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SPICE4LIFE recently had the opportunity to connect with Vanessa Hall, the dedicated and inspirational founder of the Entente Foundation, the International Movement of Trust.
Entente’s mission is to restore trust in businesses, communities, organisations, and households across the world. Hall started the organisation in Australia 16 years ago, and it’s since become a global movement.
Hall is currently touring the African continent on a Tour of Trust, and will be in Cape Town from the 28th of April to the 6th of May to lead Ambassadors for Trust training and hold an Entente Conference.
We interviewed Hall on her foundation’s origins, history, and future plans.
What is your company’s vision, mission and – of course- those values that connect and inspire?
Entente is the International Movement of Trust. It is dedicated to both the building of trust and the restoration of trust where it has broken down, across Organisations, Families and Communities.
Entente’s Vision: That Trust is restored globally as the foundation of every relationship in organisations, families and communities.
What service do you offer?
Entente is all about three things: Enlighten, Enable and Enrich. We ENLIGHTEN people about the truth about trust, through workshops, training, podcasts, blogs, videos, articles, interviews. We ENABLE them with tools, techniques, methods, and skills to actively build and restore trust, and this is done through extensive training programs such as the Chief Trust Officer Training and the Ambassadors for Trust training, as well as programs such as Women of Trust, Youth Ambassadors for Trust, and Building Trust through Schools. Then we ENRICH through giving people the opportunity to help others through two for one offers, by one book and we’ll give you two, or well donate a portion of the fee to Entente Foundation to help bring the truth about trust to the poorest regions of the world.
How did your organisation start and why?
After my husband died in a hiking accident, leaving me with a baby boy to raise on my own, I had lost trust in God. I was also raised in a family where there was abuse, and so I had grown up wondering who I could trust. I developed a career in Compliance and Risk Management in the Finance Industry in Australia, so I tell people I worked in one of the least trusted industries at the mistrust end of the business! I was dealing with fraud, greed, and trying to help stockbrokers and fund managers recognise that Mums and Dads were trusting us with their money, and we needed to respect that and take more care.
Fast forward to 2005, and my son, turning 10 years old, gave me a card for Mother’s Day that said, “My Mum is loving and caring, she likes to buy lots of clothes, she always writes and reads, sometimes she keeps promises, but the best thing about my Mum is that she’s always there for me.”
It was very sweet, except for “sometimes she keeps promises!” What?? When I quizzed him, he reminded me of a time I said we would go to the movies, but we never went. I said to him “But that wasn’t a promise” and he said “But I thought it was.”
My head went into a spin as I though of all the times I had done that with him, and then all the times we do that with friends, you know, “we must catch up for lunch!”, but then we never do.
I said to him “What happens when I do that?” He was sitting on the end of my bed, he looked me straight in the eye, and he said “I just don’t know when I can trust you.”
From that moment on, my life changed.
I realised that trust was so fragile, and that I was doing things without realising that was breaking it down. But then I realised that every person on this planet is doing the same thing!! I felt a calling to do something about it.
Somehow, I believe it was a gift from God, I developed a very simple model that describes and shows how trust works and how it breaks down, and over the past 10 years now I have been travelling around the world, training people in the truth about trust, from Russia, Jamaica, Sweden, Uganda, Australia, Germany, Columbia, South Korea, Rwanda, Canada, USA, and here in South Africa.
Now, as I am completing my Masters in theology, I am creating The Theology of Trust, and raising up Ambassadors for Trust around the world to help breath life into this International Movement of Trust.
What are the company goals and dreams?
My dream is that key leaders of nations, of the church, of education, of community, of services, of industry, as well as children who are our leaders of tomorrow, transform the way the communicate and behave to become more trustworthy, to stop hurting one another to the extent that they currently are and do not realise, and for Christian leaders in particular to truly be the salt and light we are called to be.
I ran a three year Community Building Project in a community in Australia with just over 7,000 residents, building and restoring trust, and tracking the impact of that, creating a short documentary. The results were amazing, and surprised everyone!
Malicious damage dropped 23%
Crime related to drugs and alcohol dropped 27%
Domestic Violence dropped 6%
80% of those surveyed said they could see positive changes
85% of those surveyed said they trusted community leaders more
We attracted significant funding in government and other grants, and community engagement lifted to a level they had not seen before.
Now that I know and have proven the impact of trust in community, I’m training community leaders so they are equipped to do the same!
Who are the people involved?
Whoever wants to be!
What awards or recognitions have you or your company achieved?
My first book that I self published won two awards in the USA: A Bronze Medal in the Axiom Business Book Awards for Business Ethics, and a Silver Award in the Nautilus Book Awards for Conscious Business Leadership.
Entente has won local business awards for innovative products and services, and was Runner Up in a recent Regional Award for Community Partnerships, as the success of the Community Project I mentioned earlier was due to the bringing together of key stakeholders and working to get them to trust one another.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
I used to take pride in m accomplishments, but now I understand that my role is simply to trust God and obey Him. The opportunities that continue to open up, the doors that are being flung open for the truth about trust I could not have done by myself. So my greatest accomplishment was to surrender, to trust, and to obey, and the fruits of that have been more than I could possibly imagine.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am on a six week Trust Tour of Africa, and have been presenting and raising up Ambassadors for Trust in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. I am also bringing together those who have been through the 3 levels of training in trust to build the Leadership Team of the International Movement of Trust, to help support this as it continues to grow.
I am also completing my Masters in Christian Studies, and am always researching and observing ways in which the Theology of Trust is playing out in daily life, and next year I write my Masters thesis as a lead in to my Doctorate.
Why is trust so important?
Trust is one of those words that we use all the time without realising its significance. But trust lays at the heart of every single decision we make, from the toothpaste we buy to the person we date and marry, to the organisation we choose to work for, or not! It lies at the heart of every relationship in that when there is trust, the relationship flourishes, and when trust begins to break down, we suffer conflict, arguments, and often separation. It lies at the heart of every feeling we have, so that when there is trust there is peace, productivity, a sense of achievement, a sense of calm. But when trust breaks down it creates stress, anxiety, disappointment, depression, anger, confusion…
So, why is trust important? It actually impacts every moment of every day of every person on this planet. And we don’t know how it works or how it breaks down. We don’t know what role we play in that. And that is scary and needs to change. The time for trust is NOW!
Why is trust important in business, homes, and communities?
In every business there are multiple levels of trust. We trust in the person or people we are dealing with or in teams with, or listening to, or buying from. We trust the organisation, the brand and all it stands for. We trust the products and services we engage with and purchase. So trust cuts across how and organisation is lead, how it manages its people, how it markets and brands itself, how it sells, how it serves its customers, how it governs itself. When a business or organisation harnesses trust and actively builds a culture of trust, it can, and this has been proven, triple its bottom line! It significantly improves retention levels of staff, volunteers donors and customers, and it builds open, honest, and fruitful relationships.
In every home and family, trust impacts all the relationships, from how and whether we trust ourselves to live the purpose we have been put on this earth for, to our relationship with our own parents that shapes our ideas of trust, to our family culture with our siblings, to how we form and maintain friendships, to how we choose our life partner in marriage, to how we build trust in our own children. The family unit has a significant impact on how we view and perceive trust out in the world, so if trust is betrayed and broken, we take that into our own marriage, into our workplace, into all our dealings with others. If trust is nurtured and respected, then we go into the world with confidence, with a sense of safety, love, and the ability to make a difference.
How can people become involved in your organisation?
Anyone can join the movement! If they want to build and/or restore trust, they would benefit from joining training, or even arranging a workshop, presentation, or training for their organisation. If they just want to know more about trust, there are blogs, podcasts and videos that they can connect with to become part of the movement of trust.
If they want to become a leader in the International Movement of Trust, there is a commitment to training and taking the concepts into their own organisation, family and community to gain insights, examples, stories, so they can see, hear and touch the benefits of trust themselves. It builds credibility to be able to become a leader in trust.
Do you have any success stories, or examples where your organisation changed lives?
How much space do we have!! There are sooooo many stories. Below are some testimonials because they speak for themselves.
What do you think more people should know about what you do (or: what is the biggest misconception that you have to deal with?)
Great question! The biggest issue is that most people actually don’t think about trust, don’t realise just how much it impacts their lives, and don’t know that they are doing things every day that are breaking down trust with the people they care about the most.
Where do you see your organisation in the future?
I have had so many people make comments about the truth about trust from ‘This will impact the lives of millions of people around the world’, to ‘I don’t know who you are, but I believe you will have a significant impact on this world’, to ‘This has the potential to win the Nobel Peace Prize’. So, where do I see Entente going? I continue to do what I do, to share the truth about trust, trusting God and obeying Him, walking boldly through open doors, and it will go where He chooses it to go. So far, it has been an amazing journey, so the next 20 years are going to be awesome. That I know for sure.
Are there any other projects or tidbits that you haven’t yet mentioned?
When I realised that I had developed something that was of great interest, and I was a single parent back in 2006, I realised that I was going to need some funding to help me.
But, I thought if I was going to invest money into something, I would want to know that the person behind the idea was 100% committed to it. So, I sold my car and I sold my house, and rented an apartment, and I put all that I owned to researching and building Entente, which initially was a business idea, with the aim to make a profit.
I met with a few people to see if I could attract some investment of capital to help me create the books and materials I need. A friend on mine suggested I meet with Peter Draper, as he was a businessman, a Christian, and a philanthropist. I called Peter and arranged a meeting with him. For about 6 months leading up to this meeting I had been praying very specifically for $250,000 to be in my bank account by the end of February 2006. I had no idea where that would come from, but I knew it would come.
Peter and I met on the 15th of February 2006. I took him through the model of trust, and the plans I had to take it and a number of other ideas connected to it to help people in their organisations, families and communities. At the end of the meeting he said ‘I love what you are doing. How much do you want?’ I was quick to respond ‘I have been praying for $250,000 by the end of this month.’ He sat back in his chair and thought for a moment. Then he said ‘I don’t know which business I will use to invest, but you will have your money.’ I can’t remember how long I sat there, but I do remember calling a friend and saying ‘You won’t believe what just happened!!’
But that’s not even the best part of the story! Two years later, he married me!!!
So, my life is a story of trust, or betrayal, of wondering who I could trust, of trusting God and going on the most amazing ride to share this message, this truth, with all people, of all cultures, genders, faiths, ages.
The truth about trust is ready and waiting for anyone who wants to hear, see and experience it!