500 & my Mother asked what makes me credible


“We don’t always know why we do things, but we can always create a reasonable story to explain it.”


I wrote this in 2011 around my 500th piece on Enlightened Conflict. I pulled it up because, well, almost a dozen years later and my mother still isn’t sure why anyone would listen to me on a range of topics.

That day in 2011 I celebrated my 500th post and, well, remembered number 1. And my mother.

When I told my mother I was going to start writing about things and build a website she hesitated a second and then asked me “so why should people care about what you have to say; or believe what you say?”

Interestingly, I was faced with a similar question in the workplace right around the same time.  It was kind of a “feel you make things up” comment and “why should someone care about your opinion?” Both kind of made me sit back because at that time I had about 30 years experience and a fairly extensive resume of things done.

On two fronts I faced an issue I guess I haven’t faced in years I would guess.  For years based on my experience and curiosity based knowledge gathering personality, I have been able to stand up in front of some of the smartest business people in the world and have my point of view seriously considered.  Without question.  And acted upon or facilitated the discussion that needed to take place.

That said. Both situations are versions of the infamous credibility question.

And I guess in both situations I was a little dumbfounded (but I guess, in the case of my mother, a fair question – even though I am her son … the other still had me scratching my head a little).


Let’s see.

Let’s talk a little about credibility. Mine or anyone’s I would imagine.

I am reasonably smart.

I can add up to ten without an abacus (although using an abacus confuses me).

I know not to put my hand on the hot water pipe (although I did against my parents’ instruction when I was about 6).

I know the difference between there and their (but I do have a nasty habit of dangling prepositions at the end of sentences).

I do know to capitalize the first word in every sentence, but I tend to write everything in lower case (don’t ask me why … I have no answer).

I know that the web is worldwide now (and possibly intergalactic we just haven’t found anyone to confirm usage in another galaxy yet).

I know Perez Hilton and Paris Hilton are not related nor sisters.


How about education? (I wonder if that counts towards the whole credibility thing).

Geez. I have a degree. A couple in fact. But I am still unclear how I got them and admit I was pleasantly surprised they offered them to me graduation day. That said. I have met as many idiots with Harvard degrees as I have brilliant minds (so maybe a college degree isn’t the code). And I have met people with only high school degrees who have PhD level common sense versus people with PhDs and high school common sense.

And experience?  Geez. I have met senior vice presidents who had administrative assistants who were smarter (but not as politically savvy).

So what the heck is the code for credibility?

Christ. I have no frickin clue.

A great resume? Ok. How many people highlight times they may have received a bad review or a time they may have been passed over for a promotion?

So. Maybe not so much.

Great recommendations? Ok. How often do you ask an enemy to write about why they hate you?  (none is the answer in case you didn’t know).

Great grades in school?  Ok. What happens if you didn’t go to school? Or maybe had two bad semesters?

I further struggle as I pose hypothetical situations in my head.

If I were an economist, would I would be more credible if I had a statistics degree?

Would I have a more credible opinion on law if I had a legal degree?


Hate to break the news to people but non economists can have some pretty articulate and smart thoughts on the economy.

Oh. And while someone may not be able to quote Finch versus Mockingbird 1888 tort reform (boy, I bet I just hacked that one up) there are a lot of people who can tangle with a legal trained mind (I would exclude supreme court justices cause I kinda think they are in a league of their own).


Moms are tough enough as it is, but this is a humdinger of a question.

So here is what I do know.

I cannot answer the credibility question for everyone.

But here is how I define it (and hope I am judged the same way).

Ultimately it comes down to the face to face encounter (face to face can be in person or in a piece of their writing), i.e., what someone says face to face or in what I read from them.

I seriously cannot judge without that stimulus.

Sure. I guess I am not surprised if I read something from someone and it is really smart and articulate and they say they graduated from Yale or Stanford.

The trouble is I am equally unsurprised if I find they list Devry as their higher education.

I believe people have opportunities to collect moments of learning (and some don’t collect).

People have opportunities to do different things (and some don’t do).

I guess what I find most credible is a combination of depth of useful learning on a topic (doesn’t have to be a degree, just learning, and useful in that it contributes to progress) and perspective (call it a counterbalance knowledge).

Ok. I guess an asteroid physicist if all they know is the physics of an asteroid they would be credible.

I imagine credible comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. But in the end I imagine i end on one word – depth. It is incredibly easy to skate on the superficial surface of almost anything. Credible people can swim and dive and even save some people from drowning. They have depth.

In the end.

So what do I tell my mom? (and I guess people at work if pushed)

Why should anyone believe what I have to say? Heck. I don’t know.

On day one with my website I didn’t have shit to say (do not have that problem at work).

Today? (maybe about 11 months and 500 posts later – now 13 years and 3,000 posts)


Maybe what I say makes sense.

Maybe I offer up a logical reason to believe.

Maybe in my own little world people have actually listened to what I had to say (so for some warped non linear logic flow I reason that other people will listen).

I have some education (but others have more and less).

I have some experience (but others have more and less).

Maybe all that matters is if I say something that makes sense and I can defend it, well, who cares if I am credible as long as my ideas are credible.

Maybe I have some depth.

Maybe the answer is: “Mom, people should listen to me because my ideas and thoughts are credible.”


I hope that is all that really matters.

Hopefully after everything I have written and published I have achieved some level of credibility.

On the other hand if I don’t, I can also hearken back to post #1 which suggested all that was important was that I write for me and if no one came to my party I wouldn’t be disappointed for I had not waited for people to attend to have fun.

I had a party all by myself.

Written by Bruce