Protect Your Profit like Marcus Lemonis

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Marcus Lemonis would have been a great hostage negotiator.

“I understand you guys have rights and remedies under the agreement to pursue whatever it is and I respect that. We will accept whatever the consequences are.”

This was a really nice way of saying, without inflaming the situation or challenging the other side, “Bring it on.”

 Let’s back up a little and set this up? Firstly, Marcus Lemonis always introduces himself the same way a hostage negotiator does. “Hi, I’m Marcus.”

As an FBI hostage negotiator, the 1st two words out of my mouth were always, “I’m Chris.” We don’t do this out of a desire to be so famous we are only known by one name, “Cher,” “Lebron,” “Sting” or “Bono.” The emotionally intelligent reason is it’s easier to remember and immediacy more personal. Every bit of identifying information after that potentially dilutes the personal nature of it.

Mr. Lemonis also has a great tone of voice. Calming. Warm. Downward inflecting. Many downward inflecting voices come off as “cold and distant.” Mr. Lemonis’ voice doesn’t.

In this particular case, he’s partnering up with 13-year-old Cory Nieves who started a cookie company called “Mr. Corey’s Cookies”. Cory started the company when he was 6 because he wanted to be able to buy his struggling single-mom Lisa Howard a car.

 As it turns out, the cookies are awesome! And Cory and his mom Lisa have been knocking themselves out for a few years trying to make it work.

 As it also turns out, they’ve signed a licensing deal with a cookie manufacturing company that pretty much stops them from expanding on their own. This deal has taken the rights to the entire retail line while giving 8% of the profit to Cory and Lisa. A “typical licensing deal” as the rep of that company later describes.

Since Cory and his mom seem to be still working their tails off in their home kitchen and literally taking the cookies they’re baking by hand to car dealers; you wonder what the licensing deal is doing for them.

 Marcus Lemonis comes in, sees the incredible untapped potential and wants to help two very good and decent people. His strategy is to let the licensing company continue with whatever they’re doing in the retail space while he expands Lisa & Cory into e-commerce. The 1st meeting with the licensing company, the owner tells Marcus that Cory & his mom are free to go into e-commerce. (The representative doesn’t have a copy of the agreement with him, and Mr. Lemonis has not yet seen it.)

 The 2nd meeting, the licensing company backtracks. The rep says “I don’t remember saying that” in reference to the proposed e-commerce business being allowed by the agreement. He then goes on to say they are barred from doing it.

Lisa, frustrated and disheartened (and probably embarrassed) storms out. Mr. Lemonis follows her into the parking lot, calms her down and says “Let me do my thing.” They go back inside.

He says, “Here’s what I think would help. We’ve got to start making some decisions. We are going to launch an e-commerce business. I understand you guys have rights and remedies under the agreement to pursue whatever it is and I respect that. We will accept whatever the consequences are."

 Effective pause.

 When they don’t object, Mr. Lemonis then outlines a strategy for collaboration, to which they agree.

 Confrontation doesn’t have to be confrontational. I absolutely love the idea of telling someone “I know you feel you have rights and remedies and I respect that. We will accept whatever the consequences are.” 

Fantastic! This was speaking the truth without inflaming the situation. Showing confidence in yourself and making a potential adversary feel respected simultaneously is an advanced skill.

Some battles need to be fought. Many can be diffused with respect. It makes no sense to fight the ones when simply failing to inflame will diffuse them.

Let this be the beginning of a great year!