I wanted kids. NOW.
Josh wanted kids. Eventually.
What’s a girl to do when she is ready for major life changes and her partner is not? When it was time (according to me) to get married I went with nagging and demanding with a soft ultimatum. And I got my way…eventually. I remember one year I was convinced Josh was going to pop the question for my birthday. Instead he gave me a sword. My friend Jen thought that was ballsy – giving a girl a weapon when she expects a diamond. I digress…
Josh and I were together for 7 years before he proposed. There was no way I was waiting another 7 (or more!) to have a baby. So I pondered everything I know about getting my way. My conclusion was something I learned from my marketing career: to get what you want, you need to know your audience and position in terms that are beneficial for them. We’re talking win-win, people. And we’re talking about convincing a man who was very content with our life to accept a drastic change in our lifestyle that included: sleepless night, less sex, a cranky wife, whiny kids, and less overall “adult time”.
Even tougher when trying to convince a man that is an engineer by education, a sales guy at heart, and an executive by day.
I did what any good marketer would do. I devised a 3-part plan that would be executed over the course of 6 months. I promised that I would knock off the baby talk for all those months, during which time we could both ponder what we want, why we wanted it, and when we wanted it. I let Josh know that I was creating a powerpoint sales pitch that I would deliver at the end of the oh-so-hard-not-to-mention-babies– 6 months. Yes, you read that right. I created a powerpoint slide deck to sell my husband on the concept of having a baby. NOW. (have I mentioned I am really impatient?)
Getting to know my audience: Research
I asked myself, “what do I know about Josh?…what are his motivations?…what are his objections?…what FUD is out there that I need to overcome?”
Then I started asking other people, “why did you choose to have / not have babies?…did you wait? What are the benefits you have gained in having kid(s)? are you happy with your decisions? Would you do anything differently?”
The answers I got were wildly different but they gave me a glimmer of hope that I could, in fact, get what I wanted.
Testing my theory: Focus Groups
Once I formulated a theory and some core messages — based on my research — of what would get Josh on the baby bandwagon immediately, I started running focus groups.
My focus groups included a wide variety of people: from close friends to acquaintances, single people that detest kids (they were key in my message testing), parents that wish they waited longer to have kids, parents that think kids are their greatest gift, couples who chose not to have kids…men, women, single people…the list was extensive.
I pretty much would talk to anyone, at any time on this subject. It’s amazing how interested people are in participating when you tell them “I am creating a powerpoint to convince my husband to have kids. Can I ask you a few questions”?
My final presentation included:
– Why now? This included 7 supporting arguments ranging from mathematical calculations to reminding Josh that having kids means we kind of get to be kids again
– Kids can be helpful. This slide included pictures of our friends kids helping out around the house. I called it “slave labor” when I presented it to Josh
– Kids can be fun. This slide showed pictures of our friends doing fun things with their kids…fun things that I know Josh wanted to do but wasn’t finding time for
– Why not? Classic overcoming objections slide. The background was a picture of my grandmother holding my cousin Chanel as a baby (Chanel has a Ferrari key in her hand). But my main argument here was “conceiving is fun!”
– I’m worried, are you? I reinforced that we were feeling the same terror and we could overcome it together.
– Testimonials. Testimonials from our friends (especially his) on the joys of parenting. Managing a customer engagement program really came in handy on this one.
– Happy dad’s we know. More pictures! Visuals are important. This slide had pictures of dad’s with their kids…smiling and having fun
– Let’s get started! When we got to the closing slide I held up a bottle of wine and suggested that if he simply said “yes” we could get started immediately
Look! It worked! Here is Marlee at her first summer of camp – the same camp Josh went to.
I was so persuasive – or maybe Marlee did such a good job living up to my claims – it was easy to convince Josh to have another go. And then came Lila Pearl.
Get what YOU want…NOW!
The concepts here are simple but not always easy to apply. Here is how you can apply my learning to any situation –
Begin with the end in mind. Thank you, Stephen Covey for teaching me this in the book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Start with what you want the outcome to be , then work backwards to formulate your message (note: message, not argument)
With Josh my “end” was clear: I want a baby!
Ask yourself what do I want? Often we start these conversations by focusing on what we don’t want…stay positive and stay focused. Once you identify the object of your desire, imagine the moment you’ll get it and beyond. This will open up all of your creative energy.
And that is what led me to the crazy idea of creating a PPT to convince Josh the time was right.
Know your audience. Do your research and know your audience. What do they want? What motivates them? What outcomes are they looking for? Do they have fears? Objections? What do they need to hear, see, or believe to say “YES” to your request?
Again, my audience was a guy that is an engineer by education, a sales guy at heart, and an executive by day. I knew him very well – much better than when I used nagging and ultimatums to secure a proposal.
Go for the win-win. Again, thanks, Stephen Covey! Whatever you’re asking for, make sure you are positioning the benefits to the other person. The other person doesn’t care about what YOU want; they care about how it will affect, or benefit THEM.
I’m really not sure which of my amazing arguments convinced Josh to say yes. Maybe it was my outfit that he couldn’t resist at that moment, and not anything in particular that I presented.
Be mindful of timing. Read your audience. If your spouse, child, co-worker, boss…is having a bad day, and the conversation can wait…wait. The timing of a difficult conversation is equal to the importance of location for your home or business.
Admittedly, I didn’t know this when I pitched Josh on having a baby but I have since figured it out.
Use the right tools. Powerpoint doesn’t work for everyone. Know what tool(s) will work for you.
I went with a triple whammy: well-thought out positioning delivered through powerpoint, super cute outfit, and a closing argument that couldn’t be refused.
Ask other people for input. Get out of your own way. You don’t have all the answers so ask others to help you. It will make your message stronger and help you understand the other persons point of view.
For me focus groups were the answer but you don’t have to be so formal. Talk to someone you trust; even better if that person is an expert on your situation.
Be flexible. Knowing what you want the outcome to be is important but don’t sweat the details. Don’t worry about HOW you’ll get what you want or the journey to get there.
Josh actually didn’t immediately agree to my “let’s get started!” Instead he negotiated 2 conditions: we had to talk to our financial advisor and we had to have one last kid-free vacation.
We went on vacation 6 weeks later.
I was already pregnant.