Lefsetz’s Business Rules

1. You’ve got to get along. If you don’t have good people skills, you’ll never succeed, even if you run your own business.

2. Money talks. He who has cash has leverage, and someone always has more than you do. There’s rarely a deal between equals.

3. Leverage is not always about money. I.e. if you’re an unsigned band that can sell out arenas, you’ll get an incredible deal from the label.

4. If a deal is too good, it probably is. In other words, if the other person can’t make any money, there’s going to be a problem.

5. The best deals are win-wins.

6. If you’re not willing to risk, if you’re not willing to give something up, you’re going to sit on the sidelines. Sure, the label might not offer you your dream deal, but the alternative is to go it alone, which is an option, but probably not the one you want since you entered negotiations in the first place.

7. You don’t know everything, you just think you do. If you’re not learning every day, you’re hanging with the wrong people and not applying yourself.

8. The more powerful the person, the less the chance you’ll see them at the conference. The conference is for never have and wannabes and for the purveyor to make coin. In other words, have a good time at SXSW, but the real winners are the people who put on the conference.

9. A contract does not guarantee behavior. At most it’s a guideline. If you think suing to get what you want is a solution, that the contract entitles you to win, you’re naive.

10. Some people use litigation as both a business strategy and a profit center. If someone has deeper pockets than you, you’re not on an equal footing.

11. The real world is very different from books. In other words, there are very few professors who can succeed in the real world. Theory is one thing, practice is another.

12. Lawyers are worth every dollar you pay them. So choose wisely and don’t expect a deal. You need an outside voice. Someone who knows the pitfalls.

13. News often isn’t. It may be on the Business page, but frequently the corporation has a relationship with the journalist and wants a certain story told.

14. If you haven’t been screwed, you haven’t been in business. There’s more than one way to fail, you learn lessons from your defeats, which is why so many want to hire those who’ve failed, because they’ve gained so much experience!

15. Nitpicking is for losers. If you can’t let something go by, if you want the other party to live up to every letter of a contract, you’re going to find yourself an outcast by the sidelines.

16. Winners see tomorrow as well as today. If you don’t have the exit strategy in place when you’re negotiating a deal, you’re going to find yourself in an uncomfortable position down the line.

17. Those who give the best advice are the hardest to get to know, and the hardest to get to speak at length. The powerful don’t want to know the powerless, there has to be an advantage in it for them, or else the response will be very brief.

18. Time is irreplaceable. Never waste someone else’s. Make your pitch short and to the point and thank the other person for listening. You think you’re explaining your point, ensuring success by going on at length, but the truth is the other person is rolling their eyes and looking at their watch, wondering how they can get out of this meeting and never ever speak with you again.

19. Most conference calls are a waste of time. Do your best to avoid them. If you’re on one, talk only business and make it brief.

20. Respect your adversary/opponent. Treat people with dignity, dividends will follow.

21. Don’t take you or your business too seriously. Make jokes.

22. Have fun. Work takes up too much of your time not to.

23. Break the rules. All the winners do. School is all about rules, which is why those who’ve done well in school rarely do well in business.


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