William Ury is the co-author of Getting to Yes, the world’s all-time bestselling book on negotiation with more than 15 million copies sold, and co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation. Bill has devoted his life to helping people, organizations, and nations transform conflicts around the world, having served as a negotiator in many of the toughest disputes of our times, taught negotiation to tens of thousands, and consulted for dozens of Fortune 500 companies, the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon. Based in the mountains of Colorado where he loves to hike, Bill is an internationally sought-after speaker and has two popular TEDx talks with millions of viewers.

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The Learning Leader Show

  • Your life’s work: “If you had to boil your life’s work down to just one sentence you could leave behind, what would it say?” This is a great question for us to ask ourselves to gain clarity on our purpose and what we were put here to do. What is your life’s work?
    • On one of Bill’s hikes with Jim Collins in Boulder, Colorado, he asked, “When did you first discover your interest in and instinct for what became your life’s work?”
  • “I spent more than a decade of my life trying to help the world prevent nuclear war.”
  • Be trustworthy AND trust willing. Become known as a person who trusts others first without making people earn it. Yes, you’ll get burned every once in a while, but I’ve found it’s worth it. Leading with trust seems to attract the type of people you want to be around.
  • On a freezing night in January 1977, the phone rang at 10:00 pm. Bill was living in a little rented room in the attic of an old wooden house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was 23, writing term papers, and studying hard for graduate school exams in social anthropology. Bill picked up the phone… Professor Roger Fisher was on the other end of the phone.
  • “I was particularly struck by Bill’s rare ability to bring calm and optimism to seemingly intractable conflicts and by his blend of intellectual clarity and practical wisdom.” – Jim Collins
  • Go to hardest places: Instead of sharpening his intellect and insights by doing research sitting in a plush faculty office at some Ivy League institute, Bill decided to “go to the hardest places first,” throwing himself into political negotiations in the Middle East.
  • “𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒏𝒆𝒈𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒅𝒆𝒆𝒑𝒆𝒔𝒕 differences 𝒊𝒔, 𝑰 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒆, 𝒕𝒐 𝒈𝒐 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒂𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒚, 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒖𝒊𝒍𝒅 𝒂 𝒈𝒐𝒍𝒅𝒆𝒏 𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒅𝒈𝒆, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒐𝒃𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒛𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒓𝒅 𝒔𝒊𝒅𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒐𝒈𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓, 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒕 𝒐𝒏𝒄𝒆. 𝑭𝒐𝒓 𝒔𝒉𝒐𝒓𝒕, 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝑩𝑩𝟑.”
  • “The only book to write is the one you cannot not write.”
  • What are the 3 victories on the path to possible? The story of the wise old woman and the camels…
  • The story of Vasili Arkhipov and Sub B-59 (the pause, calm, reactive to proactive).
  • The balcony helps you look at it from afar.
  • Your BATNA
    • What is BATNA? The definition, or the ability to identify a negotiator’s best alternative to a negotiated agreement, is among one of the many pieces of information negotiators seek when formulating dealmaking and negotiation strategies. If your current negotiation reaches an impasse, what’s your best outside option?
  • “I’m a believer in human possibility, human potential. I’m a possibilist.”
  • The first person we need to negotiate with is ourselves.
    • React = act without thinking.
    • “When angry, you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
  • “Where others saw obstacles, my grandfather Eddie saw an opportunity.”
    • The story of the two shoe sales professionals…
  • Bring your spirit of play. That’s one of the things about Bill that I couldn’t help but notice from the second we connected. He was smiling, laughing, and enjoying himself the entire time. He was having fun. What’s the point of doing all of this if we don’t have some fun along the way?
  • Life & Career Advice – “Go right to the obstacle. Full emersion. Do what you’re afraid to do.”
  • Apply to be in my Learning Leader Circle

Time Stamps

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership