Author Q&A: Star Negotiator, Sports Agent and Corporate Consultant Reveals How Conversation Gets Deals Done

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

Molly Fletcher has learned a lot over the past two decades while negotiating an estimated $500 million worth of deals on behalf of hundreds of the world’s premiere athletes, coaches and television commentators. She reveals the strategies, tips, and insights that have made her wildly successful first as a sports agent and now as a corporate consultant and keynote speaker, in her newest book, A Winner’s Guide To Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done.


MEDIA CONNECT sat down with Molly to ask her all about the book, her career, and more:

 

MEDIA CONNECT: You estimate that you’ve worked on 500 million dollars worth of deals on behalf of 300 clients over the past two decades. What’s been the key to your success?

Molly Fletcher: Relationships and reputation. In the sports agent industry there are more agents than there are athletes to represent. It’s a really competitive business, so you have to be able to effectively build, manage and grow relationships. You have to be able to build relationships with prospective clients while ensuring that you are continuing to develop relationships with your current clients and deliver consistently. You also have to be able to develop relationships with team personnel and manufacturers so you can deliver deals.  How you behave within all of those relationships determines your reputation. You often have to negotiate with the same parties multiple times, and they will avoid you and vice versa if they don’t trust you. Reputation is built on honesty and integrity and allows long term success.

 

MC: Why do you assert that effective negotiating comes down to seeing it as a conversation built over time?

MF: Too often we take a shortsighted view of negotiation. It’s far more effective if you see negotiation as a conversation. Over time, you can have a trust for a process and an approach. Inside of any negotiation, you are trying to solve a problem. There is a gap. In order to get clear on how to close that gap and how to support each other, it requires a conversation. You have to ask questions and be curious, get clear on what gaps exist, and determine how to close them. Most negotiations aren’t clear-cut. There is going to be some ambiguity that you have to work through together. If you try to apply a cookie-cutter approach to negotiation, you’re likely to get blindsided. You have to prepare without question, but you also have to be able to adapt and have a productive conversation.

 

MC: You write in A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating that a great negotiator does five things well. What are they, and which one is the most important?

MF: 1. Set the stage; 2. Find common ground; 3. Ask with confidence; 4. Embrace the pause; 5. Know when to leave. People tend to have the most trouble with embracing the pause in negotiation. It’s often an overlooked part of the process and the one that is the least comfortable for most people. Embracing the pause requires the most intentionality and discipline. Our natural tendency is to want to fill the space. Instead, embrace the pause. It’s when you determine who will make the next move, and you can learn a lot from the move people make within the pause. Very rarely does everything happen all at once in negotiation.  A pause can serve many purposes: it projects confidence in your position; creates anticipation and possibilities; limits emotionality; and adds perspective.  Learn to embrace the pause.

 

MC: What were some odd or unusual things your clients had asked you to negotiate on behalf of?

MF: You see it all, and it’s a reminder of how many factors come into play during a negotiation. We all value different things. A person might be negotiating for a slight increase in salary, without taking into account other options (vacation time, ability to work remotely, etc.) that might be more amendable. Always consider what’s not already on the table. Athletes and coaches could get really creative with this. Some would want hotel suite accommodations on the road negotiated into their contract, or country club memberships or free childcare. We had one coach who really valued a free dry cleaning deal. Some who relocate for a job ask for “X” number of flights for their family to visit. You have to get clear on what matters most. It’s not always just about the money.

 

MC: As an agent-whether sports, real estate, literary, financial—how do you show the value that you bring to the table for a potential client?

MF: Whenever I pitched a client, I made sure to keep the focus on them. I always wanted to first understand what was important to them and what they valued in an agent. Then I could shift the conversation to how we would be able to drive value. Relationships and reputation were really important. I would give a prospect our client list and ask them, “Who do you want to talk to?” The best way for them to understand how I did business was to hear it from someone else. Of course, I would always provide comps and show them how we delivered against the market for other clients but it is much more effective when they hear it from someone in their position. And then once you sign the client, it’s all about execution. You have to deliver.

 

MC: Why should we be aware of the role of gender in negotiations?

MF: In my book, I talk about some of the gender stereotypes that still exist and how they can be manipulated. Gender is powerful, because either overtly or subtly, it can limit what we think we are allowed to ask for, and if we ask at all. There is a strong business case for diversity as we’ve seen reflected in numerous studies. Recent findings from researchers at MIT, Columbia University and Northwestern University found that people in diverse groups are “more likely to step outside their own perspective” than people in homogenous groups. Now think about how important that is to a successful negotiation in which a mutual win is sought. More diversity in negotiation challenges our assumptions, forces us to better articulate our positioning, and opens the door to more possibilities.

 

MC: What advice do you have for someone negotiating a raise or the acceptance of a job offer? 

MF: The initial offer is often the best time to negotiate, as evidenced by statistics. A well-cited study estimates that by not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60. Many employers expect an initial negotiation, so it is a less intimidating time to negotiate. Even if you don’t negotiate, try to understand the roadmap for your compensation so you can set the stage for a future ask. Or consider whether there are non-monetary items you can negotiate. When negotiating a raise, be sure to set the stage. Know comparables. Be able to articulate how you have impacted the company for the greater good, citing specifics. Make sure you have carefully considered the timing of your ask.  If you have done your groundwork, the ask shouldn’t be totally unexpected.

 

MC: You say the best shot at having a successful negotiation happens when you establish 360-degree awareness. What is that and how does one establish it?

MF: 360-degree awareness means that your vision extends beyond your own perspective so that you understand the goals, needs, gaps, values and fears of the other side. It is what allows you to stay a step ahead and anticipate, because you have taken the time to understand the negotiation from multiple perspectives instead of just your own tunnel vision. This anticipation and awareness makes you more prepared in your actions, and more easily able to adapt. The data you gain through 360-degree awareness will be even more valuable as your strategy unfolds throughout the negotiation.

 

MC: How do you know when to walk away from a deal?

MF: Negotiation can be messy, so understanding what you are willing to give up and what you aren’t is critical. Play out the repercussions of every move. Leaving should always be on the menu. That’s one of the first mistakes people make in negotiation—ignoring the possibility that walking away is even an option. The idea of “no deal” after all the work that has gone into the negotiation can be discouraging. I encourage you to always look back and see what you can learn from the process for the next time. A successful negotiation will end with a result that is better than your best alternative. If you settle for less than that; that’s most likely what you will get.

 

Related: Author Q&A: Five-time Bestselling Author Discusses Civil Trial Lawyer, Fred Levin

 

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14 of the Best Insults in Literature

Insults_Pen On Fire

By Johanna Dickson, Digital Publicist

 

A writer’s greatest weapon is their pen, and as easily as they can turn a romantic phrase they can bare their teeth with words. As the saying goes, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” These writers clearly didn’t listen to that one. Here are some of the best insults, quips, and teardowns literature has given us. Next time someone attempts to cut you in line, why not make like Oscar Wilde?

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Author Q&A: Five-time Bestselling Author Discusses Civil Trial Lawyer, Fred Levin

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

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In his new book And Give Up Showbiz? How Fred Levin Beat Big Tobacco, Avoided Two Murder Prosecutions, Became a Chief of Ghana, Earned Boxing Manager of the Year, and Transformed American Law, five-time New York Times bestselling author Josh Young provides a detailed and insightful portrait of one of the nation’s most successful and contentious civil trial lawyers, Fred Levin.

Young examines the unorthodox career path and life of a lawyer who was dogged by two murder investigations, three attempts to disbar him, a successful excursion into professional boxing management, a dysfunctional family life, and a legal career that included civil rights activism, huge lawsuit victories, and settlements that saved lives and reformed the tobacco, drug, and auto industries.

 

MEDIA CONNECT had the pleasure of speaking with Josh Young about the book and Levin:

 

MEDIA CONNECT: What’s Fred’s greatest or most prideful professional moment in a law career that spans more than a half-century?

Josh Young: Undoubtedly it was when Fred rewrote the Florida law that allowed the state to sue Big Tobacco on behalf of Medicaid patients, and got his buddy, who was the president of the Florida Senate, to ram it through unnoticed in the middle of the night. This allowed the state of Florida to sue Big Tobacco to recover Medicaid costs spent on behalf of smokers. Because the law that Levin wrote was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Big Tobacco settled with Florida for $13 billion – and soon settled with every other state, paying out some $206 billion. Prior to that case, Big Tobacco had never paid a nickel to its victims. As a result of the settlement and the changes required in the marketing of cigarettes, more than 100,000 American lives are saved every year.

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5 Reasons Why Libraries Still Matter

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Trinity College library, Dublin, via Libraries In Crisis.

By Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director

 

Last week, the Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, FL opened the doors to a brand new library.  The fact that a new library is opening and not closing is perhaps news in and of itself, but what makes this one particularly unique is that it is completely devoid of physical books.  With an assortment of over 135,000 books, the new university embraced going totally digital as part of their mission: “ to prepare 21st century learners in advanced fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to become innovative problem-solvers and high-tech professionals through interdisciplinary teaching, leading-edge research, and collaborative local, regional and global partnerships.”

The library has its supporters and critics, and similar arguments have been made in the endless debate of  e-books vs print books. Forbes contributor Tim Worstall even recently argued against both libraries AND print books and suggested  that we close the libraries and buy everyone an Amazon Kindle unlimited subscription. Though Worstall’s suggestion may seem like a cost-effective solution on paper, it’s important to note that libraries are about much more than books.  And as S.E. Smith explains in The Week, “A world without public libraries is a grim one indeed, and the assault on public libraries should be viewed as alarming.”

 

Though there are plenty of arguments for why libraries still matter, here are a few:

 

Libraries are a valuable public resource. In his piece, Smith explains that people go to libraries for more than books .  Historically they have been a resource for those who can’t independently afford  books, access to internet and other materials.

 

Libraries provide a sense of community. In addition to books and internet access, libraries also provide other resources such as reading activities for children, various educational classes, and even just a general space for community gathering.

 

Reading isn’t dead. Just because there is an increase in people using e-books doesn’t mean the demand for physical books has gone away.  Libraries are also adapting with the times and providing e-books that can be borrowed.

 

Libraries are amazing archives. Though most information can be found online, not all of it is accurate and not all of it can be accessed freely.  With online resources, certain archives may disappear after a set amount of time.  Libraries help us preserve precious information.

 

Libraries provide an inexplicable experience. Most of us have great memories of going to the library as a child and being overcome with the excitement of being able to pick out some books to take home (at least if you’re a book nerd like myself).  The library provides an experience for us that just can’t quite be explained.

 

If you need more convincing, Julie Dressner and Jesse Hicks released a fantastic short documentary explaining Why Libraries Matter.

 

 

Related: The Power of Radio

 

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Author Q&A: Former Sports Illustrated Writer Discusses Overcoming Tragedy In Tuscaloosa

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

Lars Anderson, the author of six books, spent two decades at Sports Illustrated writing profiles, features, home-length cover stories, games stories, scouting reports and essays for beats that included college and pro football, college and pro basketball, soccer, major league baseball, and NASCAR.  His newest book, The Storm and the Tide, is the true story of the 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and how it inspired the greatest college football dynasty of the 21st century.

The book appeared in The Boston Globe just this past weekend.

In the following Q&A Anderson discusses his experience with the tragedy in Alabama in 2011, how it has changed his life, and the inspiration we can still draw today:

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10 Authors You Need To Follow On Twitter And Their Strategies Worth Stealing

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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist

 

We can trust authors to pen hundreds of pages without batting an eyelash. But how does their craft stand the test of a 140 character limit? Twitter poses a unique challenge for authors who want to preserve the quality of their signature prose style while engaging with readers and posting book content in a space where it can be difficult to be heard.

The following list consists of 10 authors who have not only risen to the challenge, but in their own unique ways have become writers to emulate as the social media world continues to expand. There are poignant takeaways from each of their styles, which set them apart from the crowd.

Read on for a takeaway from each of these must-follow author-turned-Tweeters:

 

Paulo Coelho. When it comes to social media strategy for authors, look no further than Paulo Coelho. I’ve written about him before, highlighting the way he posts timely quotes from his upcoming novels (in an aesthetic, re-tweetable way), and links to his blog posts for his frequent “30-second reads.” He also has a great way of enticing followers to engage, such as posting pictures of readers posing with his new title. Bonus: if you are an author who writes in multiple languages, Coelho is a great example of how to tweet for a multi-lingual audience. Warning: following Paulo Coelho will most likely result in frequent re-tweets.

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Margaret Atwood. Atwood joined Twitter in 2009, after the release of one of her titles. In a brilliant piece about Twitter she wrote for The New York Review of Books, she recounted her decision to join the Twittersphere at the suggestion of her website curator: “’You have to have a Twitter feed on your Web site,’ they said. ‘A what?’ I said, innocent as an egg unboiled. To paraphrase Wordsworth: What should I know of Twitter? I’d barely even heard of it. I thought it was for kiddies.’” Needless to say, five years and 520k followers later Atwood seems to have gotten the hang of it. Her tweets are thoughtful, and she’s not afraid to use hashtags.

In her own words as told to The New York Review of Books: “… Typical of ‘social media’: you’re always saying things you shouldn’t have said. But it’s like the days of Hammurabi, and those of the patriarch Isaac in the book of Genesis, come to think of it: once decrees and blessings have made it out of the mouth—or, now, in the 21st century, out of the ends of the fingers and past the Send button—you can’t take them back.”

One of the quickest ways to lose followers, and potentially destroy your reputation, is to tweet something too controversial that alienates too many people. Atwood’s rule of thumb is worth emulating. Also worth emulating: using hashtags to increase your exposure and jump into conversations. Creating a hashtag for your book is also a great way to see who’s talking about your latest title.

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John Green. Though he wasn’t included in a list of Top Tweeters by The Guardian, I felt that John Green deserves more than just a nod – I would argue that he is one of the best examples of an author using Twitter to directly engage with his audience. For a Young Adult author engagement on social media is crucial, and helped turn John Green into a rock star in his own right in the YA world.

So how does he do it? Twitter chats and mixed media tweets. As for the former, either solo or with a fellow author, Green has live Twitter “chats” with users who simply ask him questions using a pre-determined hashtag. Users engaging in the chat simply follow the hashtag, and are encouraged to either re-tweet or favorite their favorite answers or ask a question and jump right into the conversation. As for the latter, mixed media, Green includes YouTube videos and other forms of online video to connect with followers in a deeper way. Green and his brother run their own YouTube channel, where Green gets in front of the camera for short clips covering a range of topics from back to school to his experiences in Africa with Bill Gates.

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See remaining authors and strategies after the jump.

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The Power of Radio

Radio

By Nicole Martineau, Publicist

 

One of our specialties here at MEDIA CONNECT is the Morning Drive Radio Tour, a popular service where we arrange back-to-back interviews with radio stations across America in a single morning. Whether you are a top publishing house, a non-profit, a corporation, or a government agency, MDRTs are a time and cost-efficient way to maximize exposure and deliver your message to your target audience.

However, in recent years, there has been a lot of misinformation floating around regarding the future of radio. In 2010, former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller stated that Internet radio would replace “radio towers” within ten years. With misleading sound bites like this and headlines reading “Radio Digs Its Own Grave as Cultural Currents Shift,” it’s understandable why a lot of people think broadcast radio is no longer a powerful medium, let alone a publicity tool.

While it is true that radio stations need to adapt to the ever-changing digital age we now live in, Internet radio and mobile devices may not be as big of a threat to “radio towers” as one may think. In fact, they have been proven to maximize the number of Americans listening to broadcast radio. We turn to Arbitron, a proven leader in producing media ratings and research reports, for proof.

According to the “State of the Media: Audio Today 2014” report released by Arbitron earlier this year, radio, through traditional and nontraditional methods, reaches more than 90 percent of everyone in the U.S. each week:

“Audio is available on multiple platforms, in real time, wherever consumers want to listen on more than 16,000 stations across the country covering 50 different formats. Radio is also a hyper-local medium serving every unique community from one coast to the other…Audio consumers are listening for more than 2.5 hours every day, and one of radio’s best-kept secrets is its ability to reach a highly qualified audience right before they arrive to shop.”

In addition to being an effective tool for reaching out to the general population, radio is also drawing in one of the most highly sought after audiences in America: Millennials. According to Arbitron’s “It’s a New Millennial” report released in February, 90 percent of Millennials (ages 18-34) tune into radio each week:

 “Despite rapidly evolving technology, radio continues to engage an extraordinarily high percentage of Millennials across the country each week…As these young adults move into the workforce, 74 percent of Millennials are working either full- or part-time. And as work becomes an integral part of their lives, they find themselves tuning in when they’re more frequently away from home, which is where most listening occurs. In fact, the PM Drive (weekdays 3 p.m.-7 p.m.) is the most popular time of day for Millennial radio listening.”

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Radio has also been proven to be powerful tool for reaching minorities in the U.S., particularly African American and Hispanic audiences. Arbitron’s “State of the Media: Audio Today – A Focus on African American and Hispanic Audiences” report released in April, states that African American and Hispanic listenership has reached a historic high:

More than 71 million from these demographics tune in each week. Combined, these listeners account for nearly a third (29.6%) of the total national audience…These multicultural audiences are highly engaged with radio all across the country, in markets large and small, where more than 3,000 different stations program to them specifically.”

These facts don’t lie. Whether it’s through a car radio or on an iPhone app, millions of Americans are turning to broadcast radio programs each week for news and entertainment, further proving that this medium is, and will continue to be, a powerful and effective medium for reaching consumers in the digital age.

 

Related: 27 Tips To Help You Pitch The Media

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Author Q&A: New Book Lends Insight On Global Terrorism

By Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer

 

MEDIA CONNECT has promoted thousands of authors and books over the years, but few have managed to educate me the way a new book on the subject of terrorism has.

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No “Faults” For John Green

By Cori Cagide, Publicist

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Okay, so you may be thinking I’m late on the John Green train for this one, and I probably am. I first decided to read The Fault in Our Stars earlier this Summer when I found out about the movie coming out starring Shailene Woodley. I was hesitant because, as I’m sure you all know, it’s a pretty heavy topic. It was the start of Summer, and I was looking for a good beach read, not something that would make me burst into tears next to strangers on the subway during my commute.

However, disregarding my gut feeling, I read it anyway, mostly because people WOULD NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. That, coupled with the fact that he brought out the biggest crowd at BookCon immediately following my first BEA conference – I figured the guy knew what he was doing.

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A Look at the Man Booker Longlist Books by American Authors

By Adrienne Fontaine, Senior Publicist

As a part of my summer reading, I read four of the five books written by Americans and named on the longlist for the Man Booker prize. The fifth, Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog, is not yet available in stores.

 

AF_ManbookerI started with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler (best known for The Jane Austen Book Club). The book is about a young woman named Rosemary Cooke, whose father—a psychology professor—adopts a chimpanzee named Fern and tries to raise it as a second daughter within the family, as part of a research experiment. The experiment goes awry and the chimp is sent away to a lab and kept in captivity for the rest of its life. The banishment of the chimp causes an unbridgeable rift in the family, for the young son takes up the cause of animal activism and takes it to domestic-terrorism levels.

The book shows the complex relationships between humans and chimps, between members of a family, between science and morality, between males and females, and between friends in their adolescence. I like how the book uses a stranger-than-fictional plot at the beginning to later realistically portray and comment on animal cruelty.

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