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“My philosophy has always been to stay open to opportunity and don’t be afraid to evolve.”

A top sports agent for nearly two decades, Molly Fletcher represented some of the top athletes, coaches and media personalities in the game. Now a popular keynote speaker and author, Molly founded her own consulting company in 2010 out of her desire to apply the relationship building skills learned from her career as a sports agent to the corporate world. Her new book, A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done, will be released by McGraw-Hill on September 19.

The Molly Fletcher Company

BusinessInterviews.com: How can we get back to basics when it comes to the art of developing and keeping relationships?

Molly: It starts with recognizing the value of relationships. In today’s world with all our technological advances, we’re more connected than ever. But on the flip side, we’ve lost in many ways the art of true connection and we struggle to develop meaningful, long-term relationships. I’d argue that the relationship piece is now even more important in business and can be a real differentiator. We tend to credit much of our success to the strength of our customer and client relationships, while simultaneously not spending the time to cultivate relationships. That’s a gap. I’m a firm believer that if you find ways to connect and add value, it benefits everyone in the long-term.

BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to a manager looking to improve relationships within their team?

Molly: Make it a priority and understand it won’t happen overnight. Like any relationships, you have to commit time and energy if you want it to work. We do a lot of team development work, both in the corporate space and with sports teams. We hear it a lot—yes, this is important, but do I have the time? I challenge them to think about that, because strong relationships between team members are the foundation of everything else you do. If you don’t get that piece right, it’s very hard to build the other blocks.

BusinessInterviews.com: How has your experience and success as a sports agent influenced your approach to business consulting?

Molly: There are so many parallels between the two, but I think it allows me to come at it from a unique perspective. In the sports agent industry, there are actually more agents than there are athletes to represent. It’s a very competitive industry so you have to find ways to differentiate yourself and you absolutely have to deliver results. As a sports agent, your clients are trusting you with a really special time in their lives. Even in the best-case scenario, an athlete has a very short window to maximize their opportunities. I approach business consulting the same way.

BusinessInterviews.com: What insights have you gained when it comes to building a brand around your name?

Molly: I was hesitant at first, but after a while on the speaking circuit, I realized that my experiences as a sports agent really resonated with people and I had a unique platform to reach a lot of people. So why not embrace it? My philosophy has always been to stay open to opportunity and don’t be afraid to evolve. Our motto is “Inspiring Game Changers” and that’s something I strive to do each and every day—to help individuals, teams and companies change the way they think about and do business.

BusinessInterviews.com: How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

Molly: Understanding and being able to articulate your leadership philosophy is really important. Here’s a quick exercise that can help you do just that. I believe relationships drive success so I value connection, collaboration and transparency. I try to create an environment where open communication is the norm and people feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback. I view every interaction and situation as a chance for growth and try to instill that mindset in those I lead. I’m not afraid to acknowledge gaps or to lean on my team because I think you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with in life. My passion is what drives me and I love being able to bring out the best in people. Leadership is about going beyond self to inspire others to be their best, both personally and professionally.

BusinessInterviews.com: Congratulations on the release of your third book, “A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done.” Can you share some common mistakes people make when it comes to negotiating and how they can be avoided?

Molly: I think the biggest one is not even recognizing the opportunity to negotiate exists. We negotiate all the time, not just in formal business settings, so I think the first mistake is not even realizing you are in a negotiation.

Another reason people don’t negotiation is fear. Fear changes the way they behave inside of the conversation. It might make them quick to agree so they can remove themselves from the situation they find uncomfortable. Or fear can drive a defensive and hostile mindset that turns negotiating into a battle instead of a productive conversation.

It seems basic but another common mistake is a simple lack of preparation. Most people don’t do a good enough job of combining the hard data with 360-degree awareness. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and it’s especially true in negotiation.

Lastly, most people don’t take the time to build a relationship with the other side. This is what I focus on a lot in my book. It may sound counter intuitive, but take the time to get to know the other person. Share information, even if it’s a small bit of personal information that’s not related to the actual negotiation. That sends the message that you are open and allows for an opportunity to connect. In any negotiation, people want to know: Do I like you? Can you help me? Do I trust you? If the answer to these questions is “yes” than you have put yourself in a good position to negotiation.

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