Negotiation: From Boardroom To Bedroom with David Johnson

Boomer Anderson
March 31, 2021
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David Johnson teaches negotiation at Stanford Law School. We discuss multi-million dollar deals, navigating crucial personal conversations, and the top tips for being a better negotiator.

Who is David Johnson?

David Johnson has been teaching Negotiation at SLS annually since 2006, in conjunction with his full-time practice of law in Silicon Valley from 1996 to date.  In addition, he is a Lecturer in the Hasso Plattner School of Design (a/k/a “the d.school”), where he has recently completed the third instance of his new course, Negotiation by Design.

He has testified before the California Assembly on legislation addressing software liability.  Thereafter he appeared before Congress, as lead counsel for the Business Software Alliance in hearings before the House Subcommittee for Science and Technology. He currently serves on the California State Bar Executive Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution, and its subcommittee on Education and Inclusivity. David is a regular speaker at conferences, seminars and panels on various subjects in law, science and technology, as well as negotiation.

David brings to his teaching a unique blend of breadth and depth in the practice of law. He began his career in the courtroom, with over 20 civil trials, jury and bench, state and federal. He has briefed and argued a dozen state appellate matters, with 6 opinions issued, including one state Supreme Court argument challenging the prima facie constitutionality of a sales tax on commercial speech.  More recently, he was appointed as Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington in order to appear for the State before the Alaska Supreme Court in a case of first impression directly impacting all of Washington’s state-owned hospitals.


[13:50] Foundations of good negotiation

[23:07] The art of listening and observing

[33:15] Overplaying your position in negotiations

[40:26] Winning against the overplayed opponent7

[49:00] Negotiations in business settings

[55:30] Negotiating with Apple

[1:03:10] Things that people should be doing better in negotiations


Richard Shell's Bargaining for Advantage

Walter Isaacson The Code Breaker

Difficult Conversations by Sheila Heen

The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse

Episode Transcript

Boomer Anderson: [00:00:00]Welcome to decoding superhuman. This show is a deep dive into obsessions withhealth performance, and how to elevate the human experience. I explore thelatest tools, science and technology with experts in various fields of humanoptimization. This is your host, boomer Anderson. Enjoy the journey

today. Podcasts. We're going to step on the other side ofthat intersection between health and business. And we're going to talk aboutnegotiation, personal negotiation, business negotiation, how to structurenegotiations, how to get the most out of a deal, how to really play the gamethat is negotiation.

And I asked my guests today to bring really. Good tacticstips, tools that you can use to become a better negotiator immediately. So whobetter to teach us to be a better negotiator than Stanford law school?Professor David Johnson. He's been teaching negotiation at Stanford law schoolannually since 2006 has a full-time practice in Silicon Valley from 1996.

And he has this amazing course, which we actually didn'teven get into today called negotiation by design. David has worked in biotech.He's worked in tech, he's worked as a general counsel, a COO, and he has awealth of experience, which he brings into this conversation. I can't wait foryou guys to listen to it.

David's full bio is at decoding superhuman.com/negotiation,but let's get on with the show as a technology fiend, I get a number ofdifferent gadgets. In fact, I switch. Quite often, if you were to ask me whatI'm wearing using buying this month, it may be completely different next month.But the ones that stick the technologies that I use every day or frequently arefew and far between, and when it comes to transcranial and intra-nasal, photobiomodulationmy device of choice is the Vila.

And I know a lot of you superhumans out there. Love theVielight as well. The Vielight, I stick it up my nose, I put it on my head andI go into an absolute relaxation mode with my neuro alpha in. Well, let's justsay by the time I'm done my meditation 20 minutes later, it's fantastic. Itenhances my meditations.

It makes my sleep better. And like I say, it's one of thefew devices that I'll throw into a carry on bag and travel with. You can getyours by listening to this podcast, going to the show notes or heading over tovielight.com. That's V I E L I G H T. And using the code boomer to get yourself10% off.

Let's get back to my conversation,

David, this is an absolute pleasure, and I know, uh, you andI have had a couple of conversations and have a mutual interest in anothercountry, but thank you for coming on the show. My

David Johnson: [00:03:20]pleasure. Thank you for having me. What

Boomer Anderson: [00:03:23]brought you to Singapore of all places?

David Johnson: [00:03:27]Um, so my wife works for a tech company in Silicon Valley.

Um, a fairly big a what I would call a monstrous unicorn.I'm not going to name it, but a global FinTech monster unicorn. So maybe I justnamed it.

Boomer Anderson: [00:03:46]There's only a handful of those. Yeah,

David Johnson: [00:03:48]they really are. And so, uh, they were expanding their APAC presence and, uh,she agreed to go do a year or two, uh, Singapore to help them build out.

And so I gladly hopped on board and went along. Uh, it wasat the end of a four year run for me in a non-profit foundation as a GC. So itwas a good time to check out four years is a and partly because of option. Youknow, uh, plans for years seems to be a number in Silicon Valley. That's a reallycomfortable, okay.

I'm going to punch out and move on or peace out. I shouldsay it's probably the better phrase piece out and move on to the next thing.Uh, and moving onto the next thing is there is. Honestly, uh, one of thebiggest blessings of working in Silicon Valley, because I know there are otherplaces, other companies where particularly if you're a lawyer, there's sort ofa dim view taken of moving too much, but that's not the case in Silicon Valley.

It just isn't, uh, if you're good, you're supposed to move alot. So anyway, we went to Singapore, uh, And I had a blast. We had a blast,uh, she worked hard, it was very successful. And, uh, we got a lot of travel inbecause Singapore is very centrally located. You can go to a bunch of differentplaces, uh, on very short flights.

And we went out there in August, 2019. And so we had a solidsix months before, uh, COVID came in and, uh, curiously, uh, I was scheduled infact, did get on a plane and come back to the States to teach in February, 2020.Uh, and I taught my course at the, uh, D school at Stanford, uh, which we'llprobably talk about a little bit more later.

Um, It was the last day of, uh, the night before my lastclass that Stanford shut down because of COVID. Um, and I had to do my lastclass online and then I bought the first ticket out to Singapore, uh, on the,well, because I had to leave anyway, but to be honest, because Singapore. Ijust knew in my, my gut was going to be much safer place to be, to ride outCOVID and I didn't want to take the risk of getting shut out of going back.

Cause, uh, I'm, I'm an ex-pat. So I rushed back toSingapore, did the last class online from Singapore, and then we went intoCOVID shutdown, uh, which was very effective. I don't need to tell you that, youknow, Singapore did it as well as almost anybody in the world. They had certainadvantage and, um, and they got through it and came back out the other end,roughly in July, 2020 and had been running fairly normally since then theschools opened people out, restaurants open, et cetera, since July, 2020, uh,And so, uh, Singapore was a great experience.

And what I tell anybody who's willing to listen is, uh, evenif it's later in your career, if you get an opportunity to truly go live andimmerse yourself, uh, in your job overseas, I think it's really a valuableexperience. Um, and I also happen, I tell younger people, including studentsthat, uh, doing a year or two overseas is an incredible plus on your resume.

When people look at resumes, when I did it, when I wasreading hundreds of resumes in hiring, I always always took a close look atpeople who, uh, had spent some time overseas. It there's just a lot of reasonswhy that makes, uh, uh, uh, potential employee pretty attractive.

Boomer Anderson: [00:07:37]Yeah. I was fortunate enough to get sent over there, uh, to Singapore when Iwas 25 and thought it was going to be two years.

And then I got left on Gilligan's Island and it was therefor six now in Amsterdam for four. And it's just, you know, at some point it'slike, do you come back? Uh, but we'll see how it goes. Um,

David Johnson: [00:07:57]but that's funny, you mentioned the Amsterdam. I was looking at of all things.I looked at the zoom invite and I saw the invite was an Amsterdam time.

I thought, wait a minute. I didn't know. Boomer was inAmsterdam

Boomer Anderson: [00:08:09]and surprise here. There you go. Boom.

David Johnson: [00:08:12]So to speak. So, you know, I've I spent, uh, one of my, uh, favorite weeks of,of European travel in Amsterdam. Uh, You know, the combination of really greatweather, uh, in the season when people come out and, you know, you have tolearn how to ride a bike quick or you're, or you're going to be the bane of, ofa Dutch society once you leave.

And they don't mess around with the rules of the road on

Boomer Anderson: [00:08:41]bikes. Yeah. It's a, it's an art and it's definitely a S it's one of thosethings. It's a skill. I'm not sure I'll put it on my resume, but it's a skillthat everybody should learn at some point.

David Johnson: [00:08:52]Yeah. Well, I guess, you know, the takeaway there is pro tip.

If you go, even as a tourist to Amsterdam for a few days,you're going to get on a bike. Please make sure you know how to, uh, make sureyou learn what the specific rules of riding a bike in Amsterdam or Utrecht are,because it'll make all the difference. If you make all the difference,

Boomer Anderson: [00:09:14]it makes the city very easy to navigate.

It could also make it very painful. Literally painful. Yeah,exactly. Exactly. So, David, we're going to talk about negotiation today andwe're going to get into so many different things. Cause I know you have a longhistory in this, but I wanted to give people a sense of that history, becauseyou mentioned you, you spent four years at a nonprofit and the four years ofsort of this nice cadence and Silicon Valley, but you've, you've also donequite a number of other things in your life.

And I would just like to give everybody listening a littlebit of a sense of that as well.

David Johnson: [00:09:49]Yeah, I think that's, uh, that's good to do because negotiations are fairlypersonal and sort of individually specific. Art. And so for people who aregoing to, when I, when I want to learn from an expert negotiator, giving atalk, I do want to know from what background they come, because it influencesthe way that they view negotiation.

So, uh, I started my legal career in Miami as a. Uh, triallawyer in the, mostly in the downtown courthouse of Miami, Florida in theeighties. And it was a

Boomer Anderson: [00:10:28]wild time. It's a very interesting time to be in Miami.

David Johnson: [00:10:32]This is a very interesting time to be in Miami. You know, uh, you actually dobump into Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas on the street in restaurantskicking around.

Uh, it, it was kind of new and different for us in Miamibecause it was just becoming sort of, uh, the international city. In fact, theydeveloped a phrase for Miami after awhile, uh, in the eighties as the Northernmost city of South America, which gives you a sense of really the mill you. So,uh, I learned to try jury trials, uh, and a PA appeals in Miami.

So my negotiation chops were begun in conflict resolution innegotiating, uh, litigation. Uh, I didn't do criminal, just negotiating civillitigation, uh, pretty much hardball civil litigation. Um, after 10 years inMiami, I came back to the West coast. Uh, I was born and raised in Seattle, soI knew I was coming back to the West coast sooner or later.

Uh, went back to school, took another degree, uh, wasinterested in going into professional academics, but instead went back to work,uh, for a variety of reasons in Silicon Valley, uh, which was a different kindof practice. And very quickly, I'd say within two or three years, I ended upworking as a general counsel for a, uh, startup w uh, an overfunded, uh,startup company in the boom era of 99, 2000 2001.

And from that point forward, have done serial GC job, Ithink four or five of them, profit for-profit companies, not-for-profit publicand private, and, um, got a good mix of, uh, subject areas, mostly atechnology, a little bit of design, and then decided I was going to back intoteaching and, um, which has always been part-time, but I put a lot of energyand attention into it.

Um, so I started teaching at Stanford law school.Negotiation at Stanford law school, I'd say about 10 years ago, maybe 12 yearsago now. And, uh, I started teaching at the design school about five years ago,uh, by creating a course, um, blending negotiation and design thinking to, uh,explore new ways to think about, uh, negotiation.

Boomer Anderson: [00:13:09]Wow. Okay. Um, so there's a, there's a lot of ways we can go down this, thisconversation, especially it just in terms of that, that combination that youmentioned at the end is fascinating to me. Uh, especially as somebody who bothlives with a designer and has some experience with design thinking, but, uh,just so we kind of lay our parameters straight for everybody when it comes tonegotiation.

You mentioned in our email exchange, we all know the basics,but I just want to make sure that people are clear on, uh, just sort of whatthose basics are, because you know, some people make their, their livings outof being quote unquote, good negotiators. And obviously they need somefoundations to that.

And so what are those foundations to good negotiation or thebasics if you will.

David Johnson: [00:14:00]Yeah. So there's, there's a lot of ways you can kind of come at that question.So I'll take one path, not necessarily in preference to another. Um, the way Ilike to think about it is in the world of negotiation. I very roughly divide,uh, types of negotiation into conflict resolution in one bucket and deal makingin another bucket.

Now someone will say, Oh, but conflict resolution isdeal-making conflict resolution. Yes. Ultimately ends up in an agreement whichyou could call a deal. When I say deal-making, I'm referring to companies orindividuals who are, uh, arriving at an agreement, uh, whether it's apartnership or strategic partnership, uh, acquisition, some court, some sort ofcommercial, usually a commercial deal that ends up with them working together,uh, for a significant period of time.

That's what I mean by deal-making as opposed to conflictresolution, which is almost always a, not always, but almost always a one-offwhere the parties resolve their conflict, arrive at an agreement, a settlementof some sort dismiss a case often and go their separate ways because they justdo not, they're not interested in being partners with one another for obviousreasons.

So that's sort of the first division. Um, the second isrelated, which is, uh, distributed what we call distributed or integrative inthe lingo, but basically a zero sum fixed pie negotiation, which is usually,but not always conflict resolution. Uh, it could be a buy sell. So if I'mbuying your used car, uh, every dollar I get you to concede as a dollar in mypocket and vice versa.

So that's a, uh, a. Purchase straight up purchasenegotiation, oftentimes zero sum fixed pie and a little bit more competitive toboot. That's a distributive negotiation where you're distributing a fixed set ofassets. Usually money integrative is a squishy term, but in broad, it refers tomost, any negotiation where there's a potential for the parties workingtogether to create more value that might first appear to exist.

And by creating more value, they can then distribute thatvalue between them, uh, in the process of doing the deal. Uh, And that is whereyou hear the all too common phrase of win-win both parties do better than whenthey first started. So I think of zero sum or growing the pie negotiation, Ithink of conflict resolution.

And I think of, uh, uh deal-making and I don't necessarilyput those in a two by two matrix, but those are the buckets and the reason thebuckets are important and that they're pretty obvious don't get me wrong. Um,the reason I think they're important is because how you proceed once you'veidentified, which kind of negotiation you're in, um, is driven by the type ofnegotiation you're in.

Uh, the next basic for me that I really, uh, teach prettyaggressively. And the book that I use for basic class, uh, Richard Shell's bookbargaining for advantage, uh, really drives this point home. Uh, Richard callshis, uh, style of teaching negotiation. Information-based bargaining. Now weall know knowledge is power information, et cetera, et cetera is important.

But when it comes down to the craft of negotiation, um, howyou manage information is really where the extraordinarily good negotiatorstend to surpass the merely, uh, mediocre negotiators. What do I mean by that?So we have a very simple phrase. It's it's going to sound simplistic in fact,but it, but it covers the point.

Um, and that phrase is give guard, get, give guard, get, uh,I tend to envision negotiation as sort of this, uh, I visualize it as a sphere,uh, into which all of the information relevant to a negotiation does or couldexist some information I'm going to put into that sphere myself. That's theinformation I want the other side to have, because it helps my case.

I'm going to put information, I'm going to give informationto the other side. I'm going to do it somewhat strategically. So it doesn'tlook like I'm just dumping. I want to meet it out in small increments andusually do that by way of trading for information. They're giving me. But bothparties are going to give you free information to one another voluntarilybecause it helped.

They believe it helps them. Then there's information that Iwant to get from the other side. There, there are holes in my understanding andI need information from them. Sometimes the information I want to get, they'llgive to me most of the time they're going to guard it. And likewise, viceversa. There's information I have that I don't want to give up.

And I'm going to guard that information. So where we're now,now we've talked about giving information and getting information. The realaction is in each side's guarded information. Now this is where you take thenext step and, uh, uh, focus on skill in getting there. The other side,acquiring the information from the other side that they may not want to giveup.

And there's two ways sort of that this surfaces one isthere's information. They have that there obligated to disclose, or they'recommitting fraud if they don't disclose it. And then there's information thatthey're ethically not required to disclose that they can withhold legally. Um,but you might still be able to tease out of them.

Um, if you persuade them that it's in their self interest topart with that information and sort of this narrow band in the middle of theinformation gathering process, uh, getting more information from the other sidethat they do, I want you to have versus how much you give, um, is where alsoanother place where the really great negotiators seed and another basic.

Uh, but I always liked that there's a chart in. Uh, Shell'sbook that's that, uh, speaks to speaking and listening. He did a study or hespeaks about a study that was done, and he found that, uh, the more expertnegotiators spend a lot more time listening than they do speaking during a negotiation.And that speaks volumes in its own.

Right. But where an expert negotiator really succeeds iswhen they're working against someone who's a little less experienced, but lessexperienced negotiator by default feels like they have to say a lot of words,make a lot of argument, talk a lot to try and bolster their position, presentthemselves as having a very strong position and the downside to doing that is areally good expert.

Negotiator will read that person like a deck of cards andthere will be so much information that will be gleaned from what that personchooses to say that listening is in itself. Just listening is in itself a wayto gather information that the other side inadvertently, uh, let slide over therail. Um, alright.

Yeah. I, so I think that covers what I would consider to be,you know, the 10 minute primmer on the basis.

Boomer Anderson: [00:22:37]Well, they thank you for all of that. I think there's a number of differentavenues that we can go down there. Uh, and just. Perhaps we can go through acouple of things. And just from personality wise, one of the last things youjust mentioned was the art of being a good listener and tangentially some ofthe things that you said reminded me of like games of poker, uh, where youstart to be able to read some person, uh, what are some of thosecharacteristics that, that good negotiators develop in terms of listening, butobserving in these people?

What if somebody is too verbose and giving away too muchinformation? Are there specific things that you're looking for in order toemphasize, or is it just sort of a matter of feel when you're in conversationwith that person?

David Johnson: [00:23:29]Um, well, I would say it starts with a matter of feel, but if you can, uh, itsegways from this is interesting.

It's this whole nother area that I find fascinating aboutnegotiation. When I compare it to my work as a trial lawyer, Um,

beginner or intermediate, let's say negotiators come to anegotiation, thinking that the communication in a negotiation is essentiallythe same as a conversation. It is not. And it is a categorical mistake to thinkthat you're just going into a negotiation and you're going to have aconversation about the subject matter.

And somehow you're going to succeed as a negotiator. It's astyle, it's a very different, highly stylized kind of co of communication. Imay drop the word conversation because it appears to be a conversation and thereally good negotiator will make it feel like it's just in conversation. Oh,Hey, let's sit down and talk this out, see what's going on.

I want to understand how you feel about this situation. Andmaybe we can work something out. That'll, that'll be beneficial to both of usthat feels like, uh, you know, a negotiate a Congress. And it's a trap. Uh, youknow, I, I remember I'm thinking of that star Wars GIF in my mind. Every time Isay that phrase, it's a trap.

So, uh, You know, the expert will almost lull the beginnerto sleep with that, with that kind of preface. But in fact, what they're tryingto do is get the other side just simply to start talking. Yeah. And then asthey start talking, if they start, if they show poor discipline in controllingthe amount of information that they're letting out, then what the expert willdo is one of two things.

And this is going to segue into timing, um, is they will dowhat I call juggling silence. Which is they'll take each nugget of informationthat they find use of new and useful that this other person is giving them. Andthey will sort of put it in their mental juggle, and they'll keep these six,eight, 10, 12, 15, 18 nuggets of information kind of up in the air in very muchin the forefront of their mind.

And there's a reason for that. So hold that thought. Sothey're juggling in their mind, these pieces of information as they can. Hello,and what they're, what they don't want to do. The expert is interrupted therhythm of the person who's disclosing information. You know, the old saying is,you know, when your opponent's beating themselves, get out of the way, uh, andsome negotiators will tend to, when they hear the first or second nugget of newinformation, they'll, they'll go, Oh, I'm going to pounce go, Oh, what do youmean?

I got you. You, you just admitted that Dustin's such, andthen the other person freezes up. And to go and kind of comes back toconsciousness and says, okay, Oh, excuse me. You can care of Sarah. Don'tworry. I can, Oh shit. I just screwed up. Yeah. Right. And then they lock upand you've lost that opportunity. Uh, you, you basically broken their ownself-destructive flow in the negotiation as it were.

And so that's the benefit of juggling, uh, as much aspossible while they're going sooner or later, they're going to stop. They'regoing to come to their senses or, or you're going to have to inquire. But thenwhen you decide, well, they've given me, let's say they've given me eightpieces of information in the last 12 minutes.

Um, and I feel very lucky to have accumulated these, whichone of these eight do I want to put out and take a deeper dive on now that theyserve? So my response to you might be, but it's interesting about five minutesago, you said something about, uh, you know, the, the. I'll just use an examplefrom my world, uh, prior art search that you did on this particular patent.

And you're telling me about that you think is Bulletproofand you've got six applications going at a bunch of different countries, whichis great. Um, uh, you know, that's a real asset, uh, but tell me a little moreabout that prior art search, because it sounded to me like you're notcomfortable that it could survive challenge.

And so then I pick one, what edge just strategically, uh,and, and take a deeper dive on it and it, and then try again and basically tryto iterate the process and get them to start opening up about this topic thatthey've now given me. And so I'm iterating themselves against themselves. It'ssomething that trial lawyers do, uh, very effectively.

Usually, uh, on cross-examination is that they get a witnessto, they can trap a witness with a decision tree, a question tree. It's thesame thing as a decision tree, except it's questions, you know, which answeryou're going to get? Yes, no, it takes you here. Yes, no, it takes you here.And then you can elicit a conclusion based on that tree.

And then you can say, okay, now, based on this conclusion,cause right, you just admitted X. Um, and then you can press them on X, whichyou didn't have before you began. And so your structure gets you to act on across exam. And in this instance, listening gets you to X and then you have anugget that you can work with and you can play with, um, and the idea of goingback to the idea of juggling your nuggets.

Uh, that sounds kind of weird juggling your

Boomer Anderson: [00:29:10]modules. Uh, I was gonna, I was gonna say something like, how do you chooseyour nuggets? So that's going to be,

David Johnson: [00:29:17]you know, the, the D T to be honest in a negotiation, you know, cause you'veprepared well enough in your negotiation, you know exactly what bits ofinformation or goal.

So we're, we're, we're juggling gold nuggets and you pickone to talk about at that moment, which means by definition, you're saving theothers. And then the question is how do you sequence the others in a way that,uh, is most advantageous to you? And, um, You know, this is the point wheretalking about negotiation theoretically or in a vacuum has to stop.

And it requires a factual base context to be able to say,you know, what you would do going forward from there, but it does tee up thenotion of timing. Uh, I'm a big advocate of the idea, uh, that, uh, that whenyou do say, do or say something in a negotiation is as important. Often asimportant as what you do or say in the negotiation because too many young negotiatorslawyers in particular who have prepared fully and they've got their argumentsall laid out.

When they go into a negotiation, the first thing they wantto do is I want to say my piece. I want to make my argument. I want itparticularly if my client is there, I want to show my client that I'm here andI'm going to make their case that I prepared and I am prepared and I am goingto make the other side sit and listen to our argument, to our openingstatement.

And by doing that, I'm going to change their mind. That is,

Boomer Anderson: [00:31:00]is that, is that just a hundred percent the wrong thing to

David Johnson: [00:31:04]do, right? 90% of the time, it would be the wrong thing to do. Okay. Somecontexts you might want to do that, but it would be, you'd have to make aconscious strategic decision that that's the way you're going to go.

But generally speaking, uh, you can deploy that argumentacross an entire day or two or three days of negotiation. There's no reason tostart and just use the first half hour of the negotiation to deploy thatargument. Your argument probably will improve across two or three days. If youengage in the information exchange part first, uh, and get more information,because then what you're looking for is information that supports yourargument.

There's nothing more persuasive in the courtroom. Uh, andevery trial lawyer will tell you this, there is nothing more persuasive in anycourtroom, criminal or civil than a statement from the opponent that fits yourargument and helps your argument because it is well it's, it's obvious whetherit's a judge or a jury, they're going to say, well, wait a minute.

His argument incorporates the story he's tellingincorporates admissions and statements and evidence from the other side, it hasmuch, it's much more muscular in its appearance of truth than if it's justsomething I have crafted as an argument or a story. I'll stop there for a sec.I'm not, I,

Boomer Anderson: [00:32:35]I think you're going on a very good point here around timing and just

what I want to get into a little bit too, that, thatoverplaying. Component of it. And some of the things that you've mentioned tome in our email exchange is, um, let's take, and I want to define overplaying alittle bit here too. So if I overplay as your opponent, and let's say we'resitting across the table together is an overplaying giving you too muchinformation.

Um, is an overplay, uh, is an overplay just sort ofdemanding too much of you or just sitting down and laying out the arguments allup front. Is that an overplay in that case? Or what, what exactly, what anoverplay be.

David Johnson: [00:33:27]I think overplay is more mental than it is physical, which is to say, you know,somebody comes in and is loud and boisterous and competitive and argumentative.

That to me, isn't necessarily overplaying. I don'tpersonally like that style, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'reoverplaying. Overplaying is extending your position beyond, uh, uh, what it cansupport. Uh, the classic analogy is going too far out on the branch of thetree. Uh, your, your argument has a certain amount of weight, but the more youextended out the branch, the less support it has the sooner later that it'sgoing to break the branch and fall to the ground.

So I've got a, you know, I I'll tell a story withoutdisclosing company names. That to me was, is an example of, uh, several aspectsof, you know, In the fire negotiations. Um, so years ago, um, some of this ispublic information, so, and none of it is attorney client privilege. Um, yearsago I represented a, uh, large, uh, pharmaceutical and medical device,distributor distribution company that had done a deal with a small medicaldevice company, a startup in Silicon Valley.

And they did a major contract, 10 year distributionagreement, lots of investment. Uh, it was a real partnership and everythingwent fine until the product didn't sell. It just didn't sell for a variety ofreasons. And. Uh, we severed the agreement, uh, because certain representationsabout the product had not been met and the other side sued us.

So, uh, for a lot of money, so accelerate to, uh, just afterthe litigation had been filed a party to starting a lineup discovery, theparties agree to meet, to having to go station, to see if they can resolvethis. And curiously what this is, this was the first time this had happened tome. I know it happens a lot.

One company's on the East coast of the U S one's on the Westcoast of the U S so they decide all the principals are gonna hop on a plane andfly out to Chicago. Of course, O'Hare airport. And unbeknownst to me, that'swhere I don't know which hotel chain it is, but one major hotel has their hotelin O'Hare airport and they have, it's really interesting.

Something on the order of 50 or 60 contract.

Boomer Anderson: [00:36:16]How many, how many deals get done there a year?

David Johnson: [00:36:19]Yes, exactly. And, uh, They have automated electronic signage and all theconference rooms. And you can just reserve a main conference room. You reservebreakout rooms, the whole nine yards, and you just come in, you stay at thehotel, you do your negotiations and then you part ways.

And, and so in that way, it was really convenient. So we allgot together and met for the first night of what was supposed to be two ormaybe three days worth of negotiation. Now, interestingly, the other side'slawyer, uh, called us up, I don't know, two or three nights, uh, two or threedays before the meeting and said, uh, actually it wasn't the lawyer.

It was the. It was the president of the company called us upand said, Oh, our side is going to, our lawyers are going to make apresentation, but the night we get there, we have a two hour meeting. Ourlawyer is gonna make a presentation. We think your lawyer should come make apresentation. And I was that lawyer for the defendant.

And I told my boss, I said, no, they go, what? Why not?They've been working on this presentation for two months. And they're the oneswho asked for this meeting. They are trying to corner us into a substandardproduct with insufficient information and try and create an asymmetricalappearance of closing of basically two opening statements at trial.

But they have this enormous advantage. The way that wecounter that is to refuse to do this, do this statement. And we're not going tosay why, and we're going to sit there and listen very politely and listen towhat they have to say. And we are going to ask no questions. And I, I said thisvery clearly, and you see, you know, young lawyers saying to president generalcounsel, VP of sales, of a major company, uh, you are not going to ask anyquestions you're going to, no matter what they say, you're going to show noreaction.

You're going to nod. Say thank you very much. We'll see youtomorrow morning. And so the trial lawyer, uh, a really brand name nationallyknown intellectual property trial lawyer comes in. Sure enough, he does thisdog and pony show and we're watching the slides and we're watching the talkand. He makes a, he presents a case in and closes with a demand for if Iremember correctly, compensatory plus some punitive damages in the amount of,uh, I want to say two, two and a half billion dollars, which was wildly,wildly, wildly out of proportion of what this deal was really all about.

And I could see my guys getting really nervous and gettingvery angry, but to their credit, they did exactly what they're supposed to. Andthat we had a meeting after everybody broke, we had a meeting and they said,okay, well, what are we going to do tomorrow? I said, I'll have, I'll tell youtomorrow morning I was sweating bullets, but I went back to the room and I juststrategized.

And I realized that they had overplayed their hand and. Uh,I did a little research on the internet. Uh, came up with my strategy. We wentback in the next morning and I said, guys, they're asking for 1.2, 1.4, themit's coming to me. And he goes about 1.4 billion in damages for our breaching acontract with them.

I went online last night. This is a public company that's tradingon the pink sheets at 98 cents per share. And I looked at their latest, uh, 10K and they list assets 37 patents, or so some of them they own, some of themhad exclusive licenses, all of which are transferable. And I argue, I, Iballparked the value of those patents.

And I S and I did some back of the envelope math, and I saidto the president of the company, I said, You could probably go onto the marketand buy this company somewhere between 15 and $20 million and own the assets ofthe company, lock, stock and barrel and whatever, uh, pension plan they mighthave and terminate everybody, take the assets and kill the litigation.

I said, I'm not saying just suggesting you should do that,but this now prices the deal. And because they have overreached. Soegregiously, this is a story we can also tell the jury, uh, about what the realvalue of this company is and how can the damages for litigation exceed thevalue of the company. And so he got all excited.

He goes, this is great stuff. Uh, let me go in there andtalk to the other, the other side right now. I said, no, you're going to gohave a one-on-one meeting with the president of the plaintiff's company, butyou're not going to do it. First thing in the morning. I want you to go inthere and play dumb and let him extend and adopt and extend that the press thatthe president adopt and extend the argument that his lawyer made all throughthe morning session break for lunch, go back after lunch.

And then you, then you drop the bomb on him. Played it exactlythat way. So we had these guys extended out on the branch, but that was thelawyer speaking. If my guy went into the first thing in the morning, then thepresident says, well, that's my lawyer speaking. He doesn't know what he'stalking about.

I'm going to fire him as soon as he hears the argument andrealizes the trouble he's in. So we then let the president of the company. Alsogo out on the branch with the theory and attach himself to that theory. Andcognitive bias tells us that when people make an argument, uh, publicly meaningto someone, some other person or to the world, they are biased to defend thatposition rather than admit they're wrong.

Sunk cost

Boomer Anderson: [00:42:48]fallacy, right? Sorry. It's like the sun cost fallacy you've already made it.So you're just going to fall, fall forward

David Johnson: [00:42:55]against. Yeah, it's a at that's just a, yeah. Sunk cost is the same cognitivebias. And so I wanted to get the president, the decision maker on thelitigation all completely bought in as well.

So when after lodged, the president went in, our guy went inand spent about an hour and a half and they came out and, and uh, they said,okay, we're done. The other guy, uh, you know, uh, looked like, I dunno, Caseyat the bat, walking away from the plate, but, uh, we reconvened at about fourthat afternoon and they, they had reached a settlement for something like, uh,0.04% of their demand to make the case go away.

And we all met again at the, at the conference table and,uh, it, you know, let's face it. I'm telling you a story where I was central tothe victory, but the reason the story to me is so powerful is I didn't have aclue going in. To that evening session the night before what was going tohappen or what my leverage would ultimately become.

But the leverage came from the other side's overplay. Thenonce I saw that it became a matter of timing things in a way where the newinformation would have optimal value, you know, in a pick your sport in tennis.It's well-known that there are certain points that are more valuable thanothers, and the most valuable point in tennis, by the way.

And this is told to me by Billie Jean King herself, I assumeit's still true in the modern game. Sorry, Billy is the point before breakpoint. If the most important, the most valuable thing you can do is break aposer. You're your opponents serve. That's how you win. Get matches. The wayyou break the opponent serve is to get a break point.

But you have to earn the break point to get to break point.So the point that gets you to a break point is the most valuable point intennis. And, uh, so you have to do things differently when you're in that pointbecause of the weight that's on, uh, on winning that point, same thing with abaseball pitcher, uh, who has a strikeout pitch.

You can't show the strikeout pitch. It doesn't have anyvalue to you until you have two strikes on. Then when you have two strikes onyour strike-out pitch, the valuation of that pitch goes up 1000%. And so it's amatter of tiny could be, you could be the third pitch. It could be the 12thpitch of the at-bat before you can pull that one out of your pocket and have itplay.

That takes me back to your juggling silently, uh, for lackof a better phrase, these nuggets of gold or your strike-out pitches, andyou're waiting for the right optimal time to throw that pitch. Uh, and thatmakes all the difference in negotiation because ultimately negotiation ispsychological war. And when you inflict the fatal blow psychologically on yourcounterparty it's game over, even if they don't yet know it.

Boomer Anderson: [00:46:27]Wow. Okay. I want to go on to the psychological war, uh, component. And I thinkDavid, if it's okay with you, I want to spend just sort of our remaining timetogether looking at both from a business perspective, but also from a personalperspective, because obviously there's negotiations and everyday life conflictresolution being one of the ones that you alluded to earlier, uh, let's go downthe business route first because there's a lot of people listening to thispodcast that are business owners, um, tech companies, but also, uh, you know,in finance, et cetera, in, in negotiation in regards to business and justbringing up the one that you just alluded to, uh, the roles that the roles thatvarious people play, whether it be, uh, your general counsel, uh, w.

You know, can we just go through sort of the role of thegeneral counsel, possibly the role of the executive within a negotiation?Because I imagine that there are a couple of entrepreneurs here saying like,Hey, I could do the negotiation myself. Um, but what are the importance ofthose people and why can't we just hire somebody from external counsel, for

David Johnson: [00:47:38]instance,

Boomer Anderson: [00:47:42]get married. I'm going to Portugal for a couple of weeks. Then from there, I'mgoing to the United States for one potentially two months. What does that meanfor my routines? I just dropped a bomb in them. They're all gone. In fact, Ihave to adjust to make new routines when I'm on the road. And how do you keepfit?

How do you build muscle while you're on the road andbouncing from place to place, time zone, to time zone, et cetera, et cetera.The device I'm going to be chucking in my carry on bag is the be strong bloodflow restriction training has made my life a hell of a lot easier when it comesto traveling. I get an effective workout in 10 to 20 minutes, and I even comeback from my vacations looking sometimes better than I did when I was here.

So I don't miss out on the fitness I put on muscle and ittakes up very little space in my carry on bag. What's wrong with that? Getyours@bestrong.training and use the code boomer for 10% off.

David Johnson: [00:48:45]Hmm. So a lot of good questions there, so yeah, just

Boomer Anderson: [00:48:49]layered them on you.

David Johnson: [00:48:52]Yeah. So let's, let's just, uh, define a fictional C-suite for the moment, uh,of, uh, of no such thing as an average company, but at the average sizecompany.

So you've got, let's say four people in the C-suite at leastmaybe five CEO, COO, uh, CTO, CFO. I'll, I'll throw in a GC, uh, and that's apretty small, uh, cadre it's possible that the best negotiator in that groupcould be any one of those players. Um, And experienced GC should be incontention for being one of the best negotiators, but that's not always thecase.

And sometimes you have a young GC who's really good with thelaw, but may not be your best negotiator. Uh, I definitively we prefer nothaving the CEO be the lead negotiator because you want not even if they are thebest negotiator, because you want them to be the authority figure so that theyare distanced from the person doing the speaking so they can countermandsupersede or change, uh, with their authority, something that somebody elsesaid.

But if the CEO says it at the table, it ha it, it gains thepatina of being binding when it comes out of the mouth of the CEO. That's whyyou don't want the CEO, even, even if they're brilliant. Uh, I think that'sjust a good rule of thumb to have. So, uh, In an instance where you don't havea shining negotiator, uh, in your C-suite, you might want to hire a very seniorexperienced outside lawyer to be the lead negotiator.

Particularly if it's going to be a tough one because theyget to play bad cop a little bit more. And they don't, by being an outsidelawyer attached to XYZ law firm, they can be tough. But when the deal is done,they're out of the picture and they haven't, the damage has not really landedon the parties, per se.

If it's the VP, the chief technology officer, who's playinga very aggressive hardball role in the negotiation after a deal is done. Andthe CTO then has to spend the next year in meetings with the counterparty CTO.And he was a jerk in the negotiation that negative is going to flow through thedeal it's going to flow through.

If it's an acquisition, it's going to flow through theintegration. So sometimes bringing an outside negotiator in tough negotiationsis the right move. And oftentimes outside counsel's the right person. Thereason. I hesitate away from that is we had a saying, and, uh, I was taught asa trial lawyer that the, the, the, if it's at all possible, the way you win atrial is by having one lawyer.

The trial lawyer have the entire case in one head, bigcases, oftentimes get split out across four or five lawyers. And one lawyerwill handle this subject area. One lawyer will handle the experts. One lawyerwill handle the fact witnesses. Lead counsel will handle opening and closingand objections, et cetera, et cetera.

But when you break it up, you naturally, uh, distribute theknowledge. And things can get missed when it's all in one mind, the it's harderto do it, but what it's all in one mind, whether it's a trial lawyer or a negotiator,then you can see how things fit in other places in the deal structure. And, uh,outside counsel is at a serious disadvantage in that regard because they don'tlive and breathe the business for years on end.

They come in and then they come out. Uh, and so the reason Ifavor having somebody out of the C-suite negotiated major deal is for thatreason is they have a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses ofthe company and its business and its people. And also at the detail level, the strengthsand weaknesses of their arguments in this particular negotiation, the plusesand minuses of the deal points.

Uh, and so inside the C suite. Uh, it could be any number.It could be even be two. People are going to be negotiating as a team, althoughthere should always be one lead in one second. Um, but the primary reason Ilike having the lawyer do it aside from sort of my per my obvious bias of beingthe general counsel myself is, uh, in a way it relieves all of the chiefofficers of the burden of having to be nice or be conciliatory in an, in anegotiation.

Uh, it protects their reputation. So when the deal is doneand integration begins, they are not tainted by oath because everybody can justsay, Oh, that's our asshole lawyer. You just got to understand, you know, youknow, he's the devil, but he's our devil. So, you know, look just ignore him.We'll keep him out of the room as we go forward and do this, uh, you know, dothis great flying car project or something.

Uh, so I believe strongly that GC should be senior enough.GC, uh, in-house counsel should be in the C-suite team. Um, but they have adifferent kind of a role to play. And one, one additional thing is they shouldknow the law. They should know the law, uh, specific to the deal, uh, and thesubject matter. Uh, and so.

Every deal has legal components to it, and so better to havethat person involved in the negotiation because of the legalities. Uh, andparticularly if the counterparty is putting their lawyer upfront to negotiatein a deal, you don't want to put a non lawyer opposite them because the firstthing the lawyer do is start flexing their legal muscles, whether it's true ornot, they can, they that you've given them an inherent knowledge advantage tobamboozle or confuse, uh, or get a psychological advantage over the non lawyer.

So if you're going to do non lawyer negotiation, leadnegotiator, Make sure if you're going to put your CTO up as the leadnegotiator, make sure they're going up against a non lawyer, insist on it. Thatit be that the CTO on the other side or the equivalent. And the other thing isthey, the, if the companies are relatively equal size, the negotiators shouldbe of equal seniority.

Don't let your CEO go in and then find themselves, findDino. Apple was famous for this sending in a medium level VP to negotiate withthe CEO of a vendor. Uh, it creates a. Terrible, uh, playing field at the, atthe table,

Boomer Anderson: [00:56:21]kind of double click on that, because it's just kind of interesting that youbring up Apple and I've certainly heard of these kinds of case studies.

And as a lover of game theory, I'm just kind of looking atit and saying, okay, is Apple doing this because they're cocky or are theydoing it to say like, Hey, you know, vendor, we can replace you at any giventime. Um, what is the angle there from Apple? And, you know, I can see how itwould piss off a CEO.

Uh, certainly, and I imagine you can com probably transportthat to like Walmart as well, too.

David Johnson: [00:56:59]Yeah. So I don't, I, I need to be fair to Apple. I, I, I mentioned Apple therejust because it was first to mind because, uh, a friend of mine who used to bethe. Uh, GC at, into it. Um, I'm sorry, Eddie Intel. Did I say into it?

The GC at Intel told a story of how they had negotiated. Hehad negotiated opposite Apple and Apple negotiate has a reputation fornegotiating. Very, very, yeah. Tough. And that came from Steve. Steve managedthe negotiation team from behind the scenes. Yeah. And it, it was verycarefully orchestrated and it was very hard as, and it was in further into, Ithink personally, the way I read the story, it was in furtherance of Steve'sbelief in a brand inclusion reputation.

Yeah. And so, uh, the way the story was told to me is Stevewould always, Steve was the guy closure. He would come into the room, uh, whenthe parties got stuck and the parties would get stuck because he instructedthem to get stuck. And then Steve would come in and use his, uh, you know,famous forcefield, uh, a distortion reality distortion field.


Boomer Anderson: [00:58:22]That's what Walter Isaacson called it in the biography.

David Johnson: [00:58:24]Right. So I've never experienced it with the, but the, by my friend, uh, fromIntel said, it's true. He was in the room. He said it is undeniably true. Uh,and it's amazing to watch. And he comes in and, you know, it's the, you know,these, aren't the droids you're looking for kind of forced and the deal getsdone.

So that's how Apple does it. That's the only reason I pickon Apple here at this moment. But when I was in a small startup, uh, in myfirst. GC job. We always talked about dealing with the 800 pound gorilla. The800 pound gorilla could be, like you said, Walmart could be, Apple could be a,this was before Facebook or Google for us.

It was DoubleClick was the 800 pound gorilla. But, um, thereis a different strategy to take with the 800 pound gorilla. They will alwaysmake you believe that there's a bunch of other vendors that they could just aseasily go to as you, uh, but that's almost never true. If they're at the tablewith you, if the 800 pound gorillas at the table with you, there must besomething that they want.

I'd say 10% of the time they're using you as a stockinghorse when they intend to do a deal with somebody else. But 90% of the time,they're interested in something that you have that fits a Lakota in theirsystem. But they're not going to tell you that. But you have to assume that ifthey're at the table, then there must be something they want and that you havethat others don't.

So this, the going back to the basics, uh, is the differencebetween power and leverage. And I like this little story about the differencebetween power and leverage because everybody understands it. And this story Ithink, is in Shell's book also, but I'm sure preceded Shell's book, which is,uh, imagine yourself home at night at the dinner table.

And you're trying to get your six year old daughter to eather vegetables. She doesn't want to eat her vegetables and you want her to eather vegetables. Now in this scenario, power is the power of the parent. Overthe child, not just physical strength, then maybe that's the least of it. Thepower of putting a roof over the head, educating feeding clothing, uh,protecting the child.

All of the power is with the parent, what the child has inrefusing to eat. The vegetables is leverage by holding out and not eating thevegetables. The child's leverage increases to a point until they get sent totheir room, increases to a point that's leverage and curiously, the more theparent insists on the child, eating their vegetables.

The more that leverage goes up. And so. Uh, usually thechild will cut a deal. Uh, you know, I get dessert or an extra half-hour TVtime and the parent will say, yeah, if you eat the vegetables, the vegetablesare gone and child won the negotiation. But that to me is the distinctionbetween power and leverage.

So when you're, when you're a small company dealing with the800 pound gorilla, the thing to remember is they have the power, but, uh, youcan create leverage. And the more reticent to you show. Which is unusual toshow to a company of power. You can tease out how much they really want, whatyou have and the more they show their hand about how much they want, what youhave, the more leverage you have.

And the more you can level the playing field with respect tothe deal terms. Now, sometimes you just can't develop leverage. Sometimes asthe small guy, you just have to take the deal it's offered to you. If you're anew product that you want to get on the shelves of Walmart, you just take thedeal and you hope that your product speaks, uh, to the customer.

And that's where you gain your leverage for the nextnegotiation. Um, so I went off track there a little bit. So why don't you toreel me in and take me where you want me to go,

Boomer Anderson: [01:02:52]David. That was fascinating. And so I want to just kind of, because we'recoming up here on time and I want it before, and I know.

That you and I are going to have multiple conversations inthe future because we didn't even get to a design thinking in its relation tothis. But, uh, when it comes to things like conflict resolution and it justsort of the personal, uh, element of negotiation, what are thing, basic tipsthat are not even basic tips, but like things that people should be doingbetter in, uh, negotiations, because conflict resolution happens everywhere,for instance, uh, relationships, whatever it is.

Uh, what are sort of the elements that you kind of witnesseither walking down the street or with your students, et cetera, that you saylike, Hey, we should be doing this differently.

David Johnson: [01:03:45]Yeah. Um, so specific to conflict resolution and let's generally speaking, stayin the personal realm. Uh, I would say.

Preparation that doesn't have to be this, not the same kindof preparation you would do for a commercial negotiation, but preparation inthe sense of really thinking about the issue that you want to address toaddress. There's a really good book, by the way, by Sheila HeNe H E N calleddifficult conversations has almost entirely to do with managing difficultconversations in the personal context.

Um, and, uh, I would add in addition to thinking about theissue, the difficulty of a conversation that you plan to have, which will beconflict resolution. But, uh, sometimes I like to think of them as difficultconversations because it takes the conflict piece out of it. It focuses on thecommunication, um, really.

Challenging yourself to think from a 360 degree perspective,uh, the issues at hand, and that means viewing it in your, from your own pointof view, which is sort of the default assumption for every one of us. We thinkabout it from our own point of view first, and then really exercise yourempathy to see it from your counter parties side.

So if I'm going to have a difficult conversation with mywife, for example, I try really hard to see it through her eyes, even if Idon't agree with the words that she had said, uh, or, uh, the position that shetook, I still try and absorb as best as I can, how she sees the world. Notnecessarily because I'm going to convince myself to agree with her, but thatgives me the opportunity.

To shape what I'm going to say in a way that it fits betterwith her view of the world lock and key kind of concept. And then here we go totiming. I can't emphasize it enough, pick the right time to have theconversation. And oftentimes that's not a particular time of day or the week.Oftentimes it's a read of your counterparties, emotional state and whether ornot they're prepared to have the conversation to hear what you have to say.

And then thirdly, this is another whole area that I talk alot about in class. Um, and I become more and more, uh, every day almost awareof, uh, and once you start thinking in these terms, it becomes very apparentword choice. Uh, most of us speak in day-to-day conversation, uh, off the cuffquickly. And we're not consciously choosing our words.

We kind of use words that were there, that we are used to,that we're comfortable with. That nobody seems to be terribly offended with.Uh, we use a basic vocabulary, et cetera, et cetera. I'm not saying you got togo get esoteric words. No, that's not what I'm saying, but just certain wordscan trigger positive reaction.

And other words can trigger negative reaction in, in themidst of a difficult conversation. Remember just like the tennis, the mostimportant tennis point. Sometimes these key words, these trigger words havesuch outsized importance in a difficult conversation that choosing which wordto use, uh, makes all the difference in.

Getting getting the communication, the conversation to moveforward on a path of resolution than allowing it to get distracted or, uh, uh,sideswiped by somebody taking umbrage at some word that I used. And it could bea pretty simple word. I not thinking of an example right now, but every one of uscan think of an example where we said something to a significant other orspouse.

I go, Oh man, I wish I hadn't used that word that just, youknow, I mean,

Boomer Anderson: [01:08:10]even choice of pronouns. Right. It's yeah. Simple things like that. It canreally just piss people

David Johnson: [01:08:17]off. Yeah. And so, uh, I tend to, as you probably already noticed, I tend tohave hesitant in my speaking and that's a little bit of a bad habit, but italso is a habit that I learned because it gives me an opportunity to besomewhat conscious, somewhat, uh, deliberate about the words that I want to usein the next phrase and the next sentence in negotiation.

It works really well. Uh, and in trials it works reallywell. I started trying cases in the day when court reporters took down and theystill do took down the words verbatim on paper. So a pause doesn't really showup. So I can stop in the middle of the sentence and then keep going, havingchosen my words carefully, but it just reads as a simple sentence.

And, you know, that's a scale trial lawyers learn how tospeak written English, how to speak written English is, uh, at a SA it's.Sometimes it's why we sound stilted because we're, we're basically dictatingcomplete sentences for the paper as opposed to having an oral conversationwith, with friends. But I digress.

So the, the, I think the real takeaway in a nutshell fordifficult conversations with family and friends is, uh, empathy  for the other side's point of view. However,uh, you may not agree with it at least empathize. So you understand it shapeyour overall strategic statement. To fit their understanding of the world.

Uh, don't necessarily ask them to abandon theirunderstanding of the world. Uh, but at the same time, explain your understandingof the world and invite them to explain their understanding of the world, uh,in a kind, and I can't emphasize, this is how I start every class innegotiation. Since I started the rules are kindness and honesty.

We're going to be honest with one another in ourcommunication, but we're going to be kind in doing so. And to me, that thatgets you 85, 90% of the way to avoiding mistakes. In having a difficultconversation. And I think mistakes are the biggest problem in difficultconversations, not the subject matter of the conversation itself, but themistakes that get made in trying to have the difficult conversation, whichsends it off the rails because the tensions are already so high.

Boomer Anderson: [01:11:04]Brilliant David, this is fascinating. I want to wrap things up with just afinal couple of questions. They give these as rapid fire. All right. What'syour top trick for enhancing your focus

David Johnson: [01:11:20]for enhancing my focus? The way I think about it is heightened awareness. Uh, Iwant it in instances where I want to height my awareness, normally what I do.

Uh, and I do this for sports as well when I'm trying to getin the zone because it's basically the same thing. Uh, I try to wherever I amphysically, I try to shut out the door, uh, and it may be noise inside my head.One of the advantages of learning how to meditate a little bit is that you canOnCommand shut down the inner voice because that's the biggest obstacle toallowing your mind to do what it does so well and achieve heightened awareness.

And I kind of amplify, that's probably not the right word. Ifocus on my ear because you know, like when you go stand in the woods and you,you want to listen and you. Quiet your mind and focus on what you're hearing.Sometimes closing your eyes. You'll start to realize there are things you canhear in the woods that you wouldn't hear.

If you were just walking down the trail, thinking aboutyesterday's crazy stress. Uh, so what I need to achieve heightened awareness,it's quiet the mind and listen, carefully

Boomer Anderson: [01:12:59]book, which has most impacted your life.

David Johnson: [01:13:09]I'm going to go way back. There's a lot of them, but I'm going to go way backbecause of jumps to mind. I can't help it. Uh, it's called the glass bead gameby Herman Hessa. Um,

Boomer Anderson: [01:13:22]he's famous for as a Siddhartha.

David Johnson: [01:13:26]He is famous for Siddhartha. Yeah. But glass bead game was one that reallyaffected me, uh, when I was younger.

Uh, and you know, it's been a long time since I read it, butbasically it's, it's the narrative fictional story that exists solely for thepurpose of explaining a philosophy of life that is, uh, a blend of calmemotion, high intellect, and, uh, sort of like a Buddhist Taoist piece in theway.

Boomer Anderson: [01:14:06]Yeah. Where can people find out more about you David?

David Johnson: [01:14:10]Uh, I have a bio on the Stanford faculty directory page. It's an easy Googlesearch. Uh, I'm up on LinkedIn. Uh, if you want to see what I'm saying at anygiven moment, you can go to Twitter and chase me down. It's just Johnson atJohnson underscore David w cause it's a very common name.

Um, and I'll probably be saying something sharp about thepolitics of the day. Uh, but I am in the process of, uh, writing a book, uh, onclimate, uh, issues and design thinking as applied to climate issues. So I'mgoing to start, uh, spending my time on Twitter at least, and probably alsoLinkedIn. Uh, focusing on design thinking and climate activism for the nextyear.


Boomer Anderson: [01:15:02]well, you've just kind of hinted at what our next conversation is going to beabout. So, David, thank you so much for taking the time today. This isabsolutely enlightening and I can't wait to have

David Johnson: [01:15:13]you back. Uh, I appreciate, I, uh, I really enjoyed it. You asked greatquestions and uh, and I feel simpatico with your sort of demeanor in, uh, yourcalm all the way on the other side of the world and Amsterdam.

Uh, so, uh, I appreciate the way you managed it the wayyou're at it. And, uh, I look forward to our next conversation.

Boomer Anderson: [01:15:39]We cut that conversation short without even discussing David's classnegotiation by design. I look forward to conversing with him in the future, andI hope you guys enjoyed this episode. If you did head on over Apple podcast,Spotify, wherever you listen to your shows and leave a five star rating. Eachone of those helps in hell all, even read them on the show very soon.

But David was an Epic person to learn from. And I hope yougot a lot out of this conversation, cause I know I did the show notes for thisone are decoding superhuman.com/negotiation and have an absolutely Epic .


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