Making the Sale

Reading Caroline Tiger’s profile of Wharton professor and negotiation expert G. Richard Shell, “The Guru of Woo,” it occurred to me that this issue’s feature articles are all on some level about persuasion.

For our cover story, “Why Not Him?” Donny Deutsch W’79 bared his soul (his chest, anyway) to Jordana Horn C’95 L’99. Deutsch currently hosts the CNBC primetime talk show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, where he interacts with an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs, entertainers, executives, and others, in pursuit of “the American Dream.” He’d never hosted a TV show before, but didn’t view that as a handicap—more standard operating procedure. Just a few years after graduating from Penn, Deutsch talked his father into letting him run the older Deutsch’s advertising firm and in short order remade it—to great success—in his own flamboyant, rules-flouting, “occasionally schmucky” image. (That last descriptor, incidentally, comes from the business-advice book Deutsch wrote in between those two ventures, whose title—Often Wrong, Never in Doubt—reflects that same attitude, along with a natural showman’s sly self-awareness.)

As Beebe Bahrami Gr’95 notes in “Fit Enough,” choosing sides in the so-called debate between evolution and creationism has exactly nothing to do with whether Darwin was right—what matters is the actual “body of evidence.” Presenting that evidence is the idea behind Surviving, an ambitious exhibit that opened at the Penn Museum in April, which employs a variety of interactive features to show how the process of evolution made humans what we are today—for good and ill—and how it continues to affect us and everything else on the planet.

Alan Mann, the former professor of anthropology who curated Surviving, says the purpose of the show is “to make sure that everyone understands that evolution plays an [important] role” in their lives. Or, as co-curator Janet Monge put it, recalling the initial skepticism of creationist students in courses she has taught at Penn on human adaptation, “[afterwards] they said, ‘Hey, nobody ever showed me the data.’ You know what I mean? Show me the data.”

Since joining Penn’s faculty in 1986 after practicing as a lawyer, G. Richard Shell has become a much-lauded teacher at Wharton and a leading scholar and consultant on negotiation and strategic persuasion.

His 1999 book on negotiation, Bargaining for Advantage, has sold more than 120,000 copies, and spawned Wharton’s Strategic Negotiation Workshops, which Shell co-directs. His latest book, The Art of Woo, coauthored with Mario Moussa, shows readers how to do a better job of persuading others within their organizations—subordinates, co-workers, and bosses alike—based on their own personality type and by honing the ability to judge what will work best with the other person. (The rock-star Bono, by the way, is held up as a model Wooer, but there are lots of more conventional examples as well.)

 

The Alumni Awards of Merit were given a little out of season this year, with the 2007 ceremony moved to this spring from Homecoming Weekend last fall to accommodate the public launch of Penn’s $3.5 billion Making History campaign [“Seizing the Moment,” Nov|Dec]. But the change did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the friends, family, and admirers who gathered at the Annenberg Center in April for the awards presentation and dinner, nor lessen the gratitude of Penn Alumni for the outstanding contributions made by the volunteers who were honored. The Award Winners and their citations appear on page 64. Congratulations to all!

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