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Skills In Action

  unicorn.jpg Sebastian had spent most of the late morning into the early afternoon, one day in July, being exposed to the Black Swan method of labels and mirrors. Having already read “Never Split the Difference,” he was anxious to see and hear the practical application of the skills. Turns out, Sebastian was a quick study. As soon as the class concluded, he was chomping at the bit to see if the skills would bear fruit. That afternoon, he scheduled a phone call to negotiate the acquisition of a domain name. The seller anchored high with a five figure number. Rather than balk and counter, Sebastian used labels and mirrors to discover that it was most important to the seller for the domain to be used for a purpose in which he believed. Unbeknownst to the seller, this was Sebastian’s plan all along. Sebastian’s use of labels and mirrors uncovered other Black Swans as well:

Puzzle head brain concept as a human face profile made from crumpled white paper with a jigsaw piece cut out on a rustic old wood background as a mental health symbol..jpegAt the Black Swan Group, our instructors have been spreading the gospel of empathy and the techniques used to demonstrate it for years. We have trained thousands of people all over the globe on how to apply techniques developed in the world of hostage negotiations to business and other personal interactions. Of those thousands, as an instructor, I wonder at times how many don’t get it? 

negotiation, bargainingTwo weeks ago, I attended the SaaStr 2017 conference in San Francisco.  It was a collection of Software- As-A-Service start-up CEOs, CFOs, COOs as well as marketing and sales geniuses.  They meet once a year to network, listen to speakers and view/sell the latest products.  These attendees, by my limited observations were all 30 to early 40-somethings; all wicked smart and extremely successful.  I was clearly one of the dumbest guys in the room.

TSwift-Apple-Music.jpgThe most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in.  

Last June, Taylor Swift wrote one of the most elegant confrontations in the history of individuals confronting multinational corporations. Ever.  I was so blown away I had to write about it back then.

Since then, what did her deference, elegance, and empathy achieve in confronting Apple about their unfairness?

Bridge of Spies, negotiationJames Donovan, played by Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” goes to Berlin, Germany in 1961 to negotiate an exchange of “spies” between the US and the USSR.  He was more successful than anything I ever did as the FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator.  He was sent to bring home one American and came back with two, doubling the goal.  Never once did he consider the concept of BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). At the end of this piece, I’ll share what he did in Cuba for an encore after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion (again he far exceeded his original goal).