One of the things I’m most grateful for and proud of in 2014 was successfully negotiating a return to Bullish Conference by Jennifer Dziura. Dubbed a Powerful Summit for Ambitious Women, Bullish Conference is a glorious and busy weekend spent learning and rubbing sun-kissed elbows with an impressive assortment of astute businesswomen — or gentlewomen in Get Bullish parlance — at the vividly colorful Surfcomber Hotel in Miami.
I so loved flying to Miami to facilitate a negotiation workshop for Bullish women — or Bullicorns — in November 2013, that earlier this year I pitched to Jen a more ambitious and better structured workshop for the second annual conference. To my delight, she said yes.
Two weekends ago, I facilitated a negotiation workshop for twenty-two Bullicorns on How to Think Bigger, Speak Up, and Ask for More. After which, I joined the attendees for excellent workshops on personal and professional development. Topics covered writing a manifesto, starting a side business, using our authentic voices and on designing an ambitious and equally elegant 2015. On Sunday morning, I joined yoga on the beach.
In a word, it was awesome. And all the pretty pictures to prove it are here (by the talented Caro Griffin).
Over the past year, I worked on honing my presentation skills and role-play exercises with the goal of creating a tailored workshop that inspires negotiation confidence and teaches techniques applicable to just about any situation — whether it be in the office, with a client, business partner, a relative or friend. By the end of it, I wanted my attendees to walk away with that undeniable feeling of: I got this.
To this end, I read several books and countless articles. I trained for Strategic Conversations with She Negotiates. I took improv comedy classes at People’s Improv Theatre. I recounted embarrassing stories of my failed negotiations in front of people. I got valuable feedback on my communication skills from Toastmasters. I facilitated practice workshops. I gave and sought negotiation advice. I prepared for the Bullish Conference.
A sharp woman who knows what she wants, who reaches out of her comfort zone, who takes action in spite of fear is formidable. A woman who owns her power and speaks her mind is imposing. Scary, even. I love that the Bullish ethos embraces this woman and encourages her to go even bolder. I am proud to be her.
But to be perfectly honest, I felt intimidated by the idea of standing in front of a room of ambitious go-getters to teach negotiation. Months and weeks leading up to the conference, I battled waves of self-doubt and fear.
What could I possibly teach successful women entrepreneurs about negotiating in the workplace?
What if they asked questions I couldn’t answer?
It was the same voice that said I wasn’t good enough.
I chose not to listen to that voice. Instead I prepared. I meditated and listened to the beat of my own heart. I dug deep into my core values, and aimed for something more lasting and meaningful than negotiating to win, making money for the sake of making money, and looking good. I aimed for deeper fulfillment that comes from owning your value, human connection from listening to the other side, and peace from resolving conflict. All the things that can be achieved through negotiation.
My goal is to help women achieve better outcomes that align with their core values through negotiation success. My success is their success. It feels incredibly amazing to have achieved this goal through negotiation workshop at Bullish Conference. They got it.
Here’s a great success story from BullCon attendee Olivia Henley, who runs her own accounting firm in California:
Within days of taking Jamie’s negotiation workshop, I found myself using the knowledge I acquired in her class to help my client with a difficult business partnership situation. It isn’t often that you can gain new skills that apply to such a wide range of life situations and then put them into play immediately. Jamie gave one of the most valuable workshops I’ve been to.
Below is an excerpt from a wonderful recap of the negotiation workshop by Poornima Vijayashanker, founder of Femgineer and author of How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products. Poornima also led a fantastic workshop on how to start a side business at Bullish Conference.
One of the exercises Jamie had us do was a role play exercise. We each had to partner up; Person A would ASK Person B for something, and Person B would initially reject Person A’s offer. Then Person A would need to follow up with a question to understand the reason for the rejection with the goal of modifying their ASK. The objective was to make Person A get comfortable following up to understand the reason for rejection rather than just walking away.
When it was my turn to create an ASK, I set the context for Person B, and told them they were a CFO at a tech company. My ASK went something like this:
“Hi Person B, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule today to meet with me.
I’m the founder of Femgineer, an education company. For the past 2 years we’ve been running a Lean Product Development Course that has graduated 70+ students around the world.
The course is for engineers and tech entrepreneurs, and teaches them how to transform an idea into a software product. In the course, we advise all our students to use your Product X, and they’ve found it to be really beneficial in building their product.
In 2015, we’d like to offer scholarships to students who might not be able to afford our program, and I’m here to ASK if you’d be open to a providing a $50K sponsorship, which we can use to provide our students with scholarships.
In exchange for the sponsorship, we’ll highlight you as our marquee sponsor, invite you to meet with the students, and continue to highlight how your products and services will benefit our students as they build software products. I know you’ve got a great base of customers in the US, but this will bring you a lot of great exposure in international markets, and be a part of our students’ success.”
I was obviously winging this, and I probably would have come up with some hard data if I was doing a real ask. After I presented my ask Jamie turned to me and said, “What I like is that you didn’t just ASK you made and OFFER.”
What Jamie meant by that is the following: too often when we ASK for something, we phrase it in a way that is mainly meant to benefit us. The reason for the ASK may be based on something we did to benefit the other person initially, e.g. “Over the past quarter, I’ve reduced the bug count by 50%, which has made the company $100K. Clearly my work has benefited the company, and I’m now here to ASK for a $10K raise.” But this ASK is based on a benefit that the person we’re asking has already experienced. Since it’s in the past, it doesn’t give them a concrete incentive they’ll experience in the future.
While you might say there is an ongoing benefit to this ask, i.e. having an outstanding employee, it’s just too subtle, and that’s the main problem.
When we instead make an OFFER, we clearly state how the other person is going to benefit from our ASK.
Needless to say, Poornima has advanced negotiation chops, which comes with the territory when you are an experienced entrepreneur.
It was an absolute delight to coach formidable Bullicorns in mock negotiation.