Step by step: Lawyer and sports agent outlines the art of being prepared

Monday, April 14, 2008
Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli ¿ Ronald Shapiro posed for a photograph at his desk. Shapiro, a lawyer, professional sports agent and author, will be in Cape Girardeau in May to discuss his newest book, "Dare to Prepare: How to Win Before You Begin," which is seventh on the New York Times bestseller list for business books and 12th on the advice and how-to list.

Ronald M. Shapiro is a successful lawyer, professional sports agent and author.

He represents more players in Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame than any other player representative. He's advised the management of teams in other professional sports on the art of negotiating. He founded the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, a seminar and consulting firm that has advised 350,000 professionals on negotiations and dealing with difficult people.

His first two books, "The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate so Everyone Wins — Especially You!," and "Bullies, Tyrants & Impossible People: How to Beat Them Without Joining Them," provided insights and advice on negotiation strategies. The books won critical acclaim and became best-sellers.

Shapiro's latest book takes a different approach, focusing on the skills needed to succeed not just in negotiations but in a multitude of endeavors. "Dare to Prepare: How to Win Before You Begin," is seventh on the New York Times bestseller list for business books and 12th on the advice and how-to list.

In the book, Shapiro offers advice on how to make the most of even limited amounts of time in order to become better equipped to face a challenge, arguing that the steps he recommends can work in any arena, whether business or family. Even in a world demanding attention with advanced communications, multiple media sources and tight deadlines, he advises, there is time to prepare.

"Multitasking can result from technology or from peer pressure or from sheer hyperactivity," Shapiro writes in the first chapter of the new book. "But you've got to shut it down and restore methodical steps of preparation to turn speed into velocity."

Shapiro will bring his insights to Cape Girardeau early next month. He's speaking to Southeast Missouri State University students at noon May 1 in Glenn Auditorium of Dempster Hall. He will also be the featured speaker May 2 at the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce's First Friday Coffee as part of the chamber's kickoff to its annual membership drive.

Ronald Shapiro held his third and latest book, "Dare to Prepare: How to Win Before You Begin."

Shapiro's visit will be sponsored in part by the Southeast Missourian. Rex Rust, co-president of Rust Communications and chairman of the chamber board of directors, said he has known Shapiro for 19 years and considers him a good friend. "He is an extremely accomplished individual, an exceptional speaker and a highly insightful author," Rust said. "His book, 'Dare to Prepare,' shares effective preparation techniques that lead to winning outcomes. It is great that he's coming to Cape Girardeau to share these blueprints for success."

The new book elaborates on an eight-point preparation checklist Shapiro developed to guide each of his endeavors. The checklist can be applied to any major undertaking, he said.

"What I try to do is recognize that the old-fashioned craft of methodical preparation can help meet the challenges in business and in life," Shapiro said in a telephone interview.

To liven up the book, Shapiro uses real-life examples of personal failures due to lack of preparation and success stories from 38 "master preparers." Some of the examples, like broadcaster Bob Costas or New York Mets manager Willie Randolph, are widely known, while others, such as Baltimore County, Md., detective and hostage negotiator Gerald Brooks or Jesuit priest and University of Scranton president Scott Pilarz, labor in relative obscurity.

All of the people featured in the book — including his son Mark Shapiro, general manager of the Cleveland Indians, and son-in-law Eric Mangini, coach of the New York Jets — are people who have had an impact on Shapiro's life and taught him lessons about preparation.

"I tell three stories for every principle of preparation to give a better understanding of how to apply them," he said.

Lack of preparation can cause a business deal to go sour, he noted, and it can have much more serious consequences. The first steps are to define the challenges in a situation, both by stating the preferred outcome and evaluating the situation. The next step is to clearly state an objective, he said.

He pointed to the book "Into Thin Air" by John Krakauer, an account of the deaths of several amateur climbers on Mount Everest. A lack of preparation and completely understanding the objective contributed to the disaster, he said.

"Their objective was to climb Mount Everest," he said. "Their objective should have been to climb Mount Everest and come down safely."

Whether he's negotiating deals for sports clients or conducting seminars on negotiation, Shapiro said he emphasizes outcomes that make both sides feel like winners. The key to keeping focused on that objective, he said, is to remember that even in an adversarial situation, the problem must be worked out to the satisfaction of both sides.

In one exercise, Shapiro said he tells two teams that they have $10 to divide, they can't divide it equally and both sides must be satisfied. "Everyone wants to beat the other guy," he said. "There are ways to play that game. You can come out well and they can come out well, but you have to overcome the cultural thing we have about I have to win and you have to lose."

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