News & Events
The Economics and Business Department hosts several events each month. In addition to student led initiatives by SAB, the department hosts a blockly Seminar Series, with guest speakers who augment student learning outside a formal classroom setting.
Furthermore, the department invites guest speakers to our Food-for-Economic Thought series, supports the H. Chase stone Lecture Series, hosts a large networking event to connect current students with alumni, and supports a student led research symposium in the spring
This Block in the Economics & Business Dept.:
IN THE NEWS!
Meet Michèle Huff '80
EC101 Negotiations (FYE) Block 2 Visitor
Who am I?
I grew up in Manhattan, and went to Brearley, a prestigious all-girl’s school. That’s where I learned to write, and also where I learned to think critically and speak up.
I did not want to go to college; I wanted to get right into the workforce with no marketable skills. My parents taught me my first negotiation lesson -- leverage. If I applied to college, they would buy me a car --the make and model would depend on the school I got into. I accepted the offer, not because I thought I needed a car or had a materialistic bent, but because, to me, a car represented FREEDOM.
I was accepted to Colorado College on the summer provisional program in 1976. As my friends and classmates were getting ready for summer vacation, I moved to Colorado Springs. The culture shock was overwhelming, but I managed to adapt and perform well enough to gain admission. I started in January, and later that spring, I took possession of a silver ’77 Chevy Camaro (red racing stripe)
My four years at CC were amazing. The block plan worked for me. I made the Dean’s list and graduated, but without any marketable skills! I remember my parents telling me that being an U.N. interpreter or archaeologist (my two suggestions) were not exactly what they had in mind. My dad said: “You’re always arguing, why don’t you go to law school?”
I remembered my early days, watching Perry Mason under the covers on my tiny black and white portable TV. Reading crime novels. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. But 3 more years of school? Really?
I moved to San Francisco and spent a few years working as a paralegal --more convinced than ever I could do what lawyers do, even though I had no idea what lawyers actually do. I enjoyed law school (ASU) and took a job in a Silicon Valley firm that handled high tech litigation. I knew very quickly I didn’t want to be a litigator (sometimes knowing what you don’t want to do is as important as knowing what you do) and started looking for in-house jobs. I’ve done it all, Fortune 500, start-up, my own firm and now academia, and thirty years on, I’m still re-inventing myself.
Law for me is a way of being, not a job. It’s a way of approaching problems, analytically, but open-mindedly. Negotiating is one of the most important skills we learn in life. And it isn’t based on my lawyering expertise or years of doing deals. It’s based on PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS. It requires human not business skills, relationship-focus not transaction-focus. And that’s why I wrote the Transformative Negotiator.
How did I write this book?
After several years of clients and negotiating partners telling me I was a “different” kind of lawyer, I started to hear what they were saying and tried to write down what was different about my negotiation technique.
My first draft was a complete and total mess. I sent it to an editor in Minneapolis, a fellow Buddhist writer, who reviewed it and a week later told me I had at least 3 different books and needed to decide which book I wanted to write. He indicated chapter headings that seemed promising but everything else was up for grabs. He only got through about 1/3 of the manuscript.
I went through his notes, and of the original 300 pages, I kept less than 50, and then started from those to re-create a manuscript. I did this many times over the course of the next 7 years, not as a full time project, but whenever I could get blocks of time to write. I use writing practice developed by Natalie Goldberg, and wrote on legal pads long hand, and then typed on a computer. I printed pages, editing with a pencil, and then transcribed the edits in Word. You can see why it took 7 years!
One day, my editor sent me an email without attaching edits on my manuscript. He said I was done.
“Done?” What did he mean? Done, like I wasn’t ever going to be a published author? Done, as in I’m done with making all these edits for you? Please clarify.
He meant, done, we’re ready to send it out to publishers.
How did the book get published?
My editor helped me craft a cover email and we sent the manuscript out. And then we waited. And waited. I learned a lot more about patience in this process. It took 6 months for me to get a bite. Many expected me to have a “national platform”. I thought publishing a book was how you got a national platform. Not in this day and age. You need followers. Lots of them. So I started tweeting and linking in.
Finally, I had 3 houses interested, all different, and we did a cost-benefit analysis. I chose a woman-owned, start-up publishing house that specialized in high conflict resolution/mediation issues with an extensive distribution network. She had other lawyers who wrote books for her, and psychologists. And I liked her company name: Unhooked Books.
She wanted to publish without any changes. I objected! My editor and I had been working together for 9 years. I wanted a set of fresh eyes on the text. So she hired an editor who helped me make the book better, more accessible and appealing to a broader audience.
The book cover is a story in itself. It started as a painting by my writer friend, Natalie Goldberg, which I purchased in 1999, and ended as a cool new cover design and logo for my website and business cards. It’s a banyan tree in Florida that symbolizes transformation for me.
What about the Buddhist angle?
I learned about Eastern philosophy from my father who read everything. I read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind in high school, a compilation of talks given by Shunryu Suzuki to his Zen center in Los Altos, California. And the Tao Te Ching written by Laozi. In my high school year book, I included the following quote on my senior page:
“There is no need to look outside for better seeing, not to peer from a window. Rather abide at the center of your being: for the more you leave it, the less you learn. The way to do is to be.” Chinese philosopher
I started practicing and meditating in 1996, when I took a semi-retirement from Silicon Valley and all things technological, including law. The spiritual practice informed my life. As I began writing, I realized that I had been using mindful awareness in my negotiating all along. But it wasn’t easy to get it down on paper after all those years of holding it in my body.
Buddhism is a philosophy and way of life, not a religion. It became an integral part of the book and my teaching.
Michèle Huff has practiced intellectual property and licensing law for the past 30 years. She is currently Senior Business Contracts Officer at the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Huff is the author of The Transformative Negotiator: Changing the Way We Come to Agreement from the Inside Out (Unhooked Books, 2015).
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