Negotiation Baby Steps


Wouldn't it be great if each negotiation we had to face came with its own set of instructions? Unfortunately, almost every negotiation is different and some are far more complex than others, but there are some basic skills everyone can learn.

Think about how you prepare for a negotiation. Most likely, you take time to do some research on the topic and, if this is a person you've dealt with before, you may review any history you have with them. This is a great start for preparing yourself for a negotiation. Obviously, when you call the cable company to negotiate a lower rate because you are "thinking" of switching to satellite, your preparation may differ from an important salary negotiation. However, the following 3 ideas will provide you with some guidance in most situations.

1. Know Thyself: Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Are you a good listener or do you prefer to control the pace of a conversation? What are some of your strengths when dealing with others? Weaknesses? Are you likely to give up on the first "No" or would you be willing to ask more questions in order to understand why the other sides is saying No?

2. Know Your BATNA: Your BATNA is your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. Do you know at what point you are better off not doing a deal at all rather than doing a bad deal? That is, what is your break-even point? If you reach a point where your BATNA is more attractive than the deal being offered, you can walk away knowing you've made the right decision as long as you know your BATNA going into the negotiation.

3. Know What You Want: Know your destination. If you don't know where you are going you have at least two problems. First, you won't know how to get there. Second, how will you know when you've arrived?

By keeping these three points in mind while preparing for your next negotiation, you'll have a much clearer picture of how the negotiation will unfold, your own purpose and vision along with a break-even point and, most importantly, a destination.

First Day of Spring - Less Than A Month Away!


Encouraging thoughts - we all need them. Tom related a little life lesson that I have often repeated since he told it to me. E + R = O. That is, Experience + our Reaction to those experiences equals our Outcome. We often don't have a lot of control over our Experiences, but our Reactions are something we have direct control over.

Along those same lines, we had a great motivational speaker - Boaz Rauchwerger - come and speak to us in the Studio. I will be the first to admit that I often find motivational speakers to be a bit cheesy and I don't often take much from their message, but Boaz was different. He is the definition of an optimist and his attitude is infectious, you know, in a good way. He left us with his "31-day charge" which has a short story along with a motivational Attitude Affirmation for each day of the month. I find myself often repeating my favorites. We made up signs after Boaz's presentation with a variation on the famous Notre Dame sign tapped by the football players on their way to the field. Our sign reads: Ever Day, I Play Like A Champion!

I've found that applying Boaz's advice in my everyday life has helped me make the impact of the E a little less and strenghtened my R and that has led to better O. (e + R = O!)

Back Country Checklist @ Grand Targhee Wyoming 2009


I was skiing in the back country last week. And I came across this sign:

I read Back Country Checklist carefully and could not help but see this checklist's application to life. When I read the sign I interpreted the questions to mean:

1. Do you have the required knowledge or training to do what you want?

2. Do you know where you’re going?

3. Do you understand your current situation?

4. Have you sought help from those that are informed?

5. Do you have the right tools to succeed?

6. Are you prepared for what lies ahead?

7. Are you willing to take 100% responsibility for your life?

Going forward, I will use this checklist on and off the mountain.

Learning About Contracts


Whew! Life in the Studio has been busy! Tom just got back from a little ski vacation in Alta, WY and a subsequent client meeting in NYC where they had a lot of great discussion around social media. Kendra has been out landing whale clients and dealing with sick kids, I'm not sure when she sleeps - she's amazing! Stephanie is the glue holding us all together as always, now I just have to trick her into coming back to the gym with me.

So, enough with the firm update. My focus for 2009 is going to be learning how to do deals and understanding the subtle ins and outs that separate good deals from great deals. Well, that's great, but how do you get started? One of the first things I learned was to use a methodology. Use the same approach to analyzing deals each time, so that you aren't reinventing the wheel over and over again. From our website, you can download our approach to contract analysis, here.

Second, and equally important is using a visual representation of complex deals that highlight important deal points. This makes it so much easier to come back to a deal, months later, and pick out the key pieces of information that you might need to know (e.g., payment, indemnification, termination, etc.). We use software called Mindmap Pro. It's very easy to use and allows for a wide range of customizable options. You can check out a free trial, here.