organizations. And where could somebody start?

Ingrid: Yes, there are lots of ways to build trust. I think you start by recognizing how important trust is. Once you recognize how vital it is to trust, then I think you need to start diving into how am I going to make this work? And listen, the only way that trust development works is through good old-fashioned time and communication. You have to carve out time to communicate early and often, early and often. Communication is the number one driver of trust creation. But if you don’t build out a pathway for that to happen, it’s never going to happen. And so I think as a leader, I’m pulled in a gazillion different directions every single moment. But if I don’t have a team to lead, well then I’m no longer a leader, right? As an organization, we need our teams, we need our employees, we need our clients, we need our vendors, we need our end users.

So it is my number one responsibility to develop pathways for trust to flourish in my organization, both internally and externally. I do see that as my leadership role. That’s my number one job. And as a leader, when we’re pulled in so many different directions, I know that the very last thing you want to do is sit down and think about how in the heck am I going to get trust to flourish in my organization? But if you don’t have it, research shows people leave, they quit. They’re disengaged. Worse than quitting is being disengaged. And we know that trust is the number one driver to employee engagement, client engagement, and end user engagement. So you have to pay attention to it. You have to really create that capsule for which trust can flourish and really keep driving that home. In your organization,

Justin: You had mentioned you have pathways with INGCO. Is there a pathway that you’ve found over the years that is successful

Ingrid: Besides time, which I’ve kind of spent a lot of time on,

Justin: But that’s also being spending time with that individual, right, and listening and hearing.

Ingrid: It’s spending time with the individual. It’s giving people the gift of time, giving them the gift of time to be able to think on their own, to spend time, to take clarity breaks, to figure out what it is they want, to give them time to be creative in their roles, to think bigger and outside the box and think, how can we maximize this opportunity? How can we be growth-minded versus like-minded? How can we expand our energy beyond the four walls that we’re within to allow those pathways of trust to flourish? So here’s a little thing about trust. You cannot trust any other person until you trust yourself. The hardest part of the whole trust thing is trusting yourself. We walk around telling ourselves nonsense stories all day long. None of those nonsense stories are true and none of them do you any good, and they only cause trust to dissolve. So the number one thing that we can do as much as we talk about developing trust and facilitating trust within our organizations is facilitating trust with yourself. Because if you don’t have that, you got nothing else.

Justin: I completely agree. I think there’s a huge, huge opportunity in our world right now and working with lots of the leaders that I work with and that lack of trust in themselves. And when you said leaders are spending their day walking around and it’s the voices in their heads that are saying something against them, right? Pushing down their confidence or whatever. It’s like getting rid of those voices. So you trust yourself and you trust yourself in those decisions and whatever you’re trying to move forward, right?

Ingrid: A huge piece of trust is confidence, right? Our teams, our clients, they want to see us leading with confidence, creativity, and confidence. And leaders are not, we’re not immune to negative self-talk. We’re not immune to feeling less than. We’re not immune to lack of confidence. This happens to every single person. It’s the art of being human, but the more that we can shine light on those insecurities, shine light on that shame and put words around it, I think the more that we can exude confidence so that we can develop those trusting relationships.

Justin: Would you also say just being open and transparent with people across the table, how you’re feeling, even if you’re uncomfortable or not feeling confident in something that will be a deeper emotional connection to the other people to listen and understand and help?

Ingrid:  Yes. Vulnerability is the name of the game. Vulnerability is what it means to be human. And I think that we’ve evolved, we’ve come so far in our human evolution that now is really the time to lean into vulnerability in a way that is open and honest with ourselves and with the people that we’re leading. And that leads to authentic communication. Authentic communication leads to trust-based communication, which allows, again, those trusting pathways to form.

Justin: Can you differentiate between trust and trustworthiness?

Ingrid: They’re kind of baked in the same foundation. Obviously, they both have the word trust in them. I like to think of it as trust is a verb. I trust you, you trust me, we can trust. We are trusting. I trust it, I will trust, et cetera. Of course, there are lots of different variations to that word. And if you read the book, you’ll find a whole chapter about what trust is. Trustworthiness is not necessarily action-oriented. It’s you are trustworthy or you are not trustworthy, or I am a trustworthy person, or I’m not a trustworthy person. Now I will expand on that a little bit more in that it’s not like a one-and-done thing. It’s not like you wake up and you’re trustworthy or you wake up and the person across the street is trustworthy. Trust exists on a continuum. It is not either on or off.

It can be high or low depending on the relationship variables and the variables in the environment in which we live. But we have to understand that to continue to drop positive influences on those trusting pathways is the way to gain increased trustworthiness. So they are a little bit different. It’s a little bit wordy, it’s a little bit geeky, but I like to think of trust as more of the verb and trustworthiness as more as the activities and the actions that you get in order to achieve that level of trust. I dunno if that made sense.

Justin: Thank you. Yes. Well, you had different versions of trust, both verb noun in your book. Do you want to expand a little bit on how you’re using trust in those two different ways?

Ingrid: The point of that chapter is to get the readers and myself to understand all the different facets of trust and really understand how we are using trust in our day-to-day vocabulary and in our day-to-day relationships and our day-to-day communication. And understanding that trust is a much bigger piece of what I coined in the book as this umbrella term and under this umbrella term of trust, you have so many things like clarity and confidence and communication, and there’s a ton of C words. They just happen to be C words. I just picked them for the sake of the book, but they all fall under this umbrella, and they’re all kind of like the spokes of the umbrella that when one is not there, the umbrella doesn’t necessarily work on the rain starts dripping on your face. So it’s understanding that trust is and a lot of things, right? It is this and it’s a combination. It’s the web with which we are able to form these high-quality relationships, not only with other people, but with ourselves.

Justin: Thank you. I’m going to go back to another thing in the book that I loved, and it’s probably because I’m a business owner, business leader, but you talked about employees are your fiercest asset that creating and investing in employee confidence within your organizations are primary drivers to enhancing employee performance. And again, I said this earlier, everyone, it affects your financial bottom line. Share with our listeners why employees are your fiercest asset.

Ingrid: Well, you don’t have employees and you don’t get the work done. So the base of it, we need people to do work. And thankfully I have an incredible team that is super supportive and does amazing, amazing work. So much better work than I could ever do. And collectively, the work that they produce is outstanding. So when I think about my greatest joy in being a business owner, it truly is the fact that I get this incredible gift and it is a gift of having employees. It is so cool to have employees that come to work that trust me every day that I’m going to create a profession, a vocation with which they are going to raise families, buy houses, go on vacations, live out their wildest dreams. And that’s what I mean by employees being our biggest asset. We have to recognize that people have a choice and they come to work for the leader, they come to work for the organization, and they come to work for the particular purpose that our organization is serving.

I know that every single person that comes to work on the INGCO team does it because they fiercely believe in access to equitable communication. They believe in language access, they believe in language rights, and they believe in the art and magic that is translation. Now, I respect them immensely to I respect them enough and I respect them immensely enough to go out and do the work the best way that they see fit, right? We believe in autonomy in our organization, and we believe in allowing individuals to bring their best self to work. And recognizing and respecting your employees, I think is the number one key to building strong organizations. Now, do I have it a hundred percent correct? Probably not. I’m sure that there’s ways that I could improve, and that is one of my personal missions is to become a better version of myself every day because I’m a work in progress just like every single one of us. But I do have an immense amount of respect for each and every one of my employees and recognizing that they are a huge asset.

Justin: So I have to agree and add to that, having a small team as well, we couldn’t grow without our awesome employees. And honestly, I can’t do the work as well as they do. They do it better. They can help grow. They find new opportunities, find new ways to do things more efficiently, more effectively, and that’s why we’re in it. So I am high fiving you on that. You talked about time. You talked about time is one of the best ways to get to deep embedded trust. You just talked a lot about respect, and I think respect is also lost in a little bit in our world, but how important that is, is there actions leaders can take to build trust or add to respecting them? It’s kind of an open question to, besides time, is there different things to do?

Ingrid: It’s a fine line, and I think I liken it to this is that I respect somebody enough to give them the space to grow and to flourish, spend the time so that they have the time to do their biggest and best work. There’s a concept that I talk about in the book called The Magic Quadrant, and it’s really about getting to the biggest and best use of your time. And I think that that’s one of the best gifts that any employer can give to their team is leveraging individual strengths to put somebody in a position to thrive and to succeed, we need to be pushed. We need to be encouraged to move the needle and to continue to improve and grow and learn. But I also think that by recognizing and respecting each of our given skills and talents, that is a huge step towards developing trusting relationships with those that we lead.

And even more so I talked about it before, but when you get into that biggest and best use of your time, then you really learn to trust yourself. If you’re pushing up against a wall, doing the things that you are not good at that you don’t like to do, what does it do? What makes you feel like crap? You feel terrible because you’re not good at the work. You don’t like it and you’re not motivated to do it. That is not confidence building, that is not trust building. So really trying to hone out those activities that you’re good at and that you love to do, that’s when you find that sweet spot and that’s when that trust really just begins to really begins to flow bilaterally, which is a pretty cool thing to watch.

Justin: Well, what you also just talked about was giving your employee respect by hearing where they’re at, helping them where they’re at to grow and develop. And that’s where the trust gets built and really, really latches on. We’re a strategic brand and design firm, so we help organizations create a clear and consistent brand message and identity. The clarity and alignment is critical to organizations’ growth. They can speak consistently, they know where they’re moving, they know what they can say no to, but it starts with that unique value proposition, finding that one thing you do better than any other organization. And you talked about that being one of your most difficult or challenging activities. I will also add, Ingrid and I are big e o s nerds. It has helped us grow our organizations by giving us a business framework as small business owners starting on our own. So I know when you jumped into this process, talk to why it was so difficult and one of your most challenging activities.

Ingrid: Well, there’s a lot. In order to answer that succinctly, I’m going to tell a really quick story about how EOS transformed my business. I’m going to say eight to 10 ish years ago, I had for the most part hit my rock bottom with this business. I didn’t like it. We weren’t profitable. I could not get into the groove. The flywheel was definitely not spinning and it sucked. And I had just finished having coffee with an employee who gave his notice, and I was in my car, ugly crying as is the solution to most problems, and called my mom on the phone and I said, I am quitting. I don’t like this. I hate my job. And of course, as most moms do, she talked me off the ledge and said, you’ve worked really too damn hard for this. You can’t quit yet. And I was mad. I just wanted permission to quit.

And what I heard was, you haven’t done your best work yet and you need to keep going. And that same afternoon, my current e o s implementer reached out to me just kind of checking in on the business, how’s it going? And of course, I was in a real rough mental state, pretty fragile and broke down again and explained what was going on. And I decided that I was going to double down on the business, invest more in the business, put more money into it, and invest in this crazy thing called the s. And within that first year, that first 12 months, we doubled our revenue and we have continued to grow revenue steadily and profitability steadily since then. And I credit it all to giving me a way to get the madness out of my head, right? The constant swirl it into a methodology that was able to take my ideas as a visionary and make them work.

And recognizing how me as a visionary is a very different role than a lot of people play even very uncomfortable for a lot of people. And just really recognizing that the unique gifts that I have are not the same gifts that everyone else has and vice versa, right? Everyone else brings to the table a plethora of gifts that I don’t have, and I really credit the system of, it was like a methodology to get rid of the madness, if you will. And so for me, that’s been a pathway to move this business forward in a profitable trajectory and super helpful to me as an entrepreneur.

Justin: I would add that you trusted the framework and you trusted your integrator and you have to trust hugely knowing I went through the same process to get the results in the end.

Ingrid: As soon as I started releasing my need to put my touch on the EOS system, it really started to work. And so I’ve just learned to let it go and let the system flow, let it go and let it flow.

Justin: Yes. Everyone listening, I’m going to go a little bit longer. I want to get to core values because that’s an important thing as well. But what is INGCO’s? One thing, what makes you unique and different?

Ingrid: What makes us unique and different are the incredible wordologists that come to work every single day to create communication masterpieces that are a beautiful mix of science with magic and this sort of uncanny ability to take something from one language to another and then sprinkle a little bit of magic on it and make the translation and interpretation sound as if they were originally produced in that language is really what we’re best at.

Justin: Speaking to the heart. Core values define and unify a company. They allow a group of strangers to interact as one by creating a community with a united front. I’m quoting Ingrid again, everyone out of the book doing this is moving your team in a single direction. Ingrid, share how the core values in your organization are so important, especially to the hiring process.

Ingrid: So we hire and fire based on core values and sometimes they are tricky to see, but it’s been very true in my 17 years that bringing an individual to the organization that does not share the same core values is really just a thorn in your side. It’s uncomfortable for every single person, most uncomfortable for that individual. One core value that I’ve been pushed on that I refuse to give up is a very simple core value and it will always be one of my core values both personally and professionally. And it’s fun. We spend a heck of a lot of time at work in our lives busting the grind, right, making it happen. And if we can’t add a little bit of fun into the mix, I wonder what the purpose is. After all, we have one life to live. And I do really feel that life is better when we see the glass half full, when we can see some of that optimism. And I think fun gives us the ability and the freedom to take life on with a smile.

Justin: It’s probably why you and I are such good friends because one of our core values is play. So the play and the fun, and also Ingrid’s an amazing singer and tambourine player, everyone. Ingrid, what is one piece of advice you were given that you implemented or actually ignored

Ingrid: One piece of advice that I was given was early on, and I don’t know if this is advice necessarily as just life formation, but my English teacher, Mr. Ulner back in high school, asked us to really think about what success means and how we define success. And I remember sitting and thinking as a teenager with not my frontal lobe, not fully formed yet, but just trying to figure out how do I want to shape the rest of my life and what is success going to mean to me? And one of the resounding themes that has played a really important part in my role is the idea that success is freedom and freedom is choice. And for me, choice and the ability to make my own decisions and have choices equals success. And so I think what I recommend to everybody is to think about in the grand scheme of things, at the end of the day, what do you want your life to look like? I decided early on that I wanted a little bit of freedom. I wanted choice. I wanted the ability to make choices based on my core values and based on what I thought was most important for myself and for my family. And that freedom has served me really well and has been a driving force in becoming a better person every single day and a driving force in pushing the company toward continued financial success.

Justin: So that is definitely why you own and run your own business and have written that book. I don’t know if that teacher is still alive, if is you see him, I think it would be great for you to share that story with him and to everyone listening to this right now, that question about what is success is super important in everything that you’re doing, your life, your family, your friends, your strategic goals for your business, just asking that question, what does success look like in 24 months? In the end of this month, you’ll get some clarity, which is very important. Just for some fun quick questions, I want to close with Ingrid, the last show you’ve binge watched or maybe are binge watching right now.

Ingrid: We were just talking about this. Painkillers on Netflix, y’all. It’s hard, it’s painful. It talks about the opioid crisis and Oxycontin. I don’t know if it’s a hundred percent realistic, but it gets to the heart.

Justin: Perfect. What is the exercise routine that you do and how often do you do it?

Ingrid: Well, I’m still hooked on my Peloton, but as I’m aging, I’m sure well, we’re all aging. None of us are getting younger. Really focused on lifting heavy weights, pumping up that metabolism, working on maintaining muscle to protect my bones, my frail bones as I get older. No broken hips, fun stuff like that. Justin?

Justin: Yes, and fun fact- working out regularly keeps you younger and looking younger, so makes me feel younger. I highly recommend it. What do you crave at the end of the day?

Ingrid: I crave just sitting down and reading a good book. That’s how I like to close out the day.

Justin: Excellent. Ingrid, thank you. Thank you listeners for being here to learn from us and share in this conversation. Ingrid, where could people connect with you?

Ingrid: You can find me on all the social things like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I am Ingrid Christensen on all the things.

Justin: And where can we find your book The Language of Trust?

Ingrid: You can find my book anywhere the books are sold, including Amazon. You can just type in “the language of trust” or you can come on over for lunch or something- I’ve got a stack of them here. The Language of Trust: Communicate to Build Meaningful Relationships in Business and Life is available anywhere the books are sold.

Justin: So you just invited people to have lunch with you. Would you share the book, read a chapter, or have a conversation?

Ingrid: Yes, absolutely. I would love to read a chapter now. I promise that if we go to lunch, I’m not going to read a chapter to you because I can’t think of anything less fun, but we could maybe have a conversation and talk. You can read the book on your own time. And to be quite honest, this is not self-deprecating, but y’all, I’m a first-time author. It’s a big task to write a book and it’s a lot of words. I don’t pretend to be a writing genius, but it was a very fun process.

Justin: It’s a great book. It’s a really easy read. I really strongly encourage business leaders to get in. It’s very important. Get the book, everybody. I highly recommend it.

I want to leave everybody with another excerpt from Ingrid, everyone. So here it is “Behind your words authenticity matters. If we as employees, consumers, and stakeholders do not believe the communication directed at us, we intrinsically will not trust the message or the messenger. As leaders, that’s all of us. We must be accountable for ensuring both we and our organizations walk the walk.” With that, everybody, thank you, Ingrid. Thank you.

Ingrid: Thank you!

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