The Adventures Included A Stop In Delray

Highly recommended and a thorough joy.

A few years back, we went to a conference in New York City that featured two well-known keynote speakers: Bill Clinton and Rudy Guiliani.

President Clinton was making a comeback from heart surgery and Rudy was still riding the “America’s Mayor” mantle post 9/11. This was long before bizarre press conferences at landscaping companies with dripping hair dye.
But despite the pedigrees of the two aforementioned speakers, the guy that absolutely stole the show was a plain spoken man from Brooklyn named Herb Cohen.
Herb’s conference session was the single best presentation I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a bunch of good presentations. Nobody has ever come close.
Mr. Cohen was funny, informative and devishly charming and he gave the rapt audience actionable information they could apply to their lives and their businesses.
He spoke about the art of negotiation and if you think about it, we do a lot of negotiating in every aspect of our lives.
I left the session hungry for more information and when I returned to Delray Beach I Googled Mr. Cohen to learn all I could about this master negotiator who was funnier than the best stand up comics.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that Herb Cohen, Herbie to his friends and family, lived in Delray Beach!!!
Of all the gin joints in the world, Herbie lived in the town where I was serving as mayor.
I had to meet him.
So I sent an inquiry through his website and within a day heard back from his lovely wife and associate Ellen.
Herb would love to meet you, she wrote. Would we like to come to their home for brunch?
I jumped at the opportunity and Diane and I made a date with the Cohen’s.
We hit it off right away, like old friends, and I tried to contain my excitement. There were so many questions I wanted to ask Herb.
After all, he was considered the world’s best negotiator. He was the man that worked with Presidents Carter and Reagan on the Iranian hostage crisis, stared down the Russians in arms control talks and worked on labor negotiations with the auto unions and Major League Baseball. He basically invented the profession he was practicing, traveling the world working with Fortune 500 companies and other organizations who needed someone to come in and get deals done and disputes solved.
Maybe, he even had a few words of advice for a small town mayor?
We went to dinner a few times at New York Prime and we enjoyed every moment with Herb and Ellen.
Over the years, we lost touch, but I never stopped thinking about and admiring the man who wowed the crowd in NYC.
When I heard that his son, the bestselling author Rich Cohen, was working on a memoir of his dad’s life I pre-ordered the book and waited.
When the book—“The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: The World’s Best Negotiator” —arrived I devoured it in a few sittings. It’s a great book. Rich captures the unique character and life of an American original whose life also included helping the FBI create its famed behavioral unit and being best friends with Larry King and growing up with Sandy Koufax.
Pretty cool…
The book also inspired me to go back to the source material Herbie’s classic “You Can Negotiate Anything” which still sells well 40 years after being published.
I highly recommend checking it out (and then reading my book “Adventures in Local Politics “, sorry I couldn’t resist).
Anyway, we lost Ellen a few years back and Herb decided to move back to Brooklyn.  But for a brief shining moment, Delray was his home. It makes me wonder who else may be quietly residing in Delray or Boca.

Dream Plan Grow
I had the pleasure of appearing on Allison Turner’s wonderful podcast recently and I recommend you check out her series which includes conversations with local entrepreneurs.
Allison operates BatCat Media and is a business coach as well. She does important work well.
Here’s a link to our conversation.

The Entrepreneurial Mindset: Interview with Jeff Perlman

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