Did you see the spoof movie Trump showed Kim? Genius.
I don’t know if you caught this the other day – I’m not sure how much press it got here.
Basically, Trump played a video to Kim Jong Un during his negotiations with him.
This is it here:
Basically, it’s a sort of mock movie trailer, casting the Donald and the Kim as the lead characters, on the verge of destiny, complete with husky-throated voice over and everything.
Yep. People were shocked. Shocked!
Who the hell plays people spoof movie trailers they made in a nuclear disarmament negotiation? Who does that?
Trump does that, and there is just so much to learn here.
I kind of don’t know where to start.
First up, the idea of playing a video during a negotiation is awesome – especially one that it naturally tense.
You see this sort of promo-video thing with big developments. It’s the kind of thing Trump would have played to investors when he was raising capital for a golf course or a hotel or something.
It’s selling the feeling – the felt experience of the offer – before you get into the nitty-gritty.
Key Lesson 1: Humans are fundamentally emotional creatures. A good vibe can save an ordinary set of numbers. A great set of numbers can’t save an ordinary vibe.
Of course, people freaked out that Trump was treating a nuclear disarmament negotiation like an investor road-show. You just don’t do that.
But one thing we know for sure about Trump is that he doesn’t listen to “you just don’t do that.” His natural instinct was to go to a negotiation technique that worked, and when his staff freaked out, he probably said, “why not?” And without a good reason, he just went ahead and did it.
Key Lesson 2: People will tell you ‘you just don’t do that’ a lot in life. Always question it.
Then the video itself is gold. It’s full of powerful visual imagery, and it’s tailored specifically for Kim. We know he loves movies and he loves basketball, so there’s rich references to those.
Key Lesson 3: Know who you’re working with. What are their pain-points? What turns them on?
The video then tosses out the old adversarial framing to replace it with a collaborative vision – the two leaders walking hand in hand into a glorious future. There’s no longer a winner and a loser anymore. It’s no longer Trump vs “little Rocket man”. There’s two winners or two losers. This is powerful.
Key Lesson 4: Build trust by selling win-win.
The video also seems squarely focused on Kim’s legacy. It’s about how he will be remembered – about the future he will deliver for his people. It’s great for the people of North Korea, but this is also Kim’s chance to be a hero.
Key Lesson 5: Sell the benefits, make them personal.
The more I think about this the more I love it.
So how would Trump have used this?
I imagine he would have sat down at the start of his meeting with Kim, and said, “We have the potential to do some great things today. Here, take a look at this little video we made – it’s just a bit of fun – but this is where we’re coming from.”
He wouldn’t have over-sold it. He would have kept it light. Kim would of seen it for the persuasive play that it was.
But that’s the thing about persuasion. It still works, even when you’re flagging all your moves in advance.
But it would have worked. It would have softened the tone of the meeting. It was a friendly gesture. I imagine it would have been a productive meeting.
And all the professors of Diplomacy are left scratching their heads wondering what the hell just happened.