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I Really Don’t Care, But in a Good Way

Some years ago, I was involved in a drawn-out negotiation with a Fortune 100 company. The team I was part of had been doing good and richly rewarded work, and we were all interested in upping our game.

  • The client wanted more access to our intellectual property.
  • We wanted a more predictable revenue stream over more years.

Given those motivations, you would think coming to an agreement would be easy. I did too.

It wasn’t.

For reasons I only dimly recall, we got well and truly stuck. We were at risk of not consummating our new relationship. Worse, the client was wondering if we should continue together at all.

In a bid to get unstuck, I flew to the company’s headquarters for a meeting with their point person. He was and is a man for whom I have tremendous respect. Later we became good friends.

Sitting in his conference room, I had a moment of Buddhist-like clarity.

“Keith,” I said. “Ten years from now, whatever we do or don’t agree to won’t matter.  Nobody will remember. Your wife will still love you, and mine will too. Your kids will grow older and hopefully have interesting and fulfilling lives. I hope the same is true for mine.”

He nodded.

“I truly don’t care how this turns out . . . but in the very best way. We both want to do what’s right for our respective teams, but we’ll both be fine however this turns out.”

He smiled.

We figured it out.

True story.

Was that little speech the key to unlocking the contract?  Maybe. I certainly didn’t hurt!

Did I show up as a true pro for the rest of the negotiation because I didn’t care, but in a really good way?

Yes, I did.