If you’re the leader of a team and your team is not performing well, don’t blame the team; blame yourself. Every great sports team relies on their coach, and if the team has an offseason, they hire a new coach. Leadership is about taking accountability and checking in with yourself. You can’t have productive work negotiations if there is no connection or relationship. A leader should set the boundaries and visions so that the team can win together. Join your host Christine McKay and her guest Brandon Allen on how leadership starts with you. Brandon is a business coach, speaker, and strategist. He believes that people need to have the self-awareness to unlock their full potential. Learn how to lead with self-awareness today.
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Leading With Self-Awareness And Leading Your Team To Victory With Brandon Allen
I’m always so excited about my guests. This episode is yet again no exemption to that rule. I am super excited to have Brandon Allen on with me. Brandon is a business coach, like guru Dodd. I don’t know what to describe him as. He’s amazing. He’s done some amazing things that started out not having such a great experience and defining that his own leadership skills were not where he needed them to be successful. He went on a three-year journey to create some self-awareness and figure some things out, and he did. Not only did he figure some things out, he learned a whole lot of things. Now, he helps his clients do those very same things. He described in his media one sheet that he describes himself as funny, charming, interesting and handsome. All of these claims are highly questionable other than the first, being funny.
I have had a few comedians on the show, which I always enjoy. We’re going to have a fun conversation, but what does this have to do with negotiation? My experience has proven to me anyway that effective negotiators are effective leaders of themselves and others. That’s why Brandon’s here because we’re going to have a conversation about that. Brandon, welcome. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing your time with us.
Thank you, Christine. I appreciate it. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for having me on.
Brandon, tell us a little bit about you. Tell us how you ended up on this journey?
It starts from an early age. Growing up, I did not have a dad that was present. My mom was a drinker. There were times growing up that I felt like I was all alone. I was the only person that was looking out for me. Subconsciously early on, I noticed this in sports that I did and through college that I enjoyed helping people and being an advocate for someone else. I wasn’t present at that. I didn’t realize that’s what I wanted to do until I started working in the corporate world. I worked in finance.
I remember working in finance, and about two months into my job, I realized I hated finance, but I went ahead and stayed for ten years in case I was wrong. The thing that I remember walking away from that was I enjoyed mentoring people. I helped getting them to the next step in their own leadership journey. The irony of that is the thing that held me back was also partly my strength. Growing up not counting on other people, I was very distrustful of other people. I loved helping others, but no one could help me.
That’s where I struggled as a leader. I wasn’t vulnerable, I wasn’t open. I held people away from me. That created a lot of disconnection with the people that I worked with. Overcoming that helped me to see all the dimensions that are important as a leader. Now, I have four daughters and everything else, all of those things are important to leadership. I fashioned myself almost like a leadership advocate for people based on my experiences when I was younger. That’s the thread that connects everything that I do.It's hard to read the label when you're inside the bottle. Click To Tweet
One of the things that I like to talk about is the importance of self-awareness and negotiation. I was talking to a gentleman who is the head of Ernst and Young’s strategic negotiation practice. He was telling me that one of the things he likes about what I do is that I talk about the individual, yourself, you, and what that means. Tell us a little bit more about what caused you to go on this journey? How did you realize that you had some areas that were not what you wanted them to be that were holding you back?
For a long time, I was not present to that. I’ll tell you the first time I realized that maybe I needed to do some self-assessment. It was in college, and I had a good friend of mine named Katie. She said to me one time, “Brandon, you’re one of my very best friends. I enjoy you but you’re a hard person to get to know. You’re so aloof.” At the time, I didn’t even know what aloof meant. I was like, “Okay.” I looked it up later. I was like, “That’s not flattering.”
I know she didn’t mean it disrespectfully. I know it came from a good place. It made me think about that a little bit. That’s the first time I started to think about, “Maybe there are some things about myself that I need to look at.” I always say it’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. There were some things that maybe I didn’t see.
I got into a work environment where I was very successful in sales, and so I got promoted. I wanted to be a good leader. I was excited about it, but then when I got into a leadership situation, the things that made me good at sales are the things that made me good at getting things done. We’re pushing ahead and never giving up and working hard. My expectation was that everyone else would do the same things that I did. When people didn’t do that, I got frustrated with it. I was impatient and demanding. Here I am, I get promoted and I moved to a town I’ve never lived in before. I get married and my wife moves out to this place she’s never lived before. I’m thinking, “I’m going to get fired because we suck. My office sucks. We’re doing horrible.”
I had a conversation with my boss about it. He said, “What do you think is going on?” I did the least leadership thing that I could do at that moment. I said, “My team sucks. If I had better players, then we would do better. I can’t win with these people.” He said, “Brandon, I know you like sports and you use a sports analogy. What do they do in sports when the team struggles?” I was like, “I don’t know if I like where this conversation is headed. They fire the coach.” He’s like, “100%. Now, what do you want to do about that?” I said, “I clearly need some help. There are some things that I am not seeing that I don’t know.”
There were a couple of things that I did. The first thing is I asked my team for feedback. I had a woman who had been with the company longer than I’d been alive. When I asked her what she thought about my leadership and everything else, she said, “Do you want to know?” I immediately knew I had regretted asking her as soon as she said that but what happened in that conversation was powerful.
It started with, “We don’t like you.” She unpacked that for me to let me know how I was showing up. It was hard to hear. I remember going home that day, and I was sick to my stomach. I reached out to my boss and I said, “I need some help. What can we do?” He sent me to a workshop that was actually here in Utah, which I had moved away from, and it was about coaching for success.
I remember the first day. When you go to a workshop like that, it’s always about unpacking where you’re at and assessing what you’re doing. I must have checked probably twenty things that they said not to do that I was currently doing. I was like, “I am doing such a horrible job at leading people. All these things I thought I knew, I don’t know.” I take it back to my team and I humbled myself, first and foremost. I said, “I’ve listened to your feedback. I’ve listened to experts talk about the way to lead well, and I realized that there are some things that even though my intention is to lead well, I’m not leading you well.” I resolved to work on three things. Connection was the first one. The second one was communication. The last one was about consistency. I realized those three things were missing for me as a leader: connection, communication, consistency.
I was someone who had these grand plans. I never followed through on them. I wasn’t a good communicator. I wanted to be nice. I wanted people to like me, which is ironic because they hated me. The more I tried to get them to like me, the more they didn’t like me, and my connection was off. That was the first thing that I needed help with. That was the first time that I’ve been in an environment where I’d failed and done a poor job. My deficiencies came out in a big way where before, I could always mask those deficiencies by performing as an individual really well. Now I’m in the context of a team. That was the first time I saw that I had some work to do in that particular area and set me on a course for my own self-awareness and personal development.
I love those three things: connection, communication and consistency. For those of you who have seen my show cover, you’ll see my company logo, which is this three-circle Venn diagram. I don’t know if you know Blair Dunkley, but Blair is one of my big mentors. I talk about negotiation very much around what you’re about, where your counterpart is, and the situation that you’re negotiating. I love that you broke this into three because it fits very nicely into the Venn diagram.
I love that because, in negotiation, I was talking to somebody who actually wasn’t part of the team that negotiated the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Treaty many years ago. That was one of the things that he talked about was that you have to make a connection. When you’re leading somebody, when you’re leading a group of people, you are constantly in negotiation with them to inspire them, to motivate themselves, to take action, and get things done in the way that you want to do. What happened after that conversation? What did you do with the team at that point?
Slowly, I started to change my behaviors. Old habits die hard. I would love to tell you that we did a prayer circle and played the guitar, and cried that very day. We didn’t. I’m a believer that there are two types of people at work. There’s the get-shit-done process-oriented people and they’re the connectors. There are the relationship-oriented people. If my wife and I are hiking, my thought process is, “How quickly do we get to the end?” My wife’s thought process is, “Did you see the flowers, the waterfall, and all the amazing scenery on the way to the end?” That’s the analogy that I use. For me, it didn’t come naturally for me to small talk and ask people how their weekend was. That wasn’t something that I did. I came in, did my work and went home.
I learned to ask questions and get to know the people that work for me. The funny thing about this is, this is how it turned out. I started to show up differently. I became a stand for my greatness and for theirs, which meant that in the area of communication and consistency, I started to set more boundaries. I started to be clearer about what it was that I wanted. I started to enroll them in the opportunity that we had together to work and win. I brought them together and they trusted me.
That was the first thing that needed to happen with connection was to build that trust. They started to listen and to enroll themselves in the things that we were trying to do. I took the same team that I swore to God I couldn’t win with, and we became one of the top-rated offices in my area. I got promoted. I promoted one of those supposed losers that I couldn’t win with to replace me as a result of that.You need connection, communication, and consistency to be a great leader. Click To Tweet
A couple of years later, that’s where we ended up. One of the things that I did in this process that I think as a leader, you’re not always told to do these things, but I told them, “I’m giving you permission to hold me accountable to the things that I’ve committed to. When you see me not showing up this way, you have my permission to call me out. I know I am your boss, but I am not above reproach. I’m giving you permission to call me out when you see something I’m doing that is contrary to the leader I told you that I want it to be.” That created a powerful context for them because, for a lot of people, when it comes to self-awareness, what we do is act like no one knows that we have these issues.
If you think about the concept called Johari’s Window, it’s about four quadrants. There are things that are known to me and known to you. We know them together. There are things that I know that you don’t that I keep hidden. Those are things that I haven’t told you about that you don’t know. There are things that you know that I don’t. Those can be blind spots in a relationship. There are areas where we both don’t know something, and that’s the way it is. For leaders, we act like we don’t have blind spots and that those things don’t exist. We act like the things that are going wrong inside of us don’t manifest themselves in the outside world.
What a team wants to know from a leader is, does this person recognize his or her own shortcomings? Do they recognize them? If they do, I can respect that because I also am aware that I have my own shortcomings in that process. I took ownership of that. They respected the fact that I was willing to do that and I would let them hold me accountable to that, which I found helpful because, as you know, when we try to change behaviors, old habits die hard. I needed someone to hold the mirror up and let me look in the mirror to see if I liked what I saw. Sometimes I did, and sometimes I didn’t. That was helpful for me in making that change.
The thing is that people think that when they’re in a negotiation that they can’t do that. You used the word fear a couple of times, and I talk a lot about and trust. People are afraid to ask for what they want. A lot of times, we’re afraid. We tell ourselves, “We can’t do that.” The majority of people go into a negotiation not trusting that their counterpart has their interests at heart. We go in, and so that creates crappy negotiated relationships. People who are regular readers to the show know that my philosophy about negotiation is a conversation about a relationship. You can’t win relationships. You can only find ways to create more value out of them and make them better.
What I love about what you’re talking about is essentially transparency. People think that when they’re at the negotiation table, they can’t do any of this stuff. They can’t call you out on behavior. That’s why I set up ground terms. I have a call with a gentleman. He’s happened to be an attorney and we’re negotiating a deal. He doesn’t have much of a relationship with me. He’s like, “I want to dive into the proposal.” I’m like, “I’m going to reel him back. We’re a long way from having a conversation about a proposal. I like to get to know who the heck you are. What motivates you? What gets you excited? Why do you want to have this conversation in the first place with us? What hopes do you have out of this relationship?”
I want to set some ground rules. I tell people like, “This is who I am at the negotiation table typically. If I exhibit this behavior, call me out on it. Make sure you say, ‘You got a little snippy there.’ Tell me, let me know, and then I’ll let you know I commit to you. If I get a little snippy, I bite back or I’m doing something that’s inconsistent with what we’ve talked about, how you’re going to behave at the negotiation table, then you get to call me on that. I then have to be transparent back to you and say, ‘I meant that or I didn’t mean that.’”
Doing that at the front-end of every negotiation totally changes how the negotiation unfolds. Even if a deal doesn’t happen, you walk away with a level of respect and trust in each other. Many times, a friendship with somebody, even if the deal at the end of the day doesn’t make sense. You set that groundwork upfront about who I am and who you are.
I think about the confrontation at work as an opportunity for negotiation. It isn’t always that way because sometimes we’re giving one-way feedback that needs to be one way. For instance, if someone is sexually harassing someone else at work, we’re not having a negotiation about that. I want you to stop doing it. That’s an example of that, but in a lot of cases, we’re going to have a conversation about it.
There’s a framework that is useful to anyone who wants to negotiate better. It’s in thinking about someone’s brain and how they respond to certain stimuli. Dr. David Rock wrote a book called Your Brain at Work. He hooked people up to a functional MRI. He studied their brains and the stimulus that they got from certain things that they did. They noticed that there were five core things that we wanted to have present to keep people in a reward status and keep them out of fight or flight.
When we’re in fight or flight, our prefrontal cortex shuts down. We lose the cognitive ability to be rational and to cognitively think. That’s why we say many stupid things and do stupid things when we’re scared or we’re angry. That’s why we do those things. The framework is called SCARF. S is for Status. We don’t want to diminish someone’s status when we’re working with them. It’s easy if you’re a leader and you have a subordinate to treat someone like an underling like someone who’s a little minion that needs to do things. When we diminish people’s status, that puts them in a fearful situation because they don’t feel like they appear equal. They feel like an inferior that needs to worry about when the other shoe is going to drop.
C is for Certainty. I work with a lot of entrepreneurial types who are interested in what’s their next best idea. The problem with that sometimes is we go 100 miles an hour in one direction one day and then we decide the next day because we want to, and it’s fun to go 100 miles an hour in the other direction. You’re free to do what you want, but when you have a team, that creates a lack of certainty. People don’t respect that uncertainty or change of direction. They want to know what the plan is. Where are you going, and what can we expect from one day to the next?
That’s why I’ve worked with people, and I’ve had bosses like this. They’re nice one day and they’re insane the next, and you never know from one day to the next what you’re going to get. I would prefer that someone either be happy all the time or be a psychopath all the time. I don’t care which one you choose because I know how you are. I know what’s going to show up, but when you’re uneven, that’s hard to do. We want to create an air of certainty with people when we work with them.
A is for Autonomy. We want people to have a choice. This is why even in a confrontational situation as a leader, I tell people how to handle it. I do that because I want to be a describer, not a prescriber. I’m not here to write you a prescription and fix you. I’m here to point something out and show you something. I’m going to allow you to decide how you want to respond to that. Now you’re in the driver’s seat. I want you to feel that way if at all times.
R is for Relatedness. This is important for you, and we’re talking about this. Are you a friend or a foe? That’s important because if I know you care, I will listen to your critique and I will listen to something that’s difficult, but if I think you’re my enemy, I’m not going to listen to you. In fact, you can go wherever I tell you to go because I don’t want to listen to you. Relatedness is important. I struggled with this early on as a leader and it hindered my progress.Even as a leader, you are not above reproach. Click To Tweet
F is for Fairness. R is what we’re doing fair. We don’t mean fair that everything has to be the same all the time. It’s not true. It does mean that if we have a boundary and someone crosses it, we confront it. It does mean that if we make a request and someone agrees to that request and then they don’t honor that request, that there are some ramifications to doing that. It does mean that we give people the same opportunities to do certain things across the board in a way that ensures that people feel like they have an opportunity to advance or do certain things.
Fairness is important. I’ve worked with a lot of cultures that are angry with their leadership team because they don’t confront issues. They let people get away with things. We’ve said yes to the people who don’t perform while also simultaneously saying no to the people who do. Now it’s like, “What’s my incentive to work in the construct of this agreement that we’ve had when you won’t honor that agreement, to begin with?” Even in a negotiation situation, you can take those five things and recognize how you can put that into that upfront to ensure that’s the way you’re showing up for the person that you’re negotiating with.
I’d like to spend a little time on this because I like this as a framework. We’ll keep going with the example of this guy that I’m meeting with. He’s an attorney’s attorney guy. He’s by the book. He’s a value-taking guy. He’s got something to prove in his thing. Relative to my client, he thinks he’s superior to my client. He has an elevated view of his status and his style, whether it’s intentional or conscious or subconscious, is to try to elevate himself. He does that by wielding power. He thinks he wields power. My role right is to come in and acknowledge where he does have status. He is an attorney. I am not an attorney. I respect the fact that he went to school, he passed the bar exam and that he’s a practicing lawyer. He’s got that status.
My status is I have a Harvard MBA. In order for the relationship to work, we have to acknowledge that each of us has status in different ways. I know more about business, business strategy, financial statements and a whole bunch of other things than he likely does across a wide range of industries. We have different things that we have a status for. When you’re negotiating with somebody and you feel that they’re trying to exercise power over you, one way for you to deal with that is to actually acknowledge where they do have status and where you don’t. You do not have that same status. It plays to how they see themselves, but then you want to bring him over so that they start to see where you have status. That’s one of the ways to level the playing field.
In terms of the certainty aspect, from a negotiation perspective, I’ve actually moved that to clarity versus certainty. As a matter of fact, I was on a webinar with the CEO of BioNTech. He was talking about the Pfizer-BioNTech joint venture, and there’s a third company in there and I can never remember the name of it. They worked without financial terms and conditions. They have no idea how they’re going to split up the money or how they are going to do anything except work together. They worked under an LOI for nine months on the Coronavirus vaccine before they had commercial terms and conditions in place.
We’re talking about three large companies and shareholders. Lawyers were freaking out about not having a deal and management was like, “No.” They were clear on what they were doing. They were clear on what their mission was. They were clear on what their roles and responsibilities were, but what I loved about what the CEO of BioNTech said, it’s like, “We had no certainty on anything. There was no certainty whatsoever. We believed that as long as we had clarity and we could clearly communicate to all of our staff and everyone working on this what our objectives were across all three companies, then we would get there.”
He said that it’s changing how they are negotiating going forward, especially in partnership relationships in some of their larger deals. I love the autonomy. Autonomy and negotiation are absolutely critical. Each party has to feel that they have a choice to make. Not a decision but that they have choices that they can exercise and that autonomy is critical.
I have been in negotiations where somebody has tried to take away my autonomy or others at the table. It creates so much resentment that even in those situations where a deal gets signed, the fact that somebody took another’s autonomy away means that they will never trust you again. The next time that they have the opportunity to replace you as a customer, as a supplier, as an investor, they will take it. You have a deal for the short-term, but you will not have a relationship for the long-term.
Autonomy in negotiation is critical. You can make whatever choice you need to make, and I’m fine with whatever choice you need to make for you because that’s an important component. I love the relatedness aspect. I don’t have much to add to that. The fairness component, so many times we get into negotiation and I hate the term win-win. I despise it. I hate this “never split the difference” garbage that’s out there right now too. It’s like, “No. It’s about fairness.”
Effective negotiations are about what’s fair in our relationship. If negotiation is about a relationship and you’re trying to create a relationship, you have to be fair in that relationship. Otherwise, resentment starts to build up. The same thing that I described, “I’m going to replace you as a customer, supplier and investor as soon as I can if I feel that we do not have fairness in our relationship.” I always love to ask, “Does this feel fair to you?” Fairness is a feeling. It’s an emotion. Often, we think that emotions in negotiation are bad. You want to control them, but there are certain things that you want to check in. Check the temperature of your counterpart. Fairness is one of them. Does this feel fair to you?
All those things are true in negotiation. I think about the examples you give about not having autonomy, and I’ve had negotiations where someone has pinned me into a corner. They have me, and I succumb to their will because I feel like I have no choice. You’re right. That is a relationship that is doomed to fail. It’s like, “You continually negotiate with me in what I feel like is bad faith from the beginning because you already have a preconceived agenda that you know I may have to agree to. As soon as I can, I am ending that relationship and I will never forget it, never ever.”
I know exactly who they are. I remember what they look like. I may not have seen them for more than twenty years, and I still remember their names, what they look like. I know who they were if I ran into them on the street. It’s such a horrible feeling to lose your autonomy. Feeling powerless is what it comes down to. In a work setting, it’s not a good situation at all. Yet we see it all the time. There’s a lot of conversation about unconscious bias and how unconscious bias leads to a loss of autonomy for people. I’m very encouraged that there’s a dialogue that’s happening about how do we manage.
In fact, Mike Domitrz was on the show. He almost got hit by a falling light bulb in his house. It was like, “What?” I’m glad they didn’t edit it out because they felt that it would have been at a poignant time. I loved my conversation with him because we talked about respect. Often, people feel disrespected at the negotiation table. Effective leaders, they don’t do that. They give autonomy to their team. They give autonomy at the negotiation table to counterparts. There’s the research that suggests that CEOs, the more senior somebody is, the worse of a negotiator they are. One of the reasons, in my experience, is because they mess this autonomy component up.
The more senior the person is at the negotiation table, or if it’s a founder, it’s like, “This is mine.” They get more possessive about it. That autonomy component is what hangs them up. I’m loving this conversation. Tell me, how are some of the things that you’ve seen with some of your clients? How does that affect or influence how you’ve transitioned your own thinking about leadership?Be a describer, not a prescriber. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting because I put so much stock in what I was doing, even early on in my career and when we were successful. I’ll give you an example of how this all came about. I started consulting and coaching in 2008. I thought that was a good year to start a business. We were so financially prosperous and everything was growing so great. I thought, “2008, let’s do that.” The economy’s falling apart, “I’m going to start a business.”
We start out and we do strategic planning. That’s what we’re doing. We’re giving people plans and we’re handing them to them and then watching as client after client struggle to execute. I’m dumbfounded because I’m thinking, “This person needs to know what to do. If they know what to do, then they’ll do it.” I started to realize that we all know things. We all have information. We were knowers, but there’s something that keeps us from doing and it’s who we’re being.
I shifted my focus and coaching after the first couple of years to dive into the being of a leader. That’s something that I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about early on in my career. I wasn’t conscious of it. I was starting to define who I am as a leader, what makes me a leader and how do I own that every single day so that that’s what shows up in the world that I work. Part of that is I want to be a leader of connection. I don’t say I want to be. I say, “I am a leader of connection.” Even before I was a leader of connection, I owned that space because that’s where I was going. That’s where I wanted to be.
What I’ve seen is we help leaders understand who they’re being in the doing that happens every single day so that they can figure out what there is to see and know about the results that they get, good and bad. They understand where those things come from. They can make a change that isn’t surface level, but that gets to the root cause of what is getting in their way to getting to the next level that they’re trying to get to.
I cannot remember her name and I have to go find it because I keep talking about this comment she made. One of the things that’s interesting to me about that is this woman. She works primarily with women. She made a statement that when boys are little, they’re rewarded for doing things and girls are rewarded for being.
Boys are rewarded for winning a race, playing a game, fixing something, and girls are rewarded for being pretty, being nice, being generous, and all those kinds of things. What’s interesting to me about what you said is that as a leader, you transition it. It was all about the doing and now it’s about the being. When you think about her comment, do you see anything about how that impacts men and women differently or the same or it doesn’t matter?
As a general principle, everything that we do starts from who we are. It starts there regardless of who you are. Your being is what influences the doing. What happens is we judge it when we don’t understand it. Let’s say you have a to-do list that has five items on it and you only do two. I don’t know how you would relate to that but what’s common is people will look at that and say, “I need to get my crap together. Why am I so lazy? I need to be more focused and I need to work harder tomorrow.” That’s what they do. They don’t investigate. The three things on my list are, “Why didn’t I do them? In fact, what is my relationship to that thing?”
I do agree that as a young man, I don’t remember being taught to be relational. I don’t remember someone saying like, “How do you relate to this person? How do you do that?” In some ways, I was told to share and those kinds of things. That was true, but I don’t know that I was encouraged to be relational. That seems to come more naturally to women that they are more naturally relational. That may or may not be true. I don’t know. I haven’t researched it. I’m saying that because that’s how it feels, but that may not be true. I think about that.
When we’re not this thing, being relational let’s say, because we don’t do it, then we say, “I’m not wired that way. That’s not who I am.” It stops there. It ends. There’s nowhere to go with that. You’re right. There’s nothing else to do. I always look at be, do, have. We’re the being of a leader, then we do the things that leaders do, then we have the things that leaders have, but most people get it the other way around. It’s like the person at work.
I’ll give you an example of a dental practice where I helped a younger dentist to buy out an older dentist. The younger dentist, I asked him, “How are you showing up for people as a leader and building the framework of leadership to make this transition smoothly?” He said, “I’m not doing any of that.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “I’m not the owner. I’m not doing that.” I said, “Let’s stop right there. Do you think that people are going to respect you differently because you signed your name on a piece of paper? No. They won’t even care about that. It doesn’t matter. Your time to build influence is now.” He’s thinking, “If I have a leadership position, then I’ll do the leadership things and I’ll be a leader.” It doesn’t work that way.
You can look at that with money, relationships and all those things. The being has to start first. That’s the thing that I’ve seen for everyone, that when we understand who we are being and how we’re showing up and how we relate to certain things, then we can get to the bottom of that. For instance, if I find putting things on my calendar is difficult, if I’ve had a goal that’s recurring of, “I need to schedule my time better.”
Some people will get on the phone with me and they’ll say, “Brandon, what I want to do is come up with a time management system.” I said, “Call Franklin Covey or David Allen. Call any of those people that do time management training. What you’ll learn are the things that you already know. I would love to tell you the reason that you don’t manage your time differently is because you don’t have the right system. It’s not true. Let’s take a step back if you want to and do the hard work of time management by asking yourself how do you relate to time?” “I’m always busy. I never have enough.” I said, “Does that show up for you?” “It does.” “How do you want to be a being of time? How do you want to use your time effectively?”
One of my favorite quotes is by a gentleman named Bill Hybels. I hesitate to bring that name up because he used to be the Pastor of Willow Creek Church, and then it turns out that he did some not-so-great things, but I still like the quote. Bill Hybels said, “I don’t put things on my schedule for what I want to get done. I put things on my schedule for who I want to become.” I asked him, “Does your schedule reflect you being a good spouse? Does your schedule reflect you being a good father? Does your schedule reflect being a good leader, a good marketer, a good salesperson? Whatever it is that you care about, does your calendar reflect that you have given that the space that that thing needs for you to make that break? If you haven’t, what’s the issue?”
When we get into time management, some of the common things that come up is, “I don’t like to be put in a box. Brandon, I’m a bird. I like to fly. I can’t be constrained by a meeting time that starts at 10:00 and ends at 10:45. That seems oppressive and I can’t do it. It’s unreasonable,” and so they don’t. Now, it’s about changing our relationship to time. What does time allow me to do? How do I want to relate to time differently?You don't put things on your schedule for what you want to get done. You put things on your schedule for who you want to become. Click To Tweet
One of the concepts that I talked to people about is jazz music. I was a jazz musician for about twelve years. I played the saxophone. Jazz is considered to be an improvisational art. It’s considered to be something that you can play within the context of the music around you. Even in jazz though, I have a chord structure that I play. I have people who are playing around me that I’m going to play within that structure.
I say, “What you do is art. Just do the art in a way that’s going to honor that art by giving it the space and time that it deserves to do it well.” Think about the things that you want and about how time will serve that. Instead of time being your enemy that you never have any of and that you’re always stressed out about, how can time be your asset? The only person who can change that is going to be you. There’s not going to be a leprechaun that shows up on a unicorn that comes to your door and says, “Here’s a box. Open it up.” “It’s time.” “You’re welcome. There are eight hours of unfiltered time. You can use it however you want. I will be back in three months with another box of time.” That’s not going to happen.
We have to make that conscious decision to do that. That’s the distinction that I make between being versus doing. We get so caught up in the system that we forget how we relate to the system really matters. The number one thing as a leader that I’ve learned is to check with myself to see how I’m relating to the thing that’s not working the way I want it to.
You’ve given me some things to think about for sure. It’s interesting because when I do speak on negotiation, one of the questions I often ask is, “Who loves negotiation and who hates negotiation?” The way that you described that, I love it, because negotiation can be a triggering word for some people, so it institutes this fight or flight thing. It is about what’s that relationship or what’s your relationship to negotiation. The question from a negotiation perspective is what’s your relationship to having relationships? If your relationship to having relationships is good, then your relationship to negotiation should be fine. It should be good too. I like the use of the time component.
As a negotiator, I’ve always let time be a tool that I either speed it up or slow it down. I use it as part of a negotiation strategy. which actually doesn’t show up well. I don’t translate that well into my own business. I often say time can be fungible from a negotiation perspective depending on what I’m trying to do, which also means that time is fungible in my business which is not always a good thing. You’ve given me a different language to apply to that part. From a negotiation part, I would love for everyone reading to think about that in your relationships in negotiation.
When you know you’re going to have a negotiation, if you’re somebody who’s like, “I’m going to win,” take a step back and go, “Is that the relationship that I want to have with that relationship? Is winning that relationship going to be effective?” If you’re somebody who’s like, “Get me the heck out of here. I don’t want to deal with any of this negotiation stuff,” is it negotiation? What’s your relationship to it and why? How does that feel? What’s driving that? That’s good. I like that thinking. Thank you for that.
I’ll give you a negotiation process for myself. I’ll break myself down. I always think about it as, “Is this Spy vs. Spy, or are these two people who are trying to build a relationship?” Do you remember Spy vs. Spy by Mad Comics? I’m dating myself now as I’m saying this, but it’s irreverent. I remember the Spy vs. Spy comic strips. It was all about someone getting over the other person. How do we do that? It was constantly one guy that was black, one guy that was white. They were dressed in black and white. They probably didn’t have any certain specific race. They were trying to get over on each other every single comic strip. That’s what they did. A lot of times, leaders go into a negotiation because they’re trying to get over someone else.
For me, the thing that held me back in being a good negotiator was the desire to be a winner. The problem with being a winner for me was that was where my identity was tied to. I always had to win. I’m the kid that if I didn’t win the board game, I probably flipped it over in the middle of the living room and walked away pissed. Whatever it was, that was how I related to the world. I related to relationships that way as well that I’ve got to win this relationship. For me, I can be persuasive and dominant. I can come in and suck the air out of the entire room and take it for myself and be like, “Do you want to breathe? Ask nicely and I’ll let you.” I can do that, but I realized it didn’t serve me because I won the battle, but I lost the war.
Most of the time, I had people who didn’t want to work with me again or negotiate with me because of my insistence on winning. Unfortunately, that affected my marriage and my relationship with my kids at time. I had to get clear on what is the purpose of this conversation. I had someone tell me once, “There’s no empathy in being right.” As someone who wanted to be right and wanted to be a winner, I realized there’s no empathy in that.
I’m not finding out what this person wants and needs. What’s their vision? Where are they going? How does this situation impact them for the future? How do I set this person up for success? If we can’t come to a resolution that way, it’s okay to say, “I don’t think this is going to work.” I don’t have to feel like a failure in that situation because I’m not only standing for my own greatness, but I’m also looking out for the greatness of someone else as well. That was tough for me. That was a lesson that took a long time for me to learn because I tied my identity up in winning everything I did.
We have a quiz on our website and we break it down. Some people will say there are five negotiation styles. They include avoiding as a style and if you’re avoiding a negotiation, you’re not negotiating. You’re having no conversation. Therefore, to me, it’s not a style. One of the styles that we label is a champion. A champion is a champion for him or herself. They see the negotiation as a battle. They go into it fully armed and fully armored, and they are all about annihilating their opponent, getting the best of them and winning at all costs.
I met a gentleman a while ago who’s in his 70s. He took this quiz and he called me, “I’m a champion. My wife hates me because of it. She hates me so much for it that I’m scared that if I don’t find a way to change it, she’s going to leave me.” He would embarrass her in restaurants. He had a reservation, and if they were five minutes late getting the table, he was the guy up at the hostess’ stand laying into them about why their table isn’t ready. It’s five minutes late. It’s supposed to be right then. He’s the guy who goes in and tells the pizza place owner, “I want a 25% discount and I don’t give a damn about you.”
My first interview on the show was with a gentleman named Idan Shpizear. Idan is an amazing guy. He owns over 100 franchises, and the franchise company is called 911 Restoration. They do carpet cleaning for fire damage, water damage, and all that stuff. We were talking about how he selects franchisees. The style came up and he’s like, “If that style starts to come up, I walk out the door. That person will never know that it was their style that caused me to walk away from them. This is what I see when I see that style. I see an increased number of customer service issues, turnover rates of staff, an unwillingness to learn and participate across the broader franchise, and a lot of cost and a lot of headaches. It’s not worth it.”
Many people think that style is what negotiation is. Thank you, Hollywood, where I live. Hollywood elevates that style, but it is so ineffective. What you described shows that ineffectiveness, and what you’ve done to move beyond that and to change that is awesome. Congratulations to you. It’s always cool when we have somebody who comes into our life and tells us what we need to hear when we’re in that place where we actually can hear it. To that woman who showed you, it sounds like she was a pivotal person that causes you to go on to this different path. You’re helping many different people with all these things. These are amazing lessons that you’ve learned. I’m honored that you have spent time with us to share it and have this conversation with me. How can people find you, Brandon?
There are a couple of different ways. If you go to NewWorkRevolution.com, you can check us out there. That’s our general site where you can see what we’re up to. We have a tool that we use that assesses, “Am I creating growth and freedom? What is the low-hanging fruit in my personal situation in business and in life?” It’s called the Profit Potential Index. If you go to MyProfitPotential.com, you can take that free assessment there. Check that out. I also have a podcast. Check out the Growth and Freedom Podcast on Apple. You may hear someone you know on an episode.
Thank you for that, Brandon. This has been an amazing episode. It’s full of lots of information, lots of tidbits, and things that all of us can walk away from. I learned a lot in this episode, which means that it will forever be one of my favorite episodes. I forgot to mention. My first book will be out. It gets published. It’s coming up soon. I’m so excited. It’ll be released on the 22nd of August 2021, Why Not Ask? A Conversation About Getting More. There are all sorts of stuff in it. It’s amazing. I’m excited about it. It’s been a labor of love. When you pick it up, you’ll be able to get a whole lot of tidbits, information and tools that you’ll be able to apply to your negotiation.
Thank you for reading. I always am thankful that you’ve spent your time with us. Until next time, remember, negotiations are just a conversation about a relationship and you cannot win a relationship, but you can get more value out of it. Happy negotiation. Thank you, and we’ll see you next time. Cheers.
- Brandon Allen
- Blair Dunkley
- Your Brain at Work
- Mike Domitrz – Past Episode
- Idan Shpizear – Past Episode
- 911 Restoration
- Growth and Freedom Podcast
- Apple – Growth and Freedom Podcast
- Why Not Ask? A Conversation About Getting More
About Brandon Allen
Here’s the skinny on Brandon Allen. Brandon is a business coach, speaker and strategist. He had never saved a baby from a burning building or scaled Mt. Everest. However, through years of running different operations, he has an uncanny knack for seeing other business owner’s vision and putting that into an actionable plan for success. He loves business and everything that comes with it.
After getting a degree in Economics, Brandon then spent ten years in corporate America in banking and finance and another 2 years with a small private financial education firm. He used this experience to help small business owners learn to scale their businesses to create more freedom in their lives. He helped entrepreneurs become New York Times bestsellers, get on the Inc. 500 list as well as other accomplishments. He loves working on various projects and is persistent in achieving objectives.
New Work Revolution was created to assist business owners in stepping into their power as a leader so they can build teams and grow their business. There’s no purer form of expression of purpose than entrepreneurship. His goal is to help business owners express that at their highest level possible. There are two ways that Brandon engages business owners to make their business successful. The first is in working with professional business owners through a company called Wealth Factory, he had worked with over 100 professional business owners through the Business FastTrack program that he created. In addition to his work with professionals, he also coaches leaders in the federal government and does onsite corporate training for businesses. He is the creator of the highly-rated workshop series Strategic Business Forum. The author of The Management Playbook and Total Experience Design. You can check out his podcast, New Work Revolution, on iTunes.
When he is not coaching or writing he, along with his wife and 4 cute little girls, live in Salt Lake City, Utah. When asked to describe himself, he will tell you that he is “funny, charming, interesting, and handsome,” all of which claims are highly questionable other than the first. He enjoys running, sports, music, hanging out with family, and reading when he is not busy helping others capitalize on their potential.