National tyrants, civil oppressors, political strongmen, and benevolent despots, normally not the type of the guests you would welcome to the dinner table, but all in a days work for an international negotiator like Gov. Bill Richardson. With the global expansion of the marketplace in full-force, one of the more prominent fundamental principles I learned from my business studies was the value placed on cultural awareness. Initially this knowledge was regarded as an advantage, today it is a necessity that must be taken seriously. Being a US ambassador to the United Nations responsible for the release of detainees all around the world, clearly that value is not to be taken for granted and will require continuous improvement.
“Holding a grudge is common among humans. It’s practically mandatory for politicians.”
At one point in the book I thought it was quite humorous and rather self-effacing how Mr.Richardson essentially referred to himself as the “Token Hispanic” in response to the departure of Federico Peña as Secretary of Energy. This was encouraged by Bill Clinton to fulfill his political obligation and promise to the people to make the cabinet look “more like America.” At President Clinton’s behest Mr. Richardson accepted this designation despite his general inexperience within the energy sector. There were also times in the book where his Hispanic heritage encouraged negotiation with some of the more key figures found within the USA’s foreign policy i.e. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chãvez.
For each display of humility Mr.Richardson’s inflated ego was also clearly on display. The fact that Bill followed Rev. Al Sharpton’s time elapsed speech at the Democratic National Convention, that the Rev., in fact was in charge of coordinating is hilarious on many levels. Also quite petty was the public admission of a gripe towards a fainting secretary of commerce Bill Daley stealing his thunder at a rather big moment of his political career. I understand he was poking fun at the matter, but you get the feeling that he was a little perturbed at the absence of potential adulation and his general lack of presence of mind and consideration for the state of Mr.Daley. The internal monologue/negotiation Bill had with himself about the whole “should I, or should I not endorse Hillary Clinton” was quite spiteful but entertaining none the less. During these occurrences he is not taking himself too seriously and for me is humanizing himself for the public even if he is a little misguided.
I found the majority of the negotiation “notes to remember” to be quite obvious: 1)starting the process with a joke, 2)setting the tone from the jump, 3)when you get the answer your looking for leave, 4)in a dangerous situation get the victory and go, 5)when at a statement start by pointing out the similarities between you and your counterpart,6)don’t go before the cameras when your blood is boiling, and 7)don’t make public assumptions about the willingness of your co-negotiator. Nothing earth shattering here and for anyone that has had to try and get out of a parking ticket, tell somebody some bad news, or get an extended curfew, I am positive you employed some of these tactics(besides the camera part, but I’m sure you can relate somehow).
Some of the more enlightening negotiation tactics included:1)don’t take no from someone who can’t say yes,2)working relationships even with an enemy(Fidel Castro) must be maintained and fed,3)don’t have your co-negotiator jump through hoops when you already know your answer, 4) visualize what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to accomplish it, and how are you going to respond to potential argumentative features. These were the factors of negotiation that piqued my interest and enjoyed reading and learning about.
I found Gov.Bill Richardson’s greatest negotiating strength was his ability to read the situation, anticipate the direction of his counterpart and redirect the focus towards his agenda. His stoicism during these highly-stressful and troubling times is definitely a strength of his that must be respected.Especially looking across the table at guys like this.
From reading this book it seems to me that the majority of global detention of Americans were largely based on other superficial, power playing, fear mongering countries inferiority complex and paranoia. If it’s not at the request of an inordinate amount of money, the leaders of these countries want to ensure that their intellectual capital is secure and that there is no chance for espionage. Other than that, once they get that reassurance, the detainees are released (but you may have to cross country, make five vehicle changes to get them).
Kim Il-Sung’s honorary doctorate from a well-renowned diploma mill institution being firmly affixed on his ego wall was also very humorous, but frighteningly not surprising.
Written with a candor, humility, and simple tone has slightly altered my perception of politicians from being a conglomerate of subconsciously-brainwashed, party-abiding, fanatical robots, to the common every-man who eat chips and dip in million dollar homes. I mean it could be white truffle chips with Alaskan snow crab and lobster dip, but I will give Mr.Richardson the benefit of the doubt. I always associated the “one of the guys” motif to their political life and was typically left for the photo opportunities on the campaign trail. Happily he has persuaded me, and if these politicians are ever in the area and looking for a photo-op I am a wizard when it comes to sumptuous tricks with canned meat. Come one, come all:)