Chris Voss is a former FBI negotiator, internationally-recognized speaker, author, CEO, and negotiation expert. His work with the FBI was award-winning, and Voss now uses his experience to help people become better negotiators in every aspect of life. This article looks at who he is, his biography, and his current projects.
Who is Chris Voss?
Chris Voss is a former kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, a top keynote speaker, the author of a bestselling book, CEO of The Black Swan Group, and a negotiation expert. Chris spent 24 years with the FBI as the lead international kidnapping negotiator and the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group.
Today, Voss uses his experience to help individuals and businesses worldwide become better negotiators in their personal and professional lives. Chris has been featured in TIME, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc., Fast Company, Fortune, The Washington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, and more. Voss currently travels around the country and internationally to share his insights as a keynote speaker.
He is active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Profile & Biography
Chris Voss was born in 1967 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University and a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Chris Voss is most known for his work as an FBI negotiator, but prior to his government career, Voss was a member of the New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force from 1986 to 2000. In this position, Voss served as the case agent on several high-profile investigations, including TERRSTOP (the Blind Sheikh Case – Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman), the TWA Flight 800 catastrophe, the New York City landmark bomb plot, and the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.
Voss spent three years investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and was one of only 500 agents involved in the investigation. Chris also served as the lead Crisis Negotiator for the New York City Division of the FBI and negotiated the surrender of the first hostage taker to give up in the Chase Manhattan bank robbery hostage taking.
In 1992, Chris Voss received hostage negotiation training at the FBI Academy. He then spent 24 years working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crisis Negotiation Unit. Voss served as the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI from 2003-2007 and as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group.
In 2006, Voss was the lead negotiator on the Jill Carroll case in Iraq and the Steve Centanni case in the Gaza Strip. Voss also supervised additional hostage cases in the Philippines, Colombia, and Haiti.
While working for the FBI, Voss represented the U.S. Government as an expert in kidnapping at two international conferences sponsored by the G-8. Voss was trained in negotiation by the FBI, Scotland Yard, and Harvard Law School. He is a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement and the FBI Agents Association Award for Distinguished and Exemplary Service.
Chris Voss retired from the FBI in 2007 after working as a negotiator on more than 150 international hostage cases.
Chris has taught business negotiation at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business as part of the MBA program and as an adjunct professor. He has also taught business negotiation at Harvard University and guest lectured at The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, The IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, and The Goethe School of Business in Frankfurt, Germany.
Since 2009, Christopher has also worked with Insite Security as their Managing Director of the Kidnapping Resolution Practice.
Chris Voss offers both in-person and virtual keynote speaking engagements. In his presentations, Voss highlights actionable things individuals can do to improve their negotiation skills. He illustrates his points with both gripping, high-stakes stories of criminal negotiations and humorous tales from his personal life. Voss explains how to move a conversation along, startle people in the right way, and uncover someone’s real motivation. By the end of his talk, you’ll understand why a notorious terrorist once told Voss, “I hope they’re paying you a lot.”
Chris Voss is based in California, but travels across the U.S. and internationally. His rates for engagements within the United States range from $55,000-$75,000, and international engagements start at $75,000. Rates are subject to change, and a booking agent can provide exact quotes.
In 2016, Voss co-authored the book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, with journalist Tahl Raz. In the book, Voss takes the principles and tactics he used as an FBI negotiator and turns them into actionable steps to improve people’s negotiation skills, whether in the boardroom or at home. Voss outlines nine effective principles the reader can use to become more persuasive in their professional and personal lives. The book is a national best-seller and was named one of the seven best books on negotiation. Never Split the Difference is rated 5-stars on Amazon, with over 29,000+ individual reviews.
CEO of The Black Swan Group
After retiring from the FBI, Chris Voss founded The Black Swan Group in 2008. The Black Swan Group specializes in solving business communication problems using hostage negotiation solutions. As an FBI agent, Voss combined his years of experience in international crisis and high-stakes negotiations to develop a unique program that applies these globally proven techniques to the business world. Chris and his team help companies secure and close better deals, save money, and solve internal communication problems.
Masterclass: The Art of Negotiation
At the end of 2020, Chris released a Masterclass titled The Art of Negotiation. In this virtual course, Voss teaches communication skills and strategies to “help you get more of what you want every day.” The class includes 18 lessons with over 3 hours of instruction from Voss himself. Lesson topics include “Tactical Empathy,” “Mastering Delivery,” “Bargaining,” and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Was Chris Voss Born?
Chris Voss was born on November 28, 1957, in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
Is Chris Voss Married?
Does Chris Voss Have a Podcast?
No, but he has been a guest on multiple podcasts, including The High-Performance Podcast, Lewis Howes, and The Knowledge Project.
What is The Black Swan Group?
The Black Swan Group is a consultancy that trains both businesses and individuals in negotiation skills. Chris Voss founded the company in 2008 and currently serves as the CEO.
About FBI John
John Iannarelli, or FBI John, spent 20 years as an FBI Special Agent. His investigative work included the Oklahoma City Bombing, the 9/11 attack, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Sony hack, and more. John also served as the FBI’s national spokesperson and worked as the NFL Security Representative. He is an attorney and the author of 5 books, including Disorderly Conduct – Humorous stories from life inside the FBI. As a speaker, consultant, and author, John’s mission is to help people stay safe in both the cyber and physical worlds. Contact John for media inquiries or speaking engagements.