WHY SUCCESS Comes From Mastering Negotiation In BUSINESS & LIFE (Millionaire Secrets) | CHRIS VOSS
Chris Voss: Get one degree better every day. You know, 211 degrees is still water. At 212, bang, suddenly you're in the next level, and it's a whole different power dynamic. If you’re relentless and you just do a little bit more every day, then suddenly, bang, you're in the next level.
Jeff Lerner: So there's no shortcuts. So how long would you say you were doing work that was more grind than glory before you started to penetrate through into, you know, a position of some renown or accolade? Chris Voss: Wow. That's an interesting question, you know, because one of the coaches and I don't know, [inaudible] Derek Gaunt, you know, when he tells people to get, he says, get one degree better every day. You know, and that one
degree, like when water turns, when, you know, water goes from ice to water, you know, it's been warming up for a while, but then suddenly there's a state change. Or when water turns into steam. You know, 211 degrees is still water. At 212, bang, suddenly, you're in the next level, and it's a whole different power dynamic. So, you know, I think I always grinded it out. But if you're relentless and you just do a little bit more every day, then suddenly, bang, you're in the next level. I mean it kind of, and you don't really know when it happens. And I don't think it actually takes that long. You know, I don't think there's that
much to get it done. But, you know, it doesn't feel like a lot of progress every day, and then maybe six months later, you're at a whole new level. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Well, yeah. And I love the water analogy because, you know, and again, a lot of my audience is either aspirational entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs in the early launch or growth stage of their business which I spent a lot of my time in that stage too. Nobody knew what the heck I was doing. Nobody really seemed to care except fortunately, eventually a few
customers and then that grew. But you know, you can be 47 degree Fahrenheit water and then you're 48 degree Fahrenheit water and you're still cold. And then a while later, you're 80 degree water and at least you don't feel cold anymore. And then you're 100, once you're about 120 degree water, oh, that's hot. But you're barely even halfway there if you want to power a steam engine. But like you say, you just hit, you just got to hit that one mark. And I mean obviously that's a rah-rah moment of encouragement for people out there that haven't reached your level of success. And what I have found, and
actually I'd be interested in this dynamic in your career in law enforcement, is that for me as an entrepreneur, every degree I get better exponentially or maybe logarithmically reduces the amount of my competition. Like as 100 water, I have a ton of competition. As 101 degree water, I have significantly less. As 150 degree, it seems like I'm almost all alone. And by the time I'm 200, by the time I'm even in the ballpark of turning into steam, I look around, and it's like, it seems inevitable at that point because I'm the only one still getting hotter.
So I'm curious. What was that like in law enforcement? Was there a certain point where you realized like, hey, I'm pulling ahead of this pack and even though I'm not there yet, if I just keep the momentum and basically don't screw it up, I know I've got this in the bag? Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, I think probably early in my FBI days, I’d kind of gone through that on a police department. And, you know, I was only a
cop for three years. And, you know, I just worked at it every day and— Jeff Lerner: And that was in New York City? Chris Voss: No. Actually Kansas City, Missouri was where I was a police officer. You know, and then, you know, I'd have a good month of stats with just
trying to do a good job every night. And then I accumulated, you know, a few good months of stats and actually, I interviewed for a [inaudible] a PD for the SWAT team. And, you know, the commanders had been paying attention to my stats for a while, and I had no idea. And then suddenly I get commanders that are writing good evaluations for me. And, you know, I don’t know. I suppose probably I gained a sense for it after about having been at it for only about two or three years. And suddenly, the guys that I considered my peers from two or three years ago just weren't getting anywhere at all. And I think at that
point in time, I just started to see, you know, the steady accumulation of staying after it. And you don't really notice how many of them fall away each and every day. But when you turn back and look down a mountain, there are a lot of them that are a long way behind you. Jeff Lerner: That's because, what do they say? Losers are obsessed with winners. Winners are obsessed with winning. You're not looking back. Right? Chris Voss: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeff Lerner: So it's about the consistency. Chris Voss: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Man, you're really drawing the quotes out of my memory bank today.
I'm not usually such an annoying quotester. But I can't help but think we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not a virtue but a habit. Chris Voss: Yeah, yeah. Jeff Lerner: Which is attributed to Aristotle. It was actually Will Duran. But man, it seems like you really embody that. So was there ever a situation where you found yourself or did you ever even allow yourself to ask the question, if I was in this terrorist or kidnapper or whatever the term was, if I was in their shoes, I can understand how they would have reached the point where they would be doing this? And I can't, even though my job is to be their adversary, I can't actually fault them for what they're doing. Did you ever—
Chris Voss: No, no. Well, you got to understand it. The critical issue is do you agree with it? You know, and that's a strength in any negotiation. The key to empathy for hostage negotiation and business negotiation. Can I understand where you're coming from and not agree? Or even can I understand and actually disagree? And so I can understand how, I don't know that, you know, I can't imagine a scenario where I couldn't understand how somebody got to some sort of immoral decision. Understanding the path of how they got there and agreeing is not same thing or even holding them accountable. When I went through the
training at the negotiation, at the FBI, the scenario that they hit us with on a second day was what really started the whole suicide by cop, recognition of a phenomena that existed for a long time. It was in Rochester, New York. And a guy named William Griffin went to a bank to be killed by police. And it was then law enforcement had to recognize if you've got a suicide by cop scenario and a guy's got hostages, he's going to kill hostages till we kill him. And that
wasn't really, and that's just the way it is. So, you know, we got no choice. He's going to keep killing. And William Griffin, you know, murdered one of the hostages in front of law enforcement because law enforcement didn't want to kill him at the time. So they hit us with that second day of the negotiation training. And so really I figured that the biggest regret that any hostage negotiator would go through would be to fail to recognize this, and their failure to recognize it and then make a recommendation to command would cost innocent lives. So my focus as a hostage negotiator has probably contributed to the fact that I had previously been on a SWAT team was teaching negotiators from the very beginning, we got a 93% success rate. That means 7% of the time, it's gonna go bad, and you're going to have
to, and you need to recognize that to minimize the unnecessary loss of life before it does. Jeff Lerner: And that's, I mean that's 1 out of every 14 cases. So by your 15th or 20th case, you've probably, somebody’s been killed, either a hostage or a kidnapper. Chris Voss: Yeah. Well, that's what— Jeff Lerner: Or law enforcement. Chris Voss: And then I preferred like, and you talked about Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines. We had two straight cases with those guys. Second case turned into
a train wreck where people got killed. And then that's the gut check moment for any hostage negotiator because, you know, with the percentages we're talking about, if you do less than 10, everything you touch turns out and you think, I'm a great negotiator. Everything I touch, people live. I save lives. But by the numbers, once you climb over double digits, you're
starting to get into the danger zone where the chances are something's going to go bad. Now do you quit? Or do you get better? You know, to quote the great Irish philosopher Conor McGregor, you know, I win or I get better, you know, which means when you fail miserably, will you rebound or will you quit? Will you get smarter or will you give up? And I think that's also kind of in my nature. Are mistakes learning accelerators or do they cause you to just quit? Jeff Lerner: So were there cases where you felt like the lessons learned from a situation where life was lost, you are able to directly apply in the future such that lives were saved and kind of rebalance the debt so to speak? Chris Voss: Great question. What we ended up learning, how we ended up getting better as a result of the Burnham/Sobero case, not only save lives down the line but it got people out sooner which was, since most of the hostages are gonna live, your real job is to use empathy to shorten the timeline of the deal. You know, there was a company that I gave a keynote speech to fairly recently, and one of their internal sayings was relationships are the only thing that affect deal timelines. And I thought, yeah, you know, I applied that in hostage negotiation. Empathy is the only thing
that's going to affect the deal timeline. Can you apply empathy and accelerate the timeline? Or is your lack of it going to lengthen the timeline? And we found that, you know, in hostage negotiation and turn around, looking real life, business deals, empathy accelerates relationships and accelerates timelines. Jeff Lerner: I'm going to let that hang in the air for a second. And I'm going to try to, you know, pump it up a little bit because I'm going to suggest at least based on my experience, that's not just true of closing deals, you know, which is kind of a linear finite business result. I'm going to suggest
that I think that's true of growing enterprises as a whole, building businesses as a whole. If you are empathizing with your customer or desired customer, you are going to accelerate the healthy growth of your business. And if you are fixated on what's in it for you as a business, I think you're going to delay or undermine the success of your business.
Chris Voss: I agree completely. Yeah. Jeff Lerner: That's a really, that word empathy. I love how that word just reverberates through your whole book and through your whole strategy. So the Chris Voss that started at the bottom like everybody else but was destined to become that pin on top of the pyramid, where do you think that Chris Voss actually began? When did your story veer into the outlier? Chris Voss: Yeah. Well, my father had expectations for everybody, all of his
children to work hard and figure stuff out. You know? And just, and there was a lot of underlying stuff, honesty, integrity. My father was a ridiculously honest guy. And, you know, I think if you're, and I always look to like maybe
figure it out faster than other people or consistently get better and get smarter. I mean, you know, there's a saying that I stumbled over not that long ago. Never take advice from somebody you wouldn't trade places with. You know, like who do you listen to? And then I look back on a couple of turning points in my career. Like when I became an FBI agent, I got referred to a seasoned FBI agent to ask about, you know, what should I do to get ready? And he told me a couple of things that seemed innocuous to me which I wasn't doing. Like one was, he said, what do you know about current events? And at the time, current events didn't help me become a better cop. You know, the guys
that were good cops, you know, I wanted to know what they were studying. So I'm like, yeah, I'm not, you know, current events doesn’t really help me be a better cop. And he said, well, you come into interview for us, we're going to want to know you're up to date on current events. So I started paying attention to current events. And lo and behold, the same guy was on my interview panel. If you listen to the right people, they're going to look to see whether or not you paid attention. And I had a ridiculously, almost embarrassingly high score from my initial interview panel. And I think that guy, when he saw that I was
coachable, that I listened to him, then it was in his interest to rate me high. Now the same token, if I'd come in and they'd asked me about current events and I said, I don't know, it doesn't help me be a cop so I don't pay attention to it. He probably would have slaughtered me on a panel. You know? And I look back at
those moments. You mentioned before, you know, the woman that got me in a hostage negotiation team in New York City. She gave me advice and I followed it. And she was shocked that I followed her advice. You know? So, you know, maybe way back when my father was trying to teach me how to work, he was like, look, do it like this or find out who knows how to do it and ask them. And I think that's really one of the big things. You know, are you teachable? Are you coachable? Are you willing to be smarter today than you were yesterday? The little things like that.
Jeff Lerner: Yeah, that's so interesting. And that anecdote you referred to was, you know, that she gave you the advice to go, and I assume the suicide hotline, that's a volunteer thing, right? Like you weren't getting paid for that. Chris Voss: Yeah. Not only volunteer but on my time too. Like I had to go do it
at night when I could have been at home. Jeff Lerner: So that's two instances where you sought out advice, you know, either directly or indirectly. I think with the woman, you didn't, yeah, I think you did. You did to overtly say, what do I need to do to get past your
gateway so to speak? And ditto for this other guy. So you sought out people in a position of authority who held the keys to, you know, the door you wanted to enter. And you didn't, you know, however it started initially, I don't want to misstate the anecdote, but essentially you ended up asking them, what do I need to do to be in your favor? And then they answered you and then you actually did it. And then you went back to them. And at that point, I would pause it. You had
activated two of the six principles of influence from one of my favorite books, Robert Cialdini's Influence. Chris Voss: I love Cialdini’s stuff. Jeff Lerner: It’s so good, right? And now you have reciprocity. They gave to you, and unlike most to whom they give, you did back for them. And I'm not going to say they felt like they owed you. But at least they felt like they owed you
some respect. And also, liking. We tend to like people that take our advice. It flatters us, right? So you now had reciprocity and liking on your side in a way that it sounds like, you know, hundreds of thousands of other people didn't in those same situations. Chris Voss: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, reciprocity and liking from the right
people. Like are they gonna be accountable for your performance? Is your performance actually going to affect them? And if you're either going to be a co-worker or they're going to supervise you, then the answer’s yes. So I mean just out of self-preservation, they got an interest in, first of all, giving you good advice and secondly, seeing that you succeed.
Jeff Lerner: That's a good point. Yeah. If they see you as someone who's already taking and implementing their advice, then it's likely to reflect well on them to promote your advancement. Chris Voss: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jeff Lerner: So imagine that. That sounds like negotiation, right? Aligning with their self-interest.
Chris Voss: Yes. Yeah. Very true. Jeff Lerner: Wonderful, wonderful. Okay. So as you put it ridiculously honest dad which I totally understand although it's unfortunate that those two words ever need to be paired in a sentence in the world we live in.
Chris Voss: Right. Jeff Lerner: But I totally get it. Maybe honest to a fault is another way to say it. And then sought out advice, took the advice, implemented the advice. It
sounds like you inherited some work ethic from your dad I would imagine. Chris Voss: Yeah. Both my father and my mother very much believed in hard work. And, you know, the Midwest has not got the market cornered on blue collar ethic. But I grew up in a very blue collar ethic. You know, it's one of the core values of my company. You know, we say blue collar. What does that mean? I
mean work hard, be honest, pitch in. But a very pitch-in culture. Like you go to dinner, if you go to dinner at my mom's house when my mom was still alive, you know, you're expected to set the, help set the table, you know, pitch in. You know, she didn't expect you to show up at the front door with a bottle of wine and then be waited on hand and foot. You know, she expected you to show up at the front door, come inside, and help set the table. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. You know, I had a friend who played in the NFL, and he
told me there was a saying that circulated the locker rooms that makes me think of what you're talking about. And it was basically, they would just say to each other, they were like, hey, man, the more you can do. And it was short for, the more you can do, the more you do. They would just call each other
on it if they saw each other loafing on it, you know, in practice, on the field, in the locker room, whatever. They just go, yo, the more you can do, man. That's what you do. Chris Voss: Yeah. Great reminder. That's leadership too.
Jeff Lerner: Yeah, yeah. I love that. So again, at what age would you say you noticed, hey, I'm getting these reviews. I seem to be on a course. Maybe I'm about to make the leap to Quantico and on and on. At what age would you say you
started to sense like I'm on a track to a non-traditional career? I mean not just another ordinary law enforcement career. Chris Voss: Yeah. I think it started when I applied for the FBI, I was actually pretty young. I was still, they hired me when I was 25, just before my 26th birthday. And I applied earlier that year. I mean I had started to feel
good about my ability to achieve goals when I applied for the FBI. In the interview process, you know, they were some really solid guys that interviewed me. Like they asked me like, you know, what, you know, have you any citations, any letters of recommendation, accomplishments? And I remember saying to them, well, you know, I've gotten a couple of letters from some good things that I've done and I just got one the other day. And at the same time, I could
tell you I've done better work than what these letters, what I've gotten. Some of them I was kind of embarrassed because I didn't think I did that great of a job. And I remember those guys saying to me, you know, that's the way you're going to find it. It's going to be in life. You're going to get accolades for stuff that you thought was okay, and there's going to be some stuff you did that you thought was spectacular, nobody's going to care.
Jeff Lerner: That's so true. That actually hits. That hits pretty hard. I've got some of my best work, some of my best insight, you know, videos and, you know, or have been some of them my more rhetorical philosophical stuff that I find fascinating. But it's got all of like 27 views online. And then I have other videos that have a couple hundred thousand that I feel like were an off day. So yeah, you're right. It's strange that way. But so the reason I asked that
question about the timing is you were in your mid-20s. So you didn't have to differentiate yourself for like decades and decades to start to get momentum. I mean it took, what? When did you join law enforcement? Chris Voss: I was 23 years old. I just got out of college and, you know, back in those days, college degrees for people that wanted to be cops was rare enough that, you know, they gave me a slight extra point or two in the evaluation process for having a college degree. And so I rolled right into it. You know, I'm sure there's a lot more college graduates going into local law enforcement these days. But back then, it was pretty rare. So it was an
advantage. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. I can tell you. I mean I'm in education. So I have all the, I have all the college data. 54% of all people in the country who have a college diploma are either unemployed or they're working a job that doesn't require a college degree. So there are a lot of unnecessary college degrees. And in that sense, I say, you know, even if law enforcement doesn't require a college degree, I suspect there are a lot more college degrees in law enforcement because there's just a surplus of college degrees these days that weren't even necessary. But don't get me, don't get me going on that rant. That's my education rant. My education reform rant. But the reason I asked
that. So again, three years, it basically took you three years of showing up consistently, doing the right things, asking the right questions to start to differentiate yourself. And I think that's so significant for anyone listening to hear. It doesn't take that long to do exemplary work and be recognized and build momentum from doing exemplary work. Because I know so many
people, especially in the world we live in right now post pandemic, so many people are faced with having to make some sort of a pivot in their life. You know, we had 40 million jobs were lost in this country and last 18 months, and a huge number of them aren’t coming back because the CEOs and the big corporations invested in artificial intelligence and automation because they realized, hey, we need to be able to do work even when there's a pandemic and everybody is told to stay home. And so you have tens of millions of people right now that are faced with some kind of a pivot. And I think there is a counter-productive and defeating narrative in the world that says, I don't have time to make a change. But the reality is you go into anything new and within a couple years of doing good work, you can have virtually outshined almost all your competition.
Chris Voss: Yeah. I think that's completely true. And I would say that if you hammer away for three years, you can completely reinvent and accelerate past everybody else. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Actually, I wasn't even, I didn't know your answer was
going to be three years. But I'll mentioned that three years ago, I had not even shot my very first video talking about education, and now I have the largest online education company in the world for entrepreneurs. In less than three years of just going hard. I made my content, and I proclaimed my message the way Chris Voss worked his law enforcement career. You just get it done. You grind every day. You ask the more you can do or what your term was
for it. I don't remember. But and it's just incredible how fast it can happen. If my show can accomplish anything in this world, it's for people just, you know, I know not everybody listens. You know, this is close to the 200th episode of my show. I'm under no illusions that most people are going to listen to all 200 episodes. So I want to make sure that any one episode that somebody happens to catch, they can catch the message that can change their life. And I think among several we might uncover, this is one right now, that it doesn't matter what you have to pivot into, it doesn't matter how old you are, it doesn't matter how you get started. If you will be excellent for just a few
years, you will stand above the crowd faster than you probably think, especially when you're in the thick of it and it feels like thankless toil. Chris Voss: Yeah, yeah. I would agree Jeff Lerner: Anyways. Okay. So that's how, you know, I feel like I've done my service of like trying to dig into Chris', you know, outlier origins and I appreciate you going biographical with me. I know my audience is going to be
super frustrated with me if we don't get into some of the war stories so to speak and the strategy beneath it. And obviously, you have an extraordinary book. Like I said, I've listened to over half of it. I honestly can't wait. If I wasn't at this health retreat that I'm at right now, I would have been, I'd be done with it. Like I can't wait to get to the end of it. There's amazing
stories in there, you know, talking about the, what was the guy? Abu Sayyaf, the Philippines guy. The guys that robbed the bank in Manhattan or I guess it was two guys. No, I won't give it away. It was somewhere between 2 and 12 guys. Chris Voss: Right. Jeff Lerner: But no spoilers. But anyway. So yeah. I'm curious when did you, maybe here's a question. So you start to get the success and you start
to create these opportunities for yourself. When did it cross over into true like life or death? Like it's no longer about Chris looking good. It's about someone else staying alive. What was that first instance? Hey, sorry for the interruption. I just wanted to let you know you can get a free copy of my book, The Millionaire Shortcut, which shows you the fastest way to become a millionaire in the new economy. There's a special link just for
this episode in the description. So thanks for tuning in, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the episode. Chris Voss: Yeah. It was probably at the Chase Manhattan Bank robbery. You know, Chase Manhattan Bank in Brooklyn. And I had, you know, it hadn’t been that long since I'd been trained as a hostage negotiator, and it actually hadn't, you know, the suicide hotline experience which I was still volunteering on a hotline at that time, keeping my skills sharp because negotiation is a perishable skill. You know, Jim Camp wrote a book called Start With No. Jim used to say negotiation was a human performance event. And, you know, Jim
had been a football coach among other things, and that's why he described it like that. You know, but I'd studied, I’d kind of been prepping. Like you come out of the negotiation training at Quantico and, you know, you want to get out there and you want to get in the middle of something big. And well, the crazy thing after every class, somebody in the class falls into something inside of a week. You know, not everybody does. So but when I got to the Chase Manhattan Bank, I mean that was a real full-fledged bank robbery with hostages, which is really rare. But I was ready. You know? I'd been working my process. You know, I'd been practicing. I'd had all my small stakes practice. So when they handed me that phone, I was the second guy up to bat that day. I just,
you know, I knew that there were hostages inside that could die. But I just leaned into the process, and I didn't feel the pressure. Jeff Lerner: Do you think that that, let's call it not feeling the pressure and/or maybe it's the hunger for battle even, real battle with real bullets. Do
you think that that's something that they train, that they can fully train into a person? Or do you think there's a part of you that was just born ready for a high stakes engagement and able to handle it? Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, Daniel Coyle wrote a book called The Talent Code that says, nobody's born with anything. Now what happens along the lines that get you ready for it? Like I know, I had rented sports analogies of sports and law enforcement that the top performers in sports actually envisioned the scenario before it happened in order to perform. I think I've heard this
referred to as visioning. So the first thing that I accepted that I had to envision was if you're going to actually utilize deadly force, you've got to visualize what it actually takes for there to be a human being in your sites versus a paper target. And then I'd seen people fail in shooting situations where they should shoot and one of them was a classmate of mine. And this person said to me, I just never thought I'd ever actually have to use my gun. And I remember saying, what did you think we were doing on the target range? And a lot of people just say, I'm just punching holes in a target. I'm never going to have to shoot at a person. Somebody might die if you don't embrace
that. So I'd already gone through that. By the time, I was a hostage negotiator, I knew that I had to have thought about the consequences in order to reconcile yourself to it. And I think that had a lot to do with it. Jeff Lerner: Have you, I'm curious, have you ever read a book or heard of a book called On Killing? Chris Voss: I've heard of it. If you mentioned the author's name to me, I've heard him speak. Interesting cat. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Okay. So now I'm going to look it up real quick. It’s
been a long, by Dave Grossman. Chris Voss: Dave Grossman. Yeah. Yeah, I attended some conferences he spoke at. Jeff Lerner: And it's been a long time since I read that book. But it was extraordinarily fascinating about how, and actually, this is a good this is a good insight not only into on your side but also on the flip side of the people that are so, I guess at least some of the people you engage with, Abu Sayyaf, for example, they're ready to kill. They have no compunction. But On Killing talks about the natural human resistance in the majority, the fat part of the bell curve, the vast majority of human population. We do not like to kill people. We especially don't like to kill our fellow countrymen, anybody that
talks like us, looks like us, or could reasonably be, you know, from our world. We do not like to kill, and they've excavated or, you know, I guess archeologically sort of explored like Civil War battlefield sites. And, you know, in the Civil War, they would line up in lines. Stop me if you've heard Dave Grossman talk about this. But they would line up in lines, and they would
march toward each other. And it was pretty reasonable. If you have two lines of people that are 300 yards apart, then if you want to hit, if you want to hit the person, there's a certain angle that you point your musket to account for the, you know, the arc of the bullet and you're going to hit the other line. And every person in the line can calibrate off of everyone else and figure out what angle do we need to point our muskets in order to kill the other guys. Right? Because
everybody's the same distance away. And when they excavate these battlefields, they find the vast majority of fatalities were from bayonets because people were intentionally either undershooting or overshooting the other line because it wasn't until they got so close, that it was truly kill or be killed in an instant with a spear that they could actually even bring themselves to shoot the other guy or to kill the other guy. Like they find the bullets like a quarter mile back in the woods. And like why was any, like
hundreds of them. Like why are people shooting back there? And it's because they were, think about the Civil War. You had families fighting each other. You had people from Virginia fighting people from Maryland or, you know, just across the state line. They didn't want to kill each other. Chris Voss: Right, right. Jeff Lerner: So I'm curious. So when you went through training, and then the book
talks about the work they did in like the Vietnam War and they figured out how to get soldiers more comfortable with killing soldiers. Was there any training that you went through that you feel like was critical to actually get you to that, to get you over that emotional resistance to deadly force if it came down to it? Chris Voss: Well, first of all, it was the acceptance of it to begin with. Different epiphany moments. When I was a police officer, I remember walking down the street one day, and I was in plain clothes. I was off duty. And a police car went by. And, you know, I saw a couple people on the street. I saw one guy act like he was pointing a gun at the police officers, and say, you know, I'd like to kill every one of them. And I remember thinking at that point in
time, there are people that don't even know me that would kill me just because of what I was doing for a living. And, you know, different places along the lines. And then I read that article about performance under extremely stressful situations. And then probably one of the critical training was when I went through SWAT training if you're going to embrace the training. They put you in all the different scenarios where not only is it a legally justifiable killing, it's morally justifiable. And those are not always the same thing. It
can often be legally justifiable and not be, you might, it might not be morally acceptable. And but they wanted us to envision what it was like to go through each one of those. And it caught me off guard a couple of times, a scenario where it might be legally and morally called for. And I had to envision that. So I think me being open to the training and being honest about it every step of the way. And then I picked it up at different points in time. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. It's such a, you know, I have a friend who's a Navy SEAL
too. And, you know, I've talked to him about this a fair amount. It's just I find it extraordinarily interesting and tragically beautiful in a way what some human souls are forced to go through so that the rest of us can be just be safe and do our casual day to day, whatever without worrying about, you know, lawlessness. I just find it's such an extraordinary level of human development that you guys get to. I just I think it's, I can talk about it endlessly, and I appreciate it so much. So I'm curious. When do you feel, I have so many questions. This is like, this is a really hard interview for me because I just have so many questions. When was the time maybe to the extent you can
share when you were the most morally, and perhaps in another way if it's more interesting to talk about, conflicted or challenged in what you were having to do in your job? Chris Voss: You know, I don't know that I was ever really conflicted over it just because, you know, I believe that law enforcement is necessary and I believe that law enforcement's use of deadly force is necessary and that it should be treated with a tremendous amount of respect. And then, you know, from my own sort of spiritual beliefs, like the universe might put me in a position where it was necessary for me to make this decision. Jeff Lerner: Yeah.
Chris Voss: Now I never had to actually make that decision while I was in law enforcement. I had the opportunity to produce my firearm but never had to pull the trigger. So I don't know what its impact on me had I made the decision. And I'm grateful that I never did had to come to grips with that.
Jeff Lerner: So question I have to ask, like I said, I have to make peace that there's gonna be at least 10 questions I don't get to ask, and I'm fine with that. But here's one I'm not going to not ask. Based on your experience with what many would say are some of the just the craziest people in the world, right? These people that do these ridiculously dangerous things, ruthless things, things that are not likely to succeed statistically, how many of these people on a percentage basis would you say are let's call them sanely sociopathic, meaning given their set of circumstances and the fact that they are calibrated a certain way emotionally or psychologically, they're actually doing what you can realistically predict them to do or reasonably predict them to do versus they're just actually completely batshit crazy, like mental illness is running the gamut? So I'm curious your percentages, I'm curious your diagnostic approach, and I'm curious the distinction in strategy based on the diagnosis. Chris Voss: Yeah. Well, actual mental illness, you know, they're really so
non-functioning that the not going to be able to pull together any kind of a scenario where they’re taking hostages. You know, somebody who's actually paranoid schizophrenia taking a hostage is a really rare event. I mean just like rare, rare, rare. And, you know, they give us some training in it so we recognize it in advance because they're utterly unpredictable. What they found in law enforcement a couple of times was every now and somebody that had no history of schizophrenia would suddenly become unpredictable, unreadable. And
then they found the commonalities with them, well, they’re former meth addicts. And if somebody suddenly for no reason when negotiators thought they had rapport, they thought they had a calm person on the other side, out of the blue committed a homicide with a hostage. If they went back and did of a forensic psychological excavation, they found a significant occurrence of previously being addicted to meth in the past.
Jeff Lerner: Meth in particular, not just, not all drugs? Chris Voss: Not all drugs. The only one that I ever heard in my professional community that people repeated was we found out that they had been meth addicts. They thought they were clean. But what meth did to people's brains which is enough significant damage to their wiring for lack of a better term that it almost would create a sort of schizophrenia. Jeff Lerner: Wow. I mean you see that on intervention, but it's different told through the stories you tell. Let that be a warning out there, folks. Like
don't try drugs. But if you're going to, don't try meth. You [crosstalk] mental illness. Chris Voss: You know, there are certain drugs that are out there that I could say, yeah, it probably doesn't need to be illegal, and there's some support to decriminalization of certain drugs. But meth is not on that list. Jeff Lerner: Wow. So okay. So then in that case, would it suggest that there
tends to be a basic personality type of a hostage taker? Or are there multiple personalities that are not insane but let's say sane in a different way? Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, there was, and they've always tried to nail it down. One of the problems with psychology as a science is it's a soft science. And, you know, they continually change the definitions. Like, you know,
what was bipolar this year was manic-depressive last year. And, you know, we have a tendency now these days, we found out hostage negotiation, we actually followed a lot more neuroscience rules. And as we apply this in the Black Swan Method, neuroscience is common to you if you're human. That's
kind of all it takes for it to be effective. And so we really look at neuroscience and neurochemicals a lot more than we look at psychology. And psychology before neuroscience, the discussion was as a hostage taker, are they a borderline personality? Are they manic depressive? And nobody could ever really nail it down because there wasn't a lot of hard science and psychology changes their definitions every few years.
Jeff Lerner: It depends which edition of the DSM you look at, right? Chris Voss: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: Okay. So okay. Now you got me with this neuroscience thing, and I know we only have 10 minutes. But I love neuroscience. I mentioned you I'm at a
health retreat right now literally working on my own neuroscience. So are you saying, how does that apply to negotiation? Are you saying that you're actually measuring or calculating for what's going on neurochemically in a moment, in a negotiation, and even trying to influence that through a tactic? Chris Voss: Yeah, yeah. No, we're definitely, we look at negotiation as managing a series of emotional moments. And, you know, there's a book that I read recently called The Molecule of More which is about dopamine. You know, dopamine which is a great motivator of human behavior is about the future, and oxytocin which is the bonding drug is about the press. Jeff Lerner: Right.
Chris Voss: And I'm looking for certain responses. Empathy triggers oxytocin. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. Chris Voss: And if we bond or more importantly if you bond to me, then now I've got influence. And that's really what I'm going after because if you're bonded to me, you might listen to me which means I get influence.
Jeff Lerner: So let me ask you a question. I just, maybe I'm showing my, I don't know, my dark side here trying to strategize through this. But okay. So if I'm a kidnapper and I know that you want to bond with me, you want to create, you want to forge empathy, that's limbic resonance. Right? That's, you know, my hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, thalamus structure resonating with yours. Right? And that happens with voice or through eye
contact. So if I'm a kidnapper and I've got Chris Voss on the other end of the line, I'm trying to text with you or email. Chris Voss: Yeah. You know, and the funny thing is is they don't study it. They don't know. I mean, you know— Jeff Lerner: So you never had somebody be like, I'm not talking to you on the phone. Text me or I'm not talking to you.
Chris Voss: No. You know— Jeff Lerner: Let’s hope that the bad guys of the world never see this interview. Chris Voss: Yeah. And it's just, it's crazy. I mean because, you know, that level of work and understanding, I mean even, you know, the funny thing is the Black Swan Method was originally dealt and designed to deal with really aggressive, assertive negotiators that are trying to take you for everything you got, kidnappers. And that is just really close to the profile of
procurement and contracts negotiators in every big company. Now they'll study our techniques. They're procurement negotiators. They work really hard at getting better, and these techniques still work on them. Jeff Lerner: So it's not about the sophistication. I mean or this is a
question. Is it not about the sophistication of the technique but rather it's about the discipline and the repetition in consistently applying it at the right time? Chris Voss: Probably is discipline and repetition. Yeah. I'd go along with that. Jeff Lerner: What, you referenced the Black Swan Method obviously. That's the
name of your company is Black Swan. The black swans in general negotiation practice you define as kind of these hidden tells or these hidden desires that if revealed will fundamentally alter the dynamic of the negotiation. Did I get close enough? Chris Voss: Yeah. Very good. Jeff Lerner: What is per se the Black Swan Method insofar as you can sum it up, you know, without giving away all your IP? But I mean when you say the Black Swan Method, how would you kind of reference that? Chris Voss: It's applied emotional intelligence. It's taking what we learned about empathy and hostage negotiation, and it's adding in what neuroscience has told us is true about people. Like neuroscience has told us that the amygdala which is kind of the crossroads or the command post to the limbic system, the amygdala is 75% negative. And so in two neurological
experiments, they've told us how best to, you know, to disable the negative parts of the amygdala when they're functioning. So if we know that to be the case, then tactically let's go after diffusing the negatives before we try to reinforce the positives that it accelerates the outcome. Jeff Lerner: And when you say negatives in reference to the amygdala, I mean the amygdala is really your fear and survival center, right? Chris Voss: Right, right. Jeff Lerner: So when you say negative, you mean productive of a fear response rather than productive of safety response. Chris Voss: Right, exactly. Well, safety is, you know, it'd be hard to draw the
fine line. But in any given negotiation, you're probably gonna think that I might be asking for a lot or you're probably asking yourself why you're talking to me yourself while you're talking to me in the first place, inside you're going to in the first place. That's probably true of enough negotiations that if at the very beginning of the negotiation, if I say, look, you're probably asking be like, yeah, wow, I wonder what you're going to say next. Jeff Lerner: It’s those that's right statements you talk about. Chris Voss: Yep. Yeah. Jeff Lerner: That's right. If you haven't read the book, they say, if you
get them to say that's right, that's a score. Chris Voss: You are on the right track. Jeff Lerner: That’s an empathic connection, right? Chris Voss: Yeah. Jeff Lerner: So okay. Here's a question. Then let's call this our last in the interest of time. So in in sales, whether it's spoken word sales or copywriting which I have worked in the realm of copywriting a lot as an internet guy who does a lot of marketing online. We talk a lot about stoking the
fear or agitating the pain point. And obviously you want your sales process to be like you're talking about, reducing fear, increasing empathetic connection, and creating feelings of safety and, you know, abundance and certainty if they decide to move forward. But in your method, you're entering into a situation where the fear has already ratcheted up about as high as it can go on both sides. In sales, a lot of times you have to start by, not necessarily, I was going to say artificially but at least intentionally increasing fear so that you can then present your option as a way to reduce the fear. Does your approach, knowing that you know how to stimulate the amygdala in one direction, I presume you know how to stimulate it in the other. And do you teach that as part of sales or business training? Chris Voss: Yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, you got to get to a position
of trust. And, you know, I don't know that we're actually stoking fear or we're making people aware of threats that are there and helping them understand that with some really small choices, they can have a massive impact on their future. So… Jeff Lerner: That makes sense.
Chris Voss: You know? But we definitely, if feels negative parts of the amygdala deactivated and the positive takes over which is kind of where trust-based influence has been established, I mean that's enormously powerful. And I think it's so powerful that people sometimes forget that the negatives had to be deactivated first. They just notice how powerful a positive approach could be, and they just completely ignore the sequence of how quick, you know, the best way to get there the fastest way. Jeff Lerner: Like I said, every answer you give me just produces like five more questions. So this is one of the hardest things I've had to say on an interview
in a long time, Chris, which is gosh darn it, we're about out of time. Chris Voss: I would love to tell people how they can follow up if they want anymore information. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. That's my next question of course is for those who want professional contact or just to be in your world and absorb your content, please share all options. Chris Voss: Yeah. The absolute easiest and best way is to subscribe to the
newsletter. It's short and concise. It's free. It's complimentary. In my view, the value is not that it's free. The value is that it's concise. It's one actionable article on Tuesday mornings emailed to you. It's also the gateway to everything that Black Swan Group has. If you find something you want to read,
it'll take you to our website, and we get a massive amount of free resources to get help you build your base. BlackSwanLTD.com is the website. But the newsletter subscription, best is you can go to the website and sign up or you can text to sign up. Black Swan Method, three words, not caps sensitive, spaces between each word as a message sent to the number 33777. And that's 33777.
Jeff Lerner: Okay. Chris Voss: Black Swan Method. Jeff Lerner: Yeah. And for your knowledge, we will make sure that we put both of those calls to action in the description and show notes wherever this appears. Chris Voss: Thank you.
Jeff Lerner: And then what about your book? Is your book available on your website or should they just go, you know, wherever they buy books? Chris Voss: You know, you're going to get the best price on Amazon. You know, I buy it on Amazon. But that's, you know, that's the best place to buy it. Jeff Lerner: As someone who's just got his own book deal, I'm going to tell you what that tells me. The fact that Chris buys his own book on Amazon means he's a
legitimate bestseller. He's not someone that did a buy-back clause in his publishing deal to go buy a bunch of copies of his own book to drive up the sales figure. So congrats on that Chris. Chris Voss: Thank you. Jeff Lerner: Man, thank you so much. Are you on social media?
Chris Voss: @TheFBINegotiator on Instagram. Jeff Lerner: The FBI negotiator. Chris, thank you so much for being a guest on Millionaire Secrets, man. This has been one of my favorite interviews to date. I really appreciate it. Chris Voss: Thanks, Jeff. I really enjoyed it.
Jeff Lerner: If you love entrepreneurship, then you'll want to keep watching. So click the next interview right here for some more Millionaire Secrets gold. Thanks for watching. Grant Cardone: When I got to Pueblo, first thing I did was take my $100, I went to the bank, and I went to zero five minutes after I was there. Because
I was no longer managing money, and it forced me to go make contacts with people.