I think we all have one teacher whom we never forget. And, for me, that was Mr. Baker, seventhgrade English. Mr. Baker had two passions, literature and discipline, but not necessarily in that order. But his idea of discipline wasn’t detention, it was if you did something wrong, you didn’t think critically or understand his literature, he made you stand in the corner of the room for a half-hour with your nose to the wall. So, one day, we were reading a short story, and the main character, or protagonist, was Bill. The only thing you need to know about Bill is he was the only man in the village who had a gun. He had all his prestige, all his power, all his esteem from this gun. So, one day he goes out in the jungle, and a wild animal attacks him and he goes to fire. Somehow his gun doesn’t fire right, and he manages, in a brilliant display of courage, to kill this animal with his bare hands. So he goes back to the village. What does he tell everyone about what transpired? Well, that’s what Mr. Baker wanted to know. So we took a pause in the story and said, “OK, what does Bill tell everybody?” Well, Chrissy raised her hand and said, “Oh Mr. Baker, call on me. I know. I’m honest. I would go tell the truth. I don’t tell lies.” Well, at that point, Mr. Baker had that vein popping out of his forehead. He didn’t seem to like Chrissy’s answer. But Randy was like the Arnold Horshack from “Welcome Back, Kotter.” “Oh, Mr. Baker, call on me, call on me.” He said, “I know.” He said, “Mr. Baker, I’d go back there and tell them how brave I was. I’d really play it up. Add a little bit of polish to the story, make it seem like it was an even bigger animal.” Well, now Mr. Baker continued to talk, the spit started coming from his mouth. He was not happy with Chrissy’s or Randy’s answer. And I was scared to death of this man, but I figured I’d give it a shot. So I raised my hand, I said, “I, I, I, I, I, I’d, I’d, I’d.” And before I would finish, Mr. Baker screams, the spit coming out of his mouth, the vein popping, “I didn’t ask you what you would do Greg, I asked you what the character would do.” So I find myself in the corner of the room, my nose up there, thinking about it, with Mr. Baker’s spit all over me. I was in seventh grade, I didn’t know what to think. But it wasn’t until a few years later that I started playing poker that I began to understand what Mr. Baker meant. The greatest lesson that I learned from playing poker professionally is you have to see things through the eyes of others. If you can walk in someone’s shoes, if you can walk in Bill’s shoes and say, he gets all his prestige, all his power from having that gun, it becomes very obvious what he would do. And once you can walk in someone else’s shoes, it makes things much easier to get what you want. So the topic of my speech is game theory. You may have seen “A Beautiful Mind” with John Nash, who won a Nobel Prize for it. Perhaps the prisoner’s dilemma. It combines math and psychology to make decisions based on games. The primary insight, and I’ll say this over and over again, is you must walk in the shoes of other people to see things from their perspective.


So why am I here? Unfortunately, we’re not going to get a chance to play poker. But I’m going to show you how to be a better communicator. How to be a better decision-maker. The No. 1 skill, walk in another person’s shoes. Now, there are some casinos in the Palm Springs area. I don’t know if you’ve ventured out yet, but if you want my advice on gambling, that will come at the end of my speech. Top secret advice, stay tuned. Anyone see the movie “Rounders” with Matt Damon and John Malkovich? Show of hands. If you saw the movie, you know that when John Malkovich opened up his Oreo cookie and licked the icing, he was bluffing. It’s called a “tell.” And Matt Damon was able to figure that out. In poker, you have all sorts of tells. Some people hold their breath if they’re bluffing. Some people can’t look at you. They may light a cigarette. That’s called a tell. Any sort of involuntary, nonverbal cue, or verbal, even, that lets you know what they’re doing. So the primary rule of tells is, weak is strong and strong is weak. In poker, if a person is betting aggressively, looking at you acting very strong, what they’re trying to do is get you out of the pot because they’re weak. They want you to fold. The person who bets and kind of looks away and starts whistling acting weak is generally strong to suck you into the pot. And you see this premise all the time in everyday life. If a person says, “I‘m going to sue you to high heaven,” pretty safe bet he doesn’t have an attorney. And we all know about the guy who tells you he’s making money hand over fist in the market. Pretty good chance a margin call is right around the corner for him. Strong is weak because, generally, if we feel weak about something, we overcompensate by acting strong. So, as far as the art of tells go, when you’re trying to learn about a prospect, a competitor, a client, a co-worker, three things you need to understand. First of all, know the character. Remember the story about Bill and Mr. Baker? People are very consistent. They have a predictable pattern of behavior. If someone acts a certain way one time, they’re generally going to act that way in the future. Secondly, know his or her motives. Do they have a reason to lie? Prospects generally do. They want a better price. They want a better fee. Do they have a reason to lie, is there a motive? Then lastly is actually tells. Body language, nonverbals, things like that. When you combine all three, it allows you to get a better read on a person. The answer to any situation in poker, in insurance, in dating, is always “it depends.” For all the five-step processes and yes/no, black and white, rarely is the answer to any question set. It’s based on the circumstance. So Mike Caro, who wrote a book specifically on tells in poker, say weak is strong and strong is weak. But Maya Angelou said, “When someone tells you who they are, believe them.” Totally dissenting views, right? Well, whom do you believe? It depends. If someone acts strong, does that mean weak? If someone acts strong, does that mean strong? Another one of my favorite movies is a movie called “Swingers” with John Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Two actors in their 20s, broke, decide to go to Vegas for the night. And they put on suits, and they’re trying to act the high roller part. And Mike brings his last $300 with him. They’ve got this plan to go in and act cool and get comped. So they go in, and the first table he


goes up to, a blackjack, is $100 minimum. So, at this point, he needs to save face, he bets $100. Firsthand, what does he get? Eleven. What does Trent say, “You’ve got 11, what do you do on 11? Double down. You always double down on 11. You always split aces and eights, right?” Well, in this particular situation, for him to double down, that represents one-third of his life savings. On the turn of a card. Well, what should he do? The answer to whether you double down or not is, it depends. Yes, over time, mathematically your expected value is positive if you double down, but in this particular case, do you really want to put another third of your life savings on this card? Sure enough, he doubles down. This is Hollywood. Dealer makes 21, and he loses. But what you need to remember from that is there are no rules. When you’re in a situation, you need to adapt and take that “it depends” philosophy. The fundamental attribution error, the biggest flaw, I think, when reading a person is to look at one variable. My friend Doc, who has been playing poker for 25 years, graduated from Harvard Medical School. The worst poker player I’ve ever met. My friends and I send a limousine to bring him to the game, but that doesn’t make sense. He went to Harvard; he’s a doctor. His experience, shouldn’t he be good in poker? No. People want to think that one attribute transfers to another. It doesn’t always work that way. Bill Gates, during the comDesk convention in Las Vegas, was spotted playing $6 and $12 limit Texas hold ’em at the Mirage. Based on that one bit of information, you would think that Bill Gates isn’t very rich. He was also losing. Based on that one piece of information, you would think Bill Gates isn’t very smart. Would that be a good read on Bill Gates? Poor and dumb. Probably not. But we always want to look at one thing and think that transfers. The person who can’t look you in the eye. Well you’ve studied tells, you’ve studied buy-or-sells. A person who can’t look me in the eye must be lying. Well, then you go home and you look in the mirror and you realize the last time you blew your nose, you missed a little something. That could be the reason why they couldn’t look you in the eye. Not because they were lying. Very relevant to our last speaker is processing multiple variables. You watch CNBC, you’re going to have five experts giving you the reason why the stock market is going up or pick their stock is going up. Another expert giving you five reasons why it’s going down. All these variables when you’re looking at especially the stock market. Fundamental analysis, technical analysis, the economy, the political. Which one determines whether the market goes up? All of them. Dinkin’s law of variables. For every expert opinion, there’s a dissenting expert opinion. The best decision-makers can take everything in. What the heck is an FTE? I was working with this other group to give a speech. This woman kept saying, I’ve got 90 FTEs and 60 in San Diego. I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought she meant fried tomatoes in eggplant. She actually meant full time employees, but I didn’t know because we get so caught up in our own industries, and especially in insurance. From the welcome event from last night, I’ve been listening to some of these conversations and had no idea what you people were saying — 401, 612b. We get so caught up in our own language that we don’t walk in the shoes of other people to try to understand from their


perspective. And we think, rather than saying, I’m telling you something, you need to get it. The approach should be: How can I present the information so that you do get it? My high school basketball coach, the best advice he ever gave me was because I was very fancy. You want a no-look and behind-the-back. If you throw a no-look pass and your teammate isn’t looking and drops it, whose fault is that? And what he told me is a good pass is one that’s received. And as a writer, if I write something, and someone doesn’t understand it, you want to just say: You don’t get it. What’s your problem? The problem is in the messenger. A good pass is one that’s received. When you’re communicating, we get so hung up on our own presentation in what we want to say, we don’t stop to say: Hey, is this person getting what we’re saying? It comes back to the old adage, the customer is never wrong. Mirror and matching. This, to me, is like Jedi mind stuff in terms of mirroring and matching. You see a couple in bar, you say they’re vibing each other. You see people getting along, what is that? Well, when people are actually getting along and have chemistry, you hear that term, their movements and their body language everything actually starts to mirror each other. Well, in a sales situation, in a business situation, you can actually create that vibe by mirroring another person’s behavior. In fact, last night at dinner, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Bill Irvin. I made fun of him the whole night. It was great. He makes fun of people, I made fun of him. Did I just say his name wrong? Dale Irvin. So much for that joke. He’ll get me for it. He makes fun of people. I made fun of him. I wrote a book with Amarillo Slim, a great cowboy. For a year, I just spoke in cowboy talk. Let me tell you, I’m closer to that boy than 19 is to 20. And we developed a comfort level because we mirrored each other’s behavior. He spoke in a certain way, a certain set of language, and by mirroring that we developed this close relationship. He’s going to get me for that, Dale, huh? In a sales situation. No means “no” in New York. In LA, “yes” means “no.” Oh, I love your screenplay, it’s great. That means you’re not getting a return phone call. And I find even in business, if I’m dealing with people in New York, right to the point. They don’t want to mess around. If I’m dealing with people in the Midwest — I realize I’m generalizing because I do take an “it depends” approach — but, generally speaking, I’ll speak slower, I’ll develop more rapport. The vocabulary and acronyms, we’ve talked about that. A case of what? Insurance people use the word “case.” Case of beer? Case of peanuts? We think our language is everybody else’s, but walk in the other person’s shoes. And then in terms of visuals or charts, emotion and feelings. In sales, you’ve heard, what do you call it, buyer styles or personality types. Whatever your personality type is or your buyer style is, you will sell most effectively to a person with a similar buying style. So if you’re highly analytical and into charts and graphs and your prospect is the same way, you will probably sell that person. The problem is, if you’re very emotional and that’s how you sell, and they’re analytical, that’s where you have a problem. Well, at some level, you’ve got to stick with what works for you. The other side of it is walk in their shoes, and find out how they need to be sold and how they need to be talked to. Because if


someone tries to sell me a car, I don’t want to look under the hood. You’re wasting your time. In that situation, I’m looking more not at the actual car itself, but the emotion of it. The numbers, things like that. So part of it is your presentation and part of it is understanding your buyer. Best example of mirroring and matching. My friend Matt wanted to be stockbroker. That’s all he wanted to do. And he had an interview set up with Merrill Lynch, and he managed to dupe them into an interview in spite of the fact that their requirement was you had to be a college graduate. And he wasn’t a college graduate. And it was baggage for him. So I said, “Matt, what do you think the guy from Merrill Lynch cares about?” He said, “He cares if I went to college or not.” No he doesn’t. He cares about one thing. Making money. What’s the terminology in that business for people who make money? Producers. So Matt walked into that meeting and used the word “producer” at least a dozen times. “I want to be the biggest producer in the office. I want to make money. I’m going to produce. I’m going to be a big producer. I’m going to be the biggest producer. I want to make money for you.” Use it 12 times, I guarantee he will never ask if you went to college or not. Guarantee it. Sure enough. Because Matt’s problem was he was concerned that he didn’t go to college. That was his own issue. The guy from Merrill Lynch didn’t care. He wanted someone to say, “I’ll run through a wall, I’ll make 500 cold calls a day and I will be the biggest producer in your office.” Well, Matt used the word “producer” a dozen times, and he got the job. He’s currently being investigated by the SEC, but he got the job. In a selling situation, we think people ask questions because they want more information. Boloney. Questions are a trap. My best friend is a photographer. A customer says, “Do you shoot digital?” Well, believe me, that person is asking that question for a reason. When they ask if you shoot digital, it’s either because they want digital or they don’t. So how do you answer that question? How do you know? You don’t, so you reverse. “Do you shoot digital?” “Oh, that’s a good question, why do you ask?” “Well, the reason I ask is my best friend, Sally, just had a wedding, and they shot digital and they ruined everything. It was the worst pictures I ever saw. So, do you shoot digital?” Brian’s answer is going to change. He’s a film guy, no digital for him. Now, if Brian only did digital, of course, hey it’s not a qualified prospect. He needs to send her on her way. But, generally speaking, if someone is asking you a question, they’re trying to trap you. And what you can do is reverse and get more information. Or they’re trying to test you. I’m a literary agent. I was talking to an author and the author said, and I was with my business partner Frank, and the author said, “Frank, who do you think should write the foreword?” And I’m sitting there going, Frank, reverse, reverse, reverse. Because the guy, when he said it, he couldn’t wait to tell you who he thought should write the foreword. So I’m going, reverse, reverse, reverse. And Frank said, “Well, I think Terry McMillan would be a good choice.” And he said, “Whom do you think?” And the guy said Tom Brokaw. He didn’t wait a half-second. He thought Tom Brokaw. Now, if he asked me and said, “Greg, who do you think should write the foreword?” It’s a trap or he’s trying to eliminate me. So what am I going to do? Going to reverse. “Dave, great question. Who do you think should write the foreword?” “Well, I think Tom Brokaw would be a good choice.” “I agree. In this case, I agree. Tom Brokaw would be great. Dave, if we can get Tom Brokaw, I think he’d be a great choice”.


So, when someone asks you a difficult question, one thing you can do is reverse. Another technique is a third-party story, something I call “feel, felt, found.” “It’s a great question. I understand how you feel, other prospects have felt the same way. What they found was…” And that allows you to use an example from a third party to address their question. The third thing you do, with nothing wrong, saying, “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out.” And what I find, whenever I leave a meeting, I leave with an agenda. You had these three questions. When I get back to my office, I’m going to do this, this and this. Generally I use a lot of e-mail. When that person gets back to their office, the e-mail is sitting in their inbox. And I find there’s no better way to establish trust than to make a promise and keep a promise right off the bat. Well, Mr. Baker was a great teacher. Miss Stein was also one of my not-so-favorite teachers. And whenever I had a question in fourth grade, I’d raise my hand, and Miss Stein would just point to the sign on the wall. Drove me crazy. And the sign said, “It’s worth reading.” If you wait for people to finish speaking before you interrupt, 90 percent of the time your question will be answered by the time they finish speaking. I didn’t like that when I was in fourth grade. But I’ll tell you, Miss Stein was right. And especially type A, aggressive personality salespeople — we want to sell. These are the benefits. This is what we have. Boom, boom, boom, boom. Give our presentation. What we don’t do is stop to actually listen to what the person is saying. Eric Seidel was a top poker player. Very stingy on advice. He’s a top player, doesn’t want to tell people his secrets. Finally, I was nagging him for advice, he said, “I’ll give you one piece of advice: Be aware.” So from Miss Stein and Eric Seidel, “be aware” means listening. “Be aware” means watching your environment, watching for tells, watching for nonverbals. Be aware. Before I get to my top-secret advice on gambling, I just want to impart a little wisdom from Warren Buffet. You’ve seen it. If you’ve been playing poker for a half-hour and you still don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy. So before you’re ready to test your skills, keep that in mind. OK, my final words of wisdom for all you would-be gamblers out there. It comes from Steve Winn, the godfather of Las Vegas. Built the Mirage, built Bellagio’s, building a new hotel. And really took Vegas into the 21st century. So if you want to make money in the casino, according to Steve Winn, own one. Thank you.

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