Sunday, April 19, 2009

the work is done

So graduation isn't until the end of the week, but I have completed every last effort I will perform to earn my MBA....
shouldn't be my last post, I want to give myself some summaries from the courses I completed. However, I am done. Everything I learn from here will be for me and not for this piece of paper I'm going to get soon (and a very valuable piece of paper I hope it is!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I am doing some research consulting for a company and came across a new term I hadn't heard before: CAGR

Turns out it mean Compound Annual Growth Rate. I figured it would be good for a MBA Blog to know about this term.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Toothpaste Trophy!

In the International Marketing Class (MBA 658), team "Great Asia" won simulation for selling Toothpaste in Latin America. -- We're showing off our awards. Who can't use some Spanish Colgate with a bow on top? I'll be putting it on the mantle above the fireplace soon.

Nice Job Kenji, Kyle, & Flavio! -- BYU will be at a loss when you leave this month (... I'm getting all teary eyed)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Negotiations Journal Done!

I may write in here some other time to keep my learning going. But for BYU's MBA 661 Class, My Negotiations Journal is complete!!!!! (7 entries I believe).

Woo -- just a little more homework to go before I graduate!

Schmoozin Something for Free

The Story
During the course of my undergrad, I did gain some skills at getting something for nothing, and I was decent at getting things from for-profit companies for free. At various times, I managed to get free:
  • pies from Denny's
  • upgrades at restaurants
  • cell phone accessories
I’ve also gotten a lot of fees waived. As I received these freebies, I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into convincing my counterpart and I always figured I was likable and a good talker. I felt others wanted to give me things because I was good at showing them they had nothing to lose and that it was a way to make their company look good.

One day I had a lot of pressure. At a beach-side amusement park, about 20 friends from Dixie State College asked me to get us all free-ride on one amusement that nobody was patronizing at the time. I had pride on the line and I really wanted to show off.

I approached the lone employee, who looked bored, and immediately went into this story about us not having much money, being poor college students, and that we’d really like to ride his ride. I showed him how it didn’t matter because the company wasn’t losing money. My thinking was he was bored and would be fine with it because it was something to do. Instead, he told me no.

I didn’t argue with him, just walked through my logic again and did a little begging and he said, "Do you have any more excuses?" I returned to my friends, a little embarrassed but realizing nothing was lost, and told them let's go do something else.

The Takeaways
Desire or Incentives
In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie teaches principles about the desires of others: "Arouse in the other person an eager want," "Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest." I did neither of these. Instead I told him about our problems. This worker had no incentive to give us a complimentary ride.

I didn't have a lot of incentive to offer him, but I can think of a few small ones:
  • have a girl talk to him instead of myself
  • make him feel important (another Carnegie principle)"If I could have done this sincerely without seeming like a mooch, he may have just wanted us to stay around longer
  • talked with him for a while enough to become friends. We could have even invited him to hang out later.
In this situation, nothing but paying the fare would have guaranteed success, but I could have done more than hope a sympathetic ear would give a handout.

Step to His Side
ON page 52 of Getting Past No, William Ury suggests you look at the other person's point of view to see the existing barriers; and to understand why others are behaving the way they do. Above, I speculate about potential strategies that could help me to give a free ride for my friends. If I actually asked him why he said "no," I may have been able to come up with a better strategy. A few more seconds of questioning would definitely have worked better than the summarization of previous reasoning I had given him.

One other item that stands out to me is I have a Caucasian appearance, and this individual looked to be of Latin decent. Without delving too far into stereotypes, I’ve come to think this person probably thought of me as an exploitive, arrogant rich-kid (despite the fact that I do not have the fashion sense to pull that off). Had I discovered that issue by asking questions, I may have been able to prove to him that I've had to earn everything in my life and was hoping for a favor that I would return to someone in a similar situation one day.

Next Time?
I do still ask for freebies, but usually just a small upgrade to items I am already paying for. I try to be as friendly as I can be, and give people a chance to talk--Carnegie points out that people like to be listened too. Instead of setting out on a mission to get something free, I would approach him in an attempt to make a friend. If my new friend would give me something, great, if not, I would not argue or apply too much pressure other than trying to resolve any concerns I could discover.

In this situation, my BATNA was to move on, so I would not bank too much self-esteem on whether or not I mooched something. The most important technique to negotiating freebies is persistence in asking for many things--boasting about your few successes and forgetting the many failures.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Isn’t my Lancer Beautiful?

The Story
I had completed my undergrad and been employed for a few months when it struck me, “Time to buy a new Car!” I had a lot of fun looking and did a fair amount of research. I finally found a Mitsubishi Lancer that I was interested at Barber Brothers, a dealership about 100 miles south of where I was living. I made some phone calls, felt like I was promised a good price on the car, and made the trip down so I could drive home in my new Lancer.

When it came time to sign the dotted-line, there was $500 in discounts I had been promised that were not included in the contract. It was about 9:00 pm and the manager really wanted to go home—he had actually been fairly antagonistic to during the time I had spent there looking at the vehicle. After informing him something had been forgotten and that I had visited in anticipation of it being included, he told me in a very derogatory tone, “He’s [my salesman] is stupid. This is why we have contracts!”

That evening, I returned home without a new vehicle.

In the end, management called me and made some concessions and I got my vehicle that I wanted.

The Takeaways
Not too committed
On page 138, in Getting Past No, William Ury advises that it may be necessary to demonstrate your BATNA. I got lucky—I had not considered a BATNA, but I was not going to let Barber Brothers be this insulting to me. My impatience was not satiated, but my being willing to show power did get me a better deal than that which I initially sought.

I accidentally stumbled upon a good negotiating tactic. One of the reasons we have a BATNA is to keep in mind other options are available; we should not be too committed to seeing the negotiation through. Next time I will have a BATNA that will not allow me to

Look at my power
Fundamentally, there was a huge shift in our negotiation at this point. Barber Brothers was not only trying to get a customer back, they were also trying to do damage control (so hopefully a blog post such as mine showing Barber Brothers Stupidity would not appear). There were three Lancer dealerships between me and Barber Brothers; had I thought about it, I then had a great story that gave me a role of being a willing buyer, but also someone who had better be treated well.

I should have talked to other dealerships, explained what happened, and gauged if they would even more accommodating. I had this new power of being astute buyer but still willing to make a purchase as long as I was treated correctly.

I did use my new power to get some slightly better discounts, but further analysis would have shown many more options to strengthen my BATNA before accepting an offer.

Next Time?
Barring the economy not letting me work, I will be buying my wife a new vehicle in the next six-months. First, we will decide on the vehicle we want, and then do what we can to find a few options for purchase. Every salesman will be forced to listen to this story for five to ten minutes—I want the role of being willing to buy, but having dealerships throw barriers in my way.

I will most certainly have a BATNA setup through this research, and not be locked into wanting one vehicle (I do not want these blinders on again). And I’ll reevaluate often to see if there are more tactics for me to gain a better deal.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hawaii or San Diego?

The Story
During my last semester of undergrad at BYU-Hawaii, I obtained a well-paying job that aligned perfectly with my major. This was nice for a student on the North Shore, because I hadn’t gotten to enjoy too many of the more costly activities on the islands.

However, I set myself up with one problem. My intention was to move back to the main-land in about four-months, and my boss thought he was hiring a long-term employee who would stay in Hawaii. During the semester, I read Getting to Yes and hoped I was increasing my negotiating skills so that I could convince him to allow me to work for him from San Diego. But as I was reading the book, I was not considering what I could do to strengthen my BATNA, nor was I worrying in the slightest about his interests.

Without addressing it with my boss, I graduated, flew home to Utah, and moved my stuff to California. I worked from home for a week or two and my boss kept asking when I planned on returning to Honolulu. One night, I called to discuss with him options for me to stay, but he didn’t answer his phone. A bit nervous, I left a voicemail saying I would not be returning and wanted to work for him—but in California.

After about three-weeks of this, my boss called me and said if I wasn’t willing to return to Hawaii, he’d have to let me go.

The Takeaways

Organize a BATNA

Having read a book on negotiation, I assumed I was a good negotiator. Had I really be working to have a BATNA, I would have seen that I needed to be looking for a different position since my true interest was remaining in San Diego.

In Getting to Yes, the authors give an example (Chapter 6, p 102) of catching an airplane and how when one is running late, getting on that plane seems like the only option. In truth, there are more options: another plane, driving, the bus, etc… For some reason, I had a fear showing me that stringing my boss along was my only option for staying in San Diego.

Also, had I setup a BATNA, I might have seen that living in Hawaii wasn’t such a bad BATNA either.

Invent options for Mutual Gain

I knew my boss’s concerns in this situation--he had a previous employee who stole money and equipment when she was contracting from the mainland. He did not want to experience this again. Using that little but of knowledge, I figured this was going to be difficult and so I didn’t engage in negotiation. Looking back, I feel we could have come up with many options:

6 months of me in Hawaii, while I slowly phased into a telecommuting status
Rotation of 1 month in Hawaii, 1 month in my location of choice
Me training a replacement for a few months while I found a job in the location I wanted to be

I actually think the first one may of worked and possibly the third. The point is, I didn’t discuss it with him, I sprung upon him my definition of how it was going to be (and the story shows a few weeks later, he told me how it was going to be).

Next Time?

The biggest mistake was setting up my employer’s expectations that I knew I wasn’t going to fulfill, and then depending on my boss to help me get what I wanted. I definitely had the right to live where I wanted, but I was just waiting for a crash by hoping he’d see it totally my way. Next time, I would actually enter into negotiation and I would do it much earlier.

I would also put a lot more time in to accomplishing my real goals. I’m not very proud of this story. I don’t feel I was wrong in not divulging that I didn’t plan on working on his terms, but at the same time I do feel like I swindled my employer. The fact is, I wanted this job up until I graduated school and it would have killed it if I told him early on that I was not planning on staying—two weeks’ notice is all I felt obligated to give.

Next time, I would not leave myself in a position to be dependent upon my boss. I would first obtain a position in San Diego and then let him know I could telecommute or just quit outright. Spending a few more months in Hawaii would not have been that devastating—impatience to start a life in San Diego hampered my ability to start out with a solid financial foundation in that city. I eventually moved back to my hometown in Utah where I had a better network to find a position (I really missed Hawaii after that).

........ but I did meet my wife in Utah, so it was a happy ending. I think this is an important lesson too. Don't get so worked up about one negotiation or one event in your life that you let a lot of "happy endings" go unnoticed.