Master Negotiator William Ury — Proven Strategies and Amazing Stories from Warren Buffett, Nelson Mandela, Kim Jong Un, Hugo Chávez, and More (#721)


Illustration via 99designs

“The other side’s dignity may not mean much to you, but it means everything to them.”

— William Ury

William Ury (@WilliamUryGTY), cofounder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, is one of the world’s best-known and most influential experts on negotiation. He is coauthor of Getting to Yes, the all-time best selling negotiation book in the world, the author of one of my favorite books on negotiation (Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations), and author of the new book: Possible: How We Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict.

He has served as a mediator in boardroom battles, labor conflicts, and civil wars around the world. An avid hiker, he lives in Colorado.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyOvercastPodcast AddictPocket CastsCastboxGoogle PodcastsAmazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by Helix Sleep premium mattresses; AG1 all-in-one nutritional supplement, and Shopify global commerce platform, providing tools to start, grow, market, and manage a retail business.

#721: Master Negotiator William Ury — Proven Strategies and Amazing Stories from Warren Buffett, Nelson Mandela, Kim Jong Un, Hugo Chávez, and More

This episode is brought to you by AG1! I get asked all the time, “If you could use only one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually AG1, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG1 further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

Right now, you’ll get a 1-year supply of Vitamin D free with your first subscription purchase—a vital nutrient for a strong immune system and strong bones. Visit to claim this special offer today and receive your 1-year supply of Vitamin D (and 5 free AG1 travel packs) with your first subscription purchase! That’s up to a one-year supply of Vitamin D as added value when you try their delicious and comprehensive daily, foundational nutrition supplement that supports whole-body health.

This episode is brought to you by ShopifyShopify is one of my favorite platforms and one of my favorite companies. Shopify is designed for anyone to sell anywhere, giving entrepreneurs the resources once reserved for big business. In no time flat, you can have a great-looking online store that brings your ideas to life, and you can have the tools to manage your day-to-day and drive sales. No coding or design experience required.

Go to to sign up for a one-dollar-per-month trial period. It’s a great deal for a great service, so I encourage you to check it out. Take your business to the next level today by visiting

This episode is brought to you by Helix SleepHelix was selected as the best overall mattress of 2022 by GQ magazine, Wired, and Apartment Therapy. With Helix, there’s a specific mattress to meet each and every body’s unique comfort needs. Just take their quiz—only two minutes to complete—that matches your body type and sleep preferences to the perfect mattress for you. They have a 10-year warranty, and you get to try it out for a hundred nights, risk-free. They’ll even pick it up from you if you don’t love it. And now, Helix is offering 20% off all mattress orders plus two free pillows at

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Want to hear my most recent interview with Jim Collins, the man who inspired William Ury to write Possible? Listen to our conversation here in which we discussed the point allocation between dark force motivations and light force motivations, why you should never hesitate to reach out to mentors and people who have been instrumental in shaping your life, influential biographies, crafting good questions, creativity-tracking spreadsheets, the 20-minute rule, the value of clock building over time telling, and much more. You can find my first conversation with Jim Collins here.

#483: Jim Collins on The Value of Small Gestures, Unseen Sources of Power, and More


  • Connect with William Ury:

Website | Twitter | LinkedIn


  • [06:53] Connecting with Roger Fisher.
  • [10:08] Devising Seminars.
  • [12:31] Negotiating the Camp David Accords.
  • [18:23] Writing the other side’s victory speech.
  • [21:17] Writing Kim Jong-un’s victory speech.
  • [26:20] Pondering possibilities in the modern Middle East.
  • [29:26] Lessons from iconic possibilist Nelson Mandela.
  • [32:17] Going to the balcony.
  • [36:11] Mitigating the risk of emotional spiraling with Hugo Chávez.
  • [40:50] The power of silence.
  • [44:09] Respect and saving face.
  • [51:08] Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA).
  • [1:02:49] The trust menu.
  • [1:06:29] The positive no.
  • [1:12:14] Closing on a positive note.
  • [1:14:56] What prompted William to write Possible?
  • [1:19:38] Negotiating as a creative endeavor.
  • [1:22:48] Sabbatical considerations.
  • [1:23:56] Exercise and self-care routines.
  • [1:29:27] Uncovering interests, not just positions.
  • [1:35:18] Hopes for the impact of Possible.
  • [1:37:25] Parting thoughts.


“No one likes to make a hard decision, but everybody loves to criticize.”
— William Ury

“Work backwards, think about what victory would look like, and then work forwards.”
— William Ury

“Maybe the greatest power you have in a negotiation is the power not to react. It’s the power to go to the balcony instead.”
— William Ury

“Silence is one of your very best tools in a negotiation. The art of pausing.”
— William Ury

“The other side’s dignity may not mean much to you, but it means everything to them.”
— William Ury

“A persuasive negotiator is someone who’s a persuasive listener. Because when you listen to someone, you are seeing them, you are hearing them, you’re attuning to them. You ask them questions. What is it that you really want here? You’re showing interest in them. That is the basic level of respect. And in addition to that, it gives you a lot of information about what they want so that you can more effectively influence them to arrive at something that satisfies their needs and satisfies yours at the same time.”
— William Ury

“My whole life has been, in some ways, a study of the words ‘yes’ and ‘no.’”
— William Ury

“The path to possible is to go to the balcony, build a golden bridge, and take the third side. Influence yourself, influence the other, influence the whole.”
— William Ury

“My dream is if I were a Martian anthropologist right now looking at humanity and I’d say, ‘Wow, we live in this time of paradox because we have so much abundance, so much potential, so much opportunity to make the world better. We’ve got the technology, we’ve got AI, we’ve got all this stuff.’ At the same time, what’s in our way? There’s no limit to what we could do. There’s no opportunity we can’t realize. There’s no problem we can’t solve if only we can learn to work together.”
— William Ury


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.


Leave a Reply

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