We recently sat down with Harvard Business School and HBX Negotiation Mastery Professor Mike Wheeler to talk about negotiation, close encounters with sharks, and his internal timekeeping superpower.
What’s the biggest misconception about negotiation?
That it's an innate skill - something that you're either born with or that you'll never have. That's ridiculous!
The hardest part about developing my HBX course was ______________.
Making sure the passion that my colleagues and I have for negotiation is understood, and ultimately shared by, the students who will take our course.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love learning from my students, especially when they spot issues or raise questions I hadn't anticipated.
Finish this sentence: When I’m not at work, you can find me _________________.
In my hometown of Gloucester, MA, where I still see friends I went to kindergarten with years ago.
How would you describe yourself?
I'd say that I'm curious, optimistic (for the most part), and a bit of a contrarian.
What’s your personal motto?
“For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”
– Journalist and essayist H.L. Mencken
What's the best book you’ve ever read?
Right now I'd say Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in one Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.
What was your favorite subject in school?
I was an American Studies major in college. I loved the mix of history, literature, economics, and the arts (and still do)!
Where do you get your news from?
An eclectic mix of sources. I probably spend less time than most people on so-called breaking news. I'm more interested in longer-term developments.
What’s the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
In the summers when I was in high school and college, I worked on a commercial tuna boat. The striker would harpoon these giant fish (mostly 500-800 pounds). Then, another guy and I would be put into a dory to haul them in. I've had some interesting encounters with whales and one particular shark.
People would be surprised if they knew ______________.
If you look quickly, you can spot me in the movie Love Story as a Cornell hockey player.
Do you have a hidden talent?
It's not exactly a talent, and it's both weird and utterly worthless: when I wake up in the morning, I usually know what time it is almost to the minute without looking at a clock.
If you could travel anywhere in the world (that you haven’t yet been) where would you go?
Sailing around Cape Horn - though I'm mindful of the adage, "Be careful what you wish for."
What's the best advice someone has ever given you?
A professor in college, Henry Steele Commager, told me, "Do what you most love, and everything else will take care of itself."
Want to learn from Professor Wheeler? Apply to his new HBX course, Negotiation Mastery: Unlocking Value in the Real World.