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Complex Negotiations Counsel Jamie Nuich discusses building her own business and shares her thoughts on why negotiation skills are so important

Jamie Nuich is a highly qualified Complex Negotiations Counsel with a wide range of experience related to negotiations. She talks about building her own business and the development of her program the Golden Intelligence² School™ in which she shares her skills with a selection of exceptional students each year.

She shares some insight into her journey as a negotiator and emphasises the importance that negotiation skills have in our world. She also shares some of her unique and valuable knowledge in this area and discusses what can be expected from undertaking her program.

Hi Jamie, first of all can you tell us about yourself and how you got your start as a Complex Negotiations Counsel?

Sure.  Growing up, I enjoyed a very intensive education, with back-to-back extra curriculars around the clock, as well as private tutoring in the training of the old masters. Then I followed that trajectory after school into the corporate world and international relations: working as a litigator, appearing at the UN, managing high-stakes deals in Big-4 corporate consulting, researching discrete matters for senior members of government, taking up overseas projects, then finally settling into practice as a mediator. And now I teach that same diversity of education and experience to a small selection of exceptional students each year at the Golden Intelligence² School™.

Actually, the title of “Complex Negotiation Counsel” is one I created specifically to compensate for what I saw was a major deficiency in the lacklustre range of negotiation training programs out there before me, as well as a gap in the professional employment market.  Working across different professions, I feel I got a behind-the-scenes look into how different professionals work and think, and then got to make comparisons. And what I noticed across the board in high-stakes negotiations was that because each profession was so set in their own ways of thinking, that professionals would often (unknowingly) lack the full repertoire of skills and thinking ranges needed to manage complex negotiations confidently and at the expert level.

So, I set about creating a solution to this multi-disciplinary problem: to help individuals get a better sense of the bigger picture in negotiations, to become more well-rounded in their intelligence, and to ultimately go from being another pawn in a game of chess to the creator of the game itself.

By the way, can I say: is now not the perfect time for this or what? In fact, I think you’ll find that these roles will skyrocket in the next 10 years as specialist roles begin to decline precipitously. I’m just glad the School has come about at such a critical time for our students, so they will have a head start to lead tomorrows markets in confidence.

What has the process of building your business been like?

Like a blockbuster movie – action-packed, thrilling, but not without some unexpected plot twists along the way.

I first launched the School with my team in late 2019 (under the name “Dispute Intelligence”). We got over 5,000 applications across the globe from a melting pot of remarkable applicants – hospital administrators, law firm owners, contracts managers managing up to $bn contracts total, engineers developing cutting-edge technology, staff from the UN, lots of professors, even a couple of senior political figures from some intimidating countries, civilians with stories of escaping armed conflict and community leaders on a mission to genuinely make a meaningful impact.

Crazy right? We knew the School’s programs were a cut above the rest, but to be inundated with this colossal avalanche of applications from the get-go was humbling to say the least.

I will say there were some bizarre issues with overseas authorities. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I’m glad to be giving this interview now rather than doing interviews for Banged Up Abroad.

Besides that, there’ve been some new intellectual challenges to get over. Presenting to such a wide audience has forced me to take extra special care in how and what I communicate. It’s easy when you’re presenting to one culture only – you simply follow their rules, their manners, their worldview. Those kinds of things have been interesting challenges for me to play with, and still are to this day.

What inspired you to create the Golden Intelligence² School™?

I’ve always been inspired by the classical training of statesmen (ie., state leaders). If you’re not familiar with this: I mean specifically the classical training in Ancient Greece – there was a very particular training regime that you had to follow to become a statesman. You’d have to study advanced mathematics, logic, argument, philosophy, law, all that, then from ages 35-50 you began your statesman training which was your finishing school in how to be a ruler and tie all your education together. It was much more advanced than any university course available today. I always wanted to see something like that classical example in the modern world today, but nothing ever really compared so I just forgot about it.

But then over time, throughout my career, I came to meet thousands of likeminded smart, decent, and interested professionals who genuinely wanted to learn “something better” (just like the classical regime I had idealised), who were also disappointed with the lame, watered-down alternatives they got instead. That was when I finally decided to create that “something better” that was missing for them.

Can you tell us a bit about the Golden Intelligence² School™ and what you aim to teach?

The School teaches special intelligence in negotiation and conflict resolution practice to professionals. It’s hard stuff. And we expect applicants to already have some working knowledge on negotiation from their own working life. Then we take care of the rest.

The School offers four programs at different levels of difficulty and different intervals throughout the year. The School’s elementary program is offered intermittently throughout the year. The practitioner program, which is the Schools flagship program, is run only two times each year for 30 days. The School’s advanced program follows this consecutively each year. Finally, our executive program is offered by invitation only, with no fixed scheduling or dates.

In our elementary program, the School offers starter packs for students to improve their negotiation skills on autopilot. There is no thinking, no computing, just plug in and play. This allows students to upgrade their negotiation game tenfold with tried and tested done-for-you game plans that are ready to follow for better rates of success in negotiations.  Students find these packs are great to build up their confidence before they take on bigger challenges – sort of like bicycle training wheels before you feel comfortable enough to ride the bike on your own. The beautiful thing is, once you learn these on rote, then you always have them in your back pocket as a “plan b” strategy to play on autopilot.

In our practitioner program, students learn our full suite of special intelligence negotiation skills, tricks, frameworks and game plans. This is designed for professionals with a working knowledge of how to negotiate in their daily work, but who want to get sharper, to push themselves and go those extra steps to become sharper in their negotiation game.

In our advanced program, students are pressed to apply their new intelligence in practice across a range of diverse contexts. At this level, students are expected to develop razor sharp discernment and critical thinking skills to assess and diagnose negotiations like a pro.  It is at this stage that students are expected to improvise and go beyond the learning prompts to manage their negotiations shrewdly on their own.

Then finally, for a select chosen few, we have an executive program where students undergo the final stages of intensive training, much like a pressure-cooker version of that classical training example I mentioned earlier.  This is where all the pieces fall together, students’ negotiation intelligence matures and students finally master the ability to create and deliver their own sophisticated infusions of intelligence in their own negotiations, in the same way that a statesman would.

What can people expect from the program?

I would say in any of our programs that students can expect an intensive experience with an incredible pay-off once they’re done.

Students can expect; to figure out how to use what they already have that’s valuable and let go of what’s holding them back in negotiations; to learn to see through the games in negotiations, and to feel a bit like Neo in the Matrix when we get started; to learn to take charge of negotiations, to change dynamics, to make a meaningful impact, and to acquire greater leverage and ultimately achieve consistently better results in practice.

While it’s early days and the School is still growing, I am keen to work with students to make sure they really get the most out of the School’s program. I really think that’s important that the School is not run according to the one-sided banking model of education, but that there’s more of a dialogue with students and that I stay accountable to students to achieve excellence in the program.

Also, when travel opens up again, we may look at doing a face-to-face retreat for an advanced program. But let’s see what 2021 and beyond brings.

What would you say the role of negotiation is? Why is it such an important skill to learn?

Well, negotiation (good faith negotiations, that is) is about the fair exchange of value. You give me value and I give you value in return. There’s no trickery about it. It’s just an honest exchange of gold for gold. But then there’s bad faith negotiation, which is where one or both or many parties basically tries to gain an advantage, by trading gold for bronze for instance.

I guess you could say the role of negotiation boils down to managing those exchanges of value.  But the thing is, those exchanges happen in one million and one ways. There are multiple currencies of value well beyond money. And in modern life especially, complexity has become a big part of how value is exchanged these days.

In fact, each day billions of people practice negotiation, most without even realising it. There are formal negotiations obviously where you have a group sitting in a private room to “make a deal”, but there are informal negotiations we all practice daily.

Most people are comfortable to get by on what they know without further training, which is fine if they’re happy with where they’re at. And to a certain extent, I would endorse this – I even teach my students to use their own intelligence anyway if that is getting them what they want.

It’s only when people start to want more out of life, to climb up the food chain, or to secure their position and ward off new competition, that they really start to recognise how invaluable and even vital it is to possess sharper negotiation skills.

I will add too, even if you’re not motivated by status, I would still really recommend you study negotiation as a kind of professional insurance policy for yourself.  From my own experience, I’ve observed countless examples of well-meaning individuals who lacked refined negotiation skills and who consistently ended up getting fleeced or hamstrung in some bad faith negotiations. And unfortunately, the higher the stakes get, the less secure things get – the more you’ll have to lose if you really don’t have the skills to protect yourself in negotiations.  It’s really a jungle out there for the uninitiated.

What fundamental advice would you give to people looking to improve their negotiation skills?

Being good at negotiation has nothing to do with the stuff you see on TV: talking fast, playing childish games, or “seeming” to be good at negotiations. I often make references to the TV stereotypes on social because they’re easy to spot, but that’s not how good negotiators work in practice.

In fact, the only true way you will ever get good (and I mean good to the level of Winston-Churchill-good) at negotiations is to improve the quality of your thinking: to upgrade your operating system, remove any mental viruses and install the right mental software. Of course, these are all things we take our students through in our programs. But I really cannot stress enough the importance of upgrading your thinking as opposed to simply acquiring a mismatch of fast-fashion tactics which, if I’m being honest, is little more the poor man’s game to scrape at the bottom of the barrel.

What qualities do you believe make a successful negotiator?

Intelligence is a given, sure.  Intelligence is in our School name after all.

But beyond that, I believe that good character is just as important, if not more important, to make a successful negotiator. What’s good character? Having courage and a sense of responsibility, having a sense of righteousness, valuing integrity beyond mere lip service and practising self-discipline. All these hallmarks of good character are essential building blocks to become a formidable presence in any negotiation, which in turn is what will ensure you achieve consistent success in negotiations. Conversely, these traits will be the very thing that consistently spares you from a world of pain in having to endure the horrors of bad faith negotiations time and again.

Thank you Jamie for your time!
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