The two kinds of negotiators

Tell me if you have encountered one of these:

When I was working with a hard hitting real estate company I met my opposite, a win/lose negotiator. Abrupt, a bit rude and insanely high maintenance, her name was Wilma and she was simply monstrous to deal with. Opposing brokers always felt like she pushed the other side too hard, earning her the nickname of “Warhammer.” She would push and push and push until finally the other side would say, “uncle!” Want to be on the other side of her? I don’t think so.

To be honest, I used to judge her, until I realized that she was a master of a different style of negotiating.

Here is what I mean: I tend to be a win/win negotiator. I want both sides to win, and I want us to come to a fair price. When I realized that Wilma was that the win/lose negotiation in terms of style and not character, that made dealing with her a lot easy. She would push until someone said, “no.” She had to feel like she won something in a negotiation, otherwise she would keep asking for things, things that she didn’t even use or need!

What I found was that saying “no” to Wilma early and often didn’t make her search for a different marketer, it made her appreciate the one she had. See, with her type, she constantly needed to feel like she was winning, so I usually told her what she wanted was impossible. That got her attention. She realized, “oh wait, I have found my boundary,” and we almost always found a point of mutual agreement.

Compare that to another broker, Dan, who always had an extremely affable position. When he needed a big project quickly, I would just ask questions and work with openness and ease, and say what was was possible with a lot more flexibility than with Wilma.

The big lesson between these two styles? Match your partner’s style. If you encounter a win/win negotiator, be easy to deal with and show you are on both of your sides. If you encounter a win/lose negotiator, don’t give up any ground and push back on them hard until you see that they are willing to bend.

It’s simple, but it also frees us from a lot of unnecessary judgement of other negotiation styles.


The Essential “How.”

The question “how” is a very nice question, because it is a very simple question. When you ask someone a “how” question, they can usually explain without much fuss what they mean.

“How are you?”

“How do you get to the post office?”

“How is your meal?”

“How is your family?”

“How would you deal with X?”

“How did you become a (insert religion?)”

I say the question is “nice” because it doesn’t trigger too many emotions. People aren’t put off by it usually. You can even ask a question about religion, sex, or politics without getting into too much trouble. See how nice it is?

On the other hand, “how” is your absolute ally in the workplace. This is especially true if you are new to a team or new to a small business. The sad fact is that even in places where they “value initiative,” many times what they really value is someone asking the question “how” repeatedly, because the way that you might want to do something may be contrary to the way it has been done. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it doesn’t stunt creativity, I’m not saying that you should kowtow to everyone, but I am saying that a little bit of diplomacy, exercised by asking a lot more “how,” can go a long way to helping one’s job security (notice, I say job, not career).

Twice in my life I have been fired because I didn’t ask “how,” often enough. I relied on my own creativity to get things done and was summarily handed my hat. On the other hand, side jobs I was working at the same time blossomed in ways I couldn’t have imagined, because, well, they were utterly unconcerned with “how” I was doing what I was doing.

For example: as an English teacher, I had full reign in front of the class room. As a guest in people’s work space, I was given full permission to lead and inspire and guide. It was a terrific time, and I had to create my own “hows,” in response to the request, “teach!”

Some people intrinsically have greater attachment to certain styles, methods, and “how’s.”

How to call a customer.

How to answer the phone.

How to handle a problem.

How to cook a dish.

How to dress.

How to build something.

How to move something.

How to write.

The sad part is they don’t realize this. Instead of saying “oh, hey, I appreciate your approach but next time, could you do it like this _____, because_____.” They just ask you, “how are things going?” without proposing a real solution.

Now in my opinion the real reason that people lose their minds over “how”is because they have lost touch with their “why.” It’s the bigger, deeper question of “why” that has to be answered so confidently, that they are able to see how your ideas and contributions to “how” are also valuable.







5 Ways to Think about your Marketing Career that you Probably Haven’t Tried

Do you write copy for brochures? you may be in MarCom (marketing communications)…or maybe not. Do you like writing clickbait? That’s content marketing…unless it’s email…wait..(note, I have #bolded) things that need to be clarified later.

Some people have to wait until they get into the tech industry before they realize what kind of marketer they really are. That’s creates a disadvantage for everyone who is not in tech. So, this post is simply to clear up some terminology that you may have about marketing.

For example: MarCom (Marketing Communications)

If you are a MarCom, you are in charge of the voice of your company externally. That means that you may write press releases and do media relations, you may write brochures, ad copy, etc. Better said, you help tell your company’s story better and more clearly, in order to help customers engage. Think of marketing as a verb — it’s the work of offering and of giving value to others; then add the work of “communications” among any number of your communications #channels (facebook, email, tv, etc.).

Customer Marketing

This is a really fun one! You help tell the world success stories that your customers have had by working with you!  This usually comes as part of the #inbound marketing process. These stories can be lots of fun and use the “co-branding” space. As you remember from your college marketing classes, co-branding only works with two well known brands (or at least brands both known to one consumer). Customer marketing is a key place where you can grow the feeling of success and importance customers will have when using your product, and often work indirectlywith #customersuccessheros. NB this is not necessarily customer experience management, that can be more of a product marketing department.

Product Marketing

Product marketing is all about features, packaging, manuals, all the inserts, labels, you name it . When Steve Jobs put his first 5 page add for the Newton in the New York Times, it bombed. That’s because he didn’t realize the NYT is the field of MarCom and not the field of Product Marketing. Product marketing is a great area t put people who have a lot of experience and intimate knowledge with the product, and they should be flanked by legions of #customersuccessheroes.

Lead Generation

Is what it sounds like. The basic tool here is how you funnel Pay Per Click (PPC) / SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work into an effective sales pipeline. It’s essential to know your inbound sales funnel ratio in this position. For example: 40,000 clicks, leads to 10,000 engagements, leads to 2,000 email subscriptions, leads to 500 interactions, leads to 100 phone calls, leads to 10 client meetings, leads to 3 enterprise-level sales. Boom.

Project Marketing

This is what we do with people (like me) who have a broad skill set and are just not super defined yet in their careers. Project marketers are extremely useful and usually can move into any other role, but if they do not have an effective Project Marketing Manager, then their salaries will be a sore spot for the CFO. Project marketers are like the cash that some companies keep on hand just so that they can make an acquisition. Without them, companies are dead in the water if there are any time-sensitive work or initiatives.


Now, happily, the sales process these days looks a bit like this:

Lead Generation (LG), is at the beginning, and can include content marketing in as much as it is a strategic means to get more “clicks.”

This filters into….

Content marketing. This is the phase of education, of teaching, inspiring, transferring value and helping others see the value of the product in solving the needs they have. It follows the principles of Jay Baer’s “Youtility” book.

This filters into…

Customer / Project marketing. Where we champion our customers and show off those testimonials.

This filters into…


Which filters into…

Product Marketing. Where the customer is shown over and over through design and experience just how smart they were to have purchased this product.

This whole filter moves into

PR/MarCom. Where the company tells its story to the world, and starts the cycle over again!


Now you have 5 news  ways to think about your marketing career, and you have the context which will show you how it filters into the sales pipeline for your company. Nifty, eh?

What Makes a Marketer a Marketer

I see that there are two essential functions of any good marketer.

The first is tactics.

A marketer needs to be obsessed with implementing the right tactics in the right way. The great thing is that there are a near endless number of tactics that are important. Social media posts, inbound marketing work, copywriting, printing, etc. These are the essential tools in the marketers toolbox. Interestingly, they are often replaced or refined, some altogether, some only in part. Since that is the case, a marketer is always learning new tools, retiring some, and learning to hack old ones.

However, how does a marketer choose which tools to use? How do they know which skills to devote time into? There are some tools (listening tools) that can help keep an ear out for where the customers are, and then other tools that can be used once we know where they are, but those don’t quite have enough depth to really inspire creativity or get the right message. That’s why we turn to the other half of marketing, the underwater part of the marketing iceberg. I call this, insight.

The second is insight.

Insight is what lets us distinguish a good idea from a bad idea. Insight can be learned, but it requires the brain and training to get there. This is the land of thought leadership, of story-based  branding, of conceptual marketing.

While insight can be trained for, it’s a much more cerebral kind of activity. This is the work of Seth Godin, of Chip and Dan Heath, of Jim Collines of Donald Miller. This is also the work of so many coaches and business books that are written today, who have varying degrees of success.

For me, I have the most fun in insight, but I also love the tactics. Some marketers are on the other side, where they might really enjoy specific analytic tasks or production. Neither of these are wrong, but it is important to have a balance, as both insight and tactics work symbiotically.

If you are a manager of marketers or a marketing team: beware. Do not take all the insight upon yourself and leave all the tactics for your team, or the reverse. If you are not a marketer, do not steamroll over the insight your marketer should be able to provide. Marketing is a fine balance, and the best hires will be a very nice balance of these things.

Cut Social Media Clutter with a Solid Framework

Don’t believe there is social media clutter? I direct you to exhibit A.


This “supergraphic” designed by Scott Brinker is a summation of everything you will see in the Marketing Technology Landscape, i.e. anything where marketing uses technology. I actually quite like this graphic because it helps localize not only the many functions of marketing and technology, and it’s brilliance is in its flouting the conventional wisdom of infographic / data visualization.

To cut through this clutter, however, I believe we have to be able to simplify all our efforts and take a really well reasoned, accessible approach to what we are doing as marketers that help kill the clutter and focus on the essentials. If we don’t have a good hierarchy to follow in our minds, then we will be ineffective  in our teams and our services will fold.

Michael Hyatt proposes I think the strongest framework for organizing our marketing efforts and cutting the clutter. Here it is:

  1. Homebase: This is your home and where you want to direct all traffic in order to convert social media interest to mailing list signups and product purchases. This is what you own and where you deliver.
  2. Embassies. These are part of any service, like facebook or linked in, and they focus on interactions with people on their own terms. They are not the greatest source of value but always point toward the homebase.
  3. Outposts. These are where you have a listening ear to what the conversation is doing, where you monitor your name and can respond to critiques and issues quickly.

With this framework, we can start putting the marketing technology landscape to better use. Once we start to see how each of these services can fit inside to each of these area, then we can get more clarity within our organization and drive more business. This does not mean business isn’t complex, only that complexity needs to be well organized.

In addition, this follows the Rule of Three’s, that I love so much. Data that comes in threes is always easier to remember than data that comes in any other format.




The Second Question to Ask

Yesterday I wrote about the first question we should ask, “Tell me more.” Now, while not properly a question, that doesn’t matter, the point is that you are requesting your speaker to explain himself. What naturally happens when there are high emotional stakes is that we start to misunderstand.

For example: what I might mean by “hustle,” it might be positive, meaning “that guy is such a hard worker, he really hustles!” or it could mean, “hey, don’t try and hustle me!” The fact is that most audiences are in agreement about the judgement on the meaning, but they are not necessarily in agreement as to what the word “hustle,” meant. That is, until they asked for clarification.

Then comes the second question to ask: “Tell me what you mean by ____.” 

The interrogative (question word) “what” is very useful for getting at the emotion of someone’s meaning, and help them come up with a clear rational for what they are saying. Let’s take a hypothetical: Steve comes into your office and says, “ugh, Ana the secretary, she is so lazy!” you might say, “tell me what you mean by lazy.” And then Steve can explain what he means, “she comes in late, she doesn’t do the work I ask her for, she is on facebook all day, all she does is chat with her colleagues.” and you Steve has a full resume of what frustrates him. Alternatively, Steve might not really have an answer, he might feel and say, “well, I, uh…I guess…well, I really don’t know. I maybe shouldn’t have said that.”

The “tell me what you mean by ____.” is helps the speaker account for the emotions he or she feels.

This is why it’s so powerful, again, you get to take control and the emotions of the individual now have to go back to logic and reason, and you can be a bit more constructive. Alternatively, if you see something that you can do for the individual, you have the opportunity to fix it.

Which word do we choose to fill in the blank? The one with the greatest emphasis. Learn to listen to a speaker and see what word they emphasize most, or the one that they immediately precede with a swear word. THAT is the word that you need them to clarify, because that is their point of greatest pain. Want them to listen to you? Make sure they know that you are listening to them. 


The First Question You Should Ask

Interviews, coworkers discussions, conversations with your boss, projects, even just the relationship with your spouse–all of these suffer from the same sickness: miscommunication. How many times has either the “wrong” response to a question or a squabble begun just because what someone meant wasn’t what you thought they said! Language is like a cross-platform technology that allows separate operating systems or programs communicate with each other. And, there are always, always going to be bugs.

That’s why I propose the following:

The question you should ask is: “tell me more.”

Tell me what you mean by that or “tell me more” is a way to acknowledge someone, show that you are listening, and make sure you hear their entire meaning is heard. Yes, it takes more time, but it saves a lot more in the long run. Try using the phrase, “tell me more” and you will be surprised at just how much might be behind someone’s words.

This can also be an especially foul trick on someone who is rude to you or insults you. For example, if someone says, “man, that shirt looks a little tight on you” and you reply, “oh yeah? Tell me more.” They can either dig a hole (which they will feel the effects from later, wondering all day why they didn’t just stop talking), or they can say, “woah, I’m so sorry that I ever thought that, I was wrong and I would ask your forgiveness.” Either way, by asking someone to explain the slight that they have given you, you take back control from them. They are no longer in control of the emotional climate.

How do you like that? Now you are back in the driver’s seat and you have only said three words. Nifty, eh?

Eventually someone will say, “That’s really all there is to say,” and then we can talk about the second best question to ask, which I will talk about tomorrow.