A principle I hold dear in all my personal and professional interactions is “Win-Win or No Deal“. This is easier said than done. Stephen R Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People“) calls it one of the highest leadership ideals. It involves getting beyond a zero-sum or “scarcity” (“if you have more, I have less“) mind-set to thinking “abundance”, where “if you and I put our heads and strengths together, we can find a solution far greater than what we both individually or independently could“.

I’d like to share a very recent experience which reinforces the power of this mindset. Earlier this year, I put in an order for a new car for which the dealer offered me a measly $1000.00 for my old 4WD as a “trade-in”. I felt it could fetch more if I put it on the market as a private sale, but just could not make it a priority to put in the time and effort to do this. The thought of having to put an ad together, find out what it was potentially worth, learn how to sell it on the Internet, and the subsequent process of prospective buyers coming along to test drive it, negotiate etc. was enough to turn me off the exercise. I am a firm believer in investing my time and energy on what I do and love doing best and delegating other stuff as much as I can to others who can do it better.

My son Jeremy is doing his Year 12 and a few weeks ago became frustrated when his PC broke down. Having enjoyed the occasional use of my MacBook, he decided he’d love to get one too.  However, his finances did not quite stretch to being able to afford such a luxury. My philosophy with my children has always been “you can have anything you want in life, as long as it’s good for you, and as long as you are willing to work for it!“. When he was 12 and wanted to help a friend travel overseas for cancer treatment, he played his flute in a busy mall and with the earnings, chipped in with $150.00. When as a 15 year old he wanted a $1000 amplifier for his guitar, he worked part time waiting tables at a Chinese restaurant and earned it. And now, when he wanted a MacBook, he came to his Dad for ideas given he had decided to leave his part-time work this year to concentrate on his Year 12 studies.

So, here was the challenge – how could he make several hundred, or better yet, $1000+ with minimal effort and time? He had a challenge, I (with my car) had an opportunity.  So a deal was struck – he would research the Net to see what the car could reasonably fetch on the private market. I wanted a quick, clean, no-fuss sale – both he and I had far better things to do with our time.  He would clean and wash the car (something it BADLY needed), take great photos, produce a compelling ad (with his Dad helping as a reviewer), learn how to put it up on the Net, take calls, learn how to negotiate – basically, I wanted a full service deal. Of course, my primary motive was for my son to have an invaluable experience. Whatever my son sold the car for, he and I would go halves on anything we got that was over $1000.00 less expenses (cost of advertising etc.). I would provide the “capital” (the asset and expenses) and coaching, he would provide the energy and time.

Carsales.com.au showed other similar cars asking $5500.00+. We agreed to price it at an aggressive $4800.00 (keeping it below the psychological $5000.00 mark), paid extra ($80.00 instead of $50.00) for Premium advertising (priority display) and submitted the advertising application.  I got a call from Carsales in the morning, they wanted to verify if indeed I was happy with $4800.00 given their independent valuation had my car at $6000.00. I said yes, they suggested we put it up at $5000.00 to give us room to “negotiate”. I accepted their advice and experience and the ad went up.

First phone call came within 5 hours – gentleman from the Central Coast, keen to see it immediately, was willing to take the 1.5 hour drive down to check it out. I thought good, seems serious. He came, test drove it and was ready to purchase on the spot. We hit a snag. He wanted to put it on his credit card. He had been assured by his bank that if he paid me via PayPal (an online payment gateway), the transaction would be treated as a purchase and not a cash withdrawal, which meant his interest rate was at 11% rather than 20%. Now, just about ready to transact, he decides to ring his bank to confirm it. The bank says “no”, that this was a “private sale”, I could not be considered a vendor, the charge would be considered a cash withdrawal. Bummer!

Time to think out of the square. How can we make it a “purchase transaction” using his credit card with me as a vendor, as opposed to a private seller? My son rings his network, learns how to put the car up on eBay and within 15 minutes, our car is up on eBay. My buyer takes the Buy It Now option and the deal is done! He was willing to fork out the additional $150 or so to cover my costs for putting it up on eBay and we had a WIN-WIN!! Champagne flows, everyone’s happy. I have made my first and fastest ever transaction on eBay!

I sell the car for the asking price – $5000.00. My son earns just a shade less than $2000.00 for what he estimates to be 9 hours of effort ($222.00 per hour – not bad for a 17 year old!). I have made $2000.00 more than I would have originally. My son purchases a second hand MacBook Pro (a beauty with all the bells and whistles and that still had 2 years of warranty left) for $1250.00 and still has $700.00 left over. My buyer is thrilled by his purchase. Carsales has had a good transaction and my car dealer is probably thrilled at not having to sell my 4WD! More importantly, my son has another confirmation that if you put your mind to it, are willing to invest and bet in yourself (there was no guarantee he would get anything out of the effort he had put in e.g. if the car could not fetch more than $1000.00), are willing to leave value in for others, stay positive, the sky is the limit. I feel confident my son will never have to beg, steal or borrow in his lifetime, given this mind-set.

And all this through thinking “win-win“.

Think about your work experiences. How often have you had clients or colleagues come to you with a tough request or dilemma? Did you come up with possible “win-win” options or was your response “no” or “that’s not possible”? Did you both get together to think “what’s the ideal outcome?”, “what resources can we draw from”, “what are you willing to give for that that someone else might value?”, “how can we make this work for both of us?”.

And here’s another insight. Imagine how many people out there are like me – time poor, willing to just trade their car in at a massive discount to what it could fetch in the private sale market, who could do with some help from a “partner” with time up or her hands and just a little initiative? Could this be a business opportunity? I think so. There is absolutely no reason for one to ever feel like they’re a victim of a weak job market, or a job they absolutely detest. All you need to succeed in life is already within you, and your mind-set. Think abundance, think “create value for someone else” and it will all come back to you.

Carpe Diem!!