Executive Insights

A Microsoft exec holds business meetings while running — and goes just fast enough that her negotiating partners can't talk

Business Insider US

Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson uses her love of running to get the upper hand in business negotiations.
Business Insider/Michael Seto
  • Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson is an avid runner.
  • In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Johnson told reporter Jen Murphy that she likes to run with customers, and "to go just fast enough so they can’t talk much and I can dominate the conversation."
  • Many executives combine exercise and work in interesting ways.

Combining exercise and work can be surprisingly fruitful.

The Wall Street Journal's Jen Murphy recently profiled Peggy Johnson, Microsoft's executive vice president of business development. According to the article, Johnson is an avid runner, aiming to compete in the Berlin, Boston, New York, Chicago, and London marathons.

Johnson uses her hobby for her work in a fairly creative way to get the upper hand in negotiations. She told Murphy, "When I run with customers, the goal is to go just fast enough so they can’t talk much and I can dominate the conversation."

Johnson travels extensively for her job, and likes to scout out new cities by taking a run. "If I’m sitting across from a partner or potential customer and I know a bit more about their locale, it helps me learn more about them," she told Murphy.

The Journal cited Dr Brent Walker, the former president of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, as saying that Johnson's running-based tactics can be very useful. Walker told the Journal, "If I were to go on a run with someone I was negotiating with and saw that they were very competitive in a noncompetitive situation, I’d know that it would be advantageous to make that person feel like they won something in our deal."

Johnson isn't the only high-level executive who combines work and exercise. In an interview with The New York Times, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman discussed his lifelong practice of Krav Maga. He explained to the Times that he learned an important lesson about picking his battles from the Israeli martial art:

"... The overrunning philosophy of Krav is that the best way to win a fight is to not get into a fight. It's very Zen in that way. How do you de-escalate situations? We spend a lot of time thinking about that. It's translated into the way that I think about business as well."

Read the full interview with Johnson at The Wall Street Journal here »

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