1. The Negotiation
Apparently, if you are a kid born around the Chrismukkah wintertime holidays, half-birthdays are important. Josephine, my ten and a half year old daughter, brought this to my attention just last week as she accompanied me on a father-daughter walk two blocks from home in Curtis Park down to Gunther’s Ice Cream to enjoy a double-scoop of vanilla. It is common knowledge that the overall quality of ice cream is measured by how good the vanilla is, and for most Sacramentans, it is common knowledge that Gunther’s vanilla unquestionably continues to set the bar for any vanilla we taste anywhere.
Me, at ice cream shop ABC in city XYZ: “Is it good?”
Josephine: “Yeah, but it isn’t Gunther’s good.”
We have made this two-block walk to Gunther’s dozens of times, but what made this specific trip different was the context of it. This was the first time Josephine was going to buy her own ice cream.
In working continually to teach my two children (my son Henry is seven, and is also in full agreement that Gunther’s vanilla is the gold-standard of all ice cream worldwide) the myriad of skills necessary to survive in this crazy world we live in, negotiation and finances both rank highly on the list. Being the children of a financial advisor, this should not come as a huge surprise, but what I continue to find amazing is that many kids seem to have no idea about either area. And when I say kids, I don’t just mean elementary school kids, I mean junior high, high school, and even college-age kids.
As most of us should or already do know, a negotiation can be deemed “successful” if both parties feel they obtained a benefit as a result. And it is common knowledge that you typically have to give something to get something. The fun is the art of the dance. However, win-win is not the definition of negotiation, it is only the goal. Fortunately, my walk down to Gunther’s with Josephine was a product of a successful negotiation, which as any parent can attest, is not always the outcome. Subsequent to being presented with her half-birthday data point, I was propositioned by Josephine to go to Gunther’s to celebrate. Leveraging this “fact” was a stretch, for sure, but I appreciated her spirit in asking and attempting to take advantage of her perceived half-birthday negotiating currency. One life rule both Eschleman children should know is to always ASK if you want something, and do not assume the answer is no, because you never know when you will catch someone in a good mood or at a moment of weakness.
I considered what she proposed for a moment and tried to remain unbiased in my response, which is difficult to do if you have had Gunther’s ice cream. Then, my response dawned on me, and I said with just a slight grin, “Sure, we can go to Gunther’s, but only if we go Dutch.”
The look on Josephine’s face did not let me down, as I was hopeful she had no clue what I was talking about. Pleased with myself for taking advantage of the situation to educate her on what “going Dutch” means, she pondered my counter-offer for only a few moments, as quick decision-making, for better or worse, is also an Eschleman personality trait – “OK Dad, let’s do it.”