Learning How to Negotiate in Australia with My Brother Mike


It was 25 years ago that Mike, Mom and I flew to Australia for my sister Marilyn’s wedding.

It’s was a long flight and Mike was telling me about a book he’d read on the principles of negotiation.

The number one rule is that you have to be able to walk away from the deal.”

When we landed in Sydney, it was early in the morning and we hadn’t slept all night. We crashed in our hotel room. Mike and I woke up after a short snooze and looked around. The place was a dump. We agreed that we didn’t want mom staying there. Mike thought, with the rules of negotiation, we could do better.

We set out for dealmaking.

We quickly realized that the part of town we were in was not the best. Our goal was a luxury room at a bargain price. We needed to do some footwork and gather information. Mom would be sleeping for a while, so we had plenty of time to walk around the city, stopping into numerous hotels to get a feel for the rates.

It became clear that most of the hotels were sadly vacant. Within a short amount of time, old Zeke (Mike’s nickname) and I realized we easily had the upper hand.

Even as we were in the “gathering information” stage, it was obvious that these hotels did not want us walking out the door. Mike decided that not only were we going to get a great place, we were also going to have full breakfast thrown in. That would be the deal sweetener.

We narrowed it down to a few hotels in a prime Sydney location. We were trying to stay neutral about which place we wanted, to aid in our negotiating ability. One hotel offered us an amazing view with a rooftop pool. Mike pretended he could care less about that; the thing he wanted was a free breakfast for three, “can you do that”?

In the end, we got an amazing deal and ran back to wait for mom to wake up. She might not have liked walking up all the stairs at the new hotel, as my mom hated elevators, but the view was fantastic.



Mike relaxed by the pool.



Mom enjoyed the view in her own way.



She had fun getting to know the locals.



Then we left Sydney and flew up to Brisbane where my sister Marilyn was getting married.



Marilyn took us to an animal park.


Mike’s negotiating skills did not come in as handy there.


My sister Marilyn’s wedding was beautiful and fun.  She and Paul recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.



Sadly, my mom died five years later, on my brother Mike’s birthday, May 4th, which was 20 years ago today. All of my siblings and I are thinking of her now, because we love our mom and still miss her.



Every year now, it’s the same. Happy Birthday Mike. We miss you Mom.



  1. Great job Marje! Had my plane ticket, my passport, and visa…was all ready to go to Australia for Marilyn & Paul’s wedding but I had been recently laid off and I had that 3rd interview for a job that conflicted. When you have 2 kids and a new house and no job, you have to go to the 3rd interview. I always regretted it Marilyn but I stayed at that job for 7 years so it all worked out.

    1. Yeah, that was tough, but you got the job! I say we get our butts over to visit Marilyn soon Greg, let’s do it!

    2. You did the right thing, Greg. No need for regrets. We’re still here and you’re welcome anytime. Our house is kind of like a resort…nice pool and tropical garden…you can’t beat the weather in Brisbane!

  2. Wow…what a great story!! I don’t remember the.part about the negotiations but that was excellent. I’m so glad to be able to read that and know all the players and laugh and cry at the same time. Jane was the best.

    And Mike with the ostrich. ..I’m cracking up.

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