Christopher Voss.png

Christopher voss

Former FBI Chief International Hostage Negotiator

Author of "Never Split the Difference"

CEO of the Black Swan Group

Expertise: hostage negotiations, building rapport, information elicitation

Pro Tools:

  • The Behavioral Change Stairway Model
  • Finding Black Swans 
  • Late-Night FM DJ Voice
  • Profiling negotiator types


Chris Voss is an expert hostage negotiator, having worked on over 150 international hostage crises.

He got his start providing support on a suicide assistance hotline. Then in 1992, he received hostage negotiator training at the FBI's school. Since then, he's held posts as a Crisis Negotiator for the New York City Division of the FBI, a member of the New York City Joint Terrorist Task Force, and the FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator.


Behavioral Change Stairway Model

Voss teaches that the key to influencing others is to first develop rapport and trust, even with hostage takers. Kidnappers too have emotional triggers and a need to be heard. Tools like active listening and empathy have been critical for navigating hostage negotiations with some of the most "dangerous" criminals.

Black Swans

 According to Voss, Black Swans are pieces of information that you as a negotiator don't know that you don't know. Even the most thorough preliminary research will not surface this intelligence - information such as your counterpart's greatest motivation right now or business challenges. Black Swans can be revealed  through conversation, and once extracted, can change the entire strategy or approach of the situation.

Judy Smith.png

judy smith

Crisis Manager

Inspiration behind the lead character of the show, "Scandal"

CEO of Smith & Company

Author of "Good Self, Bad Self"

Expertise: crisis management, public relations, communications

Pro Tools:

  • the POWER model for dealing with crises
  • the Big 7 Traits behind all crises


Judy Smith is a leading crisis management expert who has served high-profile clients like Monica Lewinsky, Michael Vick, Lesley Snipes, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

She previously served as Deputy Press Secretary to President George H.W. Bush as well as VP of Communications for NBC. In 2009, she began developing a TV show based on her career called "Scandal" and currently serves as an executive producer and advisor.


The Big 7 Traits

The same traits that can lead to our successes, when too far out of balance, can also lead to self-destruction.

Smith focuses on what she calls the Big 7 traits: ego, denial, fear, ambition, accommodation, patience, indulgences

The POWER model

Smith teaches her clients that their worst enemy is themselves and uses the POWER model to identify the key personal traits at the center of a crises. POWER stands for:

Pinpoint trait, Own it, Work through it, Explore it, and Reign it in

Judy Smith.png


Social Engineer & Convict

Formerly on the FBI's Most Wanted List for being the most dangerous hacker

CEO of Mitnick Security Consulting, LLC

Author of "Ghost in the Wires"

Expertise: social engineering, online and physical security, hacker

Pro Tools:

  • The Social Engineering Attack Cycle


Kevin Mitnick is famous for his high-profile cat-and-mouse chase running from the FBI that resulted in 5 years in a federal prison including 8 months in solitary confinement. According to Mitnick, law enforcement officials convinced a judge that he had the ability to "start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone."

Mitnick had hacked into over 40 major corporations to land a spot on the FBI's Most Wanted list. In his colorful criminal career, Mitnick intercepted and stole computer passwords, altered computer networks, broke into and read private e-mails, and sweet-talked his way into getting privileged access to proprietary information.

Today he helps companies avoid security penetration. "When it comes to security, people are the weakest link, not technology."


The Social Engineering Attack Cycle

Mitnick's outline of social engineering attacks is a popular educational tool among security experts. He defined the steps as:

1. Research  -  2. Develop Rapport & Trust  -  3. Exploit Trust  -  4. Utilize Information

And repeat. Steps 2 and 3 cover the human elements of cybersecurity. This often involves researching a staff member who has access to private information, such as a lower-level help desk staff member. The step of gathering research for a target is much easier today with online social networks and the blurring between private and work identities.



Robert Cialdini.png

robert cialdini


Author of "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion"

Most cited social psychologist

Expertise: principles of influence & persuasion

Pro Tools:

  • RASCaLS Model
  • Pre-suasion


Robert Cialdini's classic 1984 book, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion", was based on three "undercover" years applying for and training at used car dealerships, fund-raising organizations, and telemarketing firms to observe real-life situations of persuasion.

His conclusions have been used by many expert persuasion artists and spy agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency.



Cialdini's years of research on the science of influence can be distilled to these 6 universal principles that get people to say "yes":

Reciprocity, Authority, Scarcity, Commitment & Consistency, Liking, and Social Proof.



30 years after publishing the RASCaLS model, Cialdini tackled the tactics that separated the master persuaders from merely effective communicators. Optimal persuasion is achieved through pre-suasion, that is, the communicator's ability to put a target in a particular state of mind right before delivering a message.


vanessa van edwards.png

vanessa van edwards

Behavioral investigator

CEO of Science of People

Author of "Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People"

Expertise: research-based approach to charisma, body language, and lie detection 



Vanessa Van Edwards is a self-described "recovering awkward person" who takes a science-based approach to understanding people skills with a particular focus in pop psychology and communications.

Her lab has conducted research studies on TEDtalks, Shark Tank, and presidential inaugural addresses to isolate factors that make people persuasive.

Her friendly demeanor and bubbly personality provides a refreshing deviation from other teachers more experienced with darker, manipulative personalities.

vanessa van edwards.png

Scott adams

Hypnotist, Cartoonist, and Student of Persuasion

One of the earliest public figures to predict Donald Trump presidency

Creator of Dilbert

Author of "Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter"

Expertise: persuasion, linguistic "kill shots", cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias



Scott Adams put his reputation on the line by predicting a Donald Trump presidency when it was unpopular to praise the candidate about anything in mainstream media. 

He noticed in Trump a level of persuasion you only see once in a generation. Trump triggered massive cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias on both sides of the political spectrum. As a trained hypnotist, Adams teaches that people are hardwired to respond to emotion, not reason.

We might listen to 10 percent of a speech—a hand gesture here, a phrase there—and if the right buttons are pushed, we irrationally agree with the speaker and invent reasons to justify that decision after the fact. 

He distills the strategies Trump used to persuade voters in his book, "Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter."