May 5, 2018

I just returned from a week in Cleveland and before you say, “why would you do a thing like that?,” I will simply say to you that Cleveland gets a bad rap. It’s a beautiful city.

And having a Titans Master Class mastermind meeting there with special guest Dan Kennedy certainly made the city more brilliant than ever too.

If you are a member of a quality mastermind group, the lesson is that it doesn’t matter where the meeting is held as long as you are with the right people…and that having the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nearby is simply a bonus.

At the conclusion of the meeting we did an exercise which I want to share with you…one that you can practice in your everyday life…but first some background.

In recent months, many of you have quoted back to me some version of the subject line above in regard to situations you encounter in your lives every day…and I would like to share my take on “100-0” in more detail.

The phrase “I’ll meet you halfway” hasn’t existed for me for most of my adult life…and I can thank the lameness of some people I love as much as anyone in the world for that.

I have a group of ten buddies from high school who are like brothers to me.

However, we all know that no matter how close you are to certain people, it’s easy to fall out of touch…and if some of those people are particularly “complacent” (euphemism for “lame” since some of my buddies subscribe to my list and I really don’t want too many additional unsubscribes), it’s even more challenging.

But come to think of it, they probably don’t open this e-mail anyway.

So yes, some of them are quite lame…but they still love me and I love them.

For the most part, if I didn’t reach out to them, the odds of them reaching out to me are slim…although the joke is that they are “always sitting by the phone waiting for my call…”

Now…that could have pissed me off.

I could have asked:

Why did I always have to make the extra effort to keep in touch?  And why did I always have to organize any events where we could all have some kind of reunion or get together? 

I concluded that making the arrangements was not their super power but caring about their lifelong friends was still a priority.


The extra effort is always worth it, as when we do connect, it is always a blast, a true love-fest and we actually joke about the lameness and how we overcame the odds to get together. 

If I waited to be met halfway, I would not have some of the most important people in my life being a bigger part of my life…and I could have easily made that choice.

But knowing that if I brought 100% to the relationship, the payoff of having those brothers in my life would be the ultimate reward.

This is also a premise to follow in business.

It starts with never thinking in terms of meeting anyone “halfway.”

And it’s also directly related to never saying “it’s the principle of the thing” when you stick to your guns on something just because the other side isn’t moving in your direction.

This could create some friction for you.

For example, everyone I’ve ever worked with in my career considers me a wimp for not holding out for every dollar on a contract or not walking away when demands from the other side of a negotiation became unreasonable.

I always tried to hang in by not waiting for the other side to cave but rather staying engaged by giving as much as I could (within reason) without looking for concessions right away and without sticking to my guns just because of the “principle.”

I guess looking back I have made some deals that I have not gotten all I wanted out of them…but I can tell you that I generally sleep well at night…every night.

(Well, there was that night I was prepping for a colonoscopy…oops…TMI).

This “100-0” mindset is something I originally learned at a seminar early in my career and I’ve put my own spin on it…and I have to tell you, it takes away so much stress…the stress of “keeping score” and seeing how much they gave you vs. what you gave them.

This is just wasted energy as far as I can tell.

When I am in any kind of negotiation, to quickly get me off the idea of “getting an edge,” I reflect that whoever I am dealing with is as dead as I am in 100 years…and what does this really mean to both of us in the bigger picture?

As the great entrepreneur coach Dan Sullivan would say, it’s critical to stay out of a “scarcity mindset” and move to an “abundance mindset.”

The abundance mindset has led me to two concepts that I would like to leave with you today that may be a shift as you negotiate deals in the future…or plan reunions with unresponsive buddies…or anything in-between.

I understand that you can’t do this all the time…but it might get you thinking differently about true fairness—and it could lead to many more nights of peaceful sleep.


1. Don’t sweat the deal numbers on a test if there is potential for a new lifelong partner: 

One of the beauties of direct response marketing is that we can measure everything so we know exactly how something worked…or if it didn’t work…so why not share all results with total transparency and then adjust the deal accordingly for maximum win-win on rollout?

Many of the deals/agreements I’ve made over the last four decades were so unpredictable how they would work out.

But knowing that I would be a slave to the numbers on the initial test—I can’t believe this English Major is saying that!—figuring out the “profit pie” based on REAL results and then adjusting to the fairest deal possible for both sides always led to the biggest long term wins…and also to the longevity of the product/project.

And it also led to lifelong partners…and friends.


2. Windfalls are windfalls…re-think them while you count the money: 

Maybe you will make a super sweet deal that is good for today; but if it is unfair to one side or the other, you’ve got a one-hit wonder (i.e. a “one off deal” with no future potential for wins).

However, to make a deal that lasts, think about adjusting things even if you did not negotiate a “flexible deal” on the test.

When one side makes a mint while the other side doesn’t do so well, I guarantee that this kind of deal won’t stand the test of time.

And if you are on the windfall side, don’t assume it was a “fair deal” just because both sides initially agreed to it…and that you can stand on “principle.”

It might have been negotiated in good faith when initiated; but since you are hopefully not just about “revenue events” and more about business building for the long haul, it’s OK to be the first to fess up if it’s not a fair deal…and in the words of the great Dr. Robert Cialdini:

“Be the first to give service, information, concessions” 

This reminds of a story about a mailing list salesperson who went to a company that had never previously rented their lists (for direct mail)…and the lists were comprised of affluent professionals who responded well to all kinds of business and consumer offers…a very responsive list that went from unavailable and untapped to a gold mine for so many direct marketers when they mailed to it.

This salesperson negotiated a commission deal the first year the list was available on the market that unexpectedly had her making more money in commissions than the CEO of the company was making…and it was a pretty large company with an overpaid CEO to boot.

This is the definition of a windfall, not a fair deal.

After the first year, the CEO asked the salesperson to adjust her commission based on the unexpected windfall…and she refused.

Her position:

”Why should I have to take a pay cut when I did such a good job?”

(Of course even an amateur could have sold those responsive lists and done well too.)

She stuck to her guns that a deal is a deal…you know, “the principle of the thing.”

But unfortunately for her, “the deal” was not an “employment contract” and she was let go from the company a year later after she made a similar windfall in year two.

It’s interesting to note that if she cut her commission in half for year two, she still would have made more money than she ever made in any single year for the rest of her career.

I know this is an extreme example…but it makes my point…and it’s true.

And hopefully it is also a cautionary tale if you ever find yourself “winning” to an extreme and you want to continue similar wins in the future.


All of this “100-0” philosophy came full circle in Cleveland last week.

We ended the event with an exercise I call “give and get.”

Better way to phrase it:


“How can I contribute to everyone in the room…and what are my current needs that someone in the room could help me with?” 

The key here is to put out the contribution piece first…the “100”…and the requirement is that you have no expectation of any return on that contribution.

That is, your “give” is unconditional.

However, a neat thing that happens if you are in the right environment with the right people also thinking about “100-0”:

Making any kind of “ask” of the group (i.e. what you “need” from others) becomes perfectly appropriate and it also opens everyone else up for amazing possibilities to work with you.

And if you only give with no get, that’s OK too.

The overall lesson:

Be in the game for the long run…play fair…give unconditionally (“100-0”)…and I guarantee you will be richer for it in the long run.





P.S. The Titans Master Class event in Cleveland was spectacular…and after everyone completed the “Contribution/Needs” exercise at the end, there were folks who wanted to contribute to the group by recommending other givers to join.

If you are someone who subscribes to the mindset of “100-0” and you are interested in being with others who think the same way…and you want access to world class marketing ideas and resources both online and offline…please fill out an application form for Titans Master Class at:

Our next event is in October in the New York area…and one of our special guests will be my good friend and marketing genius Perry Marshall.

And I am thinking about having Dan Kennedy again next year too.

Every new member to Titans Master Class is on boarded with a one-on-one interview which is the only way I can guarantee if it’s a right fit…and I would love to meet with you if you think you are.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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