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Jim Camp, Negotiating Coach

Jim Camp
Jim Camp

One book: "The Civil War" by Shelby Foote. An amazing effort to paint the entire picture of the Civil War and take an in-depth look at the behavior, decisions, personalities, and commitment of the times. There is an insightful lesson in human behavior and decision making on every page.

One newspaper: The Wall Street Journal, absolutely required reading.

One website: -- From there you can go anywhere.

One gadget: Wireless Cell Phone Data Connection for my computer. With this, I can communicate in a fully secure environment with my clients globally, helping them build their negotiations. Who from my generation would have ever thought this type of communication tool to be possible for an average citizen?

One plane ticket: First-class round-trip to Saigon, Vietnam, to revisit one of the most defining times of my life.

What are you reading?

"The Art of Management Fighting", given to me by the author, Vladimir Tarassov, during a Russian Summit on Negotiations held in Moscow. Born in 1942, Vladimir is a great example of a true communist patriot during the Cold War. He started the first school and course of management in the communist U.S.S.R. The book and his thoughts provide startling examples of how all humans interact. There is a cultural difference in the writing, and his examples draw from his environment as they should, but the work is an excellent demonstration of human behavior and the true application of rules of behavior in bringing about agreement with others. A confirmation that win-win is not a foundation thought process and is terribly misguided -- much as I discovered in the book Stephen Ambrose's great work on the Lewis and Clark expedition, Undaunted Courage.

Who's been your biggest influence?

My father, Lawrence R. Camp, a man of great knowledge and worldly experience. Day in and day out, he continues to demonstrate character and integrity, through which he has earned the respect of many great people. Dad is a veteran of Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway and Europe in World War Two. He is, to this day, a revered family leader with eight great-grandchildren. Still a successful high-tech business owner, he was never shy to teach valuable lessons by allowing those he mentored to safely fail in order to gain a better understanding of themselves and their process and tasks.

What's your biggest mistake?

I was introduced to a nice gentleman flipping hamburgers in the back of an automobile dealership in Columbus, Ohio. He was an acquaintance of my professor and coach, Woody Hayes. After the lunch rush, he joined us, and we discussed my life in the military and what I would do when I left active duty. I explained to him that I was going to California with my young family to start a business. He said he had just the business for me. I should work with him and buy the franchise to his restaurant in California. He would teach me all I needed to know, and he would help me develop it. All I needed was $80,000 or so. Based on my meager income of about $5,000 per year, I couldn't imagine securing such a fortune. I wasn't thinking big in those days. Besides, what promise could there be in flipping burgers? The world already had Sandy's, BBF, McDonald's, Burger King... Who would ever go for a new one, called Wendy's?

Is management an art or a science?

Science. Real management is based on laws and adheres to the laws of human behavior that have stood the test of time in every era, every culture, here on earth. Those who think it is art are often disappointed because they are not aware of the rules of mankind and of what mankind can manage. Often they attempt to manage the unmanageable with tactics and tricks, and when they have success -- which some do -- they gather up hubris to feel good about themselves. Hence, they believe it is art rather than science and in the end they fall short without realizing it. Just like the greatest win-win negotiators: They think they did the very best that could have ever been done, and they fail to see what they really could have done.

What do you reach for on your desk when the fire alarm goes off?

My Coach2100 checklist. In college, I was trained to be an educator and coach, which required systematic thinking and the application of fundamental rules that, when adhered to, would bring about a successful result. A short time later, I was trained as a pilot in the U.S.A.F. Piloting a jet fighter required the same disciplined type of thinking. Of course, the stakes were higher in the jets, but the fundamental concepts were very much the same. Based on my training, I developed for myself a systematic approach to business thinking that has served me and all of my clients well, because it too produces disciplined thought and desired results based on rules that prevail. So I would reach for my most essential tool, the checklist.

Curriculum Vitae

  • Author of "Start With No", which debunks the win-win approach to business negotiations and urges negotiators to adopt a more skeptical and self-interested position from the outset.
  • Developed the Coach2100 negotiation system, a virtual training environment accessible from link that teaches negotiating skills grounded in proven principles of human behavior.
  • Has coach thousands of people at more than 150 companies through negotiations, including clients from Motorola, Texas Instruments, Merrill Lynch, IBM, and Prudential Insurance.
  • Has lectured at graduate business schools in the United States and has been a featured speaker at Inc. magazine's "Growing the Company" conferences.

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