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Negotiating Life by David Ferguson

I have often thought of the experiences, books and people that have had an impact on the direction I took in my life. One experience stands out for me a little more than all the others.

As a young employee, my company sent me to a seminar given by Herb Cohen where I purchased his book, “You Can Negotiate Anything”. I later attended a second seminar given by Mr. Cohen who is considered by most people to be one of the world’s most successful negotiators. He has advised presidents and CEO’s and has been involved in hostage negotiations, etc.

As a young man, I had been very involved in competitive sports. My concept of a negotiation was winning and losing. I learned the importance of being patient, personal, informed, persistent, etc. There were three key things I learned from Mr. Cohen that I have never forgotten. One is to learn the other side’s negotiating style and how to deal with it. The other two are always use time to your advantage, if possible, and realize it has to be a win, win deal.

I spent most of my career negotiating global agreements involving contracts, the purchase and sale of businesses, and labor agreements. My experience has encompassed most major countries in the world. Without my involvement with Mr. Cohen and his book, I am sure I would not have had the successes I have enjoyed over the years. However important the above lessons are in my life, they are not the most valuable benefit I received from Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Cohen taught me that life is a negotiation every day. It involves your spouse, children, friends, co- workers, etc. I did not like the idea of always being in a negotiation with friends and family and it did not seem proper to me. The word negotiation always had a negative connotation for me. After time, I began to realize that negotiating was an opportunity to create a win, win for everyone. I realized that negotiating was a chance for me to create the type of person that I wanted to be viewed as both personally and in the business world. I believe my experience with Mr. Cohen was also valuable in my relationship with my two sons.

In his book, Mr. Cohen gave me the tools to become the person I am today.


About David Ferguson: 

C. David Ferguson is the former Chairman and CEO of Gould Electronics, Inc. His management experience includes: marketing, sales, operations, engineering, quality and finance in the automobile, electrical, fiber optics, battery, electronics and semi-conductor industries.

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