Negotiate, Negotiate and Negotiate – What We Can Learn from Jennifer Lawrence and Sheryl Sandberg

“American Hustle” actress Jennifer Lawrence revealed that when she found out both she and co-star Amy Adams were only getting 7% of profit while her male costars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale and Jeremy Renner were each getting 9%, she got mad at herself first.  She admitted: “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.  I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult” or ‘spoiled.’”


In her international bestseller “Lean In,” Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook tells her story when Mark Zuckerberg offered her the job.  She confesses that she only started to negotiate hard until a male friend urged her to. 

A few years ago, I was offered a job after three rounds of interview that spanned from September to December.  After my recruiter got the new company to match my then employer’s vacation schedule, he flat out refused to further negotiate my salary on my behalf. 

If Jennifer Lawrence and Sheryl Sandberg, women of great means and remarkable accomplishments were reluctant to negotiate, average women like me face more resistance when we strive to be taken seriously.  To my credit, I did not accept the offer that the recruiter tried to jam down my throat.

It’s said that in business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.  I did not receive any formal training on negotiation, not even in the MBA school.  When a former boss noticed my weakness in that regard, he signed me up for a 2-day negotiation workshop, which taught me to look at my work and personal life from a fresh perspective.  How I wish I had learned to negotiate effectively early on, and I could have gotten more plum assignments, more vacation days, more schedule flexibility and yes, more money throughout my career. 

Therefore, when Randy Hecht invented a new educational board game called It’s A Squirrel’s Life™, I saw an opportunity to incorporate a negotiation element in its rules.  Since this is a competitive game, we instituted a trading post where players can trade with each other different food pieces such as pumpkin, strawberry and acorn.  As the

game gets more intense and players get closer towards the goal, each player’s extra food pieces all of a sudden carry different values.  It’s up to the players to bargain with each other, and they have to “pay market price” to obtain the missing while necessary food pieces to win.  This dynamic pricing structure is what Uber, Los Angeles Opera and airlines use to determine pricing and availability.  The sooner children know about and practice it, the better and more at ease they are at it.  


Dear parents, grandparents and teachers, kids these days are growing up in an entirely new economy, where disruption and innovation are to be expected and demanded.  It’s A Squirrel’s Life is a throwback to the days when families spent quality time together laughing and playing, and children get to practice basic math and negotiation while having fun.  We hope you all enjoy it.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *