At an early age, my Dad taught me to despise the word “renegotiate.”  If Lee Jolles had his way, he would have had it dropped from the dictionary.  Let’s take a look at the definition, and you’ll see why two Jolles men dislike this word:

Negotiate (something) again in order to change the original agreed terms.

That’s a pretty kind definition.  I think a more accurate definition would be this: “Breaking a deal you made because you don’t like it anymore.”  How often do we read about athletes who made a deal, then exceeded expectations, and then wanted to renegotiate a deal?  Has there been even one case of an athlete not meeting expectations, and then marching in to renegotiate a contract because of their lack of performance?  I’m usually a fan of labor, but I’m squarely on the side of management here.

This lesson began to take shape early in my life, when I was in high school and ran my own gutter cleaning business.  I was pretty green, and frequently wrote up estimates without fully understanding the depth of the job.  I’d quickly look over a job by walking it off from the ground, and throw a number on a piece of paper.  Once I actually got up on a roof, I’d realize that the job was bigger than I had thought, and I’d complain to my Dad that I deserved more.  That was the first time I heard the mantra: “A deal is a deal.”

Throughout my career as a salesman and entrepreneur, this same sticky topic would come up from time to time.  I’d quickly look over a job, and throw a number on a piece of paper.  Occasionally, I’d realize the job was bigger than I had thought and I would want to revisit that proposal… but I never did because no matter how I would try and justify it, I would hear the voice of Lee Jolles telling me, “A deal is a deal.”

What’s the moral here?  Perhaps it’s learning to climb up on the roof and look at the job carefully before you make a deal.  In non-gutter cleaning language, take your time, and be very careful of the deals you strike, because at the end of the day, a deal is a deal… even if you don’t like the deal anymore.

 

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