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Worth It: Negotiation for Creatives

Lesson 11 of 29

Core Principle: Inquiry

Ted Leonhardt

Worth It: Negotiation for Creatives

Ted Leonhardt

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Lesson Info

11. Core Principle: Inquiry

Lesson Info

Core Principle: Inquiry

So we're going to start today with inquiry, one of my favorite words inquiry, and when we're talking about inquiry, we're talking about determining what the range is, what the range is, how to separate interests from issues, understanding the concept of issues and how they're different than underlying interests. We're going to talk a little bit about planning and what and how to plan, and then we're going toe I'm going to give you some questions that you can use their formed in very neutral language that that I have found very successful in uncovering what needs to really be done on a project before we get started before we even get started negotiating. So the principle that I want to start with this morning is I want you to think of negotiation as the first step in your creative process, so don't think of it as, uh, something that's uncomfortable, something that you just have to get through think it think of it as a part of the research, a part of the planning, a part of the informati...

on gathering that'll lead you to understanding maura about really what needs to be done for the client and how your skills and experience will fit honor the negotiation phase with same attention to detail as every other step in your creative process, so don't think of it as something to be avoided. Don't think of it as something to be afraid of think of it as an investigative steck step that you are using to find out what really needs to happen so you could be successful for your client and I've found personally that just the concept of thinking of just process of thinking of it in that manner is kind of a huge relief because it's not like I'm going to go battle with somebody about money or some sort of details or something you know you know what's involved in the project etcetera it's it's about finding out from the process of asking questions what really needs to be done and how my skills and how my team skills khun can be successful for the client so think of negotiation as the first step in the creative process no, the range there is always a range always arrange there's always some project that the client had done before that bears some relationship to what you're going to do for them if it's a salary they have a guideline the employer will have a guideline for what they're going to pay for this position there's always arrange and so one of the things that you have to do always is find out what the ranges and and you know of course the easiest way in the world to do that is simply google it because you will come up with surveys and background and information about what is paid for this particular type of position or this kind of project or whatever and the other thing to do is ask your friends and colleagues in the industry and and enquire what their experiences are with projects like this I mean so gather the information is formally and informally as you can but from all possible sources and then you'll have a sense of what the range is and because if you don't know the range what happens is you one of the stories I told yesterday when we started wass about sarah who was offered ten thousand dollars for a project and she gladly accepted thrilled to be offered the project and then found out later that she could have easily gotten twenty thousand dollars for the same project and she was crushed she simply didn't know the range and that combined with her anxieties in the situation she responded and said yes when she probably should have said I need to think about this could I think about it overnight always a good thing to say sour ranges are documented in professional surveys and available online ranges and fees for creative and great engagements are known by buyers and sellers from past assignments asking around your industry connections colleagues, friends, family and anyone you know might have some insights is always a good idea once you know the range ask for slightly more than the top of the range ask for some slightly more than the top of the range and we all know why we need to do that because inevitably they'll ask you to come down a little bit and you'll have a little maneuvering room and it's just classic, you know, there you are in the meeting and, uh, and you're being asked tio tio to take a position or take a project and they throughout a price. And you can always say, well, in my investigation to surveys show that the range is this. So it gives you evidence for what to use in that in that project in that situation. So now I'm going to ask and trevor to come and chat with us about her experiences. How are you? You good to see you. Good to see you. Welcome. Thank you. Were just gonna pull our chairs up here talk. So one of the things that I'm really interested in is on once you introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do. Yeah. Okay. Um oh, I, uh, have been a graphic designer and brand strategist all my life. And I started a company right out of college not knowing any better called the trevor company, and in two thousand I emerged that company with a company called methodology, and I I was co owner of methodology into until a couple of years ago where I sold my share and now I do a little consulting a little teachings in ceramics a variety of things that ceramics are fascinating yeah yeah it's great to have on opportunity for doing some three dimensional work after a kind of a two dimensional design career right exactly exactly and and I have known each other for quite a while quite a while and one of the things I'm very interested in is where our expertise comes from and how it gets started because one of the points I like to make is thies earliest experiences in our lives actually form the beginning of our career and some of the people in fact the earliest the earliest in my interviews thie earliest experience that I've uncovered so far is aged four being handed a camera at age for doing some photography being surprised at the results and saving the photograph so we could share them yesterday wow that's awesome yeah it was pretty cool he was pretty cool so so I know it wasn't a camera but maybe it wass what was it? Well, you know I think that you form your your self identity sometimes based on what you get reinforcement for so and I grew up in a family where athleticism was surprised and I was the family klutz so but I was always admired for my drawing ability and so I had this identity as the as the artist from the earliest of ages and I still you know, my my siblings still refer tio that that difference in our childhood so I was the child artist in the high school class artists and did the dance posters and all of that but when I started at university of washington and I became of course an art major and took painting, drawing classes, I felt that I was a little bit of a let down because that was around really talented people and I didn't feel that I I didn't feel it's confident I didn't feel it as I was as good as they were so when I took a graphic design class and I was good at it I said okay, this is who I am this is what I'm going to do so it was just that reinforcement of there's no pleasure and for me and doing something I'm not doing it well so so uh finding something I was good at was what led me down that path so you got early reinforcement for your drawing skills artistic skills can you remember really early incident that that uh um you know, I think probably, uh showing off, you know, that I guess maybe that this is a recurring theme an external reinforce events so being feeling like I could draw something for a group of people and they'd be impressed that that was that seems very shallow now that I say it, but but but it was, um, you know, sitting in a group of friends and drawing something and having people say, wow, do that do that again? And I always think I am that was exactly my experience as well. And I have found that that's quite a common experience and, um, the the and and and and now my my view is that our careers that we have as adults actually started when we first got that appreciation that we really be can practicing our expertise that, you know, four, five, six, seven years old and because we got a claim from a teacher, a parent, a friend, or whatever and then and somehow that particular claim resonated with us really strongly, and, uh, and so then we go on to go. I can, you know, I could do this on dh people like it on get recognition, actually, exactly what we need is human beings. And then you mentioned that the idea of graphic design and communications design, which is what we've done our whole lives, you didn't know about that until you got to the university no, who, you know, maybe kids now know about graphic design line there. For your result, but I certainly didn't know the difference, but I was immediately drawn to it. I opened up a graphic design magazine and said I wanted to that it was just instant and irreversible and what do you suppose it wass what? What particular aspect of that magazine or that first discovery? Well, I think I was immediately drawn, teo the beauty of typography for one thing, in fact, that I mean curiously I remember going in the library and looking at a design magazine that featured airport sign it and really most people would think there could be nothing dryer, you know, but it made my heart beat faster to look at this helvetica over airports I assign it, uh that was that was a big part of it. I think I am. I also liked the fact that there was a set of constraints, you know, so the those early kind of disappointing art classes freshman year in college where it was, you know, make a painting of anything you want, but I was a little hard for me. But having some constraints and a problem to solve really help may be more creative and, uh, certainly constraints this what it's all about in the world of communications design, graphic design, etcetera we have these problems that we have to weigh have to work on the accent now you know what is it what is it about topography that we find so fascinating I mean you know it's just a bunch of letters what what is it yeah I mean it's it's a mystery really I don't know the answer the maybe it's maybe it's the implicit communication function that it exists to tell a story or there's a verbal and visual connection but I certainly wasn't aware of any of that when I just fell in love with it just that this is so beautiful and it was you know and those in those days the type the design that was being featured in the magazines was swiss modern and so it was very it was very un expressive by later standards and highly simplified and you know that there was just an elegance to it that but I know that the reaction was visceral before it was intellectual I just loved it well one of my favorite quotes is uh uh emotion trumps logic every time yes it's something about the shape of letter forms that I I I agree I've always found it just fascinating and I remember being in a lettering class drawing the letter forms and kind of memorizing helvetica I control a perfect helvetica bold lower case a to stay here amon lower case g exactly yeah it's it's a it's a it's a it's a somehow a visceral response to a letter form but when I look you know I have that same feeling and I can't quite identify wise sounds like some research might be in order and uh in the early years of your business you were taking on approach you described to me of using logic to explain to your clients the value or the approach perhaps um and you know, it makes sense you're speaking to a business person it's about money they they want to accomplish some particular goal and so we want to justify like I mean I can understand why you would do that and you told me a little story could you tell that story to sure I uh I was telling ted that I had a eureka moment as a designer when I found myself on the other side of the table and being a design consumer so I was in a position of wanting to remodel my kitchen and thie interviewing a couple of designers tio tio bid on the project and several people came in and showed they're past work and talked about their fee structure schedules and things like that but one person came in and just sort of burst into the kitchen and said, yeah oh my god this is going to be so amazing I can see it right now I think take out that while you do not need that dark little look over there we've got to get rid of that you know this this is this is going to be so great and started throwing out solutions, you know and obviously hadn't had time to analyze it or or study it and but yet the power of him throwing out you know, recklessly with abandoned solutions is what engaged to me and made me think this is who I want to work with. So from that day on I just absolutely uh I was convinced in was and it was reinforced again and again that go in with even this is on the pitch side this is not you know, once you've gotten the job but you're still instead of just well okay there's a joke a graphic design job there are very few of these it's about it's about the that well it's not a full on job, but what if you went to a design it what if you went to a doctor with a broken leg and he said, let me show you some pictures of beautiful knees I've reconstructed? Let me see let me show you some of the nice cast I made you I'm I can't think about anything but my project and so talking about your past work it's really pretty boring two clients it's the price of entry you have to have and with with your website up they know that you can do this work that should take about three minutes and then you need to move on to talking about what you can do for them and and this fear that I had of leaping to a solution that might not play out later when the research is completed when the facts are all in really fades in in comparison to the power of going in with ideas and in fact I made it I really institutionalized in my firm and I made it a practice of before a pitch that we'd sit around in a room we talked about pretend we have this job right now we've got to go we're going to do it let's brainstorm is if it was a start up meeting let's think about what would we do with this client based on all this little bit of information we have what would we do and that's so primed as to go in and start blurting out ideas right and left as if we were just thinking of them spontaneously it was very effective yeah I want to reiterate that really quick what you just said because that just hit me a lot a lot of us will go into these meetings and b above the attitude like I have to prove that I have the capability or I have to prove that I've got the experience or just take me seriously is kind of the attitude that a lot of people go into you go into it with more hey I already got the job here's what I'm going to do for you and then it becomes the focus is on them is that what you do exactly? And you assume that if you've got it into the meeting you've already passed that barrier of competency and that you're a legitimate player that you could you you know you're at the table so now let's talk so you paint a division for them examine it and people come alive without exactly they never they you know oftentimes it's something they had never thought of before may seem kind of obvious to you is the designer but but end the enthusiasm for what could be is very compelling and enthusiasm is an emotional word and the whole point of hiring a designer too do something for someone is to connect with emotions I mean basically you wanted the kitchen to be fabulous and feel right to you and to anyone who came to the kitchen you wanted people to have an emotional response to your kitchen so when the designer comes in and has an emotional outburst of what the possibilities are it's a natural on dh and when you do that with a client they let's begin to see how you can pour your emotion and to solve the problem so people will react to the work the way they would like to have reacted exactly they're hiring us exact to get a new emotional response exactly right? Yeah so it's it's and we talked about this yesterday it fundamentally are a most shins and our ability to tap into our emotions and our sensitivities is what people hire us for that's why creatives are valuable because we are closer to those emotions we do feel it before other people do and we poured into our work and so then you went on and you were you were uh you were doing a lot of annual report work and a lot of these new types of anna reports the social responsibility reports which have become increasingly significant ous corporations are trying to explain to their constituencies that they're not trying to hurt people exactly. No. Yeah. And that of course requires the ability also to translate the corporate story into something that's incredible to us a suspicious audience skeptical audience. And so how do you use design to convey credibility? Reliability were telling the truth here those are those are that requires tapping into the emotional state of the viewer, right? That was the whole assignment. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What do we call him? Social responsibility. The name that seems to have risen to the top is sustainability. Why say sustainability? Can you think of other instances where where uh, did you use? Let me ask it another way? Did you use emotional words when you were in pitch situations? Did you find yourself talking about feelings and uh well um sometimes um you know I mean in fact almost always what's most compelling is something is blending the rest shal and the emotional so so by no means do I minimize the strategic on dh rational and analytic side it's just that it can't be all by itself so the thie one of the great that I mean we as designers want to do great work we want to do work that's going tio thrill us as well as others and advance our careers and maybe give us great pride uh and and that work is going to this moment more than likely the work that's going to fill us with pride is his work that is really inventive and really different and really, um surprising that has some, uh, element of surprise and uh the that's hard to sell two clients sometimes they're suspicious there I haven't seen anything like that before, so one of the ways he bring the rational and the emotional together is having that strong foundation. So if you've done the strategy and analysis and the synthesis of what you've learned and you've presented a strategy that everyone has agreed on and you've done that in a nice linear way you brought in people and decision makers along the way and now everybody's in agreement that our strategy is for example, teo we've learned that this organization eyes seen by its consumers as indistinguishable from others in its field okay so now we have we have a pretty good case to make for doing something different on from a design point of view it doesn't call for doing the conventional familiar the tried and true so you as a designer can both exercise your urge d'oh break new ground and really be meeting the client's needs more effectively than if you did something that was familiar and tried and true so they're very response of being shocked and uneasy you can explain how that is exactly the response that's called for here because that's what will differentiate their product from the competition for example so they're surprised at your approach it's proof that it works instead of so instead of going uh oh we can't do that you could say well it's exactly the kind of reaction that we expected it's very good I love it nice so laying a ground worth work of logic for the emotional approach yeah and on the other the other thing that I just was kind of a big ha ha for me and that was very uh very really went through the first third or so of my career believing that it was a sin to want teo express your own personal design urges that that was somehow inappropriate that it should be entirely by the strategy and that being so personal expression I thought was a no no and on and also being a fashion victim and saying, oh, god, I would never use that typeface that's so last year, you know, and that that was really a big moment when I realized that the best designers that I worked with that I was drawn to work with were in fact, um, highly subject to fashion and style and highly, um, motivated by, um this is a new idea I want to try and and that they did that that was in their gut, that was what drove them and they did great work, so I thought, okay, there's, something wrong with my my analysis here and the key is not is to not be not be recklessly presenting, you know, the new style that you happen to have dreamed up last night without regard to the client's needs. But but within that strategic framework and and having a problem solving mindset and a commitment to, um, to meeting the client's needs the work that really does draw on some personal expression that comes from something comes from you, that's something that nobody else could do is the thing that's going to make it great. And, you know, we look out work that we admire that becomes iconic. Then there were all copying slave hisley that work was exciting because it was something really new and it came from within some person and that and it's completely unique to what that person could do and that is this valuable expertise that makes us worth the money exactly and it also makes that person unbeatable in a competitive situation so it is it is it is not tricky marketing technique it is actually the truth that on lee this group of people is capable of doing this kind of work and so uh, dear client choose us based on that and you will not have another choice yeah, you're no longer a commodity we're not a commodity, right? Exactly ask you brought it up a little bit talking about competition yes did you as you guys were out negotiating bidding for are you not responding to our peace? Whatever it is, we have a lot of photographers who watched so they are constantly meeting with potential clients. Do you concern yourself with competition? You concern yourself well have eyes you're you're you're presenting are you in some way like referring to competition or do you just focus on your own strength? You know, I think I think quite don't quite overtly, you know, like I'm sure the same when your firm is mine, you know like who's the competition, what other weak points? What can we do that they can't dio and I were competitors for years I noticed that she had some serious advantage way but yeah, we know very very, very competitive, very competitive and we were very, very aware of it very aware of it one of the pleasures of the stage of life that we're in now is we have the shared experiences and and we're no longer competitive but you know I mean we'd look att you know look at things damn did you see the lenhart group just did jan I wish we'd done that gorgeous exam yeah, exactly exactly and and often times we were in these uncomfortable situations where we were going in and out of the same presentation one after another always excruciatingly uncomfortable and you really had to I think I talked about this a bit yesterday you really had to get yourself up for it so that it didn't just knocked the wind out of you you needed to expect but being in a glass enclosed conference room presenting and seeing the competition the out of the way not my favorite thing happens all the time that happens all the time clients arrange it to make us to play on our vulnerabilities they do it deliberately but the strength is in the expertise and that's what you have to remember so the way to handle those feelings of anxiety and fear is to remember that this client can on ly get from you what you do so the expertise in the group that's in the room is their expertise alone, and they're not the same as the people waiting in the lobby. They're different and it's in that difference is important, and of course, it's always you always want to get the work, but at the same time, it was kind of subtle what you said, but you both kind of were like, oh, did you see what they did and focus on? And you noticed they are really good at this thing and that's not the thing that I'm really good at. I'm really good at this other thing which will help, which will bring clients to me because that's, what I do well, so it's focusing on what you're really good at and recognizing where that's different from your company were envy creeps in and course envy and anxiety and yes, yeah, yeah, jealousy. All these feelings are very much a part of this reality that we have that we have to live in, but, uh, and and the other thing that's interesting is that those feelings don't seem to ever go away. What what I have observed is that you I began to began to understand the feelings I understood that they were a signal that this was important, and I needed to be careful, uh uh, but then not be afraid of these feelings that they were completely normal. Um, but moved forward with confidence, knowing that I had some anxiety because I was in a competitive situation. And I'm sure you had the same experience. Great. Thank you. And that was fantastic. Great coming, it's young to be so great to have you, and thank you very much. Thank you.

Class Description

Core negotiation skills are essential for creative professionals, but negotiating can be fraught with fear, anxiety, and uncertainties. Join Ted Leonhardt to uncover the negotiating tactics that allow you to build the power and respect that lead to financial and creative freedom.

Throughout this course, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the common anxieties and vulnerabilities around negotiation and build the skills you need to keep those fears from holding you back. You’ll explore negotiation not as a bargaining session but as a collaboration in which you guide those you are negotiating with. You’ll also learn how to use time and context to define opportunities, create contracts instead of proposals, and align people with your vision. Because dealing with difficult personalities can be a challenging aspect of negotiation, you’ll build strategies for coping with and disarming bullies and naysayers. You’ll develop a negotiating style that doesn’t neglect the importance of kindness and good manners, but that also allows you to know and assert what your unique offering is worth.

Whether you’re just starting out as a freelancer or you’re a longtime creative professional, this course will equip you to know your worth and confidently ask for the opportunities and compensation you deserve.



While I walked away with some amazing knowledge and skills to apply to negotiation, more than anything, I appreciated the authenticity and humility with which Ted crafted and delivered all of the materials in this class. As a fellow creative, every word spoken in this course resonated with me on a deep level, and led me to retain and integrate the materials far better than I expected. A most sincere thank you to Ted for sharing these pieces of his inner life with us.

Kal Sayid

Love Ted. His desire to help creatives shines through. Lots of great nuggets as well as strategies for both the newbie creative and the veteran.

a Creativelive Student

Another terrific course from CreativeLive. I would and did recommend it for anyone, creative or otherwise. Most negotiation courses leave one with a "bad taste"-not this one. I vastly prefer this approach. My life would be very different right now if I had this information available when I first graduated from college with a BFA in Graphic Design. Oh, and an unmentioned bonus-a design agency soap opera is included. Ted is a marvelous teacher.