1

Screwproof
Doing deals that won't f*ck-up By Andrew Keith Walker

NB: This excerpt from Screwproof: doing deals that won’t f*ck up is distributed free for personal use, but may not be reproduced in whole or part without the copyright owners permission. © Andrew Keith Walker 2013-2014 andrewkeithwalker@gmail.com

2

Disclaimer
(in case you feel like suing me)
This book contains language and imagery that some people might find offensive, including swearing, coarse language and sexual metaphors. Any similarities in the text to real people or companies is purely coincidental, all names and descriptions have been changed to protect the identities of any third parties. Any and all opinions expressed are entirely my own unless labelled otherwise. Nothing in this eBook should be treated as advice, it’s purely educational and intended to help readers reach their own conclusions, it is not a set of instructions for how to conduct your life. Basically if you’re offended, think I’m talking about you, expressing an expert opinion in a professional capacity or have any liability for things that happen to you after reading this book, I’m not and it’s not my fault. Enjoy ;)

3

For Lulu, who helps me do everything

4

Chapter 3
The 5 simple rules
Everyone embraces the idea of change. The bit we’re not so keen on is actually doing things differently.

5

I’ve been over pretty much every screw-up I can remember in my own life and discovered there are five common signs, or 'tells’ as they call them in the game of poker, that people give out before things screw-up. They’re easy to spot because they all occur before you agree to start doing the thing that screws-up, whether it’s a business deal or something personal. Basically, these tells happen in the negotiation between one person and another over an activity that involves both of them. They are as follows: Rule #1 - There are no favours in negotiations Rule #2 - You can’t trade something you don’t actually own Rule #3 - You’ve got to love talking about the money Rule #4 - If it doesn’t make sense, it’s because they ain’t explaining it right Rule #5 - No surprises That all seems pretty obvious right? Sure. If you apply these rules whilst negotiating pretty much anything, it will let you work out if something doesn’t stack up. They’ll address your confirmation bias - that natural tendency to look for evidence to support your choices and ignore evidence that contradicts them. Like I said in chapter 1, we don’t make objective choices. We’ve all got inbuilt rose coloured glasses. We have all kinds of names for the concepts we cling on to that stop us from acknowledging this. Like 'luck’. There’s no such thing as luck, it’s just a label we use to describe the interaction between random events and our planned activities, but the concept of luck remains a powerful concept we all innately buy into to explain life. That’s probably because saying "That was lucky" is easier than saying "The random interaction of your deliberate actions with other factors in the ecosystem have proven beneficial when you consider the outcome of the sequence of events that just occurred." Human relationships aren’t just logical, they’re emotional and social too. Emotional and social factors are unconscious. That means you don’t realise they’re affecting the way you think and the choices you make. Our unconscious motivations are almost impossible to spot with conscious methods of thinking... unless you’re a psychologist. Or a Buddhist monk. Fortunately, the thinking tools in this book don’t require you to get a Psychology PhD or move to Tibet and enrol in a monastery. It’s just a question of listening. You see, although we rarely detect the emotional and social influences over the choices we make, if you analyse what gets said to you during a negotiation, you can identify them in other people. Using these 5 simple rules, you’ll be able spot when someone is pulling your social or emotional strings to manipulate you into agreeing to a one-sided deal, even if they don’t realise they’re doing it.

6

Screwproof Sample Chapters

Getting started You need to understand why the rules work or they won’t work for you. Remember, your emotional brain will fuck-up this whole process, including how effectively you use the rules. So to get your emotional brain under control, you’ve got to get it on your rational side. You can do that by understanding a little bit more about the emotional things that make us tick. Let’s take a moment to understand how social behaviours and emotional factors influence our daily lives. It’s usually so obvious we ignore it, but they are there all the time. In the rest of the book, I’ll be using the terms "deal partner","social controls" and "emotional motivations" a lot, so here’s what they mean: Deal partner is the way I refer to the person I’m negotiating with. That’s because the other person in the negotiation is partnering with you to collaborate around a shared goal. They’re not simply a client, or the other side, or a punter, or a vendor, or any other dehumanising word that makes them sound like a thing or an adversary, they are your partner. If you think about them like that, you'll find it easier to relate to them as a human being, which is important if you’re trying to work out their motivations for behaving like a human being (as opposed to a cyborg or a faceless bureaucrat). People are complex, you need to acknowledge the complexity of dealing with them or you’ll underestimate their abilities and encourage them to treat you the same way, as a dehumanised quantity rather than a person who deserves respect. Social controls explain many things we take for granted, like expecting to wear a suit to work in an investment bank or wearing casual clothes if you work at a computer game company. Somehow, somewhere, a social motivation influences what you decide to wear relative to your work - which if you think about it, isn’t logical. How does what you’re wearing affect how well you make financial decisions or program a piece of software? It doesn’t. So why does everyone still do it? It’s an unconscious social motivation, a set of powerful unwritten rules we seldom question. Emotional motivations also influence our decision making faculties. It’s hard not to feel sorry for a crying child and even harder to feel sorry for a crying multi-millionaire politician. Now in those cases, the child might be crying because they didn’t get a present on their big sister’s birthday, or the politician might be crying because after years of loyal service they’ve lost an election through unethical campaigning by their opponent. The child might be a spoilt brat and the politician genuinely deserving of comfort, but how we choose to respond isn’t analytical, it’s emotional.

7

Screwproof Sample Chapters

In the case of the child it’s more often than not a comforting "there, there, don’t cry it’s your birthday soon, then you’ll have a present" and in the case of the politician it’s usually "tough shit, I’m sure you’ll get over it in your mansion paid for with my taxes, you bastard". These are emotional responses, devoid of objectivity. It’s how we react emotionally to events, not analytical sentiments. There are examples everywhere you look, but the point is this: The choices you make in your personal and business relationships aren’t as logical as they appear at the time. That’s how we get to the notion of hindsight. Hindsight is the ability, when we’re removed from a situation’s social and emotional factors by the passage of time, to regard it more objectively. It’s a kind of thinking tool that helps us make sense of the past, but as a useful tool to affect how things go in the future, it’s hit and miss. If you’ve got a framework like my 5 simple rules, they help you develop better foresight. They help you spot when someone is socially and emotionally inclined to screw you and help you work out precisely which social and emotional factors will help them do it. In essence, it changes our natural response of feeling "how should I react?" to a more helpful thinking "what am I trying to achieve?" It’s simple when you read it on a page, it’s harder out there in the world, live, in real time. That’s why you’ve got to work at it. Obviously, you could write a very long book about how humans think and feel their way through society, which isn’t the purpose of the book. However, if you want to improve how you negotiate with other humans in society, you’ve got to think about how society works. So before we get to the rules in detail, we’ve got to go a little deeper into the human condition first. This will help your emotional brain to adjust to the fact you’re getting it under control. If you don’t do it, you’ll keep thinking "No way, life isn’t like that" and won’t be able to use the rules. Here’s a promise: Each chapter in this book will be about 1500 words long and make a practical, useful contribution to your ability to negotiate everything from what to do on Friday night with your buddies through to closing a contract at work. Deal?

8

Thanks to...
(the people who helped)

Bill Pope - for his editor’s eye and general awesomeness

Proof readers:
Jeremy Banx John Kernan Baldwin Berges David Angell

Sage-like wisdom:
John Grace Bryn McNeill Charlie Giguere

9

About the Author
Andrew Keith Walker was born in 1971, and grew-up in a seaside town on the south coast of England. After being told that he could either work in a hotel, an insurance company or a bank by his careers teacher, he attended Edinburgh University to do a degree in Politics - which his teachers and many of the people he grew up with thought was proof that Andrew was basically an ungrateful socialist troublemaker (people thought like that in the 1980s). He graduated with an MA (Hons) and realised he didn’t want a job, so he took a part time nightshift job at The Scotsman newspaper and was a stand-up comic on the Edinburgh comedy scene. In 1995, his mother suggested he get a job working on the internet because "It’s for people who can’t decide what they want to do with their lives and don’t like fitting in". She was right (thanks Mum - AKW). Andrew started a post-graduate MSc in Multimedia Technology where he ignored the boring coursework and made games for web pages, but couldn’t complete it because he had a row with his MSc tutor who refused to mark his dissertation proposal on internet games because "The internet is just for academics, nobody will ever play games on it, you've been watching too much Star Trek". Fortunately, his tutor was wrong about the internet and Andrew walked out and got a job, that same day, making internet games at Cyberia, the UK’s first chain of internet cafés. His tutor was right about the fact Andrew watched too much Star Trek, however. Since then Andrew has done many jobs as a graphic designer, copywriter and web developer in the grim world of advertising and marketing agencies. In 1998 he started his own successful creative agency (Thin Martian), more recently he’s been MD of a data mining start-up (Semetric / MusicMetric), been a partner in a social media product placement company (Social Placement) and co-founded social media news feed company Tweetminster. He was the first person to interview a UK political party leader on Twitter, the first person to interview a serving UK Prime Minister on Twitter, he’s written and created ad campaigns, designed logos, developed data powered news products, built websites, helped set-up the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), helped the BBC monitor elections, been the social media rent-a-pundit on the TV and Radio news, written articles and features in newspapers and magazines and is a regular speaker on the changing worlds of technology, business and culture at conferences around the world. His greatest achievement is generally proving that your parents and teachers really don’t have a fucking clue what they’re talking about when they assume, because you wear dungarees covered in political slogan badges at the age of eighteen and smoke a bit of weed

10

Screwproof Sample Chapters

down the beach with your buddies, you’re basically somewhere between Shaggy off Scooby Doo and Carlos the Jackal. He’s closed deals with big brands (like Evilcorp, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Vodafone, and Xbox); public institutions (like The Commonwealth and the UK Parliament); charities (like the NSPCC and Oxfam); publishers and media organisations (Nastycorp, The Independent, The Guardian, BBC, BSkyB); angel investors, venture capitalists and start-ups... his view of deals and the complex social interactions that come with them comes from experience of success and, in all fairness, screwing plenty of stuff up along the way. He has to his credit award winning projects, industry firsts and also been laughed out of people’s offices for having wacky ideas that would never work, until they either worked... or didn't. Andrew now lives in rural Suffolk, with his wife and children, a hamster, a chicken, a couple of fish tanks and a cat called Rusty that isn’t his but comes to visit all the time. He tweets under the name of @killdozer and writes, publishes and podcasts about life, business and thinking tools at ManVsBrain.com ***

11

© Andrew Keith Walker Published by Andrew Keith Walker www.ManVsBrain.com ISBN 978-0-9928365-0-4

12