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Thanksgiving. It’s a time in America where families get together and give thanks. Often times its celebrated with a meal. Many families have their holiday traditions that they bring out year after year. Many have wonderful memories of their childhood holiday season.
Unfortunately for me, those memories are very limited. If you know my story, you know that both my parents were alcoholics. When I think back to Thanksgiving when I was a kid, it doesn’t bring back many fond memories. My mother was an outstanding cook. Unfortunately I never learned those skills from her because as time went on she would rage more and more at me if I ever stepped foot in the kitchen. She was always angry, always drinking scotch. She kept a bottle on the counter with a shot glass and would throw back a shot and slam the shot glass on the counter. I don’t remember her not drinking so my entire childhood was spent walking on eggshells not knowing what would set her off.
She died when I was 12. After that the holidays were never celebrated again in my house. My father sold the house and everything in is and moved us into a cheesy two-bedroom apartment. It was drastically different from the sprawling house on Driftwind Drive in the upscale suburb of Windcrest in San Antonio Texas. After my mother’s death my father spent every holiday sitting on the couch drinking himself into a stupor. He sent me packing to somebody’s house for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. So not only did I not have my mother any longer, I didn’t have a home and really didn’t have my father either. My life was spent feeling abandoned. It took a lot of work to overcome all of that but I have done it. You can read the entire story in my GoPINK Rules of Engagement book.
Over the years I seemed to end up at other people’s houses for the holidays. I didn’t know how to cook all that well so it was easy for me. In the military it’s a tradition for military families to get together so depending on where I was stationed several of us would get together and everyone would bring something. The person who was hosting the get together usually made the turkey.
When the kids were younger and I was still married to their dad, we would go to visit his family in Colorado. I have probably only made a turkey once or twice in my life. Your friends became your family in the military. That tradition carried on after I retired. In recent years my kids and I have often spent Thanksgiving with a close friend and her family. It’s been a great tradition and I am thankful to have such close friends that are like family. One person told my daughter once that friends aren’t family. Family is whom you want to call family. You don’t have to be blood relatives to be considered family.
This year I am staying home. My kids are with me and I am making fried chicken because my kids aren’t much into turkey. I did learn how to cook despite the fact that my mother attempted to imbed in me at a young age that I didn’t belong in the kitchen. Today I will make fried chicken, green beans, broccoli, cheese and rice casserole and sweet potato fries. I will bring out the fancy china and set the table. Not traditional but I’ve always done things a little different. Being in my own home this Thanks giving feels great. I get to spend time with my kids at home.
There are many people during the holidays who are alone and no amount of comfort is going to make it ok for them. There are military families and those serving abroad who will not be with their families this Thanksgiving. There are people who are sick in the hospital. There are those who are no longer with us and those they left behind are still mourning the loss. There are those without a home and may have to go to a food kitchen for a Thanksgiving meal.
In this era of always wanting more, it’s time to take a moment or even an entire day out to just be grateful for what you have, even if the only thing you have is the air that you breathe and the clothes on your back. I can list out all the “things” I am thankful for and the list is long. However, what I really want to give thanks for is that I am here today and will spend time with the two most important and wonderful people in my life, my kids. They are both incredible human beings and I am grateful that out of all the mommies in all the world that God could have chosen to give them to, he chose me.
I hope if you celebrate Thanksgiving that you have a wonderful day no matter where you are or what you do. If it’s not a holiday you celebrate, take a moment to tell someone what they mean to you and how thankful you are to have them in your life. Then take some time to look in the mirror and smile at the person you are most thankful for, you. Give yourself some gratitude and enjoy being you.
When I hold my training events or go to associations, organizations or corporations and do training events, sometimes people are surprised that I have an element of personal development inserted into the training. Negotiation is simply discussions to agree on a deal, but it’s not always a business deal. It can be employee to employee, parent to child, spouse to spouse etc. Everything is Negotiable.
The number one thing you need in order to be a good negotiator is confidence, confidence in yourself and your negotiation position. The self confidence comes from doing the inner work. The power is in the work. So how do you get to that level of confidence. You have to work on that person within and find peace within yourself. That means relaxing in grace, remember what matters most, get to know your higher power better, review where you need to grow, forget what can’t be changed and focus on the future.
Too many times in my past, I lived in the past. I worried, I wanted to do something to change the past. Thinking about how silly that sounds now makes me laugh. Really? I spent time on thinking about how I could change the past? The “what if’s” and the “if only’s.” I lived with regrets, I held unforgiveness, I was stuck in the tradition of “it’s always been done that way.” Enlightenment comes from doing the work to let go of all that mess. I did the work, I let it go. That doesn’t mean that life will never give me a punch to my gut. It happens, that’s part of life. I may regret poor choices I’ve made at some point but if I did something to make those choices or wrongs right and keep moving forward, that’s all I can do. I have to forget what can’t be changed and focus on the future.
Many things have happened to me over the last year. Some good, some bad. Some that made me very happy and others that made me very sad. If I chose to stay in yesterday and regret some of the things I’ve done, choices I’ve made or experiences I’ve had, then I will be stuck in those events and day to day life will pass me by. It’s challenging sometimes to move on after a loss or when life’s challenges knock on your door. How you negotiate through those challenges and where you come out on the other side is the true test of courage and faith.
Inner peace is the thing in life we should strive for the most and is priceless beyond any possession or level of success we can possibly achieve. It doesn’t mean we will never be rocked to our core by life but going down that path with peace as our foundation gives us a better place to deal with life’s challenges from.
As you become a better negotiator in professional life, remember also the personal side of your life is also an area to achieve negotiation mastery in.
Note: Some of the concepts were adapted from the message from Saddleback church/Pastor Rick Warren’s message on Five Daily Habits for Happiness
One of the tips in my upcoming Think Like A Negotiator book is “Prepare In Advance.” Part of the preparation includes another tip, which is “Verify the Facts.”
When you are preparing for a negotiation it is always best to verify the facts. Verifying what you have been presented is a way to ensure you have the truth about the information given to you.
Many times we take things at face value and later find out that what we thought to be true actually wasn’t true at all. Perhaps we have some information that is factual and we make a decision about those facts without looking further to uncover the rest of the story. Maybe you made an agreement for a fee and when the charge came in it was much higher than what you agreed to or you got double charged for something on your business or credit card statement.
Whether it’s a multimillion-dollar deal or simply some information you’ve gathered from a friend, before you decide to take the data as factual, you may want to consider doing some further research to ensure that the data is accurate. If it’s a large contract and either the numbers are wrong or the proposal has an error, it could mean a large loss of funds or time. I once managed a contract where the bid was submitted missing a $300,000 cost. It was a fixed price bid so we had no oversight into the costs submitted. The bidder didn’t verify that all the facts were accurate before they submitted the bid and ended up losing the funds to cover that portion of the work. They realized it after the fact and brought it to my attention over 2 years into the contract. At that point we were unable to do anything to approve that cost due to the amount of time that had passed. Verifying the facts before they submitted the bid would have caught that error before the bid was submitted.
What about in our personal lives? Often times we get some information and go on those facts without further verification. It can be something that may cause unneeded stress in our lives. I know of someone who was told his wife was cheating on him with another man. They told him who the man was and he went straight to the man and beat him up for being with his wife. He didn’t verify the facts first and later found out that it was not true. Had he taken the time to verify the facts before he acted, that unnecessary assault would have been avoided.
You might have made a payment with your business card for a hotel room. It’s important to verify the charges on your bill to ensure they are accurate. Someone I knew recently went to a hotel for an event. She was going to originally stay 3 nights and changed the reservation to only one night due to some work she had to take care of before going to the event. When she got her bill there was a one night “no show” charge plus the charge for the one night stay. She had to call the hotel to have the charge credited. She caught it by verifying the facts on her billing statement.
In whatever area of your life, business, employment, personal, be sure to take the time to verify the facts. It will save you in the long run.
We are still in transformation here at Think Like A Negotiator. New website is in the works and will be ready to rock soon. Hopefully if all goes well by the end of November. Watch for a whole new look and new features.
If you missed the last Think Like A Negotiator training. Mark your calendars for 11-13 April 2014 for the next training. More info to follow on that.
Webinars will be starting up soon and the home study course will be completed. The Think Like A Negotiator book is going to print the end of the month.
Lots going on and more to come!
I put out a tribute in my recent newsletter and felt it also needed to be in the blog for our beautiful Chocolate Labrador Retriever Saviah. We had to let her go on Friday 30 Aug and our hearts are still heavy missing her. She was the best dog ever for almost 14 years. When my kids and I returned from an overseas tour I bought her as a Christmas present for us. The kids were gone for a few days visiting their dad. They came walking in the door and there was this ball of chocolate with a big bow around her neck. They shrieked with joy and said “A Puppy!”
Saviah immediately became one of the family. I had heard the name Saviah when I was in England. It was the daughter of one of the guys in my Harley group. I thought it would be a great name for a girl but knew I wasn’t going to have anymore kids so the 4 legged kid got the name. We all instantly bonded with her. The first night I put her in the kitchen with some papers and a bed I made out of blankets. She started yelping and crying which made my daughter cry. She rarely slept on the floor after that.
Her personality was mischievous like most Lab’s. She ate socks and would steal loaves of bread off the counter and would strategically plan an attack to steal pizza or a sandwich right off your plate. She ate things like wasabi and one Christmas she ate a whole candy dish full of chocolate still wrapped in the foil. We came home to find the candy all gone and it had been hours. She was totally fine. Nothing phased her.
She would shove the bathroom door open and climb in the tub with the kids and I would hear “MOM! SAVIAH!” I’d run to the bathroom to find her sitting in the tub not understanding why she was not suppose to be in there. After all she was a water dog. If you wanted to take a shower you had to plan a quick run. Otherwise she would wait outside the bathroom door and as soon as she heard the shower door pop open she burst through the door and ran into the show to lay down. She loved the water of course.
We often took her and my sisters dog Samoa to a place called Three Rivers outside of Alamogordo NM. We would go to Walmart, grab some chicken strips and fixins and head out for a picnic so the dogs could run and swim. Saviah was in and out of the water. I did get her a large metal tub that was suppose to be for drinking water but she just climbed inside of it and sloshed around in it.
I would hear crashing and banging in the hallway and run to see what it was and I would find her and my son rolling up the hallway wrestling. She had a “destructo-tail” and could clear a table or anything in her path with that tail. She would come in the bedroom when she wanted to go out and bang it against the door to wake you up to feed her.
There are so many wonderful memories we shared with her as a family. In the last few years arthritis started to slow her down. We thought she was a goner a couple months ago but then she suddenly pulled out of it and walked out to the grass by my place to let me know she was staying. That was when the photo on the left was taken. The photo on the right was taken earlier this year.
Our lives were so enriched by her being a part of our family. We will never be the same without her and only time will heal the empty space in our hearts. Thank you Saviah for blessing us with your life. We will miss you.
As a negotiation expert I teach people about win-win negotiation and doing the right thing. I have a 3 day training event to do just that October 11-13 in Orange County at the Sheraton Garden Grove Anaheim South Hotel. See info in the onllne store.
Sometimes you have to negotiate through some rough spots in your life and sometimes you have to put yourself out there for the greater good.
You may have seen the national news on CNN and MSNBC with my interviews regarding sexual harassment from Mayor Bob Filner. See videos below.
Technically what was done to me can’t be categorized as “sexual harassment.” It’s just a creepy old dude hitting on me. Men hit on women all the time. So what’s the problem? Why make a big deal about someone hitting on me?
It is a big deal when the Mayor of San Diego who was considered a trusted supporter of the National Women Veterans Association of America (NWVAA) hits on at least 8 women in the organization who have all been victims of military sexual assault. The NWVAA is an organization that helps and supports women who were victims of sexual assault in the military.
I am on the advisory board and was a speaker at last years NWVAA Healing and Hiring fair in August 2012, which was set up to offer support and services for victims of military sexual assault. I myself am a victor over military sexual trauma, assault and sexual harassment. I was raped while on active duty during my military career. I have done a lot of work on myself to heal from those experiences and now advocate on behalf of my veteran sisters.
After speaking at the fair; (then) Congressmen Filner spoke and advocated against sexual assault and harassment of women in the military. We all trusted him and invited him into our organization based on his advocacy on the issues and support of the organizations mission to help women veterans who have been victims of sexual assault in the military.
Later he approached me and complimented me on my speaking and asked me for a business card. I gave him my business card expecting to have a further discussion about my speaking. He looks at the card, looks at me and then says “Fernandez; married? Do you have a husband? (Very rapid fire direct). I was surprised by that question and said “no, I’m divorced.” Then he says “you are beautiful, I can’t take my eyes off of you, I want to take you to dinner.” Again I was surprised and wasn’t sure what to say as I was expecting to have a business conversation, not be hit on. His aide came and indicated they had to leave. A couple days later he called and left me the voicemail that is played in the above CNN video.
I shared this with a couple of my close friends but figured it to be a one off type of thing and nothing further ever came of it. I deleted the voicemail.
During the past year the NWVAA was working on a gala dinner to honor the Mayor for his lifetime support of veterans. When the sexual harassment lawsuit was filed, the president of the NWVAA Tara Jones started to receive calls from many women in the organization who complained they had been inappropriately touched or hit on by Filner. It appears that Filner was using the group as a place to troll for women. Really? Women who were all victims of sexual assault in the military? Wrong group to choose to exploit.
Women veterans should not have to continue to endure experiences like this. Especially in a place that is meant to be a safe space where we can some to get help, support and heal from our experiences. We trusted this man as someone who had our backs, instead he was looking at our backsides.
I don’t see how he can be trusted to lead the city and represent the people of San Diego after all that has and continues to come out.
In the end as a negotiation expert, sometimes negotiation doesn’t have anything to do with signing a contract or making a deal. It has to do with standing up, doing what’s right to help people to have win-win results in their lives.
I was chatting on the phone this morning with my friend Cat Hammes known as the “One Legged Blonde.” She has been riding motorcycles for 31 years long before women riding became popular. In fact it was odd for a woman to be on a bike back then. I’ve been riding for 18 years myself. We still didn’t have a lot of women’s riding gear when I started riding.
In our conversation, she reminded me that I was in the military long before it was popular for women to be in the military. I enlisted in 1980. The military was only about 8% women at that time. There was starting to be a push to get more women into the military and into nontraditional jobs. I actually scored high in the mechanical area on the aptitude test and I was being pushed to get into a mechanical career field. Although I am a bit mechanical, can fix stuff if I need to, change my oil if I have to etc, I wanted to work with computers. Computer programming was nothing like it is today. It was considered an administrative career field back then. I really wanted to work with computers so I enlisted in the “open administrative” career field which meant I would chose my job when I got to Basic Training. When I went to choose my job, computer jobs were nowhere to be found on the list. I ended up picking a job I knew nothing about or even what it was. The job was called “Contracts Specialist.” I only picked it because it had the highest required score to get into it. I figured you had to be smarter to do that job than the rest of the others so I chose Contracting not know what the job was about.
I basically stumbled into the Contracting career field by accident and 30 years later I am teaching and helping people be better negotiators and ensuring they have the tools to never be taken advantage of again. If you want to be a better negotiator, my Think Like A Negotiator course 11-13 October is guaranteed to help you do just that. Check out the online store for more details.
I never thought of myself as a trail blazer. You hear about a lot of women that flew planes, helicopters, drove tanks etc. I flew a desk. Not very interesting compared to some of the others. I am proud of my service and don’t discount it. That’s not what I’m saying. In fact, I have inserted a rifle drill routine into my speaking presentation in order to stand out from the herd so to speak.
I realize from talking to Cat that I am a trailblazer and I achieved a lot more than I realize at times. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside looking in to remind you of just what you’ve accomplished. I retired as a Master Sergeant, not an easy rank to get to, especially when I had to prove myself in a man’s world with sexual harassment and assault as part of the journey. It was the extreme harassment I received in the Middle East the made me decide to retire after 23 years of service. I wanted to be a Chief Master Sergeant but couldn’t handle it anymore after that deployment. I had had enough.
What does one of your friends need to do to remind you of all you’ve accomplished? You may not have been in the military but don’t discount what you’ve done to get to where you are today. Call up one of your friends and ask them what they see in your journey. The reminder will brighten your day.
Today I am excited about the release of my upcoming book and my upcoming event. The military gave me the training to persevere in the face of adversity, the discipline to stick with it when I wanted to quit and the strength to carry on. Thanks Cat for the reminder! You totally rock!
Check out Cat at http://www.oneleggedblonde.com/
Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions So Why Do We Make a Change Based on One Persons Feedback?
One of my mentors Clinton Swaine says that Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions. What that means is we should be open and hungry for feedback to continue improvement in our business or day to day lives. We are all human and make mistakes or perhaps we have a great idea and think it will work but when we introduce it to the market, it totally fails because we didn’t take the time to get feedback from our market about their interest.
Feedback lets you know whether or not you are on the right track. For instance I started teaching negotiation a couple of years ago under one of my other brands and it totally flopped. The market was confused. I didn’t do any market research to find out whether or not the two concepts would work under one brand. Once I separated the brands and introduced Think Like A Negotiator, the market was suddenly interested. I did a test event at no cost to see if the market would respond to my doing an event teaching negotiation. The market responded by showing up with about a 70% show rate to those who had registered which is unheard of these days for events. That told me that my market wanted what I had to offer.
What about those things that people do based on one persons feedback or complaint? Should we change our business or way of life based on one persons feedback? It depends on what it is but if we change our perspective or approach based on only one person’s negative feedback, it has more to do with our own confidence level than with the feedback itself.
Of course if the feedback is overwhelmingly negative, you shouldn’t ignore that. You need to find out why and tweak what you have to meet the markets needs and interest. If you don’t, you will likely not succeed.
Have you had someone tell you they like your hair better the way you once had it and you consider going back to the old style because of the one negative comment? This is despite the fact that all the other feedback is positive and you yourself feel good in that style. Perhaps you change your website and a couple people tell you to go back to the way you had it that it looked better that way.
While feedback is good to consider, we shouldn’t be quick to change something based on one person’s negative feedback, especially if the rest were overwhelmingly positive. I do a short drill routine with a parade rifle in some of my presentations when I speak. I spoke at a recent Toastmasters event to a standing room only crowd. They all filled out feedback forms and one person made a negative comment about the rifle demonstration. Should I take it out based on that? No, I don’t think so.
Not everyone is going to like your presentation or your product/service or even you. That’s ok. We don’t need to be liked by everyone. You will have your right and perfect clients that are attracted to you and what you have to offer. Listen to the feedback provided, tweak as necessary and as I have heard it said, take what you like and leave the rest.