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No Woman, No Matter How Successful, Ever Has A Pure Business Negotiation

Yesterday at the She Negotiates blog, I posted two quotes by a woman executive (President and CEO) who is blazingly successful in one of the most male-dominated industries in the world – construction of sports arenas.

Here they are again:

After she’d been in business for 15 years, a colleague told [Alvarado] she had two problems.

[Y]ou have a Hispanic company name, so you may be stereotyped [and] when you walk into a conference room to negotiate, you look like a woman.

When her son was five and asked if he wanted to grow up and be a “contractor like your mother and build sports facilities and schools,” he said “with disdain,

“No, that’s women’s work.”

Ba ba bump! (rim shot). Or as the old feminists used to say, “click.”

My partner in negotiation-for-women crime is life-balance coach, Lisa Gates.

Actually, Lisa is a success-whisperer.  She tends to focus on the “women’s work” part of the equation.  You know, the flex-time and kid time;  the working mother guilt; and part where we have to dance backwards and in high-heels and still remain Ginger Rogers instead of Fred Astaire.

I focus on the commercial because that’s what I’ve spent my entire adult life doing – representing Fortune 500 companies battling other Fortune 500 companies (rationalizing that in transferring huge sums of money from one commercial enterprise to another, skimming litigation fees off the top was “morally neutral”).

Lisa’s either way more productive than I am or currently has fewer plates spinning on sticks in the air above her head.  I go with  #1, however, because she’s a working mother and I have only the needs of a husband to which I must attend, not the earth-shattering task of raising a boy into a man.

Our upcoming course – She Negotiates! – might be looking more about the “life balance” part than the “work” part.  Because Lisa’s working harder than I am selling her “part” of it.

But here’s the thing.  As Lisa admonished me when we presented live to the Professional Women’s Network at U.C. Santa Barbara a couple of weeks ago, I have a . . . tendency . . . to upstage people.  “Stay physically parallel,” advised Lisa the actor.  And I finally, finally “got it.”  (Lisa’s like that – she helps you “get” stuff that’s been eluding you for decades).

I immediately remembered how co-counsel for the joint defense squad (female) and I used to literally physically stand at “the bar” edging our facing shoulders up past one another like duelling banjos. (really! – later we became friends, as women adversaries tend to eventually do).  And listen, in my generation, every other woman lawyer was initially an adversary.  Hence the image of the Queen Bee above.

Point taken.  Thanks Lisa.

Here’s the other thing in this wildly stream-of-consciousness post.  For a woman, there is no purely business transaction.  We’re all balancing the “women’s work” (nurturing, sacrificing, loving, laundering – clothes not money – soothing, educating) with the “men’s work” (achieving raw economic power).

The most successful business women and professionals on the planet are themselves unable to ask for something for their own benefit!  I know.  I spent my entire career among them and in service to the few of them who’d reached the pinnacles of corporate and entrepreneurial success.

Lisa and I create the She Negotiates! course material but we follow our students.  If you didn’t go there, we wouldn’t go there.  But all of our women students – executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, chefs, movie makers – at some point in the course need the support of a women’s community to move past the internal barriers that prevent them from shredding the glass ceiling like it was tissue paper.


Yes we see. That’s why they call us . . . . the leaders of the pack (vrooom, vrooom, vrooom)


Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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