The Long Slow Burn of a Good Deal

Consider the cigar

Long, contoured, and fragrant. Hecho a mano with a few carefully selected ingredients and an unflagging dedication to tradition, integrity, and ultimately, satisfaction. Done honestly, good cigars take time to assemble, roll, seal, and wrap, and there are no shortcuts. Done correctly, these will burn long, slow, and even, providing that sublime state of self-satisfaction we all seek after a job well done. A good cigar is a celebratory smile in the mirror – a personal indulgence that has been earned.

Consider the deal

I know what you’re thinking – am I really going to compare a business deal with a good cigar? No way – believe me, I’ve got a million things to do that are more important than testing the patience of my readers with questionable metaphors. Sure, I’m a “work hard, play hard” kinda guy, but I play on my own time, not yours. And besides, the comparison is a real stretch. A deal is not “long” or “contoured” in the physical sense, although good ones often take time to develop and shape.

But fragrant?

I don’t know about you, but I can smell a deal. The moment when the conversation tilts to your favor, the air changes and you can smell it – you sales pros know what I’m talking about. It’s like walking from the humid, fetid parking lot onto the casino floor and breathing in that diabolical but euphoria-inducing brew du jour of oxygen and pheromones. When it happens, you just know it. Of course, if you are fortunate enough to have the upper hand in your negotiation, the scent of fear might also be discernible, but that’s a fun topic for another day.
So we all agree that deals are not cigars, but I do find it interesting that there are certain ingredients which must be added to cook up a successful deal. Integrity is important because people have to believe what you say. Two people talking at each other will never get anything done – to create the foundation to build a deal, both parties must possess some level of credibility. Honesty is part of this process because ultimately, if you are not telling the truth you are lying. We all know it’s possible to get a deal inked by lying, but you’ll never do business with those folks again, and word will get around. I like the word “tradition” too because for me, it connotes your personal brand. If you are known for your honesty, creativity, and integrity, you will be successful in business because your brand will introduce you as someone others should be pursuing to get things done for mutual benefit.
But probably the most important takeaway here is that there are no shortcuts. To establish and maintain your personal brand (i.e. credentials as a dealmaker), you have to be honorable in your negotiations, keep your promises, and actually get the deals done. It takes time to build your aura, as Richie Cunningham found out on Happy Days back in 1975. To paraphrase Arthur Fonzarelli, in order to have a reputation as a fighter, you have to have actually had at least one fight. Makes sense cuz talk is cheap.
So maybe there are a few parallels between a deal and a good cigar, but it’s more of an intellectual, Lumosity-type brain exercise discussion.

There’s nothing here to learn. Is there?

No, but I will say that deals do have steps that must be followed, and they take time. If you skip a step, or try to finesse it too quickly, your end result will likely disappoint. For example, let’s say that you are trying to sell your house. As everyone who has done this knows, finding a buyer is just the beginning. You have to have a team assembled to shepherd the deal. There’s usually a realtor and movers involved, but also an appraiser, title company, attorney, and at least one banker. Oh yeah, the place has to be insured too, and you may use Fedex and couriers to send the stacks of papers back and forth. So with the team in place, you roll up all the documentation into a neat package, present it to the principals, and hopefully everyone seals the deal by giving it a collective thumbs up. Money changes hands and that’s a wrap.
The only wrinkle in the sequence described above is this – you can have a great personal brand that speaks volumes about your integrity and creativity, you can be truthful and innovative and carefully follow the steps outlined, but your ingredients (in this example, your team) must be of high quality. Your ability to get things done will depend on the quality of your weakest link. At the risk of offending half the universe, all it would take is one lazy realtor, sloppy banker, or chicken-shit appraiser to scuttle the deal and hurt your brand. So don’t skimp on your ingredients to save a few bucks or days. The company you keep cannot help but reflect on you.

So take it from me – done honestly, both good cigars and deals take time to assemble, roll, seal, and wrap, and there are no shortcuts.

Done correctly, both are worth the effort and will provide immense gratification.