How to Be a Great Negotiator

You don’t have to be tough. You don’t have to clever. You don’t have to be ruthless. You must understand that in the long run the most important things you negotiate – the things that will make you wealthy and improve your life – are not transactions but relationships.

With that in mind here are some tips

  • Figure out what value it has to you – what dollar range you would give it if the shoe were on the other foot. Never deviate from that range.
  • Make a judgment about the person you are making a deal with. Don’t negotiate with people you don’t trust.
  • Always get the other person to make the first offer.
  • Knowing beforehand what you think is fair, be nice but absolutely immovable.

Shaq on Business

From The Chronicle

Mr. O’Neal recalled spending his first $1-million paycheck in about 30 minutes, mostly on fancy cars for himself and his parents. “I made a C in Accounting,” he said, “so I thought I knew what I was doing.”

After finding himself $200,000 in debt, he realized he had a lot more to learn about business. And as his status as a player grew—he eventually won four NBA titles before retiring, in 2011—he figured he needed to get back to the classroom to prepare him for the next stage of his life.

Since retiring, he has continued his career as a rapper, actor, and entrepreneur. Today, he told the crowd, he owns 40 24-Hour Fitness clubs, 155 Five Guys restaurants, a jewelry and clothing line, nightclubs, and more.

Read the full article here.

How to Find Years of Enjoyment in a Moldy, 50-Cent, Garage-Sale Book

I have this beautiful old book. It is hardbound, 500 pages thick, and has the potential to provide me with hundreds or even thousands of hours of learning and pleasure.

Titled Spanish – A Basic Course, and published in 1971, this is not the kind of textbook you are likely to find in bookstores today. It is too old-fashioned, too academic. I bought it last year at a flea market. It was sitting in a box full of books that looked as though they had been packed at least 20 years ago.

There is something sad about an old, discarded book. You look at it and think about all the time its author and publisher spent producing it. All those hours of careful thinking and critical revisions and the selection of typefaces and fonts and illustrations. If this particular book has been neglected and unread, what about all its siblings, all the other copies that were printed with such hope and good intentions? Are they also collecting dust? Have they too been disconnected from their purpose? . . . continue reading How to Find Years of Enjoyment in a Moldy, 50-Cent, Garage-Sale Book


Read this.

Randolph Arledge walked out of a Navarro County, Texas courtroom on February 11 after his 1984 murder conviction was overturned because of DNA evidence pointing to another man with an extensive criminal record, including a later similar assault of a woman.

Arledge was convicted of the murder in large part due to the testimony of two incentivized informants who were a couple at the time. The Innocence Project was able to track down one of the informants who recanted his testimony and admitted that he persuaded his girlfriend to corroborate his testimony. Despite a lack of physical evidence connecting Arledge to the murder and alibi testimony from several witnesses, he was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Arledge is enjoying his hard-fought freedom and is happy to be reunited with his son and daughter.

As a rule I don’t give money to organized charities. I prefer to put my money into our family’s foundation which has projects that I can monitor. But this is an exception. This story is terribly common. You would think that the justice system is 95% effective but I think the percentage is much less than that. And when you are talking about murder convictions anything less than 100% is disturbing.


Rewarding Yourself

When I was first getting into the business of selling educational programs, a famous zero-down real estate guru asked me, “Do you know the thing people who take my courses want most?”

I had a sneaking suspicion I was about to get it wrong, but I gamely answered: “To be successful real estate investors?”

He laughed. “You’ve got a lot to learn, my friend.”

I took the bait. “So what do your customers want?”

“They want to avoid taking action.”

I told him I wasn’t sure I understood. He was kind enough to clarify. “Most of the people who take my courses and who will be buying your programs want to feel like they are on the road to success. But they don’t want that road to end. They like the journey. They fear the destination.”

“And why would that be?” I asked.

“To tell you the truth,” he said. “I don’t know. But I can tell you this. After our real estate students have gotten the knowledge they need to succeed, few of them get out there and get to work. Most of them just buy more programs. If they don’t buy them from us, they will buy them from someone else. So we sell them extra programs.”

“That’s sort of depressing,” I said.

“If you give one of my customers – someone who has completed his real estate education and is fully prepared to start investing profitably – a choice between actually getting to work and buying another course to learn more, he will buy the course.”

“Are they afraid of failing?”

“Could be that,” he said. “Could be they’re afraid of success. As I said, I don’t know.” . . . continue reading Rewarding Yourself


So, here is an interesting piece by Anand Giridharadas, about an evolution in our conversational language. You can read the full article over at his personal blog. I’ve included a small excerpt below:

For most of its life, “so” has principally been a conjunction, an intensifier and an adverb.

What is new is its status as the favored introduction to thoughts, its encroachment on the territory of “well,” “oh,” “um” and their ilk.

So, it is widely believed that the recent ascendancy of “so” began in Silicon Valley. The journalist Michael Lewis picked it up when researching his 1999 book “The New New Thing”: “When a computer programmer answers a question,” he wrote, “he often begins with the word ‘so.”‘ Microsoft employees have long argued that the “so” boom began with them.

In the software world, it was a tic that made sense. In immigrant-filled technology firms, it democratized talk by replacing a world of possible transitions with a catchall.

And “so” suggested a kind of thinking that appealed to problem-solving types: conversation as a logical, unidirectional process, proceeding much in the way of software code — if this, then that.

This logical tinge to “so” has followed it out of software. Starting a sentence with “so” uses the whiff of logic to relay authority. Where “well” vacillates, “so” declaims.

To answer a question starting with “well” suggests you are still considering it, don’t know fully but are getting there. To answer with “so” better suits the age, perhaps: A Google-glued generation can look it up where their parents would have said “I don’t know,” Facebook and Twitter encourage ordinary people and not just politicians to stay on message, and we gravitate toward declamatory blogs and away from down-the-middle reporting.

Are You Top Dog….Or Second Banana?

Charlie Munger is Warren Buffett’s right-hand man. And one of the richest men in the world. As vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Munger has a net worth of $2.4 billion (according to Forbes).

Most people recognize Warren Buffett’s name, but few know his very talented partner. Does that minimize Charlie Munger’s wealth or success? Absolutely not.

It may sometimes seem like I’m always pushing you in the direction of becoming No. 1 – of having your own business and being your own boss. And I won’t deny that I spend a lot of time talking about the advantages of entrepreneurship and equity. But some people are better off as No. 2.

In my career, I’ve been both. There’ve been times when I’ve been the unknown No. 2 in a business someone else started. I’ve also been No. 1 in businesses I started myself. But whenever I’ve been the head honcho, I’ve installed a CEO as fast as I could. That’s because I firmly believe that almost any business will do better if it is run by two people.

One person should have the majority of power. But he needs a partner (or sometimes two partners) he can rely on to do things that he can’t do as top dog. He needs a partner to balance out his personality, to excel in the areas where he is weak. If you can provide these skills to the person who owns the business you work for, you can make an extremely good career for yourself as No. 2.

Now I’m not talking about being an assistant. I’m talking about being a full-fledged partner – someone with almost as much power and influence as the No. 1 guy, but with slightly less equity in the business. In fact, being No. 2 can be a fantastic deal for chicken entrepreneurs and ambitious career execs who want the benefits of being the head of a business without having to invest as much time or money as No. 1.

Your goal is probably to be the one on top. If so, that’s fine – because what we are helping you do with ETR will put you there. But realize that it’s possible to have more success, make more money, achieve more, and more fully enjoy your life’s work in the No. 2 position. . . . continue reading Are You Top Dog….Or Second Banana?

The Death of Music Journalism?

Here is an interesting article from Noisey about how music journalism is being affected by the mechanics of SEO optimization and the quest for clicks and page views.

If you’re not familiar with the term, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which Wikipedia defines as “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ search results,”. In short, if you increase the visibility of a website, you increase the advertising revenue of that website.

According to the author, this has had a negative affect on the quality of writing:

Common amongst these types of posts is an abbreviated writing style that prefers lazily regurgitating details, without providing any personal input.

This type of content is a byproduct of blogs’ emphasis on SEO tactics. Shorter pieces lacking substance are easier to produce and enable blogs to post content first, which in turn helps the post rank higher in Google searches.

The author also points out that music websites, like the highly influential Pitchforkhave abandoned their original ethos of covering obscure, alternative, and outsider music.

…the site now also writes about many mainstream artists. In an effort to reach larger demographics, blogs are creating link bait with highly searched band names or keyword phrases like “best new music.” For every obscure band that isn’t heavily searched, a website will produce double that amount of content around a highly searched term.

These are interesting theories.

Interesting…but dead wrong.

This is a story not about the effect of SEO (the writer is wrong that its inherent tendency is to dumb down). It is a story about a small publication that became big and profitable then, in an effort to stay big and profitable, began acting like a big publisher.

Mainstream publications have always focused on big names to attract readership. Doing anything else is stupid.