Two-Cent #003

Negotiation, The Ackerman Model, & Hacking "Flow" States With Music Triggers
September 8, 2020

Good Evening Champions—

Since starting these memos 2 weeks ago we've grown from 11 people to 67! You guys rock, hard. Keep the energy coming!


Negotiation

The beautiful tango of information; verbal intercourse, if you will. It's an enchanting thing of ~ideally~ mutual benefit.  


There's 6 main tactics that I've learned from and implemented in the past. Many to the credit of Chris Voss and his book, Never Split the Difference.


I've used them successfully in situations ranging from $50K+ wholesale negotiations, used car purchases, grade haggling in college, and getting security deposits back from landlords.


Pick and choose from them as you see fit, like a buffet.


Tactical Empathy

  • Identify with the other person's situation and empathize with them. Negotiation should be thought of as therapy, be the therapist.
  • Establishes trust, which opens them up to share more information.

Example:

A woman is selling her car for $7000, I ask "why are you selling your car?". She responds that she is relocating to the west coast. I respond with "oh really? I've moved long distances before and I know how challenging that can be."


That is tactical empathy - show them you understand their situation and can put yourself in their shoes. Do this very early on.


Open-Ended Questions

  • Do not ask yes or no questions.
  • Use questions that start with "how", "what" and "why" to get people talking
  • The beginning is all about gathering as much information as possible

Example:

I ask the woman selling her car "Why are you moving to the west coast?" to which she responds that she is moving for a job in Sacramento.


Mirroring & Labeling

  • Label their emotions and mirror their responses.
  • When you repeat things back to people in their words they feel like you really understand them.
  • Labeling tells the counterpart they are "validated in the way they feel" and it adds another layer of connection
  • Start the labeling with "it seems like...", "it sounds like...", "it looks like..."

Example:

After she says she's moving for a job in Sacramento I then mirror and label with "Moving for a job in Sacramento? That sounds like it could be stressful. Tell me more"


Which she then responds with "well, I don't really have a job secured yet, I leave in a week and I'm just looking to get money to pay for my first few months rent until I get on my feet."


BOOM. That's the gem you're looking for, the holy grail moment. You now have a deadline and a range to anchor your offer (3 months rent in Sacramento ~$4500, compared to the $7000 asking price).


Accusation Audit

  • An accusation audit is when you brainstorm all of the negative things your counterpart might have to say about you and you say them yourself in the very beginning and get them out of the way.

Late night dj voice  

  • Lower the tone of your voice to make it softer and welcoming, almost a whisper but not quite. You never want to be on the offense. This creates a trusting and empathetic mood in the conversation.

Example:

Just think of Leo Dicaprio when he’s on the phone roping sales deals in Wolf of Wall St. This scene here shows how he lowers his pitch strategically at certain points in the conversation.

The Ackerman Model

Piggybacking off of negotiation; the Ackerman model gives us a framework for handling price haggling. At some point while negotiating there’s just gonna be some straight price haggling; the verbal arm wrestle.

As a general rule of thumb you never want to make the first offer. The Ackerman model gives us the following steps for preparing for the haggle.

  1. Set your target price (your goal)
  2. Set your first offer at 65% of your target price.
  3. Calculate 3 raises of decreasing increments ( 85, 95 and 100%)
  4. Use a lot of empathy and different ways of saying “no” (without actually saying the word “no”) to get the other side to counter offer before you increase your offer.
  5. When calculating the final amount, use precise, odd numbers like $17,349 rather than $17,500. This gives the number credibility and weight.
  6. On your final number throw in a non monetary item (that they probably don’t want) to show you’re at your limit

Number 6 is my personal favorite.


Hacking "Flow" States With Music Triggers

A "flow" state is when you're so immersed in what you're doing that you don't notice anything around you. You lose track of time and are fully engaged in your work or craft.


Some people call it "getting in the zone" or the "groove". It's a state of heightened focus and performance.


However getting in "flow" isn't always a switch that you can turn off and on. Most people say it takes 30-60 minutes after sitting down to really "get in the zone" and focus.


But what if it was instant? What if you could get laser focused at a moment's notice?


Enter "music triggers"


There's a lot of research, particularly in the books Deep Work & Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, on how music can function as a trigger for certain mental states.


Think of Pavlov's famous dog experiment. Every time he rings the bell, the dog gets food. Eventually, when he rings the bell, the bell triggers chemical signals in the dog's brain to salivate because of the anticipation of what's to come next.


We take the same principles but apply them to our own brain. Here's what the habit loops look like:


Trigger: Bell / Song

Routine: Eating / Deliberate work or study

Reward: Stimulation of taste buds / Feeling of accomplishment


Then underlying that loop is the conditioned response; what your brain is trained to do in anticipation of what's to come next. For Pavlov's dog it was salivating, for us it's heightened focus.


So basically we're all trainable like dogs, if we want to be ; )  


How do you do it?

1. Create a playlist of 1-4 songs that really motivate you

2. Everyday when you're sitting down for deliberate focus, put that playlist on repeat until your work is done

3. Repeat this for ~1-3 months.

4. Enjoy your focusing superpowers


I started it in January and I can tell you for a fact it works. My playlist is called "Flow (the select few)" and you can check it out here. It's all old Meek songs, they always get me going.

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