Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Negotiating

Transforming Small Businesses Into Highly Profitable, Great Places to Work

This week I was honored to interview Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series. She is also the founder of Tap the Potential, a business that specializes in transforming small businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work, then sending business owners on a 4 Week Vacation to celebrate that accomplishment.

How to Hire the Best

Dr. Sabrina has been coaching small business owners for over 15 years. She transitioned from her psychology practice because she wanted to work in a field with clear results. Small business coaching gave her that!

With her company, Tap Your Potential, she gets to work with top-tier small businesses and entrepreneurs. The business owners she works with are intent on building highly profitable places to work that do NOT depend on their constant present and oversight. This enables business owners to have more freedom and actually enjoy living their lives. When the business can run profitability on it’s own, it’s much more likely to be well-positioned for an eventual sale when the time comes.

Dr. Sabrina’s interest in authoring the How to Hire the Best series came about as a result of her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges. She realized that these hiring challenges were constantly interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability.

Eventually, her work catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses. Regardless of what hiring challenges those businesses were facing, How to Hire the Best philosophies were able to make a difference and transform their businesses. This work also established Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures. Businesses who hire the best benefit from highly engaged team members working from their strengths.

The philosophy of Tap the Potential boils down to this: work should support life, not the other way around. This connects to my own belief that every business should be a lifestyle business. A healthy, profitable business should be supporting your life, not taking it over.

Creating a Sustainable Business

Dr. Sabrina’s upcoming book is all about how work supports life, not the other way around. She is on a mission to end the hustle and grind mentality and disrupt the dominant discourse about what it means to be a business owner and entrepreneur. She believes there is too much focus placed on growing top-line revenue, and not enough on margins. At the end of the day, she points out that it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep!

The focus should be on how much of our revenue consists of profit, and how much life our business gives back to us and our team members. After all, if we are building businesses that are not sustainable, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Work sustainability is a huge concept to dig into. You can start by asking yourself:

Is it sustainable to work 90 hours a week?
How sustainable is it to sit at your desk behind a screen for hours and hours on end?
Is it sustainable to be the only person who can keep the business running?
At the end of the day, no!

Laying awake at night worrying about cash flow and payroll while chasing bigger deals just to keep it all afloat is NOT sustainable. The real focus should be on increasing profits and margin, not just pulling in high dollar deals.

Creating a sustainable business is also key to creating enterprise value for an eventual exit deal and being freed up to have the time, focus and creativity for deal-driven growth.

Transforming Small Businesses: Optimize Success and Focus Your Time

Dr. Sabrina has run her business on 20-25 hours a week for the last 15 years. Every single year she’s grown her business by 30% or more (other than the two years she took a step back). She had to be highly focused and productive in order to maximize those working hours.

She understands there are limits on her time, and she has to be highly selective about where she put her focus and energy. By letting go of the day-to-day distractions and focusing on the most valuable uses of her time, she has seen massive success in her life and business.

The flexibility to be highly focused and work-oriented while also raising her children and parenting, was key in Dr. Sabrina’s success. I realized during our conversation that some of my own most effective hires have come from giving employees the flexibility to work at the times that make sense for them.

One way to create flexibility? Focus on employee results, rather than hours behind a desk.

Dr. Sabrina shares that all of her team members are virtual, part-time workers. Everyone works flexibly, and she understands that work can get done alongside the other priorities that people have in their lives. She also creates clear work/life boundaries for her team. If she sends emails or Slack messages after 5pm or on weekends, her team knows that she’s doing so because those things were top of mind for her, not because she expects them to drop everything and respond.

So many entrepreneurs are currently running remote businesses, either by choice or due to the Coronavirus. A common question she keeps hearing?

How do we know our employees are getting things done?

Hours vs. Results

She recommends shifting the conversation to results. Know what results you need from each team member, and communicate them. If they are getting those results, then they are doing what needs to be done. The details of when and where they are working aren’t relevant if results are happening.

Hire great people. Trust them as professionals. Hold them accountable for results.
When that is your method, you don’t need to micromanage or hover over anyone’s shoulder.

Recently, a lot of managers have been forced to put aside their micromanaging ways. Will this last when employees return to the office?

Post-Coronavirus, Dr. Sabrina believes that there will be micromanaging leaders who simply return to their old ways. However, she suggests that thoughtful leaders who are paying attention will recognize the benefits of running virtually and releasing control. If they are wise, they will find ways to reevaluate what work has to happen in the office, how important it is (or is not) to clock in and out at rigid times, and how flexibility can enhance everyone’s performance. There is going to be a desire to maintain some elements of this new-found ability to accomplish at least some work from home!

In addition, we can consider trust, which really is the foundation of all of this.

When we can extend trust to our team members, we’ll get better results and behavior in return. If you’ve strategically hired the best, extending trust causes people to step up and work harder for you. When team members feel distrusted, they become fearful of making mistakes, and are unlikely to operate above bare-minimum baselines. Trust creates better interactions, more safety, and more support. And those are the conditions that are required for anyone to create their best work.

At the end of the day, your team members are your biggest investment. Treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve!

Profitability Vs. Revenue

About 5 years ago, I shared with Dr. Sabrina that I read the book Profit First. (I had no idea that Tap the Potential was a Profit First business!) This is a great resource because it has you break things down in a way that enables you to not only pay yourself, but also have profits within your business. Too often, we are operating under a self-created cycle of stress, debt, and uncertainty.

It doesn’t need to be this way! Every check that comes in needs to be segmented into taxes, operating expenses, owner’s pay and profits. This will lead to greater clarity about what your margins are, and allow you to operate with more breathing room. When you can stop accumulating debt in your business and finally gain clarity on your profit margins, you can focus on growth that truly matters.

Hiring in a Down Economy

As we’re experiencing a down market, hiring and profits are changing. Many organizations are scaling back in order to focus on the sweet spots in their businesses, and this may involve hiring decisions.

With a clearly defined sweet spot, businesses can let go of all the extraneous elements. Growing from this spot decreases overhead and “drag”. The resulting layoffs can mean the market is saturated with A-players who are looking for a new position.

Dr. Sabrina recommends that, as an entrepreneur, you have a “shopping list” handy. This list will help you consider your long term vision, and what you will need to fulfill that vision. From platforms, tools, and new hires, you shouldn’t be making decisions based on what you can get a great deal on. You need to consider your business’ long term impact and needs.

It’s also key at this time to position yourself as an employer of choice. You can interview amazing people all day, but if your organization isn’t set up to attract them, they won’t accept your offers. Work to build up a presence and communicate the sort of environment you provide for employees.

Another recommendation? Don’t use the “opportunities for advancement” line. It’s vague and meaningless. Set yourself apart from other organizations by creating a clear, results-based path towards growth. You can start an A-player around the 65th percentile of pay when you can show them the clear path to the 90th percentile.

Dr. Sabrina also recommends that, at the end of an interview, you give candidates you’d like to hire a sheet that breaks down their advancement path for the first 18 months. On the back of that map, include testimonials from current employees about why they love working for the organization.

Payment Structures

In structuring acquisitions, an earn out offer is a common way of increasing purchase costs while also protecting the buyer if profits don’t manifest as expected. Dr. Sabrina’s hiring plan for A-players essentially creates an “earn out offer” for new hires.

Employees who rise to the challenge and perform well are rewarded, and if the results don’t come through, the pay rate remains stable and payable for the business owner. Back-end upsides help mitigate risks for both parties, which is key in establishing trust and bringing in top candidates.

If you attempt to take advantage of the current down markets by hiring an A-player at a low rate of pay, they may accept your offer…but they will jump ship as soon as possible when the market turns! They will know that you took advantage of them when you had the chance, and they won’t remain loyal to you when the field clears and they have more options.

Another option in this market is to bring new employees on as part-time, remote employees. They can start learning the business and going through the training process, which is a great way to get them started without committing to a full-time hire.

No matter how you go about it, be sure to consider how you can add value to both your organization AND your new hire.

Transforming Small Businesses Without Entrepreneurial Burnout
So many entrepreneurs are operating under a high-risk of burn out. Dr. Sabrina urges you to put your own oxygen mask on first, and don’t forget to take care of yourself!

You can take a free assessment to determine your level of burn out here: This assessment also serves as a screening tool for what you need to work on next. After all, you want to impact both the quality of your business AND your own life.

Listen in to our full interview here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating

Shifting Towards Opportunity in Challenging Times

Fergus Connolly joined us on the show to talk about his speciality: High-performance cultures. He helps us take lessons from sports and military that are specific and timely in this time of crisis. This interview is a great reminder that many successful companies have grown out of difficulty. The Covid-19 crisis does not have to mean we are destined to flounder or fail. This is a chance to learn, grow, and improve. As a result, you may find yourself shifting towards opportunity.

High-Performance Culture

Dr. Fergus Connolly is one of the world’s foremost human performance thought leaders and influencers. He has had the opportunity to apply performance science with leading sports, military, and business teams. One of his favorite parts? Being immersed in high-performance cultures and surrounded by high-achieving individuals at every level.

He shares that he spent a lot of time developing systems to identify high-performance in organizations, and high-achievement in individuals. Over the last few years, Dr. Connolly has focused a lot on common themes emerging in high-performing leaders. He has found that leaders in sports, business, and the military all share many traits. Even though their fields of performance may seem drastically different, the traits they bring are not!

Spotting strengths also equipped him to notice red flags and potential problems.

Teams of any kind can grow stronger when they are able to identify and communicate about what is working, as well as what is not.

Shifting Towards Opportunity

However, his own DUI and complete burn out were an eye-opening revelation to Dr. Connolly. He hadn’t spotted his own performance red flags or risk factors…even though he was an expert at spotting them in others. Too often, as leaders, we miss the signs in ourselves. And when our leadership suffers, we can inadvertently derail our businesses and teams as well.

When he sensed his own life and business falling apart, a trusted mentor and colleague reached out and asked him why he hadn’t reached out for support. Initially, Dr. Connolly resisted; he didn’t WANT to share his darkness or reach out for help. His friend, however, helped him to see these difficult moments as opportunities. Instead of running away and hiding, it was vital to run IN to the fire and face the hard times. (He talks more about this on his incredible TED Talk.)

How can the rest of us make this shift?

If you sit down and go through your own life, you’ll find that your greatest growth and changes almost always follow setbacks and challenges. The hard times are the catalyst for change and growth. Rather than looking back at our lives through rose-tinted glasses, we can take the time to remember that great things CAN be birthed from hard times. When we choose to see opportunity, it is there.

Another practice? Right down gratitudes for difficult moments. Rather than just focus on being thankful for things that are easy, smooth, or great, you can change your mindset by identifying and being thankful for the beauty in the darkness. As you practice finding the blessings in the hardships, you’ll grow your resilience and capacity for finding the opportunities.

Bringing Awareness to Your Deeper Purpose

At their core, the best of the best have a specific awareness of what they do, who they are, and why they are here. This awareness allows them to continually find ways to make adjustments and improvements. In a way, this is about finding your deeper purpose and knowing what you stand for.

Dr. Connolly shares that, when working for the San Francisco 49’s, he was deeply inspired by Chris Borland. He shares that Borland came to believe that playing in the NFL wasn’t his calling, and so he left. The courage to follow one’s calling, and the willingness to walk away from external success, is incredible to witness. (During the interview, we discuss Rha Goddess’ book The Calling a few times. Feel free to check it out yourself!)

When there is a misalignment between a person and their work, there is often an internal struggle. It is impossible to feel content when not operating within your deeper purpose. Dr. Connolly desires to help others follow their purpose and identify the calling in which their soul can truly feel content and whole.

Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on being adaptable and following their callings. However, sometimes what’s being projected isn’t always the truth. When there is an inner alignment issue, it is incredibly difficult to operate as a high-performance individual.

You can learn more about following your purpose, shifting towards opportunity, and becoming a high-performance individual by listening in to the full DealQuest episode with Dr. Connolly!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Deal-Making

Get Creative With Your Exit Strategy

Carl Gould built and sold three companies before he transitioned into business coaching. Today, his coaching methodology is shaped by lessons he learned from his own deals. Carl has done deals in marketing and event planning; messenger services; fuel delivery; landscaping; contracting and technology. But his lessons are applicable to any kind of deals on the buy-side or the sell-side.

Get Creative With Your Deal Strategy

When Carl sold his landscaping business, he was able to get a premium for the long-term contracts and relationships he had built. Similarly, his construction company also had monthly recurring revenue and there were more assets to sell. Carl continued to receive a commission for prospects he sent to the new owners because he used his brand as a springboard during the negotiations. Your brand can be leveraged post-closing to add value. Like Carl, you can sell your business and get out of the daily responsibilities you hate, while continuing to do the parts you enjoy and getting paid for it.

Plan Your Exit Strategy in Advance

If you want to be fully-out right away, you are likely to leave a lot of value on the table. This type of deal requires intense preparation and you will benefit by expanding the timeline. This is why Carl has seen such a dramatic shift in the deal landscape today; business owners have realized that they might not get the money they were anticipating and they don’t want to give up their passion. By planning your exit far in advance, you get more options because you’re coming from a position of strength. The same can be said for getting your management team on board. The key is determining how much of the revenue relies on the owner and addressing that as you prepare. Not all profit dollars are created equal.

Listen to the Fueling Deals podcast episode featuring Carl Gould’s interview about how to Get Creative with Your Exit Strategy.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Leadership

8 Books to Help You Run an Authentic Business

I have found that reading is one of the best returns on your investment in the business world and it is the way that I keep myself grounded and ensures that I remain authentic in my business. When you arm yourself with the ideas and innovations of the best in their industry, you will be continuously collecting tools and ideas to keep you operating authentically and at your own highest and best use.

At Authentic Enterprises, I make it a point to attend every client meeting and every team meeting with my whole self. There are several ways I remind myself of the big ideas which influence me. My time with my forums and coaches helps me center and recalibrate my goals and realign my actions and mindset with those goals. The energy I put toward self-care keeps my lifestyle sustainable and, occasionally, I reassess if my needs have changed and adjust my focus accordingly.

There are several books which have influenced me and the way I do business. Below are 8 of my favorites (in no specific order):

  1. The Birth of a Brand by Brian Smith, UGG Founder
    Brian is a talented businessman and his book explains his journey from accountant to founding the internationally known and loved UGG. He gives generously of his time and talent in The Birth of a Brand and gives a look behind the curtain at what makes an idea ready to launch a business.
  2. The Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard
    Skip’s new release is an excellent example of learning from past mistakes. You will always make some of your own, but what you can learn from observing others’ mistakes will help set your business apart. The Book of Mistakes reminds you to move on from the past to focus on building your future.
  3. Master Your Cash Flow by Al Zdenek
    Al is a good friend and a financial wiz. This book gives business owners the knowledge and leverage they need to manage the company finances. Whether your business is a fledgling startup or has been running successfully for more than a decade, Al’s Master Your Cash Flow is worth a read.
  4. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
    It’s no secret that I run both of my businesses based on Mike’s Profit First idea. The premise is to allocate a percentage of each incoming check to different parts of your business such as marketing, administrative, etc. The main idea of Profit First is to pay the owner first!
  5. The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles
    Many people are not aware of the work of Wallace Wattles but his work is one of the foundations of much of the personal growth work over the last century. Fortunately, as his books were written in the early 1900’s, they are now out of copyright and in the public domain. The title link is to a PDF of his book, The Science of Getting Rich.
  6. The Image of Leadership by Sylvie di Giustio
    Sylvie is a dear friend and fellow NSA NYC member. She is an expert on “People Packaging” as she puts it. Her book The Image of Leadership explains the ways that we project a message to the people around us without even trying. Sylvie rightly suggests making sure your projected image presents your product in the best possible light.
  7. Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
    It is no secret that I am a big Gary V. fan. In fact, I sent a recent Tweet offering his team free negotiating advice. Most of the advice in this well-known marketing book is timeless. Gary V. has updated his messaging to clarify that the right hook can require some more nuance and planning than cleverly placed jab. If you haven’t read Jab, Jab. Right Hook yet, you are missing out!
  8. I Can See Clearly Now by Wayne Dyer
    One of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s most wide-read books, each of his books are best sellers. In I Can See Clearly Now, he uses his memoir to share the truth and wisdom he amassed over decades of studying manifestation. For me, Wayne Dyer was a master teaching people how to connect to source and manifest in their lives from that place. He wrote countless books and gave many talks including several for PBS fund drives that are available without cost. Check out his work at

I hope you celebrate National Book Lovers Day with your fellow book lovers. I would like to know what you are reading and which books are inspiring you in your own business. Comment below or tag me on Twitter @coreykupfer.

Authentic Conversations About Difference

Stop Checking Your Own Email if You Want to Run an Authentic and Successful Business

Do you want to know how I run two businesses and still have time for the things that are important to me? I hire great people and delegate to them. The most time-consuming task I delegate is my email.

My whole email system is based on three premises.

1. My assistant reviews my email.

When the emails come in, they get redirected to a box that I have renamed “xRedirected Inbox.” You can set this up as an automated process through Outlook, Google Mail, etc. It is “xRedirected Inbox” so I will have to scroll to get to it. It’s out of sight because of the alphabetical sorting of my folders. The beauty of this is that I can still access it if needed (e.g. when a client emails something while we are on the phone), but I don’t otherwise look at it. Instead my assistant review it every hour or so. She sorts and handles the emails that are about scheduling, sending copies documents and other things that she can handle which is more efficient and responsive for clients as well.

2. Projects get handled quickly.

Have you ever been copied on an email thread that didn’t require your immediate attention? I bet that makes up 90+% of your email. My assistant is great about coordinating with our team members to make sure that client matters are handled efficiently. By the time I would have checked my email, my team has already finished their part of the task at hand and I am ready to review and take more advanced action. The few emails that I need to know about before the end of the day get moved into an inbox that I review in real-time.

3. I get a daily briefing.

At the end of the day for any emails that didn’t require my immediate attention or that my assistant has not been able to handle, I get a simple briefing. I’ll look at that briefing at six, seven o’clock at night, and it takes me literally 15 minutes to review it at most. This is could be the distillation of what was 100-200 emails, but there are usually only 10-20 items in the briefing as everything else has been handled or consolidated in the briefing.

My email system allows me to use the time when I’m in the office to focus on my highest and best use areas. And when I’m away, I’m not worried about my email pinging and interrupting my business meeting, retreat or vacation. In fact I don’t even have notifications on because I know someone else is reviewing it. I instead just occasionally check the box where my assistant would move anything that’s crucial.

If you want to learn more ways you can build an authentic business, check out my video series Authentic Business: Retreat Edition.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Authentic Negotiating

Deal or No Deal – What is Your Bottom Line?

Do you remember the television show Deal or No Deal? You know the one hosted by Howie Mandel and on which now Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, was a briefcase model. The premise was a contestant would choose a numbered briefcase and then have to decide whether the sum offered by the game show was worth more than the value inside that case. The participant would be able to keep asking for additional briefcases to be opened and would receive new offers. If they accepted any offer, the amount in the briefcase would be forfeited.

Viewers at home could guess how this would go. They could yell from the safety of the couch for them to take the big number offered early on rather than risk settling for a lower amount at the end of the game or to go for it but they had no more information than the contestant. In the moment under the pressure, not many contestants had clarity about the deal they would accept or knew their true bottom line.

In my law practice, I answer the same questions for my clients, “How do I know I am getting a good deal?” or “How can I get the best deal?” and “How do I know my bottom line?” I remind them to go back to the basics. Ask yourself the following questions before you start negotiating a deal:

What is my purpose? Why are you in this room making this deal with these people? If it’s just a means to an end, you may not be in the best position for a positive deal. If your purpose is to sell your company, dig a little deeper to find out why you want to sell. Get 100% clear on your why.

What is my desired outcome? Once you have established your purpose, you can spend some time defining your desired outcome. What are the main goals you hope to accomplish in this deal? How will this deal change your circumstances for the better? What, specifically, do you want to achieve?

What is the least I am willing to accept? You have a number in mind that you would be thrilled to get. If that number is realistic and appropriate for what you have to offer, great. Often your ideal number is at the top of, or above, market values. If that number does not make sense with the value you are providing in the deal, then you will, likely, have to accept less. It is crucial, therefore, to ask yourself: What is the lowest number that I would be content accepting? When you reach a number and know that not a penny less and you would still take the deal, then you have found your true bottom line.

Do I mean literally not a penny less? YES, I DO! People say come on, Corey, are you telling me that if I got everything else that was important to me in the negotiation and instead of getting for, example, the $1 million for my business that I said was my bottom line, I am offered $999,999.99, I should turn it down? YES, YOU SHOULD or else $1 million was not your true bottom line. Why should you turn it down? Because what if its $999,999.98 or $999,999.97 or . . . . You can keep going a penny less until you reach $0. So, if you do not to get crystal clear and commit to a true bottom line/not a penny less number then you have no ground to stand on, no way to evaluate what is and is not acceptable except by emotion – which never supports authentic negotiating success.

What is your bottom line? If you want a hand preparing for your next deal, I have a best-selling book on Authentic Negotiating and consult and train people on negotiating regularly. In addition to that, I negotiate for clients in my law practice pretty much every day.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Leadership

How to Keep Your Business Going During a Family Emergency

In the month of April, I had the opportunity to travel quite a bit for work and for pleasure. If you have been reading my articles for long, you know that I am a big advocate of living an integrated life. As a business owner, I have a certain level of control in the day-to-day work that I do, but it is not always easy.

The best laid plans can fall away when a family emergency rises to the top of the list of priorities. The day I returned from a business mastermind trip in Europe, I learned my mother had fallen ill with abdominal issues. As I was back in town, I was able to support my mother in-person, take her to the hospital and spend much of last week with her.

As I write this, I am on Day 8 of being there to provide encouragement to my mother as the doctors try to figure out how best to help her. With my attention on her, it is a relief to know that my business – which is fortunately extremely busy right now – is carrying on without my having to monitor every aspect.

How can your business keep going during a family emergency? It actually came together for me while I was watching the way the hospital operates and being thankful that my business operates much more efficiently and effectively, especially when it comes to client service and satisfaction. (You can watch my video about the connection I drew between business and the hospital operations on LinkedIn or Facebook.)

The key elements your business needs to keep running:

  • Build and empower a great team and then trust them.
  • Systematize your processes.
  • Communicate regularly and transparently with clients, industry partners and other key people.
    Implement and effectively use mobile technology.

You need to have many of these things in place before a family or other emergency comes up. How does your company stack up? Are you ready in case of emergency? If not, take heart and know that you can start to take the necessary steps to improve from where you are starting today.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Authentic Negotiating

How to Negotiate Salary with a Potential or Existing Employer

Joining a new company can be a challenging time. Do you accept the first compensation offer or counter to see if there is room for improvement? Last week I wrote about employers having some leverage, but not all, in a salary negotiation.

Do you know how to use your leverage in a salary negotiation? Ideally, you have prepared for the negotiation with a list of quantifiable value that you bring to the position. A list of past accomplishments, along with any additional experience you bring to the team, will help you own your value and contribution.

When preparing to negotiate your worth, plan to set aside some time for quiet reflection. You need to do the inner work necessary to clarify your vision of what you want. For example, why you want a raise? Having clarity is essential to identify what a successful outcome looks like ahead of time. Why do you want a higher salary? Don’t stop your inquiry at “I want more money.” Why do you want more money? For example, “I have kids and I want to be able to pay for them to go to college.” Why do you want to pay for their tuition? “I never had the opportunity to go to college and I want to be able to provide that for them.”

There it is. That’s your purpose, that’s what you’re negotiating for: to send your kids to college and to provide them an opportunity that you never had. You can see how much different that answer is than “I want to make more money,” and now you’ve positioned yourself in a way that your supervisor can connect to; depending upon your supervisor, now the negotiation may not be adversarial but collaborative instead. It will also open up other options that will allow you to achieve your underlying purpose that you may not have thought of had you focused only on making more money. For instance, in the example above, maybe your employer has a college scholarship fund that is outside your department’s budget. Instead of getting a larger raise, you get access to scholarship money or, maybe, your boss has influence over scholarship or grant funds outside the company.

Now that you have a salary number, make sure you have done the same work as to other elements of your compensation package. Maybe you can negotiate more PTO in exchange for less of a raise. Could you negotiate a four-day work week to give you more time to work on a side project, and supplement your income that way? You need to know what other options could be on the table, and which of them you are willing to accept.

Develop your negotiating skills even further by following the steps I detail in my book Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment & Equilibrium – The Three Key to True Negotiating Success & How to Achieve Them and go to to take a 5-minute Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to see where you stand and get immediate feedback.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Conversations About Difference

How to Negotiate with a Potential Employee

Unemployment rates are still at 4.1% from the latest Department of Labor findings and employees expect competitive salary and benefits. As a decision maker in the hiring process, you have leverage but, in a tight job market, you do not have all of it.

Before you have selected a candidate for the open position, you will want to go through the deep work necessary to find the clarity on who you want for this position. As a master negotiator, I teach my clients to use my CDE method—Clarity, Detachment, and Equilibrium.

The inner work that brings clarity is not something you can do on a whim. You will want to allow enough time and energy to really dive into the motivations of the company and the team to create the most authentic offer.

Detachment comes when you remove your emotion and biases from the outcome. It is especially helpful to consider the negotiation not from a one-sided – or even a win-win – perspective but rather from a place of meeting each party’s needs. Once we bring in the concept of winning, it is easy for the ego to get engaged and for us to lose the clarity and detachment we need.. If you are able to maintain clarity and detachment, it leaves the negotiation open to mutually beneficial options for the employer and the employee.

Creativity in the offer and listening to how the potential employee responds to the offer will guide you in the next steps. For example, if the salary offered is base plus commission, it is possible that the base could be higher with a lower percentage going forward for the commission. Also consider flexibility in schedule if it serves the company as well as the employee.

With the next steps also comes the need for equilibrium. As the decision maker for the company, you will want to know the parameters available. Equilibrium, or balance, will inform your actions and help you make the best decision for your team and prevent you from getting thrown off or triggered during a negotiation. Maybe something a candidate says triggers you in some way. That could be a good indicator that you shouldn’t hire that employee but it also could be that you got triggered due to some past experience or personal issue that should have nothing to do with evaluation the candidates qualifications.

So, do whatever it is that gets you centered and clear – for some it is meditation or prayer, for others its exercise or calling a mentor or friend or practicing in the mirror or, maybe, doing something unrelated that you enjoy and will put you in a good state of mind. You can also use anchoring right before you go into the room – think about a time when you felt confident, strong, on your game – envision that experience in full color and with all your senses. Then take a deep breath and bring that energy with you into the room.

If you found this helpful and want to hear more, join me May 16th in New York City for my Authentic Negotiating Workshop at SHRM’s Speaker Select Series. The series is open to HR professionals and those in Talent Acquisition, Employee Engagement, Internal Communications, Talent Management and/or Learning and Development. Online registration is available until May 15th.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Authentic Conversations About Difference

The Pygmalion Effect: Part Two

In Part One, I shared the story of Nancy, a former client who was letting her expectations impede what was otherwise shaping up to be a fair and beneficial acquisition deal for both sides.

Nancy was holding expectations of the deal and of her counterparts that were preventing her from making progress on the deal. She was at the table for a reason—at one point, this buyer was a good fit to acquire her company. But when the time came, skepticism got the better of her. In fact, the more she pushed back, the more she was threatening to compromise her objectives.

I had to get real with Nancy. I told her, “We did a good job getting clear on your objectives, and you’ve been composed, but if you’re thinking that these terms aren’t being offered in good faith, that’s on you, not them.”

I explained to her the Pygmalion Effect. It’s a proven phenomenon that states when we hold higher expectations; we actually manifest increased performance and more positive results. Conversely, and this is what Nancy was exposing herself to, the Golem Effect posits that when we hold low expectations, performance sees a downtick and we see more negative outcomes. Both are self-fulfilling prophecies.

What could Nancy have known about the Pygmalion Effect that could have helped her?

The energy we hold within ourselves matters. I thought we were on solid ground. Nancy had warmed to my authentic negotiating approach with relative ease, but only she knew her truth. The positive work we’d done to prepare for negotiations was being undermined by the negative energy Nancy was carrying, and inevitably putting out into the world. If she’d understood that her inner being has power to impact the outside world, she could have identified her low expectations and negative feelings as a problem early on, then she and I could have addressed them and come to the table with the high expectations that we should have been holding the whole time.

Those low expectations probably already rubbed off on her team. The Pygmalion Effect isn’t limited to our personal pursuits and outcomes. Studies have shown that our expectations of others effect how they perform and the attitudes they carry. In our specific example, the acquiring company was growing tense and weary of Nancy’s mistrust. Her low expectations of them were in turn affecting their mood and their willingness to negotiate. What Nancy might not have known is exactly how long she’d be carrying this negativity. If it was well in advance of the deal, it’s likely her team noticed and started to grow concerned, lowering morale. It’s a huge precept of leadership – the perceptions and expectations leaders hold of their followers are going to greatly influence how those followers think, behave, and perform. By holding low expectations of this acquisition, Nancy was putting a previously positive and productive team at risk.

She had no reason to carry low expectations. Nancy was onboard with clarity, detachment, and equilibrium. Nancy knew what she wanted and never got triggered. She didn’t understand that by doing the inner work that we did in preparation for this deal, high expectations were implicit. Low expectations are a nonstarter because in choosing to embrace authentic negotiating, Nancy was putting herself in complete control of the outcome – whether it was this deal or another, making the exact right one for her business was always going to be in her control.

Eventually, Nancy and I got on the same page and she understood that with our approach, there was nothing to worry about. But, her story shows how not embracing the Pygmalion Effect can creep in and shake even the sturdiest foundations. What’s more, it points to the fact that to be an authentic negotiator and make CDE work for you, you have to be all in. You have to believe and embrace it as a way of being. In fact, it wasn’t until after the first deal didn’t go through and she saw herself repeating the pattern with a second potential buyer that Nancy was able to see how she was sabotaging her objectives. Only then did Nancy go all in and we were able to close the perfect acquisition deal for her and her team.

The Pygmalion Effect is a concept that’s shaped much of my life and thinking. For a deeper dive into some of my other influences, check out the thinkers who’ve impacted me:

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker with more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. He is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is also the creator and host of the Fueling Deals Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!