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“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
“One dull pencil is worth six sharp minds.”
“I’m not trying to blow this out of proportion. I just want to deal with it before it gets out of hand.”
“I introduced myself, told them I understood they were having difficulties with their xxx, and asked them to tell me what they were.”
Most of what I had to do in the presentation was to draw them out and take notes. When they finally wound down, I just scanned the notes and gave it back to them. “It seems like you’re having trouble in this area, and this, and this. Here is what we can fix, and here’s how I think we can do it.”
What I think I know
Results needed or problems
Data accurate; up-to-date
To reveal discrepancies in your information.
Always ask in the present tense
Still, remain, continue, as always, now, currently
“Are you still having trouble with the delivery schedule?”
Is Pete remaining as your boss in the reorganization?
Do you continue to use 20000 units per week?
Is this still the case?
New Information Questions
To update information; fill in gaps
To resolve perceived discrepancies
To get “results” information
What, where, when, how much, how many, explain, tell, show, demonstrate
“Why” is a second-level probe; use as a follow-up question
How do you intend to approach that problem?
When do you envision this happening?
To learn how this individual “wins” or loses
To discover previously unidentified issues
To discover attitudes and values
What, which, why, how, in conjunction with words that solicit a judgment such as: opinion, feelings, attitudes, reaction.
What is your opinion?
How do you feel about …?
To move toward closure
To determine where you are in the sale
Decide, plan, going to, intend, agree, direct, determine, mean to, propose, recommend, commit, secure.
Are you willing, with the information you have, to recommend this proposal to the committee?
Are we in agreement that …
“My intention in asking that question was to …”
“It seems like you are preoccupied with something else. If this is a bad time for us to talk, maybe you’d like to reschedule the appointment.”
“Techniques to avoid: dangerous verbal signals” - "Think about it"
There are two basic problems with this extremely popular “pre-closure” directive. The first problem is that it is vague. The second problem is that it is a subtle put-down.
“Techniques to avoid: dangerous verbal signals” - “Yes, …, but”:
When a conversation includes a high level of “Yes, …, but” or other “give and take” statements, the probability is very good that that conversation is stalled. Almost always it indicates the rejection of a just proposed idea or train of thought. For this reason, it tends to derail productive exploration, and to set up a broken-record syndrome, where the buyer’s objections are countered by the seller’s and vice versa – and no real information gets exchanged.
We advise you to avoid this phrase at all times. We suggest you use an alternate phrasing that does not retract with the left hand what you’ve just offered with the right. Good alternate phrases include: “If that’s the way it is, then how …?” or “What kind of data do you have on that point?” Also you can always move a potentially confrontational discussion in the direction of a Win-Win outcome by asking the exploratory New Information Questions we mentioned in the discussion of the mimicry. Instead of “Yes … but,” try “I don’t understand fully yet what you mean. Could you expand on your production down-time problem?” Or: “I’m not sure I agree, Joe; could you tell me some more?”
“Why?” This little word can put people on the defensive.
If you are uncertain about why a client has said or done something, we advise you not to phrase your clarifying questions in the “Why” or “Why did you” form. Instead, use the equivalent, but not nearly so challenging, word “How.” “Why did you decide to change the monthly schedule?” comes off as a demand for justification. “How did you decide to change the monthly schedule?” only asks the person to describe his or her actions. Because this phrasing is perceived as less threatening, it can actually get you the information, while asking somebody to explain “why” a given decision was made may get you nothing but evasion, rationalization, and defensiveness.
Virtually every business we make begins with an introductory confirmation that the timing for the call is all right. “Is this a good time for you to talk?” or “Am I interrupting anything right now?”
Passing sirens can be acknowledged and dismissed with a simple one-line joke that brings the focus back onto you. Try, “That’s funny – they’re not supposed to come for me until after my presentation.” To deal with a cell phone ringing in the audience, “Tell them I’m busy” is all you need to say to bring the focus back on yourself.
“Blood, sweat, and tears” and the good, the bad and the ugly.
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting – Sun Zhu
I knew the day he walked in that he was gold.
I know what trust and responsibility are all about.
Somewhat like childbirth, easier to conceive than deliver.
Starting as an analyst in investment banking in 1985, I commenced a personally rewarding career that culminated as a Managing Director and Head of US Equity Capital Markets.
What I like about this business is the enthusiasm, and the intellect and the challenges here- and that’s you. We’ve had a great year, a record year by any measure. We can celebrate, but we cannot be satisfied.
Whoever can't take the cold wind has no place at the summit.
"It was a bad storm. It whipped our tails, but it didn't throw us off course."
Keynes understood the herd instinct of his fellow economists: "Worldly wisdom teaches us that it is better for the reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally", he wrote at the depth of the Great Depression.
Craig Donohue cuts an incongruously mild-mannered figure in a business known for sharp elbows and even the occasional punch.
As the old joke goes, statistics are like a bikini - what they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. America's advance GDP figures tend to be more of a bathing suit than a bikini: they are a bit outdated and hide as much as they show.
Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Lost his Midas Touch [ability to make money. Midas is a Greek legend who can turn everything into gold].
Behind every great fortune lies a forgotten crime.
The Delta merger is the "drum roll for a new era".
A hailstorm of criticism has beset China ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The Games have been a lightning rod for China's human rights record and for its dealings with the pariah regime in Sudan.
There is the sense of which shoe's going to drop next.
It would be a mistake to write the obituary of structured finance. Even its sternest critics accept that securitization has brought real economic benefits, and it would be wrong to throw away the whole barrel because of a few subprime apples.
It may just be a matter of hanging on. As any punter in Las Vega will tell you, every losing streak ends eventually, if you can only stay solvent for long enough.
Investing in the golf industry is akin to sinking your feet in cement shoes.
We came out on the short end of the final decision.
You have a choice between buying a big racehorse seemingly past its prime or your colt with lots of potential.
Whatever Dubai might suffer from, it certainly is not lack of ambition.
Oddly, while technology races ahead, our story remains frozen in time.
Avoid looking under the street light for a contact lens lost halfway up the block because the light is better here.
Once there was a saying on Wall Street: Don’t confuse brains with a bull market.
There is a danger that many will see Basel II as being the “seat belt law” of the banking. When the use of seat belts was made mandatory in automobiles, it soon became apparent that drivers were prepared to take more risks, believing themselves to be safer – the notion of risk compensation. This partly answers the question how much capital an entity should hold, as it is not speed that kills, it is bad driving; likewise, there is no amount of capital that will make a financial institution secure if it is not managed properly.
Mathematical modeling holds two benefits that are much more important than the direct results the model produces. First, building the model itself forces the creator to understand deeply the underlying problem. Modeling forces you to think. For me, everything that is important in finance is self-taught through the labor of model building.
Second, the most important single element in all of finance is data. Good mathematical models tell you what data are important and why they are important. Many times I think of my models as merely diagnostic tools that exercise the data. When model results are questionable or inconsistent, I often find that data errors are responsible. As our team builds stronger and more complete mathematical models, we clean and improve the data.
Tomorrow is like a race to be run over unknown terrain. We don’t know whether a car or a horse or a boat will have the advantage. If tomorrow’s race is over water, the kind of car you have does not matter. Good cars and bad cars both sink. However, if the race is run over a road, a car in good repair has a better chance than a badly maintained car.
Risk management is like automobile maintenance. It anticipates and prevents some problems. It identifies and facilitates some opportunities. While it is true that a badly maintained car can still win a road race, that does not mean that risk management and automobile maintenance are not valuable.
“Black Swans” is the term used to describe events with three characteristics: they are rare, they have extreme impact and they are rationalized retrospectively.
Melting Ice cube and statistical models
If you see an ice cube, it’s easy to predict the shape of the puddle that will result when it melts. But if you see a puddle, it’s impossible to determine the shape of the ice that created it. Similarly, a statistical model will give precise predictions of possible outcomes; so if you have a model, you can put confidence intervals around events.
However, observing events does not help you build a model. There are an infinite number of models that could plausibly underlie historical events. Unless you have strong theoretical reasons for knowing the type of model, and there are a reasonably small number of parameters relative to the amount of data, modeling is as hopeless as trying to guess the shape of an ice cube from observing a puddle.
Suspicion isn’t the same as substantiation
You’d be hard-pressed to find anything good out of this acquisition.
But now the welcome mat appears to be wearing thin.
The next question is whether the bailout was a good idea. It really comes down to Coke vs. water. If you are thirsty, you have choices. Coke tastes better and provides an immediate sugar rush and caffeinated stimulus, while quenching thirst. Water also quenches thirst, but it isn’t as stimulating. It purifies your body. It doesn’t make you fat and is much better for your long-term health.
The market is like an elevator with the cable cut loose. It is accelerating downward
Quantitative modeling can provide a much-needed beacon of light to guide us through the treacherous waters of financial markets.
You don’t have to be able to solve new problems to understand how the old ones were solved. Explorers who chart new territory are rare, but lots of people know how to read a map.
As with anything tied to trends, today’s hero is tomorrow’s fallen idol.
Someone has been on thin ice for many months, and now it appears to have given away.
The mountain doesn’t go away; it makes you live in its shadow. Occasionally you have to find a way to get around it.
Voltarire’s aphorism – the perfect is the enemy of the good.
In 1976, Real Estate Review published “The Grave Dancer: A guide to the risky art of resurrecting Dead Properties,” by Sam Zell. The author wrote: “Grave dancing is an art that has many potential benefits. But one must be careful while prancing around not to fall into the open pit and join the cadaver.”
It’s the financial equivalent of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse.
Noting spurs action like a looming deadline.
At a time when businesses from banks to bakery suppliers are shedding tens of thousands of workers, news that a New York law firm is pink-slipping 96 attorneys might seem like a speck of flotsam in a sea of economic pain.