Peter Principle/Peak Performance

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You must have heard of Peter Principle.


“Every one rise to the level of incompetence.” So, if you are CEO of the company, and you can not grow beyond, you have reached a level of Incompetence in your life.


Read it in the context of Peak Performance Theory.


A state when, you are at the peak of your performance. This applies to every one, from actors to sportsman to writers etc. Taking parables from Cricket, many a time, we have heard, Tendulkar reached its peak performance, but again he risen from ashes. He was probably, outlier. But, look at Yuvraj singh, do you think he is beyond his prime days. Emotion apart, Yes. If you look at many businesses, products, services, we know for sure, its beyond its best days. If you use Samsung Galaxy S Phone, you know, its beyond its peak, the product has stopped delighting us. I am not an Apple Fan Boy, and certainly Android continues to bring more people on Smart Phone platform and keep delighting its user, but looking from Hardware perspective, there hardly seems tobe any frenzy on new S-6 launch. If you are in Ahmedabad, you know, Restaurants like Sankalp have stopped pleasing its patron, it doesn’t seems to be priority destination for NRI. The examples are endless, both the way. But let us stick to companies that have achieved proverbial success and now stagnated.

Individuals are no exception. Yo Yo honey sing, does not attract the attention anymore. May be due to stereotyping the craft, whereas Mr. Bachaan continues to reinvest himself.


The question before us is to know, have we reached the Cul de sac movement or reached our peak performance?


Whether we continue to delight our customer with superior services or we are bettering our past performance. Normally, defining moments in life are known to us, only six month after the event happened, while peak performance is difficult to know, with our own bias, though by being brutally objective, we can get our own answer.

Psychologically, its very difficult to admit our own shortcomings, and we are certainly good a finding faults in others, thats another topic, on our own narrow framing and biases, but the point is, even if we come to know that we have crossed our peak performance, it will happen not before but only after.


This does not mean, we should quit. It means, going back to basics, focusing on Core, revamping our own ideas, above all, keep have insecurity of getting into mediocrity trap. Above all, complacency should not set in like a rigour mortis.

Courtesy : Idea – Seth godin blog / photo – James altucher blog.

Money and Happiness by Angus Deaton

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Angus Deaton…Who?


He just won Noble Price for Economics.

Daniel Kahneman…Mostly you know. Father of Behaviour Economics.

Both of them published a much debated articles about Money and Happiness in the year 2011. They claimed, beyond US $ 75000/- yearly income, additional income has no consequences on Happiness. Its academic article, if you are interested, you may read it here.

Okay, now whats your thoughts.


Does more money brings more Happiness?

Do you agree, money has any association with happiness?


Whatever your answer, I am not judging it either way. But, I am sure, after reading next few lines, whatever is your answer, it will make you rethink.


As Mr. Kahneman says, ““Happiness” can mean different things to different people at different times.”


So, answer depends upon your state of mind today or generally in last few days. More over, both of them have further divided happiness into two parts. (1) Emotional Well being – Happiness in day to day life or how you feel today or oflate. (2) Life evaluation – what you make of your life based on where you are today, compared to when you started off. It means general satisfaction about your own life. Research says that upto a point with additional income, happiness increases, this is logical because, without reaching a stage of financial freedom in life, individual are concerns with making two ends meet or to deal with future. But, after a point, additional income doesn’t make a great difference. In India Context, I think beyond Rs. 15-20 lacs a year income ,more money does not generate more happiness.

But then why, we should work hard and accumulate wealth. So research is wrong. NO. We are always taught, money and happiness has no connection. After a time, we think of sabbatical or meaning and purpose in life etc….But, we have to make money and earn, you simply can’t give up your job and become entrepreneur or being an entrepreneur change the nature or work. because:


The research also states that more money make Life Evaluation more worthy ( In …………..Eyes_). Apart from anxiety and concern about Emotional well being in day to day life.


One feels that he/she has achieved proverbial definition of Success, because material success obviously coupled with social status, assets to show off, does gives an external validation and over a period of time, we ourselves, start building a notion of success ( I should use the word Life Evaluation) based on the wealth that we have. A cycle of 99.

I am putting the exact words used by both the Nobel Laureates:


“We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation (Success) and low emotional well-being.”


Looking from Work – Life Balance perspective, more work brings High Life Evaluation.

We are unable to trade off between high emotional well being ( stop working hard once you have achieved a stable income) with low life evaluation (low social status, anxiety of future without social security in india context, or high peer pressure or expectation of family). Hence, just like work – life balance, you can’t achieve the equilibrium.

Thus, work hard, earn more, it may not bring Happiness but in long unit will increase your Own Worth, in your Own eyes.

To sum up, if you are content and confident about your self and who you are and what have you become and reasonably certain about future, more money does not increase Life Evaluation. If you haven’t reached that stage. Work Hard, Earn More.

Dark Pattern

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This is follow up to last post on Social Science and how if used in Public Policy can create unwanted outcomes. Every new invention has either positive or negative impact on our lives. But, we hardly bother to think about it. The Internet and always connected/networked life is great for us, but at what cost we don’t know. The social media and internet companies effectively controls our behaviour. The one more glaring example is called Dark Pattern.


“A Dark Pattern is a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.”


To learn more about Dark Pattern, visit :


Recently, Linked in was subject to the litigation in the US Court, precisely for same reason. To read more about this read at If you book tickets online, even is guilty of you have to untick the insurance button to opt out of insurance payment for the trip.



More and more companies are guilty of using such techniques for their gain


The only learning, we can have is to be aware about such techniques. This is akin to phishing, that we all know about. But, individual indulging in phishing are criminals, companies engaging in such behaviours are poster boys of silicon valley.

Avoiding Stupidity is easier than Seeking Brilliance

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Conventional wisdom teaches us to focus on our Core Competence. Doing your best, sharpening your skill, and Always play to Win. But what if , winning also depends upon NOT LOOSING. It makes the entire thinking upside down. How would we Win, if we don’t try to Win. Simply by not loosing.


In a classic book by Mr. Simon Ramo –


Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Tennis Player.


This concept was described at length in the context of the Equity market returns generated by so called professional investment advisor, and why investing is no more a Winners Game. The article was published by Charles Ellis.ellis_charles_the_losers_game_1975


He had outlined Strategy : To put it simply,


Simon Ramo identified the crucial difference between a Winner’s Game and a Loser’s Game in his excellent book on playing strategy, Extraordinary Tennis for the Ordinary Tennis Player. Over a period of many years, he observed that tennis was not one game but two. One game of tennis is played by professionals and a very few gifted amateurs; the other is played by all the rest of us.

Although players in both games use the same equipment, dress, rules and scoring, and conform to the same etiquette and customs, the basic natures of their two games are almost entirely different. After extensive scientific and statistical analysis, Dr. Ramo summed it up this way: Professionals win points, amateurs lose points. Professional tennis players stroke the ball with strong, well aimed shots, through long and often exciting rallies, until one player is able to drive the ball just beyond the reach of his opponent. Errors are seldom made by these splendid players.

Expert tennis is what I call a Winner’s Game because the ultimate outcome is determined by the actions of the winner. Victory is due to winning more points than the opponent wins – not, as we shall see in a moment, simply to getting a higher score than the opponent, but getting that higher score by winning points.

Amateur tennis, Ramo found, is almost entirely different. Brilliant shots, long and exciting rallies and seemingly miraculous recoveries are few and far between. On the other hand, the ball is fairly often hit into the net or out of bounds, and double faults at service are not uncommon. The amateur duffer seldom beats his opponent, but he beats himself all the time. The victor in this game of tennis gets a higher score than the opponent, but he gets that higher score because his opponent is losing even more points.

As a scientist and statistician, Dr. Ramo gathered data to test his hypothesis. And he did it in a very clever way. Instead of keeping conventional game scores – “Love,” “Fifteen All.” “Thirty- Fifteen.” etc. – Ramo simply counted points won versus points lost. And here is what he found. In expert tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are won; in amateur tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are lost. In other words, professional tennis is a Winner’s Game – the final outcome is determined by the activities of the winner – and amateur tennis is a Loser’s Game – the final outcome is determined by the activities of the loser. The two games are, in their fundamental characteristic, not at all the same. They are opposites.

From this discovery of the two kinds of tennis, Dr. Ramo builds a complete strategy by which ordinary tennis players can win games, sets and matches again and again by following the simple stratagem of losing less, and letting the opponent defeat himself.


To understand the concept, I suggest you read the entire article.

As Charlie Mungar, puts it, we must know our circle of competence. We should also not try to be clever, or one should not speak beyond his level of knowledge. To know, whether you are professional or amateur, is the key. Confidence is good, but overconfidence gets you killed at times. Its a great advice, only, if we admit that we are not professional at everything. We have limitation of knowledge, expertise, exposure and above all skills.

Courtesy : Farnam Street Blog.


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Do you think of reading a book? Pick up few books and know for sure, you can’t finish it. Then a simple website could help you decide, which book to buy. It will tell you, how long, you will take to finish the book.


They have collection of nearly 12 million books. It forces you to read a small excerpt, count your reading time and give you estimated time, you will take to finish the book. It also give you basic theme of book.

Still, need a better approach.

My rule of Thumb:

Do not pick up book that has more than 250 pages, excluding, references. Unless its a Fiction.

Do not pick up book with small or narrow typeface.

Buy more books then you can read.

Read 4-5 books at a time, despite loosing focus on a single book.

Still, the most important question; How to find time, And which book to read. One thing is sure, you can’t force yourself to read, unless, you have innate desire to read or you believe genuinely, need to acquire worldview.

One best way is to expose yourself to the books. If you don’t like reading, don’t force yourself. How and Which Book to read, will come easier for you, if you Enjoy Reading. Can reading be made enjoyable. Yes, start with something, you feel you will enjoy, and not something which people tells you to read. Or start reading something, that will enhance your knowledge or helps you in your day to day Working Life in anyway. If you can improve your presentation, your conversation with superiors, helps you place your thoughts across, automatically, it will make reading more pleasurable. Its like acquiring a new Good Habit. A positive feedback loop is what you need.

Just like learning, reading habit can be acquired at any age.

Best Investment, Ever.

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Below is the best Investment Advice by Mr. Warren Buffet.

“Invest in as much of yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.” — Warren Buffett

Very True.

Sounds very cliched, heard many times. Some how, when we read quotes, watch inspiring video, read essay or some other inspiring materials, we know what it is or what should be Done. Intuitively, we connect to it, but that means, our automatic thinking, or system-1 as Mr. Daniel Kahneman succinctly puts into his brilliant book, Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow. To understand the meaning behind the words, we must engage – System – 2 or measured thinking. If you do not know about the two system of thinking,  read the book, I have referred or do some google search, its a first step towards, what I am writing hereinafter.

The difficult part of  reading all these life altering philosophy  is “How to do / How to Invest in One’ Self”.

Let us understand, How to Invest in Yourself.

I have no Idea about How, nor I gave serious consideration, so I am as much in game with you, as explorer and certainly not as sooth sayer. Most of us have completed 5, 10, 15 years or more of Employment Schooling after we obtained our “Graduation/Post Graduation or Degree”. Mostly, we have graduated in our Choosen Vocation/Profession. In school, we have grades, exams; In real life, we have challenges, promotion, earnings. In school, we are taught by teacher, whereas we are required to Learn by Self. So answer is simple, LEARN.

Thats where we could find Answer to HOW?

We can not take coaching, tuition or classes. If you are lucky, once in a while, you attend a conference. We do not have concept of Mentor. To me, its a primary step; looking forward to some one, who could guide us in taking right decision. Its an important but only Half of How to Learn.

Second half, depends upon; looking the work you are doing very objectively. Even if its mundane, automated, monotonous, you can still learn from it, Learn to improve your multiple skill sets.

The skills that comes immediately to mind;

@ Business Writing.

@ Basics of Finance, Accounts, Investment.

@ Comprehension.

@ Judgement and Decision Making.

@ Elementary Technology.

@ Elementary Economics.

@ Tenets of Management. Getting Things Done.

@ Sharpening Leadership.

@ Reading on diverse subject.

These all does not require any special attention or time. If one integrate all these in day to day Work Flow, learning is automated. I am sure, you are doing something or other thing to keep learning. Hence, question of How to Learn can be found in day to day work life. Iam not referring to  a structured learning, that does not mean, its not important or relevant. If you work demands constant updation of knowledge/skills it automatically forces you on the path of learning. Unfortunately, for most of us, including yours truly, it requires some effort. And thats where the Answer to HOW can be found. Doing everything with fresh perspective, trying to move beyond obvious, thinking why it is done and why can’t it be done differently, how to improve, can I draft a letter bit better? Am I using various mental tools available in my day to day decision making, can new techniques be learned, can I Improve on what I am doing… I am not giving lecture, its the natural question that popped into my conscious thinking, while drafting. So yes, its completely unedited version..In fact, it also opened up my thinking…

Thus, Mr Buffett’s Wisdom is clear: Learn as much as You can, thats best Investment you can make in Yourself.  Investment also to be done in Health, Relationship, Deep Habits, Financial Health…But thats topic for some other day.

Work-Life Balance – Part 2

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Second Part on Work-Life Balance.

When you do one activity, you tend to short charge some other activities. To achieve something, you pay some price. The price is the cost of work-life balance. In economic terms, its called Opportunity Cost. If you are reading this, you are not certainly checking on Facebook or WhatsApp or if you are at office and not gone home or not attending to critical work on hand and if you do not have sufficient time on hand, the opportunity cost is known to you.

As video suggest, we human being are not hardwired to perform one task exceptionally well, but do multiple task with basic mediocrity.


If you listen to successful people, they say, Do One Thing, Do It Right, Have Focus, and do not get into mediocrity trap or monotony. Its human equivalent of Machine.


Not for a second, I intend to undermine the achievements of people, who give their life for sole purpose. But, they are driven. They are so focused, they do not worry about Work-Life Balance. Tell me one person, who have achieved monumental success and yet could manage Work-Life Balance. Don’t give me example of how great a dad Shahrukh Khan is…Its a crap, persona created by PR Firms. To be a Dhoni, you have to sacrifice not seeing your new born for few weeks. Thats the price he is willing to Pay.


Are you willing to pay price. If yes, than you don’t crib about Work-Life Balance.

If you are Not. Don’t worry about your next promotion, financial goals, fancy car. Be happy. And there is nothing wrong with it. Be content.


Unfortunately, 99.9% of people falls in between, because, we are not completely agnostic to idea of growth. If you have read the book by Chip & Dan Heath – Decisive, you know, ultimately Our Human Mind has two sides.


Emotional Self – That drives our likings,desire and decision.

Rational Self – Controls our behaviour with rationality.


Work-Life Balance is like that, our emotional side desires family, fun, happiness and our rational side, learning, growth etc. We are always torn apart between this too. Think deeply about it.There is no end to the debate. We have to make our own Peace.


I just spent, 15 minutes writing this. Ignored 1 call, recalibrated my little tight schedule for the day. Thats price I am willing to pay, because, at least I could sharpen my thoughts, my writing skills.

If you are interest, read book by our First Women Chief Justice – Leela Sheth – On Balance. Life is all about managing balance. It sounds truism.

So, is Work-Life Balance is an equilibrium? You try to achieve or Is it pendulum? you are trying to control form going extreme.

Work Life Balance

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We aspire to be the Best Father/Mother/Son/Spouse etc..Tend to be pushing hard to manage expectations of every one. We are also supposed to get time for ourselves. To avoid burning out syndrom, to learn new skills, to stay ahead of curve. And yet, we question, Am I doing Right? Am I managing my priorities? Few days, back I had blogged, its not Time Management but Managing Your Energy should be your primary goal. To add to this, I must state, Work-Life Balance is Non Sense. This is a luxury bestowed upon us, generations who do not have to worry about earning like our parents, who had to work hard to meet two ends meet.

Does Work-Life balance is critical or can you achieve it, or its just an utopian event? While we all agree that working towards any extreme either Work or Life is not healthy, but some amount of imbalance would always remain.

A short video is useful reminder. I am not passing any judgement, see it for yourself.


Post by Sheryl Sandberg on Demise of her husband.

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Heart warming, incisive, thought provoking and very emotionally touchy post by Sheryl Sandberg – COO – Facebook on untimely demise of her husband.

Sheryl Sandberg

Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days. Judaism calls for a period of intense mourning known as shiva that lasts seven days after a loved one is buried. After shiva, most normal activities can be resumed, but it is the end of sheloshim that marks the completion of religious mourning for a spouse.

A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: “Let me not die while I am still alive.” I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.

I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.

But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.

And this is why I am writing: to mark the end of sheloshim and to give back some of what others have given to me. While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through. Some who opened their hearts were my closest friends. Others were total strangers who have shared wisdom and advice publicly. So I am sharing what I have learned in the hope that it helps someone else. In the hope that there can be some meaning from this tragedy.

I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.

I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother, both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain. She has tried to fill the empty space in my bed, holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep. She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine. She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.

I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You and your children will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?” When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.

I have learned some practical stuff that matters. Although we now know that Dave died immediately, I didn’t know that in the ambulance. The trip to the hospital was unbearably slow. I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.

I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning. In the last thirty days, I have heard from too many women who lost a spouse and then had multiple rugs pulled out from under them. Some lack support networks and struggle alone as they face emotional distress and financial insecurity. It seems so wrong to me that we abandon these women and their families when they are in greatest need.

I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged. They told me where to sit and reminded me to eat. They are still doing so much to support me and my children.

I have learned that resilience can be learned. Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.

For me, starting the transition back to work has been a savior, a chance to feel useful and connected. But I quickly discovered that even those connections had changed. Many of my co-workers had a look of fear in their eyes as I approached. I knew why—they wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Should I mention it? Should I not mention it? If I mention it, what the hell do I say? I realized that to restore that closeness with my colleagues that has always been so important to me, I needed to let them in. And that meant being more open and vulnerable than I ever wanted to be. I told those I work with most closely that they could ask me their honest questions and I would answer. I also said it was okay for them to talk about how they felt. One colleague admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should come in. Another said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Speaking openly replaced the fear of doing and saying the wrong thing. One of my favorite cartoons of all time has an elephant in a room answering the phone, saying, “It’s the elephant.” Once I addressed the elephant, we were able to kick him out of the room.

At the same time, there are moments when I can’t let people in. I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls. So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting. I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.

I have learned gratitude. Real gratitude for the things I took for granted before—like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted. When a friend told me that he hates birthdays and so he was not celebrating his, I looked at him and said through tears, “Celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My next birthday will be depressing as hell, but I am determined to celebrate it in my heart more than I have ever celebrated a birthday before.

I am truly grateful to the many who have offered their sympathy. A colleague told me that his wife, whom I have never met, decided to show her support by going back to school to get her degree—something she had been putting off for years. Yes! When the circumstances allow, I believe as much as ever in leaning in. And so many men—from those I know well to those I will likely never know—are honoring Dave’s life by spending more time with their families.

I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.

I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. And even though sheloshim has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A. As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I love you, Dave. — with Dave Goldberg.

June 3

Business/Employment Lessons

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  1. Business is a means to an end not an end in itself. Nobody on his or her deathbed says, “1 wish I had spent more time in the office.”
  2. Never quit a job unless you have another job. My father taught me this great truth. You are perceived as more valuable if you are working than if you’re unemployed. You may feel staying employed doesn’t give you the time or latitude to seek a better job. This is a dangerous delusion—don’t succumb to it.
  3. Always ask the question “If this decision is wrong, is it going to be painful or fatal?” Company builders and business leaders keep away from “bet the company” investments.
  4. Keep away from advisors/consultants. If they knew how to make money, they would. These folks are like the fellow who knows a thousand ways to make love but doesn’t know any women.
  5. The best test of a deal’s true attraction is to ask your partners, employees, directors, family, and so on, “Would you put your own money in this deal?” It’s amazing how often the answer to this question is, “No! This is good for the company, but I’ll take a pass.” These deals are invariably losers.
  6. Always have at least two people from your side present at any negotiating or deal-making sessions. This gives you time to think, plus an ally with whom to compare perceptions.
  7. Never confront or threaten people or institutions who have more power than you. Examples: police, customs agents, the sec, Ontario Securities Commission, tax agents of the government, or politicians.
  8. In dealing with the media, never forget to qualify your statements with “not for attribution” and “off the record” where appropriate. Journalists value their contacts and will usually respect a source’s desires.
  9. In negotiations, always try to get the other party to name its asking price. It may often be far lower than your maximum offer. If the other party won’t name a price, start very low. You can always go up.
  10. Almost everything in life is easier to get into than get out of.
  11. Never bid against yourself. Only raise your bid to top a real counter bid, not an imaginary one.

Source : Farnam Street