Daniel Duty – Founder and CEO of Conlego

Stay focused. Understand what differentiates you and do that repeatedly.

Daniel Duty is an internationally known expert in the fields of negotiation, partnership building, joint business solutions and complex problem solving. He is the founder and CEO of Conlego, a firm specializing in these areas for business.

Daniel built the Business Partnerships and Negotiations team for Target where he developed its negotiations and partnership strategy and implemented a variety of tools, creating billions of dollars in savings and growth.

Daniel has led hundreds of negotiations on every conceivable topic with companies from private label producers to Coca Cola, Hasbro, and Levis. He developed strategic partnerships creating innovative new products and solutions with organizations like P&G, Starbucks and UNICEF.

Daniel has taught thousands of businesspeople in the art and science of negotiation and partnerships at companies, business forums and leading universities such as Harvard, Berkeley, and Northwestern.

Prior to joining Target, Daniel negotiated on behalf of US Senator Paul Simon, the US International Trade Commission, General Mills and other organizations.

Where did the idea for Conlego come from?

Everyone negotiates every day. In business, we negotiate with external vendors, suppliers and partners. Internally, we negotiate with other teams, office mates and managers. However, we observed very few companies develop and nurture effective negotiation and partnership skills in their people, nor do they develop negotiation strategies or plans that lead to successful outcomes. We decided there was an opportunity to both teach negotiation & partnerships skills, and develop and implement negotiation & partnership strategies and plans.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

On a typical day, the team is engaging in a mix of strategy, implementation and coaching. They are bouncing ideas off each other on how best to achieve a desired outcome, and working directly with business people on implementing negotiation and partnership strategies that drive higher value. To be productive, we set aside time each day to simply ideate, then assign a person to take ideas and bring them to life for discussion at our next meeting.

How do you bring ideas to life?

One way we bring ideas to life is by assigning a person to take the germ of an idea and develop it into something tangible the group can dissect. The other is to try out an idea with a receptive client, seeing how it works in real-life situations, then modifying as needed

What’s one trend that excites you?

One exciting trend is the move to more collaborative negotiations and partnerships as engagement tools in business to create more value, rather than competitive approaches that create winners and losers.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

While working for large corporations, much of any day was spent in meetings that often failed to move the agenda forward. As an entrepreneur, cutting out practically all meetings has made all of us extremely productive.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Think bigger! Have the confidence that your ideas are right.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Developing a working partnership with another always produces more value than a combativer negotiation, even if you have more power and leverage.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stay focused. Understand what differentiates you and do that repeatedly.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We focused a ton of energy on the people where we had built the most equity. A relatively small number of connections created the largest chunk of new business , connection and referrals,

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Thinking too small out of the gates. We now devote specific time to setting 1 mega goal that forces us to look at our business in a completely different way.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As a home owner, I would like a service that automatically takes care of all my seasonal home and yard maintenance needs – much like people in condos enjoy. Neighbors could buy the services on mass to lower costs.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Taking a potential client to a great dinner. In a world where engagement is done primarily through impersonal tools like email and linked-in, personal, face-face engagement still works best for closing the deal and building relationships.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Anything that removes maintenance tasks from managing our day-to-day operations to clear up space. I love Freshbooks for invoicing with automatic reminders, for example.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Getting to Yes by William Ury. This is the bible on how to engage in collaborative, value-creating negotiations.

What is your favorite quote?

“You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For”


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