Pennies

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

I was taking a trip to Nashville recently with Syble. Syble is pushing fourteen and 220 thousand miles, but she is hangin’ in there like a champ.

She has had some setbacks over the years, most of which we have been able to handle without emptying our bank account. However, there has been one glaring, mysterious issue for quite some time that I have been unable to crack: the CD player will not work. At all.

Syble is a 2007 Honda Civic, OK? CDs were all the craze then. The main issue here, though, is that the auxiliary cable port is also out of commission. Again, 2007 Civic. Bluetooth was not standard. When we ride with Syble, we go back in time.

I don’t need new, fancy things. I really don’t. I would, however, appreciate some old, modest gadgets to function as they were intended. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Syble has discontinued her DJ’ing services. With my Nashville trip coming up, I was hoping to listen to some podcasts, and I desired the means with which to do so.

Well, one day, my four-year-old was talking to me about something I cannot remember. In the midst of this discussion, the following conversation arises (not verbatim, but close):

Jett: Me and Rhodes put pennies in the CD player. (Rhodes is his two-year-old brother)

Me: You put what?

Jett: We put pennies in the CD player.

Me: In the Civic?

Jett: Yea.

Jett did not care. He did not see the error in his ways. I couldn’t even be mad. Of course, my Sherlock-ing was over, so I was a bit relieved, but there was no way to instill a lesson. I may have said something along the lines of, “Yea. You probably shouldn’t do that.”

To solve the matter, all I could do was grab a portable speaker that plugs into my phone.

It may be impossible to believe, but I promise I’m writing this in December of 2019.

All of this to say… I was able to listen to some podcasts, one of which was Craig Groeschel’s Leadership Podcast from August 15, 2018. In this particular episode, Groeschel conversed with Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference.

It just so happened that my trip to Nashville was to see the friend who handed me this exact book only months before.

From the mouth of Craig Groeschel, “One of my favorite books I’ve read in the past year or so.”

The words of Mr. Groeschel, not my own ingenuity, sparked me to review this book next, as it had a much greater effect on him than it did on me.

Chris Voss is an ex-FBI negotiator and a very good one, but when this book was handed to me, I was skeptical because I had previously attempted to read a different book from a different ex-FBI negotiator, The Like Switch by Marvin Karlins and Jack Schafer. I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve started to read but didn’t finish due to lack of interest; The Like Switch is one of them.

Nevertheless, I trusted my Nashville friend, and I read Never Split the Difference.

Biggest difference between these two books: Schafer and Karlins give a sense of manipulation; Voss gives a sense of authenticity. Maybe it’s a trick, but if it is he hides it well. I never got the impression that Chris Voss wanted us to tell a lie or be unnaturally conversational.

I think Groeschel may have been more intrigued by the applications of Voss’s skills and techniques laid out in this book which is probably why he was excited enough to bring Voss on his show. I, however, was gripped by a totally different element in the book:

Stories.

That’s how you get me. Stories. Sometimes, depending on the context and setting, I don’t even care if the stories are fictional, but I am generally the number one pupil of a storyteller. Give me the stories.

Sadly, the most intriguing story that Voss details is that of the Black Swan, and it hurt me to my core. But the concept of the Black Swan is quite captivating. It’s the last chapter of the book, and Voss even founded The Black Swan Group. It should be needless to say, but I think Voss puts a ton of value on the notion of the Black Swan.

Spoiler alert… Black Swan is not a ballet movie.

My dad would like this book, I think. Read it, Pops.

Otherwise, it’s a rather difficult genre to place on a target audience. Of course, that’s not my job, but I want to do justice to readers everywhere. If you enjoy storytelling from one of the (arguably, I guess) coolest jobs in the world, you will enjoy reading this book. If you are a mystery buff, I would group this book in there as well. There is no mystery involved, and it is no work of fiction. I just see a connection between the two.

Hey, Groeschel liked it. What do you have to lose?

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