Winning Conversations: How to turn red tape into blue ribbon


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The average piece of business advice to an executive takes about 8 hours of your and your team’s time to prepare and 15 minutes to deliver.

Those 15 minutes simply cannot be wasted.

Winning Conversations unpacks lessons learned over my 30 year career as a consultant in an easy to remember and use methodology. It is a “how to” book for those pursuing the fine art of influence and persuasion.

The tools and techniques in the book are backed up by decades of research by esteemed academics and business practitioners. However, it is written in practical terms from my personal experience in the school of hard knocks. Years of trial and error have given me the answer to how to cut through with your advice.

As the old saying goes, if I knew then what I know now, my journey would have been much, much easier. Do yourself a favour and take a shortcut on this one and read this book!

Click here to read articles about Winning Conversations: How to turn red tape into blue ribbon, published in some of Australia’s leading newspapers, industry magazines and online news sites.

Book Reviews

“Winning Conversations is in my consciousness and I apply the wisdom in my day to day interactions (with the muppets).”

‘…this thought-provoking book provides valuable insights.’

Anyone who wants to cut through and make a difference will find this thought-provoking book provides valuable insights. More than self-improvement and analysis, the examples, models and stories provide tools that can be used straight away with immediate positive effect.

Dr Marlene Kanga, Board member,
Sydney Water Corporation and Airservices Australia


‘… it is a win-win outcome for everybody.’

This book is primarily targeted at practitioners, mainly those in an advisory and or management role in their organisations. However, it should also be of interest to academics who want to understand the imperatives driving practitioners, and ways in which they think and work and, perhaps, apply any academic theories to that role. For years, many have argued for greater interrelationship and learning between the two parties. The book is written in a conversational style that is easy to comprehend. I can actually hear Bryan talking to me. In fact, the reason that it took so long for me to read the book is that I was constantly asking myself how had I gone about advising, being advised and persuading over many decades and what I had learnt and should have learnt. The book has to be approached with an open mind. It is a journey that takes time and effort as indeed has the contribution of the author. If you are a ‘people person’, you will be encouraged and learn- and actually achieve –  better results. If you are a more ‘results-based person’, you will learn, hopefully understand, how you can actually achieve better results. Either way, it is a win-win outcome for everybody.

Pat Barrett AO, Honorary Professor,
Australian National University


‘I now have a new energy to drive the Winning Conversation ethos…’

In my role I manage and work with a team of 30 people, 50 supplier partners and 6 other internal departments. Managing relationships and conversations is my daily life and the essence of the role and the determination of my success. Whilst I believe I manage this to a high level, I have found whilst reading Bryan’s book that each chapter was talking directly to me in my own situation, as Bryan was giving accounts of real scenarios he had faced and how he worked through them to achieve the desired result. Managing people, whether they work for you, with you or around you is the key to success. Bryan’s insights have heightened my awareness to continue the path I am on in building strong relationships both internally and externally. I now have a new energy to drive the Winning Conversation ethos and I am inspired to use Bryan’s methods for greater success and growth in both my personal achievements and business achievements.

Glen Gregory, National Business Manager,
Technology & Entertainment, Harvey Norman


‘…nail those critical presentations.’

Winning Conversations arms you with the tools to help you nail those critical presentations. It makes a difficult topic seem simple and I like simple’.

Scott Brewster, Director, Umlaut


‘This book stands way above many I have read.’

It is probably quite unusual nowadays to have spent a whole working career in one industry. I have, in the corporate travel industry. Now running a travel management company I need to engage in conversations daily with clients, supply chain partners and team-members alike. This book stands way above many I have read. Bryan’s ‘principles of persuasion’ and ‘pull strategies’ (stop pushing), and the ‘persuasion pyramid’ are simple and work. I now ‘stand in the shoes of others’ – and this has made a difference. I have always said businesses do not make decisions, people do. Bryan’s approach to winning conversations will help you achieve the outcomes you desire from the people you interact with, specifically your team-members, prospects and clients.

David Lorimer, Managing Director,
HRG Australia

‘Winning Conversations goes right to the heart of the problem faced by internal advisers…’

Winning Conversations goes right to the heart of the problem faced by internal advisers within any large organisation, namely how to make sure that our voice is heard. This is no small task, and the unfortunate reality is that the odds are stacked against us from the beginning, with an inherent bias towards assuming that our objectives are not fully aligned with those of the business. It is incumbent on the internal advisor to overcome this bias. By taking a structured and analytical approach to dissect what we need to do in order to earn, and maintain, the coveted “trusted advisor” status, the book hammers home how critical it is for those of us who are paid to be in an advisory role to understand what our internal client wants and needs from us, and to understand the complexity of the various component parts to the relationship. I have provided legal and regulatory advice, both as a lawyer in private practice and in an in-house capacity, for about 20 years, and take pride in providing advice founded on the highest level of professional expertise. But expertise is just one part of an internal advisor’s arsenal, and no matter how expert you may be, Winning Conversations shows how, on its own, it is not going to be sufficient if you wish to succeed in developing a meaningful advisory relationship with senior management. The reality is that from their perspective, professional expertise in an internal advisor should be a given. The book explains in clear terms, and with practical examples, a number of tools available to the internal advisor who wants to understand how to take this relationship to the next level, and be part of the team that management turns to in times of crisis or when the bigger decisions need to be made.

Patrick James, In-house counsel and compliance
at a global investment bank


‘I’m now inspired…’

The way Bryan has demonstrated uses of his Pathfinder Model and associated techniques and tools gives valuable insight into skills everybody should learn to harness. I’m now inspired to, and hope to have more, “Winning Conversations”.

Philip Reece, Technical Expert,
Online Network & Security Operations, Telstra


‘…a genuinely useful ready reference.’

Governance functions can be perceived as a ‘necessary evil’, especially by the operational parts of the business who just want to get on and do stuff. This perception — fair or unfair— can see governance positioned as the corporate cop, or worse, corporate tyrant. This book provides a practical roadmap, tools and tips for taking your team on the journey from — at worst case — corporate tyrant to accepted authority and hopefully on to the Holy Grail — trusted adviser. It’s not rocket science, and the book’s not an esoteric think piece. It’s a genuinely useful ready reference.

Lloyd Dobson, Manager Governance


‘Bryan has presented a number of well thought through models to ensure the reader can be persuasive.’

Business is moving forward and changing at an ever increasing rate today as each industry in turn is responding to the disruption of digital. What I like about Winning Conversations is that Bryan focusses on the most important skill for everyone in business today – story telling. Being persuasive is essential to getting any business done – whether it is from the perspective of the backroom advisor or the entrepreneur. Bryan has presented a number of well thought through models to ensure the reader can be persuasive and hence fully effective and successful in their career.

Margaret Cassidy, Senior Media Executive

‘…a simple yet universal blueprint, including examples, for learning how to apply the principles of persuasion.’

After you quit PowerPoint, turn off the projector and end your spiel, most decisions come down to a simple question: are you trusted? This book is a valuable and timely guide about persuasive advising and how to become trusted within the corporate setting. It focuses on the ability to cultivate and leverage trust in order to build and maintain organisational capability and is a great read for those who have to articulate their advice in order to motivate and influence the decision making of others, those in corporate services roles. ‘Winning Conversations’ provides a simple yet universal blueprint, including examples, for learning how to apply the principles of persuasion. At last someone is articulating the value of trust and presenting it as a core business competency. This is a must read for all in corporate services roles.

Scott Fisher, Group Manager
Zero Harm Risk, Downer Group


‘A simple toolbox and practical guide…’

Winning Conversations: How to turn red tape into blue ribbon is an exceptional resource. A simple toolbox and practical guide that when used individually or with a team provides a systematic and effective approach in developing excellence in influencing and building solid leadership capability.

Christine Campbell, Director,
Commercial Operations, BDZ ANZ


‘Bryan Whitefield uses his own outstanding communication skills…’

This book takes the reader on a journey that provides both the opportunity to reflect on our past experiences and the tools with which to advance and enhance the effectiveness of our communications. Bryan Whitefield uses his own outstanding communication skills to provide the direct pathway to achieving better outcomes from our interactions with others.

Gabrielle Bouffler, Head of Risk and Compliance,
DJ Carmichael


‘… presented in a way that humanises the content with memorable anecdotes and real-life examples…’

Bryan Whitefield provides an excellent distillation  of the latest thinking and insights on the art of effective communication. This book will challenge the way you think about conversations and provide you with the essential tools and knowledge to effectively communicate your message across all levels of business and provide another essential building block to your leadership skills.

What could easily become quite a complicated esoteric subject matter, is presented in a way that humanises the content with memorable anecdotes and real-life examples of winning conversations in action. The practical content and emotive visual examples really resonated with me and will help support the many challenging business conversations to come in my career. While the primary focus of this book is to help individuals whose roles are to communicate and influence important business stakeholders, it will help you with all forms of communication in your life. This book is a great reminder of how challenging conversations can be, how easily barriers can be put up unexpectedly, and the importance of ensuring everyone is aligned and perceiving your message in a positive and constructive way. If your role requires you to deliver effective communication then this is required reading.

Mike Shelton, Co-Director,
Energi Design