Monthly archives: October 2008


What is branding? The most common response is that branding is a logo, set of colours or font. When we conduct our branding workshops, most participants are surprised when they learn that branding encompasses strategy, hiring practices, the reward structure, business focus, planning, internal and external communication.

Branding is more than just logos, fonts and colours. A branding workshop should be attended by the top management of the company. During this period, the top management will work to identify the company values, unique selling proposition and goals. A one day branding workshop will take the company on a discovery process, where they gain an idea of where they are and where they want to go. 

The branding workshop should have at least one facilitator and one observer to take down key points. In a one day session, most people should expect to find their unique selling proposition, have an idea of the company values and company vision.

In our branding workshops, we utilize techniques of Appreciative Inquiry (positive questioning), team-building, together with interactive marketing and strategy tools. Here are some of the frequently asked questions on branding:-

1) Who should attend a branding workshop? Most companies will send their junior to mid level executives. The branding workshop should have the CEO/founder and top management as well as selected frontline staff. The workshop will be more effective when you have the key decision makers as well as the frontline staff. This is due to the fact there is often a different view of what the company is from top management to frontline staff. Something often goes missing along the way. The workshop helps both teams come to a consensus on what the brand stands for and its vision. 

2) Why do we need an external facilitator? Facilitators will help keep things on track. They can move the discussion in the right direction as well as provide an impartial view. Experienced facilitators will also be able to give relevant examples across companies or industries.

3) What is the key result of a branding workshop? The discovery process will normally help the company determine where the brand is. Sharing of success stories is a powerful tool to determine the brand’s current proposition and unique selling points.

4) Who conducts a branding workshop and why is it expensive? A branding workshop costs a lot as it often involves more than one facilitator. Each facilitator has to tailor their approach to each company. Like a bespoke suit, we don’t use a one size fits all method. The learning method, role plays and games are all designed with a specific purpose applicable to that particular company.

Feel free to post your views, comments or questions here.

To use Power Point or not?

During my one year as a brand manager, I learned how to use Power Point. I learned how people misused Power Point. I sat through  “brief” presentations of 200 slides or more. I prepared slides linked to videos, jpgs and Excel spreadsheets and jpgs. 

Setting up my own business was a totally different ball game. As some entrepreneurs write, the change was as drastic as night and day. Presentations to clients were sometimes done in the lift or on the way to the car park. Surprise, surprise, these presentations were shock horror, without Power Point slides!

My business now has 5 trainers and we work with Petronas, Maybank, Johnson & Johnson, YTL, MIDF, IBBM and Kuwait Finance House. At the end of every month, as a good former MNC trained brand manager, I conducted an analysis of my business. I determined where the business was from (which company & industry and which was the most profitable). 

Around 8% of my business resulted from making Power Point presentations. 92% of the business resulted from meetings/presentations without using Power Point slides. In all the meetings, I did have slides prepared. It was just that the meeting went quite well without the slides. 

Not setting up a projector made the presentation feel a little more relaxed. Feedback from my clients showed that most of them were tired of endless slides. Most meetings would begin by questions on what exactly the client needed. To summarize, you should always have a set of slides in case, but you may find that more than 90% of the time, you may be better off without them. Obama’s Democratic national convention speech was over 45 minutes long, extremely riveting and given without a single slide.

Some of your clients may feel a need for slides and will want to sit through a Power Point show. If you do have to prepare some slides, take a look at and the post below on Pitfalls in Presentation. This is quite a comprehensive guide to presentations that advocates getting to the point and making a focused presentation.

Should we use Power Point? Your thoughts please.

Seth Godin in his blog  talked about 9 steps to a great Power Point presentation. Step 1 tells you not to use Power Point. Does that make sense?  

Having closed new clients by cold calling, I would have to agree that sometimes you can do without a Power Point. One of the strongest openings is to do a brief (I mean 1 minute maximum) introduction of your company and then ask key questions about the other person’s business. Engaging my prospective customers in an interactive dialog helps me to understand their needs and better position our services and solutions.

Do you think Power Point is necessary?

Post your thoughts and ideas here. If you are someone who makes purchasing decisions, do you think that you must sit through a Power Point for at least 30 minutes?

If you are someone who is involved in sales, do you find that you need the Power Point to close the deal?

Simplified Negotiation Grid – A tool to use empathy in negotiation

 empathy, noun

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

This article will look at empathy and its application in negotiation. We will examine the basic selfish human nature that affects negotiation and how to deal with this to achieve a win-win solution.


We often only focus on what we want in life. We fail to take into account the other side and their point of view. In fact, Malhotra and Bazerman in their book Negotiation Genius have taken this concept further. They talk of overreaching optimism – viewing oneself through rose tinted spectacles. In a survey of husbands and wives they found that inevitably when they asked each party separately of their own contribution to the relationship, the sum was always more than 100%. This shows that we often overestimate ourselves and underestimate the other side. Empathy is one way we can overcome this.


Good negotiators think about the other side. The best negotiators eat, sleep and drink as well as walk in the shoes of the other side. As a lawyer, I was trained to prepare the other side’s arguments. Based on this I would prepare a rebuttal. By putting myself in the other person’s shoes, I was able to prepare a well-argued case that resulted in a settlement.


We will examine a few scenarios of how companies or individuals could look at “the other side” to increase value in negotiations.


Table 1. Simplified Negotiation Grid


  You Counterpart Common/shared



(in order of priority)


Possible outcomes     




Using the simplified negotiation grid, we are able to work out what the various parties’ positions and interests are. We can therefore focus on the key drivers for both parties. Skilled negotiators will also be able to revisit the common/shared interest to result in a win-win negotiation.


One of my favourite examples is the movie ticket role-play that we use in the juarezlowe negotiation class.


Example 1. Movie ticket role play summary


Ali has 2 tickets for the Gold Class Cinema show at 730pm costing RM60/each (USD18/each) for his date. Ali is 23 and has just started work earning RM2000/month (USD606). His date has just called him to say that she can’t make it. His boss has just called him to ask him to come back to the office. As the tickets are quite expensive, he doesn’t want to waste them. The time is now 715 pm and the line has around 30 people in it. He decides to sell them to someone at the back of the ticket queue.



Chong has his first anniversary celebration with his wife tonight. Chong works as a manager at a multi national company earning RM9,000/month (USD2,727). He has been really busy at work and forgotten to book the tickets that he promised to at the Gold Class Cinema. He manages to get out of the office and arranges to meet his wife at the cinema. She is not very happy as she expected to be picked up. Instead she took a taxi to meet him. During their brief conversation, she asked him “Did you remember to get the tickets dear?” to which he replied “Of course”. He arrives at the cinema at 710pm. To his horror, there is a long queue of 30 people. 5 minutes later Ali approaches him to sell 2 tickets. He looks up and the display above tells him that the seats for the Gold Class movie are “selling fast”.


Participants are given 3-5 minutes to conduct this role-play.


We find that price variance between participants can range from RM30/ticket (USD9) to RM120/ticket (USD36). Why is there such a huge variance?


Table 2. Application of Simplified Negotiation Grid to Movie Ticket Role-Play


  Ali Chong Common/shared
Positions Full price for tickets. Buy tickets at discount.     


Tickets for sale and purchase
Interests (in order of priority) 1. Avoid losing money.     


2. Find a buyer fast.


1. Avoid getting in trouble with wife.     


2. Buy the tickets at all costs.

Possible outcomes if no agreement is reached Lose large portion of salary and be late for boss.     

Find alternative buyer in ticket queue.

Get into major trouble with wife.     


Buy roses and gifts to make it up to wife.




Key pitfalls in Movie ticket role-play

1. Most participants take a narrow one-sided approach and start talking first and don’t listen.

2. They don’t take time to talk to the other side to discover the other side’s interest. 

3. They fail to consider what will happen should neither party be able to reach agreement.


Key lessons from the Movie Ticket Role-Play

1. Take a deep breath and listen.

2. Focus on the other side by asking questions. What are the things that you are looking for in a product/service?

3. Consider both your possible outcome as well as your counterpart’s possible outcome. 


Application of empathy to real life situations

1. Focus on what the other party really wants. Ask key questions to find it out. A lot of the time the other party may want something that costs less to us than he/she values it at.

Example 2. Hotel Negotiation

When negotiating with a hotel, one of the things that they can give is a buffet coupon that doesn’t cost them anything (the buffet costs are fixed). This is a cost to the other party.


2. Take the time to develop a connection with the negotiating party. Ice-break and spend a short amount of time on “the courting period”. 

Example 3. Training negotiation

When chatting with one client, I discovered that one key factor in decision making was whether or not the vendor would organize the training venue. Had I not spent the time to get to know the client, I might not have found this out. 


3. Prepare both sides of the simplified negotiation grid before you enter a negotiation to the best of your ability.This allows you to realistically assess the negotiation.

Example 4. Vehicle financing negotiation

When negotiating with some banks for financing for a company I used to work with, I realized that the financial market was increasingly competitive. I therefore commenced negotiations with 2 banks that we had a relationship with and 1 bank that wanted our business. This knowledge enabled me to negotiate a competitive financing package for our commercial vehicles that resulted in meeting our annual profit targets within 5 months.


This has been a short article on how to apply empathy in a negotiation setting to avoid a narrow one-sided focus. juarezlowe Sdn Bhd conducts courses on negotiation as well as negotiation consulting. Unlike other consultants, our negotiation fee structure can be partly tied into the amount of savings or extra value of the contract. To find out more, please email