Listen to my April 12, 2 012 interview with Larry Nelson  of W3W3 Internet Talk Radio  about Major Mistakes Made in Negotiating:

From W3W3 Internet Talk Radio’s Website: We’re here with a dear friend, that we have done a lot of business with over the years, Dr. Robert Rutherford and we are focused on the NO-to-GO. If you have a question about negotiating, Rob is the guy to go to. He’s also a prolific author and Larry suggests you check out his books for answers. Rob tells us he is amazed at the bad rap negotiating has. Most people have an incomplete, inaccurate view of what negotiating is and what it is not. It’s not, ‘get the last slam dunk… get the last penny out of the person. It is not ‘get all you can off the table’ kind of thing. Negotiating is an effort to gain an initial agreement that otherwise couldn’t be done. There are many things that are negotiable and many things that are not. Rob said, “Personally, I think most things are negotiable and my own personal opinion is, they’re not worth negotiating. It’s not worth the time, it’s not worth the effort, no it’s just not worth it. But those things that are worth negotiating – there are special things that should be done in the effort to get the right kind of agreement. Larry asked, “What are some of the most common mistakes made when people think they’re negotiating?” Rob replied, “I think one of the most common mistakes made is, ‘I don’t have to tell the other person what I want, I’m going to hold everything in, I’m going to be secretive…. Let me ask, how in the world are we going to get a win/win, initial agreement if I don’t tell you what I want out of the deal? It just totally mystifies me. That’s a major mistake. I think another major mistake made in negotiating is seeing the other person as the enemy. Now in some cases it may be. But, what in the heck are you doing negotiating with them to begin with, if they’re the enemy? Unless you really have to. Larry asked, “Let’s say I have an appointment with an organization and I want to work out a deal. What are some things I should do in preparation?” Rob said, “Well I have a business card, I’m glad you asked. On this business card it has three different categories 1.) Preparing for Negotiation and then it goes through the steps like, Know the purpose; Understand issues thoroughly…. The 2nd part of that is the actual negotiating itself ‘in the arena’. You should seek a win-win, mutual gain for an example. Expect to win, manage expectations, not only your own but the other party… After the negotiation. It’s amazing to me, there are some people that are really good at negotiating but they’re not good at keeping the deal…Listen for more…

April 12, 2012

Have you ever been stuck while dealing with another person?

Being stuck can be likened to an iceberg- The tip of the iceberg represents the stated stuck position.  But it is what is “below” the position that makes it stuck.

We are commemorating the 100 year of the sinking of the Titanic.The Titanic was not sunk by the tip of the iceberg- It was what was lurking below the surface that destroyed the ship.

What is lurking below your and the other persons position might  sink your ability to gain agreement.

Last week I was in Santa Barbara on real estate business. Many years ago when I was a young real estate broker in Santa Barbara I was trying  to sell an investment property that the owner, a Mr. Vickers, who was desperate to sell. The building was worth in the range $475,000 but Mr. Vickers insisted that he would not sell for one penny less than $600,000- Clearly way out of line with its market value.

Strangely to me Mr. Vickers  agreed that the building was only worth $475,000 yet he would not take anything less than $600,000. When asked why he insisted on  $600,000.he remarked- “Thank you for asking Rob, because that is what I paid for the property some five years ago-and if I sold it for anything less than $600,.000 my wife and family would think me a fool and a loser to have paid so much for the property originally.”

Yes he was stuck at $600,000 due to fear of being ridiculed. In three weeks we sold the property at $600,000 – yes with some creative owner carry back financing- at no interest and a large mortgage discount at the end of five years. He was happy to sell and the new buyers were happy to buy.

When you are stuck in dealing with someone go behind the position to find out what the real issues are and see if they can be solved.

Keep flying and soaring


Do We Care?


To all you NO to GO Successful Negotiators:

November 11, 2011

These few concepts, when one truly cares enough to apply them, brings success and value to their work and lives.

When I was on the Caltech faculty my family lived in Pasadena, California, walking distance to campus. One summer day my two oldest sons, Ken and Eric, were playing football in the street outside. Watching from my home office window I could see they were about ready to come inside, no doubt to raid the refrigerator as growing teenage boys are known to do. I also noticed that my youngest son, Douglas, was sad because his older brothers, Ken and Eric had not invited him to play with them outside.

I turned to Douglas and said “Douglas, let’s hide behind the front room sofa and when Ken and Eric come in they won’t see us and then we will surprise them.” Douglas responded with wisdom far beyond his four years of age, “What if they don’t care?”

Yes- of course- What if they don’t care- and they didn’t –as they rushed past us to converge on the refrigerator and its contents inside.

Never make a concession, while negotiating, without making it conditional on getting something back in return. Work towards a mutual gain for all parties.

BOON- (Best Option Outside Negotiation)

Before entering a negotiation, be sure you have a well-thought-out BOON.

Boon is the best course of action away from the table. Do you have a bankable action? Nothing beats a good backup.

Influence and Authority

If the other party has influence but no authority to make a concession- work to give them enough “Bragging Rights” to convince the authority to give  you what you asked for.  Before they present your offer to the decision maker(s)- be sure they  will recommend to their client that they accept your offer.

Checking in to check out.

Billy, a 10 year old 5th grader- checking in to check out with Mrs. Anderson- to be sure she was satisfied with his gardening work- How many of us check in to check out how well we are doing with your customers, your spouses, loved ones? Don’t assume- check in to check out.

DO “Hollywood “ your concessions.

Never underestimate the power of packaging your concession.
Keep flying and soaring, no wobbling.


Negotiating has gotten a bad rap. Ask virtually anyone—aside from those who professionally make their living negotiating—what they think of when they hear the word “negotiating” and you will get answers like: “Adversarial,” “A battle—be careful.” “Negotiating is only for the hard nosed, tough-minded person.”

I  recall a time when I was selling my home in Pacific Palisades, California, because I had left the faculty at UCLA to join the faculty at Caltech in Pasadena.

A couple had come over to the home on three separate occasions to consider buying the property. The last time they called, I told them I had just reduced the price to $32,000, considerably under the market value (you can imagine how many years ago that was!), for a quick sale if they wanted it. If not, I would rent it out.

The husband with his wife returned to see the house again. They wanted the house. Then the husband in a somewhat condescending tone (or at least that is the way I interpreted it) said to me, “Okay—I will give you $29,000 for the house.” I remarked that he and I knew that $32,000 was  basically a steal. The house was his if he wanted it. If not, he was out of there and I would rent it.

He responded, “Okay, $29,500.” I said, “You are out of here.”

After having rented the home for several  years, I decided to sell it. It sold for just under 20 times that $32,000 that I had asked some years before. I can only imagine what the home  might bring in today’s market where just a small vacant lot, if available, in Pacific Palisade is well over a  $1,000,000. (Yes even in today’s  “disrupted ” real estate market.)

I write this not to try to impress you but to impress upon you that you don’t have to always get the “best buy” by continually trying to knock down the price and terms. If it is a good deal and you want it- take it.

Negotiating is not war; it is not about beating the other person. It

is about crafting an exchange that benefits all parties to the transaction.

Key points:

• It is as important to know when and when not to negotiate, as

it is to know how to negotiate.

• Just because you can negotiate doesn’t mean that you necessarily

should negotiate. Why? Because negotiating often takes

significant time, energy, planning, and execution. Be selective.

• Reserve negotiating for those occasions where the possible

payback in terms of money, satisfaction, and process is commensurate with the potential rewards of that negotiation.

Fear of Failure


Fear of failure

Fear of failure is a natural emotion.

From The Great Eagle Of The Sky And Ten Turkeys Parable.

The Great Eagle of the Sky taught ten grounded wobbling turkeys to fly.  Five applied what they had learned and were transformed into flying “Winged Winners”. The other five  never applied what they had learned and remained” Wobbling Walkers”  grounded   turkeys. What made the critical difference that transformed five turkeys into Winged Winners and five turkeys remained grounded Wobbling Walkers?

The Wobbling Walkers feared what would happen if they were to apply what they had learned, to fly and to teach other turkeys to fly.

“Stop and think for a moment,” the Wobbling Leader declared. “What if we took off, flew for a short time, and then crashed. Just think of the humiliation. We’d never live it down for the rest of our lives.”

He continued, “We might take off from the training grounds here and get lost and be unable to navigate by air back home. What would happen then? Besides, how in the world could we live up to the expectations of the folks back home?”

The Winged Leader entered into the discussion. “You know something, you really don’t fear failure.” Then he paused. The assembly room became silent. The Winged Leader smiled in a rather knowing and somewhat pedantic manner.

“You don’t fear failure but what failure might do. It might be . . . embarrassing. It might make you look stupid and inept. It might even cause pain and disappointment to others and to yourself.

He continued “For all of us, there will never be a time when we know absolutely that we won’t fail, so does that mean we shouldn’t try anything that has the least bit of risk to it?

The Winged Leader looked at the five Wobbling Walkers. “It isn’t so much what we do in life that we regret; it’s what we didn’t do. Failing to fly back home and teach others to fly is exactly what you Wobbling Walkers will regret the rest of your lives. Do you want to suffer what might have been? If it doesn’t work out the first time, it won’t be the end of the world. Try again. Don’t allow fear to prevent you from doing what you could, should, and would do if you lived life to the fullest and fulfilled your commitment to the Great Eagle and Enterprise home.”

The Winged Leader concluded, quoting the Great Eagle in the Skies: “To try and fail is life, but to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.”

There was dead silence after Winged Winner’s stirring discourse. The Wobbling Walkers said nothing because they didn’t know what to say.

Sometime later, sadly, for fear of failure and all the imagined results from possible failure, the Wobbling Walkers chose to walk back home and never fly again.

The Winged Winners applied what they had learned-flew and taught others to fly.


In this parable we are dealing not with failure itself as much as the fear of failure, which usually is the handmaiden leading to failure.

Fear of failure is one of the most prevailing and damaging fears people have that robs them of their chances for success and happiness. Fear of failure is closely related to such fears as fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of being made to look like a fool, fear of criticism.

All of us have experienced the fear of failure (i.e., fear of losing a competition, fear of making a bad investment), as well as having actually failed (i.e., not making the football team, not getting the job we wanted). Some of us fear the failure to live up to others’ expectations, or to be all that we could be if we lived to our fullest.

It has been said that “failure sucks but instructs.” Sounds almost poetic, doesn’t it? All truly successful people know failure, yet they allow their failures to instruct them and help them lead better lives, with enhanced success and happiness.

What you can learn from this parable monograph.

  • Confront your fear of failure.
  • Consider what you have lost by not trying.
  • Understand both the risk of failure and the benefits of success.
  • Calculate a worst-case scenario. If you chase your dreams and fail, what is the worst that can happen to you?
  • Have a plan B—a contingency plan to reduce the fear of failure.
  • Remember that failing is part and parcel of innovation, like Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • When you fail and fall, acknowledge its lessons, get up, and keep going.
  • Treat failure as an opportunity to learn to improve.
  • Don’t take failure personally. Everyone fails at one time or another. You can never be a failure: Failure is never a person, it’s an event.

Words of Wisdom

“I was never afraid of failure, for I would sooner fail than not be among the best.” —John Keats

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” —Sven Goran Eriksson

“He who never makes mistakes, never makes anything.” —English proverb

“I failed my way to success.” —Thomas Edison

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” —William Shakespeare

“Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.” —Napoleon Hill

“Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence only of trial and error experience. Humans have learned only through mistakes.” —Buckminster Fuller

“If you hit every time, the target is too near or too big.” —Tom Hirshfield