Trust, Partnerships, and Ecosystems in Business

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the latest ideas in business: partnerships, ecosystems, and trust.

I follow the visionary entrepreneur Isaac Morehouse, and he’s been working on a new project called PartnerHacker. I’ve been subscribed to the PartnerHacker daily newsletter for a while, and I think I’m beginning to understand the ideas behind the partnership moment in business.

Partnerships and influencers

I’ll start with a short story:

You just got home from a long day — you’re hungry and tired and want to make something quick for dinner. So, you google for some dinner ideas. What happens next?

The first three results are ads. You scroll past those. Then you come to the listicle-type articles — top 5 dinner recipes — no thanks. Finally, you see an image of something tasty. You click it, and now they want your email address so you can enter their sales funnel.

Not a great experience.

Many of us are bypassing the noise. Instead of searching on Google for a recipe, we follow our favorite food bloggers on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. We make decisions by listening to influencers we trust. The influencer might be selling something along with the recipe, but it’s probably something you want anyway. They’ve gained our trust, and we’ll gladly buy what they sell.

Trust is the new data

Co-founder Jared Fuller of PartnerHackers argues that trust is the new data. Automated marketing technologies have infiltrated our lives, and we don’t trust them. You want my email address? Why? Cui bono (who benefits)?

The desire for automation removes humanity from the interaction. For the past 20 years, businesses have thrived on collecting data, automating sales funnels, and shoving us into silos.

Fuller says it’s time for a change. The change, in fact, is already here. He started PartnerHacker to document and ride the incoming tsunami. He calls it a “partnership moment.”

Consumers don’t trust the marketing sales funnel approach. Businesses are catching on. Business to consumer (B2C) sales recognize this fact. B2Cs reach out to influencers to help sell their products. Business to business (B2B) sales is poised to implement similar changes through B2B partnerships.

David Yovanno explains what B2B can learn from B2C in the video clip below.

You can check out the full episode from the PartnerHacker podcast here:

Partnerships are a robust ecosystem

When businesses build relationships through partnerships, they become more resilient. An ecosystem is not easily damaged by losing one of its parts. If one of the sales channels stops producing, there are a dozen others to rely on.

Building a network of partnerships means you don’t have to focus on cramming every new lead into an automated funnel.

Partnerships seek to build trust through relationships rather than automation. Businesses can grow by tapping into the vast interconnectedness of the market through human connections. Rather than growing by one sale at a time, partnerships accelerate growth by tapping into relationships with other businesses.

Partnerships and Mimetic Theory

Could all the focus on data and automation during the past two decades have neglected our desire to imitate?

Philosopher Renè Girard said that we are mimetic creatures. We desire to imitate others. Data helps sort and compartmentalize individuals according to preferences, but it does so at the expense of ignoring our humanity.

For example, I was thinking about starting a TikTok channel just today. So first, I searched Google for the easiest way to create and edit videos for TikTok. Then, I remembered a podcast with the effervescent personality behind the TikTok channel, Miss Excel.


Ever needed your own special number format? Here is how we do it 👏 #exceltips #tiptok #techtok

♬ original sound – Kat: Chief Excel Officer

Miss Excel uses WeVideo to edit her TikTok videos. My search was over. My desire to imitate took over. I didn’t read the endless blogs or watch videos about which editor to use. Rather than getting sucked into an impersonal sales funnel, I chose to imitate Miss Excel.

Partnerships, ecosystems, and trust

Are partnerships, ecosystems, and trust the latest buzzwords in business, or do we see the beginnings of a paradigm shift? Check out the Partner Hacker Manifesto and decide for yourself.

“Customers are people. They have info fatigue. They are looking to trusted influencers and communities to help them make decisions and purchases. They want a seamless experience that fits the rhythms and patterns of their own lives, rather than being bombarded with attempts to fit them into a company’s pipeline.”

Jared Fuller of

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