Category Archives: Life & Style

Negotiation is no game… but here’s how to win at it (anyway)

Welcome to the first blog in a monthly series from John Viner-Smith.

I have spent my career negotiating. I’m guessing that you have too. I’ve worked in procurement as a buyer, a manager and consultant for over ten years but it was only when I left procurement and worked as a consultant and trainer working with procurement and sales people and focused solely on negotiation that I really came to appreciate negotiation as the core commercial skill.

Children negotiating marbles
Negotiate hard (like these children – over marbles…)

People have some funny ideas about what negotiation is. Let’s start by talking about what it’s not;

1.    Negotiation is not the price discussion that happens at the end of a sourcing process.

  • The entire sourcing process is the negotiation. Every conceivable variable (what are we buying? To what spec? Under what terms? Delivered where? When? How? Etc.) is negotiable.
  • If you park all of those early and plan to negotiate the price at the end, you’re either going to sleepwalk into a very competitive haggle or (assuming you’re negotiating with someone who knows what they’re doing), maybe you’ll just get the deal they wanted to give you all along.

2.    Negotiation is not comfortable

  • Negotiation is a tool for resolving conflict. It is therefore rooted in conflict, which is inherently uncomfortable.
  • If you fail to acknowledge and embrace that discomfort, you may find it becomes a factor in the outcomes you achieve. Ever held back from pushing for a little more in a deal because you didn’t want to be that person? That was your discomfort. And your failure to manage it costs you. Macchiavelli said “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times”. Become comfortable with assessing and doing what is necessary.
  • As buyers, we have developed techniques and technologies that serve to insulate us from the discomfort of direct, face-to-face confrontation. The assumption that this is a good thing is deeply flawed.

3.    Negotiation is not compromise

  • The task of every negotiator is to get the most they possibly can get from each negotiation for themselves and their employers.
  • Compromise is what happens in the absence of effective negotiation.
  • Your goal is not to give the counterparty anything. Gifts are a sign of generosity.
  • If you are perceived as being generous, your counterparties won’t reciprocate with gratitude. They will become greedy. They will want more from you the next time.
  • Instead of conditioning people to expect free gifts, condition them to expect positive outcomes only if they earn them.

4.    Negotiation is not about securing a win-win outcome

  • Negotiation is about you getting everything you can get, not to be fair to the other party.
  • Win-win is a myth. If you assume you negotiate with rational, competent people, you must further assume that they won’t do a deal that has zero or negative value to them.
  • Therefore, they won’t do deals where they “lose”.  If your counterparty criticizes you for acting in a “win-lose” fashion, they are trying to influence how you feel about the deal. They may be genuinely aggrieved, or they may want you to think they are (it’s a backhanded compliment, designed to make you feel good about your “prowess”). If you have genuinely taken everything they could give you well, they still did the deal. So they’re winning something.
  • Conversely when your counterparty exhorts you to do a deal because “It’s a win-win”, one thing is clear; they’re winning something and want to close the deal. You may be doing ok, but could you do better?

5. Money never gets left on the table

  • I have heard countless negotiators tell me about the times they left money on the table.
  • No money ever stays on the table. If you didn’t take it, the other person did.
  • If the value is there to be had, your job is to get it. In a simple, one dimensional negotiation (typically price), that means you take everything and leave them just enough to close the deal and leave the table. In a complex, multi-variable negotiation that means you identify every conceivable source of value to them and to you and ensure you trade them to create a deal that’s bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

6.    Negotiation is not a game and it is not optional.

  • I meet (and negotiate with) people who’ll say “I’m not going to play games with you, the price is X”
  • If you have all the power in the world, and the counterparty has zero option but to do the deal with you on those terms, they will do it. But they will devote time and energy to clawing back some satisfaction in the deal. If and when the balance of power swings their way, you will be punished.
  • What if you’re counterparty was willing to settle for a price of X – Y? You just overpaid by Y, at least. Chances are that the counterparty will get you to move on your price, so you’ll pay more than X.
  • Negotiation is a necessary and important ritual to help you gauge and attain the best possible outcome every time.
  • Fail to negotiate and you just fail. If you closed a deal without negotiation you either created a risk for yourself down the line, or you got exactly the deal they wanted to give you.

I consult for and train procurement teams and sales forces. Effective negotiation training is not cheap, but it is also essential and an investment in people that delivers great returns in short order.

Useful websites and apps to improve your life

Best time-saving websites and apps to simplify your busy life.

Increase your productivity – spend less time on life admin and more on living your life to the fullest.

Best time-saving apps

About.me – sell yourself quickly and easily

What’s better than writing about yourself on Procurious? How about your own little corner of the Web (that can be put-together in under two minutes flat)…

The folks behind About.me know that a little bit of self-promotion can do you the world of good.  Just add photo, sprinkle some words, and connect the social networks of your choosing to your spangly new page.
Best time-saving apps

Trackthisforme – activity tracker that looks as good as you

For the body-conscious out there we’ve got a Procurious guide to health and fitness gadgets in the pipeline, but in the meantime put down that donut and check out trackthisforme.

This lightweight app ably keeps track of mood, weight, hours slept, pushups, and more. Data junkies will also appreciate the resulting tables and graphs that plot your activities.

It’s available for free on both iOS and Android platforms.
Best time-saving apps

Routehappy – flight comparison tool that thinks of everything

You’d be forgiven for thinking Routehappy is just another flight comparison website, but when its mantra reads “all flights are not created equal”, you’ll soon realise your mistake…

Routehappy not only serves as a flight checker, it also allows passengers to search for flights on nicer planes, roomier seats, in-seat power options and quality of entertainment on board. Each flight and airline is awarded a happiness factor so passengers can get a real sense of the experience.

Hipmunk is also worthy of a mention here.
Best time-saving apps

Things – task manager that keeps track of life so you don’t have to

If the very thought of a task manager app fills you with dread, we think you’ll appreciate Things fresh perspective on the mundane. What do you want to do Today? What are the tasks you want to get to Next? And what do you want to Schedule for a later day? Everything has its place.

When entering new to-dos you can quickly add all important information: enter the title, notes, and due date. You can also tag to-dos so you can find them more easily later.

It’s all very intuitive and the app is attractive to boot. Things stores your to-dos and keeps them updated across your Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch so you’ll never suffer from lack of organisation ever again.

Best time-saving apps

Circa – instant access to the latest news stories

News-curation services are seemingly on the up and up. Circa is available purely in app-form and been designed to make it easier to keep tabs on breaking news stories.

Circa editors distil news down into only the essential points so the user doesn’t feel as though they’re being bogged down with details. With Reuters’ social media editor on board too, it should go from strength to strength. Interested? It’s currently available for both iOS and Android

Want more news? Yahoo! has just released its own version – the News Digest app. Plus there’s similar offerings from Romanian-based MediaServista too, which is currently in demo mode.
Best time-saving apps

Xmarks – take your favourite websites with you

Xmarks does an impressive job of seamlessly backing up and syncing bookmarks for your favourite websites across all of your devices. You can also rely on it to remember your passwords and any open browser tabs too. Especially useful when you’ve found a good website at work but can’t remember it come home time.

Xmarks will keep a copy of everything you’ve synced for up to three months, but should you require longer a premium version is available.

Best time-saving apps

Handybook – like having your own housekeeper

It’s been described as the “Uber” of household services.  Handybook provides a web app enabling people to book cleaners, plumbers, handymen and other household service providers. Airbnb also offer their services to those hosts who opt for discounted cleaning after every booking.

At the time of writing Handybook has stretched its calloused, hardworking fingers to Canada, United States, and the UK.

In the UK? If you’re just after some good old-fashioned cleaning, we’ve heard great things about Hassle.com too. Go check them out and use ref841matt for a fiver off.

Best time-saving apps

Freckle – track the time you (and your team) spend doing things

“Your business runs on time. It’s the fuel your team uses to start, create, finish projects for yourselves and your clients. You’ve got to make sure every minute counts… and can be counted” – so says Freckle’s website, and it’s true.

Freckle takes care of this otherwise boring administrative task, giving you some time back to concentrate on more important business decisions.

It’s accessible via a web interface and offers a 30-day free trial for those wanting to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool. Prices then start at $39 per month for a small team.

That’s our lot for now, but if you want to add your suggestions just leave a comment below.

Don’t sell yourself short – stand out from the crowd

Celebrities like Richard Branson & Lady Gaga have carved-out strong personal brands...
Celebrities like Richard Branson & Lady Gaga have carved-out strong personal brands…

Personal branding can make a huge impact on your ability to do your job in the procurement industry.

Personal branding experts suggest that leveraging your online presence, considering who’s in your network and assessing your dress sense can all make an impact on your personal brand.

Kate O’Reilly is the principal of Sydney’s Optimiss Consulting, which advises corporate firms on gender equality, organisational change, business, communications, human capital, corporate governance and personal branding.

Your personal brand as what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself.

We’re all familiar with the personal brands of celebrities such as Richard Branson or Lady Gaga, but we need to learn that personal branding is essential for our success too, O’Reilly says.

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s about what people say when they’re endorsing you or putting you forward for a new role or a new project.”

A lot of people don’t realise that it takes a lot of time to think about personal branding, or that it is something you can construct yourself. “It’s not that it’s artificial. Best branding is authentic, but it’s calculated and planned.”

Developing and delivering a personal brand can be achieved by having an up-to-date CV and LinkedIn profile, being on message and consistent in what you say, considering your look and style, being nice to other people and making connections and delivering on a quality experience to everyone who deals with you.

“Consistency is key in your message, in your look in how you treat people. It’s about being professional in everything you do, getting back to people when you say you will, and delivering on time.

“Is your elevator pitch compelling and memorable? You need to consider why you stand out and what you stand for.”

O’Reilly says there’s nothing fake about manufacturing your personal brand.

“Rather, what you’re doing is deciding how you want to be remembered and having a really good consistent message in absolutely everything you do, and every contact everyone has with you. It’s like any good brand – they pick two or three things, and they repeat them over and over again.”

Consistency is key, she says.

CEO of Brisbane personal branding firm Jump the Q, Rachel Quilty says the number of professionals wanting to develop a specific strategic style has grown. Personal branding affords you more mobility within your industry, she says.

“Consider yourself a brand. Image management is vital in today’s business world. Improving your image and personal brand is an investment in building your personal profile, reputation and the results you will achieve.”

5 brilliant brand new apps for your mobile and tablet

A selection of interesting and useful apps for your everyday use.

Buoyed by Procurious member Georgia Brandi’s discussion topic on productivity tools, we’ve come up with a few ideas of our own. Every day numerous apps are released into app stores the world over, but how do you know which ones are really worth your while?

My Destination app

My Destination
iPhone and iPad (from free)

While My Destination isn’t the newest name on the block (owing to an already successful iPad iteration) – the iPhone version has just been released into the wild.

My Destination offers tips and insights from over 300 local experts around the globe. 100+ destination travel guides, an interactive map, and travel planner all number among its features. It will also save you from racking-up extortionate roaming charges because the premium version works offline too.  The developer tells us that an Android version is coming soon.

It’s like having your own personal travel guide in your pocket…

Word Lens

Word Lens
iOS and Android (from free)

You may have seen Word Lens in the news recently – owing to its makers, Quest Visual, being acquired by Google.

Word Lens comes to the aid of the tongue-tied traveller, knocking down language barriers with ease, and providing you with a greater understanding of the locale at large.

The app works by translating printing words using your device’s in-built camera. Plus with in-app purchases you translate anything from Russian to Portuguese.

You’ll soon be talking like a local!

Foursquare Swarm
Swarm
iOS and Android (free)

The arrival of Swarm follows Foursquare’s decision to unbundle its services into two separate apps.

Swarm bills itself as ‘the fastest way to keep up and meet up with your friends’ – it takes Foursquare’s location-aware kahunas and uses it to notify you if anyone is nearby. Perfect if you’re attending a conference in a strange city and want to find like-minded individuals. It’s also a doddle to share a status, and let everybody know what you’re up to.

It’s currently available on both iOS and Android devices, but Windows Phone users will have to wait a little while yet…

TechSmith Fuse
TechSmith Fuse
iOS (free)

If you’ve ever struggled to get photos or videos off your Apple device, then TechSmith Fuse might just be your saviour…

Gone are the days of clumsily emailing those holiday photos to yourself, Fuse utilizes QR barcodes to pair your PC/Mac with your favourite iThing. Thus enabling an easy import into apps like Snagit and Camtasia. All this is done via the wonders of WiFi, so your data allowance won’t take a hit – happy days!

The app requires iOS 7.0 to be running on your iPhone/iPad.

OmniFocus 2
OmniFocus 2
Mac ($39.99)

OmniFocus 2 understands the pressures of the astute business professional… We’ve all got stuff to do, and balancing a healthy work life with home and play often takes a laser-like focus.

This app has been specially designed for the Mac user, and turns all those yellow post-it notes into one seriously organised workflow. It’s got a whole heap of features that can break your tasks/goals down into manageable actions and projects.

At $39.99 it’s not cheap, but what price can you really put on productivity?

Steve Vamos on Tough Love and Technology

Steve Vamos

Steve Vamos brought more than thirty years’ experience of the Information Technology and online Media industry with him to the 2014 CPO Forum. And with this editor being an ex-Microsoftee, I was bummed I couldn’t be there myself!

From January 2007 to September 2008 Vamos lead Worldwide Sales and International Operations for Microsoft Corporation’s Online Services Group (OSG). There he was responsible for the organization’s international business in more than 30 countries around the world.

Steve was Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Australia and New Zealand from 2003 to January 2007.  But before that he put in stints at ninemsn, Apple, and IBM.

All you lucky Forum delegates will recall Steve Vamos’ pearls of wisdom. But for those who didn’t make it to Sydney here’s what Telstra’s Director had to say:

Harness the knowledge and creativity of your workforce. There’s a need to act obsessively about the alignment of our people and business – we must pay attention to our stakeholders and the world changing around us.

The underlying theme of this year’s Forum was ‘tough love’. Vamos said that the key to alignment and change is this very same notion. But what does tough love really mean? According to Vamos it’s the ability to have difficult conversations and to make tough choices/decisions.

Steve Vamos @ The Forum

Throughout his session Vamos also highlighted the importance of empowerment within the workplace and emphasized a need to end the stifling practice of micro-management.

He rationalized that having a difficult conversation can be made a lot better when you actually care about the person you’re talking to.

In-keeping with the personable theme one of our favourite takeaways was this nugget – you’re a danger to humanity if you’re in management and don’t care about people!

Most of us could also do better when giving others feedback on their performance. We need to change our mindset, as it’s often not simply a case of I’m good and they’re bad.

Change was another pertinent theme: Vamos reminded us that the world has changed and with it comes significant implications. Therefore we need to think differently, and this could spell doom for companies with established practices, as they will be the ones to reject change in a strong way. It is therefore important that you don’t let your thinking fall out of step with the world around you.

In closing Vamos reiterated that knowledge is everywhere. Technology has opened up the available channels of communication and effectively amplified our potential. We are now in a position to connect with an unlimited amount of people.

Play the game like your life depends on it

Angela Giacoumis

We recently had the pleasure of Angela Giacoumis’ company, and she shared some pretty valuable insights with us.

Not wanting to keep them to ourselves we thought it’d be fun to relay it to you in the style of Baz Luhrman’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”. Well why not eh?

Put yourself first

Be unreasonable

The greatest level of service is to serve yourself

We’re reacting to life, we need to choose, be proactive

You get to choose where you start, where you go, where you finish your day

Play the game like your life depends on it

Share your insights

Get out of the stands

Choose yourself

Angela Giacoumis is a leadership educator and Managing Director of Careerlink Training & Recruitment Services. You can follow her on Twitter @agiacoumis https://twitter.com/agiacoumis

Brand You: how to create your own personal brand

Kate O'Reilly

Brand You: because no one knows you better…

FLiP 2014 may have been and gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reflect on some of the inspirational talks given. One such session saw Kate O’Reilly advise attendees on the art of shaping their own personal brand – Brand You (if you will).

Kate was formerly a Deloitte Director whose work with the Deloitte Inspiring Women program led to her winning finalist for the Deloitte Business Woman of the Year and being appointed to the Deloitte Emerging Leaders Council. Kate’s experience extends to the global public and private sector – she can currently be found heading-up Optimiss, a firm that concentrates on the retention and promotion of women throughout business.

Over in Sydney we had our ear to the ground and took away the following learnings:

What you say, how you say it, how you look is really important. Just look at powerful and famous people of influence – they meticulously craft their personal brand and stick to it religiously. And if you want to distil what makes a brand, it can be broken down into the following: Behaviour, Presentation, and Communication.

In order to build a better brand there are a number of things you need to know (or be mindful of). These include:

  •  Your top three personal strengths and talents.
  • Also think about your core area of expertise, as you’ll need to be prepared to demonstrate the value and experience you can deliver. What is it that you can do better than others?
  • Be clear who exactly you are targeting, and think about what they need to hear.
  • Look out for your brand and be prepared to manage conversations about yourself – you need to control how the world sees you. Consider what you want people to say about you, and help this along by being consistent in your messaging.
  • And finally, always search for ways you can actively build and grow your brand.

You can follow Kate on Twitter @Optimiss_Sydney  https://twitter.com/Optimiss_Sydney

Is this the workplace of the future?

Yes we know… The company’s San Francisco office is a thing of modern beauty too!
Yes we know… The company’s San Francisco office is a thing of modern beauty too!

If you attended FLiP 2014 you’ll know that the underlying message was ‘shake up your professional outlook’. Today we’re turning our focus towards a business that’s been shaking things up in their own way – step forward Atlassian.

This enterprising Australian software company is disrupting the staid and tired workplace culture of old – and it must be doing something right as Atlassian has ranked high consistently year-after-year in numerous ‘Best Place to Work’ surveys.

Being a fast growing and dynamic company – Atlassian is passionate about developing innovative HR practices and building awesome workplace cultures. Obviously talent and culture are the key drivers of the businesses’ future success.

Pay a visit to the company’s website and you’ll see glimmers of this philosophy peeking through – as fresh and as tantalising as a crisp spring morning.

‘Open company, no bullshit’ starts us off, ‘build with heart and balance’ grounds us and reminds employees about their emotional core. ‘Don’t #@!% the customer’ comes next (sage words that underpin the working relationship), ‘play as a team’ follows, before the inspirational ‘be the change you seek’ leaves us with food for thought.

Atlassian preach quite a mantra we’re sure you’ll agree… One that reminds us that these aren’t your typical corporate values – with such an open and honest approach it’s hard not to applaud these mavericks and smile.

Now it’s over to you: what do you make of this daring approach? Let us know in the comments below.

The Big Question: Could you live in a world without the iPhone?

A wrinkle in Apple’s supply chain could spell doom for the technology giant. Procurious wonders whether we ought to be worried.

The announcement of a new iPhone/iPad is the stuff of headline news the world over. Apple is one of the most respected titans in the hardware industry, its products have a stranglehold over the hearts and minds of millions (in-fact the level of fanaticism is downright spooky). OK there may be the odd misstep (lest we forget the Apple Maps debacle), but with its impressive track record and market dominance – Apple’s products represent go-to gadgets of choice for most businesses and consummate professionals the world over.

The iPhone’s and iPad’s ability to blend effortlessly into your (doubtless) existing Apple ecosystem makes a world without this modern staple unthinkable to many, but a worrying new report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times hints at dark days ahead for everyone’s favourite fruit.

The rumour mill says we can expect to see two new iPhones (iPhone 6) in the not-too-distant future. According to the paper however, production on the larger (5.5-inch) iPhone handset could be delayed until 2015 due to difficulties in sourcing a supplier for the super-thin 2mm battery. Apple’s tough ask involves shrinking their existing battery technology by a considerable 33% – such a demand puts suppliers under immense strain and will almost certainly affect the production cycle, the effects of which will reverberate the length of the chain.

There’s a convincing argument here for the power of the brand – at this stage in its heritage, Apple’s customers will happily wait for the next-generation to arrive in their hands. But how does this make you feel as procurement professionals – can you sympathise with the situation or this unrelenting thirst for innovation a reckless and dangerous play?

We must wonder too what this could mean for Apple. Can we expect to go through the same motions a few more years down the line – a couple more supply problems, a few more delays? If so disillusionment could surely (and will easily) set in. Look at the once mighty darling of enterprise – BlackBerry. Poor components and overall build-quality affected both the Storm and PlayBook, while delays to BlackBerry software and unsold inventory effectively unseated this once proud King.

It’s not all doom and gloom though – recent iPhone sales figures point to strong Apple earnings. Overall Apple saw a 4.6% increase in quarterly revenue, far-and-away beating Wall Street expectations. However iPad shipments were shown to be on the decline (an almost 20% drop – ouch), and with the company soon to enter the wearables marketplace we wonder whether Cupertino’s finest is starting to spread itself too thin…

We must remember that Apple is also forging ahead and reporting success in BRIC countries – the iPhone has just set sales records in Brazil, Russia, India and China. And with competitor Nokia also looking to developing markets to consolidate their rule, such space could prove quite the battleground in the fight for market dominance. Whatever the outcome, the future looks set to be very interesting indeed…

Are Apple’s products still the apple of your eye? Join in with the discussion! Leave your comments below.