Archive for April, 2012

You want to say ” We have a problem Houston”, but what if the problem IS Houston?

April 28, 2012

In this case, the problem is with negotiation , a skill that has enormous importance to all of us. Failed negotiations in history have resulted in the death of multitudes of people, and you may have known some of them. Many of these failures were avoidable. On a smaller more personal scale. anytime someone wants a decision from you, or you want a decision from someone, you are negotiating, whether you call it by that name that or not. 

Getting back to the title of this post,  Houston refers to Harvard Law. They are viewed as THE authority in the realm of negotiation. Getting to Yes  (Fisher, Ury and Patton) , all Harvard professors, is THE authoritative work and has been for some time. Even if you haven’t read it, you have been influenced by it. Have you heard of   win-win? Does it sound like a fine idea to you? If so, you are gravely mistaken, in my opinion.

  I went to the conference referenced by Jim Camp in the paragraphs in italics below. His words about it may sound harsh to you, but I happen to agree with him.

I was honored to be a part of the Harvard Negotiation and Leadership Mastery Conference of 2012. I came away with some strong impressions.

I have never been more committed to getting out system to the world. After seeing and listening and absorbing what is considered the absolute word on negotiations I am strongly motivated to challenge at every turn the compromise based rhetoric that passes as the holy grail of negotiation. It is so wrong and has failed so many in so many ways it has been impossible in the past for me to understand how it can continue to be out there. Then I realize what I am learning about the “Backfire Effect” of brain function from neuroscience and the deep-pocketed unbelievable strength and resources of Harvard that it will take my grandchildren’s generation to fix the damage the well intentioned from Harvard and other higher learning institutions have done.

Ross Perot once said America has forgotten how to negotiate. This is truer today than ever. It is amazing how this came about. The Railway Labor Act was the beginning of the end of negotiation talent in America. Higher Institutions began training lawyers in collective bargaining, and business schools began training business leaders in collective bargaining and low and behold collective bargaining is negotiations. Sad but true.

I responded with  a comment to this post on Linkedin. Before reading it,  keep it mind that there were a lot of very successful people presenting at the conference. So is it an accident that they are so successful? Certainly not. Many of them make no claims to being negotiation experts. They were entrepreneurs and business leaders. They have amazing stories. They wanted to teach us something that we might be able to use to be leaders and negotiators. They had slides and gave pointers about how to be successul. They were inspiring. I enjoyed them all. I even posted the pointers that Steve Stoute listed yesterday. he was my favorite – very cool. He wore red high top sneakers.  I know that is not cool to have a favorite who you think is very cool, but whatever. 😉 Tony Robbins was also there, and he led us all in group exercises that were very fun.

Maybe Jim Camp was the least glitzy presenter of them all.  He openly disagreed with everyone on the panel discussion. People cheered at one point when the moderator interrupted him and asked another person on the panel to speak. These are supposedly heavy hitters and they have the audience  feeling sorry for them when Jim Camp disagrees with them. He kept talking about a system of negotiation that he has developed that can help you to improve your ability to negotiate. He didn’t even have time to outline it, but having a system did differentiate him from the other presenters.  They didn’t claim to have a system of negotiation. When asked by the audience for help with negotiation issues, they began talking about leverage. Basically, they were talking about how to use power to get what you want. So easy for them to say – they are powerful people with powerful clients. They can scare people. Ellen Zucker thought she scared people because they thought she was a superior litigator so they didn’t want to get beat up in court.  Robert Burnett ended his presentation with a story about how he punished someone who he felt had betrayed him in a deal by making sure he got that person fired years later. Is that something you want to learn?

Jim seemed to have a sense that the panel was failing the audience because he asked us, ” How as a panel are we failing you right now”  A question right out of his system.

You can see it on this website. The panel discussion should be available there soon.

So I responded to Jim’s post on LinkedIn:

They ( Havard) teach fluff ( in the realm of negotiation). When is that dangerous? When someone is trying to hit you with something harder than fluff. But fluff is nicer to lay your head down and sleep on. More fun to bounce up and down on too. a la Tony Robbins. Waking up is not easy, and even harder when you don’t even know you are dreaming. So why are they successful then? I keep thinking of the movie the Matrix, as long as everyone is duped into the version of reality that Madison Avenue wants you to have, than the fluff masters are going to be successful. They can point to that ‘success’ and ask you why you would want to take the red pill.

 Am I also a victim of the backfire effect? I am student of Jim Camp after all.

If you think  so, please comment.


Notes from Harvard Leadership presentation by Steve Stoute (4/21/12)

April 26, 2012

Just get to first base.

You are what your record says you are.  (Bill Parcels)

You have to be ok with the guy in the mirror. (Bill Parcels)

You must have a clear mission statement that focuses and dedicates you to what success looks like.

You can’t blink at the point of impact. If you blink, you will get knocked down by what you were trying to save yourself from. This is also known as transparency.

Rely on recall – do it confidently or don’t do it at all.

Correct your flaws now. Don’t wait to get to know yourself to begin.

Bad behavior is contagious – get on top of it right away.

Do what you say you will, everything that leaves your mouth, no matter how big or small.

Have a major and a minor. Differentiate yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Take comfort in discomfort. 

The first two minutes always suck when you go for a run, even when you’ve been running for 30 years. 

You don’t have a great idea until someone says it won’t work. They are going to say that because they are caught up in what they are doing.

Be honest with yourself.  One way – every night a CEO he knows fires herselff before she goes to bed and dedicates herself to doing the things that make her want to rehire herself in the morning.

Be culturally curious.

To discover if someone is authentic, notice how they act when everything goes wrong.

He went to five colleges in 2 years. He learned that he didn’t like college.

He had to win.

What you need to know about psychiatrists

April 26, 2012

Talk to a psychiatrist long enough about what they do, and you are going to start to hear about diagnoses. They assess for groups of symptoms that meet criteria for these diagnoses. They make decisions about medicines based on these assessments.

So that sounds reasonable enough. But it gets very limiting when you try to talk to them about what you think might really be going on with someone you are trying to help. Actually, you can start to feel crazy if these conversations go on long enough. I can only imagine what it is like for patients who engage in these converations with psychiatrists about themselves.

Psychiatrists steer it back to diagnosis because that is what they are most comfortable with – your label, or the label of the person you are discussing. They don’t always do this explicitly, but that is what guides most of their discourse with you. 

It helps sometimes to bring this up, and ask if there are other factors apart from diagnosis that they would like to weigh in on.

It can turn the conversation in a very refreshing direction.


Logical thinking is as effective as television for getting out of depression

April 24, 2012

Meaning – logic and reason are not effective.

You will not think your way out of a depression, it isn’t a math problem.

It is a physiological rigidity.



Wiggle, dance, get up and down over and over, shake, as much as you can for as long as you can until you drop.  Move your eyes back and forth quickly if you are bedridden.

Your logical mind will say that this post is stupid.

It will tell you to stop or to not even start moving and that you would be a fool for doing this.

And you will remain depressed, and ever so  loyal to logic.

Wonderful you.

Still and so reasonable.

Peed in the pants buslines

April 22, 2012

Driving home this morning with Reena and the girls:

Clara Rose: What’s that?

Mommy: That’s a Peter Pan bus.

Clara Rose: A Peed in the Pants Bus!?

All of us laugh out loud, and then Mom and Dad try to recover and restore order since we committed the cardinal sin of laughing at a potty talk joke.

But it was funny.

Killer whistle app

April 22, 2012

5 yo josie was trying to show 4 you clara rose how to whistle. I tried to help too. Clara Rose couldn’t do it, but she was smart enough to ask for a necklace with a whistle on it so she can whistle whenever she wants.

Clever sweetie, but request denied.

Parental sanity counts for something.


This is the smartest I’ve ever been

April 20, 2012

There must be a moment in everyone’s life where they reach peak intelligence.

It could be today for me – but I would be too stupid to realize it.

Or maybe realizing it would drop my IQ   20 points – so my intelligence keeps me in the dark because it is the smartest thing to do.

The light that puts out our eyes is darkness to us. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

Henry David Thoreau

Not too shabby Henry.

Other topics for your consideration:

your stinkiest day


most awkward


So – you can only do certain things. You can’t will your way to humility, even though it is an essential part of intelligence. Pride blocks learning. Trying to be open to learn about humility and learning – how? How does one ‘try” to do that?

I don’t know – words don’t seem like they can help much of the time, certainly not as I write this.

I know what your problem is!

April 18, 2012

Do you want to read this link?

If not, don’t, you will pay a psychic cost. Maybe you will want to read it later, which may be worth waiting for, because if you want to read it, you will pay a psychic cost if you don’t read it.

If you are not sure what you want, flip a coin, because you are paying a psychic cost for dwelling on this decision.

If you flip the coin and you are disappointed with the outcome, you have revealed your true preference, and should follow the rules as stated above.

If you don’t want to follow these rules, than don’t.

In which case, you are following these rules whether you want to or not.

 I didn’t plan it that way, it just turned out that way for you.

Are you still here?



Anger leaves us 3 options

April 18, 2012

1. Smother it. Problem with this approach is the anger may build in you internally so much that you will lose it one day and do a lot of damage to yourself and/or others.

2. Express it. This sounds fine – sometimes it is referred to as ‘being assertive’. Reality tends to be though that it often leads to arguments, as well-intentioned as you may be.

3. Refocus on  your goal:  Anger is a behavior that has as its goal the solution to a problem. Having a problem with your anger means you use or fantasize about attack as the tool to solve too many problems in your life.

( Dr Carl Semmelroth)

It’s a show , Wim

April 17, 2012

I hear this from my wife every time I ask a question during a TV show. This exchange has taken place hundreds of times. .

Thank God she does this. I certainly am at risk for completely losing touch with reality and becoming even more useless to her than I am when I ask stupid questions.

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