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Key Takeaways

  • Challenges and hardships can be powerful catalysts for personal and professional growth, steering individuals toward unexpected career paths and opportunities.
  • Guidance from experienced mentors and authenticity in one’s approach is critical in developing and honing negotiation skills and leadership qualities.
  • Success in negotiation and leadership is deeply linked to a commitment to continuous learning, self-improvement, and openness to new experiences.
  • Integrating technical skills focusing on humanitarian efforts and education is essential in addressing the complexities of negotiation, particularly in conflict resolution and business.
  • A deep understanding of oneself, including one’s motivations, fears, and strengths, is key to effective negotiation and conflict resolution. This self-awareness leads to more authentic interactions and successful outcomes.
  • The dynamics and challenges encountered in negotiation and leadership are consistent across different sectors, emphasizing the universal nature of human behavior and interpersonal dynamics in these contexts.

Executive Summary:

Hey folks! We appreciate you joining us for a brand new episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Our guest today is Steve Alban Tineo, CEO of Assertive Group. Steve is a globally recognized leader and negotiator with over two decades of experience in high-stakes negotiations and crisis management, both in public and undercover capacities. 

He has worked across various sectors, including government, business, and finance, and is known for his skills in conflict resolution and commercial contract negotiations. With a background in investment banking and a successful track record in business development and financial structuring, Steve has also made investments in companies with a combined valuation of over $500 million. 

Now, with that brief introduction sorted, let’s jump right in. 

Charting A Path Through Challenge: Steve’s Ascent In The World Of Negotiation

Firstly, Steve shares his journey into the world of negotiation, describing it as a path shaped by adversity and resilience. Initially, negotiation wasn’t a deliberate career choice for him; it was the hardships he faced early on that built his resilience and inadvertently steered him toward mediation and conflict resolution. 

Steve’s innate ability to remain calm and focused in the face of conflict, traits honed from an early age, laid the groundwork for his future in negotiation.

His professional journey began in finance, where he quickly made a mark by founding the first sports and media team at HSBC. Over there, he catered to high-profile clients and subsequently was recognized as one of the bank’s top 50 employees with the most potential. It was during this time that he encountered a seasoned negotiator, a key figure in the end of apartheid, who recognized Steve’s natural talent and authenticity. 

This mentor not only helped Steve put words to his innate negotiation skills but also facilitated his access to formal negotiation training, marking a pivotal moment in his career.

Steve’s negotiation skills were further put to the test in a high-stakes situation involving terrorist cells and bank accounts in Geneva, where he was able to obtain crucial information for the Swiss government. According to him, this earned him recognition and further solidified his path in negotiation.

Deciding to strike out on his own, Steve left HSBC to create his own family office, continued his education in negotiation, and began sharing his knowledge through training others. Throughout his narrative, Steve emphasizes the importance of humility, authenticity, and the willingness to continuously learn and adapt as key components of his success in negotiation. 

He concludes his recount with a light-hearted reference to his wife’s playful admonishment about his tendency to give lengthy answers, highlighting his passion for sharing his experiences and insights.

Merging Finance, Humanitarianism, And Education In Negotiation

In discussing the nature of his work with Assertive Group and the BART platform, Steve elaborates on three main aspects: finance, humanitarian efforts, and education.

#1 Finance 

Firstly, Steve highlights the importance of financial negotiation, recognizing that individuals with technical skills, like engineers or biologists, might struggle with the human aspects of running a company. He mentions that a significant reason for startup failures is conflicts between founders. 

Through his BART initiative, he aims to co-invest with skilled individuals, creating a supportive environment that allows them to focus on their strengths while his team handles negotiations and relationships. This approach is designed to mitigate conflict and promote successful business operations.

#2 Humanitarian Efforts 

Steve has worked extensively in the diplomatic world, including collaborations with the World Economic Forum and other international institutions. He highlights the challenges of gaining a mandate in peace negotiations and the impact of personal connections and reputation in this field. However, he also notes the difficulties faced following the death of a close partner, which affected his access and influence within these circles.

#3 Education 

The most significant aspect for Steve is education, focusing on personal development and authenticity in negotiation rather than just technical skills. He advocates for an approach that emphasizes attitudes over aptitudes, citing studies that success is 15% aptitude and 85% attitude. 

Steve shares insights from his experiences working with mentors and in various fields to illustrate the importance of emotional intelligence and personal growth in achieving negotiation success.

Steve’s approach to negotiation and personal development is not about imposing his style on others but helping individuals find their own path, recognizing that each person’s strengths and vulnerabilities are unique. He stresses the importance of complementarity in teams, where members enhance each other’s abilities, leading to exponential growth and effectiveness.

Know Yourself First: Steve’s Framework For Authentic Negotiation And Self-Discovery

Moving on, Steve introduces the concept of “Know Yourself First” (KYF). It is a methodology he developed over 20 years ago, which serves as a cornerstone for both his professional work and a book co-authored with his wife, Sonia. KYF emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and authenticity in negotiation and personal development.

Steve reflects on his own journey, noting that early success and arrogance were humbled by life’s challenges, leading him to realize the importance of emotional connection with oneself. He shares that working with experts and facing personal crises taught him the value of understanding oneself beyond superficial achievements. This realization was pivotal in changing his perspective on happiness and success.

The KYF concept is critical in negotiation because it fosters a deeper understanding of one’s motivations, fears, and strengths, leading to more authentic interactions and effective conflict resolution. Steve explains that true fulfillment and effectiveness in negotiation come from aligning with one’s true self rather than relying solely on external tools or rational strategies.

Steve also connects KYF to extreme sports, like surfing, where individuals must be deeply in tune with their emotions and environment to perform at their best. This alignment between physical challenges and mental and emotional awareness highlights the universal applicability of the KYF methodology.

Through his work, Steve has applied “KYF” across a diverse range of individuals, from investment bankers to Formula One drivers. He emphasizes that the principles of self-awareness and authenticity are relevant and transformative regardless of one’s profession or status. His approach underscores the idea that understanding and accepting oneself, including both strengths and weaknesses, is foundational to achieving success and fulfillment in any area of life.

Universal Challenges In Negotiation: Steve’s Insights On Human Dynamics Across Sectors

Next, from a negotiation perspective, Steve reflects on his extensive experience working with various organizations, including businesses, corporations, banks, multinational groups, governments, and NGOs. He highlights a profound insight shared by Obama, noting that regardless of the level or sector, the challenges in negotiation and leadership often stem from similar human behaviors and dynamics. 

Obama observed that the types of people and obstacles he encountered remained consistent across different roles, from community organizer to the Senate and eventually among world leaders at the G20 summit.

Additionally, Steve elaborates on how unresolved issues and the quest for recognition can lead to toxic behavior in positions of power. According to him, this toxicity spans all sectors, with NGO leaders sometimes harming their beneficiaries through dictatorial methods.

A key point Steve makes is many people’s lack of self-awareness regarding their toxic behaviors. Though well-intentioned, he shares how his actions seemed overbearing to his wife, highlighting the role of communication and self-reflection in relationships.

Steve further discusses how positions of power can attract narcissistic individuals who seek recognition and control, leading to a higher concentration of such personalities in top leadership roles. This observation is supported by studies indicating a higher prevalence of sociopathic traits among CEOs compared to the general population.

Steve expresses disappointment in finding the same behavior patterns and challenges in the nonprofit sector, even among organizations dedicated to noble causes. His experiences underscore the universal nature of negotiation challenges, which are deeply rooted in human psychology and interpersonal dynamics, rather than the specific contexts or sectors in which they occur.

Thank you for your time!


Nolan Martin : Hello and welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I'm your co-host, co-founder Nolan Martin, and with me as always, co-host, co-founder Aram Donigian. Aram, how are you doing today, sir?

Aram Donigian : I'm great. I'm going to go ahead and just get us started by introducing our fabulous guest. Folks, today we're joined by Steve Alban Tineo, CEO of Assertive Group. He is a globally recognized leader, negotiator and inspirational speaker with more than two decades of experience. Operating on the international stage, Steve works both in the visible world and in an undercover capacity. He navigates high stakes negotiations, resolves complex situations and forms a cornerstone of negotiation and crisis management teams also standing out in his capacity as successful negotiator of commercial contracts.

Steve is recognized as one of Europe's most skilled negotiators and conflict resolution responders. He has conducted hundreds of negotiations with governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals worldwide. As a trusted advisor, he has provided counsel and negotiation expertise to an extensive network cultivated over many years, which includes prominent leaders in diplomacy, banking, finance, sports, and media.

With a background in investment banking, including successful tenures at Credit Suisse, first Boston and HSBC, Steve is a financier able to structure intricate financial deals, resolve critical situations, and foster strong business development. In recent years, Steve has invested in and accompanied a dozen companies with a combined valuation of over $500 million.

As an accomplished speaker, Steve Captivates audiences with his unique charisma, delivering hundreds of inspirational talks that empower individuals with the tools and attitude needed for success and greatness. He holds various international certifications, including from Harvard with a track record that speaks for itself and experienced diver and qualified pilot, Steve is passionate about psychology, psychiatry, and spirituality.

Above all, he is committed to fighting violence and injustice, supporting children and the vulnerable through his vision for peace initiative. Steve, that is a whole lot. I don't know how you have the time to even talk to us today.

Steve Tineo : Is that my view? Or are you speaking about someone else? I want to meet that guy. Where is he?

AD : It's you, and Steve, thanks for being on the programme.

ST : Alright, thank you very much guys. Thank you so much. I just want to say that bios are really nice, but there's a cost to everything and there's a lot of failures and a lot of other stories behind and we'll talk about it that not everything is as flashy as it is on the one pager description of yourself, but thank you very much. Yeah.

NM : Well Steve, thanks for taking the time to visit with us. Would you mind telling us a bit about your journey in negotiation? Who were the major influencers on your thinking and what were some key milestones along the way?

From Adversity To Expertise: A Journey Through Negotiation And Resilience [03:42]

ST : Right. Well, first thank you very much to have me on the show. It's a pleasure and an honor. It's a little bit of a bumpy road. I didn't start in negotiation saying, oh, I want to become a negotiator, especially that I know I look really young, I should be 27, but I'm not. I'm very close to 50 now. So, when I started negotiation I was 25 and that the subjects were not as open as now. There were not many programs, so that was the Harvard program, which was almost untouchable. And so at TRIUM makes us good and bad luck. I come from what we call a toxic failure.

So I had a lot of hardness when I was young, which forged a part of resilience and another part which was maybe at the beginning of mediation. So when you go through these difficulties, you have to handle conflict.

So in terms of conflicts, when I face these conflicts, it would actually instead of hurting, it would increase my concentration and my mental capacity, which I discovered later. But when something was happening at school, I was always the president of the school and I was always captain of the football team and so on. What happened there was really something clicking inside of me which inspired me and it was easy and I didn't feel fear and I was always very calm, very concentrated like you do maybe when you're very close to a meditative stage. So that's the number one.

Then I started working in finance at credit with first Boston as a junior analyst. Then I went to HSBC where I created in finance the first sports and media team that became the biggest sports and media platform. So literally we had sports and media celebrities and other football clubs as clients in both wealth management, private banking and corporate banking.

And in that environment I got promoted to something called the Top 50, which is the 50 employees with the most potential of the bank. And I met with an amazing negotiator that was my first negotiation class and he actually put words on things that I was spilling. And this gentleman, which is quite old now, was one of the negotiator of the end of the apartheid and he was very well recognized in the world. We are talking about more than 20 years now. So when negotiation were not a subject.

And so he tricked us and I completely fell into one of his tests and I stood up in front of everybody the day after with tears in my eyes and I apologized because my answer was very non-ethical at all. And so I apologized and I cried in front of everybody saying, I'm really sorry, I didn't realize that I became this kind of man.

So he asked me to come to his hotel and we sat down at the bar and say, Steve, there's two things. You're one of the most talented person I've seen. So I think you have the talent to become something great into all kind of negotiation, and I've never seen someone of you humility and authenticity. And so it was pretty sure it was just one compliment. But actually he opened doors for me to all of the negotiation programs, France, he trained me and that's when I discovered what negotiation was.

And luckily a few months after, there was a few cases in Geneva where terrorists cells had actually bank accounts, so all kind of terrorist cells, so they needed someone kind of crazy to play the banker, just get information for the Swiss government and for the prosecutors and all of it. And when the CEO called me into his office and said, look, we have that case and we need someone, I spelled something amazingly aligned that sparkle in my stomach and that's when I said, look, I'll do it.

And it took me a few days to bring the answers, which they've been chasing for literally over two years. So that gave me a few stars. And then from that one to another one to another one, then I helped. I was infiltrated and I helped a little bit here and there on recovering the right information. And that's when I started training in negotiation. I went on my own. I left HSBC, I created my own family office with a few four one drivers. I continued training myself, work with very skilled doctors, and then I trade with these doctors, then I participate with them, then I trade others. And I'll explain you that in the KYF.

And so yeah, that's the beginning. So just to let you know, one thing my wife always says, never ask Steve a question if you don't have 30 minutes for the answer. You have seen what she's saying, that poor one, she has to support me every day, but she's adorable.

AD : Steve, that's a wealth of a background and I can appreciate what you shared around just kind of the toxic family background and the resilience that built. But I wonder how much that leads into the humility and authenticity that your mentor and negotiation saw in you, which we know are critical skills.

Assertive The Art Of Ethical Negotiation, that's the name of your company. Could you tell us a little bit about the nature of the work you're doing today to include the BART, B-A-R-T platform that's really at the center and maybe provide some examples of the work you do with clients to improve their negotiation capability?

Navigating Finance, Humanitarian Efforts, And Education Through Negotiation [08:49]

ST : Right. So there's really three aspects in what we do and I'll explain each of them in a little bit of details. The first one is finance. We do financial negotiation for and with people. And so in that regards, I've realized very early that some very skills, for example, engineers, biologists, people with less human capabilities or the less they would be shy or that would be more difficult to interact with people, but they would be absolutely skilled in different things where they had difficulties actually creating and running company.

So I give you one number, 85% of the failures in startups in Switzerland, but it's quite globally at the same. It's because of conflicts between the founders. So it's not that these guys are not clever, it's just they don't know how to handle the relationships and it's fine. I cannot be an engineer, I cannot be a biologist.

So, it's actually to put everybody at its right place. And that's when I started BART. In finance, I have access to a few wealthy families that I work with or few private equity firms. And so what we do is actually we co-invest with some of these very skilled people. We create the human capital around them so they're protected and they can rebreed their skills in what they do, let's say in engineering.

And then we follow on the investors, we do the relationship, we train some of the teams in negotiation and instead of having them doing something that they're not too good at, and then we really try to preserve them in the talents they have. So that's the number one and outcome because KYF was created with training with Formula One drivers to really understand what's the difference between talent and strength. The second part is humanitarian.

In diplomatic world, I must admit that the cost of acquisition of a mandate is very high. It's difficult to have a place at the table for peace. So I worked a lot with the World Economic Forum for many years and other international institutions. So that's where I get a little bit of reputation. Actually a partner of our company, Assertive, suddenly she passed and she was the former general manager of the World Economic Forum.

So when you're introduced to diplomats through these channels, they trust you. But honestly to send a bio as nice as the bio you read, when you send something, honestly you don't go and do cold calls for diplomatic and humanitarians. It's very restrictive. So I must say that this is the part where I would like to have the most impact, but sadly with the passing of the niece, the doors became a little bit smaller.

And the last part which I really like, it's the education parts and the lectures, conferences. So you will tell me if I'm good at giving lectures or giving what, it's written in the view that I'm so charismatic and so good looking and so everything I wrote that bill, but little bit too much vino on a Saturday night.

But there's a little something I think with the authenticity of what I have, it's I tend to judge people and I like what I say, not much of the content because the content is great on many negotiation programs, more on the attitude, the who you are. So my actually program, it's called Aptitudes to Attitudes. Harvard and MIT and Stanford came out with a study saying that success, which definition of success has health, wealth, family, career, happiness and a few words was 15% aptitude what you know, an 85% attitude. So if they give me a Formula one driver to prepare, I did a lot of mentor preparation, then I'm not going to teach him how to drive the aptitude. I'm going to teach him how to become a better human being, not better in terms of my standards, but better in terms of him being really aligned with his steers, with stress, with fame, with sex, with all of these things that are actually touching us emotionally.

So, my little take is I've studied emotions very, very deeply. Working with a great mentor, Dr. Daniel Defo, he was at the head of the medical doctor of the ICRC, the Red Cross, and he was hostage negotiator for the ICRC with all the war leaders. This guy taught me so much and we worked for 13 or 14 years together and we worked on Formula one drivers. That was inspiration number one. I was very lucky to work with another doctor, Dr. Aki Inza, who was recognized as one of the best doctor in sports.

So he had 174 Olympic champions, eight of the last formula, one world champion went through east cabinets and I was very close to a few of them, so I worked with him on that. And so I kind of gained on being part of their program, I learned a lot, then I worked with them and then I started training on a few negotiators or a few field agents.

And so that's the education part, which for me the most important is how you touch people to be themself. Because if I tell you my secret souls on how to handle the negotiation, that's not going to work. You can learn a part of the aptitude, but you need to define and find your own attitude. And I think this is maybe the little bit of a difference. I'm not dogmatic but when I hear some of the negotiation programs of all, we exchange information, they're great people, they're great programs, they're great, everything.

But if I tell you to follow my negotiation style, you might hurt yourself. I give you one example. I've stopped being a mediator because I come from a toxic background. It is impossible for me to stand in front of an injustice situation. For example, a man or a woman being beaten or manipulated, you do a mediation, you stay neutral, you see that the toxic person has taken the other one under that manipulative behavior and then you do three times one hour legally binding.

Nobody saw the manipulation. The poor lady completely submitted, it goes to the judge and she's back living with the same executioner. I could not stay with my profile, I could not stay neutral. So I decided to stop mediation for that. What we try to do, there's a big difference between your talents, which is what you know how to do well, and the strength it creates. A lot of people, they have talent in something, they do it well, but it burns energy. You don't have strength where your talent is. So, if I force someone, or in most of the companies we have in Europe, I exclude the United States because I don't know enough of your social environment. But if I'm not good at something, the company is going to pay me to become better at that thing. But instead we're trying to take where you're really good at.

We trade you to become one of the best in your talent and your strength. And then if you're really not good at that, I find someone to actually to be compatible, to compensate. We call that complementarity and then we create teams which are not toxic, where each other, they compliment each other and they actually create a much better version of one and one. It's not two, it actually goes to something higher. So that's what we try to bring, not on the aptitude negotiation classes, we have one, but it's just the base of the different terms and the different thing. For me, it's really who you are and how you can actually bring that to the world if it answers your question.

AD : Yeah, I really like that.

ST : In less than 30 minutes, can you imagine that second answer it was.

AD : Well done. We'll make sure we let your wife know you did it in less than 30. I just like that the idea that one with individuals help them be kind of better versions of themselves with the strengths they have. I think that's really important rather than thinking of negotiation as some act that we put on. And this other idea that you shared was this idea of creating complimentary teams where we see exponential value. Not one plus one equals two, but one plus one equals four is really insightful too.

ST : Just take an example. I always say each one, teach one. I love that little thing. Imagine with your expertise being in the army, being American, the things you've seen, imagine the number of things you can teach me that I just didn't see because you don't know what you don't know. I didn't have time to learn. It was not the same. Just imagine the number of information, if you accept that you don't know much and you're open to learning from the others. Your learning curve, there's no end to it. And that's actually a fantastic mindset. Like Simon Sinek is talking about the infinite gain. This is the infinite gain. I'm not here when people ask me what is the most difficult negotiation in my life, I often answer is the next one.

I have no idea if I'll be in the right mindset, if I would understand it well, if I would just see everything from the angle. So that gives that authenticity, humility gives me more strength than actually weaknesses. And we tend to have people. If you don't know you're vulnerable and you have to show that you know have to play a role. And I see a lot of people hurting themselves because of that.

NM : You mentioned KYF, know yourself first. A methodology you developed over 20 years ago. Not only is it a foundational to the work you do, but it's also a critical piece to a book you coauthored through the self. What is this KYF concept? What makes it so critical in negotiation? And as we were kind of talking about earlier, how does surfing and other extreme sports connect to it?

The Path To Authenticity And Negotiation Mastery [18:26]

ST : So this is the book, and this is my lovely wife, Sonia, who actually was kind enough to write the book and she wrote all the structure and I did more of the insight.

NM : Very cool.

ST : Look, two aspects. I was very young, I was arrogant, I made a little bit of money, I thought I know much. And then life was hard enough to take that money away, to take that success away and to show me that I didn't know much. So working with these doctors, working with people that would actually be very effective in very complex situation taught me how to look at things differently. At the beginning I really thought like most of us, we do believe, and I'm going to take something as in relationship. We sometimes believe that it is the tools that we're going to use. So meaning the restaurant you choose and the kind of suit you put, and then this rational aspect of it. But if you want to seduce her, it's actually, it goes to the attitude. It's how much of that energy you're going to transpire.

How is the environment? How do you actually work with yourself? So I realized working with this formula one drivers that are a lot of these people were really unhappy because when you have all the rationale in the world and you don't have that emotional connection with yourself, you can have literally everything and it's not going to make you happy. I remember well, coming out of that toxic family and toxic childhood and all of it, I really thought that money would give me recognition. And I really thought that being a trader would give you recognition. So I bought one car, another one, and then you just travel and you just realize that you're miserable in economy or in first class. And literally it was a huge shock for me because I realized that I was running after something that would not exist. So life was kind enough.

And I say with a little bit of humility because it was really shit. It was really bad. When I crashed, I really went into a bad depression. I wanted to commit suicide. So life was kind enough not to crush me, but to actually show me the world and give me a chance to survive because there's a lot of people that actually create sicknesses cancer or commit suicide and they don't have that yet. So I have a lot of gratitude for that and working with all of these people, I was 29 when it happened. I went through all of the little mentors that I had seen around and I started asking the question of the people that would be the more fulfilled and the more happy. And they directed me into philosophy, mainly old philosophies, but just simple philosophies of life. And everything that was written was always about discovering yourself when honestly discovering myself was the most difficult thing for everything.

I was so afraid of that poor little broken boy that compensated with everything and that I was so good looking from the outside, but inside I was just absolutely broken. So all of this, I just realized that when I started working with these doctors to heal myself, first negotiation came on the side as a parallel, and then he made the link. I just realized that all of the people that start this personal developments and work on themselves would actually lower the resistance, lower the stress, they would become more humane, they would become more empathetic. They would start to meditate.

And that was actually a pattern with people, not meditation, it's just only one thing. Meditation can be listening to your best song and standing up on your bed, jumping in the morning and you're happy. That's a meditation. It just losing your mind. And so I've realized that the entire work we were doing with these two doctors, AKI was calling his methodology something bringing to the core, which in psychology or in philosophy, they called it the south.

And it was exactly the same. So we had long, long discussion with that doctor and every time he was telling me something medical, I was telling me something philosophical and it matched. And so then when I started these negotiation classes and I started to become a negotiator, which sometimes I'm wondering what does it really mean? People were telling me what is the best negotiation class? And my first answer was like, Hey, what is your profile? And they say, what do you mean? And he said, yeah, because based on your profile, you can actually choose what is the best.

And the trading for Formula one drivers would not be the same based on their profile. We had to know who they were. So based on all of that, years after years, I wrote thousands and thousands of pages, and then I created smaller. Everything we do is boutique size. I really don't have huge ambition. I have ambition of efficiency and moving on. But we really created small programs where people would come in and they would really work on themselves and we would accompany them out of depression, out of traumas. We would help them build something or get rid of toxicity in their life. And we saw that almost all of the people that would do let's go inside out, they would heal within six months, they would've completely changed their life.

And the people that would actually move things around outside of their life, most of them would continue reproducing the negative patterns they had. So I started talking with psychologists, psychiatrists, and I started studying everything, which I'm not a psychologist, but I've studied the subject as much as I could. And it was very interesting for me to actually put that into writing. So my wife was a famous singer in Switzerland and she had gone through 10 years, very toxic relationship, so she could go out of that relationship.

She was lonely, broken, but still famous. I contacted her because I saw on the internet that she had created an association against harassment and domestic violence. And I said, look, I knew a little bit about the subjects, maybe I can help. And when I sat down in front of her, everything she was saying was the opposite of a vibration. She was completely off. She was almost dead inside. She says it in the book. She was actually very close to dying at that moment. So I invited her in the program.

And so she says, I want to save the world, I want to help this, I want to do that. I want to write a book. And I said, before everything else, we're just going to look after yourself. And she went through the program for nine months and she completely changed. She discovered that the self in a small or in a bigger way, she would say it in a bigger way because she touched a little bit consciousness, mindfulness, all this, let's not go into these details but the subject.

And it was the beginning of everything. So everything she had learned in her life, because it came from inside out, she would do it better. You become a better negotiator, you become a better parent, you become a better driver, you become a better everything because you so aligned with yourself that actually you don't need to force it, you don't need to fake it. You there completely with actually your brilliant sides and with your dark side.

And when you accept both of them, you lose most of your mental resistance and things are triggering up. And we see that I do a lot of conflict resolution and we talk about it in a minute. A conflict is emotional. If it is not emotional, it's not a conflict, it's a disagreement. We put a lawyer, a rational part of it. But how do you want a conflict with an emotional aspect to someone who is toxic or who doesn't know himself?

He doesn't even know. I had something this morning and the person was talking like this, and I said, I feel anger against that person. Oh no, I'm not angry at all. And this is most of the people. Sometimes you don't know in your state, you don't know that you're actually your own enemy or your own block. You don't know the triggers. So you know that when you're emotional, you're less rational and then you cannot think it, right?

So whatever rationale you have learned, when you have an emotional crisis, your cognitive charge is saturated and the words are not coming out of your mouths. I'm sure you add this with someone you're afraid at school, you say, oh, today I'm going to tell him this and that and that and that and that. You go in front of the person, you're paralyzed, you're in the freeze, and in that freeze, whatever attitude you have is not there.

So you need to neutralize this. And that's why we created KYF, it say, guys, I don't know much to show you than the mirror of yourself. KYF is a mirror of you guys. Say is the mirror of me saying, well, what you think about me says more about you than about me. What you say about Nolan says more about you than about him. And when you just realize that every time you say something about the world, it's about yourself, then you can start taking real ownership of your flows and of your greatness and searching to improving your talents and everything.

I've never had the formula one by telling you how to drive or how to be a better driver. It was really how to be a better and calmer version of himself to be aligned even when they would want to be less positive or less kind with journalists. And hey, who are you? How do you feel? What kind of anger? How do you handle yourself? And so that's the in less than 30 minutes, that's the answer to your question.

AD : It’s that accepting, as you said, your brilliant and dark sides. And we all have them. And sometimes that's just hard to do. You've shared a number of different sorts of people, individuals you've worked with, what a wide range from investment bankers to doctors.

ST : Hey, but I work with a lot of simple people and I consider myself part of the simple people. I mentioned Formula One drivers, but I work with them. I'm not one of them at all.

AD : You've also worked with a lot of different businesses, corporations, banks, multinational groups, governments, NGOs and so forth. From a negotiation lens, I guess we would say, oh, those are also different. And maybe they are around who they negotiate with and over what thinks. I'm curious about the types of challenges though as you look. I mean, are they that different or do you see some similarities between just the nature of the challenge as you help these organizations?

Unmasking Toxicity: A Journey from Personal Growth to Global Leadership [28:32]

ST : I'm going to quote someone and I'm completely apolitical, but I really liked Barack Obama, how his personality was and the kind of intelligence he had. And in his foundation, he's actually giving a speech about the different level. And he says he started as a community organizer and he says that there was always the same kind of people blocking and he needed to go to the Senate.

He went to the Senate, he was the same kind of people. And then he went to the G20 and he was sitting around the table with all of these world leaders and he said, dang, it is exactly the same. The thing is that doesn't change with levels and position. We can say that there's, if you take in any corporation, someone that never had any power and has some wounds and toxicity, you give him the little chef role, he's going to become a dictator.

And say, if you take someone that's been hurt or doesn't have any self-recognition, well that guy is going to become a toxic leader, whatever it is. So yes, money gives you a little more power, it's a bigger stage. The tools are different, the jets are different, everything. And the thing is, it is actually, I worked with a lot NGOs and I tell you, the people leading these NGOs were dictators with absolutely everything, even hurting the very people on the ground that they were supposed to have and they didn't see it. That's actually the worst for me. It's we don't see our own toxicity. And I have discussions with my wife where she has to tell me what is dysfunctional because I don't realize sometimes when I'm hurting her. And when you've realized that I speak too much and she's very reserved. So at the beginning, every time people were asking her a question, she would tell me, Hey Steve, can you help me answer because you answer better than me.

And so I started as a reflex to go and savor. And every time I would actually answer more than her. And two years after she said, but you think that I'm stupid, that you don't let me answer my questions. And what I thought was a kindness actually at turned into a toxicity. And if we don't mention that, we don't talk about this, we don't see the impact we have on each other. So we're always blaming the others, Hey, you did that. It's because of you. Fair enough.

Now what did I do? And what did I do to myself? That's very key. It's the same people, the same functioning, the same toxicity. Now there's one thing, and I don't want to go into psychology of psychiatry, but by wanting power, for example, a certain type of people, the narcissist for example, will tend to go more into higher into the food chain.

So they will want to have more money and more power because they need it. So the more you go up in actually the hierarchy, the social hierarchy, the more toxic people in terms of percentage will find. So I think in the US you have a few studies that came out that at least the number of sociopaths being CEO of companies is double the rates of what you would find is normal. So I'm not going to go into numbers because there's plenty of studies, but it's important. And of course you want have your own self recognition with money and power.

Or if you're not narcissistic, you are less empathetic. You can push the people more on your way up and the kind people will not fight with the same arms. But honestly, with what we see, I'm very disappointed. I really thought we'll talk about Vision for peace. But in Vision for Peace, we helped a lot of NGOs and for free, we really wanted to be superheroes without superpowers by reading that, but honestly it was exactly the same functioning as we could see everywhere else.

NM : Hey everyone, Nolan here, I have to jump in and in and end today's podcast of part A of this show, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already. And also join us next week for the Part B of this awesome interview.

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