A $600,000 mistake taught Jon Taffer of 'Bar Rescue' a crucial lesson about success

Jon Taffer of 'Bar Rescue' once lost $600,000 but it taught him a valuable lesson
Jon Taffer of 'Bar Rescue' once lost $600,000 but it taught him a valuable lesson

Jon Taffer, star of Paramount Network's "Bar Rescue," is an expert in the hospitality industry. He has owned 17 of his own businesses, consulted for international brands like Ritz-Carlton Hotels, TGI Fridays and Anheuser-Busch and renovated over 150 small businesses on "Bar Rescue."

For Taffer, the author of "Don't Bullsh-- Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back," a key for achieving that success was learning how to keep a cool head under pressure.

That's because creating stress, conflict and crisis is a strategy often used in business, Taffer tells CNBC Make It and, to succeed, you'll need to master techniques that let you stay in control.

"Putting somebody else in crisis mode and causing them to make quicker decisions, urgent decisions, rather than prolonged, more logical decisions can be very advantageous," Taffer explains. "So, to be successful in business you have to understand the power of confrontation and how to use it correctly."

"Bar Rescue" host Jon Taffer
David Becker | Getty Image

It's a lesson Taffer first learned in his early 20s. He planned to open a sports bar in Chicago with a business partner, "a big one with a boxing ring in the center," he remembers. But as the paperwork for the establishment was being drawn up, the partner pressured Taffer into making some bad decisions.

"My partner confronted me with a sort of a fake issue," Taffer recalls. "In this confrontation, or crisis management mode, [the partner] signed some contracts and did some things that cost me about $600,000 when I had about $700,000 to my name."

"I learned that I never wanted to be in crisis mode again," he adds. "I never wanted to be put in a box where I had to make these quick hasty decisions that weren't thought through."

Since then, he's made sure to be the one applying pressure, not succumbing to it. "I've used it to my advantage by flipping the coin, because if I don't use it to my advantage it's going to be used against me," he says. "Make no mistake, confrontation is unavoidable in business."

To use confrontation to your advantage — whether negotiating for a pay raise, the price of a new car or a down payment for a home — Taffer says it's useful to keep the other party moving quickly.

"If you negotiate at a normal pace, they have the time to assess everything. They have the time evaluate everything. They have to time to study everything. They have the time to compare everything and make a very long term strategic decision," Taffer explains. "When you put them in crisis mode, they don't have the time to do any of that, and decisions tend to go in your favor."

If you're ever put under pressure, his advice is to reject the urgency of the situation, stop and think. Then make a decision.

"I've always said that my greatest crises are my greatest opportunities to prove my own character to myself," Taffer says. "It's easy to be good when things are great, it's tough to be good when they're not."

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