Who better to get business deals and negotiations tips from than the man who was Donald Trump’s right hand man for over 30 years, Mr George H. Ross!
For anyone who doesn’t know who George Ross is (shame on you 😉 ) he was Donald Trump’s right hand man, executive VP and senior counsel of the Trump Organisation, Donald Trump’s advisor on the American NBC reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’ and is the author of ‘Trump Strategies For Real Estate’ and ‘Trump Style Negotiation’. A pretty darn impressive resume, don’t you agree!
Last weekend, on the 9th and 10th September, I attended a business event organised by the JT Foxx Organisation were I had the honour and privilege to not only listen to Mr Ross present to over 250 entrepreneurs and top level business people but to actually take him out for a private dinner, steak of course!
Perhaps what was even more impressive about this remarkable man is that at 89 years young he has not only more wisdom than 99.9% of the population but more energy, enthusiasm and zest for life too! George looks after his wealth and his health (physical and mental) in equal amounts and it sure as heck seems like he’s got that balance right and is a walking showcase for it.
George had been speaking and sharing his knowledge and insights with other top level coaches over the jam packed two day business event and it would have been reasonable to assume he might want some peace and quiet for the evening before his early flight the next day but no, not George Ross. At 18:30 Sunday 10th September, George and I walked out of the conference room together and made our way off to dinner, needless to say, the evening was full of fascinating insights and enlightening conversations about business and life.
Some of the take homes from the conversations I’d like to share with you in this blog including 6 strategies to win any deal / negotiation in business.
Ok, first things first, let’s start with life because what’s more important – your business or your life?
Upon sitting down at the table George and I found common ground straight off the bat. How we both feel regarding stress and health was completely in sync which filled me with an extra eagerness to share thoughts and ideas. We discussed how people react to stressful situations and that the best time to handle a stressful situation or problem is with a clear head, which would mean choosing to ‘park’ a problem until you can think on it with a clearer head when you can be effective rather than just reactive,
George has handled stress in the work place very well throughout his career which just goes to show that if a man of his stature and level of responsibility managed to live with a work / life balance that suited him, then there’s literally no excuse why anyone else can’t too! Stress at work is a monster and it impacts on productivity, decision making and health. When all of those things are unbalanced you are less effective (if not ineffective) and will make poor judgements and bad decisions all leading to a financial and physical cost. Stressed out, tired people trying to handle a crisis typically ends in the creation of more problems rather than solutions, even if those problems do take a few weeks or months to resurface.
My take home from the more personal stories he told me was that life is like facing a path that is full of muddy puddles, most people try to find a way around them to avoid getting dirty but it’s better to walk straight through them. That it’s not just about rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in but it’s facing the s**t, the discomfort, the pain and finding that you still walk out the other side, you survive and you move forward. That you should live in the present and face the future with the strength and courage from your scars, lessons and wisdom of the past. That the future is uncertain but the present moment is and that a life without meaning, without health and without love is one that is shortened and wasted.
George has been involved with and orchestrated some of the biggest deals going but also gives back in abundance through his donations and work with charities and with giving his time – time, a person’s most precious gift, in my opinion, coupled with attention. He is always eager to share, giving talks, sharing his knowledge, experiences, lessons and wisdom at universities and to the fortunate students of the JT Foxx Organisation.
George is the author of two books and has shared much of his knowledge and business acumen in these publications. Which leads us into the lessons in negotiation and business deals that George advocates everyone to start utilising to give themselves the upper hand in any transaction.
6 Strategies to Win Any Deal & Negotiation:
Keep detailed, precise records.
Yep, I know, admin. It ain’t sexy and is one that always gets a bit of a moan and groan but if you want to succeed in business deals and negotiations then knowledge and facts are your super power. George has a very concise but thorough system to process and record this data and for a full breakdown I’d suggest reading his ‘Trump Style Negotiation’ book. If you don’t want to read the book then the overview of the core sections regarding record keeping are:
- Checklist of negotiation points.
- What has been agreed.
- What is still open to discussion.
- Points under negotiation by both sides including current positions on price, time frame and compromises.
- Claims and promises made by the other party and yourself.
- A summary of what you want to get from the deal organised by priority.
- A ”POST” document: post stands for People, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics. Which you complete before each meeting.
These things take time to input however save you more time, energy, stress and money in the long run, namely because you’ll win and with winning comes remuneration.
Write your own forms and contracts.
When you are in charge of what is going in to the document, either because you’re the one writing it or delegating it, then you get to swing the terms in your favour.
“It’s company policy” – one sentence to rule them all….
When you want to shut down an objection against something that you have no wish to negotiate on try using these magic words “It’s company policy.” Boom. Lock down. To be fair it may not work 100% of the time but history shows it seems to have proven a winner in many cases.
Take calculate risks.
Not a new concept at all but one to keep at the forefront of your mind. Like the Paratroopers say “He Who Dares Wins”. So be daring in business, just not stupid, hence the insertion of the term “calculated”. The trick is that you understand the risk, that you can prepare for it and are willing to accept the consequences if things fall through or don’t pan out.
Use time as a “negotiation weapon”.
Admittedly this one was one of the newest introductions for me and initially I wasn’t quite in tune with what the impact could be. However, in business when you set the terms on time for things such as payments and completion dates then you can either negate or create pressure to, once again, favour your current and future situations – that makes a lot of sense.
Make generalised commitments.
This is a beauty but could be infuriating and rub people up the wrong way when used without skill. However, if you have the skill of confidence and conviction then you can’t deny the artfulness of this strategy and really anything used with intelligent purpose, I don’t think you can legitimately ‘hate on’. There are ways to enter into an amicable negotiation that gives you flexibility and control and the other party a sense of commitment which can insure partnerships are sustained until you are in a position to either solidify or terminate. In short it buys you time, commitment and control.
The dynamic flow of George’s negotiation style is a thrill to watch and engage with, it really is so natural to him. It was a great opportunity and lesson to get to know more about George and his take on business, making deals, conducting negotiations as well as life – which may have been the most poignant for me. Some people may view being a negotiations A Player with some negative stigma but after really getting to understand more about it all, this was certainly disbanded from my point of view.
I think it’s fair to say that business is about playing to win and if you win on fair terms, great, it’s the name of the game after all. However, if you orchestrate a scenario in a manner that is malicious, without integrity or morals, that you know is wrong but do it anyway then you’re no longer winning, you’re losing in life and it’s funny how karma has a way of sneaking up and kicking you in the butt. So like George, play the negotiation game skillfully but not immorally and make sure you use your business and negotiation skills for the powers of good and not evil.
Did I mention he also has a killer sense of humour! It was almost impossible to keep a straight face at the end of dinner while we got a couple pics taken. He said quite plainly that you gotta have some fun along the way and I’m in total agreement, laughter is one of the best medicines for stress release after all.
I’ll say again that it was an honour, a privilege and also a pleasure to have been able to spend time with Mr Ross and that I have not only learned a lot practically but insightfully too. The more knowledge and facts we have in our possession the more able we are to make the right judgements and decisions. When we have that then there is no longer a requirement to offer up “the benefit of the doubt” in uncertain circumstances, this becomes obsolete bringing less stress, more success and better health in to our lives.