Getting To “Yes” By Knowing When To Hold ‘Em Or Fold ‘Em

What do you do when you walk in the door and realize that your audience isn’t ready to hear your story? In 1981, Peter Guber entered Ned Tanen’s office, President of Universal, determined to win him over to an entirely new approach to producing a film project they had partnered on, called A Chorus Line.

Tanen was clearly agitated, screaming at somebody on the phone, and in no shape to hear Guber’s story; so Guber told him he was there “just to catch up.”

“Good,” Tanen said. “Come on, I want to go for a ride.” They got in his car and took off to a barren area far away from the city. Tanen opened up the trunk and pulled out a shotgun.

Guber had one “singular sensation,” and it was not the story of A Chorus Line.   So Guber played along, shot the gun, kept his mouth shut, and never told his story.

Two days later Tanen bumped into Guber in the commissary, and asked, “What did you come over here for?”  Guber knew Tanen’s mood was friendly so he shared a unique vision for their film.  Guber was determined to use the two biggest dancing stars in America, Mikhail Baryshnikov and John Travolta, both of whom had expressed interest, and change the co-lead role of Ann Reinking from a woman to a man, making it a “different” kind of love story. “You really think that will work?  You’re paying for half the film.  Go for it!”

By knowing when to hold em or fold ’em, Guber got a yes.  Unfortunatley, their German finance partners saw it differently and refused to fund the enlarged budget necessary to support this change.



blog-telltowin-linkTo validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.


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