“I don’t trust you”

One of my most memorable moments with Salamatu AKA Sals was when we were negotiating a business partnership between our two companies. Immediately we got talking, she said some words that I will never forget and I think is the foundation of our current friendship and partnership. She said: “let me be completely honest with you, I do not trust you"

This was an unusual way to start a negotiation or any conversation, and I was extremely shocked yet impressed by the gut and non-BS straight talking!

In business, trust is key and is often scarce. It is an unwritten rule to never trust anyone blindly or too soon until they’ve earned it and even then, you never let your guard down. It would have been very naive of her to trust me, seeing that we had just met and she had never done business with me. Her straightforwardness was very unusual and it immediately made me pay attention and be very interested in the whole conversation - it was so authentic which is rare nowadays.

People often say business is a “dog eat dog”. You win or you lose. You do one or you get done over. While in some cases that is the case, in many other cases, it isn’t.

For me, I believe the foundation of a good and prosperous partnership comes only when both parties have a win-win mentality and mindset going into anything; that's a deal-breaker and I will not have it any other way!

Despite making it very clear that it was nothing personal, I wanted to know more about her experiences and her story. What triggered her to not trust me in the first instance. Is it something she heard about me? Did I look like someone that had done her over before? I just knew there was more to it and it went much deeper. I needed to find out!!

To cut the long story short, on the same day, we ended up spending almost 3 and a half hours not only discussing business but going off on so many tangents and It turned out to be a really enjoyable conversation which I have many takeaways from.

The power of storytelling is so underrated. We all have so much power within us from our experiences. My whole perspective about her changed within just a few hours and vice versa. We found out we have many things in common and went through similar struggles. We saw how our stories are similar to an extent and how relatable it all was. And we realized we had similar dreams and vision for the future.

With all the scary narratives currently going on in our deeply divided country, how I wish we will just look at our similarities instead and celebrate our differences. Listen to understand and with an open mind. Have empathy and love towards one another. United, we’ll always be stronger!

The way forward is MORE DIALOGUE. We need to be sitting down and seeing eye to eye. Hearing each other's stories and getting inspired. In the end, we realize we have more in common than different.

Thank you Salamatu for having me on your podcast. I truly enjoyed our conversation and hopefully, it was the beginning of many more to come.

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