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Book Review: You Negotiate Like a Girl by Amy Trask

Full confession: I didn't know who Mrs. Trask was until about 2 years ago. That is my loss. After reading her book, listening to her interviews, and following her on Twitter, I realize I have missed a chance to know a smart, authentic, and genuinely great person. In other words, this review will be incredibly biased.

This isn't a business book at it's core, it is more like the focused history of a fascinating person. But the business lessons are there when you pay attention. Her work ethic, her attitude, her beliefs, her graciousness, and her success. Being the first woman (and many times the only woman) with the leaders of the NFL could have led her to be insulted or demeaned at times. She chose to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and focus on doing her job, not trying to right every perceived wrong. My guess is that no one who would ever have worked with Mrs. Trask would say she was a pushover, but she showed that strength and kindness go together quite well.

The thing that struck me most was a management principle I firmly believe, but didn't expect to find. She worked directly for Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders. As a sports fan, I saw his teams of renegades and his battles with the NFL and thought "this guy is a jerk". Reading the book I didn't come out thinking that the jerk persona was all media and he was a saint behind closed doors. Yet, here was a leader who focused on the best people for the job - regardless of race, color, gender, or anything else. Not exactly common for the time in which Mr. Davis was living.

Most importantly, it was clear that Mr. Davis cared about the people working for him. He wasn't thinking employee engagement (my guess is he would have said "What the F@%$ is that?"). Yet he cared about the people on a personal level. There were several stories that showed that Mr. Davis treated Mrs. Trask like a person, not an employee. Correction, he treated her like a valuable person.

How I wish we had more of that in the business world.

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