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“Beware Of The Concealed Danger In Friends” – Negotiation Insight

“Beware of the concealed danger that resides in friends. If perceived too late, you may not be able to avoid danger.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)    Click to get the book!


“Beware Of The Concealed Danger In Friends”


When I was 11 years old, I got into trouble with the law. My friends told me they were going to commit a harmless act, and afterward, we’d have a few quarters. I asked if our actions would hurt anyone. They said no, and so I went along with them. Little did I know that decision had just placed me in danger.

How many times have you followed the suggestions or requests of friends only later to discover that they’re behest had placed you in danger? If you’d like to avoid such calamities in your future, observe the following.


Style Versus Substance

Some friends have a particular style about their mannerisms. Their style, swagger, and sense of confidence can sway you more than the substance of what they’re saying. Take note when you find yourself moved by someone’s style over their content. More than likely, you’re moved to action based on their body language and nonverbal cues versus the logic of what they’re stating. Take a moment to reflect on what’s occurring before you commit or engage in an action that you may later regret.


You’re not the only one that can go astray by following your friend’s advice or suggestions. Your friends can lose their credibility by following your edicts too. And that would be due to requests that later proved to be unfounded, unwise, or worse, foolish.

Thus, as you or they mind the words that either speak, both of you must be mindful of where they may lead. Therefore, if the statements don’t support your future position, don’t state them. And, if you sense that danger may lay ahead, create a quick-response plan to deal with the fallout.

Truth be known, you should already have thoughts prepared ahead of time of how you’ll respond in certain situations. You should also have a mental picture of how you’ll explain your position. The purpose of this would be to help you correct the errant actions that might occur due to incorrect thinking. Since you and your friends can harm one another based on your acts, you should always be prepared to defend yourself and them by thinking before you act.


He saw a box of peanut brownie biscuits. Immediately he smiled as he imagined how wonderful they’d taste. So he bought them. And when he bit into the first bar, a frown creased his face. The taste did not meet with his approval. He wondered why he’d bought them and muttered, “I should have known better.”

Friends create images of outcomes when you interact with them. And that’s another reason you should be mindful of those that you accept into your friend category. They’ll have sway over your perception, which will influence your opinion and perspective about things.

It’s always best that you’re aware of the image your thoughts create. Those images will move you to adopt an action faster or slower based on the degree they resonate with you. And that will set you on one path versus another.

Compromising Positions

She wanted to be a good friend. So, since she was the president, she attempted to get her friend on the board. The reality was, the committee had already voted, no, to accepting her friend. But her obligation to her friend placed her in a position to contest the committee’s vote. Thus, she placed a higher priority on appeasing her friend than the members of the organization she was supposed to be supporting.

That’s the type of position you can find yourself in when a friend is insistent in placing you in a dangerous situation due to their request or demand for what they want from you. And that’s yet another reason that you must be extremely cautious of toxic relationships. They can place you in compromising positions, which will emotionally tear you between what’s right and what they want you to do right now.

When you’re confronted by a friend that becomes assertive about you engaging in an action that compromises your values, consider it time to exit that friendship. You’ll save yourself the damage of being placed in future danger.

Your Future

No matter who you are, you possess seeds of greatness. But those seeds will only blossom into the fullness of their potential if you’re alert to whom you allow into your life’s garden. By minding your friends, you can increase the probability of those seeds delivering the fullness of their intent. And your future days will be better than the ones that have occurred in the past.


A snake’s poisonous bite affects your body. And like the poison delivered by a snake, a small request made by a friend can alter your thinking, and place you in danger. And that’s something that you should always seek to avoid.

Once you control to whom you accept friendship and the information that flows from them, you’ll be able to control better the thoughts that pass through you. That will allow you to engage in better decision-making processes. And everything will be right with the world.


Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator


After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com


To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/


Best Practices Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Marketing Negotiations Sales Skills Women In Business

“Good Negotiators Know How To Avoid Compromise Danger” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“How you compromise today impacts tomorrow’s opportunities.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

Click to get the book!


“Good Negotiators Know How To Avoid Compromise Danger”


He wanted the opposing negotiator to perceive him as possessing an amiable demeanor. So, he smiled a lot and made one concession after another in the opening phase of the negotiation. He even offered several compromises that were not to his favor without a request to do so. Little did he realize the danger that he was creating for himself. But he’d sure find out later.

Making concessions and compromises is an act that negotiators must engage in during a negotiation. And, since there are many ways to compromise during such times, if you don’t do it correctly, you place the favorability of a successful negotiation outcome for yourself in danger.

The following are factors to be aware of, and in some cases, concern yourself about before making a concession. Because, the manner you do so, signals how you might compromise your position throughout the rest of the negotiation.


Planning Stage

During the planning stage of the negotiation, assess how you’ll use concessions to compromise the other negotiator’s position. That means you should view compromises and concessions as a tactic, one that you employ strategically. To do that, assess where choke points might occur in the negotiation, based on potential points of contention. In your assessment, evaluate what you can offer to move him favorably away from the point of dispute. And estimate if you’ll use a concession or compromise to enhance your position. Also, consider what you’re willing to forgo to entice that move.



When you’re in a negotiation, be aware of the following factors.

  • What the other negotiator’ really’ wants from you – It may be different from what he states.
  • Why he’s seeking what he wants from you – You may be a pawn used as leverage to get his real target to compromise.
  • Who else might he be talking with to obtain the outcome he’s after – Always attempt to know who’s not at the negotiation table – they might be your competitor.
  • What timeframe he’s dealing with – Time is a potent weapon in a negotiation.
  • What he might do as time begins to run out – Question if he might become irrational – If so, he may become more open to compromise.

And, depending on your negotiation circumstances, you should create additional factors that may sway the negotiation. Doing so will allow you to anticipate the actions that your opposition might engage in to acquire the outcome he’s seeking from the negotiation. It will also give you a guideline about when and how to make concessions. And that insight can be priceless. Thus, always attempt to understand the full story of what’s occurring in your opponent’s environment. And, remember that he’ll be making the same assessment about you.


Compromise vs. Concession Label

While some negotiators view making concessions as a form of compromise, you can commit to one without engaging the other, while giving the appearance that both are the same. As an example, if two negotiators were a $1,000 apart and one said to the other, let’s compromise and split the difference. At that point, he’s stating that he’s willing to concede $500 (i.e., 1,000 divided by 2). While the negotiator making the offer may view that as a concession, depending on your anticipation of what he might ask for later, label his proposal a concession or compromise. Do that based on the label that’ll serve you best in the negotiation. Because, he may attempt to say later that he made a concession or compromise, whichever phraseology would be beneficial to his position, and then ask you to indulge him by you offering one.

Whether you compromise or concede points in the negotiation may sound like a point without a difference. But the point of difference lies in how a smart negotiator may use the perceptional difference to advantage his position. The point is, be mindful of how you compromise or concede, and how it’s perceived when you and the other negotiator exchange positions. The label you apply to your actions and the way you do so sets the tone for what will follow.


Ploys (hook, story, offer)

Ploys are something else to concern yourself with related to compromise requests. You or the other negotiator may use them at strategical points in the negotiation. You can determine their effectiveness by how dire one’s position is when they’re employed, and the outcome they produce.


The other negotiator says to you, ‘this is going to make you a star. So many people will be envious of you.’ He’ll make statements such as those to orientate your thoughts to the future. The intent is to emotionally tie you to the feeling you’ll experience once you’ve acquired his offer. Be alert – it’s the set-up for what’s to follow.



The story embellishes the hook. It’ll have a variance like, “we’re almost out of this. Someone else said they’d be right down, but you’re here right now. So, if you want it, it’s yours.” The implication being, you must act quickly. Be mindful of the manipulation attempt made to motivate you to act quickly.



The dialogue may go something like, ‘… so, you’re taking my offer, right? No! You’re crazy if you don’t accept this deal! It’s the best one you’ll get. And if you don’t take it, your competition will snap it up. And he’ll be the one getting all of the accolades that would have been yours. So, you better grab it quickly before I change my mind.”


Suffice it to say, when the hook is strong, you become more susceptible to compromise. Thus, be aware of how you feel when you hear a story that attempts to move you to accept an offer emotionally. At that point, you’ve been set-up passionately and exposed to the concession request that’ll follow.



In every negotiation, negotiators must be attentive to restraining themselves. Sometimes an offered deal appears so appealing that inexperienced negotiators jump at the offer only to discover later that they could have done better. Don’t let that happen to you. Always keep your wits and emotions in check in a negotiation.



As a negotiator, always be aware when you may be pushing a rope uphill. That means there will be times when a deal can’t occur due to reasons beyond your control. Thus, no matter how much you compromise, you’ll only get further away from the next deal you negotiate with that person or entity. So, to avoid danger from compromise, understand how, when, and why you make concessions. And be alert to the earlier mentioning. Combining all the variables mentioned will make you a better negotiator. And everything will be right with the world.


Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator


After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com


To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/



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Best Practices Entrepreneurship Marketing Personal Development

Flourless Chocolate Cake





That’s what a great flourless chocolate cake is all about.

Same with a high-impact webinar.

OK, maybe it doesn’t have to be moist :o)

Here’s what’s waiting for you inside this action-packed free training.

0:17-1:30  What your clients and prospects are experiencing during Covid-19

2:02-2:34  How to show up with caring, empathy, and relevance

2:35-3:17  The five keys to re-align your marketing and messaging

3:17-5:32  Marketing self-check from 0 to 100: from “hot mess” to “laser-focused ninja”

5:44-6:04  Crisis behavior and psychology you MUST know to sell effectively today

6:05-6:15  How to align your value proposition with what buyers are already doing

6:16-6:39  The #1 “benefit” everyone promises that now makes you sound tone-deaf and ignorant

6:40-7:07  How to use herd mentality and risk avoidance to your advantage

7:08-8:24  New nouns and verbs for your messaging so that you become hyper-relevant

8:24-8:37  How to refresh, revamp, and reboot what you say and what you sell

8:38-9:11  How to win attention as a source of help and defuse buyers’ “panic mode”

9:11-11:55  The “3+1” power formula to move your business online NOW

11:55-12:16  Protect your fees and margins when moving to virtual presentations

12:16-14:09  How to replace sales pitches with a “high trust” systematic process

14:10-14:27  How to stop chasing prospects and have them apply to work with you instead

14:27-15:20  Shift to Covid-19-adapted messaging so that you instantly connect with buyers’ critical priorities

15:20-15:58  How to get your marketing firing on all cylinders even if your prospects are fearful and frozen

15:58-16:38  Stone cold truth: your services, programs, and offers need to adapt or you’ll be ignored

16:38-17:50  How to add online courses, virtual trainings, high-fee mentoring, and elite masterminds to your business model

17:51-18:52  Coaching, training, and consulting success stories for moving into remote/virtual delivery

18:53-20:32  How to generate cash now from a Covid-19-adapted, 100% remotely delivered program

20:32-21:33  The three primary reasons this business model and revenue model makes sense right now

21:34-22:36  Next steps to help you make this happen with structure, accountability, and mentorship

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Best Practices Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Marketing Negotiations Sales Skills Women In Business

“Look – This Is What Containment Is Like In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Containment can be good, depending on who’s containing whom.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)


Click to get the book!


“Look – This Is What Containment Is Like In A Negotiation”


He muttered softly aloud, “I feel restricted. I can’t maneuver nor implement the negotiation strategies that I’d planned to use. He’s keeping me contained within boundaries of which I was unaware.”

Since the time you were in your mother’s womb, you’ve fought containment. And containment continues to occur in many aspects of your life today. Sometimes containment is favorable, and sometimes it can be unfitting. Thus, when it’s in your favor, it provides shelter from harm. But if you’re the one contained in a negotiation, it can be very detrimental to your negotiation position. Nevertheless, you and the other negotiator engage in a constant dance throughout the talks to see who’ll come out on top of the containment battle.

While containment can be useful, it can be constraining in a negotiation. And that may not necessarily help your negotiation efforts. What follows are insights about how containment occurs and why it can be so devastating.



You discover your negotiation efforts are restricted. Now, what do you do? Just because it’s occurring doesn’t mean you have to let it continue. That means, be mentally flexible with your thoughts and acceptance of new ideas while attempting to free yourself from containment.

By keeping an open mind, you open the doorway through which new ideas may enter. And if allowed life, you never know where that idea may take you. The end of the path may be freedom from containment. Now, let’s switch perspectives.

Sometimes, the caveat swallows the premise because you’re too affixed to the latter. Say what? That means, never close your mind to a warning because you believe it’s impossible. You may receive intuitive signals that something’s not right, situations closing in, etc. If there’s a probability of that occurring and you’re sensing it, based on the effects it might have on you, prepare to challenge a premise. The point is when negotiating, always be willing to reassess your position and perspective. Life is an ever-changing occurrence, and so it is when you negotiate.


Mind Control

Have you ever had your fortune told by a carnival fortune-teller? She looks for signs on your person to detect insights about you. As an example, if she observed that you were poorly dressed, she may have stated that she sensed you were dealing with challenging times. If viewing a faint lightness around your ring finger, she may have said that she sensed that you’d had some recent personal issues with a loved one, etc. After she made a few pronouncements that you agreed were accurate, you became more prone to accepting new assessments she made about your future.

A good negotiator uses some of the same tactics to endear himself to get you to bond with him. He knows, the more you bond with him, the more likely you are to agree and accept his proposals.

There’s another influencing factor at work, too. It’s called consistency. And it plays with your emotions. It does so when you think, well, she’s right about most things discussed so far, I might as well accept this. Don’t do that! Don’t let expectations get ahead of reality. Be aware of what’s moving you to action and where it’s leading. Being unaware can prove to be a trap from which it becomes difficult to extract yourself.



Speaking of mind control, be careful of what you believe. When negotiating, a good negotiator knows it’s easier to move her opposition to her point by getting him to agree with something he already believes. Thus, when she links a thought that he agrees with to her offer, he’s more apt to acknowledge and accept her proposal. And that’s why you should be aware of how someone can turn your beliefs against you.

Once you embrace an assumption as the truth, and one you believe in, you become prone to accepting other similar premises. Psychologists state that’s due to the consistency factor. Everyone wants to maintain consistency in what they’ve said or done in the past. Thus, they find inner conflict when they rebel against what was their current beliefs.


Hidden Commands

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of hidden commands you encounter every day? A good negotiator uses hidden or embedded commands frequently in a negotiation. It’s part of his containment strategy.

Look, buy, like, this is, are suggestive psychological words intended to move you to action. I used several of those words in the title of this commentary. And you may not be aware of their effect unless you’re mindful of the impact they’re having on you at the moment. To assure that they don’t manipulate you when you hear them, note when you hear them. Then, be prepared to confront their intent. By doing that, you’ll decrease the probability that you’ll be contained in an unwanted position by your counterpart.



In every negotiation, seek to give the other negotiator the feeling that she earned the concessions she received. She’ll respect you for that and value what she obtained with her talents versus the perception of a gift you gave her.

Therefore, when she attempts to tie you to her emotionally, understand that it’s another way for her to contain the emotions you have during the negotiation. And, by being mindful of containment throughout the negotiation, you can better dodge the pitfalls that might otherwise occur. That will allow you to be more successful in your negotiation efforts. And everything will be right with the world.


Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator


After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com


To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com




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Body Language Entrepreneurship Human Resources Management Marketing Negotiations Sales Skills Women In Business

“These Are The Best Hidden Secrets About Shoulder Shrugs” – Negotiation Insight

“The lack of understanding of a shoulder shrug can leave hidden secrets concealed.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)



Click to get the book!


“These Are The Best Hidden Secrets About Shoulder Shrugs”


“Were you involved with those other people that ransacked Mr. Smith’s store?” No was the answer to the question. “Then why did some of the people that confessed say you were there?” I don’t know, was his response as he shrugged one shoulder. “You’re not telling the truth! Don’t try to hide your secrets. I can tell when you’re lying!” I’m telling you the truth was the statement made as he displayed a double shoulder shrug.

You might wonder why it’s so important to understand the meaning of shoulder shrugs. And the answer is, they unlock secrets into the thoughts occurring in the person emitting them. Because to possess a lack of meaning about shoulder shrugs is to have a lack of insight into the person with whom you’re communicating. In essence, the person is signaling the need to protect himself. From what is the answer you should seek. Thus, the better you become at interpreting nonverbal signals that shrugs offer, the more able you’ll be at understanding the secrets that others attempt to conceal from you, and why they do so.



To better understand the meaning of a shoulder shrug, you must observe what’s occurring when the action happens. That’s because people emit shrugs based on how they feel at a specific moment. And the gestures occur to secure one’s inner self, their emotional state of mind, or to add additional meaning to what they’re saying.

When displaying a shrug, to add additional meaning to one’s words, the act can become exhibited to convince you of a lie they’re telling, or an attempt to enhance the believability of their truth. And that’s the reason it’s so important to observe when the gesture occurs.

If someone senses that you may be in the process of uncovering their lie, they may become more defensive, which might cause them to shrug both shoulders. The meaning of that act, in that situation, would be an effort to make a smaller target of themselves. That’s something everyone instinctively does when they’re attempting to protect themselves. And that act would be the attempt to conceal the lie flowing from the mouth. Someone’s head might also become tucked to protect the throat better.

You can detect when a lie versus frustration is causing a shrug by the degree that one tucks their chin to protect their throat. As an example, when someone attempts to convince you of their truth, and they emit a shoulder shrug, they may do so with more of their throat exposed. They’re stating through the throat-exposing gesture that they want you to believe their words and accept them as the truth, as they think it to be.

When accessing the meaning of shrugs, keep in mind that the truth is what someone believes it is. Thus, someone may display a signal contrary to what’s above per them telling the truth versus a lie. That means, they may expose the throat to protect a lie because they don’t believe they’re lying. Hence, it can become complicated to discern without a doubt that someone is displaying a gesture per how you perceive it. So, when you’re unsure of a gesture’s meaning, note when it occurs at other times during a conversation.

Single vs. Double Shrugs

  • Single shrug – A single shrug can be a softer form of communication, but you should note what it’s accompanied by when comparing it to a double shrug. As an example, if someone cocks their head to one side while lifting the opposite shoulder, you might assume the person is inwardly confused. Because that gesture is not natural. Try it, and you’ll better understand what I mean. Tilt your head to the right and lift your left shoulder. It feels acquired, doesn’t it? In general, a single shrug can denote the perception of being in a less threatening environment than what a double shrug might indicate.


  • Double shrug – A double shrug, in most cases, is a more substantial commitment to what the person said. Which means, he’s most likely in more of a protective state. That could also imply that you’re closer to uncovering secrets that he’s trying to withhold from you.

Remember, shoulder shrugs are a form of protection. They make a smaller target of one’s body. Therefore, when you see a double shrug after you’ve observed multiple single shrugs, take note of it. You’re more than likely getting close to uncovering something that’s hidden.

Validating Shrugs

To validate the meaning of someone’s shrugs, ask questions that gradually irritate them. By ‘turning up the heat,’ you’ll sense how exposed they feel by the line of questions you’re posing. While asking what you believe to be non-threatening questions, observe when, or if, shrugs occur. One point to note is when shrugs arise based on what you expect. Another point is when they don’t ensue when you expect them to happen. The purpose of that observation is to attune your perception of that person’s behavior. In both cases, you’ll gain information to compare someone’s actions later. And that’s the process that you can engage in to validate the meaning that someone gives to their shrugs.



Shoulder shrugs can send different signals, depending on the sender of the act. But if you establish the meaning someone gives to their shrugs, you’ll gain insight into what the shrug means to them. Once you have that insight, you’ll have the key to understanding when they might be lying, and when they may be telling the truth. And that will give you more understanding into why and what secrets they’re attempting to conceal.

I state that you may have that insight, which implies you may not. That’s because there’s no science to confirm the exactness of someone’s shrug that states that everyone performs the gesture in the same manner in the same situation. Nevertheless, if you employ the guidelines mentioned, you’ll have a higher perspective about the silent shoulder shrug signals people are sending when you’re communicating with them. And everything will be right with the world.


Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator


After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com


To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/


Marketing Personal Development

Why CONTENT MARKETING Is The Only Skill You Really Need

The Rise Of Content Marketing

In 1995, journalist Esther Dyson asked an important question about the burgeoning web:

“What new kinds of content-based value can be created on the internet?”

Dyson observed almost 30 years ago that as the internet becomes more populated with all kinds of content, the value of intellectual property will depreciate. “The likely best defense for content providers,” she argued, is “to distribute intellectual property free in order to sell services and build relationships.”

What worked in marketing in the past won’t keep working in the future. And it isn’t, we know it. In a world with unlimited competition for attention, we must find a way to deliver value to our customers before they ever make it to a pitch to sell them something. Because if you don’t, someone else will. The modern era of marketing has been an entire shift from advertising what we do to teaching what we know to help the most people. Businesses today are treating their information as the product to attract people interested in learning about their field to add value and gain the attention of the customers we want.

The Rise of Value-Rich Content

Subject matter experts today are standing out by providing the most useful, easy to find content to create a community around the passion they share for their subject matter. It’s NOT about producing content for the sake of promoting content for our business. It’s about providing beneficial information that informs & delights people who are searching for what you know that can help them.

The term content marketing isn’t new. It was simply adopted by the marketing industry wishing to put a stake in the ground in 2007 to highlight the shift away from annoying traditional interruption advertising to the maturing discipline of differentiated value-oriented content creation. To help people not just sell people. 

78%  of CMOs believe custom content creation is the future of marketing, which isn’t surprising given how it influences 61% of consumer’s buying behavior with a 6x higher conversion rate compared to marketing without a digital content strategy. Businesses today that produce the most relatable content. Win.

The content marketing funnel is the new sales funnel. 75% of people visiting a site are just seeking useful information. 23% are comparing solutions they are looking for, and only 2% are ready to take any immediate action. That means we need far more content to attract and engage people into our funnel. Create episodes, videos, articles that help your customers overcome the conflict stopping them from achieving their goals. Create articles on examples of other people or companies reaching the goals you can help them achieve to get them interested in those results. (The mountain they want to climb).  Then create content that outlines every step they need to obtain what they desire and the tools and resources they need to reach their ultimate goal (be the guide).

Instead of interrupting the content, your potential customer is consuming. Produce the content they want to consume.


Best Practices Growth Leadership Personal Development

The Company Memo as a Reflection of Company Culture


Good writing skills plus a good attitude make a good memo.

An Imaginary Case History

Frank must send out a memo to the people on his team about low productivity among employees. The nature of that memo will depend a lot on the kind of company culture he’s either created or contribute to maintaining.

The specific problem is that people are turning in reports that are carelessly written and sloppy in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. How will Frank address this issue?

Wielding the Stick

Suppose he functions within a repressive company culture. This would be one that sees its employees, Frank included, as units of profit and loss. Those at the top do nothing to promote a sense of community and common purpose. The odds are good that many don’t like their jobs, call in sick whenever possible, and are either actively seeking other employment or thinking about it. (Frank may be one of them.)

Frank Lays Down the Law

Feeling the pressure from higher up, he writes his memo in a harsh and formal tone. He uses words like “consequences” and “unacceptable.” He threatens that employees will get negative reviews. Beneath this threat lurks the possibility of firings. Overall, the emphasis is on “Shape up, or ship out.”  He may incorporate as well the message that anyone should be able to write an acceptable report. The undertone here is “You’re all stupid.”

Waving the Carrot

In a more employee-centric environment, Frank will pause before he writes his memo. He takes the time to review the attributes of each team member. He knows that Jaye is dealing with a child’s chronic illness. Rick has to put his mother into a nursing home. He realizes that other team members may be dealing with issues of which he isn’t aware.

He also recognizes that, due to pressures to launch a new product, it’s been a long time since the office has had a party or outing and that informal conversations have been down to a minimum. People have been stressed by overtime work. It’s time to rebuild the cohesiveness of the team.

He writes a memo that reflects his awareness of these issues and suggests a team meeting to discuss them. He invites team members to bring proposals to the meeting. In addition, he emphasizes that he’s available to anyone who needs to speak to him individually.

The tone of this memo is informal and friendly. He uses words like “rebuild,” “understanding,” and “accessible.” His memo invites a positive response.

Middle Ground

With the above two examples, I’ve posited extremes. However, it would be more accurate to envision a spectrum. Many companies are making the transition from being employee-repressive to more positive approaches. This means that a memo—and all inter-office communication—can serve not only to reflect but to shift company dynamics and the nature of its culture.

Maybe those at the top who practice repression out of habit and can’t envision a different way need to see the effect that a friendly, employee-centric memo with appropriate follow-up can create.

Trigger Words

I’ve mentioned some of these above. “Consequences” and “unacceptable” characterize a repressive company culture. “Rebuild,” “understanding,” and “accessible” reflect a friendlier atmosphere.

Here are some other words to consider.

Repressive: necessity, obligatory, required, rules, mandatory

Employee-centric: teamwork, cooperative, supportive, appreciation, community

A company culture is an ongoing process. A memo and any other form of written communication should not only communicate necessary information but convey an appropriate tone.

Our words count.

Pat Iyer is one of the original 100 C Suite Network Contributors. She serves business leaders as a ghostwriter and editor. Connect with her at patiyer.com.

Personal Development Sales

Is Your CPG Startup Ready for Outside Sales Reps?

Every Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) business comes to the point where the founder asks themselves—” Am I ready to hire a salesperson?” In order to find an answer, you must ask yourself a few more questions:

Do you imagine replacing yourself in your territory?

Because outside sales reps are generally based in their own territories, replacing yourself would likely require a salesperson who’s already in your area. Ideally, you’d introduce them to each of your accounts with confidence that they’d maintain and grow the relationships you’ve cultivated in that territory.

Do you imagine yourself opening a new territory with your new salesperson?

The ideal rep for a certain territory would come from that territory. Sales representatives may have worked for many different brands throughout their careers, but they’ve probably done so in the same area.

Financially speaking, are you ready to hire a new sales rep?

And by “ready”, we mean–can you afford it? Do you have the funds to pay the rep’s base salary and expenses for their sales? If you do, for how long? Can you cover the bills long enough to “prime the pump”, so to speak? And when will you be able to break even?

Do you think it’ll take 6 months or more–in other words, within 6 months they will earn more than it costs to pay them, their expenses, and commissions? Beware! This could be a dangerous assumption and requires delicate handling. It has to do with your salesperson’s performance in developing and maintaining your brand’s image in their territory. In our case, we planned on having a year to break even in new territories. We were surprised by accounts, reps, and territories who were able to break even, and make a profit at that, much sooner!

So what do you need in your artillery before you try to commit to a new territory sales rep? Well, what’s the base salary rate in that territory? And what kinds of expenses are you likely to expect? All of these things vary from territory to territory, so it’s vital that you do your homework! Ask other industry folks in that territory. But heed warning! If your salary is too high, your new sales rep might not be incentivized enough. If it’s too low, you run the risk of not attracting an effective salesperson. Ideally, you will guarantee a commission structure to your employees that is based on growth, sales, and profitability.

In our case, we identified the key accounts we wanted to be in–the ones we thought would help us generate a profit the fastest, and the ones who we thought would help our new salespeople get commission sooner. The “low-hanging fruit”, in other words. Then, we hired the best rep to fit those accounts. Getting a referral from buyers was a huge help in finding the best reps. If we hired their referral, we got into their account sooner! But in order for the sales rep to keep the account, they had to perform.

Some people might think that they need to have enough sales in their current territory before expanding. This isn’t always the case. But it is always the case that you need to be able to afford the basics in a new territory for a certain amount of time without income. The shorter, the better!

Ultimately, the business owner will have to give their own territory to a replacement. But when? The answer to that question has to do with the effort the owner wants to put in. They can either keep their sales position and hire a CEO, or they decide to oversee new territories, training new salespeople and holding them accountable for their work. Yes, there will be turnover. The owner will be taken away from their accounts at one point or another–this is just the nature of business growth. It might seem like a great idea to replace yourself at first, but it might not be financially sensible.

What do you need to provide in order to compete with other CPG companies for your sales reps?

Of course, you’ll have a hard time matching your competitors’ established benefits packages when you’re new. But your offer will still have a very attractive component–the chance for the sales reps to build a brand in their own territory. Even the “Territory Brand Manager” title indicates that this salesperson has reached a focal point in his or her career.

Based on your reps’ achievement of certain metrics, try to negotiate for future benefits. The job title and the opportunity to be responsible for building a brand will offset the concession if they are an entrepreneurial, confident go-getter! You want this type of employee anyway!

Whatever you negotiate, there’s no doubt you’ll be out the “guarantee” or base salary, and expenses. So start saving! And get an accountant to give you all the details for that specific territory in terms of income and cost of sales. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that some territories will return much more quickly on your sales rep investment than others!


 When it comes to financially supporting the decision to hire outside sales reps, there are multiple moving parts to consider. There’s no one right way to do things. The only thing you can do is your homework–and be careful! Your salespeople represent you, your brand, and your products in a new territory. Some risk-taking will be necessary, so start calculating and proceed “All ahead slow!”

For more, read on: http://c-suitenetworkadvisors.com/advisor/michael-houlihan-and-bonnie-harvey/



Best Practices Growth Leadership Personal Development

Are You Making This Mistake With Your Mission Statement?

Why Mission Statements Don’t Work

Just because we have mission statements doesn’t mean they should magically inspire people. Only 1 in 4 employees actually believes in their company’s mission statement, let alone their customers. The truth is most businesses don’t have very compelling stories because we focus our attention on telling our stories rather than the customers we serve. Most companies explain their products, services, benefits, and features, not WHY we should care or about the ultimate outcome we provide for the customers we serve.

The fundamental question every business must answer is what problem we’re actually solving. To tell our story in a way that attracts customers, we have to put the customer at the center, not just values and ideals.

In Lisa Cron’s book, Wired For Story, The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence,  she says that “story was more crucial to our evolution than the opposable thumb. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. Story is what enabled us to imagine what might happen in the future, and to prepare for it. A feat no other species can lay claim to, opposable thumbs or not.”

To form a bond with customers, knowing what’s important to them and where those customers can be reached in the media landscape, and developing the type of content and experience they desire requires a level of storytelling. After all, we don’t buy fortune cookies to eat them. We buy into the stories they tell. The future they inspire is more potent than the product itself.

What message should we really tell our customers?

  1. Who is the Hero?
  2. What is the conflict they’re confronting and struggling to overcome?
  3. What future outcome do they really want us to help them achieve?

Most businesses talk about what they sell, not what conflict they help resolve. Over time companies have been selling solutions to external problems, but people buy solutions to internal issues. Nobody is interested in our products. They’re interested in what your product can get them.

When people ask us what we do, what they’re really asking is:

  1. Does what you do matter to me?
  2. If so, why?
  3. And exactly should I do about it?

Make the Customer the Hero of Your Story:

If you need advice on your heart, you go to a cardiologist. When you need help with your marketing message, you go to NY Times Best-Selling Author and former screenwriter, Donald Miller. Miller says the biggest mistake businesses make with our marketing is describing our companies as the attractive character or the Hero of the story instead of the customer. Instead, we should play the role of the guide to our customers’ needs. By being the guide, we, in turn, become seen as the Hero to them instead. We’re describing too many benefits and not the potential outcome we provide the customer.

In his famous book; Building a Story Brand, Miller writes: “If The Bourne Identity were a movie about a spy named Jason Bourne searching for his true identity, but then also included scenes of Bourne trying to lose weight, marry a girl, pass the bar exam, win on Jeopardy, and adopt a cat, the audience would completely lose interest.” There are too many directions that deviate from the original goal. Instead, Miller argues we need to provide a common goal we can agree we want for each member of the audience or community we’re trying to reach.

When we clarify our marketing message into a single want, we bring our audience into our story by getting them to want the same future outcome instead of the process and tools it takes to get them there. We should focus instead on explaining the results we provide than what we have to sell them.

Best Practices Culture Growth Leadership Personal Development

Is Your Company Sexist?

In June 2018, Ernst & Young, an accounting firm with $36.4 million in global revenue and 270,000 employees, demonstrated how deeply sexism is embedded in company culture.

At a day-and-a-half-long seminar on leadership and empowerment, 30 female executives received a barrage of information about how to “fit into” corporate culture. The basics of this presentation were contained in a 55-page document.

Noteworthy excerpts included:

“Don’t flaunt your body—sexuality scrambles the brain.”

A description of how women’s and men’s communication styles differ stated that women often “speak briefly” and “ramble and miss the point” in meetings. In contrast, a man will “speak at length ― because he really believes in his idea.” Men are more effective at interrupting than women, who “wait their turn and raise their hands.”

A masculine/feminine score sheet further reinforced sexist stereotypes. Some of these included the notions that women are loyal, sensitive to the needs of others, and yielding. Men are individualistic, independent, and competitive.

A senior consultant at Paradigm, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm, Evelyn Carter, said that while the Ernst & Young presentation took note of sexist stereotypes, it seemed to advise women how to live with them.

What’s a Company to Do?

Consulting with a diversity and inclusion company is a good start. I also recommend this article in Inc. “Women Should Not “Fix” Themselves to Fit Into Sexist Work Environments,” 

by Amy Nelson, founder, and CEP of The Riveter. Read this article for some specific suggestions about changing company cultures.

In addition, special attention needs to be paid to both verbal and written language so that it’s gender-neutral.

“Men” Is Not an Inclusive Word

The argument that it is, while archaic, is still used, as in the idea that “mankind” includes both men and women. The truth is that it leaves out women entirely; it makes men the default gender. Erasing that word from one’s speech and writing is a good beginning.

In that vein, the word “guys” also must go. A guy is a man. I can’t count the number of times a waiter addressed my husband and I as guys. “Thank, guys.” “What would you like tonight, guys?”

Some other words, like “businessmen,” “chairman,” and “manpower” should also be endangered. The first two only need the replacement of “person” and “people.” The third can be swapped for “personnel.”

One phrase that should be eliminated is “Man up” and similar expressions, some of which are genitalia-based. It might take a little longer to say, “Take responsibility,” but it has much more impact.

When my boys were little and enjoyed having me read bedtime stories, I edited the language in their books. Fireman became firefighter. Police man became police officer.  I even changed some elements of stories. If daddy was outside doing yard work and mommy was inside cooking, I added a sentence that daddy would take his turn cooking the next day. When my boys learned how to read, they realized how I’d changed the stories. We still laugh about this today.

 Use “They”

I agree with those who say that using “he and/or she” is clunky and awkward. The solution many are adopting is “they.”

“If an employee wishes to submit a complaint, she or he should forward it to the appropriate department.”

“If an employee wishes to submit a complaint, they should forward it to the appropriate department.”

Grammatically, it may look wrong, but it’s simple, and it does the job.

Overcoming Objections

One of the bigger objections is “It’s just an expression.” None of the phrases I’ve used here are “just expressions.” They are, rather, “reflections.” They demonstrate the underlying sexism that underpins far too much of company culture and culture in general.

Attention to non-sexist language also isn’t a phase that women are going to get over. They are in it for the long haul. It makes good business sense to understand and adapt to the values that are reshaping company culture.

Besides, it’s the right thing to do.

Pat Iyer is one of the original 100 C Suite Network Contributors. She serves business leaders as a ghostwriter and editor. Connect with her at patiyer.com.