I was delighted for the opportunity to take the stage at the ‘Junior Achievement’ event in Cyprus, sharing my experiences with the next generation of cultural crime watchers. In this blog, I summarise the key message from my speech.

Over the past 30 years, I learned how to be an expert negotiator as I took on the role of Icon Hunter. I had to strike deals with some morally compromised characters in my effort to recover and repatriate stolen artifacts from around the world, but as a child, I never imagined I’d be doing such things. I wasn’t a wheeler-dealer. Or was I?

The minute we’re born, we’re negotiating. We cry so we get milk or get our nappy changed. That’s deal number one.  We cry so we get a dummy or a comfort toy. That’s deal number two. Later in life, we negotiate with our parents on school grades or chores, or what rewards we might get if we do well.

We are natural dealmakers

Think carefully, and you will realize that each one of us negotiates daily with everyone around us.  We are natural dealmakers.  The type of a deal we cut can determine how successful we’ll become. A strategic thinker will cut a win-win deal.  A win-win deal has no losers, but two or more winners.  To cut such a deal, you must study your opponent and understand their strengths and weaknesses.  You need to delve into what is important to them and which deal they will go for.  It’s a study in psychology.

Never go into a negotiation without being prepared.  Do your research, know your material and have a handle on your business. Above all, though, you’ll need to know your competition like the back of your hand. Study your competitors and be sure you are confident when you enter that negotiation. Information will give you that confidence. Knowledge is power; it gives you control during a negotiation–the better you can predict how your opponent will react, the more likely it will be that you’ll strike a good deal.

Always have a number of scenarios to play with; don’t limit your options to the best scenario and the worst scenarios.  You’ll want to prepare for the scenarios that land somewhere in the middle because chances are, that’s where your negotiation will end up. Develop your tactics to position yourself and maneuver your opponent to strike the deal.

We all can, and should, contribute to the recovery of our cultural heritage. Please join me on the Walk of Truth to bring awareness to art trafficking and culture crime.