Negotiation is key to a strong and thriving business, but not everything in life is up for haggling. To put yourself in a position where you can really provide value and serve, you must hone in on your non-negotiables first. Venture capitalist and business coach Bill Walsh is no stranger to this. The CEO and founder of Powerteam International and host to speaking events all over the world, Bill is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and business owners create massive success. He joins Christine McKay in this conversation to talk about this particular aspect of the art of negotiation. Listen to Bill’s stories and how he was able to negotiate with people by not even saying a word. Learn all kinds of tips and tricks because with the power of negotiation, you can make anything happen.
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How To Be Truly Of Service: Knowing Your Non-Negotiables With Bill Walsh
As I say in every episode, I am super excited about our guest. I have one of my mentors here with us and I’m excited that he’s agreed to be on the show. Let me introduce you to Mr. Bill Walsh. Bill is the CEO and Founder of Powerteam International. He’s a venture capitalist and hosts speaking events all over the world. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and business owners create massive success. He loves to help people understand what it takes to build a successful company. He is an accomplished author, speaker, radio personality and movie celebrity. He’s had an incredibly successful background in finance and marketing and spent over two decades helping businesses increase their sales, improve their productivity and achieve success overall. He has been one of my mentors. I met Bill years ago and I was able to participate in his amazing Rainmaker Summit and the even more amazing Platinum Speaker Camp. I call it the Harvard MBA of Public Speaking and how to turn speaking from the stage into a business. Bill, thank you so much for being here. It’s an honor to have you.
How are you?
I’m doing fantastic.
You look amazing as always.
Thank you so much. I can’t wait to see you soon. I gave this high-level view of who you are and all the amazing things you’ve done and accomplished in your illustrious career. Fill in the blanks and tell us a little bit more about your journey.
The most important thing, I’m honored to be a dad of three of the most amazing kids. My son Austin is 29, my daughter Marissa is 27, my youngest son Evan is 22. One of the greatest things in life is to grow up and watch your kids become your heroes. You can talk about all the business stuff but at the end of the day, way more important than all that is watching your kids become fine young adults. I started my career as an entrepreneur at high school and college. I became a trader. I traded currency for almost seven years, then I did turnarounds for ten years. I loved fixing businesses. It was either taking a company public or sometimes just closing it, selling the assets or fixing the business model.
Many times what happens is we had to have sit-downs with sometimes family members. I was always hired by the board to have a sit-down with a family member and say, “You’re probably not in the right seat.” This was more of a one-on-one conversation. I’m a big believer that you never criticize in public. You praise in public but criticize in private. We would sit down and after a couple of hours, the person is like, “You’re right. I hate this job. I’m just here because of my family.” We find something else for them to do it. Many times, if you could remove the fact that their family, would you hire them anyway? Are they a great fit for the actual role to grow and expand the business? If they’re not, then they got to go.
It was always a tough conversation but I wasn’t there to make friends. That’s why it got to the point where I got burnt out in ten years of doing that. I loved it because I love fixing businesses. I believe business is like a game of chess, but you’ve always got to be eight moves ahead. It’s no different than chess. I took a little time off. I teamed up with a company called GoDaddy as a marketing partner and this other company called FranklinCovey. I launched Business-in-a-Box many years ago. It’s just amazing how fast time goes by. We launched it with a business plan and a little merchant processor. We were in 20 months in 20 countries only because of great relationships, not because I had millions of dollars in capital. I’ve been broke and wealthy. Broke sucks but you always find who your real friends are.
In 2005, we launched the incubator course Rainmaker, then the venture fund in 2007 to invest in startups and turnarounds, our mastermind called Win, and our Platinum Speaker Program in 2010. We became the main sponsor for an event called Small Business Expo. From seven years, we grew that from 2 or 3 cities to 17 cities and over 100,000 attendees a year. We had great sponsors like Google, AT&T and T-Mobile. Between all that, we launched book writing courses, the speaker-independent one and how to be a better speaker programs, internet marketing classes, mastery classes. We are in 30 cities with masterminds. We haven’t even scratched the surface. We’re just warming up.
2020 was a big change because we were doing 400 live events a year to zero. We went from doing zero digital events to 300 digital events a year. When you talk about being able to navigate through these things, I believe the quality of your life is in direct proportion to your ability to effectively communicate, so are your bank accounts and all your relationships. I love what you do because you help people see things through language that they could never see on their own. That creates a lot more peace than it does worn. Many times, people have to write this down and that words matter. In everything you do, words matter. With that, I’m honored to be here and that fills in some of the blanks but it’s great to be on your show.
Thank you so much, Bill. You said something that I appreciate when you were talking and describing sitting down with somebody and saying, “Are you in the right seat? You might not be in the right seat.” In business and our personal lives, whether it’s with a relationship that’s a professional one or a personal one, we often get into these situations where we think that things are going great but they’re not going great for our counterpart. What ends up happening is it’s like, “It’s not going great, but I think it should be this way.” We get stuck in that viewpoint or that kind of thinking and it leaves us completely stuck in everything so that we’re not able to move forward. Tell us about some of the negotiations that you’ve experienced in your career as you’ve moved. Some of the ones that would be good lessons for people to know.
There have been so many. Often, when you’re silent, you can say more. A lot of times, people don’t realize the power of silence and just let people talk. I can remember in negotiations where I would have asked for X, but they gave me X plus B, C and D because I kept my mouth shut. If I could tell people that negotiate, “Sometimes you’re better off just to listen and let them tell you what they’re going to offer. Let them put it on the table.” It’s fun when I’m in negotiations and people reverse the process. It’s like, “What is your best?” It’s always fun. You don’t get this when you’re young. You get this wisdom with something that you’d pay dearly for because you have to have the experience. The only way to get the experiences to be in the game and have the time.
I can remember I was in a conversation one time. Two of my good friends were working for this major company doing $500 million–plus a year. The company changed the business model from profit sharing to stock. They said, “These profit-sharing checks were as much as $100,000 a month.” They’re talking about big profit-sharing checks. They said, “We’re not going to do profit sharing anymore. We’re just going to give you stock in the company because we’re planning to go public in the next five years. If we go public, here’s the valuation of your stock.” I got in the middle of it and I was not even invited into the conversation. These are my friends. I said, “What if you don’t go public?” You could have heard a pin drop in the room.
All of a sudden, the guys that own the company are like, “We don’t know even what to say.” I said, “Would you put it in writing that if you don’t go public that you’ll give them all the profit-sharing that they would have earned over the five-year track?” All of a sudden, it got even quieter in the room. My two friends were the top people in the business. They looked at me and are like, “I didn’t think of that.” I said, “I know but I’ve been down this path before. I’ve seen this before.” The funny thing is that twenty years later, they never went public. They never got their profit sharing. The value of the entity was kept in the center and would end up having low value, so there’s not a reason to go public while the companies that surrounded the main brand had lots of value.
They had a little clause in there just for them but it didn’t help all these other people who didn’t have the clause. Think about the other 100–plus top producers that got nothing. The funny thing is that they still thank me for this over twenty years later because it meant millions of dollars to their families. Sometimes having that voice in the room that people don’t want to hear can shake things up a little bit. You got to go with what you know. If it’s outside of your lane, say nothing. If it’s a negotiation in the kitchen, I just shut up. I can’t cook at all. I’ll go shopping and get all the stakes picked up and everything else. You got to know when to talk, when to fold and when to say nothing.
You hit on two different parts in negotiation that people aren’t necessarily as effective as they could be. One is they do know what they do know, and they don’t know what they don’t know. They start to seep over into things that they should be keeping their mouth shut on. People are not effective listeners. As a result, they’re essentially not curious enough about themselves to have clarity on what it is that they want. They’re not curious enough about their counterpart to know what the possibilities could be depending on who they ask. It’s that curiosity that allows you to find the optimal deals. I love that example that you shared because sometimes you don’t think about what the situation is when you’re in the middle of it. You need a third party to come in and say, “Did you think about this, that and the other thing. What about this?” It’s how that curiosity leads to creativity in the negotiation process.
It’s also sometimes when you’re not brought into the conversation, but you need to be there. Sometimes when you’re invited into the conversation, just your presence alone says everything. There are probably negotiations where they only brought me in to sit there. They only brought me in because they knew that if these guys went down the wrong path, I could hold them very accountable. Without saying anything, just your presence alone, sometimes negotiation can be even more effective than your voice. I know that’s hard to believe but once you’ve been in that space, you’ll see that sometimes just having the right person there with you that has been down the path twenty times and have seen it. If the conversation gets off track at all, then you’re certainly there to back that up. That has been a powerful way to help a lot of other businesses and companies that I’ve worked with over the years.
One of the things that I tell especially to smaller business owners is that you need to have an outside force, whether it’s an advisory board or something that you can say that you’re not the ultimate decision-maker. A lot of times, you’ll have the business owner in the negotiation and the buck stops with you. When you’re negotiating with a counterpart and it’s a bigger organization or somebody who you think has more leverage or more power, then that bigger organization can say, “You’re the decision-maker. I don’t have the decision-maker at the table. I have to go get approval. It sounds like a great idea, but I have to go check.” As a small business owner, make sure that you set yourself up so that you have somebody that you have to go check with as well or have a third party doing the negotiation for you so that they have you to go to. That gives you that authority level and that helps elevate you in the negotiation.
It’s fun too when you’re a part of that because it’s even more powerful when you’re in the moment and you know you’re in the moment.
Tell me more about that.
A lot of the times, people aren’t present to being present. They’re there and they might have things to say but they are not fully present to the outcome in all different directions. They haven’t thought, “What are five different opportunities here? What are five different options that if it goes down that path, what are the options that go with those options?” It’s always the if–what, “If this happens, what about this?” I tell a lot of business owners to make sure that you’ve got it all in. That’s why some people are good at sales and some people are not because the minute somebody says no, they say, “You’re right. I’m done.” What I’ve learned in sales is that if you can’t help somebody, just say no. It’s so simple. If you know you can truly help them, never take a no from someone that can say yes if you know in your heart that you can truly help them.
They may not see it for a while down the road but many times, I’ve worked with people and sure enough they thanked me 5 or 6 months later that I challenged them to stay in the game. It’s even like our speakers. People pay a lot of money to go to our speaker for $25, 000 to go for five days and get all the stuff created for you and put you on a stage. I tell them in advance, “If you’re not going to 100 stages, don’t start. I don’t want to hear any whining until you’ve done 100 stages. Until you’ve got 100 under your belt, you haven’t even started yet.” I believe it’s earn while you learn. You’re better off being super clear in the tough part of the negotiation that challenges people. Nowadays, the best marketing ever is called challenge programs. If you look at all the marketing, the best marketing is challenged marketing, “I challenge you to do this. I challenge you to lose 7 pounds in seven days. I challenge you to make 45 phone calls in 38 seconds.” Whatever it is because people love to be up for the challenge.
It is your job to make sure, specially if you’re someone working with a small business or you’re a small business owner yourself that you’ve got to look at the outcomes, “If I do this, what are my seven outcomes, what are my five best outcomes? Why would I not do this?” It’s always having a look at both of those, “Why would I not do this? Why would this not be a good fit for my business to get great connections? Why would this not be a fit for my business to be a better public speaker?” There’s enough documentation out there that sometimes people don’t buy in the documentation. They buy in emotion.
You’ve got to make sure that you can tap into the emotion. At the end of the day, nobody needs a $4,000 pair of red shoes. It doesn’t matter if it’s got the red bottoms and they’re the shoes that they want. If it’s $4,500 and the card says it will take it, it doesn’t matter, the shoes are leaving the store. That’s an emotional decision or an emotional purchase. Once they’ve made the decision and once they are on their feet and they look good with an outfit, they’re not going back. It’s not going to happen. The stores know that before you walk in.Whoever serves the most wins the most. Click To Tweet
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about emotion and negotiation. Negotiation is inherently emotional. As soon as we want something from somebody, our emotion is immediately engaged. We feel emotion before we think logically. As a result, when people say, “You can’t be emotional in negotiation.” That’s not possible. You’re going to be emotional in negotiation, but controlling your emotion at the negotiation table is a very different topic. I was on a call one time and they thought they were in an industry where it was the only time that it happened where people would call you names and throw things. I’m like, “I’ve had all those things happen to me. I don’t know why you think that your industry is the only industry.”
The bigger you get, the more haters show up. It’s like a dog never barks in a parked car. Get that car moving and the will dog show up. This is helpful for anybody that’s in negotiation or sales and any areas in life. It’s that if you can disconnect from the outcome. That’s hard to do but if you have the power to walk away from the table, it gives you incredible negotiation leverage that you don’t care about. I had a friend tell me, “I’m sorry that that person didn’t buy.” I’m like, “I don’t care if they buy or not. It doesn’t matter.” What matters is that you helped by promoting, by getting people out for the event. That means way more to me than whether the person bought it or not. Maybe it’s just that they didn’t buy now.
We have another lady that came to the event. This was in Dallas, Texas. She said, “Bill, I didn’t realize who you were, but I sat through your event and listen to you speak in 2006 at the Western LAX. At the time, I wasn’t ready. We didn’t reconnect. Now fifteen years later, I can’t wait to be a Rainmaker.” She was the first one. Halfway through it, she said, “Just give me the form. I’m ready to get started right now. I know exactly who you are. I needed your help for a long time.” Once again, saying no does not mean no forever. It might be no right now. That’s how you disconnect from the outcome. The minute you disconnect from the outcome, people know that you’re coming from a place of power.
One of the ways that you can do that is if you are well-prepared for your negotiation. If you’re very clear on what it is that you want and what’s important to you, then that’s where you get your power. It’s knowing what that alternative is. At Harvard, they call it the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. I call it, “What’s your walkaway?” No is the ultimate leverage. As soon as you sit at the table and you say, “I have to do this deal,” you will not have a successful outcome.
I do understand that sometimes you could be somewhere or somebody who holds all the cards. If somebody holds all the cards, all you can do is negotiate for the best possible outcome and figure out ways to minimize your losses. I’ve been in negotiations before I knew it was a bad deal. I knew that however this went down, the guys that own the company were not going to do very well because they ran it into the ground. I’m like, “These guys are buying your assets.” The difference between $0.11 and $0.17 might be a lot of money but either one that you take, even though it sounds horrible, it’s still a good deal for you. If it’s not them, there’s nobody there that’s going to come in. You might wind up getting $0.02 or $0.08 six months from now, instead of taking the $0.11 to $0.17 because no one’s going to pay you more than $0.15 for this deal. They wound up taking $0.15 or $0.16 on the dollar and just walking away.
If you spend too much time only focused on old news, you will never make new news. I see people live in the past all the time, “I’ve done this and I’ve done that.” All of that has value but it’s only prepared you for what’s next. If you keep living in the fact that, “I’m going to sell all these cassette tapes. I’m going to keep selling all these DVDs. I’m going to keep selling all these VHS tapes.” You’re going to sell them but nobody has a way to play them. It means nobody’s going to buy them. How do you figure out to move forward from that? That’s a tough conversation because sometimes they’re so edged in their belief system and what they have is still the best form of whatever it is. When you and I both know that sometimes that form can change quickly 6 or 9 months. What happened to Zoom in 2020? They become a household name where a year before that, it’s like, “Who’s Zoom? Who even uses Zoom?”
Now it’s a verb in a different way with a capital Z just like Google is. Who would have thought that? I was talking to somebody the other day. We were talking about how we’ve been working remotely and I’ve been doing remote negotiation for many years. When you negotiate with large corporations, they have distributed negotiation teams all over the world. Nobody’s in person. It was not a big deal. I’ve been using Zoom for many years. For lots of other people, they couldn’t conceive of doing video conferencing on a regular basis. Now I think it’s weird to be on the phone and not have video. I don’t like it.
Over time, it’s become the norm. If people aren’t ready to bridge forward or if you’re not moving forward because of time, you’re already moving back. You just don’t know it yet. You’re in a time quantum paradigm.
You often talk about being in the present and being forward-facing. That’s something that I talk about too in a different way because in negotiations, often people get so stuck on the past. They are focused on, “I did this.” I helped somebody who goes through a divorce, a friend of mine. They sold the property and needed to distribute assets. She’s like, “I did this.” She was very fixated on what she had done and felt that she should have a certain amount of the distribution. I asked her, “What are you doing right after we get off the phone?”
She told me and I was like, “Is what you did ten years ago going to impact what you do right when we get off the phone?” No. “Is what he did two years ago going to impact what you’re going to do when you get off the phone right now?” No. “In ten years, when you look back at this moment in your life and you say, ‘How did I behave?’ What do you want to think about? What do you want him to remember about you at this moment in time?” What started out is he was going to keep 70% of the distribution, give her 30% and she could sue him. He gave her 100% of it and then she gave 50% of it back to him.
Have you ever heard that saying, “Happy wife, happy life?” How about, “Happy ex-wife, happy life?”
I talk about renegotiation a lot of times. The dissolution of a relationship is still a relationship. Whether if it’s a business partner and the partnership falls apart or if it’s a marriage and that falls apart, you still have a relationship, history and emotion tied to that relationship. As long as there’s emotion tied to that relationship, it’s still influencing you. How you separate that, how you divorce or separate from a business situation matters in those situations.
That’s why you’re so good at what you do because you live it and you help so many people. At the end of the day, the scorecard is always about how many people do you effectively serve. It’s not how much money did you make. Whoever serves the most, win the most. Because you’ve been doing this for so long, you walk into that negotiation room, you’re already eight steps ahead of most of the people in the room. When someone’s got you on their side, what a game-changer that is. Most people don’t realize the value of someone that’s lived in the space because I don’t believe you know something until you live it. People can tell you about jumping out of a helicopter, an airplane or a near-death experience but until you’ve lived it, you don’t get it. Once you lived it, you are like, “I understand.”
You do so much work with so many small businesses. What are some of the common mistakes or things that you see smaller businesses are doing from a negotiation perspective? If you could help them fix it or I can help them fix it and make them aware.
The first thing is they have to have an honest negotiation with themselves. What level of commitment do I have here? Is it 70, 50, 100, all in, not all in, hobby level? On a scale of 1 to 10, have a conversation with yourself, “Where am I going to put my time? Am I all in on this one or am I doing seventeen things and chopping it all up? Am I going to cut grass, fix tires, clean boats, do pools?” The first negotiation in business is always with yourself. It’s your level of commitment that you’re going to put towards whatever it is you plan to do. You’ve got to be brutally honest. Every morning I look in the mirror. People say, “How do you do this? How do you get up and go city to city? How do you do three cities in a day and speak in all those cities?” I said, “Because I’ve committed to it. I understand that greatness is not easy. I understand that people are in pain. Everywhere I go, businesses are in pain. I know in every city I traveled to, there are people in pain that I can help them get out of that pain. I love it. The minute I stopped loving it, I’ll be done. I’m out.”
We heard Alex Rodriguez said that the day that he walked up to the plate and there are no more butterflies in his stomach, he knew that he was done at baseball. He knows it negotiating with himself. When he retired that day or that the rest of that year because he had a great year. He had 696 home runs. He was so close to 700. He got all these calls the day after he retired. As soon as he retired, the other teams call him to try to pitch him to come over. He got offered ridiculous money to go play. They are like, “You’re only four home runs away from 700.” The negotiation had with himself was non-negotiable. If you could have a non-negotiable negotiation with yourself, that sets you in a tone. He said no to all five offers. They were multimillion-dollar offers to play for one year. He said, “I’d rather hit 696 home runs with Yankees than hit my 700 home runs somewhere else.” That was his negotiation with himself that said, “I’m done.”
It’s the same thing when you’re starting a business and then the negotiations with others that we’ve enlisted. As a small business owner, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and your vendors. Pay your vendors on time. People forget this. I send people business all the time. Often, they forget to send me a check. The same ones will call me back and say, “Can you send me some more referrals?” I’m like, “You need to check up from the neck up because if you forgot to send me money on the first one, what are my odds of getting paid on the 2nd or 20th one?”
These little things that you can negotiate and say, “That wasn’t a referral. I didn’t meet them through your event.” I’m like, “Yes, you did because I put you on the stage and they got to hear you speak.” Negotiation when it comes to your team and your staff is making sure that your staff has the same commitment that you have. If they don’t and they’re not all in, I believe they’re all out. I don’t believe there’s any 80% in. “I’m going to think about making those sales calls today.” That doesn’t mean you’re going to make the sales calls today. How committed are you? Give them a timeline to prove it. As a CEO of a small business, if just simply write this one little line down, “Inspect what you expect against yourself, your team and others.” The CEO, when you’re starting out, means Chief Everything Officer for the business. Not Chief Everything Officer for fifteen businesses. It’s never going to work. I’ve watched this happen like, “I can do all this stuff.” I’m like, “You can do all of it on average, but you’ll do none of them great.”
I challenged small business to have that conversation with themselves to pour their heart and soul into what they’re doing and make sure that someone’s already done it. If you want to be a pioneer is going to cost you ten times more money than it is for someone that’s already blazed the whole path for you where you followed on the trail and make it better. If you look at a company called Beats. As a small business owner, the negotiations you have with yourself is going to be the starting point for all your success.
The hardest part of negotiations is the negotiation we have between our ears. I want to be very respectful of your time. How can people find you, Bill?
They can always find me right online. I’m on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn at @BillWalsh360. I’d rather give everyone a gift. I wrote a cool book called The Obvious. I was in the movie Beyond The Secret, The Awakening. I’m a big believer in tactical. If you want a nice coach, health coach, fitness coach or relationship coach, I’m not that person, but I’m a good business coach. I’ve been ranked in the top 30 five years in a row by a magazine you can’t pay to be in which is you hear all these coaches, “I’m on number two. I’m number ten.” How much you pay to have the article written? You can’t pay to be in this one, but I do think it’s great.
Just text the word WIN to 26786. You’ll get all the information about our programs, all the things that we do. You’ll find out about our events, a free copy of my book, get our newsletter for the whole year for free, and updates on any events we do anywhere in the United States and around the world. It’s exciting times. I’m glad to be on here and support all the work you do. I think you are a fabulous person, an amazing leader and an incredible speaker. There’s no doubt if it comes to negotiation, Christine’s the one hire.
Thank you for that. I appreciate that. Everybody who’s reading, thank you so much. We are excited to have you here. Just remember, negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship. You cannot win a relationship but you sure as hell can get more value out of it. Until next time on the next episode, happy negotiation, everybody. Thank you.
Thank you. Have a great day.
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About Bill Walsh
Bill Walsh a venture capitalist and is the CEO/Founder of the Success Education/Business Coaching & Speaker Training firm Powerteam International. Bill hosts and speaks at events all over the world! His passion is to empower entrepreneurs and business owners to create massive success.
He is the best-selling author of the book “The Obvious”, is an amazing speaker, radio personality and movie celebrity. He has been ranked for the last 5 years in a row by GURU Magazine as one of the Top 30 Business Coaches in the world. He has been honored to lecture at Harvard University and has been speaking to small and large groups from around the globe for the past 2 decades. He has also been working with start-ups to major global brands to help them increase sales, productivity and overall success.
He is an innovator with a remarkable ability to help entrepreneurs create even more success determine and build success plans to help business owners seize immediate market opportunities.
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