Knowing when to say ‘No’ does not limit you. Rather, it sets the bar where it benefits you the most. This is the kind of mentality you should carry when selling your business. Host Christine McKay is joined by Joyce Marter, licensed psychotherapist, author, founder of Urban Balance and Brand Ambassador for Refresh Mental Health. Joyce has successfully built and sold her business and came out the other end with invaluable lessons and insights that she imparts in today’s episode. Negotiation is all about communicating strategically and setting the right boundaries. Joyce suggests various methods and things to look out for once you’re in the room and negotiating. She also discusses her book, The Financial Mindset Fix and the role of mental wellness in enabling you to do business at your best.
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Knowing When To Say No When Selling Your Business With Joyce Marter
Welcome back to another exciting episode where we help you, the small and midsize business elevate your negotiations, ask for more of what you want, provide you tools, techniques, ideas and strategies for how you can negotiate for that. We do that by bringing you fantastic guests. Our guest is no exception. In this episode, I have with me, Joyce Marter. She is a celebrated psychotherapist, entrepreneur, Founder of Urban Balance. She’s a national speaker, a frequent media contributor and the author of the book, The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life. She shares in that book a 360-degree holistic view of success with practical tools and guidance to amplify your self-worth and self-esteem to create financial abundance.
When I was first introduced to Joyce, I wasn’t sure how her topic was going to fit into the conversation about negotiation. I’ve had a lot of people who are financial wellness experts and all that who try to be on the show and I talked to them like, “We can never figure out what the thread of this conversation was going to be so that you guys could get the most out of it.” Joyce was the exception to that role. We had an amazing conversation when we were first talking to figure out what the thread of this thing was going to be. All the work that she has done at Urban Balance is phenomenal. She built an incredibly successful business and practice there and sold it to private equity. Now she is on this new mission based on all the things that she’s seen in her career as a psychotherapist, Founder and Owner of Urban Balance. Joyce, I’m glad to have you here. Thank you so much for being here.
My pleasure, Christine. I’m so excited to talk with you.
Fill in the blanks for us. I gave a very high-level view of your background, how did you get here?
I’m a licensed psychotherapist and have been practicing for many years. I noticed something interesting in my practice that as my clients started to make progress in therapy, they started giving raises and promotions, their own businesses and prospering work. I was like, “Why is this happening? We’re not even talking about money.” I realized that no matter what we’re working on in therapy, whether it’s depression, anxiety, a relationship issue, we’re always working on the person’s underlying self-worth. As their self-esteem improved, they were putting themselves out in the world differently, valuing themselves, communicating assertively and negotiating. I became very interested in the Psychology of Money, how people’s belief systems, emotions, trauma history and relationship with money? How that impact their work, careers and financial prosperity?We all have mental health like we have physical health, and we have to manage it to the best of our ability. Click To Tweet
I was taking all the wisdom from my clients and applying it to my own life. As a therapist, we all need therapy at different points. I’m passionate about de-stigmatizing mental health. I went to my own therapist and I said, “I’m having some financial struggles. I started my practice with $500 and $50,000 of student loan debt and went through some challenging times in my business.” She said, “What does the word money mean to you?” I said, “I think of stress.” She said, “No wonder you make it go away.” I have to reprogram my thinking about money.
I started Urban Balance, which my intention was that I saw a need for insurance-friendly counseling and therapy in the Chicago land area. I believe therapy is like going to the dentist or the doctor. It should be accessible, affordable and a routine part of preventative healthcare. I thought, “If I could provide the office space, billing and referrals to other therapists, I could have greater prosperity and also work-life balance,” which is why I named it Urban Balance. I felt like being a mom is the highest role. I wanted to be at home with my kids before, after school and on the weekends. The practice grew tremendously. I believe when you look for the universal win-win, it was a win for me and my staff because they had flexible part-time jobs, a lot of working parents.
A win for the clients because the therapy was accessible and affordable. It grew tremendously. I was able to successfully sell Urban Balance a few years ago in 2017. At that point, I did a lot of work on negotiation. I attended some seminars and was very intentional about the process of selling my business. I have my book that I can’t wait to share with the world and support others in creating a life of holistic success, financial abundance and work-life balance. I love public speaking. Thank you for having me on.
The conversation we had before is great. I’m excited to have you here. One of the things that I talk about is the hardest part is the negotiation we have between our ears. What you’re talking about resonates. I’ve never disclosed this in a public way but I suffer from bipolar too. I don’t have manic highs but I do get manic lows. I’ve tried various treatment options. One of the things that I’ve noticed that has helped me is taking action. I’ve been in my condition for long enough that I can start to recognize when I can feel the episode coming on so I can take corrective measures. One of the biggest things for me has been my business.
I find that being in business has helped me manage those depressive episodes. They’re much shorter and controllable because as an entrepreneur, I have many things to do. Whenever I have something to do, that helps elevate me and move me out of that condition. I see that too. When you get a win in business, that affects every other part of your life. When you’re working with a therapist and seeing those improvements, that’s great. I love that you made it insurance-friendly because I live in California and mental health care is not insurance-friendly in there. It’s difficult and very expensive.
I live on the edge of skid row. I’m surrounded by people who need access to affordable mental health care and it doesn’t exist except on a volunteer basis. I appreciate that you built Urban Balance. For those of you in the Chicago area, even though Joyce doesn’t own it anymore, her story of the sale of it is interesting. I want to talk a little bit about that because I had a person that was trying to sell her business. It’s a totally different industry. She had four prospects at the time and it was their second attempt to sell it. She tried to sell it a few years ago. She calls it a green banana.
She was using a broker and the broker drummed up four different offers. Two from private equity firms and two from the industry. Her business services children. It’s a completely different kind of business but it was interesting because in my conversation with her I said, “You got two people who understand the business and the industry you do. You’ve got two companies that are PE firms, which not all PE firms are barracudas but the reputation of PE firms,” and I’ve worked with many of them, “They go in and cut the fat, get it down as lean as possible. It’s not necessarily the same business that you sold them because they’re getting their money by selling or fixing operations. Cutting staff, changing processes, all that good stuff.”
She had not even thought of it. I was like, “How do you want it to be remembered in five years when somebody sees your brand? What do you want them to think of at that moment when you’re no longer involved but they know that you were part of that brand?” She had never been asked that question or thought about that question. She and I have another call to start to talk about some of these things. You sold to a private equity firm with a heart and you were intentional about how you found your buyer. You walked away from a better offer because you didn’t think that the buyer was aligned with your mission. Tell us more about that story.
I want to thank you for sharing about your bipolar disorder. It’s helpful because we all have mental health. We have physical health. We have to manage it to the best of our ability. I was afraid when I first started graduate school that my professors were going to see that I dealt with an anxiety disorder and that they would tell me I couldn’t be a therapist. We all deal with it in different ways. Being successful in our work involves taking care of our mental health and arranging our work so that it supports and promotes our mental health.
In terms of the sale of the business, I love the green banana analogy and I had that earlier. I had a business partner who left suddenly when we were at a time of extreme distress in our business. It was that time that I saw a business valuation and my CPA said, “What’s your exit plan?” At that point, I panicked and thought about selling prematurely. I’m glad that he encouraged me not to and to think about spending the next five years, strengthening the business to sell. When I sold it, we had 10 locations in 3 states. Now, there are 17 locations in 6 states.
What I did is I thought through my vision, “If I had a magic wand, what would the price be? What would the financial situation look like? Would I be paid upfront? Would I have a note or an escrow?” I thought about my role, “What would I want my role to be after the sale? Do I want to be completely freed of all responsibilities? Do I want to stay in some way? Do I want to be able to invest so that I have some skin in the game and can have a second bite of the apple?” Most importantly, I’m mission-oriented with my business. I want to define the buyer who was aligned with my mission to do good in the world and be of service to others. That was paramount for me. I sold it to Refresh Mental Health, which owned a number of mental health and eating disorder companies around the country. They have a fun leadership team and are backed by private equity. It’s a little bit of a hybrid situation where I know the players that were in leadership and the other owners of the other practices were very well-respected clinicians.Everyone in some ways is advocating for themselves. Click To Tweet
I thought about each of these things, as well as branding because Urban Balance was my baby. I didn’t want it to get swallowed by some other hospital conglomeration or some other behavioral health entity that would take away the name. I wanted things to stay as much the same for staff and clients that didn’t want the business model to change dramatically. I used a business broker, we had 50 interested buyers and 8 offers. They were very different. Some of the buyers wanted to keep me on as CEO, which I didn’t want. One of the things that were important to me was that I didn’t want clinical liability anymore. Some people wanted me to stay on as clinical director. I made a firm list of what I needed from the transaction. I love how you talk about negotiation as being a relationship.
My interviews with the prospective buyers were establishing rapport, getting to understand their vision, how it aligned with my vision, “Could we find a win-win?” Also, as a therapist, I believe in emotional intelligence and when I attended a negotiation seminar at Kellogg, the school of business at Northwestern, the guest speaker was Marianne Cooper, the sociologist who helped Sheryl Sandberg write Lean In and the other person speaking was a psychologist. They said, “Most of the negotiation is Psychology. It’s about us valuing our worth in our communication, having empathy and compassion for the other party, communicating respectfully, assertively, collaborating, problem-solving, being creative, respecting yourself and the other party through the process.” I used some of the mindfulness strategies that I teach in therapy to pay attention to how I felt in my body but I know that might sound a little woo-woo when I was sitting with the prospective buyers.
I would take notes. Oftentimes, it wasn’t necessarily about what they were saying but I wrote how I felt as I was sitting with them. I believe in the wisdom of the body. There were times where I would be sitting with someone and I would have a nervous feeling in my gut or some discomfort. I paid attention to that. When we get stuck in our heads, we can make intellectualized decisions and we can block our intuitive awareness. One buyer, for example, I had that nauseous feeling when I was talking to him. He asked me if the Opioid epidemic was good for business. I was like, “There’s a huge difference between profiting by doing good in the world and helping people with their mental health and profiting off of people suffering.” His heart wasn’t in the right place. I was like, “No way.”
It’s important for people to look at selling their business when there’s no urgency to it, in a perfect world so that you can walk away. Even in my transaction, which I’m happy about, I feel blessed, grateful, thankful and happy that things are going well with Refresh Mental Health. Even in that transaction in the later stated stages of due diligence, they wanted me to stay on as clinical director. I had to say that was a hard no. They said, “Are you serious you’d let this whole deal fall apart because of that?” I said, “Yes.” They hired someone else to do that. I was glad that I stuck to my guts.
There’s a lot of stuff we can talk about in there. One of the things that I talk about a lot is how critical it is in negotiation to get abundantly clear on not just what you need but what you want. When I speak on stages, I always invoke my grandmother when I talk about getting clear. It’s like, “Getting clear down to the next ass-level details. The smallest of things, what are all the possibilities that could exist here?” In some of it you don’t know, because if you’re selling your business and you never sold a business before, you may need to go get some education on what’s the language that’s used. There’s a language in mergers and acquisitions. I’ve spent many years in mergers and acquisitions to divestitures. It has its own lingo or jargon.
Go learn it before you’re sitting down at the table, understand what the accountant’s going to be asking for, understand what free cashflow means, what NOPAT means, Net Operating Profit After Tax. Are you doing a discounted cashflow or DCF analysis? What are you doing? Are you using multiples? Figure these things out and do some homework. You want to know what is your counterpart going to be thinking too. Especially when you’re negotiating with somebody who doesn’t, who you think has more leverage than you do, when you’re clear on what it is you want, what you are willing and unwilling to do, there’s power in that.
On an episode that dropped with Bethany Sloggett, she and her husband own a kitchen and bath business in Toronto. He wanted to move into the sticks way out of Toronto and she wasn’t originally a way-out person. She’s like, “I’ll do that but I’m going to buy this company.” The company was for sale. She’s like, “If you were going to move me all the way out there, you’re going to let me buy this company.” She just had her son. He was four months old. She was still nursing and was going into this negotiation with four men. She knew that she was going to have to take the baby with her. She decided to dress so that she could nurse in the negotiation room because she knew that if she left the room, those four men were going to have a conversation that she would never be privy to and she would lose. It was her family’s money.
It was the difference between, “Having this for retirement and having that for retirement.” She knew. She stood in her power. That’s what you did by being clear on what it is, “I’m not going to be a clinical director. I’m not staying on it as CEO. I don’t want to do day-to-day operations and I don’t want the liability.” You were very clear in that. That gives you that ability to walk away so that when a counterpart says, “Are you willing to throw this deal because of that?” You can say yes without hesitation and no fear. It’s pragmatic, “We’re talking about what our relationship is going to look like. If this relationship isn’t going to work, I can’t be in that role.”
You bring up a couple of good points about educating yourself about the mergers and acquisitions process and the terms. I had to learn a tremendous amount. My broker was very generous in educating me through the process. Your example of the woman not leaving the room when she needed to breastfeed, I was on a call with some prospective buyers and my broker. The time of the call had ended, I had another meeting, I needed to go, they were going to stay on. My broker said, “It’s not like Joyce understands accrual anyway.” He knew I was pleased. I said, “Don’t mistake my outsourcing for consultants and advisors for me not understanding. This call is ending now. We can resume together at another time.” He called me back and said, “I said something wrong.” I said, “Yes.”
I don’t generally get into the male-female things but he would never have said that if it was the guy in the room. I don’t often get into differences between men and women as negotiators because research shows all over the world in all institutions that women are better at negotiating. Men are better at haggling. We think in a circle and men think in a box. They compartmentalize things so they can separate things but women look across the whole of a relationship to figure out where we can and can’t go.
One of the challenges on an episode with Matthew Marini, the masterclass in negotiation. It’s the longest episode I’ve done but we covered many things. He asked me a question and said, “Christine, you have a very pleasant voice. That must help you in negotiation and you are attractive. That must help.” I said, “No. Being attractive in negotiation hurts because as a woman, as soon as the guy sees you as attractive, a lot of them change how they interact with you and how they think they can treat you.” As a woman and everybody, I don’t care, male, female, non-binary, everyone needs to be clear on what it is that they want. As a woman, you especially need to be clear and as non-binary because it’s very easy to get pulled in a different direction if you lack clarity. Between you and Bethany’s story, it is amazing. The way you’re describing your deal is huge. How did the sale translate for you into financial independence? How did selling the Urban Balance lead you to write the book? Tell us a little bit about the book.
I have been giving a talk called the Psychology of Success and it started in the local Chicago business community. Now, I’m presenting for global Fortune 500 companies around the world. It’s based on the twelve mindsets that I’ve seen that lead to holistic success. When I sold Urban Balance, my hope and dream were that I wanted to focus on speaking and writing. That’s the next chapter of my career. I feel driven to share what I’ve learned from my clients and my own entrepreneurial journey. When I sold it, I was able to get my chips off the table and earn a nest egg that I felt great about. I also was able to reinvest in the parent company and they since have sold again, so I got that second bite of the apple.
I was able to invest again. I’m still in the game, which is great. I’ve been able to free myself in terms of being able to focus on my book writing and public speaking. I’m doing a ton of webinars during COVID, helping people promote mental health and resilience. It’s been a real win-win and I’m happy about the decision. I’m on as Founder at Urban Balance. I still see a handful of clients there. I’m a senior advisor and brand ambassador for Refresh Mental Health.
What’s the title?
It’s The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life. It’s being published by Sounds True, they’re the publisher, Brené Brown, Eckhart Tolle and some of my very favorite authors. It’s available for pre-sale on Amazon now, but it will be in bookstores. It’s going to be in Spanish and published in Spain and Latin America as well.
Congratulations on that. You’ve sold the business, how does that process? What are some of the things you learned that surprised you about negotiating?
It’s a challenging process. I was told by my broker that selling a business takes on average about a year. For me, it was a 1.5-year process. It’s tiring. There were moments where I started to fatigued out and feel like I was throwing the towel or sell it to someone that wasn’t the ideal fit. It took a lot of self-care and stamina to stay strong throughout the process. I also learned the importance of having great advisors, not only my broker but also my CPA, financial planner, therapist, friends and family. You need that board of advisors to help keep you strong. One thing that did surprise me or an important lesson for me is there’s human nature and everyone in some ways is advocating for themselves.
There were times that my advisors would suggest that I do something that I started to wonder if it was because of their own benefit or gain. It was something I didn’t fully understand. My strategy for that was I would have them in the same meeting and say, “My accountant recommended this. Attorney, what do you think about that?” They’re friends, they know each other. I could tell that the attorney knew that the accountant was trying to pull something over on me or vice versa. If it was something beyond what I understood about mergers and acquisitions, that helped me know the truth and make decisions from a place of my own best interests rather than getting swayed by other people’s desires.
I love that because that’s important because a lot of times, we assume that advisors understand the whole of the situation and that all the advice that they’re giving us because we’re paying for it is good advice but not all advice is good advice. I love how you leaned into your gut feeling. One of the authors that I’m in love with, every book I’ve ever read of his is Malcolm Gladwell. In his book Blink, he talks about that gut feeling, the piece of archeological art that they found that people have this gut reaction that this thing is a fake and millions of dollars later after the Getty bought it, it is big. It got taken. In his book, Talking to Strangers, which is my favorite book of his, he talks about how our mind play tricks us.
We want to always believe the best in people. He opens the book by telling the story of Neville Chamberlain. He was the only Western leader ever to meet with Hitler. He met with him multiple times. Every single time he met with Hitler, Chamberlain walked away going, “Don’t worry. He’s not as bad as you think he is.” Yet everybody who had not met him knew that he was as bad as everyone thought he was. He pulls out research and talks about how judges misjudge somebody who’s standing in front of them. They think that they can give them leniency and they shouldn’t know. Our brains play tricks on us because we have this dual thing going on where we don’t to our gut. We listen with the logic part of our head. When we’re making decisions, we feel it first before we think it.
Emotion leads to logic, it’s not the other direction. When we don’t listen to that gut feeling, we’re missing a big cue, which is why I love when you talked about relying on the body to tell you that, “This doesn’t feel quite right for me.” We all have self-interest. It’s not that people are bad. We’re operating from a position of self-interest. It’s discovering when their self-interest is trumping your interests and figuring out how to balance that out with each other as part of the relationship. It’s important to recognize when your advisers and seem to be operating out of their self-interests and call them on it. Name that and say, “This is what I’m seeing. This is why how I’m feeling about that and what are we going to do about it.” Be transparent about that stuff.We need to have healthy assertiveness to say no and set those limits. Click To Tweet
You mentioned gender roles. I thought it was interesting that out of the 50 prospective buyers, they were all men. My attorneys and advisors were all men. That was an interesting process for me. I agree that sometimes some people treat you differently as a woman. I very much paid attention to that. One prospective buyer was like, “You’re such a pretty face. We’d to have you on TV for the company.” I got a yucky feeling about it. My business is mostly women in leadership and a lot of female clients. I had a sexist vibe from him and chose not to go in that direction. I pay attention a lot to non-verbals and when people’s words don’t seem to be aligning with their non-verbal expression. I have a friend and colleague who’s used to work for the FBI and she is a body language expert. I realized after attending her seminars, I’ve been using those strategies for a long time. I can tell when there’s missing information or people aren’t being truthful. That’s an important skillset when making a deal.
One of my heroes is Paul Ekman. He’s the father of micro-expressions and researches out of the University of Chicago. He’s the protagonist in the TV show Lie To Me, which is a great TV show. Non-verbals are hugely important. In micro-expressions, we all use the exact same things. We all contort our face in exactly the same way and you can’t fake it or hide them. There’s not possible because of micro expression. It’s a reflex. It’s hugely important. I was talking to somebody about all the international negotiations I’ve done. We were in this negotiation with a company from Panama and Columbia. I barely speak Spanish.
They were trying to negotiate in English because I was in the room and I’m like, “Don’t talk to the lowest common denominator in the room. You’ll be surprised what I learned by watching your expressions.” Setting their non-verbal cues and looking for micro-expressions. I was like, “What you did said he has utter contempt for that. You pushed a button.” He’s ticked off. With my client, I could go and say, “This point that you said here,” and I would pick up a couple of words in Spanish, “This is how he reacted to that. You do not want that reaction.” The person who was reacting with contempt, I’m like, “We got a problem here in terms of the relationship as a whole. How do we going to fix that?” They are like, “How in did you pick that up?”
I was like, “Because I don’t understand the language, all I could pay attention to was the non-verbals and it is universal.” I can’t emphasize enough the importance of understanding non-verbals. If you’re negotiating a lot or if you’re Joyce and you are selling your baby, which is your business that you spent years building. I love that you took courses to understand a bunch of different things as you’re going into this whole process because it shows the care that you had toward the sale of it. It was far more than the amount of money that you were going to get out of it.
I found having lunch with people who had sold businesses was also helpful. Learning from them about their experiences and what went well and what didn’t. You mentioned something about the possibility of women and thinking of the possibility. Part of my book is about having that abundance mindset. It’s not choice A or choice B. There are infinite choices. Expanding your thinking that way, that anything is possible opens up a whole world of opportunities rather than thinking linearly about there’s only one way to do things. There are a lot of different ways to sell a business and buyers that you can choose from.
I have a saying that, “If you can conceive it, you can pay for it.” If you can come up with the idea, as long as it’s not illegal. If there’s nothing wrong from a legality perspective. If you can conceive it, you can put in a contract. That’s part of what I love about negotiation. Somebody asked me, “If I had to pick one core value for my company, what is it?” I said, “Curiosity. If you are not curious about yourself, your counterparts and the situation in which you find yourself, this is not the organization for you. We’re not the right company to serve you. We’re not the right company for you to work out.”
That is our number one value because curiosity is what allows you to see possibilities and recognizing that If I have an idea and I say something, every single person in the room is going to hear that idea differently. Every single person in the room has a different set of experiences that informs how they’re going to react to that in my idea. It’s not personal to me, it’s personal to them. My job as a negotiator is to get them to disclose what’s causing that specific reaction and get their ideas, to see what other perspectives they have that could make my idea even better. That’s what I love about negotiating.
It can be very fun. One of the things that Refresh Mental Health offered to me that I didn’t expect was to be the brand ambassador. That was an extra little bonus for me because I do love doing speaking and media work. I enjoyed that anyway, so why not do that in the name of the company that I’m invested in? That was a win-win for both of us.
One of the things that I know in my situation with my mental health issues, one of the challenges that I had to learn how to overcome was the fear of saying no. I’ve negotiated with many different companies and worked with thousands of people and we’re all afraid to ask for what we want at different points in our lives. Some of us are more confident in asking for it more often than others but we’re all afraid to ask for more sometimes. We’re also all afraid at times they notice something. Anecdotally for me, when I’m in a low state, it’s much harder for me to say no because that requires a level of power.
Chris Voss and I have a lot of differences of opinion on certain things but one of the things that he talks about, he pushes people to say no because it assumes that if somebody says no, they’re acting from a position. They feel they have power. Whereas, if people don’t have the opportunity to say no, saying yes isn’t as powerful and I don’t necessarily agree with that. In your experience and based on what you went through in the sale of the business, what’s your experience around the word no? That’s a short but yet effective full-stop sentence. It’s such a powerful word but we’re afraid to use it sometimes. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Saying no and setting healthy limits, boundaries and relationships. Our boundaries are financial, they might be informational, time boundaries. We need to have healthy assertiveness to say no and set those limits. It is hard for many of us. Particularly, women are socialized to be people-pleasers and it can be anxiety-provoking to think about disappointing someone or initiating some conflict. I always say that healthy self-esteem is midway between diva and doormat. Diva is someone who’s entitled and isn’t respectful of other people’s boundaries. That’s one aspect of ego that can be harmful in relationships that can turn people off, you can close deals that way. On the other side is the doormat, somebody who is not being respectful of their own boundaries. In therapy and in my own journey on myself, it’s about finding that healthy self-esteem in the middle where you care about yourself.
You advocate for yourself in the way that you would for somebody you love very much. In some ways, motherhood helped me become a better negotiator because it was no longer about me anymore. This was about my legacy and daughters. That was easier for me to be the mama bear and say no for their sake. It takes practice. I like having heroes. If you know somebody who’s good at setting boundaries, in a way, that’s diplomatic. That’s kind, clear and respectful. It doesn’t need to be rude. Having that hero and acting as if you’re them, practicing, role-playing and working on it. You can create some important shifts in your relationship and in your life by learning to say no.
That brings up a story for me for when my daughters were younger because my daughters are all in their mid-30s. My oldest daughter was at a friend’s house and she was supposed to be coming home. She called and said, “So-and-so wants me to stay, can I stay?” There was something in her voice, and I said, “Do you want me to say no?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “No.” The power of no. I love that story. I thought it was effective in illustrating the power of no. When somebody, in that case, my oldest child didn’t feel that she had the authority or the agency to say no because she was in her friend’s house. She didn’t want to lose face with her friend. She needed somebody else to say no for her right on her behalf.
I was very proud of myself at that moment that I picked that up, that I was like, “I think she doesn’t want to stay, let me ask her if she wants me to say no.” I didn’t say, “Do you want me to say yes?” I started using that with all of my kids and it was great. They loved it because it was one of those things that they could still look good in front of their friends and I could be the bad person and say, “My mom said I can’t stay.”
I had the same thing happened with my daughter where she was like, “What time am I supposed to come home?” I told my husband and he said, “She wants you to tell her to come home now.” He’s a school counselor and adolescent counselor. You’re right. In adult life, we can deal with that same discomfort as well. In my business, sometimes I would have my staff members asking for a raise or something that was not within the scale of the business, it was something I couldn’t afford to give them. If I said no, the conversation didn’t seem to end but if I said, “I presented this to my CPA and he says no, it’s not possible.” It seems to end. It’s having that authority figure, one layer above is a useful strategy.
It is important for small and midsize business owners to have an advisory board when you are in high stakes negotiation, however you, as a business owner define high stakes. It could be with a customer, a supplier, an investor, maybe you’re selling your business, you want to have a group outside of you that is informing your decisions, that when you are at the negotiation table, you can say, “I appreciate that offer. I’m curious about it but I have to take it to my advisory group to discuss it and come back to you.” You need that because you want to give yourself that break. At Harvard, they call it going to the balcony. You go to the balcony when things are tense or are not going well. You could go to the balcony when things are going great and you need a pause. Maybe you’re thinking with your head and not your gut, “Is this the right decision?”
Let’s say it’s an important topic in the negotiation. If I’ve not evaluated the impact I give, I will not agree to it at the table in the moment. I will always allow myself the ability to go away, evaluate and come back. That might take me 10 minutes, 1 hour or a couple of weeks. I’m never in a hurry to close a deal. People think we have to get through a deal fast. I’m like, “No, that’s a transaction. We’re talking about being in a relationship here. I want to make sure that I am thoughtful about it.” We have timelines and all of those kinds of things. Even in M&A contracts need to be transferred. I’ve had situations where people are like, “We got to have this closed before this deal closes.” I said, “Can’t we backdate the contract, make the contract retroactive so it applies to this time? Do we need to rush through it to get it? No, we don’t need to rush through it.”
Make sure you’re taking your time and being intentional about the deals that you enter into and you have an advisory board so that you have somebody that you can go, “I need to talk to these people to get their agreement.” It’s a power move to be able to do that but if you’re a smaller business and you’re negotiating with a larger organization, they will not expect you to play that. Trust me, they all have an escalation process. I would work directly under the CEO or the CFO. I would often say, “The board has to approve on this. Our next board meeting is on such a date. We can delay the deal by two months or we can do these things now. It’s up to you.”
It buys you some time. It takes some pressure off of you personally that there are other people that are involved in the decision. None of us can know everything. Having other people’s thoughts and perspectives you get a much more comprehensive understanding and viewpoint. Taking the time for that consultation is important. I liked how you also zoom out. Instead of accepting that something has to be done a certain way or in a certain timeline, if you zoom out and look at it from a bigger perspective, you can see, “Maybe not.” There are some other ways that this can be done that will allow you more time to be thoughtful.You can really create some important shifts in your relationship and in your life by learning to say no. Click To Tweet
If I evaluated what is being put on the table, I’ll agree or disagree at the table but if I have not evaluated it, I make sure I give myself time to evaluate. To everybody’s reading, give yourself time. You’d never have to rush through a deal. It’s okay to take time and slow things down. When you get caught in this trap of making decisions quickly, those are emotional decisions. Those emotional decisions, you will judge yourself and your counterpart about them down the road. Whether it’s immediately, down the road and you’re not going to feel good about those emotional decisions. You’re going to come back, living with the deal and go, “Why in the heck did I agree to do this?” It was because you were being pushed and you made this emotional decision instead of saying, “Time out. I need to take a step back, evaluate this and go at it.”
I had one buyer that I loved personally, he seemed a great guy and I wanted it to fit, but all the other pieces weren’t a match. I had to pull back and look at it more from a 360 viewpoint and let that opportunity go.
Because sometimes we get into business and we think we have to do business with people we always like. There’s this know, like and trust thing that everyone talks about the people who know me well know that I have issues with it. I’m not a huge fan of the model because there are times when I can like somebody but that does not mean I should be doing business with them. They may be qualified, not a good fit but if I go with, “This person is cool. They’re going to do right by me.” I’ve done that and paid the price for it. It’s not worked out so well. I appreciate that. Thank you for sharing that. This has been great. I have loved our conversation. I’m super excited about your book, The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life. I cannot wait to get a copy of that, I’m looking forward to it. I think you have a gift for our audience. Tell us about that.
I’m in the process of creating a special PDF where I’ll share some of my tools from my book and how to improve and leverage your Psychology of Money in negotiation. Lots of tools and tips on embracing your worth, on injecting positivity and abundant thinking in your negotiation process. I’m super grateful to have spoken with you, Christine. You’re doing such amazing work.
Thank you very much. I’m super excited to have you on the show. To everyone reading, I appreciate you. The greatest gift you can give us is your time. Thank you so much for reading this episode. Remember that negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship. You cannot win a relationship but you can get more value out of it. Happy negotiating and we will see you next time on the show. Have a great day, everyone. Cheers.
- Urban Balance
- The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life
- Lean In
- Bethany Sloggett – Previous episode
- Matthew Marini – Previous episode
- Psychology of Success
- Talking to Strangers
About Joyce Marter
Money/Success and our mental health are intrinsically tied. The psychological aspect of the health of our finances is critical to our overall wellbeing while our attitudes, feelings and fears about, and ways for managing our money are extremely psychological. These correlations affect everything from our savings account to our business negotiations to how we value ourselves and our talents.
Joyce Marter is a celebrated psychotherapist, entrepreneur, founder of Urban Balance, national speaker, writer and frequent media contributor who has made it her life’s mission to help people improve their mental health and financial wealth. Through lessons learned from her own career as a business owner, Joyce’s new book, “The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life” (July 27, 2021) shares a 360-degree holistic view of success with practical tools and guidance to amplify individuals self-worth and self-esteem to create financial abundance.