Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Mindset of a Deal-Maker

Daryle L. Johnson is the president and co-founder of SmartIT Mobility. He’s also the owner of Ideation to Valuation. Daryle is responsible for setting overall sales, partner, and supplier alliance strategies. He’s also empowered to leverage corporate assets to deliver value with integrity and quality. With the mindset of a deal-maker, he is an innovative, energetic, creative, and very charismatic intrepreneur AND entrepreneur. 

He brings over 20+ years of market, business, and solution development experience to the DealQuest show today! Partners and customers include Google, T-Mobile, Sprint, and HP. In addition, he serves on several boards including Doorways, Mobil Trackr, STEMnasuim Learning Academy, and AIS Solutions. 

Mindset of a Deal-Maker

As an entrepreneur, Daryle believes in taking 100% ownership of his destiny and work. This requires effort, passion, and flexibility. It also requires the powerful mindset of a deal-maker. It’s this mindset that enables him to leverage partnerships, relationships, and opportunities within his business.

Daryle notes that being a deal-maker isn’t just a skill. It’s truly a mindset. 

It is absolutely vital that entrepreneurs understand that deals aren’t a one time event that happen. In fact, often amazing deals are disguised as “sales”. Entrepreneurs may not even realize how many deals they make, simply because they don’t think of them that way. They also may not realize how much power they have to create deals all the time. You must recognize that every sale has the potential to be a deal. When you grasp that, you can influence those outcomes with the mentality you bring to the table, and you have more power in your business.

K-12 Deals

Daryle shares about a deal he negotiateted for schools that took all of their needs into account. From pricing to software, he covered every possible problem that could have created issues for the school board. He partnered with T-Mobile (for both software and sales teams). Then, he brought in a training company to work with teachers, and he leveraged long-term marketing strategies to bring up front costs to the school down to $1 per device.

He also anticipated parent issues, teacher frustrations, and student needs. The final deal was the result of dozens of smaller partnerships, leveraged resources, and connections. Also key? His mindset. Rather than seeing the problem as too big, the partnerships as too complicated, or the schools as too difficult to negotiate with, he chose to see the possibility. 

Every challenge was faced, and solutions were created. Why?  Because he believed that it could be done. Ultimately, the program provided technology to over 60,000 students. It also spawned other local deals for Daryle, as a result of ongoing negotiations and collaborations.

In theory, Daryle could have gone into the school and said he had a solution he was selling for X price. If he had, he wouldn’t have been successful. Instead, his deal-maker mindset enabled him to create a full package. He provided a comprehensive solution in a way that made sense for his audience, and they bought it.

At the end of the day, that deal was all about the impact.

When he looks back at that deal, Daryle sees how powerful the subsidy of the carrier commission was for driving down the prices and making the product accessible. He’s the first one to say that they didn’t make much money on it. Instead, they made an impact. Although his strategies could easily be used in a more financially lucrative way, in this case he wasn’t looking for profit.

Follow the Process

In complex deals and negotiations, there are a lot of parties involved. It can become difficult to manage personnel and expectations. Daryle acknowledges that there are challenges. Over the years, he’s developed a process that works for him and keeps things moving forward.

The first thing he focuses on when making a deal is relationships. He wants to know what kind of relationship businesses or possible partners are open to having. Will it be transactional, strategic, temporary?

He’s open to any answer, but he wants to know up front what the situation is.

Next, he wants to know about the budget. If the numbers are off, it’s better to stop up front. It’s vital to have a money conversation before any party is in too deep. 

From there, clarity on what is being solved is key. Daryle also pushes that “what” one step further. He asks: If we solve that, what happens? What is the impact? What changes?

Once clarity is achieved, he finishes his process by asking how others envision this all happening. It’s key that everyone on the team or involved in the deal has an understanding of what it’s going to take to make it happen. They also need to be onboard with doing what needs to be done.

If someone is still standing, then it’s time to get started! And if the process has eliminated other parties? He can walk away and save a lot of time and trouble.

Strategic Deals

In a strategic deal, each party should understand the potential for something larger than just a single transaction. It’s not about just that one agreement; it’s about the potential of what could occur in a continued relationship.

In addition, Daryle shares that strategic deals have a functional fit. Value for value, every party is fully engaged. There is no one making money or getting paid that isn’t providing value as an essential part of the process. There’s also an understanding about who is taking the risks and where the costs lie.

Daryle prefers to keep a few deals moving at all times.

He’s always looking for ways to expand, grow, and build up credibility. Part of this is in building value equations. It’s not about his name, or a partner’s name. It’s about having something that has value on the market and that can be repeatable, scalable, and sustainable. Rather than one off deals that may or may not go anywhere, Daryle works hard to create deals he can leverage in the future to continue building on his past success.

On a closing note, Daryle suggests that audacity and out of the box thinking are key. Always be looking for new ways to add value, and don’t be afraid to push the envelope. You never know what you’ll get when you ask for the mildly ridiculous!

Listen to the full episode to develop the mindset of a deal-maker today!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Deal-Driven Growth

Applying The Power Of Deals For Social Justice

Regular listeners may have noticed we didn’t put out a new episode last week. That wasn’t part of our original plan, but in light of George Floyd (Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others) and the protests, we felt it was much more important to make room for voices speaking around those important social justice issues. As we were also taking part in the #melanatedvoices campaign on our social platforms, we chose to forgo our regular podcast as well.

Our hope was to create more space for conversations about race relations, police brutality, and white privilege.

Those are the conversations we’ve been engaging with, and we plan to continue. Being back this week doesn’t mean we are no longer committed to the cause! I’ve been part of this work for over 20 years, and will continue on.

And since this is a deals podcast…let’s talk about how it all relates!

Biggest Mistakes (In Negotiations AND in Hard Conversations)

If it’s new to you – a new concept, a new conversation, a new way of seeing – definitely start learning and engaging! But please start by remembering that Black people have been living this for hundreds of years. It’s been part of their lives and experiences, and it’s something they’ve been talking about forever and could talk about all the time. There are hundreds of resources you can use to learn more; books, podcasts, educators, social accounts.

So start by investing in educating yourself with resources that already exist (rather than asking a Black person to walk you through it all yet again!). As you do that, you can be thinking about this conversation in the same way you think about a deal:

How do you align?
What’s the best way to support somebody?
How do you understand what the needs are?

For example, when making deals I often point out that the biggest negotiation mistake people make is not listening enough. We tune out, we assume we know, or we spend our “listening” time thinking about what we’re going to say next.

However, this is NOT the time to make that mistake. This is a time to listen – fully listen.

When we are talking too much, it’s often because our ego is engaged. We certainly see that happening in many online conversations right now. We all have opinions. But in the same way that your ego can derail a negotiation, it can derail you right now.

Stop trying to be “right”, and focus on being effective. Rather than jumping in with your own opinion, try listening to others. It will serve you in business and negotiations, and it will also serve you when you engage with hard conversations and realities.

(The other big problem? FEAR. Listen in to the full episode to hear my take on the role fear is playing right now.)

Put Yourself on the Social Justice Court

You absolutely have to be willing to make mistakes.

This isn’t an invitation to be reckless and just and do anything. However, you can’t just refuse to speak up or engage because you’re afraid of messing up. If you want to make something happen, you have to put yourself out there.

In business, you can plan, and plan, and plan….and never get anything done. That’s just as harmful as jumping in too fast and taking action when you’re unprepared. So yes – educate yourself. Make an effort to learn more. Listen well.

But don’t forget to take action as well. Speak up. Engage. Be willing to admit to mistakes you might make as you do so.

In deals, we often make strategic alliances. You can do that here too. Whether that means being an ally to, or better yet, an advocate for friends or colleagues, aligning yourself with a movement like Black Lives Matters, or connecting more fully with your community.

As you do this, it’s vital that your focus is on their needs. As a strategic partner, do you need to share? Listen? Support? Comfort? Rally with?

When it comes to engaging with other white people, consider what will be effective and efficient.

  • Where is your energy going?
  • Who are you elevating?
  • Who do you need to move on from?

When you’re trying to negotiate a deal and it’s clear it’s not going to happen, you move on. You want to go where you can make a difference, where progress can be made. It’s okay to stop sinking your time into a person or conversation that clearly isn’t open to learning and changing right now.

Gain Clarity & Identify Disconnects

Do the work to make sure you understand what is acceptable to you, and what’s not.

When I work with clients, we get super clear on the purpose of any possible deal. We question why we’re pursuing it, what impact we hope it will make, and why it matters to us.

You can do that with this work as well. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions, and to dig deeper into what matters to you, and why.

Your deepest why can bring you greater clarity about your principles, your vision, and your values. We are absolutely called to figure out what we truly stand for, who we are, and what we are committed to now more than ever.

Identify disconnects between what you say you are….and who you really are.

It’s easy to post online, but not as easy to take action.
It’s easy to learn the “right” things to say, but not as easy to truly hold those beliefs in your core.

This is the time to question what you are aligned with, and how you can better align with the things you say matter most to you.

Alignment Truly Matters

In every aspect of your life, alignment matters.

Friends, relationship, business, deals, social justice.

When something is out of alignment, it does impact you.

You may find yourself needing to make decisions about people and things that you want in your life, or that you need to remove from your life. Don’t be afraid to take a good long look around and determine what actually aligns with your values, and what doesn’t.

For many years, at the end of every year, I have a practice of evaluating my relationships and determining who I need to eliminate or reduce the time I spend with in my life. It’s become such a habit that I now naturally take care of cutting ties, as needed, throughout the year and there is usually nobody on that list at the end of the year anymore. I’m aware of what aligns and what doesn’t, and I don’t hesitate to make changes in order to amplify what is actually aligned.

You can do the same.

If you say you’re committed to change and growth, you need to make sure your clients, your vendors, your business partners, and your practices are aligned with that value.

More and more, people have the understanding that who you are as a person and who you are as a brand or company is important. If they sense a disconnect, you’re going to have problems. (If you HAVE a disconnect, you have problems!) That’s why paying lip service to an idea without truly aligning yourself and your values is not a solution.

Please take the time to get educated, to explore your deepest values, and to fully listen to the voices of our Black brothers and sisters who are speaking out. Change starts with each of us. You can listen in to the full episode if you’d like to hear the rest of my thoughts on authentic alignment, making a difference in these times and how many of the principles of authentic negotiating and deal-driven growth apply to current challenges and opportunities as well!

As a white person who has been on this journey for over 20 years, I’m here to be a resource to you as well. If you’re serious about growing and learning, feel free to reach out. I would love to be able to provide you with resources and tangible ideas about how you can move forward to truly make a difference in transforming racism and white privilege.

Listen to the full episode here.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

Strategic Business Growth Leads to Deal Opportunities

Lately, you may have noticed that we’re having a wider variety of guests on the podcast. They are speaking about the variety of things you need to do in your company to prepare yourself for deal-related opportunities. This includes strategic business growth decisions like building teams and putting processes in place. It also includes building a company that’s less dependent upon you as the founder.

Strategic Growth Positioning

It is a myth that you need to be a huge company with huge resources and major capital to do deals. Why? Because deals are not only about financing. We’ve covered everything from joint ventures and strategic alliances to licensing deals and affiliate deals online. We’ve also discussed sponsorships and business partnerships. Everybody at any size can do a deal.

However, it does take some level of resources. In the very least, you need somebody with the time and focus and energy to get deals done. Are in the position where you are working in your business as the founder? Do you have to be there every single day to make sure that the sausage is getting made, so to speak, or the products are going out? Because if you’re the one actually delivering the services to the client — then you don’t have the time to work on any kind of deal.

If you’re not doing those things and you haven’t built a team and you haven’t put systems in place, your ability to do deals successfully is extremely limited.

Scalable and Salable

You’re probably familiar with the concept of scalable and salable. You know that those principles ring true whether you’re ever going to sell your business or not. But even if you don’t plan to sell, why not be in a position where you can monetize at the end? Too people get to retirement and their business just sort of goes away.

No matter what your business is, ultimately there is a way to monetize it in some way that lasts beyond your ability to run it. But you have to be sure that it’s not solely dependent upon you, and that you build it in such a way that it has value beyond you. When you build processes and systems and shift your mindset to build a team, that’s when you truly build a brand and something that has value beyond your own efforts.

So many experts and entrepreneurs have experience in doing that, which has allowed them to not only be in a better position to do that ultimate exit deal at the end but also freed them up and made the company more valuable with increased profits while they were running it.

It also ensured they had the power to do deals during their operations, not just at the end when they were phasing themselves out.

Working On Your Business

The fundamental level of this is the concept of working on the business and not in it. People have to figure out what their highest and best use areas are. That means what it is that you are great at, and what you love doing.

And too many people stop there. But just because you love it and you’re good at doesn’t mean it is highly leveraged. It may not even make a big difference in your organization.

You have to assess whether it moves the needle. If you’re not doing stuff at that level, then that’s your first problem.

Second of all, build a team. I’ve built this phenomenal team and they do a lot of the work in the areas that they’re more talented in than me or that are not in my highest and best use areas. It’s their highest and best use areas, though, and that allows me to leverage the high-level things that I do.

I’ve had entrepreneurs tell me that they can’t do that because they haven’t got the right people. Usually, they say things like, “I’m kind of a perfectionist”, or “ I don’t think anybody’s going to do it as good as I do”. Well, those are problems. Both the perfectionist thing and also the lack of trust in other people. Ultimately you can find the right people out there, but some of that is a mindset thing. When you believe they aren’t there, and that no one could ever do the job right, you’ll always have a reason to turn potential candidates away. Or a reason to critique and run off the people you do have.

Trust Me – 80% Works

So here’s something to keep in mind. Some people do it differently than you. And it doesn’t seem like it is as good, but you know what, maybe it is as good, sometimes even better. If they can do it 80% as good as you, let them do it. Even if that means you come in at the end and tweak that final 20%, you’ve saved a significant amount of time and started the process of training someone who will get better and better at understanding what 100% looks like.

When you’re in a position to have a successful business that’s grown organically and that scales in a way that’s not dependent upon you, you get to have a better lifestyle. You’re not working 20 hours a day, you’re not under extreme stress all the time, and you’re bringing in expertise and surrounding yourself with people who are better at certain things. If you have systemized things so that you’re acting in your highest and best use areas, you’re now leveraging what you’re best at. That means that you’re going to be producing more revenue. And then you start to build this team, who is also either producing revenue or helping get the work done, so not only are you going to have more time, but you’ll also be more successful.

And of course, that increases your enterprise value and valuation on the back end.

In your business, that can look like whatever makes the most sense for you. There is no one right way to scale or grow, or to run day to day operations. And you certainly shouldn’t feel obligated to grow past the point that you want your business to be at. What’s important is that you have clarity about what you’re seeking in your business.

I’m speaking from experience here and saying that it starts with us. It starts with addressing our own limiting beliefs and our own willingness to be open to learning and growth. All of that mindset work is the stuff that we need to learn as entrepreneurs so that we can continue to develop in a way that will allow our businesses to scale.

Grow Your Mindset

Over on my website I have a whole list of mentors and leaders in the mindset and development space. If you want to be able to grow more and experience more deal-driven growth, it’s vital that you get your business running in such a way that it’s organically successful and less dependent upon you. That starts with a mindset shift and a willingness to do the personal growth work to make that shift. And that feeds back into your ability to continue to scale, build your team, and put new processes in place when you get to that next level.

What I am committed to is not only deals and growth but really entrepreneurial freedom. I think you’ll see that in some of the stuff we’re doing with our upcoming Entrepreneurial Freedom course. If you have any questions about that, definitely reach out. At the end of the day, I love working with entrepreneurs. I love helping people achieve their dreams and visions. It can be some tough work, but it’s always easier when you have guidance and support.

Listen to the full interview here.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Key Decisions During Challenging Times

In this week’s episode, I break down the key decisions that we all need to make in these challenging times. The insights I offer on this topic come out of my own experience in dealing with challenging times in the past. For instance, coming through previous recessions and Superstorm Sandy.

Leadership Opportunities

As entrepreneurs and business leaders, I think we all have an opportunity to really look closely at two key decision points. The first one is:

Are we going to let these challenging times of crises get us down and derail key decisions?
Will we allow them to adversely impact us in terms of our mental state, our spiritual state, or our emotional state? Or are we going to find a way to rally?

During difficult times, it’s imperative that we stay positive and look for opportunities to excel. That may mean we need to pivot in our businesses, or use this time to develop new offerings for our clients. At an absolute minimum, it means we need to find new ways to stay in contact with clients by finding our own space of attraction and service.

If we don’t do that, we can easily end up in a place of fear and scarcity.

I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of leaders who have rallied, and leaders who have floundered. In fact, both things are happening in the extremes right now. And of course you know certain people in between; treading water and getting by. You get decide what kind of leader you will be! You can make key decisions that will allow you to grow, even through difficulty.

The Power of Positive Entrepreneurs

What I love about entrepreneurs is that, in general, I find them to be generally more positive and optimistic than many other types of people.

They are used to being innovative and finding creative ways to make things happen! And it could be that optimism comes more easily in times of crisis because they’re in control to a greater degree than those who work for others. Being an entrepreneur is different because you have so much agency. Instead of wondering if you’re going to get laid off from a job, you’re able to gear up and create change. But you an only do so if you’re maintaining a positive mindset!

As a business owner, what you’re dealing with is your business. You have the power to make changes or pivot as you see fit. And entrepreneurs clearly take advantage of this ability! In every down time, there are always companies that come out of it stronger than before. Why?

Because they are empowered to create changes and adapt.

Some businesses will use the crisis to figure out how to become more efficient, how to make different offers, and how to produce products that are more appealing to their clients. Some of the most successful companies throughout history, going all the way back to the Great Depression and beyond, have been formed out of downtimes in the economy.

It all starts with whether you look at everything as an opportunity. You can choose to approach this challenge with an open mind, equipping yourself to not only survive, but to thrive.

Stand Strong

Are you constantly asking yourself how you’re going to put the best spin on this?

Are you searching for how you’re going to use this time most effectively?

You have to understand that if you’re in a place of fear or scarcity or lack, if you’re sort of shutting down and letting things affect you, it is going to impact your business. Mindset is everything. If you focus on scarcity, you are more likely to have that come into your life. Choosing to stay positive is one of the most key decisions you can make.

When you focus on positive ways to serve your clients, serve humanity, serve people, you empower yourself.

If you focus on making a difference, being there, and supporting others in these times — that will shine through. And you’ll make an impact on not only your own life, but the lives of others.

Because honestly, whether you worry about it or not, it’s going to be what it’s going to be. So much is outside of your control. When we can get to the point where we are only focusing on the things that we can actually do something about, and not worrying about those that are outside of our control, that’s when we have the opportunity to be in our best position.

So that’s the first fundamental decision you have to make. But you’re not in it alone!

To help leaders in maintaining this positive outlook, I’m bringing entrepreneurs and business leaders together on Zoom calls where we can support each other. The goal is to maintain a positive energy, keep a growth mindset, and share best practices and while in community. The previous calls have been really amazing, and I would encourage you to join us if you haven’t yet!

Key Decisions Include How You Will Serve Others

The second big decision that I want you all to think about is this:

Are you looking for positive ways to serve?
Really consider: are you finding ways of just being there as human beings for each other? How are you actively supporting others in ways that are unrelated to making money or building your business?

And how are you serving your clients and being a resource to them, while also continuing to get paid a fair value for your services?

We all want to be people who make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s vital that we do so in ways that are fair and in keeping with our morals,values, and highest ideals. In these times, especially if you’re facing scarcity, fear, or worry about money, your decisions can get clouded by need.

I know what it’s like to sleep on an air mattress in my office, because I gave up my apartment during the 2008 recession. I know what it’s like to go into $325,000 of debt trying to make it all happen. These are hard times for many businesses, and I understand all too well what that feels like.

But what I also knew in that time was that it was vital to handle my business with character and in alignment to my true values. This is vital; no matter how hard it is, you must act on principle and maintain your core values.

So, how are we going to carry ourselves in these challenging times?

If we have an opportunity to still be in business and sell services and products, are we going to be gouging prices?

Or are we going to charge a fair price, are we going to actively look for ways to be of service? Can we look for ways to still uphold our value for the services that we’re providing, but also accommodate our client’s needs?

Let’s Talk Deals

There are going to be a lot of deals to be had in any kind of down economy. And we each have a choice: you can leverage and take advantage of somebody, or choose to be fair with somebody.

Because yes, there are the “distressed assets” – whether it’s property or business valuations that are tanking – and people who are afraid and may even feel desperate. Some investors will jump on the chance to leverage short-term profit. But others will operate from a place of integrity, a place of character and balance an appropriate adjustment in price and terms with a longer term view that takes into account relationships, valuing talent and fairness under the circumstances.

If you’re entering into a deal, you must consider your legacy and reputation. Not from a place of ego, but from a place of building the kind of business that you can be proud of once this crisis has passed. Certain key decisions regarding deals can leave you worse off down the road if you don’t consider values and relationships.

Be very sensitive about taking advantage of others in the business world; don’t be someone who leverages people’s misfortunes for your own gain.

Remember, most deals are either the start, or the continuation of, a business relationship.

A company might take a deal in the short run, because they’re desperate. They need the money. But if you demoralize everyone involved, is that deal going to work out for you in the long run? Probably not. It’s not going to work out as well as if you had done it the right way.

There’s a difference between right-sizing a deal, and trying to leverage somebody’s misfortune just because you know they don’t have options.
There are ways to structure deals where you can respect both party’s risks. For example, you might commit to a purchase price based upon today’s valuation, which may be down from yesterday’s. But you could also give the ability of the seller to earn some upside if, over the next number of years, the business comes back to where it was.

Then you’re paying for revenue and profits that you will get, but only if you get them, and the deal works out fairly. This is far preferable to trying to leverage somebody at the bottom, and then keeping all the advantage of the upside for yourself.

Long Term Relationships

Doing an honorable deal in times of crisis increases the odds of the seller (and the seller’s team) becoming good employees or minority partners, depending upon how the deal is structured. It makes it more likely you’ll have a deal that will work in the long term. Just from a pure business point of view, it makes sense.

But it’s more than business.

I happen to believe that when we’re out of alignment, even if our actions initially make us more money in the short run, we create problems for ourselves in the long run. Don’t get me wrong: It’s absolutely the time to look for opportunities.

But you have to consider how you’re going to take advantage of those opportunities. Are you going to do so in a way that honors your values?

Key Decisions Provide Both Opportunity and Challenge

So this is our opportunity. This is our challenge. How are we going to stay in a positive mindset while we seek opportunities that are aligned, while also being mindful not to take advantage of people? How are we going to serve others? You can listen in to more of my thoughts on this over on the podcast.

I want to say I’m here as a resource. If anybody’s struggling, or anybody wants to talk through a few things, let’s connect. If you’re wondering: How do I take advantage of opportunities in this market without doing it in a way that’s not aligned? Reach out. I’m here for you.

Earlier I mentioned the Zoom calls, which are free; please join us there. They are going to bring the community together, help us stay aligned with our values, and help us make key decisions and stay positive in these challenging times.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!