Archive for July, 2012

What all your most cherished moments have in common

July 29, 2012

I was talking to Todd Camp at dinner in North Boston several months ago after the Harvard Conference on Leadership and Negotiation. We were talking about the importance of mission and purpose to the Camp system, but Todd pointed out that people kind of glaze over when you start talking about mission and purpose. It doesn’t readily inspire, especially in the early stages.

 So what is the remedy? Well, maybe we need to start by looking backwards from our most cherished moments. I’ll give you an example: I was fortunate that my grandparents from both my father and mother’s side were friends prior to my parents even meeting. After my parents were married, the four of them were traveling in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and they decided to go look at some property. I don’t know the all details, but they decided on a piece of land with an old barn on it. They agreed to purchase it together, and because my father’s father, also William Chase, was a contractor, they had the means to renovate it. I was the first-born grandchild for both of them, and you can imagine the fun my siblings and cousins and I had having access to each other,  our grandparents, and uncles and aunts, in such a setting when we went on vacation.

 Back then it was just ’normal’ to me, but I have come to realize how special it was now that I have kids. My kids are able to enjoy it now…takes my breath away when I ponder it. 

 So do you know where this is going? The ability of my grandparents to negotiate this agreement was the foundation of so many cherished moments that continue to this day. They had a mission and purpose, and it guided their steps. It hasn’t always been easy, and we almost lost it when my father’s parents, who were older, had to sell their half to my mother’s parents, but their mission and purpose guided their steps.   I recently went up there by myself to do some mountain climbing, clear my head and work on my mission and purpose. Irony of that was not lost on me.

 My grandparents really raised the bar for all of us in the family.  My mother and her three brothers own the property now that my grandparents have passed and rent one side of it to great tenants that have been there for years and take care of it. Guess who negotiated that agreement – my grandmother Charlotte Emerson who just recently passed in 2010. She and my grandfather Klaas Van Hof  have their names etched in stone on a huge piece of NH granite in the woods on the property that they cherished so much.

 What negotiations have made your cherished moments possible?  Try working backwards if you care to answer. The importance of mission and purpose will begin to really become clear for you.



What negotiation has to do with the tragic crimes at Penn State

July 25, 2012


Once you start paying attention to negotiation in life as I have, you see many failures and tragedies in the media through that lens.  Thinking about Penn State, we know that a lot of people including Joe Paterno knew what Jerry Sandusky had done to boys.  It seems that no one could bring themselves to do the right thing in that culture, something that most believe should be so simple and obvious, namely, call the police and ban Jerry Sandusky from Penn State and its facilities.

I’ll tell you what makes it hard – thinking that no one is going to listen. Has that ever happened to you, or is it happening to you now? You know about an unethical or ineffective practice going on somewhere, but you just think it is pointless to say anything, or that you will somehow suffer negative consequences if you say anything.

You may prefer to see yourself as someone who would always do the right thing, but what does that really reveal about you? I hate to break it to you, but being absolutely sure that you will always do the right thing reveals arrogance on your part. I am not preaching here, because I carry that same self-righteous arrogance, maybe more than many of you.

So what’s the real problem? Well- we know that Joe Paterno had one interest – winning football games. That’s it.  And a lot of people profited from his focus on winning football games.  Many if not all involved parties failed to have a mission and purpose of their own. Who included in their mission and purpose the honor and respectability of  Penn State University?  If someone did, they were not strong enough negotiators to move their agenda forward.  Most just thought they were good people, and believed that was enough to protect themselves and what they cared about. They were dazzled by Joe Paterno, and lost sight of themselves and their own responsibility to think beyond their own self-interest. Joe Paterno’s success led to their laziness. They just rode his coat tails.

Imagine anyone going to Joe Paterno or another Penn State official and asking them if they were willing to sacrifice winning seasons for the honor of the university. Notice I am not saying that their mission and purpose needed to be to protect children. It is dishonorable not to protect children, so their mission and purpose would have made it crystal clear what they ought to do when they found out about Sandusky. 

Mission and purpose are very necessary to all of us because we are surrounded by decision makers who have faulty or shallow motives. We can’t just make excuses anymore. We know what it takes now. We need to elevate our game as negotiators and develop a mission and purpose that will help all parties connected to our institutions build the vision they require to make decisions that will benefit those that they are supposed to serve.  These decision makers need you and I to help them to see themselves going down very hard if they don’t act. No one did that for Joe Paterno, because everyone was wanting Joe Paterno to do something for them.

At CNI, you have an opportunity to become a strong and effective enough negotiator to actually do some good, and prevent some bad, rather than just talk about the good you think you’d do when you see the latest human failing in the news.

You get upset. Willpower doesn’t fix it. What’s the real problem?

July 24, 2012

You get upset. You want  to feel better. What do you do? Drink. Smoke. Eat. Yell. Cry. Vent. Watch TV. Sleep. Shop.  ????

What gets you upset? Other people mostly. Some kind of disagreement. Big , small, medium.

They just don’t understand, or they do understand and don’t seem to care.

You try to explain it to them. It works sometimes.

So what else is there to do? Read a self-help book. You try to fix yourself.

But what if there is nothing wrong with you? What if there is nothing wrong with them?

What if you are just missing some information about how to put together more productive agreements with people – your kids, spouses, colleagues, bosses, customers, coaches, teachers?

This information I am writing about happens to be available.  Be warned though, the effort you are putting forth to get a hold of your emotions will look different from anything you recognize,   very different.

Is that the adult answer to everything, take a picture and post it on facebook?

July 24, 2012

My normally quiet and reserved 14 yo  son Xavier said this while chatting with his Uncle Bob and Aunt Becky.

It was in response to Bob saying, ” hey, we can take a picture of that and post it on Facebook.”

It was like a scene from 8 mile.

OHHHH MY GOD!  My  hands were on my head stumbling around in shocked  disbelief  – Bob just got schooled by the up and coming Xavier and no one saw it coming.



Our New Hampshire Vacation – Summer 2012

July 24, 2012

Drive up Thursday night

Lazy Day at The BArn in Granite, Ossipee NH

DAd, Xavier, and Gabrielle play some fun soccer 1v1 and 1v2 and get good and hot

We go to White Pond and swim

Come home and Dad makes pizza

The Deconto family arrives late – Uncle Bob, Aunt Becky,  Nate, and Emily

The next day , we drive up to Bald Face Mountain Trail and go to the Emerald Pool

We come home and cook on the grill

Late that night, Uncle Earl, Reena, Josie and Clara Rose arrive

Next day, we all go to the West Rattlesnake Trail overlooking Squam Lake

We stop in Wolfeboro on the way home and have ice cream

Some of us go for a dip at White Pond later in afternoon

Uncle Bob makes a yummy steak tip dish

The Decontos leave on Sunday morning – cousins play until noon

DAd and the 4 kids go to Duncan Lake and have a lot of fun

Earl and Reena go to Wildcat and try ziplining

Next day we all go to Story Land except for Xavier who stays home and play video games with Nick, a Barn resident who shares his love of video games

Dad comes home with the 4 kids and Phoebe – our dog

Earl and Reena are up there still, coming home tomorrow

Gabrielle has her captain’s practice for soccer today at Coventry High School, and Xavier does tomorrow

I go back to work on Thursday

I repeat myself every year

July 20, 2012

I repeat myself. Kids get on me about it. This is what happens: Once a year we come to NH and I see things as we cruise around  and it reminds me of a story or interesting fact – like – “Did you know that White Pond is the second cleanest body of water in NH?” So I say it out loud, but apparently  I have been doing this every year, and they want to point that out and seem to think I should stop this.

But you know what?

Too fucking bad.   🙂  I am on vacation.

Is the market for self-help so huge because we don’t know how to ask for help?

July 19, 2012

If you ask someone for help you may be afaid that they will tell  you no or try to help you in their way, not necessarily how you want them to help you. This fear drives people to  the self-help authors and gurus. They keep raking in the bucks.

And guys like Jim Camp who write about negotiation  get put in the business section. People in business can’t screw around with self-help. They want results. They want the skill set to get results.

What do you want?



Which abilties do you want to develop?

July 18, 2012

When you are in your 40’s like me, it begins to seem like developing your abilities is a luxury. We were expected to develop our abilities when we were younger.  Parents and others would want us to obsess over developing ourselves, but now we have no one yapping in our ear. We are yapping in our children’s ears now. What kind of example are we setting if we don’t invest in ourselves throughout our lives. it hurts our credibility when we are trying to ‘motivate’ people.

So I have picked an ability to develop, and I have gotten to the point where I can offer some preliminary guidance in you developing that same ability.

What ability am I talking about?

The one that helps you convince the other decision makers in your life that you are still worth investing in – negotiation.

I work for – it is our mission to provide world citizens the ability to negotiate agreements that are ethical, profitable and stable.

If you had the support of just one person for developing an ability – what would that mean to you? How do you get that support?

See what I’m saying.? It was a given when we were young, we had that support. Now we have to negotiate for it.   You might want to think about starting to develop an ability and see what happens after  a week passes.  If  you are still not investing in developing your abilities., have the courage to look at the possibility that you are failing because you are a weak negotiator.

Then do something about it or not.

Spageeta bites

July 17, 2012

This is how 4 yo Clara Rose refers to mosquito bites. One of those things that is so cute that you don’t want to correct her right away.

My brother use to call hamburgers – hurgerburgers. That lasted awhile. My wife called them hangleburgs – I think.

Josie said milp instead of milk.

My son Xavier called his sister Dayell instead of Gabrielle.

Spellcheck be damned.

As therapists, we want our clients to be able to say no, but should that include us?

July 14, 2012

Do we really work to make our clients comfortable telling us ‘no’. It doesn’t show up much in discussions about therapy , though it is out there if you look.  Doctors Scott Miller and Barry Duncan come to mind.

But I didn’t really see this as a serious issue until I read a book by Jim Camp called ‘No”.

Now I think everything that matters in a therapy session hinges on it. Simply put: human dignity is impossible without it.

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