Brogan and Smith’s Ballsy Move

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trustagentsLots of authors make claims. But, this is different...

On Monday, online giver bar none, Chris Brogan, and his writing partner, Julien Smith, released their new book, Trust Agents.

It’s a good book. Strike that. It’s a really good book.

Because it explains the deeper shift in the process of gaining trust, establishing credibility, then leveraging that into some desired call to action. It reveals how profoundly this process has changed in our hyperconnected, instantaneous, 2.0 world.

And it delivers tons of practical, immediately actionable things to do to begin the hard work necessary to be anointed a Trust Agent—someone who’s given so much consistent value over time, they are worthy of your attention, your action, your trust and , potentially…your money.

But, that’s not the coolest thing about Trust Agents…

What’s so cool is watching how Chris and Julien have positioned the launch of this book as a big, honking, massively public test of the ideas they offer up. Both have been heavily invested in building and giving mercilessly to their various online communities. Not for days or even months. But for years. They’ve built giant followings by being immensely one-sided, giving way more than they get. They’ve primed the reciprocity, credibility and value pump like nobody else. In precisely the way they lay out in the book.

And, if the guidance they offer up in the book has truth, nobody could be better positioned to be Trust Agents than they. Nobody could be more empowered to now turn to their deep constituencies and, maybe for the first time, say, “we’ve given so much for so long. Now, we ask a simple favor…buy the book.”

If Trust Agents are real, if they wield the power heralded in the book, this request should be a no-brainer. Massive numbers of people should be tripping over themselves to order.

The book’s success becomes a very public proof of concept.

Question is…did this happen?

Here’s their day 3 ranking on amazon…

Picture 1

And, that’s an evening rank, down from the 30s and 40s the two days before.

Chris and Julien stood naked in the rain with this book.

They put themselves out there and said, “if we’re not snowing you, this book will kick ass. And, those who trust us will line up to buy it.”

That’s cool. Very cool. Classic renegade move.

The only thing cooler is that the world, it seems, it stepping up and saying…count us in. We trust you.

So, should you buy the book? Hello! Of course, you should. It’s worth many times the price. But, more importantly, learn from Chris and Julien.

They just might have the keys to the Trust 2.0 castle…

Curious…what do YOU think of the notion of Trust Agents as the drivers of a new Trust Economy?

Let’s discuss…

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23 responses

23 responses to “Brogan and Smith’s Ballsy Move”

  1. Bob Bessette says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    Based on the reviews of this book by you and others (including Seth Godin) on Amazon this book looks like a “must buy” on my list. The concept of “giving way more than they get” is very refreshing these days. I can see that you have a lot in common with Brogan and Smith in that respect. I look forward to the read. Thanks for recommending it.


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yup, there’s a lot of social proof weighing in on the value of Chris and Julien’s book, including Seth. And, no doubt, Seth is pretty choosy about who he endorses (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

  2. Ed Gaile says:

    What you described above Jonathan is exactly the reason I bought the book. Chris already had my trust with the great information he provides on his blog and via twitter. To be honest I don’t know a lot about Julien, but am making an effort to visit his blog and learn more. I just started reading the book and it is fantastic so far. It will most definitely take a place next to your book on the “with in reach references” on the bookshelf.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Haha, Brogan and Fields side by side on your shelf…I’m honored, my friend!

  3. Dan Holloway says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’m a huge fan of this kind of approach, and I’ll probably buy the book, but this raises one of those tantalising questions that seems like only a cute problem of logic until you think harder, and realise there’s something to it. The point of building up a following based on altruism is that the moment you ask for anything in return, you undermine the trust you built up. In order to maintain the trust, you can’t call it in.

    So you have to be up front and say from day one – I will want you to buy the book if this works. It’s a varation on the freemium theme. What you must never ever do is call in one favour. Then another. Then another. Or that trust will really take a nosedive.

    I wholeheartedly approve of giving more than you get – but we need to remember most self-helpers would claim they do that. The fact these guys give first and get later is great, but it’s not a fundamental breaking of the mould. That comes when you give and never ask back.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Great insights as always, Dan. But, here I disagree. Yes, most of us give because that’s just how we’re drawn and a big chunk of our get comes from seeing how it manifests in improving the conditions of those who enjoy it. But, at the same time, we live in a real place with real bills to pay every month. You’ve gotta balance that.

      I’m not leaving Manhattan right now. So, in some way, shape or form, what I put out into the world has got to come back to me in something more than the form of gratitude and impact. At some point in the chain, I need cash. And, I don’t believe that expectation in any diminishes the value or impact of what I give.

      Translation, it’s okay to occasionally ask for something in return. In my eyes, at least, there is no diminshment in how I perceive the giver. But, that’s something each individual needs to grapple with.

      • Dan Holloway says:

        Absolutely we all have bills to pay – I just think it’s important to be up front so as not to diminish people’s perception of our giving when it comes to the ask. And likewise not to keep going back to the well without keeping on giving. We build up a huge amount of trust but it’s easier than we think to lose it

  4. Jonathan I’ve been telling myself to buy the book every day for THREE days! I love watching Chris walk his talk on Twitter as he talks about the book – and talks to those who are talking ABOUT his book. And thanks to you, I’m going to start getting to know Julien, too. So, instead of writing a longer comment, I think I’ll truck myself over to Amazon and place my overnight order. 🙂

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Cool, yeah, that’s the one thing you’ll hear pretty much everyone say about Chris, he walks the walk

  5. This is actually something I’ve been developing for the last year or so myself. If they’ve got something I’m missing, then I’m more than open to new ideas.

    The thing is, what if you’re already giving a lot to a community that the online community doesn’t see? For example, I cut my rates for people suffering from the economy, work overtime with them in sessions when I don’t have to; I give my all for my clients. But without the “online proof (that used to be an oxymoron)” how can you even begin to show people that you are who you say you are?

    I’ll consider buying the book if I know it can answer that question.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Jim, Only you can answer that question. My advice, go take it out from the library and give it read. If the ideas resonate so powerfully you feel you’ve gotten your $15 worth, then go grab a copy on amazon as a way to say thanks for the value. Sound fair?

      • Jim Valeri says:


        Sounds totally fair. In fact, I was ready to buy it based on your glowing review. I guess I wanted to make sure I was buying what I needed, and not just impulse buying (Naomi Dunford talked about that this week).

        Thanks for the response though. I just found your blog a few weeks ago(I know, where have I been, under a rock?) and I’m totally digging it.

        • Dan Holloway says:

          Hi Jim, there’s an inherent problem here. One of my mottos is “make your acts of contrition in public, and your acts of kindness in private”. The point is, if they really are acts of kindness, then the aim is to help someone. If you succeed in that, it doesn’t matter if even THEY don’t know it was you who did it. The moment you start declaring in public, the question of (to borrow Aristotle) “mixed motives” arises, and undermines the acts.

          my personal experience is that if you do this kind of thing, word gets around. The people who matter know, without you telling them. And if you DO tell them, and they already know, it won’t help your cause. It’s part of the basic internet marketing principle, I guess, of never telling people what to buy, but always making them feel as though they’ve happened across a new discovery. I wish you very well.

          • Jim Valeri says:


            Thank you so much for your input. I hear what you’re saying about people seeing you as a hidden gem rather than a glowing beacon of kindness (you mean I can’t just tell everyone that I’m the nicest counselor ever?).

            So in giving as much as you can, you do your best to be who you are and who you want to be.I try to do this twice a week with my blog. It probably needs work, and I’m certainly open to suggestions.
            I really appreciate the suggestions. I wish you all the best as well.

        • Dan Holloway says:

          heading over to your blog, Jim.

  6. […] Brogan and Smith’s Ballsy Move | Jonathan Fields – view page – cached Lot's of authors make claims. But, this is different… On Monday, online giver bar none, Chris Brogan, and his writing partner, Julien Smith, released their — From the page […]

  7. Still waiting on my copy. The amazing part is that 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have bought a book about the internet. I’ve only recently started taking the WWW seriously. Well, I really mean seriously enough to get involved, register a domain name and things like that. I know little of Chris Brogan and nothing of Julien Smith. What I DO know is that other people in the internet community I trust wholeheartedly are “pimping” this book. If they inspire that kind of loyalty and trust in those I admire, I have no doubt the book will be useful to me too. Thanks Jonathon, for being one of those people I admire.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Interesting thing is, we’re not, um, “pimping” it for a cut of anything substantial the way info-products work (beyond ridiculously small amazon affiliate commission). It’s because (a) I know Chris and his integrity is huge, and (b) I seriously got a lot of value from the book.

  8. Jay White says:

    Thanks for the strong write up and reminder; I bought it after reading this.


  9. Steve Thomas says:

    Chris Brogan is the real deal. My partner and I run a small npo consulting company and love what Chris has to say in Trust Agents. Here’s what’s cool. We took the chance and contacted Brogan for a blog interview. He responded and did an interview with us this week. Remember, he’s in the middle of doing his book promo but still takes time to do an interview for a small blog like us. Just have to say, Brogan actually practiced this Trust-Agent-thing in the middle of a crazy busy time. Impressive.

  10. Mark Silver says:

    Hey Jonathan- it’s really true. I saw the tweet asking me to buy the book as a favor to them, and I did so immediately. It was really interesting to watch that process happen in myself, and feel great about it.

    And, I received the book two days ago and have managed to get through a couple of chapters- not the book’s fault, blame my twin 9 month old sons. 🙂 But, the chances that I have gotten to read it, definitely score big for me.

    It’s always refreshing when someone actually uses their own principles to do their thing, and to see it work. It’s making me think more deeply about where I put my time and how I prioritize the online-building. I’ve been slow to really pile onto the blogging, mainly because I’ve been concerned about not being able to keep up with the generosity I like to express.

    And, I think I’m getting it more. There’s some kind of internal “click” that’s happening, and I’m grateful for the stories in the book to help it sink in more deeply.

  11. I can still remember earlier this year when i needed some group of people to work with on the creation of a self help social network and decided to tweet about this on twitter …within about 10 minutes of my tweeting about this Chris Brogan retweeted about it and what followed was something totally unbelieveable, till date i still refer to that incidence as the “Brogan Effect” as a popular blogger coined it.

    Chris truly, gives far more than he receives. He is a true helper of destiny in everyword of it! I stay in Africa, precisely Nigeria. I hope the book gets sold down there, im dying to read it!

    Jonathan, and yours too!!! LOL
    You guys are the architect of the next age – the age where “HELP” will be the legal tender (currency) for success in any given endeavour. I AM A HUGE FAN of you all.

    Tito Philips, Jnr.