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Key Takeaways

  • Effective negotiation skills can be developed through overcoming personal challenges, highlighting the importance of resilience and adaptability in life’s early stages. These skills are applicable beyond professional settings, underscoring negotiation as a fundamental life skill.
  • Negotiation should be viewed not merely as a means to resolve conflicts in formal environments but as a daily tool for enhancing value in various interactions. Recognizing negotiation opportunities in everyday life can lead to significant long-term benefits.
  • Patience and the ability to build trust are critical in complex negotiations, such as those involving significant valuation gaps. Approaching negotiations focusing on mutual goals and understanding business needs can bridge gaps and lead to successful outcomes.
  • Applying the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) can make negotiations more efficient. Concentrating on the key 20% of efforts yielding 80% of the desired outcomes can lead to more effective negotiations.
  • A winning negotiation mindset involves preparation, active listening, adaptability, and reflection. These elements foster confidence, enable a deeper understanding of the other party’s perspective, and allow adjustments that can lead to successful outcomes.
  • Adapting negotiation strategies to accommodate cultural differences is crucial in international settings. Working with local partners or experts can provide essential insights into appropriate behaviors and communication strategies, enhancing negotiation success.

Executive Summary

Hey folks! Thanks for joining us on a brand new episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are joined by Guy Ellis. Guy is a highly accomplished chartered CFO from South Africa with an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and professional certificates from Harvard and Columbia Business Schools.

His career began at Ernst and Young and included significant roles at FirstRand, Africa’s leading financial institution. Guy has held over 40 board and advisory positions, co-founded several ventures, and is involved in major investment, M&A, and strategic initiatives, especially in healthcare.

Guy is also preparing to publish a book on negotiation and is an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and CFO Club Africa. Beyond his professional life, he is dedicated to wildlife conservation, enjoys photography, mountain biking, and spends time with his family, including two daughters and two cats.

So, with that brief introduction sorted, let’s delve into the insights that Guy shares in this episode.

Tracing Guy’s Path From Personal Hardship To M&A Success

Firstly, Nolan inquires what Guy attributes most to his development, which enables him to effectively negotiate in high-stakes, complex mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals involving millions of dollars.

Guy responds by discussing the roots of his negotiation skills, attributing much of his development to the personal adversity he faced after losing his father at a young age. With the responsibility of looking out for himself and his family, Guy learned to negotiate in everyday situations, from interactions with teachers to sports coaches.

This early experience taught him the importance of negotiation outside the conventional boardroom setting, emphasizing it as a daily skill rather than a confrontational battle.

Guy highlights the common misconception that negotiation is exclusively about conflict in formal scenarios, whereas, in reality, it is an essential skill for maximizing value in everyday life. He points out that many people fail to recognize the opportunities for negotiation they encounter regularly, leaving significant value unclaimed over their lifetimes.

Overall, Guy advocates for a perspective on negotiation that focuses on mutual benefit and the recognition of its role in daily interactions.

Guy’s Strategic Approach To Bridging Valuation Gaps In Healthcare M&A

In discussing a challenging M&A deal, Guy shares an example from his experience in the healthcare investment sector in South Africa. The deal involved a company that was a major importer and distributor in its niche. However, there was a significant gap between the company’s desired valuation of $60 million and its EBITDA of $2 million, making the valuation unrealistic at a 30x multiplier.

Guy approached the negotiation by stepping into an advisory role, focusing on understanding the company’s pressing business needs and assisting in strategies that could bridge the valuation gap. Over two and a half years, with strategic changes and growth, the company’s valuation increased to nearly $100 million, making a successful deal possible.

On that note, Guy highlights the foundational step in negotiations as having a willing buyer and seller. He advocates going beyond transactional perspectives, focusing on mutual goals, and deeply understanding the other party’s business needs. This approach requires patience, a long-term perspective, and building trust and relationships before negotiations formally begin.

The story exemplifies the necessity of patience in negotiations, highlighting a case where building trust took several years, including personal interactions that went beyond professional settings. Guy’s experience illustrates the importance of viewing negotiations as transactions and opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit.

Guy’s Use Of The Pareto Principle In High-Stakes Negotiations

Moving on, Guy highlights the importance of mastering key negotiation skills quickly, especially in the fast-paced context of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He emphasizes the application of the Pareto principle, or the 80-20 rule, as a fundamental approach to negotiation. The principle suggests that focusing on the critical 20% of efforts can yield 80% of the desired outcomes.

By identifying and concentrating on these key details, negotiators can achieve significant results more efficiently.

Guy suggests that the efficiency and effectiveness of negotiation stem from having the right knowledge and mindset, which, in turn, instills confidence in the negotiator. He underscores that entering a negotiation with confidence, derived from a solid understanding of the essential aspects of negotiation, is crucial. Without confidence, a negotiator is at a disadvantage even before discussions begin.

Building A Winning Negotiation Mindset: Guy’s Strategies For Success

On a similar note, Guy highlights the critical role of mindset in successful negotiations, advocating for a belief in one’s ability to achieve objectives with the right tools and preparation. He stresses the importance of focusing on collaboration and understanding the needs and wants of the other party rather than prioritizing one’s objectives. Guy provides several key pieces of advice for cultivating a successful negotiation mindset:

#1 Preparation

Preparation is essential for building confidence. Understanding the details of the negotiation and being familiar with the other party’s needs and perspectives can significantly influence the outcome.

#2 Active Listening

Listening attentively to the other party without the intention to respond immediately allows for a deeper understanding of their position. This approach helps in addressing their needs more effectively.

#3 Adaptability And Flexibility

Being open to adjusting one’s strategies based on new information and the negotiation’s progression is crucial.

#4 Reflection

After a negotiation, reflecting on the discussion and learning more about the other person can provide insights for future interactions.

Aram agrees that these elements are foundational for effective negotiation. They highlight that active listening is not just about repeating what the other person has said but truly understanding their perspective and needs. Preparation is highlighted as a means to confidence, with Guy advocating for as much preparation as possible, even if it means building relationships and trust over the years.

He suggests that the best preparation for negotiation involves long-term relationship building, making negotiations smoother and more successful.

The Power Of Care And Mutual Support In Elite Business Circles

Aram notes Guy’s involvement in networks like the Young Presidents’ Organization and CFO Club Africa. He then inquires about the benefits and influences of such networks on leaders and negotiators.

Guy emphasizes that the core of these organizations’ success lies in the culture of care and mutual support among members. This culture fosters an environment where individuals prioritize the needs and well-being of others over their interests.

Guy points out that initially, members may be skeptical of others’ intentions, questioning the genuineness of the support offered. However, as the culture of care and mutual aid becomes evident over time through consistent positive interactions, trust and openness flourish among members. Thus, it leads to a mindset shift where members genuinely seek to assist and uplift one another, creating a powerful support network.

According to Guy, the inherent culture within these organizations facilitates successful leadership and negotiation practices and encourages members to prefer doing business with each other.

Guy’s Strategy For Culturally Attuned International Negotiations

Next, Nolan mentions Guy’s involvement in various international mergers and acquisitions, ranging from dermatology practices in the US to investment opportunities in Africa through the Kellogg Global Investor Network. He then questions whether Guy’s negotiation style varies from country to country and, if it does, how those adjustments are made.

Guy responds by explaining that while the core principles of negotiation remain consistent, the approach must adapt to accommodate cultural differences. It is crucial to understand the unique backgrounds, needs, and expectations of parties from different cultures.

For instance, the personal and business needs of a U.S.-based doctor differ significantly from those of a startup founder in Africa, influenced by their upbringing, education, and aspirations.

To prepare for negotiations in culturally diverse contexts, Guy emphasizes the importance of considering the other party’s perspective and cultural background. He advocates for working with a local partner or someone who deeply understands the local culture to provide insights on appropriate behaviors, avoidance actions, and effective communication strategies. This local knowledge is essential to prevent misunderstandings and build trust from the outset of negotiations.

Guy highlights that understanding and respecting cultural nuances can significantly impact the success of negotiations. It may involve learning about local customs, language subtleties, and current socio-political dynamics. A local partner can offer invaluable guidance, ensuring that negotiators approach discussions with the sensitivity and awareness necessary to foster positive and productive relationships.

Drawing Parallels Between Sports Leadership And M&A Negotiation Success

Towards the end of the episode, Guy compares the principles of sports leadership, specifically mountain biking marathons, to effective negotiation strategies in complex M&A scenarios. He emphasizes that both require a focus on the journey, building upon the foundation that successful negotiations, like enduring sports endeavors, are significantly enhanced by trust-building relationships.

Guy likens negotiation to mountain biking marathons, emphasizing the value of the journey, challenges, and building relationships and trust rather than just the outcome. This highlights the importance of appreciating the process, not just the result. Like in sports, success in negotiations relies on preparation, endurance, and enjoying the journey.

Thank you for listening!


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 wasn't sure if you're going to mess my name up there.

NM : I get it right like 50% of the time. You never corrected me when we first started. So, for 10 years I've just called you Donesian, and then when I hear you talk to a guest you're like, oh, it's Donigian.

AD : Hey listen, you know what? I’ll answer to anything. Just don't call me late for supper, right? Otherwise you can call me anything you want. Hey, let me go ahead and introduce today's guest.

NM : Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa. So Guy is a Kellogg alum and as a current Kellogg NBA candidate, why don't I introduce Guy to the show.

AD : Folks, this is what you call a negotiation and I'm going to concede to my friend and colleague, Nolan. So go ahead, do the intro this time.

NM : Great, thanks. Guy Ellis is a chartered CFO in South Africa holding an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and Professional Certificates from Harvard and Columbia Business Schools. His professional journey began at Ernst and Young in the financial services sector before he transitioned to group treasury at FirstRand, Africa's leading financial institution.

Guy's extensive experience includes roles in over 40 board and advisory positions across the spectrum of funds, family offices and companies with valuations ranging from startups to entities worth over 1 billion. As a serial entrepreneur and co-founder with the Global Footprint, Guy's leadership extends to roles such as driving investments, M&A and strategic initiatives and one of the country's largest healthcare practices.

Currently, he's in the process of publishing a book on negotiation, aimed at understanding the skill within an hour set to launch later this year. An active member of the Young President's organization and CFO Club Africa, Guy also leads the Africa division at the Kellogg Global Investor Network.

His success in sports leadership mirrors his business approach, embracing an Anything Is Possible mindset underscored by passion, purpose, and process. Beyond his professional achievements, Guy is a committed wildlife conservationist having founded three nonprofit initiatives in Africa, a passionate photographer, Mount Biker, and a devoted family man and husband with two beautiful daughters and two cats.

Guy, thank you for joining us today.

Guy Ellis : Thank you Nolan. Thank you Aram. Thanks so much for having me. And my first question is this podcast over? Because that intro was so long.

NM : It's not, you've done it quite a bit, so we just want to make sure that we were thorough and we captured it all.

AD : And I'm just impressed, Nolan. Round of applause, you did great with that intro.

NM : It took us 91 episodes to get here. Good. I'm glad I could knock it out of the park. So alright, Guy. With so many entrepreneurial board member and nonprofit ventures, what do you credit most for your development to allow you to negotiate when millions of dollars in complex M&A deals are at stake?

Learning To Negotiate Life: From Personal Adversity To Mastering Daily Interactions [03:43]

GE : That's a great question, Nolan. And I'd say it started off having lost my father at a very young age. I was left with my mom and she was a young woman at the time and I had a younger sister and I was basically forced to learn to negotiate for myself for everything, whether it was with adults or with teachers or sports coaches and I didn't have a choice, I just kind of had to do it for myself.

When kids, parents take them to extramural activities like football or whatever on the weekend, I went alone. So I had to fight for myself and I learned very quickly that fighting was the wrong way to do it and just was forced to do it. So I think that shaped me very early on. And then, yeah, I always wanted to live up to the person my dad would be proud of.

So I think that was another big driving force. And people think when they think negotiation, they think it is a boardroom and this is a me versus you scenario. And it's kind of like I said earlier, a fight and it's definitely not. And hopefully we can talk a bit more to that today and you negotiate every day all the time and people don't realize that. So these are vital skills that people kind of leave tremendous value on the table over the period of a whole lifetime.

NM : Absolutely. And I'm sorry to hear that about your father. As someone who also lost my mom at a very young age, I think she was 58, completely understand and it sounds like it was even a younger age for you. So yeah.

AD : I always think it's interesting to pull back someone's story and understand the things that have impacted and influences one's life and development and your journey. Certainly there, and I certainly do want to get into this several ideas you just already shared there, which is stepping away from the fight mode of negotiation and really thinking about what you said, leaving value on the table for a lifetime in all the day-to-day sort of things that adds up and it's tragic.

GE : Totally, totally. And people don't realize it. That's the worst part of it is people just carry on their lives and they actually just don't realize what's happening to them every single day.

AD : So guy, a ton of leadership roles and your bio is just so rich, but leadership roles in healthcare investment. Can you discuss a challenging M&A deal you had to negotiate and the key negotiation principles that you applied that helped maybe lead you to a successful outcome or maybe that provided some valuable lessons learned?

Navigating Long-Term Negotiations With Patience And Insight [06:26]

GE : Totally. So there's one scenario that comes to mind, and I've got a lot of examples, but this one will kind of hit the point home I believe. So there was a company in South Africa, which was the biggest important distributor in its niche, right in that industry. And essentially what happened was we were just too far apart on the valuation versus their ebitda. So their EBITDA was $2 million and the valuation that they wanted was 60 million.

So no one in their right mind was paying a 30x on a company. So essentially the steps that I took was really speaking to them as an advisor or a consultant and really trying to understand their most pressing business needs and try help them get to the valuation that they wanted and expected. So essentially what we decided was right now is not the right time for this deal to go through, but how can I help them get to that point?

So essentially what happened is I landed up advising them on what to do to get to that point. So it included hiring different people, putting certain controls and processes in place, taking on a bit of debt onto their balance sheet, et cetera, et cetera. And eventually we got to a point where they had grown within two and a half years to a point that the valuation wasn't at 60 million, it was at just under a hundred million.

And all parties were happy to do the deal at that point in time. So that was really one scenario that you had this willing buy and willing seller, which you guys know is step one in negotiation. If you don't have a willing buy and a willing seller or two willing negotiators, you're nowhere. So that was the first thing. And then the big thing was going beyond the transaction because very often people just focus on the transaction and it's actually, Hey, what are their most pressing business needs? Let's put myself in their shoes and try understand how to get them to where they want to be.

And it's not this me versus you again, and it's not this negotiation. And I think negotiation's the wrong word for negotiation. I think it's how do we get to this end point together? And when you start focusing on that, I think everyone's mindset changes.

AD : Just to echo two things there, tremendous patience is required to allow a situation to ripen. And it's a concept that I'm sure you've heard, but this idea that, I mean two and a half years to get to the point where now the deal makes sense. I mean that's tremendous patience. How do you sustain that or encourage somebody to sustain that to say, now's not the best time for a deal, we can get there. That's hard because sometimes we gotta get it done today mindset.

GE : Totally. We live in the world of instant gratification. But to your point, Aram, this doesn't start at time zero when the two and a half years starts, it actually starts five years before that. So the whole process is seven and a half years because you actually have to get to the point where everyone trusts you on the either side of the table, let's call it that. And you've built those relationships up and in this case, they were actually not going to sell the business.

They weren't open to selling the business to anyone, and it was a totally off market deal. And this included having, so the guy was old school, he was in the military for 15 years. His way that he built trust was an 8:30 PM dinner at his house on a Friday night where he cracked open a bottle of whiskey and you bet you weren't going home that night.

That was his way of building trust. And when I was like this relative youngster that went to his house and he told me it was formal and I dressed up black tie and I brought the bottle of whiskey and we sat and drank. That was the first night that kind of started this relationship and it was a warm introduction to begin with.

So to your point, it's this patience that doesn't just happen in two and a half years. It actually takes a long time before that for people to actually build that relationship and trust you.

AD : And it also, just to go to your second point to get beyond the transaction, I mean clearly the mindset there that you're describing, this isn't a transactional mindset. We are looking out years and if I'm really going to understand your most pressing business needs, it's not going to happen in one conversation. It's going to take a couple evenings, at least a few bottles of whiskey.

GE : Totally. And you need patience and grit just for that alone.

NM : And whiskey

GE : And whiskey.

NM : So your upcoming book promises to Teach negotiation skills swiftly. In the context of M&A. What are a few essential negotiation principles you believe are crucial for successful transactions?

Leveraging The 80-20 Rule In Negotiation: Mastering Key Skills For Maximum Impact [11:17]

GE : I think the first thing to understand is that people are so busy today, they're busier than ever before. And my focus is to try to get people to learn some of the key skills in a very short space of time and create that mindset. And I think it boils down to the parade principle, the 80-20 rule. So essentially you prioritize efforts towards the critical 20% that basically yields the most significant results, right?

80% of your results come from just 20%. And that's been my philosophy in everything I've done, is you just focus on the 20% or key details that basically get you 80% of the way there. So I think every negotiation is different if you have the knowledge and the mindset that gives you the confidence. And before any negotiation, if you don't have the confidence that you can actually get to an agreement you've lost before you've joined, right? Or you started. So I think having that confidence is really crucial and that comes from the correct knowledge and mindset.

NM : You mentioned mindset, I'd love to dig in more. Obviously it's something that's important and you've labeled it as a game changer in negotiations. Can you elaborate on this idea, on what advice you have for individuals looking to cultivate a mindset that fosters success?

Building Confidence And Success In Negotiations Through Preparation And Understanding [12:33]

GE : Yeah, absolutely. So I believe that if you believe you can achieve something, you can. So you just need the right tools to get there. So if your mindset is about collaboration and focusing again on the other side's needs, I won't say most pressing business needs because it could be just their needs and wants in a personal scenario. So understanding that it's not about you and that it's about them and how do you help them? And if I had to give advice on this point, I would say prepare and I deal with that in my book.

And Aram, this obviously preparation is one of the key points and that drives confidence. So being positive and having that mindset that you can achieve something. Active listening is huge. Listening, making notes, not listening with the intent to respond, but actually just listening to what the person's saying, staying adaptable and flexible.

And then after a negotiation, like reflecting or if it's a multi-stage or day negotiation or just those relationships over those years that we discussed a bit earlier, it's about reflecting and learning more about the other person. And if you go through these key steps, I think you build the confidence and you build that belief that you can actually achieve something.

AD : Yeah, I love so much of what you just shared there. I mean, these are cornerstone pieces of becoming effective negotiators. So many people when they think about active listening, don't frame it the way you just did. It's maybe parroting back what I heard or something. But really for you, what you said is without the intent to respond, and that's just, let me get where this other person, and again, the clarity around may just being individual with individual needs, not even talking about business needs. Let me really get where you're coming from. And I think that is a huge mindset shift for so many of us.

GE : Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you can't really understand another person if you're constantly trying to respond to that and have this, what are you saying? And I need to top you or I need to answer immediately, right? Let's just hold what other people are feeling and thinking and their wants and needs and desires.

AD : Yeah, you mentioned preparation too, and I was hoping you'd go there. I do think that confidence is born out of being just, well-prepared. Can't necessarily prepare for everything, but there's so much more we can prepare for than we often realize. Wait, can you just give our listeners an idea? When you're preparing for a major negotiation that's coming up, do you have a measure?

How much time do you spend preparing? I have heard senior leaders when I've asked them how much time you prepare their answers, like how much time do I prepare? Well, how long does it take to get from my office to wherever this meeting's taking place? That's how much time I spend preparing, which is a really lousy measure for level of preparation. But how much attention do you give it?

GE : I'm going to spin your question slightly if I may, Aram.

AD : Please. Yeah, go ahead.

GE : The longer I can possibly prepare the better. And if I can prepare my whole life, that's the best. So, if I'm negotiating with someone that I've known my whole life, like a best friend from childhood or a parent or a sibling, that is the best position to be in because so much about this person, it doesn't necessarily make it an easy negotiation, so don't get me wrong, but in terms of preparation, the longer the better.

So going back to what we were discussing earlier, and the example I brought up of that, let's call it five or so years, initial period of building the relationship before the actual negotiation took place, which then took another two and a half years to consummate the relationship. Essentially, that five years is what you really want. You really want to build that because you're not just planning, you're building trust, you're building the relationship, and that's just, it's like a hot knife through butter compared to trying to break down a door.

And that's maybe a good way to explain it is that preparation is not necessarily, oh, doing research online and looking at their LinkedIn profile. And that's not preparation, right? Preparation is building the relationship in my mind. So how do we build that relationship? And I think that's a key point.

AD : Yeah, I love it. And that's a nice twist on the preparation piece. It involves, and this is I think Nolan and I with our military backgrounds, can appreciate it. It is creating the conditions for a more successful, not necessarily easy, as you said, but a more successful or effective negotiation down the road.

You've been involved in networks such as Young Presidents’ Organization, CFO Club Africa. How do these sorts of networks benefit and influence both yourself and others involved as leaders and as negotiators?

Fostering Success Through A Culture Of Care And Mutual Support In Organizations [17:23]

GE : So Aram, I'm so glad that you brought that up, right? Because the environments that these organizations create are the key to kind of everything. So I'd summarize it really as the care for one another and truly wanting to help each other. So when you meet another member of these organizations, there's this inherent culture that it's not about you.

And I believe that's the biggest reason for success as leaders and negotiators in these organizations, whether you're negotiating with other members of the organizations or outside of the organizations, it's this mindset that you kind of start living with that, how do I help the other person? How do I care for them? And you're really holding them. And the amazing thing is that they're holding you. And in the beginning it's kind of scary. It's like you're quite wary of what is this person trying to do?

What's their ulterior motive? What's their agenda here? And after time, you start realizing when it happens more and more with so many different members that this is actually the culture here. And when that starts happening, that's when the beauty shines through. And the real magic starts to happen is normally each party's really worried and judgmental and just not so comfortable with another party.

Whereas in these organizations, everyone cares about each other's needs. And I think that's the real key point of why things are so successful. And so many people of these organizations prefer doing business with other people in the organization because of this.

NM : You're focused on M&A transactions across the globe from dermatology practices in the US to investment opportunities in Africa with the Kellogg Global Investor Network. Does your negotiation style change from country to country? And if so, how?

Adapting Negotiation Strategies To Cultural Contexts: The Importance Of Local Insights And Understanding [19:24]

GE : So yes and no. So the principles remain the same, but the cultures are very different. So the first thing about negotiations is understanding the other side, which we've discussed. So a US-based doctor and their needs is totally different from a startup founder in Africa. Their upbringing, their education, their wants, their needs, their desires about the future, everything is basically totally different. So let me ask you this.

Think about those two parties that I just mentioned. Now, what are their most pressing business or personal needs? Just think about it for a moment and what is the culture just in your mind, whether you're right or wrong or you are accurate or not, just think about at least what your perception of the culture is in those two scenarios.

And then you need to ask yourself questions like these, right? When you're going to prepare. And that's why I say yes and no, because the principles remain the same, but the cultures are totally different. And if you're not aware of that and you don't prepare for that, you're already starting an uphill battle.

AD : Yeah, I've often thought, and this goes back to military concepts of have operational graphics, and you have your kind of basic maneuver plan. These are the principles of negotiation that hold steady, and then you overlay. We used to use overlays back in the day with little plastic sheets over our maps, but you overlay obstacles and you overlay fires and different things. It adds to the complexity of the situation.

Culture adds complexity. Just very practically speaking, when you get ready to go into a country where you haven't done business before, work with a culture, maybe you haven't worked with closely before. Do you do research? Are you focused on language? Are you looking at current events? But are there certain very tangible things you try to do to learn about that environment so you can be a little more nuanced in your approach?

GE : Totally, so if it's a really new environment for me, the one thing that I always try to do is have a local partner or someone local on the ground that understands that culture in and out. They've lived it, they've been there, they've grown up with it, and they can give me a bit of a crash course, let's call it in how to behave, what to do, what not to do. Because you'd be amazed that in certain cultures, if you do or don't do certain things, you've ruined the negotiation from the beginning.

You've lost their trust, they think you're rude, whatever the case may be. So if you don't know very basic nuances that you can't really find in textbooks or online or even with chatGPT, you just have to get someone who's grown up, lived and breathed this and can say, Hey, guy, do this. Don't do that. And that's key. So I think that's something that I always use. There's a local partner, someone that can do it with me or can at least give me a crash course on what to do and what not to do. And sometimes you need that person because you don't even speak the same language as the people you're going to meet.

AD : That's right. That's right. Yeah. And that language piece, I mean, there's just, even just in English, there's a dozen ways to say the same thing. What's the intent of what I'm trying to communicate becomes really important, I want to make sure that I'm conveying the idea if I want to explore possibilities, but they're hearing it as I'm trying to get them to commit to something. Well, we're going to be on two very different places, and that becomes pretty critical to clarify.

GE : Absolutely, absolutely.

AD : So earlier you kind of mentioned this, anything is possible mindset. We know you have this tremendous background in sports leadership. How does that philosophy, but specifically tied to sports, translate into effective negotiation strategies in the sorts of complex M&A scenarios that you've been involved in?

Trust-Building And Relationships In Negotiations And Mountain Biking Marathons [23:40]

GE : That's also a great question, Aram and I think what we touched on earlier is that some negotiations take years, and preferably they all do. So why do I say that again? It's about relationships and relationships are built on trust. So relating it back to sports, let's just use mountain biking marathons as an example. So similar to mountain biking marathons, the joy is in the journey, not the destination, right?

AD : I'm sorry, I've got to interrupt. What joy comes from doing a biking marathon?

GE : So the key is if you are fit or unfit, Aram, that's the key, right?

AD : Ouch. Fair.

GE : Yeah. So hopefully you're fit and the joy is in the journey and not the destination. Look, there's also joy in the destination. Don't get me wrong. My wife used to wait for me at the finish line with a banana bread loaf and a one liter, like a gallon, not a gallon. I think it's like a third of a gallon of chocolate milk. And that's how I used to finish each stage. So they just joined the destination.

NM : But it saved an entire biking marathon just to go get that out of the kitchen.

AD : That's right. Hey, I'm sorry I interrupted your train of thought, so please go back and make the connection there as you were doing, so.

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

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