Gilbert Index

Master Negotiator

If you want to be a Master Negotiator, the single best thing you can do is save your money.

Because saving gives you a superpower, which is, the ability walk away from any business/job/money-related deal.

Almost everything having to do with money is a negotiation. Which means it pays to be savvy at negotiating so you don’t lose out on opportunities that come your way. And to be savvy at negotiating you don’t have to read books, watch TED Talks or attend how to negotiate workshops. Instead you can take a simpler and more effective approach: put your money in savings as saving is your most powerful negotiation tool.

I’ve headed up sales, business development and partnerships at several tech startups. And my job in large part was to cut deals with companies. Meaning my job was to negotiate. Negotiate deals.

And sooner or later the thing you learn in such a role is that the party that is truly and genuinely willing to walk away from the deal is always in the stronger position. Sure, both parties might be willing to walk away. No problem. That just means each is operating from a position of strength.

This might seem obvious. But, believe me, when you’re the one who’s willing to walk away, you come to appreciate—on a deep and visceral level—the raw power and success of this posture.

So what does this mean for you, the individual, and your personal finances? How do you put yourself in position so you’re always willing to walk away from a deal?

And by deal, I mean any deal that touches your personal finances. For example:

  • Applying for a job
  • Asking for a raise at your existing job
  • Asking to work remote instead of going into the office, or for some other benefit
  • Or trying to close a client, say, if you’re self-employed

Each of these deals requires a negotiation. And you put position yourself in position to walk away from the deal by having saved and built up a big fat reserve of cash before entering into the negotiation. Because this gives you the freedom and flexibility to say NO to any proposal that doesn’t work for you.

The mere fact you’re willing to say NO to anything and walk away from the negotiating table at the drop of a hat gives you tremendous leverage. So much leverage that I suspect it increases the likelihood your negotiating partner says YES to what you want.

And remember, you don’t go into the negotiation with the mindset you’re going to say NO. No, that’s not the case. Rather you go into the negotiation clear-eyed as to what you want. And if you don’t get what you want, bueno. You can walk away worry free because you don’t need the job or the pay raise or the client. Because you have a stash of cash to fall back on.

Now if you’re thinking there’s no way you can build up a nest egg large enough to ever reach such negotiating greatness, let me tell you a secret:

The secret is to want less things because wanting less means you need less money. And therefore less savings to reach negotiating greatness.

The meat and potatoes of the matter is: if you want to be a Master Negotiator, save your money.

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