Credibility is earned not bought

By Younas Chaudhary

Are you worthy of someone’s trust? In short, are you credible? You may have a polished look, expensive gadgets, and a flamboyant lifestyle, but if you are not credible in others’ eyes, none of it will matter.

Credibility can only be earned through hard work and honesty. You cannot buy it.

When I was a youngster growing up in rural Pakistan, our villagers had an unspoken code of honor. They were poor, illiterate folks, but when they gave you their word, they really meant it. They seldom used formal documents to keep their word, as they knew that their handshake was all that mattered. Villagers kept their word in daily trades, arranged marriages, animal trades, and agricultural transactions. As times changed, these unwritten customs underwent cultural shifts, but credibility remained a way of life for them.

This unique cultural emphasis on keeping your word became very valuable to me while scouting for oil and gas properties in rural Kansas in the late seventies and eighties. A stranger to local Kansas farmers, I was a totally alien character to them, neither white nor black. But I slowly built their trust, one farmer at a time. Eventually, the farmers believed that I was credible and started leasing their lands to me for oil and gas drilling.

I built my credibility with these farmers by being myself, talking straight, and negotiating honestly over the land leases. I told them how much I would pay for the lease, I provided clear estimated timelines and other details, and if things didn’t work, I immediately reported that fact, along with an explanation. Looking back, I was as doubtful as anyone else in securing my first few deals! But over time, my reputation spread among the farmers through their family members, friends, and other references, and they slowly warmed up to me and became friendly to me. That word-of-mouth communication was invaluable in those days.

In the mid-eighties, when I bought out all of my investors’ interests in several oil and gas properties using their lender’s help, my straight talk again lent credibility with the lender, enabling the bank to take a bet on me. The lender knew that I had a good, though short, track record that he could rely on despite volatile oil prices. Fortunately, that investment paid off handsomely for me, and the bank was pleased with the outcome too, causing the banker himself to start investing his own money with me.

Credibility is built through consistent, long-term relationships that rely on integrity and trust.

In our energy work, we have used the same landman, geologists, and engineers over the past 30-plus years, because they have built credibility and trust working with us. They have a clear idea of our needs and wants, and we do not need to micro-manage them. This has helped us do the work in a cost-effective manner.

Credibility will become second nature to you as you practice it often. Honesty and transparency are key factors in establishing yourself as a credible person to lenders, vendors, co-workers, and others. I always retain third-party consultants who give a divergent and honest point of view based on facts, instead of people who give me “feel good” statements to clinch a deal. Over the years, I have learned to discern the wheat from the chaff.

Credibility is also important when facing tough decisions in life. People will remain by your side if you have built trusting relationships over the years. However, if you do not have a credible standing, very few will come to your side in a time of crisis.

When you are credible, you do not have to hide anything or feel ashamed about any incident that happens in your life.

If you ask me about my life, I can openly and boldly point you to my memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold”. What I would tell you about my life would match what is in the book. Except for a few name changes to protect the identities of a few folks, my book is a credible, honest, thorough, and unflinching account of my story, from my birth to my marriage, my move to the West, my life as an entrepreneur, my struggles, my blessings,  my joys, and other key incidents in my life.

Lastly, one of the hallmarks of being a credible person is being consistent in what you do.

As a person, you must establish credibility by practicing consistency on your own first.

While actively running my businesses, I make it a point to be “always available” for my team, irrespective of where I am. Whether at home, sick, traveling, and/or on a leisure trip, I have always made sure that I am available for them.

To sum up, here are a few tips to build your credibility:

1. Always keep your word. Your word is a commitment to accomplish something without making excuses.

2. Build credible, long-term relationships. Work with trusted co-workers, advisors, lenders, and vendors, and establish strong relationships with them so that they know you are credible whether seeking goods, services, advice, or a loan.

3. Be honest and transparent in everything you do, as it will add to your credibility as a reliable individual.

4. Credibility can help you face tough decisions in life valiantly.

5. If you are credible, your life will become an open book, and you can be frank, open, and straightforward all the time.

6. Credibility will help you readily say “no” when necessary. Credible people have no hesitation in saying no to certain decisions, as credibility adds to clarity of thought.

7. Always be consistent, as that will add to your credibility both at home and at work.

8. Remember that credibility is always earned, not bought.

You can read more by purchasing my best-selling memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.  Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.