matt tillotson



The “Shift List”: Books That Altered My Course

A good book creates a shift. The shift can be as small—just your mood—or much bigger, changing your perspective forever. This is a list of books that created a shift in me. Call it a “Shift List,” and pronounce it carefully in polite company. 

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Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss

In the Christmas classic* Die Hard, Harry Ellis hatches a scheme to negotiate with Hans Gruber, who has taken the Nakatomi Plaza office tower by force, holding Ellis and his co-workers hostage. Ellis portrays all the stereotypes we think of in a business negotiation. He’s slick-talking, self-interested, intellectually arrogant, aloof, and insincere—and those are his better qualities. Ellis fast-talks his way into being murdered by Gruber’s henchmen. In most business negotiations, we are afraid the other side will behave like Ellis—being brash, evasive, and trying to get one over on us. So we raise our defenses. We focus primarily on our wants—and what we want to say next—so we don’t listen and don’t learn. Usually, end up with a worse outcome than we could have had.Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, has another way.

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