The Vault July 2009: The Art of Negotation 

Everybody wins
Negotiating is a way for people or groups to work out their differences. Whether that means bargaining over the price of a car or working out an arrangement with a business partner, it’s a great way to find solutions and stay friends. Ever heard the phrase “a win-win solution”? That’s what you’re after when you negotiate.

Check out clips from the show!
Learn about the art of negotiation in this hilarious clip:


Biz Kid of the Month: Brittany Bergquist
Brittany and her brother Robbie founded Cell Phones for Soldiers ( in 2004. They were 12 and 13 years old. They started with $14 from their piggy banks. Today, the organization has raised over $2 million! 

Tell me what your organization does.
We collect unwanted cell phones, sell them to a recycler, and use the money to buy phone cards for soldiers stationed overseas.

How did you get started?
We saw a story about a soldier with an $8,000 cell phone bill from calling home from the Middle East. We wanted to help him and others like him to call home without having to pay for it. We started with our own money. Things kind of took off from there with car washes and bake sales, then bigger donors and partners.

What was one of your biggest challenges?
When we first started, we thought we could send phones directly to soldiers. The Pentagon called us and told us that was a no-no! We were pretty much left with nothing.

How did you overcome that situation?
Through research and talking to our contacts, we came up with the idea of cell phone recycling. The recycler pays us for each phone we send them–enough to buy about one 60-minute phone card for each phone donated.

How does negotiation play a role in your success?
Negotiation is really important in our relationships with partners, particularly large partners like AT&T. They agreed to have drop-off centers at many of their retail stores.

What are some of the things that help you be a successful negotiator?
The first thing is not being afraid to hear “no.” It’s also important to know your facts. If the other person knows more than you do, you’re at a disadvantage. If they see my knowledge and passion for what you are doing, they will see it and want to participate.

What’s the best thing about being a Biz Kid?
It’s way more interesting than anything else I could be doing as an 18 year old! I’ve met dignitaries and celebrities, along with soldiers who have been helped by the program. Plus, it helped me get into college!



Why negotiation is important
In business, the value of a relationship over time is usually more important than a single transaction. The same thing is true in life. Plus, without negotiation, at least one party loses–and sometimes neither side gets what they want.A skill you will use every day
You might negotiate with siblings about what to watch on TV; you might negotiate with a teacher about what you’re going to write an essay about. Everybody negotiates, but not everyone thinks about how to get the most out of it. With a few simple strategies, you can get more out of the process.


Top tips for better negotiating

    • Get smart: Just as Brittany said, it’s super important to know your stuff before you start negotiating. If you think $50 is a fair price for that beanbag you’re selling at a garage sale, you’d better be ready to back it up with facts. If the other person tells you they saw it online, brand new, for $40, what are you going to say?
    • Start high: Never start a negotiation by telling the other party what you really want. If you want to watch a show that lasts half an hour, ask to watch TV for an hour. That way, you have some wiggle room!
    • Look for win-win: Think of the other person as your partner, not your foe. How can you find an outcome that benefits both of you?
    • Stay cool: Don’t get emotional. Negotiation isn’t personal–it’s just a way of working things out. If you can keep a clear head, you’re more likely to find a good solution.
    • Be creative: If you’re negotiating where you’re going to eat lunch with a friend, don’t just blindly stick to your choice. Maybe you can find a place that both of you like. Or maybe you could let him choose where to eat lunch if he helps you with your chemistry homework. Anything can become part of a negotiation.

Ask John Paul
What is the hardest part of negotiating?
The hardest part of negotiation is getting past the word “no.” Parents teach you that “no” is the final word. In REAL life, the word “no” is where you start. When you hear “no,” ask, “What I could do to change your mind?” Or just ask, “Why do you say ‘no’?” Sometimes “no” just means “not yet” or “not now”.  The point is to find out why they said no, and then make a deal that turns “no” into “YES.”John Paul Pigéon is a 12-year-old financial guru from Fort Worth, Texas. Visit his Web site at Send your question to It may be selected for our next newsletter! 




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