The Importance of Credibility, Strategic Living & Excellence: Interview with Phil Cooke (Part IV)


Part IV of IV

Part I

Part II

Part III

This is part three of a four part series based on an interview, conducted by Dr. Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, Chairman, ELO Network, with Phil Cooke, Co-Founder & President, Cooke Media Group. The entire interview can be watched below through YouTube.

Rick Goossen (RG): In your book One Big Thing you comment, “I can never say enough about the importance of credibility when it comes to influence.” Please unpack that.

Phil Cooke (PC): Credibility really does matter when trying to live out your faith. There's a phrase out there: “People do what they see, they don't do what you say.” You could talk all you want to about something, but your team needs to see it in action in your life. It goes through so many ways people can observe your life. So, strive for credibility, character, integrity, and once you've done that, people are much more likely to listen to whatever it is you have to say. I can't emphasize that enough.

That’s why when pastors fall from grace due to a moral failure the damage is so great. The world looks at the Christian community and thinks it is comprised of just hypocrites. Why do I want to be a Christian if that guy is the pastor of a church and he's had a girlfriend on the side for six months? A lack of credibility can do so much damage. I just can't emphasize enough how important it is that you are what you say you are.


RG: Another quote from One Big Thing: “We need to have the experience, credentials, and relationships that only come by strategic living.” What do you mean by that concept?

PC: Strategic living means to act in accordance with your plan and purpose. I don't know where I'm going to be in five years. I don't know what I'll end up doing 10 years from now. I don't worry about my goal as much as I worry about growth. It's not up to me. It's not about goals. It's about growth. I want to be intentionally learning. I want to be intentionally reading. I want to be intentionally developing relationships. I just want to be more strategic in everything we do.

Very often, people will come to me frustrated about their careers. They're frustrated because they're not where they want to be. As I look at them closely, I see that they're not being very strategic about their life in general.

I’m very careful about what I select. To me, strategic living is just all the aspects that go into your career and your life. The relationships with people that you have, the decisions you make about your job, all those things need to be really thought out. But that doesn't mean you become a robot by any means. I love being wildly creative and spontaneous, but at the same time being a little bit more strategic.

Every year I'll find some young filmmaker that's come to Hollywood with a passion to change the industry for the Kingdom of God. And so, he'll meet with studio executives, or he'll meet with producers. Well, you know what? They laugh him right off the studio lot. I mean, they don't take him seriously at all.

What I tell young people to do is don't lead with your faith, lead with your talent. If you're a brilliant writer, a brilliant actor, or a brilliant screenwriter or director. Come out here and blow them away with your gift and your talent. Guess what? They'll listen to anything you have to say. I can't emphasize enough, being really good at what you do and trying to be the best there is will get people's attention. Then they're more likely to invest in you, donate to you, open doors for jobs, whatever you're looking for.


RG: A final quote from One Big Thing: “Too many people are pretty good and that doesn't get you on the radar.” Please expand on that.

PC: This goes back to my earlier point of you're never going to get noticed if you're pretty good at a lot of stuff. I just think if we focus more on being extraordinary at that one thing, that's going to open up doors.

It's really important the perception that people have of you. A Microsoft study reported that when you meet someone for the first time, they'll decide what they think of you within the first 8 seconds. Now think about it. You haven't had time to talk with them. You haven't had time to learn much about them. But we live in a hectic world. We've got emails to answer. I got text messages coming in. I'm going to make decisions about stuff I don't even know anything about.

Your credentials very often are the thing that will say the most about you. When you meet somebody, if they know you're an expert at this or you're really amazing at this or you're incredibly talented at this, that's going to get their attention and open up the door to spend more time with you. Of all the things you can do, perception is very important.


RG: What would be some of the lessons from your career and media and business that you would like to impart to Christian business leaders?

PC: First, you are the message. I don't care if you're a business leader, if you sell plumbing supplies, if you're a pastor, or a non-profit leader. Whatever you do, you are the message. In other words, people look at you and they determine your character and your credibility. Do I want to listen to that person? Should I pay attention to what they have to say? People start by assessing your credibility. Start there.

Second, like I said earlier, influence is not going to happen if people don't pay attention. We've discovered that in this eight-second world, attention has become the currency of this culture. Your credentials, your expertise, and your integrity matter. You are the message. Always remember that.

Third, I would emphasize that communication really matters today more than ever. There are so many ways with social media, with the online world, with video. There are so many ways to get your message out there

Fourth, we need to understand that they don't teach communication very much in business school or Bible college or seminary. It's up to you to learn why communication matters and how to get your message out there in a more powerful way. I would encourage you to create a communication team around you. I think that people need to understand better how to communicate their message in this distracted world that we live in.

The entire interview can be viewed here: