Best Business Lessons

Episode 973: Best Business Lessons, with Kwame Christian

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Best business lessons on negotiating are lifesavers for business owners. Listen to Kwame Christian and learn some of the best business lessons ever!

The best business lessons can help forge your negotiating ability and allow you to navigate easily during tough conversations. Once you master this, you will survive and thrive even during uncertain times!

Kwame Christian, Esq., M.A. is a business lawyer and the Director of the American Negotiation Institute where he puts on workshops designed to make difficult conversations easier. As an attorney and mediator with a bachelor of arts in Psychology, a Master of Public Policy, and a law degree, Kwame brings a unique multidisciplinary approach to the topic of conflict management and negotiation.

His TEDx Talk, Finding Confidence in Conflict, was viewed over 160,000 times and was the most popular TED Talk on the topic of conflict of 2017. He also hosts the top negotiation podcast in the country, Negotiate Anything. The show has been downloaded over 350,000 times, and has listeners in 181 different countries.


What you will learn in this episode about the best business lessons:

  • How the global pandemic is adding new complexity to owning a business, and why Kwame’s best business lessons on negotiating can be a lifeboat for business owners
  • Why the pandemic has caused many contracts to become unstable due to “act of God” clauses, and why negotiating is the key to shoring up these important agreements
  • How negotiation skills can be used both offensively and defensively to help protect your business from instability, and to protect your clients and their interests
  • Why authenticity, empathy, and flexibility are crucial skills Kwame uses to help build relationships and navigate the complexities of negotiation
  • What steps Kwame follows to build empathy, trust, and collaboration with negotiation partners, and why asking questions helps him better understand their perspective
  • Why asking the magic question “what flexibility do you have?” is a secret weapon in your negotiating arsenal
  • Kwame shares key takeaways and pearls of wisdom from his book Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life
  • How Kwame has been able to plant a flag of authority in the realm of business negotiation, and how his focus on personal branding has been crucial for his success
  • Why Kwame defines his role simply as, “I make difficult conversations easier,” and how that clarity around his brand has helped create new opportunities
  • What significant growth developments and exciting projects have been happening for Kwame since his appearance in episode 845 of Onward Nation
  • Applying the best business lessons to your own business

How to Connect with Kwame Christian:

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Best Business Lessons: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success about the best business lessons from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning, Onward Nation. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host. Our special encore guest today is Kwame Christian. You may remember Kwame from episode 845. He’s a lawyer and the director of the American Negotiation Institute. From the great state of Ohio. Go, Buckeyes! Kwame. This is just going to be awesome. So this round two, where he teaches and shares strategies with business owners just like you and me on how to make difficult conversations easier.


His TEDx talk entitled Finding Confidence and Conflict Onward Nation. This is an amazing number has been viewed over 160,000 times, and it was the most popular TEDx talk on the topic of conflict in 2017. Kwame also hosts the top negotiation podcast in the country entitled Negotiate Anything. So when Kwame and I were going back and forth about how we could structure today’s encore to make sure it was super helpful and timely. He offered to share some insights around negotiating now as if your business life depended on it.


And given the choppy waters that are still there because of Covid, we thought that would be super, super helpful for you Onward Nation. So then Kwame followed that up with an offer to share some insights into how we can all lead, persuade and resolve conflict within our teams, especially if your teams are still working remotely. Okay, Kwame, so with all of that, and without further ado, welcome back to Onward Nation, my friend.


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Best Business Lessons: Kwame Christian’s Introduction


It is great to be back. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it. Oh my gosh, it is just a pleasure. So, I mean, we had so much fun, during, the first interview back in 845 and on a Buckeye talk, which was great, it was just awesome. But it is lovely to have you back in.


So even though, well, I shouldn’t say even though it’s been a couple of years since we’ve had a chance to do that first conversation. So bring us up to speed with what’s new with the business, with, you know, what’s new with you. And then we’ll dive into this. What? I’m sure is going to feel like a litany of questions that I throw your way.


No, I’m excited for this. I was going to lead with the Big Ten is back. That was my big news. But you already know that. So yeah, things are going really well. which is really great to say, considering where we are right now in the midst of Covid, we’ve had to pivot, we’ve had to adjust.


But I think the business and the team were stronger as a result of it. I published a book called Finding Confidence and Conflict was an Amazon bestseller. And people have been finding that helpful in the podcast has grown significantly. Lee, we just got word that we reached number six in the management section, right behind Harvard Business Review at number five.


So we’re really excited about that. And recently, I hate to admit that I’m slowly becoming a stereotype as a Caribbean American. Now I have four jobs. so we have director of the American Negotiation Institute. I also joined a law firm. So I’m practicing business law through a law firm called, Carlyle, Patterson and Murphy.


We have a team at ANZ that’s doing a great job. So they handle the management, and I show up and do the trainings. And so now I can practice. And, I also teach at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and also Otterbein University’s MBA program. So I’m busy. But it’s a good thing I don’t have a family.


Oh, wait. Yes, I have a four year old and a wife at home. Well, so compete for my time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Holy bananas. You are busy, aren’t you? Yeah, very. Wow. Well, that is great to hear, obviously. So, thank you for the context. So let’s dive into the negotiating topic.


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Best Business Lessons: Using Negotiation as a Lifeboat


So when you and I were going back and forth, and when I saw the negotiating like your business life depends on it. So I know there’s a lot of layers there, which we’ll get into. But why did you decide to name it that, like the topic that because obviously that’s very compelling. Yeah. Because I think there’s a lot of small business owners can relate to that.


You and I both, we owned businesses. As a lawyer, I work with small businesses and I can see the struggle. Having a successful business by itself is already hard enough. The statistics are against you succeeding. And then when you add a global pandemic that was accompanied by this economic downturn, it’s really tough. It’s been really tough for businesses to survive.


And so for me, I my motto is that the best things in life are on the other side of difficult conversations. So for me, I’m trying to think of how people can use negotiation as a lifeboat in these situations to kind of keep you afloat to make sure that you can get what you need and what you deserve in these tough times.


So what are you seeing as and I know that it’s going to run the gamut, but what are you seeing as some of those difficult conversations now that maybe might not have bubbled up, that might be different now than they were, let’s say, pre-COVID? Yeah. Well, it’s funny, as somebody who drafts contracts, you always have that closet that says force majeure. Where they say if there’s any act of God, as they say, whether it’s an earthquake, a fire, tornado or something like that, the contract can be rescinded or edited or something like that.


And we just write that in, who knows? Yes, a pandemic happened, and that’s one of the things that’s often put in there in the boilerplate in case of a global pandemic. There we go. And so there are a lot of contracts that are in jeopardy. And that’s challenging contracts that seemed secure before. And now people have an out.


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Best Business Lessons: The Contract Law


And so then you have a question and it’s really a negotiation question. But people will approach it as if it were a legal question. And it is to a certain extent, does this qualify for rescinding this contract or not? Now, the question of whether or not it qualifies from a legal perspective is very subjective. And here’s why. Because we don’t know if it is until a judge tells us otherwise.


We’re just kind of talking back and forth, put giving forth our legal opinions. We don’t know until a judge actually tells us. The cool thing about contract law is that it gives you the opportunity to create law. When you think about all of the laws that are in existence, even the tax code, hundreds, thousands of pages, the majority of the law is created by normal people like you and me in everyday contract, and we don’t know if it is legal or not until it’s actually litigated.


We have ideas based on precedent, but until then it’s really just discussion. And the vast majority of cases don’t get to the judge. That’s number one. Number two courts were shut down during Covid. So even if you wanted to litigate, it’s going to take a longer period of time. And so there were a lot of these contracts that were just floating in this nebulous world, trying to figure out what the future, where it lies. What does it look like? What is our relationship?


What are our obligations? Negotiation is the thing that can bring those contracts back into a position where we have some more clarity. Wow. Okay, so let’s take this back then to what you see as the biggest concerns, again, with this topic about negotiating as if their life, business, life depends on it. What are some of the biggest things that that hang off of that topic right now?


I would say we need to look at the things that have the biggest impact on the bottom line. So expenses, money going out and income money coming in. And so what has been impacted? First of all, what has been impacted. And then second of all, what potentially could be impacted? Because I don’t want people to get into a position where they are in this reactive mindset where they say, okay, I hope something bad doesn’t happen.


I hope something bad doesn’t happen. I don’t know what happened. Now I need to react. I want you to think ahead and recognize, okay, I can use negotiation to shore up these agreements before something bad happens. I can use negotiation as a tool to get a little bit more information so I can start to more accurately predict what the other person is going to do.


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Best Business Lessons: Offensive And Defensive Negotiation


So I can start to create strategies that make sense within my business. And so that’s where I want people to use negotiate. You can use it offensively to make sure income keeps coming in, and then defensively to make sure that expenses where you can maybe potentially lower the amount of expenses going out. Okay I love that. So let’s think offense defense in.


And so if I’m a business owner and I’m worried and concerned that you know my income stream, which was maybe pre-COVID feeling pretty solid because I had agreements and contracts in place. Now I’m worried that some of those contracts or agreements are going to maybe get canceled or whatnot. How do I be proactive? Or how do I use negotiation offensively in order to be good for my business?


But then also, how do I maybe be helpful to our clients too? Because I’m concerned about their business as well. Absolutely. Here’s what I would suggest doing. So here’s an example for me. So for me, as somebody with the American Negotiation Institute, my revenue was driven by getting on planes and traveling and teaching people. Overnight my business became illegal and impossible.


So that was challenging because you couldn’t travel, right? Exactly, couldn’t travel. And so every contract I had between March and July was canceled. So I had to do an online pivot. And so I recognized, all right, cashflow is going to dry up very quickly. So I need to create some negotiations. What if things get so bad?


What are the things that are potentially in jeopardy? Rents could be in jeopardy. And so before it became a problem, I reached out to my landlord and said, hey, this is the situation and this is the cash flow. I was very transparent with the numbers and I said, listen, if things don’t turn around come June, we might have to have another discussion.


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Best Business Lessons: Pre-Negotiating Possible Situations with The Client


But I want to put it on your radar. And so the thing is, this helps us to frame the dialog. Now we’re the people controlling the narrative. People appreciate it when you let them know what’s coming down the road. And so it was an opportunity for me to reaffirm the relationship and make sure that there was a clear commitment and let her know that listen, I’m not trying to not pay you.


I like paying my bills and I like being it on time. I want you to know, in the future, maybe a couple months down the road, that might have to change. And if it does, let’s have a conversation about how we can structure things and then how I can pay you back down the road. Thankfully, it didn’t get to that point, but I wanted to pre-negotiate it so we could have this conversation at a place where there was not that layer of stress and emotionality that would make the conversation significantly more difficult down the road. But it also is an opportunity for her to because if she’s not asking you, she’s thinking it again. 


And that ambiguity or the unknown is creating stress for her. So by you being proactive and having the conversation that gives her a chance to just relax for a little bit as well too. Right, exactly. And think about it. She’s probably going to have these conversations with other people and that’s a concern. And so I want to separate myself in that regard when it comes to my relationship with her.


And then when we think offensively, I have clients, I’m in contact with the clients. And I’ll be honest a lot to the client with the contracts that we do because it’s so simple. Kwame shows up and speaks. We would operate off to and off of a proposal. So there wasn’t any force majeure type of language or anything like that, legally speaking.


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Best Business Lessons: Always Think About Long-Term


Speaking as a business lawyer, I could have enforced those contracts and said, no, let’s still do this. Let’s still do this right. But I have to think about the relationship. So instead what I did is I had the conversation. I wanted to talk through it. I wanted to understand their needs and everything. And so instead of saying, hey, let’s cancel these things, I negotiated to reschedule it at a different date or reschedule it at a different date virtually something like that.


And so the fact that I wasn’t trying to hold them into a contract where circumstances clearly have changed. That built the relationship that they had with me. So I said, all right, as long as I survive this front half of the year down the road, I know these opportunities are going to come back in the digital form because I invested in the relationship using negotiation on the front end.


Okay. So let me give that back to make sure I’m tracking with you. I think I am. So it sounds like, of the contracts that you could no longer fulfill by traveling in person, it sounds like you proact Tively initiated those conversations. And then through that back and forth, some just went away, some were able to be rescheduled.


And like I said, but you’re able to work through all of those. But you took the initiative to start those conversations. Am I tracking with you? Exactly. And when I’m thinking about all of the ones that dropped off, I think it’s only two that completely dropped off. One of which was a conference that was just not going to happen anymore, and they weren’t sure if they’re going to bring it back the next year.


But the other conferences, who were they said, yeah, we’re going to do it next year. They were excited that I was willing to do that. And it created a good relationship. The thing is, we have to think long-term. It’s easy to think in the short term and have some tunnel vision when you’re worried about survival.


Right. But if you think in the long term, a client is worth a lot more down the road. Now, the thing is, not all clients or not all situations where companies are in that same situation. Other businesses are structured differently. And so with other businesses it was a lot less clear. So their negotiations were a bit more complex.


But again, you still have to take that proactive methodology to the conversation to start to figure out what you can do to salvage as much value as possible. And that’s why I use that word value intentionally because a lot of times people just think about value in terms of money. And it’s more than that. We have value in terms of relationship.


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Best Business Lessons: Being Creative Creates More Value


We have value in terms of timing. Value in terms of referral opportunities. I mean, the more creative you are about you where you come from, the more value you can put into the contracts. And so maybe money is tight for them now. Maybe they can give you some guarantees down the road. Those type of things, you have to think ahead and be creative and you can create more value in the process.


Awesome from the standpoint that like, what you’re suggesting here is really the courageous conversation. And but it’s also your clients, the host of those events. They were concerned, they were probably thinking, oh, geez, we need to make a phone call to all of the talent that is participating in you being one of maybe several.


And they’re thinking, oh, geez, those are going to be awful conversations and really kind of dreading it. And then it sounds like here comes Kwame proactively wanting to have the conversation. Not confrontational, but how can we be collaborative through this process? And probably some of those conversation with others weren’t so collaborative. And so that’s an opportunity for you to really stand out and become pretty memorable as well.


Right, exactly. And again, what I’m trying to do with the podcast, negotiate anything in the book finding confidence and conflict. So I really want to try to rebrand negotiation because the term negotiation often triggers thoughts of really high stakes, tense, stress-laden conversations that nobody really wants to have. And it doesn’t necessarily need to be that way.


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Best Business Lessons: Empathize With the Person’s Situation


It doesn’t need to be that way. The way I’m talking to you right now, Stephen, is the way that I negotiate. It’s an authentic approach to having these difficult conversations. And so when you approach it this way, people engage and it makes life a lot easier for everybody. And I think one of the main things we have to recognize is that nobody wanted to be in this situation.


Nobody’s trying to leverage you for undue gain in this situation. And that’s why I think it’s important to empathize with the people in their situation as well and say, listen, it makes sense that you want XYZ, even if those things that they want are contrary to your goals and might hurt your business. Listen, it’s not a personal thing.


I understand where you’re coming from. Coming at it from that perspective, and simply doing that helps to lower their defenses and helps them to reciprocate with that empathy and take the time to listen, to understand what you’re going through. And that really gets the gears turning and turning when it comes to the collaborative approach to negotiation. Okay. So great examples on the offensively, you know, point of view, I guess of of negotiating.


Are there some examples on the defensive side, the defensively that you mentioned a few minutes ago. Yeah. So the defensive side, that would be for example, the money going out. So the rents would be the example there. But there’s another one. It would be them paying you, not you paying them. So another example of money going out.


And so, it’s again a situation recognizing that the financial situation for both parties has changed. And then just again we we’re going to approach the conversation the exact same way. And the framework that I use, I call it the Compassionate Curiosity framework because that gives us an opportunity to actually have some clarity with the way that we’re going to approach it.


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Best Business Lessons: The Compassionate Curiosity Framework


So the first step of the Compassionate Curiosity framework is acknowledge and validate emotions. And then the next one is getting curious with compassion. And then the third one is joint problem solving. And the cool thing is that this is a framework that you can put on every single conversation that you have, every single one. I use it when I’m with my four year old, use it definitely when I’m talking to my wife, but also in these negotiations, because they’re going to be very laden with emotions, very laden with emotions.


Anytime money is involved, and especially when the future of the business is in jeopardy, people are going to be scared. They’re going to be frustrated. And I’m going to say, listen, it sounds like this has been really challenging for you, and then listen and hear how they respond. What are your biggest challenges right now? Okay, my biggest challenges are XYZ.


Then you can find creative ways to solve those challenges. Again, create value for them and then hopefully they reciprocate as well. And then the last step is joint problem solving. This is where you bring them to the table to actually have a discussion to figure out what could be done between the two of you to make the situation better.


So yeah, it’s about making sure that the money that is coming in keeps coming into some extent. And the money that’s going out, you can maybe negotiate for less to go out. But again, you want to make sure that you’re doing it the right way. 


Because the relationships do matter. This is so awesome. Just like last time in Onward Nation when Kwame was talking about compassionate curiosity that reminded me of this really cool and totally impromptu role play that he and I did during that episode, which was not only was it fun, but super educational. Illustrative of the points that he just talked about.


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Best Business Lessons: People Like to Be Seen


So, Kwame, let’s think about then the workplace. And for somebody who for a business owner is who is still leading a team remotely, is it the compassionate curiosity framework that they should take and apply into those situations as they’re trying to lead their team? Trying to negotiate those nuances? And so is that the framework they should apply?


Absolutely. And the only thing that changes is the emotion that’s being faced. Right. So what are they struggling with? They might be stressed I know this is stressful for you. You’re sitting at home. Your two year old is literally on top of your head jump. I see him jumping on your head right now and then that’s got to be really tough for you to do it.


Oh my gosh. Yeah. So you could say listen I understand it. It makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. And for you as a manager, if you can just see the heart of somebody and recognize the struggle. People like to be seen. There’s probably a legitimate reason why they are not performing to the level that they want to.


They didn’t wake up and say, I want to suck today. They’re trying their best. And so when you open up and empathize with them in that way, then they calm down. They’re going to have less defensive response. Now, we transitioned into getting curious with compassion. What are the challenges that you’re facing? How can we make this better?


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Best Business Lessons: Understand The Person’s Point of View


What can we do as far as work hours to to be more compatible with what’s going on at home? What can I do as a manager to be more supportive of you? Because usually I’m there, I can physically see you and I can adjust, but I’m not there anymore. So how can I lead you more effectively?


And so then you transition into the joint problem solving phase. That’s where you’re just trading proposals. It’s a brainstorming session that’s really the best thing. And again it’s just all about acknowledging the emotions. And sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s not. But as long as you start there and recognize that and get curious, ask a lot of open-ended questions.


You’re going to be in a good place. Yeah. It is. You’re saying that I literally just wrote that in my notes. We don’t ask enough questions to really understand the context or the other person’s point of view. It’s like we gird ourselves for battle, and we’re immediately at odds before the conversation even starts. And you’re giving us a framework of, let’s maybe ask some questions first to really maybe better understand that other person’s point of view context. What’s going on in their life that is maybe causing that to happen.


Right? Am I tracking with you here, too? Absolutely. That’s it. That’s really it. And the thing is, it’s really that simple. We overcomplicate things. That’s what makes it tough. So why do we do that? Like, I agree with you, but why is that? Is that in our nature?


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Best Business Lessons: Always Aim Your Questions


Like, why do we do that? Yeah, I think the reason why is because we believe that we persuade by telling people things by teaching them, hey, I have this wisdom. Once I take this wisdom out of my head and I put it in your head, then you too will have the wisdom and you will see the world the way that I do and as a result, change your behavior and perspective.


And then we tell people things and then they reject it. And then we say, well, maybe I should just tell them louder or maybe I should say the exact same thing differently. But the issue is that we’re not aiming, we’re not aiming. So imagine you’re going, you’re an archer, and then you just walk up with hundreds of arrows, and then you just start shooting the arrows, shooting the arrows indiscriminately.


That’s essentially what we’re doing here. But instead what we should do is we should take the time, take the time and aim, be steady and aim. And with questions as what we’re doing, we’re aiming, we’re finding the target through the power of empathy. We’re figuring out how they see, think and feel about the situation. Now that I understand that, I can tailor my argument for the challenge that’s in front of us.


But a lot of times we don’t do that. And so we’re just out here shooting and hoping for the best that that is that is a great metaphor. And I love how you said the power of empathy. Okay. So I want to be able to also ask you about your book. And because that’s new since the last time that we talked, but before we do that, anything else on these two topics?


Because I want to switch gears like, really quickly if we’re, if there’s still a couple of golden nuggets we ought to talk about as far as negotiating as if your business life depended upon it as well as also then the remote work teams and so forth. Right. I’ll say one thing on each. Okay. So when it comes to negotiating, like your business life depends on it.


You have to be creative. Look where money’s coming in. Look where money’s going out and look at those strategic opportunities. And especially look at the big numbers. The bigger the number, the more room there is for flexibility and the magic word. The magic phrase that you can use is what flexibility do you have? What flexibility do you have?


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Best Business Lessons: Don’t Micromanage


Stephen, if I knew this question before going to law school, I would have saved so much money because all of the people that I mentor who go to law school, I tell them to ask that question to financial aid 100% of the time. They get more money, really 100%. At one of my mentees got 7000 a year, so a total of $21,000 more.


By simply asking, what flexibility do you have? And why? Why is it a magic question? Because it’s disarming. It’s number one. It’s disarming. Number two, it’s open-ended. So, it requires elaboration. Number three, it’s subtly assumed that there is flexibility and it leads them towards that response. And so if the person says, well, I don’t have much flexibility, well, it’s me as a negotiator.


My negotiator ears told me that you do have some, and I want you to give that to me right. And I remember when I was presenting this, there was a woman who was in the presentation, and she got a call from a client in the middle of the presentation. Soon after seeing that slide, she dropped that line and negotiated a better deal during the presentation.


It’s crazy. It’s so simple, but so powerful. And then when it comes to the remote work type of situation, I think leaders can often fall into the trap of micromanaging. So you become that micromanaging boss, and it’s because you’re feeling a lack of a sense of control because you can’t see people. You don’t know what they’re doing like you usually do.


And so you get concerned. You get very concerned and so you’re constantly checking in. Do it this way. Do it that way, do it this way. And you’re not trusting your team. And they can feel that. And then they start to pull back. And so I think for the people who are under a micromanaging boss, again, use the compassionate curiosity framework.


What is it feeling? What is it feeling? It seems like this is a stressful situation for you. It’s probably tough not being able to see us and know that we’re actually doing what we say we’re going to do. Yeah, it’s really tough. Okay, so what can I do to make you feel more secure? And the reason I’m asking is because just to be candid with you, it’s tough for me to work when you’re constantly checking in.


And I know you’re doing it for a good reason, but it has this impact on me. So what changes can we make in this structure to make sure that I can do the work in a way that is beneficial for me and you can have the peace of mind to know that the work is coming at the right time.


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Best Business Lessons: Share Perspectives and Find Commonality


And so again, that’s negotiable too. And the way that you engage in that conversation makes it a lot more palatable for the other person as well. Okay. Holy bananas. That was a really cool role-play that you just did right there. That was a great blueprint. You know, all joking aside, I mean, that was awesome. Thank you.


Yeah. And again, we just have to keep it simple. We just have to keep it simple. And that’s why I love the framework. Acknowledge and validate emotions. So we’re labeling the emotion saying it sounds like it seems like. And then we’re validating it by simply saying that makes sense. That’s it. People want to know that you don’t think they’re crazy, and you can acknowledge and validate without agreeing.


It makes, I understand, giving you a perspective. That’s why you feel that makes sense. Then, you ask a few questions and invite them to find a solution for you. That’s it. You know, so I mean, when I think about, like, all of the stress within teams right now and people want their voices to be heard a good leader will do that and hear their voice may not agree with their opinion, but can still hear their voice and then hopefully make a collaborative decision.


But you just gave a great framework for a business owner and a teammate to be able to share their perspectives and find some commonality. Nobody, you know, loses their temper. And that was awesome. Thank you. Yeah. Again we and here’s the thing with the more emotional the conversation, the tighter you have to hold on to your form.


Because if you’re more emotional, I will say this. The first thing you want to say probably isn’t the right thing to say. They sound like words of wisdom right there. Yes, yes. So slow down, use the framework and keep your game tight. Because think about it in terms of sports. When people get tired, there’s their form get sloppy.


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Best Business Lessons: Lack of Confidence is the Biggest Barrier


That’s how it is. When you get emotionally fatigued, your form gets sloppy in these conversations and just like in sports, things start to break down. And so we want to make sure that you can keep it tight as long as you can during the conversation. And if you recognize you’re not emotionally stable enough to have the conversation at this time, that’s not an indictment on you.


That is a testament to your self-awareness that you can recognize. Now is not the time, but now is not the time. So I’m going to come back to it. You show a little bit of appreciation, let them know, hey, I appreciate you having this conversation with me. You’ve given me a lot of things to think about.


Let’s continue this conversation tomorrow. I want to think about this and then come back to it. Because one of the things I always say, especially having a four-year-old, is sometimes you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, sometimes you make some mistakes. You just can’t come back, bro. So you might as well slow it down and try again the next day.


That’s Kwame wisdom right there. Exactly. Oh, toothpaste back in the tube. I love that brushing. That’s experience. That is just awesome. Okay, so let’s, I know that we’re quickly running out of time here, but I would be remiss if we didn’t chat a little bit about your book and, so thinking about it from through the lens of a business owner.


What are some of, you know, maybe 1 or 2 of the biggest golden nuggets that you’d like to share with our audience about your book? Yeah. So, again, it’s called Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life. The thing that I like about it is that it helps you negotiate from the inside out.


Because for me, it doesn’t make sense to give recipes to people who are afraid to get in the kitchen. A lot of times, we give negotiation techniques and skills to people where the biggest barrier isn’t a lack of skills. The biggest barrier is a lack of confidence. And so the first 5,060% of the book is all based in psychology.


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Best Business Lessons: Have Confidence at The Beginning 


My background is in psych my undergrad degree in psychology. And so I want to help people to overcome this fear of negotiation, of fear of engaging in difficult conversations by treating it like a phobia. And I give them the blueprint to do that, because for me, I’m a recovering people pleaser. I mentioned it in the Tedxtalk, and in early in the book, I was not good at this.


I was not good at difficult conversations. But I recognized that, number one, it’s a skill that I can improve and number two, I can overcome the fear. And then you put that confidence and skill together. That’s where you really start to get those gains. And so again, it’s just all about that confidence at the beginning. We go more in depth on the Compassionate Curiosity framework and give a lot of examples of how you can use it.


But again, that’s just the bread and butter as long as you can have that, you’re going to be in a good position. So I’m going to, make a hypothesis here. And I guess you can contradict or validate the hypothesis. I mean, you’ve been working at this obviously for quite some time, and, you know, you did your TEDxtalk back in 2017.


You’ve had your podcast for years now. And, you know, obviously, you have built and you’re doing all of the training and teaching across the country now, obviously virtually based. And you’ve been in the classroom too. And so, you know, when I look at this body of work which is substantive, you know, for years, like you have planted your flag of authority in this topic of negotiation.


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Best Business Lessons: Make Difficult Conversations Easier


And so what I’m wondering is if, like, do you feel that that is, you know, weird kind of teasing when you’re giving your intro about, you know, for jobs and all of that. But in all sincerity, I think that. So I guess my hypothesis is that those opportunities are being attracted to you or maybe, you are attracting those opportunities because you have planted your flag of authority and have this very, very clear and impressive body of work.


So maybe that’s not a hypothesis out on a limb. And for many of our listeners, be like, well, duh. But would you would you agree with that? Absolutely, absolutely. You’re 100% right. And I really focused on personal branding at the beginning. And it’s very, I think that’s where it all comes from. And even if you think about it in terms of the persuasive spectrum, you have, maybe you’re having a negotiation or you’re trying to sell somebody. But before they even interact with you, they’re interacting with your content online.


They’re interacting with your persona online. And that in itself needs to be persuasive. And so you have to create a brand that and a cohesive narrative for yourself that can really speak to what it is that you provide. And again, keeping it simple, a lot of times if it takes you a paragraph or two to explain what it is you do, then you’re not doing it well.


And, that is something that I struggled with for years. And so then that came came down to it. I said, okay, well, this is it. This is my belief. I believe the best things in life are on the other side of difficult conversations. So what do I do? I make difficult conversations easier. That’s it. And so just saying I make difficult conversations easier.


That is sales. That’s negotiation. And then this year, with all of the social unrest, recognizing that people cannot talk about race, people don’t know how to talk about racial issues. So I put on a presentation on how to have difficult conversations about race. It blew up. We got media features and NPR, Forbes, CNBC, USA today, and now we’re negotiating book deals with publishers on that topic, but it’s still on brand.


And so I’m not going to be branded as a diversity guy. I just make difficult conversations easier. Earlier when Covid was going on. When it first started and it was new to everybody and everybody was online, we started talking about how to negotiate online. We had a big, negotiation, online negotiation and conflict resolution summit. We partnered with the Ohio State University, Morehouse College of Law, the Otterbein University, Ohio, Dominican and UC Davis, and we put on a free seminar.


Over 600 people all around the world came together to talk about best practices in online dispute resolution. And then we created a virtual handbook, 30 page guide, all for free to let people know, hey, we’re having trouble communicating online. It’s okay. We make difficult conversations easier. That makes sense. And so when people see that so clearly, they know what to come to you for.


Pre-order the ANI Negotiation Masterclass to learn the best business lessons


Best Business Lessons: Final Advice and How to Connect with Kwame


And so now, since the brand is growing and people are seeing that we are certainly generating more opportunities and it’s it’s really exciting. And the big one is fingers crossed we have the contract negotiated, not signed because of Covid, but a reality TV show. on conflict resolution for business partners. Really? Wow. Congratulations to my friend. That is awesome.


Thank you. So we still have to, hopefully the network buys it. They like the pilot and everything, but again, those are difficult conversations. I make them easier. And so it’s easy for people to see the connection. It it it is. And I love how you just said I make difficult conversations easier because that’s really easy to understand.


Right. And so really, really smart. Okay. So great. personal branding and so was the authority lesson there at the end. So thank you for that. I know we covered a lot and but before we go, before we close out and say goodbye and any final advice you want to share with us regarding the best business lessons? Any final recommendations? And then please do tell Onward Nation, business owners, the best way to connect with you. Yeah. 


So if you want to learn more, check out these free guides we have on how to negotiate. So, it’s over 15 free negotiation guides, salary negotiation, conflict resolution negotiation as an introvert, car negotiation, any kind of guide to kind of, imagine offer free at


You can get access to all of those free guides instantly. The next thing is connect with me on LinkedIn. everybody who connects with me gets a personal message from me and I just want to make sure that I’m connecting and I share ideas and thoughts and helpful tips almost every day on that platform.


So please reach out to me. And I’m assuming the listeners of your podcast even are podcast listeners. So please check out, the Negotiate Anything podcast as well. That is awesome. My friend. Okay, Onward Nation, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and listen to these words of wisdom in this episode or back in the original one.


In episode number 845, the key is you have to take action. He gave you the blueprint, everything you need in order to make negotiations was difficult. Conversations easier. He gave it to you generously. So take it, apply it in, accelerate your results and Kwame, be my friend. I am so very grateful that you took time out of your super-compressed schedule.


We all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. And thank you for sharing some of yours with us to help us move our business onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend. My pleasure. Thanks for having me again. 


This episode is complete, so head over to for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation.


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The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

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