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President Trump vs. Harley-Davidson

Published: Aug 20 , 2018
Author: Brian Buck

Apple pie, grandma, baseball, and Harley-Davidson - it doesn’t get more Americana than that. Can you imagine Harley-Davidson folding up shop and leaving Milwaukee, Wisconsin? If you’re following the war of words over tariffs between President Trump and Harley-Davidson, that’s an absolute possibility. How can Harley-Davidson stay an American company and President Trump get his tariffs?

The feud started when President Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing. The European Union (EU) responded by promising to raise tariffs on American imports, including Harley-Davidson (HD) motorcycles. HD claims it stands to lose as much as $100 million a year. As such, the company pledged to shift some of its production abroad so that it could avoid the added tariffs on motorcycles sold in the EU.

President Trump’s opinion is that HD is using the European retaliatory tariffs as "an excuse" for moving manufacturing abroad. President Trump claims the company planned to shift some operations to Thailand before the tariffs were even announced.

So who’s right? Partisanship aside, it’s tough to predict because we are dealing with two opinions. HD’s opinion is it will lose money. President Trump’s opinion is HD was going to move anyways. If both parties can’t find a way to resolve their difference of opinions, they are headed for assured deadlock.

If you’ve ever tried to change someone’s opinion, you know how difficult it can be. Could you imagine trying to get a Los Angeles Dodgers fan to embrace the San Francisco Giants or vice versa? (As a die-hard Dodger fan, I can assure you it’s not going to happen!) Sadly, lots of time gets wasted at the negotiation table trying to persuade people to change. We often times over persuade to the point where we actually annoy or anger the other party. When your convincing” argument is not working, it’s time to move on.

Like sports fans, negotiators can settle their differences with a bet. The premise is simple, if my opinion comes true you do ‘X’ and if your opinion comes true, I’ll do ‘Y’. The same could be applied to settle the feud between President Trump and HD.

The potential wager could be, if HD loses money due to the EU retaliatory tariffs, then the US will provide tax relief to HD to offset the losses as long as HD doesn’t move production overseas. However, if HD sales increase then HD will pay incremental taxes to the US. From there, let the market play out and see who was right. No need to continue bickering.

Who wants to bet they don’t do that and they keep bickering?

 

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About the author:

Brian Buck
Sure, we could whip up a snappy bio about Brian’s experience as an entrepreneur, business owner, and Fortune 500 executive. While we’re at it, we could go on for an afternoon about his 20 years in marketing and advertising, developing brilliant consumer-engagement strategies for the likes of Google, Amazon, Samsung, Virgin Mobile, Microsoft, and Sony. But knowing Brian, he’d rather we not. Instead, he’d likely ask us to focus on something else — namely, other people ...

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Jumping the Shark

My client was sharing with me a negotiation he was involved in that was, as he put it, “jump the shark” worthy. He was very enthusiastic about it. In fact, he was hopeful that it was going to lead to more opportunities for him. He said his client thought the negotiation was “jump the shark” worthy too. As I listened to his positivity and enthusiasm, I started to realize that his definition of “jump the shark” is very different from mine. Quoting Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, I told him, “I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.” A panicked expression came across his face as he realized what it meant for his negotiation, and he quickly transitioned into techniques for avoiding the sharks altogether.

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