Ron Named One Of Top Ten Sports Power Players In Maryland

Jeff Cochran


Recently, PressBox named the Top Thirteen Sports Power Players in Maryland. For each ranking, they calculated a numerical impact score from factors such as: “overall wealth, financial success and social influence; the value of their sport enterprise; the influence their work has had on other places or people in sport; their philanthropy efforts in the community or across sport; their community engagement; and the strength of their particular brand in the sports industry.”


Ron Shapiro, Chairman and Co-Founder of SNI, ranked #7, recieving an 8.9/10 impact score, only ranking under team owners and the CEO of Under Armour.  When Pressbox described his impact throughout Maryland they noted that: “Team owners, business leaders and civic leaders keep Shapiro on speed dial because he is known for his deft touch in dispute resolutions, business transactions, public relations and negotiations. Shapiro has served as chairman of the boards of more than 25 civic and charitable organizations. His impact score is derived from his network of relationships in sports and the many organizations that have relied on his influence in setting their course and direction.”

SNI congratulates and thanks Ron for his incredible impact.


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Optimizing Your Corporate Training Program

Jeff Cochran


High turnover and worker attrition rates in the recent economy have left many businesses short of staff or working with a bunch of new hires who lack a grasp on the business. In addition to this, the last several years have produced some significant changes in the philosophy of worker training. Applying these new tips and techniques for training your workforce can get your business working more smoothly and make your employees more confident that they understand their roles.


Cross-Training Isn’t Just For Fitness

In order to deal with the high turnover rates of recent years, many businesses have on-boarded a group of less experienced employees to fill those roles. What may make more sense for many companies, however, is to cross-train existing employees. Many individuals already on your team can handle more responsibility, and more time on the job will have given them a clearer sense of how those responsibilities fit into the larger corporate scheme. A group of cross-trained senior employees will outperform a group of new employees tasked with a single role.


Training Is A Game

Gamification is one of the new tricks in employee training that has come about in the last few years. Turn training into a large-scale game, with tasks and quests that your employees must complete. This element of fun helps to keep employees engaged and motivated to participate in training activities. In this respect, training employees can be like working with children – learning needs to be fun for workers to engage enthusiastically, which is why turning training into a game is so effective.


Embrace Technology

More and more training can be done on an individual basis using technology, rather than in group settings. Employees today are increasingly comfortable using technology in all parts of their lives, and work training should be no exception. eLearning and other digital formats may hold the attention of workers who spend much of their time using technology.


Understand Their Goals

There is a large psychological element to training techniques today. If you better understand the goals of your employees, you will be able to motivate them more effectively. Helping your employees to pursue their own goals gives them an incentive to engage fully with the training process. Other psychological tools utilized in best training practices in recent years include providing positive reinforcement and embracing different learning styles. If you provide employees with training materials best suited to their learning style, they are more likely to retain the information.

World Business Forum

Jeff Cochran



Join SNI at the 2013 World Business Forum. On October 1-2, thousands of business leaders will gather from around the globe for this event at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Speakers include: Jeb Bush | Gordon Brown | Ben Zander | Jack Welch | Sam Palmisano | Nancy Koehn | Claudio Fernández-Aráoz | S.D. Shibulal | Bob Moritz Maggie Wilderotter | Denise Morrison | Clayton Christensen | Alec Ross | Steve Levitt | Stephen Dubner.

When is SNI’s session and what is it about?

On September 30th, our Co-founder and Chairman, Ron Shapiro, hosts an official pre-Forum workshop, “The Power of NICE: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins – Especially You.” Discover the systematic process to negotiation that helps you close more deals, faster, and at higher margins while maintaining an ongoing relationship. Find out why companies such as ESPN, Sherwin Williams, Ryland Homes, PwC, Verizon, San Antonio Spurs, and the Corporate Executive Board choose SNI for sales, negotiation, and influence training. To find out more about SNI’s pre-Forum session and to register with the discounted price, please go to:


Teaching Negotiations in a Typhoon

Jeff Cochran



By: Jeff Cochran, SNI Master Facilitator.

During the middle two weeks of August, Chip Tames and I were fortunate enough to be in the Philippines teaching and coaching negotiations skills. During our second week there, the rains generated by Typhoon Maring caused wide spread flooding throughout Metro Manila. Quezon City and Makati were the hardest hit. Unfortunately, many of our participants lived in those areas. As a result, a few of the days of training were sparsely attended as some folks were unable to leave their homes on impassable, flooded streets.

My colleagues back in the states, upon hearing the news were concerned and curious how we coped with the flooding. I honestly told them that we coped the same way we do in the Northeast when there is a bad winter storm. The safety of the participants was our highest concern, and we told everyone if they could not make it in safely to stay home, and if they could make it in safely we would see them tomorrow. In fact, it was exactly how we cope with natural disasters everywhere.

People often ask, “How do you teach negotiations in such diverse cultures?” My response always is that wherever you go, people are people and there may be subtle nuances, but the basic tools remain valuable everywhere. The flooding in Metro Manila reminded me of that. Monsoonal Flooding is very different from a Winter Nor’easter that causes a blizzard, but folks respond pretty much the same way. They hunker down, make sure their family is safe and rely on their neighbors to help them out if they get in a real jam. It’s nice to know that regardless of subtle differences as the result of culture, humanity remains basically the same all over.

Asking The Right Questions

Jeff Cochran


Asking The Right Questions Means Changing How We Listen

We all want to seal the deal – to close the sale when we’re talking to a potential client. To that end, the questions we ask as salespeople often turn out to be the questions with answers we want to hear. This means that we aren’t clearly listening to our clients. So, while you may close the sale with this technique, you won’t come away with any new insights or a stronger relationship with your client. Asking the right questions can change that.


There Are No Stupid Questions…

 …Except maybe the ones you already know the answer to. Don’t waste your time, or your customers’ time, with questions to which you already know the answers. This doesn’t mean not to ask questions, however. You should ask plenty of those. And each answer should lead you to a new question. Find out what difficulties your clients are having with a project. Ask them about their solutions. Test out these questions next time you talk to a client:

  • What projects are your top priorities right now?
  • What difficulties are you having with those projects?
  • How are you managing those problems?
  • What is the timeline for that project?
  • Who is working on the project?
  • How were those individuals chosen?

Asking open-ended questions will get you the furthest when talking to clients. Give them time to discuss their situations. This not only provides you with information about your client, but it also creates a relationship of trust between you and them. That kind of relationship will encourage your clients to come to you next time they have a problem because they know you will listen thoroughly and try to come to an answer collaboratively.


Close Listening And Listening Closely 

If you are asking the right questions, then there are only two other things you need to do in order to build an effective bond between yourself and your clients. The first is close listening. This means asking clarifying questions. Because, as it turns out, good listening ends up looking a lot like asking good questions. Get your clients to explain different components of their problems in more detail and practice your close listening skills.

The last tactic for more successful conversations is to listen closely. This translates into repeating back what you heard in your own words to make sure you have understood your client correctly. Tell them what you heard and then listen closely to their response. Did they affirm your understanding or correct it? Absorb this information and ask more questions. There’s no such thing as too many.