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We give you actionable advice so you can elevate your influence through purposeful negotiation—helping you overcome the hurdles you face in business and life to become even more successful.
Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast! Nolan and Aram’s guest is Julie Salganik, a leadership coach and sage communicator within the world of negotiations. She’s also the Managing Principal of Avance Global Consulting.
Julie Salganik’s childhood allowed her to have a unique advantage in negotiations. Her own parents had immigrated from the former Soviet Union when she was 4.
Though her family considered their daughter 100% American, she was viewed as Russian by peers at school. This gave her an unusual sort of dual perspective; an empathy for seeing human interaction as multifaceted rather than one-sided.
By her 20’s, she took a job at a consulting firm specializing in negotiating and managing alliance relationships. This, in turn, led to discovering her greater interest in getting people to communicate across divisions and differences.
However, pursuing that interest would prove challenging. Back then, the prevailing philosophy for women in some circles was speak-only-when-you’re-spoken-to.
Thankfully, the staff of the consulting firm didn’t treat her that way. Empowered to provide her insights and opinions, she began observing and absorbing everything she could as the growing firm met with high-level executives.
As she came into her own, she wound up working up with clients often twice her age and mostly male. She helped them develop a negotiation game plan and rehearse. But, despite her efforts, her clients would default into old behaviors during the real negotiation.
They knew their goals—so, she wondered, why were they dropping the ball when it came to execution?
Listen to this podcast to hear how Julie developed the skills to help coach her clients through overcoming internal hurdles to have more successful negotiated outcomes.
Your time’s important to us. Thanks for listening!
Nolan Martin : Welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I am your co-host Nolan Martin with me today is my good friend and co-host Aram Donigian, but it's not just us today. We've also invited Julie Salganik to join us on today's episode. So Aram, I'll kick it over to you to introduce Julie, and we'll just jump straight into today's episode.
Aram Donigian : Thanks and for any of our listeners, you know that Nolan made that fatal error saying, but instead of an and after introducing me. “My good friend Aram and our guest” I would say that I really was your good friend all right? And colleague, all right? But, but is known as the great eraser folks. So, an opportunity there for a teaching point. Good morning, Nolan. Yeah. And hope you're doing well, hope everybody's doing well. It's cold up in here in New Hampshire. So obviously, and I've, you know what, I've been out of the classroom for a while. So I'm probably looking for any opportunity to teach.
NM : Thanks, I appreciate it. I'll stay, stay away from you until you get that out of your system.
AD : There you go. Well, folks it's a real joy to have a very good friend. I can say two things about our guest today. I can say two things. One, when I'm in the room with this person, I know I'm not the smartest person in the room. And I like working with people smarter than me and for anyone who's listened and knows me, you can probably say Aram, that's probably always the case, that you're working with somebody's smarter than you. Definitely in the case of Julie that's true. The other thing I'll say about Julie is, and Julie knows this; She reminds me of my oldest sister. And so, when I get to work with Julie, it's like working with family. And so getting to have you here with us today, Julie is like having my sister, having a, having family in the room. So thanks for taking the time to be with us. Julie Salganik is a leadership coach with Advance Global Consulting, her company. She helps organizations achieve extraordinary results through collaboration, negotiation, and influence. She's been in the field of negotiation for 20 plus years. And so Julie, welcome.
Julie Salganik : Thank you so much. So I've learned two things from this introduction. One is we're going to have a lot of fun today. And the other is you've set the bar fairly high. So I'm excited and a little bit nervous, which is, which is I guess the best place to be, right?
NM : Yeah. You're gonna do great
AD : Julie. I've been, I've worked with you for several years now. I've never seen you nervous. Okay. If it is, if you are, you hold it so well, so anyways, it's really fun. Great to have you with us.
NM : We're jumping right into this. Julie I wanted to ask you, how did you get into the field of negotiations? Let's start at the beginning. You, you know, what brought you into this field? Anything like that?
JS : Yeah. So it's funny, we talked about this question, and even though we talked about it, I'm gonna answer your question with a tangent, which is what consultants do, right? So by accident on some level, but the story I wanna tell you sort of frames the whole for me, the whole experience and the reason why I do the work that I do in the first place. In 2006, I think it was Steve Jobs who gave a commencement address at Stanford. And there's a, it's a very long address predictably, but somewhere like minute 23 or something, I can get the exact clip: He starts to tell a story about how once he dropped out of college, he was, you know, basically going nowhere fast. So he was, I think he was homeless or he was squatting in the boiler room of one of the buildings of the college that he'd been attending, you know, and figured out a little loophole where he ran out of money to pay for school, but he could register for courses and audit them.
And so he was just throwing himself at whatever. And one of the courses he took was a course on calligraphy. And he said, you know, and at the moment it just made absolutely no sense. I mean it downhill slide, right? But as I look back at, back at it today, right, when you look back, it's really easy to connect the dots. And if it hadn't been for that time, painstakingly, you know, working out the glyphs by the light of this bare ball, hanging over this cot that he had in this boiler room, whatever it was, Apple would not have become what Apple is today. That design focus, that effort, the attention to really sort of crafting and creating at that time was really what fueled the part of me that fueled out. This is me paraphrasing. He's gonna use different words, but I think about that all the time, because there's the linear version of how I got into negotiation.
And then if I look back over the course of my life, of course, it all makes sense, right? The dots connect. So the linear version is I was living in DC in a job that was no longer working in the way that I wanted it to go and wanted to move back to Boston with a boyfriend and started looking for jobs. And at that time, I had just finished graduate school and I had been working on transitions in foreign, in emerging markets, looking at, looking at political and economic transitions in particular, and was really interested in foreign direct investment in the form of alliances and joint ventures and how those tend to impact host country development. And really got into that part about, you know, those things typically fail, but how could I get involved in helping them be successful so that, you know, the investors of the companies gain, but also local host countries gain as well, right?
How can we make this truly win-win? And so I started looking for jobs in Boston and came across this organization that at the time was focused really on negotiating and, and also managing Alliance relationships. And I, you know, you read a job description that fits so squarely into a narrow interest and you think, no, well, it turned out to be yes. So I moved to Boston and I took a job with a consulting firm that was really focused on Alliance management. And in doing that work realized that a big part of my interest was actually much less about Alliance management and much more about how people work. And so got very, very interested in the negotiation side of things, because it was less about how do you make the alliances work. It was less about the structural piece and much more about how do you get people to communicate?
How do you get people to work across differences? How do you get people to understand one another? How do you get and make decisions when they're competing interests in play, especially when there are cultural differences and very, very different priorities on the table to begin with. And that really set me down the path of the negotiation work, but the Steve Jobs version of it, as I look back as you know, I was, I was born in the former Soviet Union. There are people around there who say, “Wow, you're old.” Uh, it's true. Um, but my family came here when I was four years old. And so I got to grow up in two cultures with my Russian family. I was always American. You know, I was four, right. I acculturated fairly quickly, but with my American friends and in school, I was always Russian.
And I kind of liked that. You know, it was nice to be able to sit on this fence between two very different kinds of cultures and be able to hop off on either side at any point in time. And so from a very, very young age, I got really interested in watching differences and watching how people deal with differences. And when I think about the negotiation work and what it means to me, it's fundamentally about that. It's about how we deal with differences and how we create connections, how we break down the barriers to connections between us and even within ourselves.
AD : Yeah. That's beautiful.
JS : I told you it was gonna be a tangent.
AD : Yeah, no, it's great. Julie, as you look back, I just want to follow up on, on the journey question, any individuals or any particular like things you read or, or like a, you know, experience on the journey that was significantly kind of impactful to the way that you now think about negotiation and influence and collaboration and these, these words we kind of toss around?
JS : Yeah, that's a really good question. And I wish I had one to point to. I think I have like a collection of experiences that have come together to inform it. So, you know, when I, when I joined this firm, I was 24. And I was coming out of Washington where the, the dominant vibe I was working with policy people. So the dominant vibe was you speak when spoken to, especially as a young person and especially as a woman. Right? And so I wasn't used to coming into this space where everybody was curious to hear other people's input and other people's opinion. And I sort of struggled to get there, but as a very young person in a growing firm, what that also did was give me access to conversations that I felt I didn't even have a place being in. Right? So as we engage with new clients, senior executives, I was in the room at a minimum taking notes, but often being asked to contribute, which was a real gift and a real challenge.
So most of my clients for the majority of my career have been twice-ish my age and more male than I am, but very experienced. I mean, I've been very fortunate to have clients who are smart, committed, interested, willing to try new things. I mean, really doing all the right things and what I observed over the course of my time doing the negotiation work is, you know, there are lots of people who really need the advice and the skills. And sometimes that makes a really big difference for people. And, and, you know, we've all seen this in, in the classroom when we teach, right. Somebody has a light bulb go off and you just know that that's going to change something profoundly for them. Yeah. Either in a particular situation in, or in their life. But what I got to see was really interesting. We would set up the strategies. We would spend time training people. We would equip people with talking points and they would have the storyline, they would rehearse it. They would practice it. They would describe it. They were ready to go. Yeah. And then they would go out to have the big negotiation. And for whatever reason, just revert back to exactly what they had done in the past. Like all the preparation was gone.
And it was fascinating to me because I, I think because I was so young and so inexperienced the ability to say, wow, you just don't get it. It wasn't there. Right? They were, they knew so much more than I did that. I got really curious as to what is it that makes people who are really smart and who know exactly what they need to do, fail to execute anyway. What is it that gets between them and following through the plan that they themselves even designed? And that's really how I've come to think about it. It's about connecting, not just our messaging. So that, what we're saying is actually remotely landing on the other side, in the way that we intended, and that we're really, really reconciling this intention and impact that's hard, but also the internal part. So if I'm going into a negotiation and I fear that I'm never going to make headway, it doesn't really matter what words I'm saying, but if that's the story that's raging in the back of my head. If I can't connect that storyline internally, it's very little I'm going to be able to say in very few tools that are going to save me from that. So it, it really was just a pattern of watching people who had the plan and were ready to go. And just for whatever reason, couldn't follow it through.
AD : And that's, that's fascinating. That resonates, that really resonates with people that, I mean, just my own experiences, but also just people I've worked with who yeah, conceptually get it well prepared. And then the, the trouble with executing. I'm curious, do you, so now, now you're in, you're doing more kind of direct coaching. And do you see any shifts between teaching the material versus coaching somebody through these things, do the same sort of themes pop up? I mean, I assume, you know, you talked about the way people communicate and work across differences and prioritize things, all that stuff is still showing up in coaching, but is there a difference in your approach or difference in their ability to go execute kinda what I'm just curious, what kind of shows up here in the shift from teaching and training to the actually being able to coach someone to be more productive and effective?
JS : Yeah. I mean, look, coaching is a broad spectrum of things. It's kind of like consulting, right? Every practitioner has a different approach for the coaching profession. For those of us who are certified, there are certainly a set of standards that we adhere to. But a lot of the, a lot of the conversations in coaching are really about the space that the coach and the client create together. So the work around negotiation, where negotiation has come up as a coaching topic, for me, it has much more move to the internal negotiation than the external communication. We do some of that work, right? Some of the framing, some of the understanding of the other side perspective, some of the getting into their shoes. We’ll even do some role plays or some video-based feedback where we have them switch roles, right.
Switch sides, and talk as though they're the other person to try to really get inside their story. We do those things in training too, right. But in coaching, at least in my experience in the way that I have worked with clients, it has gone much more to the internal. And I can tell you a story that a client has invited me to share. And he came out of the very beginning of my coach training when I got really interested in this work, I thought, okay, so I've been coaching for some time now without a license, I should probably go get a little training. And so I did, it was the most wonderful choice I've ever made. And it was hard, right? Cuz coach training is not like you learn a bunch of things. You take a test and you're done. now, coach training.
No, in coach training they make you look at yourself. You are gazing so deep into your own naval. The guts are showing it's not a pretty process at all, but it's deeply meaningful. It's deeply valuable. And so as part of that training, we were required to find a few clients who would agree to be recorded and we could share those recordings with our supervisors and get feedback. And so one of those clients was, remains a friend today became a, became a friend I think in part, through these conversations. Very, very accomplished senior marketing executive had just taken over a role of a big new, but it wasn't like a startup that had no funding. It was, it was an organization with some pretty big exposure and his responsibility was to basically grow the thing. And if you looked at his resume, he'd had about 30 years of experience in big enterprises, he'd had a, a really stellar education.
He had some, a broad set of experiences. He had worked internationally, uh, continue was career progression. This was a successful person by many of those kinds of resume measures for sure. And when he and I connected, I said, “so, you know, what do you, what are you up against? What is it that you wanna work on in coaching?” He said, “I am a terrible negotiator. I need to, I need to learn how to negotiate.” I went back and looked at his bio and I said, “tell me more about that.” It just didn’t seem to be possible, right? I mean, you look at his accomplishments, there's no way this guy doesn't know how to, how to negotiate. Especially having done business development. And so we, we spent some time in it. We uncovered some things. We uncovered some things about, you know, I think this will, this will come, it's not surprise through experience.
He had learned some shortcuts and stopped giving himself the time and the luxury of preparation and the lack of preparation actually created some nerves for him. And it made it hard for him to be efficient in new contexts. Right. So that's great. We could uncover that in different ways. Coaching is one path. But the other one that became really interesting and this was a huge, huge learning point for me, but he told lots of stories. I mean, we talked a lot about, you know, meaning and values and what was important to him and what he was focused on and what drove him. And he told lots of stories about childhood. And he had grown up on the south side of Chicago in a fairly rough part of town. And he's a, he's a very tall person. And he's a black man. And he told a lot of stories about family members and other people who were perceived as “that guy”.
That was his frame, was “that guy” and pretty quickly what started, what started to surface for me was I'm hearing him say something that, to me sounds an awful lot like he's carrying a story about, he cannot be assertive in negotiation or he's gonna be “that black guy”. But I'm a white woman. How do I raise that? And why do I raise that? And what gives me the right to even raise it? And I got very, very tangled up in that because my role as a coach is to basically just reflect back what I'm hearing. And if the client says, yeah, you're off base, great. We move on. Right. But this one felt uncomfortable. And the problem with coaching is you can't be, you can't be the, the object of the conversation, but because of the discomfort, it, it became that way. So I sort of danced around how do we raise it? How do we come up? And I said, “you know, do you think that maybe kind of in some way on some level...”, I mean, I couldn't have had it more caveat.
And you know, when I finally got it out in some very thinly veiled way, dead silence, we were doing this on the phone, dead silence. And then I hear just laughter. And he says, “Julie, you know that, I know that I'm black right?” You know, it was one of the, for me, it was one of the most generous moments in the world where, what he did was he clearly understood what my dilemma was. And he was like, you know, just, can we just say it and move on? It's not a big deal, but it also made me realize that I have an obligation to say things, even if I feel uncomfortable about them and what he uncovered through that was that he had created a definition in his mind that negotiation was about aggressiveness. And we had to really find a different frame.
And so in our conversations, we worked through it and he said, you know, maybe I don't need to be aggressive, maybe I can just be assertive. In the new environment that he was in. The strong negotiators were very aggressive. And so he was struggling with the, “do I meet them where they are and then risk showing up as that guy.” Which he was deeply committed not to. And you can imagine all of the reasons why in our society that would carry consequences. Right. And so it was just that little shift to go from aggressiveness to assertiveness that freed him up. And within a couple of weeks, he'd basically closed off everything he needed to close off and launch the part of the business. He was looking to launch and brought on the partners he was looking to bring on and he was done. He didn't really need anything, not even the preparation, to be honest, he just needed to shift his perspective. So it's much more around that internal work and building those connections inside ourselves and, and finding the stories that we've been telling consciously or unconsciously that are getting in our way.
AD : Yeah. Now what a beautiful story. And it's one of those things. I think when you're in a room with a group of people, you're hoping that some of that realization goes occurs what a great journey to be on with, you know, someone more intimately, and even the internal struggle of being able to raise that about, about our internal voices and the ways that we see each other and the perceptions that we have that, that are just so impactful in framing how we think about what is negotiation, what is its influence in these things. I know you and I, I mean, those, those are conversations I, you and I have had when we've been together because of our own kinda life journeys and, and how those impact our own, the way we both practice. And, but also the way we engage with other people. Absolutely. Yeah. Very, very powerful.
JS : It's also just, when you think about it, it's a real privilege to be in those conversations because it's another form of connection. Right. So I get to learn. I mean, we still, thankfully we just still get together and catch up. This is a person that I've come to just really appreciate and admire. And we laugh about that conversation every time. I mean, it, it was funny. It was deeply funny, but it taught me so much about who I, I wanna be as a coach in the kind of spaces that I wanna create for my client. I mean, imagine the, the massive disservice I would've done by not naming it right. In the interest of being comfortable. That's not my job to be comfortable.
AD : Yeah. Yeah. That's well, that's well said. Yeah. I think great coaches across any number of fields are putting themselves out there in interesting, you know, in interesting ways. So to help help the people that they're, they're coaching through.
NM : Can I throw a question out there, Aram? So Julie had brought up that, you know, you'd, you'd work with a client or you were observing this, they would do all this preparation. They knew the plan going into the negotiation, but then they would revert back. How do you, as a coach kind of get your clients to start following through with the plan, with all the preparation that they're doing to have them have some sort of successful, you know, negotiated agreement?
JS : Yeah. I mean, let me just be clear, many do, and many can, and many follow through some parts of the plan. What I find when people don't follow through is that there's something that they come back with. That feels a lot like regret and shame. And the thing that I have found in my clients, right. Cuz I give them the choice. I sort of put it out there and say, where do you wanna take this? The thing that my clients have found, and that I've come to believe is a more productive path is not so much to go back to. Okay. You know, what part of this did you not learn? And how many times do we need to re memorize it or do you need cue cards or whatever it is. It's much more about uncovering that reaction of shame and regret, because in that story is usually the kernel of what it was that got in their way, when they went to execute in the first place. Some version of, I can't do it. I'm not enough, I'm under pressure. I'm going to get fired. Whatever it is, there's going to be an explanation. I'm going to look bad. And normalizing that a little bit and letting people process that emotion. And really think get through one of the things that I often like to do with people and say, so what's the, you know, do the worst case analysis. So what's the, okay, let let's imagine that it does get escalated and it does look bad for you. What's the consequence of that. And then what's the worst thing that can happen? And then what's the worst thing that can happen, right? It's almost like, you know, when little kids are afraid of monsters under the bed, you kind of wanna of take them under the bed with a flashlight and sort of shine it around. You have to look under the bed and really look into what's the actual fear and what the impact would be for me before you can actually put it aside.
Just saying, put it aside is really lovely, but it we're human. It's hard. It's just really, really hard. And that has seemed to be more of a, more of a shift for people than anything else. More practically, the ways that I found to like in a more tangible way, the, the ways that I found to help people execute on a plan is practice. And the more that you can practice in the form of curve balls, not just what's the script I envision and how will we run it from point a to point, thank you very much handshake. No, it's much more the script of what might go in a way that I don't expect, what might they come at me with? What might surprise me and what do I do if those things happen. So we really wanna think about what their alternatives could look like.
Not, not what they are. Right. I, I mean, I feel like when I talk about alternatives, I spend a lot of time talking to people. You're not trying to understand in a way that you are right. You may be dead wrong, but as you think about the other size alternatives, you really wanna think about what's the range of possibility because you wanna be prepared just in case that is a viable alternative for them. So really thinking about, you know, doing some scenario planning, really envisioning where things could go south and what you want to be ready to do in response tends to help people with following through on the plan.
NM : Yeah. Yeah. I, I love that. So it just made me kind of reflect back on. So my journey and my military career, um, I was very fortunate to be able to spend a short set of time within a unit inside the special operations community. And I mean, this is like the best soldiers. Um, and I had opportunity to lead a small group of them, but what I really learned and took away from that organization was the power of the after action review, which is kind of what you described and at least how we, how we vision it and everything, but really what's more powerful is like you said, we aren't just trying to figure out, you know, why did you do X? It was like, what is the thinking that you had to lead you to want to do X? So really trying to understand, okay, what's the reasoning behind that. And let's get at that first, the right or wrong of what actually happened. And I think, I think that was just made me immediately reflect, uh, on back on that. And I think, uh, I think that's extremely powerful for a coach to be able to do that because you're really allowing them to see inside, understand the reasoning and, and really good at that. So thank you for sharing that. Yeah.
JS : Nolan, what I love about that is this question about what were you thinking that led you to a particular outcome? I mean, one of the, you know, so many review processes and organizations are built on the militaries after action review processes. So that's an important piece. And I think it sometimes gets lost because sometimes those reviews sound like, what did you screw up? Right. And if we are looking for creativity, innovation, right. For people to solve complex problems, right? If the moment that you review something that didn't go perfectly starts with, what did you get wrong? We very quickly tied people's hands behind their backs just from an organizational standpoint. Right? So that question about what was the thinking that led you to, right. If you look forward and for me, that's actually, even what coaching is really about is coaching is not about solving problems or diagnosing conditions or anything like that.
There's, you know, there's therapy for that. There's, there's all kinds of like, there's all kinds of problem solving frameworks in the world. And if you need to do that and you need to do some root cause analysis, that's great. But when I think about what helps people be successful, right? If you, if you look into the work of Martin Zelman and some of the positive psychologists, it's pretty clear that if you focus on what's positive and what's possible, we trigger the parts of our biochemistry that actually help be successful. That help us think that help us be creative, that help us be engaged, that help us be committed, that help us get motivated. And so looking at it from the perspective of what were you thinking and what could we do differently or better next time is so much more powerful than what did you get wrong and why?
NM : Yeah, absolutely. And I think kind of changing gears here, if it's okay, Julie. So when we, when we looked back at your, you know, your interaction with your previous client, it, it came out, he's like, you know, I'm black, right? What kind of gender considerations do you see as a woman who's able to step back and observe women who are in the negotiations process? I mean, that's something that Erin and I may know very little about, but I'm sure you can shed a lot of light on. So,
JS : So I wanna be careful here. I am not an expert. I am one woman living in a woman's experience. But when I think about this, I think about the, the way in which people who are perceived by society as other engage in negotiation leadership. So, um, it is completely different, whether it is other, because of the color of your skin or whether it's gender or whether it's age or whether it's range of ability or whether it's, uh, sexual orientation, whatever it is. Right. But otherness tends to create stories for people that get in their way and tends to create stories for people we negotiate with that get in their way. So there are for sure some patterns and they're in the popular literature, but I've met lots of women who don't fall into those patterns at all. So, uh, some patterns that I've observed, certainly in myself and in many of the women leaders that I work with a tendency to think about the other side and to talk themselves down, we have a tendency to negotiate against ourselves.
Before we get into the conversation. I was just talking to a woman yesterday who, uh, was offered a role in another organization for a variety of reasons. She was not interested in taking it. She really loves her work. Um, she leads a couple of really, uh, vibrant teams. She's really excited about what she does. She loves her organization. She loves her leadership team, but she's pretty significantly underpaid. And she learned that through this offer. And as she started looking around, the industry realized she's pretty significantly underpaid. So she came out and she said, okay, I'm thinking about going to RA, uh, ask for a raise. Um, but, uh, I'm not sure if I wanna rock the boat and I really like this job, and I'm not sure what to do. And, you know, I figured just make a list of, of thoughts. And she shared this list of, it was like 14 bullet points and only numbers one six, and like nine supported her case for a race.
All of the others were reasons why she shouldn't get a raise. Well, my benefits are good. I have flexibility. I, as I said to her, I said, I wonder what would happen if you sorted your list in order from pros to cons and then just like deleted the bottom, right? What would that do? Um, and we were in a conversation with a bunch of other women leaders at the time, and many of them chimed in and basically said, what would you do if you were a white man, which is kind of the refrain that comes up in a lot of groups. Right? Think like a white man. And it doesn't mean that everyone does. Yeah. But there is this sense of, if you believe that you were entitled to something, what would be possible for you? And it's a question I ask a lot of women leaders is the question I ask a lot of leaders who are, who are, or perceived themselves in some way as other, from the dominant demographic in their organizations or in their society. Yeah. So that's common.
NM : We're gonna have to wrap up this episode right here, but don't worry. Join us next week for part two of this episode.
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