THE DAY EMINEM CHANGED THE WAY I DO BUSINESS
Then I watched 8 Mile.
Yes, the movie about Eminem as B-Rabbit, a white rapper in Detroit trying to make his way out on the back of winning rap battles. That 8 Mile. The end of the movie features an underground tournament championship pitting Eminem against Anthony Mackie (yes, Falcon was a rapper first).
Eminem led with everything negative that could be said about him in this battle: he was white, he lived in a trailer with his mom, he’d gotten jumped before, and his girlfriend was unfaithful (it’s unbelievably more graphic, but you get the picture). He didn’t put up a front. But, in admitting everything that his rap battler could possibly use against him, by embracing confidently that he absolutely did not have it all together, he took all the power away from his opponent. So much so, spoiler alert, that Mackie didn’t even try to come back with a rap after this devastating performance.
It turns out inspiration really can come from anywhere.
HOW TO OVERCOME OBJECTIONS BY DECONSTRUCTING YOUR WEAK POINTS
I started every negotiation differently from that point on. I thought about what they would come at me with, which of my position’s weak points they’d attack, and I brought them up before they did, addressing them honestly and cutting off the possibility that they could exploit those weaknesses or surprise me with them.
- Someone’s going to take a swipe at me for being the new guy? I am new to this business, but that fresh perspective may allow me to see things others aren’t looking for.
- Complaints that this is the way business has always been done? Uber is the biggest brand in transportation and doesn’t own cars. Airbnb is the biggest name in hospitality and doesn’t own property. Doing things differently is the way to innovate and grow.
- They’re telling me nobody has to pay rates this high? I understand that these are the prices you’ve traditionally paid, but this personality/product/brand isn’t traditional either. You don’t take percentages to the bank; you take absolute dollars. We’ll have you covered there.
When I first acknowledged what could be seen as weaknesses, addressing them before pivoting to what we needed from the deal, the other side was left with fewer moves. Part of this was because of the surprise of hearing so transparently from us, but part of it was because we’d inoculated ourselves from the most powerful barbs they’d have thrown at us if we hadn’t already deconstructed them ourselves.
THE VALUE OF AUTHENTICITY OVER IMAGE
It can be lonely, isolating, and hard to find people to come alongside you if you don’t own your struggles. If you’re basing relationships on a front of everything being okay, are you really building an authentic relationship?
As someone who for too long believed that representing strength was the way, I can tell you with certainty that it was only when I began connecting with people as my authentic, everything-not-all-together self that I was able to form relationships that were deeper, more meaningful, and available to support me in the seasons I needed them most.
The same authenticity, which helped me form genuine relationships, also allowed me to serve my clients well because it taught me how to overcome objections by simply owning up to potential weak points. Whether I’m negotiating a deal or sitting around the dinner table, I've seen the value of authenticity first-hand. Who in the world would have guessed that Eminem, of all people, would have such an impact on my life? Without knowing it, he taught me one of the greatest leadership lessons I've ever learned—the value of leading with the negatives.