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Partnership Lessons 1: Chris Voss

By |September 07, 2023

Lessons From Partnership:
Some stuff you probably won't find anywhere else

*This article is written by a guest collaborator Nic Peterson

There are two things I look for in a partnership before looking at any numbers, metrics or discussing structure. One of them is:

“Can I learn something from this person that I will not be able to learn anywhere else?”

If the answer is yes, I’m in.

Over the past decade, I’ve been fortunate to learn from brilliant humans. As time allows I will document and share the big lessons and takeaways.

To celebrate the Golden Swan Alliance,  I’ll start with Chris Voss.

But first, here's how to actually extract value from a post like this:

Step One: Bookmark this tab in your browser and read through it.

Step Two: Come back to it and read and reflect on one bullet point a day.

Step Three: Repeat every few months.


1. The job is not to save everyone. It's to save everyone that is willing to be saved.

You can't save the un-savable, you can't close the un-closable. The earlier you can recognize who is not willing to be saved, the sooner you can make the right decision. There are a few practical implications, off the top of my head.

As a hostage negotiator, the proper way to measure your success rate is not what percent of people were saved, but instead: what percent of savable people were saved. If you were to count the “un-savable”, the data would be faulty, thus, so would the feedback loop. It’s a version of brain sludge and being aware of the negative impacts of outcome bias

To become better at your job, you would first need to be able identify who is not willing to be saved. Then, refine that skill to identify it sooner and sooner.

Now think about relationships, sales or partnerships - and apply the same framework.

Which leads right into...

2. It's not a sin to not get the deal done. It's a sin to take a long time to not get the deal done.'s also a sin to take a long time to get a bad deal done.

Just recognizing when a deal isn't going to get done sooner can save hours a week. Those hours could get reallocated to bigger, better, faster deals.

People get so caught up in winning or losing, they don’t consider effective resource allocation. If the deal is not going to get done, if the relationship is not going to be saved, if the sale is not going to close… you lose twice if you also wastes hours, days or years trying to save it.

Ironically, holding onto things out of fear of loss can be incredibly costly.

3. If someone uses the word "fair" careful, and be gentle. It means they don't have any data to back up what they want.

When someone throws around the word “Fair” they’re playing in the subjective. How do you know? Because if they had data to back up their claim, request or demand they would be leading with it.

You have to be gentle with people using the word “fair” - they are in an emotional place and have painted themself as a victim.

Remember Karpman’s Drama Triangle? If they take the position of victim, you must not take the position of a rescuer or persecutor - else you’re perpetuating the cycle. There is no winner in the “fair” argument.

4. Your instinct (gut) is faster and more accurate than your amygdala (brain) - if you train it.

Train your gut by being willing to be wrong and stress-testing it. This requires intellectual security.

Engage with bad prospects just to test, train, and refine your gut. What you lose in the short term you make up for in space over the long term.

It’s okay to lose a deal on purpose, especially if it refines your gut or your skill.

If you're too worried about "losing" you will never develop the skill to be great. Plus, if you know a prospect is a bad prospect, it's a great opportunity to practice new strategies, tactics, and language.

The gut processes informations exponentially faster than the brain. Actively train its accuracy.

5. Not everyone is trying to get the best deal for themselves. Many people have only one objective: to take up more of your time.

Many people just want attention. Identify these people as quickly as possible so that you don't let them take yours.

In the Gray Wolf  there are three voices, one of the three is the “voice of emptiness”.

The Voice of Emptiness. Words, tones, and volume designed only to fill the silence with idle talk, and aimless superficialities. Or to draw attention to the speaker. The strategy is to spend time. The discourse is rambling and shallow like the eddies going nowhere at the end of the stream.

The Gray Wolf is derived from the Master Key, which has been passed down for thousands of years. People looking to waste your time is nothing new - and it’s not going away.

Learn to identify the voice of the emptiness and recapture that time and effort.

6. "Zombies can be turned into humans"

Bad prospects, clients, and partners can be turned into good ones if you know how to recognize they're "zombies" and a few words to test if they can be turned into humans.

According to the Black Swan data, a good client has 5x the LTV of a bad one. That means that if you can turn a bad client into a good one with a few words, you will 5X their value to your company.

With like three sentences. If that’s not a return on investment, I don’t know what is.

7. “If you can taste how good the words will feel before you say them, you are doing it wrong.”

Oof. This is a big one.

One of my closest friends, Dr. Jeff Spencer, says:

“There are many good reasons to take action. Seeking relief is not one of them”

If you think it's going to feel really good to say something - you are saying it for your own pleasure or relief.

If the goal is to make yourself feel good or relieve pressure from yourself with words, in the moment, you should not be making deals. The thing that (you think) will feel really good to say is almost always the worst possible thing to say.

The key word in the champions vocabulary: restraint.


What I love about the way Chris operates is that it's a system. It's a version of Bumpers; an operating system that is optimized to identify the "bad things" as quickly as possible and then turn them into good things or replace them with good things.

I partnered with Joe Polish, Laura Catella, Chris Voss, and Stefan Georgi on this project. It’s called the Golden Swan Alliance and it’s the best “business development” package I’ve ever seen personally.

It’s $10,000 - so that will disqualify most people.

There are only 1,000 spots - EVER. So that disqualifies everyone else that’s not one of the first 1,000.

You can snag your Golden Swan spot here . If you do join, let me know and I’ll spend some time with you - just to shoot the shit. More on that below.

The bonus stack is absurd…

  • Multiple in-person implementation days with Chris Voss, Joe Polish, Nic (that’s me, Stefan, and Laura in 2024. We will end these workshops with a VIP dinner and a private showing of Tactical Empathy, the Chris Voss documentary.

  • Virtual Genius Network Annual Ticket from Joe Polish

  • 3 Months of Personalized ELF Coaching from Joe Polish

  • A complete copy, messaging, and brand audit from renown copywriter and strategist Laura Catella - she charges 15k for this but I think she is underselling herself TBH.

  • Complimentary Ticket to the Next Copy Accelerator PRO Mastermind with Stefan Georgi. A community comprising some of the best direct response marketers in the world. With a heavy emphasis on leveraging AI, these in-person masterminds are where you’ll join a select handful of the world’s best marketers and D2C business owners as they share the cutting-edge strategies and tactics they’re using right now to scale their businesses and brands. 

…but just applying what Chris shares will 10x anyone's investment in time, money, and bandwidth.

Keyword: applying.

One of the bonuses is that I'll spend a day with you to do whatever you want. Wanna work on your business? I'm here for it. Wanna shoot guns and play Mario Kart? here for it.

Anyway, bookmark. read. revisit. repeat.

Here’s a link to the Golden Swan Alliance.

If you grab a spot, let me know so that I can welcome you to the club and maybe introduce you to some of the collaborators.

If you have any questions, reach out on Twitter or Instagram and I’ll do my best to answer them.