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Re-Introducing Herb

If you're talking beauty he's not a star, There are others handsomer by far, Even when it comes to fashionable dress, he's not a dandy who wants to impress
Observe his face, he doesn't mind it,
Of course, that's because he's behind it, So if today's news makes you downcast, Get perspective from an experienced enthusiast, With Herb's advice and tips in a nutshell, Your negotiating problem will become a bagatelle.

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Values and Beliefs Determinants of Behavior


We are living at a time of such rapid change that even the future seems to be holding its’ breath.  Amid this transience and acceleration, mentalities are being transformed and values along with them.


Most of us go through life on “automatic pilot” responding to situations and events based upon habit.  We don’t spend enough time engaged in an inner dialogue reflecting upon who we really are?  What do we want to become?  How can we unleash our creativity and potential?  But most of all, what are our values and true beliefs?


Values are the guiding devices that enable you to live consistent with your conscience.  They are ingrained in the fiber of a person’s heart and soul.


You speak your values by the language you use, your actions and behavior, the possessions you covet and the number, caliber and longevity of your friendships.  When conflict with a partner, friend or family member occurs do you confront them directly with empathy and compassion?  Or do you react immediately from your gut with a candor that may be forthright and frank but is in reality a subtle form of hostility?


America, the “land of opportunity”, has always been as much a promise as a place.  It was established built upon a foundation of liberty or freedom, pluralism and individual self-interest.  Yet, even at the beginning of this experiment the founders knew that egotistic behavior, however enlightened, must be tempered by concern for the community as a whole.


As America grew with the influx of immigrants, prosperity and its movement westward these values remained and were expanded.  Coming of age after World War II, I could feel the emphasis upon character and integrity where being was more important than appearing since one becomes what one does.  There was talk of human brotherhood, generosity, the importance of family and kinship and while the value of money was always discussed, people were also concerned with spiritual growth.   Most of all, having friends was a blessing.  Unlike romantic love, poets and essayists have not written much about friendship because it is made up of subtle things we should never do: betray, belittle, begrudge, beguile and bamboozle. 


Still, most lives are boring and repetitious, consisting of striving, disillusion and defeat.  But this is where lasting friendship gets its’ power.  It comes not from casual introductions and greetings but is forged from setbacks, sickness and help given without being asked.


Toward the end of the year, watching the motion picture "It’s A Wonderful Life" has become a ritual in my family.  This film has been around for almost six decades, surpassing its competition and gaining mythic stature.  Yet, I cannot help tearing-up at each viewing when George (Jimmy Stewart) is despondent and depressed, believing he’s alone and suddenly the world shows up to declare its love for him.


This movie was made by Frank Capra, an Italian immigrant, who as an outsider understood our country better than many native born.  That a life without true friends may be very rich in material things, but in human terms, is no life at all.


Undoubtedly, the endurable popularity of this saga comes from its maudlin ending, with the surprise arrival of George’s brother Harry, dressed in his Navy Uniform fresh from a World War II battlefront.  The modest home is filled with what seems like the entire town, which has come to relieve George of his financial problems.


Pushing his way through the impressive crowd Harry raises his glass in a toast, “To my brother George”, he says, “the richest man in town”.


This is what it’s all about - - the subtle and casual surprise of true friendship.  Most of the time we go along clouded by the suspicion that we’re isolated in an incomprehensible world.  “A stranger and afraid in a world I’ve never made”.


Then, once in a while, miraculously we’re proved wrong.  Friends appear who are prepared to gather round, sacrifice and save us.  The reversal of feeling is as blindsiding as it is moving, especially at the time of year when the deserting light can leave us alone in the dark.  Suddenly we have company.  Suddenly it’s a wonderful life.


Can I tell you, it gets me every time!


Obviously, I have said all this because I am disheartened nowadays by the values that I see exhibited by some of my negotiating counterparts.  Presumably, they reflect the current era where Americans are infatuated with the entertainment business.  Its glitzy success is symptomatic of a self-indulgent, spendthrift society who worship celebrity - -  those capable of producing numbers, ratings and selling magazines.


Indeed, as an Entertainment Producer once told me, “In Hollywood you are what you have”.


In my career I come across many professional negotiators, business and entertainment executives, attorneys, CIOs and CEOs.  Too often their primary focus is upon looking good and cultivating a superficial camaraderie.  There are agents and their principals who have a covetous élan that desires instant gratification in material things that can be measured against what others have.  Very often they are isolated from their roots and current community and sometimes even alienated from themselves.


Though our situation calls for problem-solving behavior where we need to work together they still are looking for the edge via sleaze tactics that are pitiful, distracting and time wasters.


Perhaps I have more perspective but I know from experience that people degenerate when they only respond to things where there is a prospect of gain.  Moreover, the greatest loss in life is not via death, but what we allow to die inside us while we go on living.


What I am suggesting is that we expose all those who ultimately expect to be involved in political, legal and business negotiations to a series of films that contain traditional American values.  Although there are many others, here are some of my suggestions:

  1. Casablanca

  2. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

  3. On The Waterfront

  4. To Kill a Mockingbird

  5. Twelve Angry Men

  6. Ten North Frederick





When was the last time we heard a business man like Rick (Humphrey Bogart) remind us that “larger obligations give life meaning” – that when you get right down to it, “the problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”.




Do you remember Jimmy Stewart waving the constitution during a filibuster on the Senate floor, expostulating, “I wouldn’t give a red cent for all your fine rules unless there was some plain everyday common kindness under them – and a little looking out for the next fella”?




“You know what’s wrong with our waterfront?” cries Karl Malden, playing a Catholic priest.  “It’s the love of a lousy buck.  It’s making the love of a buck and a comfy job more important than the love of your fellow man”.




In this motion picture, the central moral issue is whether Gregory Peck should defend a black man charged with rape or refuse the case to protect himself and his young children from retaliation by an enraged town.


As Atticus Finch, Peck never wavers even though following his conscience nearly costs his children their lives.


Because of the apparent conflict between career and family, this film deals with an issue that Hollywood seems to have forgotten.  Presently, the big screen emphasizes quality time, parent-child bonding and developing sincere relationships.  They never approach the idea that a vital part of loving your children – of loving anyone - - is living a life that they will admire, which can mean risking yourself and even your loved ones to do the right thing.




This 1957 Reginald Rose film classic is about the jury deliberations of twelve men who will decide (by unanimous decision) the fate of a boy charged with his father’s murder.  The Protagonist, Henry Fonda starts with a vague nagging doubt about the defendant’s guilt.


On the first jury ballot he expresses some hesitation and then withstands the insults, threats and disdain of others as he challenges their assumptions and questions their values.  Knowing that “speed kills”, he slows things down, reframes the issues, takes calculated risks, shows an ability to read people and encourages others to get involved.


I have seen and used this drama several hundred times working with Executives on their leadership and negotiating skills.  Watching this motion picture can afford you a realistic view of twelve unremarkable people with their unique beliefs magnified under stress and exceptional circumstances.




By the author of Pal Joey, John O’Hara gives us this story of true love between an older man, Joseph Chapin, and his daughter’s best friend, Kate Drummond.  Although Chapin, played by Gary Cooper, has a spiritual and physical passion that he knows will last forever, he unselfishly gives all this up to return to his callous and indifferent wife.


Although written over 60 years ago, Chapin makes this sacrifice not just for the sake of his marital vows (an obligation), but out of concern for how Kate would be accepted, regarded and treated in this old-line conservative town.  Forgoing his own desires, pleasures and needs, he puts his beloved first knowing that true love means: I would you to be.


Keeping all this in mind, it would be a helpful exercise for you to attempt to define and clarify your values.  Of course, you are answering these questions for yourself.




  1. What do I believe in?
  2. With what guiding principles can I be constructively obsessed?
  3. What work gives me the most pleasure?
  4. If I lost my job, current position and status do I have friends who will  give me support?
  5. What can I do that offers me sheer joy - - that emphasizes my uniqueness and from which my creativity flows?
  6. What currently governs my life? Where do I spend my time?
  7. What do I want to be remembered for?
  8. What do I have to do to make my life complete?


Our lives break down, get out of balance, deteriorate or collapse without a solid set of values.  Indeed, the likelihood of achieving happiness is negligible if the things we believe are different from the things we do.


Classifying your values and beliefs is the essential first step toward a richer, fuller, more productive life.