A $13 Billion Handshake

Mr. Joe Ordinary out there rarely considers how so-called “soft skills” carry any financial punch, much less could have the clout to impact billions of dollars. But one extra-ordinary Joe, legendary attorney Joe Jamail, proved how even the humble handshake can rock Wall Street.

Here’s what ordinary people miss that the extraordinary don’t: We make innumerable quasi-conscious judgments about people based on the power, or lack of it, in the way we shake hands. We rarely realize the power we hold in our hands to communicate trust and establish rapport. The simple truth is most people shake hands poorly. Yet, what could be more important right this minute, when there is so much confusion and uncertainty?

I predict: In the long run, he who understands the importance of soft skills, and obviously maintains reputable credentials, is the one who will send this recession packing.

While getting my MBA, I heard famed tort lawyer Joe Jamail explain how he won the famous $13 billion Pennzoil vs. Texaco case by proving the importance of a handshake. The ruling almost bankrupted Texaco, meaning handshakes are serious business, not some fuzzy-wuzzy. According to Texas Monthly magazine, Jamail’s genius was his ability to humanize complex legal concepts. As a result, Jamail’s take-home pay that day was $335 million, a staggering sum in 1984.

The power of a handshake remains undeniable, if not always on such a grand scale as with the dueling oil companies. So, let’s assume you choose to use your handshake more effectively. What do you do? Frankly, like most communication, a good handshake takes practice. In my work with executives and leaders, I have learned this simple axiom: Improve your handshake, and your confidence factor escalates. Credibility improves, interviewing techniques sharpen, and magnetism increases. Soft skills are often dismissed, that is until you wake up and realize: Such skills, far more often than mathematical models or technology, are what give many extraordinary people a sustainable competitive edge.

To learn more about handshakes, you gotta go to my website LodeStar Universal or, shameless plus and  even better, hire me to show you far more about the subtle communication skills that make such a difference.