Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

I recently read mega movie star and former California Governor and Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book “Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life.” Interestingly, I found a lot of negotiation nuggets in it, all of which were couched as life lessons. Of course, negotiation is a huge part of life, so this should not be surprising.

Here are several that stood out, along with my own comments. I will add more next week in Part Two.

• “Vision is the most important thing. . . . To have a clear vision is to have a picture of what you want your life to look like and a plan for how to get there.”

The negotiation lesson? Substitute the word “negotiation” for “life” and you have the starting point for all successful  negotiations – an aggressive and clear goal and a plan to accomplish it.

Schwarzenegger wrote that he learned early on that “the world was the ultimate classroom, and that we needed to be like a sponge, soaking up as much of it as we could. . . . [A]nd the way to become the kind of sponge that absorbs only the most useful knowledge was to always be curious. To listen and look more than we talked. And when we did talk, it was better to ask good questions than to make smart statements. . . . [W]e could be certain that knowledge is power, and information makes you useful.”

The negotiation lessons? Absorb all you can about the issues and interests on the table, be curious, listen and ask more than you talk and state, and information is power – so get it!

“We just needed to find a way to turn one nay-sayer [studio] into a yea-sayer [for the movie Twins]. Our solution was to reduce the studio’s risk as much as possible by taking no up-front money [even though the three of them – Schwarzenegger, comedian Danny DeVito, and director/producer Ivan Reitman – were at the “top of our game” and able to command huge upfront salaries]. Instead, we would take a [rarely offered] piece of the net profits, called “backend” in Hollywood language. We would only make money if the studio made money.”

The negotiation lesson? Recognize your counterpart’s main objection – here the risk involved with their upfront salaries – and creatively devise a way to address it while also satisfying your fundamental interests. Doing this turned into the movie where Schwarzenegger “made the most money in [his] entire career.”


Latz’s Lesson: Schwarzenegger set super aggressive goals, asked and listened a ton, and learned how to turn objections into opportunities with creativity. Incredible success was the result. 

* Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation, a national negotiation training and consulting company that helps individuals and organizations achieve better results with best practices based on the experts’ research. He can be reached at 480.951.3222 or

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