Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Last Lecture By Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture By Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow

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A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." --Randy Pausch

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #871 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-04-08
  • Released on: 2008-04-08
  • Format: Deluxe Edition
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .90" h x 5.40" w x 7.10" l, .60 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 206 pages


  • Lecture
  • Randy Pausch
  • Jeffrey Zaslow
  • The Last Lecture
Editorial Reviews Review
"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

Questions for Randy Pausch

We were shy about barging in on Randy Pausch's valuable time to ask him a few questions about his expansion of his famous Last Lecture into the book by the same name, but he was gracious enough to take a moment to answer. (See Randy to the right with his kids, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe.) As anyone who has watched the lecture or read the book will understand, the really crucial question is the last one, and we weren't surprised to learn that the "secret" to winning giant stuffed animals on the midway, like most anything else, is sheer persistence. I apologize for asking a question you must get far more often than you'd like, but how are you feeling?

Pausch: The tumors are not yet large enough to affect my health, so all the problems are related to the chemotherapy. I have neuropathy (numbness in fingers and toes), and varying degrees of GI discomfort, mild nausea, and fatigue. Occasionally I have an unusually bad reaction to a chemo infusion (last week, I spiked a 103 fever), but all of this is a small price to pay for walkin' around. Your lecture at Carnegie Mellon has reached millions of people, but even with the short time you apparently have, you wanted to write a book. What did you want to say in a book that you weren't able to say in the lecture?

Pausch: Well, the lecture was written quickly--in under a week. And it was time-limited. I had a great six-hour lecture I could give, but I suspect it would have been less popular at that length ;-).

A book allows me to cover many, many more stories from my life and the attendant lessons I hope my kids can take from them. Also, much of my lecture at Carnegie Mellon focused on the professional side of my life--my students, colleagues and career. The book is a far more personal look at my childhood dreams and all the lessons I've learned. Putting words on paper, I've found, was a better way for me to share all the yearnings I have regarding my wife, children and other loved ones. I knew I couldn't have gone into those subjects on stage without getting emotional. You talk about the importance--and the possibility!--of following your childhood dreams, and of keeping that childlike sense of wonder. But are there things you didn't learn until you were a grownup that helped you do that?

Pausch: That's a great question. I think the most important thing I learned as I grew older was that you can't get anywhere without help. That means people have to want to help you, and that begs the question: What kind of person do other people seem to want to help? That strikes me as a pretty good operational answer to the existential question: "What kind of person should you try to be?" One of the things that struck me most about your talk was how many other people you talked about. You made me want to meet them and work with them--and believe me, I wouldn't make much of a computer scientist. Do you think the people you've brought together will be your legacy as well?

Pausch: Like any teacher, my students are my biggest professional legacy. I'd like to think that the people I've crossed paths with have learned something from me, and I know I learned a great deal from them, for which I am very grateful. Certainly, I've dedicated a lot of my teaching to helping young folks realize how they need to be able to work with other people--especially other people who are very different from themselves. And last, the most important question: What's the secret for knocking down those milk bottles on the midway?

Pausch: Two-part answer:
     1) long arms
     2) discretionary income / persistence

Actually, I was never good at the milk bottles. I'm more of a ring toss and softball-in-milk-can guy, myself. More seriously, though, most people try these games once, don't win immediately, and then give up. I've won *lots* of midway stuffed animals, but I don't ever recall winning one on the very first try. Nor did I expect to. That's why I think midway games are a great metaphor for life.

From Publishers Weekly
Made famous by his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon and the quick Internet proliferation of the video of the event, Pausch decided that maybe he just wasn't done lecturing. Despite being several months into the last stage of pancreatic cancer, he managed to put together this book. The crux of it is lessons and morals for his young and infant children to learn once he is gone. Despite his sometimes-contradictory life rules, it proves entertaining and at times inspirational. Surprisingly, the audiobook doesn't include the reading of Pausch's actual Last Lecture, which he gave on September 18, 2007, a month after being diagnosed. Erik Singer provides an excellent inflective voice that hints at the reveries of past experiences with family and children while wielding hope and regret for family he will leave behind. The first CD is enhanced with photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

'incredibly moving' -- Daily Record

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

1605 of 1695 people found the following review helpful.
5If "he not busy being born is busy dying", Randy Pausch is immortal
By Jesse Kornbluth
One of the staples of "the college experience" at many schools is the "last lecture" --- a beloved professor sums up a lifetime of scholarship and teaching as if he/she were heading out the door for the last time. It's the kind of tweed-jacket-with-elbow-patches talk that may or may not impart useful knowledge and lasting inspiration, but almost surely gives all present some warm and fuzzy feelings.

But a "last lecture" by Randy Pausch was different in every possible way. The professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University was just 46, and this really was his last lecture --- he was dying.

And dying fast. In the summer of 2006, Pausch had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a ferociously efficient killer. Only 4% of its victims are alive five years after diagnosis. Most die much faster. Think months, not years.

Pausch fought back. Surgery. Chemo. Progress. But in August of 2007, the cancer returned --- and now it had metastasized to his liver and spleen. The new prognosis: 3-6 months of relative health, then a quick dispatch to the grave, leaving behind a wife and three little kids.

On September 18, 2007 --- less than a month later --- Randy Pausch gave his last lecture.

No one would have faulted him for launching a blast about desperately seizing opportunities in an irrational universe. Instead, Pausch delivered a laugh-filled session of teaching stories about going after your childhood dreams and helping others achieve theirs and enjoying every moment in your life --- even the ones that break your heart. Pausch's philosophy, in brief: "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."

The lecture was taped, and slapped up on YouTube. Jeffrey Zaslow wrote about it in The Wall Street Journal, and news shows made Pausch "person of the week" --- and soon Pausch had a book deal reported to be worth almost $7 million. Few expected him to be alive when it was published.

On February 19, I interviewed Randy Pausch for Reader's Digest. To the surprise of many --- including Pausch --- he was still his recognizable, energetic self. As I write (in early April, 2008), Pausch reports he's recovering from a standing eight count. But his good news doesn't deceive him. He notes that pancreatic cancer did to the photographer Dith Pran ("The Killing Fields") what Pol Pot couldn't --- it buried him in three months.

And now we have the book. It's two books, really, because it reads one way with the author still among us and will surely read differently when "The Last Lecture" is like the The Butterfly and the Diving Bell --- the record of a dead man, talking. The first book invites your support and gives you a wake-up call. The second, I suspect, is also a wake-up call but, between the lines, reminds you that even happiness can't save you from death.

Somewhere in between --- in the quiet space where a book really lives --- is a document that accomplishes a lot in 200 pages. It's about paying attention to what you think is important (when asked how he got tenure early, Pausch replied, "Call me at my office at 10 o'clock on Friday night and I'll tell you") and working hard and listening really well. It's easy to miss that last part of that in the emotion and the stories surrounding this book, but Pausch argues that hearing what other people say about you and your work is crucial to success and happiness. Because this is what you get: "a feedback loop for life."

So, if you must, shed your tears for Randy Pausch. Imagine what it would be like if you or your dearest loved one drew the card called pancreatic cancer. And then put dying aside, and get on with your dreams. Amazing how many you can achieve if you want them badly enough. And how they have the power to cushion the pain when the bad stuff happens.

Sounds crazy, I know: Pollyanna in the cancer ward. But I talked with the guy. And we laughed and laughed. Of all the achievements in a life that's winding down, that's got to be up there.

474 of 548 people found the following review helpful.
4The life and dying of a decent man
By Kerry Walters
UPDATE: Randy Pausch passed away on Friday, 25 July 2008. R.I.P.

At one point in my life, I spent a couple of years as a hospital chaplain, ministering pretty regularly to folks who were dying. I discovered one thing: generally people died as they had lived. How a person approaches his or her dying reveals a great deal about the values, character traits, dispositions, and attitudes with which they navigated the business of living.

What comes through clearly in Randy Pausch's little book is that he's a guy who's incredibly decent and loving. He writes warmly of his childhood and his parents; he assures us that he's achieved just about every goal he dreamed of as a youth; he appears to be a good and dedicated teacher; he loves his wife and kids; and even when he assures us that he, like everyone else, has personality issues that need working on--he is, he tells us, a "recovering jerk"--his admitted foibles seem pretty tame. Pausch is Joe Everyperson.

I think that's the value of his Last Lecture. Pausch clearly isn't of a philosophical bent of mind. If you pick up his book looking for profound existential discussions about human frailty and mortality (as, I confess, I did), you're not going to find them. I've no doubt that, since the onslaught of his illness, he and his wife Jai have endured despairing dark nights of the soul, paralyzing bouts of panic, and heart-pounding rage against the dying of the light. But except for very rare intimations, Pausch draws a veil over such episodes, and instead offers a mixture of autobiographical reflections and homespun tips on making the most of life (such as managing time, re-thinking priorities, and learning to listen to others). As he tells us, his final lecture to us is about life more than death.

Pausch's ability to hang onto the everyday, to the ordinary aspects of life even as his own draws to an end, is both the book's strength and its weakness. It's a strength in that it spotlights human courage and compassion, and in this regard The Last Lecture is an inspirational success. But one also senses that Pausch's insistence on staying on the surface of things might suggest a deep resistance to the unsettling fact that the surface of things is inexorably slipping away from him. One can talk candidly about one's death without having come to terms with the reality of what one's saying.

I say this without any intent whatsoever of making a value judgment. Each of us copes with death the best we can, and I have no window into Pausch's soul. It's just that after reading (and rereading) his book, I don't really feel as if I've come to know him. Although The Last Lecture is the story of Randy Pausch's life and dying, I sometimes got the uncanny impression that he wasn't really in it. At the end of the book, I felt as if I'd gotten to know his wife, Jai, better than I knew Pausch.

But these reservations should be taken as they're intended: reflections, not necessarily criticisms, of a moving story about a man confronting the mystery all of us must face. Pausch's book, the chronicle of an ordinary man trying to die as decently as he lived, is well worth reading.

222 of 274 people found the following review helpful.
5A Big Gift of Affirmation in a Small Package
By Brent Green
As I opened the shipping box from, I found two preordered copies of Randy Pausch's book, one for my family and one for whoever needs it most within the next few weeks. This could be a friend or business acquaintance who has reached some personal crisis or turning point. I'll know. Randy's message will find the right recipient.

This book is a very large gift in its compact, neatly bound actuality. It is a gift of hope and affirmation, a gift of encouragement and courage.

Recently I said good-bye to a friend and business colleague who at 58 died of pancreatic cancer. His was a more private passing, but nevertheless he fought the disease until the disease won, and he died with dignity. Two days before his death, he called a mutual friend to wish this friend good luck with minor corrective surgery. Even two days before death my stricken friend was thinking of others' welfare. As I sat in his memorial service with 300 other mourners, watching a slide presentation of his photographs and original art, I also thought about Randy Pausch. The two personalities mixed together because they shared so many of the same qualities: creativity, professionalism, gusto for living, a sense of humor, lifelong dedication to giving back to their communities, and a profound faith in personal power.

This is the story of The Last Lecture: that we can face any challenge in this life as long as we welcome our fate with optimism and determination to confront all odds. We can live for the welfare of others. We can live today with our legacies in mind for the future -- after we are also gone.

The good professor is his own metaphor. In this final gift, he both teaches and does.

Much will be said about this book and its immediate iconic impact on a nation experiencing the doldrums of war, economic turmoil and loss of standing among other nations. Here is the story of one American sharing the wisdom of our universal humanity, our fragility, our mortality, and our capacities to transcend. Here's one of our best and brightest.

In the ways of passionate storytellers, Randy Pausch and coauthor Jeffry Zaslow tell us how to achieve the most vital of all human yearnings: realization of childhood dreams. And for adults who believe their dreams have passed them by, this book offers an intuitive methodology to reignite the fires of youthful optimism and fervor.

Within this book's narrative are timeless lessons of showing gratitude, setting goals, keeping commitments, tolerating frustration, maintaining a sense of humor in the face of adversity, telling the truth, working hard, celebrating victories when they arrive, and choosing to be a fun-loving Tigger over a sad-sack Eeyore.

Life is short, a fact affirmed once again with the passing of Randy Pausch on July 25, 2008. This "last lecture" is no less significant for the young and healthy as it is for the sick and old.

Dream big, reach for the stars now...


10 Cs Of Supplier Evaluation

Evaluating Potential Suppliers

Damaged fragile parcel

How can you be sure that your suppliers will meet your standards?

© iStockphoto/paulaconnelly

Have you ever established a relationship with a supplier, only to realize, later, that you'd made the wrong choice?

For example, you may have found a supplier that offered a good price, but later realized that its quality standards were low, or that its communication was unacceptably poor.

Mismatches between your needs and a supplier's offerings can add costs, cause delays, and even damage your organization's reputation – for example, if the equipment or resources supplied are substandard.

The "10 Cs of Supplier Evaluation" help you avoid problems like these. This checklist helps you to set out your organization's needs, understand how suppliers can meet them, and identify the right supplier for you.

You can adapt the 10 Cs checklist to outline your organization's needs in a tendering process. Use each of the elements to state the standards that you want your bidders to meet.


Ray Carter, director of DPSS Consultants, first outlined his Seven Cs of Supplier Evaluation in a 1995 article in "Purchasing and Supply Management." He later added three new Cs to the model.

The 10 Cs are:

  1. Competency.
  2. Capacity.
  3. Commitment.
  4. Control.
  5. Cash.
  6. Cost.
  7. Consistency.
  8. Culture.
  9. Clean.
  10. Communication.

Used as a checklist, the 10 Cs model can help you evaluate potential suppliers in several ways.

First, you can use it to analyze different aspects of a supplier's business: examining all 10 elements of the checklist will give you a broad understanding of the supplier's effectiveness and ability to deliver.

The checklist can also help you negotiate a lower price with a supplier.

For example, you're unlikely to find one that excels in all 10 areas; however, one might be strong in some areas and weak in others. You can use this insight to bargain for a lower price, especially if you perceive that the supplier's weaknesses pose a risk for your firm, and if you need to take action to minimize this risk.

If you have only a few suppliers to vet, you might quickly eliminate all of them, if you want them to excel in all 10 Cs.

To avoid this, use a tool such as Grid Analysis to choose the supplier who best satisfies the conditions that are important to you. However, also double-check the areas where the supplier is weak – some of these may make a relationship impossible.

Using the 10 Cs

Let's look at how you can apply the 10 Cs to find the supplier that will best fit your organization's needs and values.

Tip 1:
When asking questions of either the supplier or its customers, be ready to ask probing questions – ones that will reveal the level of detail that you need to make an informed decision.

Tip 2:
For business-critical resources, for situations where you will be spending a lot of money, or where you want a long-term relationship with a supplier, it's worth putting a lot of effort into supplier evaluation.
1. Competency

First, look at how competent this supplier is. Make a thorough assessment of the supplier's capabilities measured against your needs, but then also look at what other customers think. How happy are they with the supplier? Have they encountered any problems? And why have former customers changed supplier?

Look for customers whose needs and values are similar to yours, to ensure that the information you gather is relevant to your organization.

2. Capacity

The supplier needs to have enough capacity to handle your firm's requirements. So, how quickly will it be able to respond to these, and to other market and supply fluctuations?

Look at all of the supplier's resources, too. Does it have the resources to meet your needs, particularly when commitments to other clients are considered? (These resources include staff, equipment, storage, and available materials.)

3. Commitment

Your supplier needs to provide evidence that it's committed to high quality standards. Where appropriate, look for quality initiatives within the organization, such as ISO 9001 and Six Sigma.

The supplier also needs to show that it is committed to you, as a customer, for the duration of the time that you expect to work together. (This is particularly important if you're planning a long-term relationship with the supplier.)

You'll need evidence of its ongoing commitment to delivering to your requirements, whatever the needs of its other customers.

4. Control

Query how much control this supplier has over its policies, processes, procedures, and supply chain.

How will it ensure that it delivers consistently and reliably, particularly if it relies on scarce resources, and particularly if these are controlled by another organization?

5. Cash

Your supplier should be in good financial health. Cash-positive firms are in a much better position to weather the ups and downs of an uncertain economy.

So, does this supplier have plenty of cash at hand, or is it overextended financially? And what information can the supplier offer to demonstrate its ongoing financial strength?

6. Cost

Look at the cost of the product that this supplier provides. How does this compare with the other firms that you're considering?

Most people consider cost to be a key factor when choosing a supplier. However, cost is in the middle of the 10 Cs list for a reason: other factors, such as a commitment to quality and financial health, can potentially affect your business much more than cost alone, particularly if you will be relying on the supplier on an ongoing basis.

7. Consistency

How will this supplier ensure that it consistently provides high quality goods or services?

No one can be perfect all of the time. However, the supplier should have processes or procedures in place to ensure consistency. Ask this supplier about its approach, and get a demonstration and a test product, if possible.

8. Culture

The best business relationships are based on closely matching workplace values. This is why looking at the supplier's business culture is important. For example, what if your organization's most important value is quality, and your main supplier cares more about meeting deadlines? This mismatch could mean that it's willing to cut corners in a way that could prove to be unacceptable to you.

Use the Cultural Web as a guide to organizational culture.

9. Clean

This refers to this supplier's commitment to sustainability, and its adherence to environmental laws and best practices. What is it doing to lighten its environmental footprint? Ask to see evidence of any green accolades or credentials that it's earned.

Also, does this supplier treat its people – and the people around it – well; and does it have a reputation for doing business ethically?

10. Communication

Query how the supplier plans to keep in touch with you. Will its proposed communication approaches align with your preferred methods? And who will be your contact person at this firm?

It's also important to find out how the supplier will handle communications in the event of a crisis. How quickly will it notify you if there's a supply disruption? How will that communication take place? And will you be able to reach senior people, if you need to?

Ensure that all of the information generated by your research – especially queries aimed directly at the supplier – is in writing. This will mean that information is "on the record," and that you can locate it easily in case of a problem.
Key Points

Ray Carter first developed his Seven Cs of Supplier Evaluation in 1995. He later added three more Cs.

The 10 Cs are:

  1. Competency.
  2. Capacity.
  3. Commitment.
  4. Control.
  5. Cash.
  6. Cost.
  7. Consistency.
  8. Culture.
  9. Clean.
  10. Communication.

You can use this model to evaluate the competency and viability of potential suppliers. This, in turn, can help you choose the firm that best meets your needs, and that aligns with your organization's values.

Thanks to MindTools / Mind Tools Ltd

Distributive Bargaining

Negotiating When You Can't Both Win

Understand the bargaining range.

© iStockphoto/megatronservizi

Negotiating a great price for goods and services can seem to need the tactical skills of a chess Grand Master.

For example, where do you start bidding? You don't want to pay more than you need to, but if you start too low, will the other party decide that you're a time-waster? When should you pull out if things aren't going your way? And at what point do you announce your 'best and final offer'?

"Distributive Bargaining" can help you answer all of these questions. Applied successfully, it should mean that more value is "distributed" to your side. In many situations, this is vitally important for profitability and business success.

Distributive Bargaining is all about compromise and accepting that not all negotiations can end in a win-win situation. It's used when the goods or services on offer are fixed, and you're simply negotiating on price. In fact, it's often described as a "win-lose" approach because every dollar that you reduce the price by (if you're buying) or increase it by (if you're selling) is simply a direct "win" for you and a "lose" for the other party. Having said that, both parties can still end up feeling satisfied that the final price they've agreed is a fair one.

Distributive Bargaining Basics

Distributive Bargaining assumes that, before entering a price negotiation, the participating sides will each have three critical figures in mind:

  • A Target Price – this is the optimal outcome for each negotiator.
  • A Resistance Point – this is the point beyond which each negotiator will not go.
  • An Opening Offer (for the buyer) or Asking Price (for the seller) – this is the initial offer each side puts on the table.

Suppose you're negotiating the rent of new office space. The Asking Price is the price set by the owner of the property. Your Target Price is the price you want to pay, based on square footage. And your Resistance Point is the maximum you're willing to pay. The owner has his or her own Target Price and Resistance Point as well.

The spread between the owner's Resistance Point and your Resistance Point is the Bargaining Range. It's within this area that negotiations can actually take place, as anything outside this range will be rejected outright by one side or the other. This is shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1 – The Bargaining Spread

The Bargaining Spread

Another dynamic to be aware of is the concept of "alternatives." If either party has a viable alternative to the current deal, they can use that as leverage. In our example, if this were the only office space available and you were the only potential tenant, you'd have to reach an agreement. However, the owner knows there are other offices you could rent and you know there are other people out there looking for premises. The most favorable alternative to doing a particular deal is often known as a BATNA, which stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It's worth taking some time to identify your own and the other party's BATNAs before beginning negotiations. Remember that, with Distributive Bargaining in general, the more information you can gather about the person you are negotiating with, the better.

The objective in a distributive situation is to find a settlement point you can both agree on. Each party wants to claim as big a proportion of the Bargaining Range as possible. So, although you go into the negotiation knowing you're going to give some of your position away, the critical point is that you want to give away less than the other person.

Just how much you'll be prepared to concede depends, of course, on the package on offer. In our office rental case, the money paid doesn't have to be the only bargaining point. There's a range of other options, which could be included in the deal. Maybe you're willing to pay a bit more in rent if some improvements can be made to the space before you move in. Perhaps you can get cleaning services thrown in for free. Or you might be willing to sign a longer-term lease, in exchange for lower rent. This kind of bargaining mix gives you a variety of possibilities to consider before entering the actual negotiation.

As well as this, there are some intangibles you need to consider. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What value do you place on your reputation in the bargaining situation? Will striking a hard bargain win you more respect, either from your opponent or your employer?
  • Are you setting a precedent? Are you likely to have on-going or future negotiations with the same party?
  • How important is it to be fair?
  • Do you have certain principles you won't compromise?
  • Is time a factor?

Remember to construct your own position carefully before you enter a Distributive Bargaining situation. You'll have more possibilities for negotiation, and a more comprehensive understanding of your Resistance Point.

Bargaining Strategies

Information is key to any Distributive Bargaining scenario. The more you know about the other person's motives and needs the better. So:

  • Do appropriate research, and consult any relevant documents and publications in advance.
  • Talk to others who've dealt with the person or company.
  • Make your own direct observations and pay careful attention to any facts revealed by the other party before and during the negotiation.

Remember that in order to maximize the value of the deal for your side, you ideally want to discover the other party's Resistance Point while concealing your own. However, this is rarely easy as the other side will be equally focused on not revealing too much information!

Typically, the best you can do is influence the other party's Resistance Point so you gain more of the bargaining spread. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Create the impression that you don't need a quick settlement. If the other person recognizes that you need to close the deal without delay, they'll use that to their advantage. The more you can "wait it out," the better for you!
  • Acknowledge the other party's BATNA. Make clear why your deal is more attractive to, for example, a rival bid or no deal at all. Find ways to convince the other person that delaying or ceasing negotiations with you will cost them in the long run.
  • Try to undermine the other party's Resistance Point. Argue that the options you're proposing are more attractive than the one the person is holding out for. Point out things that might have been overlooked. But only reveal facts that are really necessary: play your cards close to your chest!

Positions to Take During Negotiation

You've learnt as much as you can about your opponent, and prepared your position as thoroughly as possible. Each side now takes a position. These positions are expected to change as new information is revealed, possible outcomes are debated, and the value of a likely settlement becomes clearer. Here are some factors to consider:

Opening Offer (or Asking Price, if You're the Seller)

How do you set the level of your Opening Offer? Do you want to imply cooperation by suggesting something close to your Resistance Point? Or do you begin with an extreme offer, which you can assume to be close to the other side's Resistance Point?

Doing the latter clearly gives you more room to negotiate and can often prove advantageous: it gives you more potential points at which you can settle. Perhaps more importantly though, it sends a message to the other party that you're a long way from agreement, and some major concessions will be expected. However, remember that there's always a risk in this situation that the other person will simply walk away, and, if you're hoping to have an ongoing relationship, this kind of hardball stance may prove destructive. Make sure that, if you do decide to start with an extreme offer, you've got a viable BATNA yourself to fall back on.

Your Stance

Plan what attitude you'll display during the negotiation. A tough, competitive stance will probably be met with the same. As long as you're prepared to negotiate with someone equally as stubborn, this may work for you. However, you might well prefer to take a more reasonable, cooperative approach. The other side may not reciprocate, but even the most belligerent of opponents tends to be tempered by a fellow negotiator who is calm and understanding.


Concessions are what define Distributive Bargaining. A series of give and take offers usually leaves both sides with a sense that the negotiation was "fair" and that they've "met in the middle" somewhere. Concessions communicate that you're willing to be reasonable, and provide acknowledgement that the other party's position is legitimate. Skilled negotiators often hold back a small final concession that they can give at the end to sweeten the deal and encourage a settlement in their favor.

Final Offer

Eventually you'll get to the point where you don't want to make any more concessions. To signify that your final offer really is final, you typically put together a package of concessions that's significant enough to convince the other person there's no more room to negotiate. Saying "This is my final offer" after a single round of concessions isn't convincing. Wait until you believe you've proposed an offer that will be accepted.

Key Points

Many of us can tend not to want to have to take an overly aggressive or competitive stance when we enter into negotiations. However, there are times when, to get what you want from a deal, you need the other person to make some concessions in your favor. This is when it helps to understand the basics of Distributive Bargaining.

You need to have a clear idea in your mind of your Opening Offer and Target Price, and your Resistance Point. Trying to figure out where these last two values lie for the other party will play a central role in the negotiation.

At the same time, there will be other things that could be thrown into the bargaining mix, and you need to be ready to suggest or respond to these. The greater the range of possibilities you can put forward in your opening position and subsequent concessions, the easier it should be to strike a deal that both parties can accept.

Ideally, you want to end up as close to your Target Price as possible. However, don't forget that negotiation is an interpersonal exercise, and using good judgment, understanding, and a principled approach will likely serve you best in the long run. While you want to win the lion's share of the 'distribution', don't be afraid to compromise!

Apply This to Your Life:

Don't just treat this as theory – try it out! Next time you make a major purchase, do your homework, get past any feeling of embarrassment holding you back, and go for it. You're likely to have little to lose, and much to gain!

Thanks to MindTools / Mind Tools Ltd

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dealing With Unfair Criticism

Responding Calmly and Rationally to Unwarranted Criticism

You're presenting the draft marketing plan for a new product at your team meeting. As you talk, you notice the encouraging gestures of your colleagues and supervisor. But one colleague withholds approval, listening with a steely stare. After you finish, he proceeds to deliver a withering critique of your ideas and approach – each point of which, you feel, is patently wrong. As he talks, you feel the blood rise to your face and your heart pound. Now all eyes are on you. What will you say?

Or another scenario: For a year, you work hard toward meeting your professional goals. Things are going well, you're meeting your targets, and team morale is high. Then the hammer drops: At your one-on-one annual review, your boss expresses disappointment in you. Despite all indications to the contrary, you're suddenly in the hot seat – and your boss is telling you so to your face.

What we've seen here are two cases of unfair criticism – one from a colleague, and one from a boss. What do you do now? How you react to it can have a tremendous impact on your career. Emotionally charged, your instincts may not be the best guide to follow.

So now what? Easy does it.

Dealing With Your Initial Response

Your immediate response is the most important one – it has the greatest scope for making things worse or better. Here's our recommended approach to overcome the natural urge to express your anger or fight back.

Step 1: Remain Calm

The first thing to do is remain calm, whether the rhetorical slap comes from a colleague or a boss. Negative criticism can give rise to anger or feelings of inadequacy. Expressing these emotions will only dig you deeper into a hole, and give your critic the high ground. When the hammer drops, react with courtesy – and a pause. A couple of deep, quiet breaths will help settle you.

Step 2: Have the Point Repeated

Don't pressure yourself to think of the perfect response on the spot. You probably won't. Instead, try this: Simply and calmly repeat your critic's complaints back to him, to make sure that you've understood him properly. Making steady eye contact and in a non-aggressive tone, say: "So, what you're saying is.," and put his criticisms in your own words. The goal here is to take the focus away from any personality clash, and place it squarely on substantive issues.

And if what he's saying is truly ridiculous, this tactic may shine a harsh light on his critique. Be very careful though to be factual and avoid the temptation to exaggerate. If he claims your sales strategy will to deliver mediocre results, don't say, "So what your saying is, my sales strategy will bring the company down". By overstating his case, you'll come off as someone who's defensive and looking for a fight – rather than a reasonable person who's genuinely looking to get to the bottom of the matter.

If you manage to pull this off, you will have performed the equivalent of turning the other cheek. A truly aggressive critic might be hoping to goad you into a fight, or at least to make you betray anger. Or he may be expecting you to cave in, accept his critique, and slink off, defeated. Instead, what you're doing is taking the focus off of your reaction and putting it back onto his criticisms – without accepting or denying them.

Step 3: Open up Both Perspectives

The objective repetition tactic may set him off-balance, and inspire him to backtrack. If so, now is a good time to open a real discussion of the critique. If you choose this route, a smart tactic would be to couch your response in language like "from my perspective", or, "I can see how you might get that idea, but I probably haven't properly explained that." This establishes respect as a key element of the conversation. You will have shown that you're willing to look at things from his perspective, and you can see how he might have reasonably drawn the conclusions he has. Now you'll give him the opportunity to return the favor.

Step 4: Move on Politely

If, on the other hand, your critic holds firm even after you repeat his complaints in his own words, you'll need some time to develop a good response. You've shown that you've understood "where he's coming from," and hopefully you've done so without betraying anger or shame. Now it's time for a graceful exit. "That's certainly something to think about going forward, and I appreciate the feedback," you might say. This presents you as someone genuinely trying to do the best job possible – and places the focus on future interactions.

Responding to a Critical Colleague

Well, you certainly have been given something to think about, and now you've bought some time. The best possible response will depend, of course, on whether your critic is a colleague or a superior.

If it's a colleague, the first thing to do is take the time-tested advice: "Consider the source." Is he a respected voice within the company, or someone who criticizes others in a desperate attempt to shore up his own flagging reputation? If it's the latter, you may have already solved the problem by calmly repeating his criticism during the meeting. "There he goes again," other team members quite likely will have thought.

However, if your critic's opinion carries weight within the company, it's worth doing some damage limitation. One good idea might be to suggest a meeting to hash out your differences. Even if you find his reasoning flawed, don't discount the chance that you might have something to learn from him. The two of you might together come up with an improved strategy, and you'll emerge from the interaction with a reputation as a team player who pursues the best interests of the company.

So if you think he's wrong, be open-minded but stick to your guns – graciously.

If he persists, and you are convinced that he's wrong, you might consider looking for buy-in from a superior. Be careful not to launch a personal attack – accurately portray both sides of the argument, and explain that that you understand his point of view, but that your side is better. Again, even if your boss sides with your critic, you'll come off as someone actively looking out for the company's best interest.

Tangling With the Boss

What, though, if your critic is your boss? This is a knottier problem. First, schedule a meeting, and hear him out. Are you sure his criticism isn't valid? If he does on balance make sense, then cede the point, and adjust your approach appropriately.

If you remain convinced that his criticisms fall wide of the mark, and he persists in making them, try graciously, through one-on-one meetings, to bring him round to your view. Failing that, you might request a meeting with someone higher up the ladder. In doing so, though, recognize that you risk undermining your position further. Again, make your case as calmly and rationally as possible.

Providing you and your boss both keep in mind the goals of the team, rather than your personal or professional differences, you should be able agree a positive way forward.

Rational discourse really is the best antidote to unfair criticism. More often than not, it wins out in the corporate world, providing the people involved are open and willing to finding the best course.

Whether you are debating with your colleague or boss, our article on win-win negotiation will help you find the best, positive way forward.
Maintaining Your Self-Esteem

Being subjected to unfair criticism can easily be a bruising experience, however well you handle your critic. So it's important that you don't let the experience damage your self-esteem or self-confidence.

The main thing to remember is that we're talking about unfair criticism here rather than constructive feedback. Sometimes the criticism is unfair because it's simply incorrect. And on other occasions it's unfair because it's about something that has no bearing on how you do your job. Either way, remember that it indicates shortcomings in your critic rather in you.

If you find you continue to dwell on it, though, use the techniques of thought awareness, rational thinking and positive thinking to clarify in your own mind that you, your skills and your actions did not deserve the criticism they received.

Key Points

It's natural to react strongly to unjust criticism, but this is rarely a wise career move.

Instead, manage the immediate situation by remaining calm, getting your critic to repeat the comments and then clarifying that you understand them. You may spot that the criticism is based on a misunderstanding or a different perspective, in which case it is reasonably straightforward to iron this out. In more complicated situations, particularly when your critic is your boss, you will need to schedule an "offline" meeting to discuss the criticism.


Monday, February 11, 2013

What’s A Recruiter’s Favorite Word And Why Should You Care?

If you asked most people what an executive recruiter's favorite word is – and by this I mean the word they repeat most frequently each and every day – the majority would assume that "resume," "interview," "compensation," or "job" would all be in the running, but they would be wrong.

Hands down, without question, the word that comes out of my mouth or runs through my head countless times each day, more than any other, is… "why."

A recruiter's job, as I see it, is to ascertain whether a candidate would be a good fit for a current opening, and the only way to do this is to get answers to the "whys" that inherently come through in every person's resume.

The key to a successful job search is to look at your resume, experience, and education, and ask yourself what "whys" your background evokes.

Then, to the best of your ability, provide the answers directly on your resume. Given the number of resumes recruiters receive per job posting, if a resume has too many "whys," it's automatically moved to a "Review Later" pile – and who knows when that will occur?

Here's an example of a common "why" I see unanswered on many resumes: Multiple jobs over a few years span. Naturally, this evokes a "Why?"

Clients are very reluctant to hire job hoppers. So, if your resume shows any short tenures and there are valid reasons for each departure, next to each position indicate in a few words why you left. For example, bankruptcy, relocation, recruited by former boss, and so on.

If the "whys" are answered one by one, recruiters keep reading. There aren't any negative connotations as they review the rest of the resume, because the job history makes sense.

One of the best tips I can give a job seeker is to review his or her resume and try, objectively and with a critical eye, to ask what "whys" may be raised by a recruiter or potential employer.

Then, make sure the questions are answered. If you do this, I can't guarantee that you will get the coveted job offer every time you apply, but I can guarantee that this simple step will increase the number of responses and interviews that you receive.

There are so many variables that can't be controlled in a job search, but the "whys" of the resume world can – so why not answer them?

Thanks to Elisa Sheftic / Careerealism