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Robert Ringer Winning Through Intimidation .pdf



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Publishedby MJF Books
Fine Communications
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
To Be Or Not To Be Intimidated?
rsBN t-56731-699-9
Library of CongressCard Catalog 2004110287
Copyright @ 1973,1974,2002,2004 RobertJ. Ringer
This specialedition publishedby MJF Books in arrangementwith
M. Evansand Company, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmittedin any form or by any means,electronic or
mechanical,including photocopy, recording, or any information
storageand retrieval system,without the prior written permissionof
the publisher.
Manufactured in the United Statesof America on acid-freepaper
MJF Books and the MJF colophonare trademarksof Fine Creative
Media, Inc.
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)LJedicated

to the millions of resilient souls who
took to heart Peter Finch's battle cry in the movie
Network-"![s'1g mad as hell, and we're not going to
take it anymore!"-by adopting it as their mantra and
drawing a line in the sand against the intimidators of
the world.

C ONTENTS

Preface

I

Introduction

3

Chapter I

Shattering the Myths

6

Chapter 2

Replacing the Myths

X6

Chapter 3 PassingMy EntranceExam at Screw U.

26

Chapter 4 My Three Unforgettable Professorsat Screw U. 3 6
Chapter 5 Type Number Three Is Sincerely Sorry
That He GrabbedYour Chips, but the Result Is
40
)ust the SameAs If He Were Glad
Chapter 6 Type Number One Isn't Sorry That
He GrabbedYour Chips, BecauseHe Warned
You Ahead of Time How He Plays the Game

56

Chapter 7 Type Number TWo Isn't Sorry That
He GrabbedYourChips, Because-In Spite
of His Assurancesto the Contrary-That Was
His Intention from the Outset

63

Chapter 8

My SeniorYear at Screw U.

v2

Chapter 9

My Graduation from ScrewU.

86

Chapter 1-0 Using PosturePower to Get the Ball
Chapter 11- Advancing the Ball to Midfield

97

n\v

Chapter 1,2 Reachingthe Opponent's 20-YardLine

n2E

Chapter 13 Scoring

T3V

Chapter L4 It Doesn't Count Until the Points
Are on the Scoreboard

n53

Chapter L5 The Return of The Tortoise

159

Chapter 16 The Return of The Tortoise: Part II

lVs

Chapter 17 The Tortoise Dons His Hare Costume

n82

Chapter 1-8 The Tortoise Returns to True Form

n98

Chapter 1-9 The Ultimate Insurance Policy

209

Chapter 20

Sticking with a Winning Formula

2\4

Chapter 21

Answer: Not to Be Intimidated

220

TO BEOR
l.lOTTO BE
INTIMIDATED?

PnEFACE

f you picked up this book in the hopes that it might explain
how to get ahead in life by intimidating others, I'm afraid
you've made a bad choice. If that's your aim, you might find
The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, or Mao Tse-Tung on
Guerrilla Warfarc more to your liking. As you will see on the
following pages,To Be or Not to Be Intimidated! is a guide to defending yourself against intimidating people.
Be forewarned:More often than not, those who feign indignation over the mere mention of the word intimidatron are the
very peoplewho are most likely to use it againstyou. So,make no
mistake about it, what I have to say in this book irritates a lot of
people-especially self-righteous, self-anointed saints who are
mastersat intimidating others. They would prefer that most people not understand that intimidation is a common thread that

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?
runs through every business situation and a crucial factor that
decidesthe outcome of many of life's most important events.
At the top of the list of master intimidators disguisedas (selfanointed) saints are chest-pounding critics, syndicated columnists, and TV commentators, ever on the alert for an opportunity
to seize the moral high ground. Rest assuredthat authors, filmmakers, and public figures in general ftnd it a distracting but
significant challengeto fend off their intimidating mischaracterizations and misleading comments.
What is a tortoise to do about such a relentlessonslaughtof
distortion and truth-twisting, of having to listen to "the truth
you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools?" Ayn
Rand offeredperhapsthe most rational solution for dealingwith
slandererswhen she said, "Freedom comes from seeing the ignorance of your critics and discovering the emptiness of their
virtue." Thankfully, I long agoadoptedher advice,and highly recommend that you do the same with regard to those who would
try to misrepresenteither your words or actions.

InrrRoDUCTroN

he principles set forth on the following pagesdo not necessarily represent the way I or anyone else may wish the
world to be, but the way it actually is. In other words, it is
a work basedon reality, particularly as it relates to human nature.
Thus, the essence of the philosophy contained herein should
serve you well regardless of how the world around you may
changein the years ahead.
Though technology continually changes, human nature remains constant. People, by and large, are pretty much the same
today as they were in the times of Confucius, Buddha, fesus, and
Mohammed, and it's a safe bet that they'll be pretty much the
same 2,000 years from now. For example, fesus, above all else,
crusadedagainst hypocrisy. But today, 2,000 years later, can any-

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?
one seriously say they see evidence that hypocrisy is on the
decline?
|udging from the way most people talk and ast, one is led to
wonder if a resistanceto reality is geneticallyprogrammed into a
majority of the human species.Perhapsreality was only meant to
be embraced elsewhere in our universe. However, unless you
know how to build a spaceship-and fly it-I would suggestthat
it would be much easier for you to join that small minority of
people on Planet Earth who are vigilant when it comes to recognizing and acknowledging reality.
Unfortunately, most people chooseto live in a world of delusions, stubbornly refusing to accept the unforgiving realities of
life no matter how great the evidence to support such realities
may be. Why? Becausetruth is often painful, and people simply
do not like pain. My position, however, is that truth, by its very
nature, is always preferableto falsehood,regardlessof how unpleasant it may be. Self-delusionleadsto certain failure, and failure leads to misery. What's so noble about promoting misery?
Sure, I sometimes think that perhapsit would be easier to
yield to the temptation to become an ostrich and simply hide my
head in the sandsof unreality. In the end, though, I always manageto pull myself back toward realrty,becauseI'd rather go to my
gravea battered realist than a bloodied ostrich. And rest assured
that battering is an integral part of the journey-no matter who
you are or what you chooseto believe.
As you will see, to a great extent this book is an autobiographical work centeredaround my years as a real estate broker,
However, subsequent events have repeatedly demonstrated to
my satisfaction that the lessons learned during my years in the
real estate business apply not only to all other kinds of business endeavors,but to virtually all other aspectsof life as well.
Unfortunately, anyone who misses this central point misses
the book.
Finally, a warning. The following pagesare not suitable for
weak stomachs. The painful tales that lie aheadmay causeyou to

Introduction
recall equally unpleasant experiencesfrom your own past. With
that caveat, I suggestthat you lock away all sharp obfects and
place the Pepto Bismol within easy reach before commencing
Chapter 1.

Cneptr*

[

SnerrERrNG THE Mvrgs

he overriding messagein many motivation and how-to
books is that if a person iust maintains a positive mental
attitude and works long, hard hours, he ultimately will
succeed.A nice thought, to be sure, but one that borders more on
mysticism than reality.
How many times have you seen a person get all chargedup
after reading a motivation or self-help book, then, after the initial
high wears off, become more frustrated than ever when he" realizes
that he is no closer to achieving his goals than before reading
'Becaur"

I ftnd it cumbersometo use hybrid pronouns such as "his/hers," and am oPposed to debasingthe English languageby mixing singular nouns and pronounswith
-plural
pronouns such as "they," I have, for convenienceonly, chosen to use the masLuline genderthroughout thii book in most instanceswhere the neuter has not been
employed.

6

Shattering the Myths
the book? Perhapsit's evenhappenedto you. To be sure, I experiencedthis phenomenonmany times earlier in my career.
Make no mistake about it, the illusions createdby the hyperbole and enthusiasticverbiagecontained in many motivation and
self-helpbooks can be very uplifting, but almost without exception they fail to addressthe realities that confront a person when
he ventures into the Businessworld|ungle and comes face to face
with its indigenouspredators.
When these face-to-faceconfrontations occur, the synthetically motivated individual becomesconfusedand frustrated when
finding, to his dismay, that |ungle predators don't have much interest in his positive mental attitude or work ethic. Unfortunately, this harsh reality often causesthe individual to cling to his
favorite successbook's assurancesthat ultimately successwill
come if he iust toughs it out and adheresto some simple rules.
Sort of like waiting for one'sreward in the afterlife.
Like millions of other people, I, too, fell into the trap of believing that my great reward would ultimately come if I just focused on working hard and displaying a positive mental attitude.
However, fry rewards were not forthcoming until I invested a
great deal of time and mental energy into carefully analyzing my
frustrating failures of the past and developing the courage to allow truth and logic to prevail.
The turning point for me came one day when I was having a
discussion with a ffnancially successful acquaintance of mine
l"Yern" ) who headedup his own insurance agency.Vern had always intrigued me, becauseoutwardly he seemedlike the world's
least likely candidateto becomea $uccessat anything, let alone a
successful salesman.He was quiet to the point of being shy, and
was very awkward in his mannerisms. In addition, he gave no
outward indication of harboring a positive mental attitude, and
worked fewer hours than anyone I had ever known.
Vern's successshattered the archetypal image of the "super
salesman" I had held in my mind from the time I was a boy. It
helped me to better understand why so many individuals whom

8

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

others had char acterized as great salesmen often lacked the results to back up their reputations. I now realize that when a person is tagged as a " great salesman," all too often it is the very
reasonthat he is not successfulat his cra{t. The problem is that
the individual with a mega-reputation as a super salesmanposes
a threat to a prospect the moment he enters the room. Over a period of time, I developed a knack for spotting these paper-tiger
salespeople,and came to refer to them fondly as the "all show, no
dough" brigade; i.e., they were more successful in attracting attention than getting results.
During one of my conversations with Vern, I pointed out
that the methods espousedin many so-calledsuccessbooks did
not seem to work in actual practice, and asked his opinion as to
why this was so. His answer was quite surprising. Vern explained
that successful people rurely know the real reasonsfor their success, though they themselves almost always believe they know.
When I expressedmy curiosity as to why a person would be unaware of how he had achieved his own success,he said it was a
matter of one's being too close to the trees of his businessto see
the forest of his success.Absolutely fascinating insight, and one
that I have never forgotten.
With Vern's intriguing observation in mind, over a period of
time I concluded that there were a number of reasonswhy successful people, as well as authors of many self-help books, tend to
espouseunworkable solutions. These include, among others:
which all
1. Successhas a tendency to breed self-righteousness,
too often causesa person to overemphasize,to the exclusion of
other crucial factors, such societal favorites as positive mental
attitude and work ethic.
2. The media, government, and academia are relentless in their
intimidating efforts to try to make financially successfulpeople feel guilty. As a result, those at the high end of the ffnaneial spectrum are often self-consciousabout their wealth and

Shattering the Myths
tend to repressthe realities of how they achieved it. More to
the point, they are concernedabout little inconveniencessuch
as being burned at the stake by the envious masses.
3. Finall, many authors of business,self-help, and motivation
books deliberately withhold, for commercial reasons,the realities of what it takes to succeed.It's much easier, and far
more popular, to sell successmyths that people have been
weaned on since their earliest days in gradeschool than to say
things that incur the wrath of society'sabsolutemoralists who
are forever roaming the earth searching for perceived bad
guys.Aspiring authors of self-helpbooks quickly learn to heed
Publishing Rule Number One: Reality is a hard sel/. Shooting
truth messengersis considereda noble occupation in a Western culture turned upside down.
I want to make it clear that, notwithstanding anything I have
said up to this point, there is no question in my mind that both a
positive mental attitude and good work ethic are important to
one's success.The problem ariseswhen one relies solely on these
two virtues to the exclusion of all other factors.Having a positive
mental attitude and good work ethic are two traits that are so
often misunderstoodthat I feel it is important to discussthem in
more detail before moving on.
Positive Mental Attitude. It has been my observation that most
people have a distorted concept of what constitutes a true positive mental attitude. "fust fake it till you mak e it" are perhaps
the most damaging motivational words ever spoken, yet I have
heard this phrase repeatedby positive-mental-attitude enthusiasts many times over the years.
In reality, you can't acquire a positive mental attitude simply
by standing in front of a mirror and reciting self-energizing slogans, force-feedingyour mind with positive thoughts, or heartily
shaking people'shands (while grinning from ear to ear) and loudly

1O

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

exclaiming, "Great!" when asked how things are going for you.
This kind of synthetic positive mental attitude cannot bring
about success.
By contrast, a real positive mental attitude can play a major
role in one's success,but such an attitude is a result of being prepared. In other words, a true positive mental attitude is possible
only through one'shaving the ammunition to back it up. You develop a positive mental attitude by being good at what you do, by
being prepared,by understandingthe realities of what it takes to
succeed,and by having the self-disciplineto baseyour actions on
those realities.
Hence, the success cycle is self-perpetual: The more prepared a person is, the more conftdent he becomes,which translates into a natural positive mental attitude, which in turn
increases his chancesof success.You can set all the goals you
want, but I can guarantee that you won't achieve them if you're
unprepared. A positive mental attitude requires preparation, and
the two of them work in concert to help you achieve your goals.
But even after I concluded that a positive mental attitude
was not a quality one could synthesrzetI still found myself venturing into the Businessworld |ungle (specifically, at that point in
time, the real estate brokerage area of the |ungle|, sincerely believing that, becauseof my preparation,I would succeedin closing every deal, only to end up having my head handed to me on a
platter becauseof realities over which I had little or no control.
As I struck out on one sale a{ter another, it became clear to me
that it was iust a matter of time until my self-esteem-and my
self-confidencealong with it-was shattered.The result was confusion and doubt.
Then, at some point in time, it occurred to me that even
though I possesseda reasonabledegreeof self-confidenceand felt
I was prepared,I was lacking a method for sustaining my positive
mental attitude in the face of ongoingdisappointments.This conclusion evolved into one of my earliest theories, and prompted a
major shift upward in my career.

Shattering the Myths
I dubbed it the Theory of Sustenanceof a Positive Attitude
through the Assumption of a Negative Result, which states:Due
to factors beyond one's control, most deals do not close. Therefore, the key to maintaining a positive mental attitude is to aLways assume o negative result. In other words, hope and try fot
the best, but assume the worct. Anticipating continual shortterm setbacks has the positive effect of deflating their impact on
one's mental state when they occur, which in turn paves the way
for long-tem success.
If, for example, you're in sales(which, directly or indirectly,
everyone is), and if you're prepared, you should go in:o every
situation believing that you can make the sale, while at the same
time assuming that you r4/on't make the sale. We're talking
graduate-schoolstuff here, so admittedly the difference is subtle,
but the differencebetween successand failure usually is subtle.
This realistic approach to life simply takes into account
circumstances beyond one's conuol, and PMA one-trick ponies
seem totally incapable of grasping this obvious fact of life. If
you still have a pulse rate and are over 2l yearc of age,surely personal experience has demonstrated to you that no matter how
well preparedyou are, most situations in life don't work out as
planned. In real estate, for example, a deal can blow up over any
one of a seemingly inftnite number of unforeseen obstaclese.9., unwanted third-party opinions, ulterior motives on the part
of the buyer or seller, or even a change in the health or marital
status of one of the parties.
Consequently, I ultimately concluded that the only way to
guard against having my self-confidenceand belief shattered was
to acknowledge the reality that,like it or not, most deals don't
close. The only way I could sustain a true positive mental attitude, I reasoned,was to be come to grips with this reality and assume a negative result in every deal.
Did it work? Spectacularly. My income skyrocketed during
the ffrst year that I implemented the essenceof this theory, but
it's important to point out that the dealsI closed during that year

12

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

representedonly a small fraction of the total number of deals I
worked on. In essence,I simply accessedthe power of the law of
averages.Also, it's noteworthy that I worked iust as hard, and in
many instances harder, on the scoresof deals that didn't close as I
did on the ones that were successful.Given these realities, there
is no question in my mind that without my ftrm belief in the
Theory of Sustenanceof a Positive Attitude through the Assumption of a Negative Result, I would not have had the confidence
and persistenceto presson after seeingone sale after another go
up in smoke.
I guess you might say that it was a paradoxof sorts in that
I prepared myself for long-term successby bracing myself for
short-term failure. I again emphasize that this philosophy works
only if you areprepared to succeed.It doesnot work if you simply
use it as an excuse to fail in a situation where it may have
been possible to succeedhad you tried harder and/or been more
persistent.
With this unorthodox perspective indelibly stamped on my
forebrain, I was able to view each negativeresult as a learning experience and studiously focus on extracting the lessonslearned
from each experience.Then, of utmost importance, I simply deleted the negative result from my mind. When it comes to situations that don't work out, whether in my business or personal
life, my motto remains: "Next!" Forgetabout it, move quickly on
to the next deal, and let the law of averageswork its wonders.
Working long, hard hours. As to the myth about working long,
hard hours, I came to the conclusion that the words Jong andhatd
are relative. What one person considersto be working hard, another may think of as coasting. What one personconsidersto be
long hours fray, by someone else's standards,be iust getting by.
The whole concept of hard work, then, tends to be subjective.It
wasn't so much that I scorned hard work; I didn't-and still don't.
I simply recognized that I should not allow myself to be intimidated by those who overemphasize hard work. Subsequentobser-

Shattering the Myths

t3

vations through the years have, tnfact, convinced me that I work
harder and longer hours than most people who drone on endlessly
about their labors.
Since "working long, hard hours" is a relative phrase, it logically follows that there is no set number of hours per day that one
has to work in order to succeed.The amount of time you must invest depends upon your individual ability and the magnitude of
your goals. For example, a person of greater ability who desires to
earn $100,000 ayear might be able to do so by working four hours
a day,while someone of lesserability who wants to earn $50,000
a year might find it necessaryto work l0 hours a day to accomplish his obiectives.
Also, there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes
to putting in long hours. When energy is continuously expended
over a long period of time, both the body and brain decreasetheir
output, quantitatively and qualitatively. Naturally, everyone's
body and brain have different tolerances, but nonetheless there
is a point at which results begin to diminish in relation to effort
expended.
In fact, there's a point at which one's results actually become
negative.It's an old axiom in football that a tired player is a player
in dangerof being iniured. Likewise, a person who works too long
at one stretch is in dangerof making costly mistakes. Mental and
physical fatigue are natural enemies of anyone who aspires to
greatsuccess.
My answer to the "working long, hard hours" adagebecame
known as the Uncle George Theory, which states: If your main
focus is on keeping your nose to the grindstone and working
7ong,hard hours, you're guaranteed to get only one thing in retum: Old!
One need only look at the empirical evidence to conffrm the
soundnessof this theory. Have you not seen,with your own eyes,
that working long, hard hours does not by itself assure a person
of success?In this regard, I always think of my Uncle George,
who served as my inspiration for the Uncle GeorgeTheory. This

14 To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?
kindly little gentleman owned a corner grocery stole and worked
14- to 16-hour days all his life. He never succeededin getting rich,
but he did get old. This didn't take any great amount of insight on
my part, iust good eyesight.I could see, with my own eyes,the
hours and effort my uncle put in every day, and I could also see
that it never got him anywhere.
Everyone has an Uncle George.Of course, your Uncle George
may be a cousin, a brother, or perhapsyour own father-someone
who has worked very hard over the years, kept his nose to the
grindstone,yetnever achievedany great degreeof success.Whenever you have witnessed such a sad drama playing out, you were
observing, ftrsthand, the inherent truth in the Uncle George
Theory.
Perhapsyou're thinking that the world is uniust, and perhaps
you're right. A11I know is that I didn't lay down the framework of
reality; I just learned to acknowledge it. The reality of the Uncle
GeorgeTheory is self-evident to anyone who has a serious desire
to discover truth. All that is required to accurately observe this
fact of life is intellectual honesty. By acknowledging this truth, I
was able to make it work for merather than allowing myself to be
to intimidated by others into believing that hard work alone
would make me successful.
The same goes here for what I said about having a positive
mental attitude, i.e., that hard work does not prevent orre from
being successful; on the conttury, as previously stated, a good
work ethic is crucial to success.The point of the Uncle George
Theory is that hard work alone does not dssurc one of success.I
never had a problem with working long, hard hours, but I didn't
start making any serious money until I supplemented my hard
work with the realities discussedon the pagesof this book.
By gaining an understanding of what a positive mental attitude means in real-life terms, and by realizing that working long,
hard hours doesn't guarantee success,ffiy mind became a clean
slate that was open to new ideas-ideas based on reality rather
than myths. And in order to construct a workable successphi-

Shattering the Myths

t5

losophy, one that would be able to stand up to the punishment of
real-world experiences,I knew I would have to build a strong
foundation to replacethe old one that had not worked in actual
practice.
To accomplish this, I undertook a serious study of my own
past experiences.I tried to be painfully honest in identifying the
factors that had contributed to my failures, as well as those that
had led to success.I then beganpiecing together an overall philosophy based on my conclusions. Though there have been no
fundamental changes in my philosophy through the years, the
natural processof maturation assuresthat I will continually find
the need to fine tune it. I never ceaseto be amazedat how each
new experienceteachesme a new, often subtle, twist that I hadn,t
thought of before.It continually reminds me how exciting it is to
grow and evolve intellectually to the very end of one,s journey
through life.

CHaPTE 2
"

RnprecING THE MYrHs

our of the theories discussedin this chapter representthe
cornerstones of my reality-based philosophy, and are anchored to a fifth theory that I look upon as the bedrock of
my philosophy. I use the word bedtock, becausewithout it I
surely would have spent the rest of my life as an intimidatee. The
bedrock theory I am referring to is the Theory of Reality, which
states: Reality is neither the way you wish things to be nor the
way they appeal to be, but the way they actually are. EitheI you
acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit, ot it will automatically work against You.
This sounds so elementary at ffrst blush that you might
question why it would deservethe exalted status of being the
bedrock my entire philosophy. Yet, no matter how simplistic it
l6

Replacing the Myths

r7

may sound, it has been my observation that while most people
pay lip service to the importance of correctly perceiving reality,
very few of them demonstrate,through their actions, that they,re
really serious about taking reality into account in their daily
Iives. In my opinion, the single biggest causeof failure lies in the
inability to recognize andfor refusal to acknowledge reality.
Like a majority of people, I spent many years of my life clinging to idealistic beliefsabout how the world works. For yearsI accepted traditional nostrums and confused the way I would have
liked things to be with the way they really were. In retrospect,I
arn amazedat how I managedto limp along year after year, refusing to acknowledge reality in the face of one ugly ending after
another.
I witnessed many people stubbornly adhering to conventional successrules, only to continually have their fingers severed when they reachedfor their chips. Their wish was that these
rules would work; the reality was that they did not. I myself had
a masochistic tendency to focus on the other person,sbest interest, particularly in businessdealings,naively clinging to the belief that my benevolentattitude would be appreciatedand that I
would be handsomelyrewarded.At best, I endedup with a handful of dfii dt worst, I got a ftnancial slap in the face. My wrsh was
that I would be iustly rewarded Ior my caring attitude; the reality
was that I was not.
Like millions of peoplebefore me, I went into one deal after
another on just a handshake,believing the other party's assurances that a handshake was all that I needed-only to have him
end up beating me over the head with his other hand! My wrsh
was that I neededonly a handshake;the reality was that I needed
a clear,written agreement.
I repeatedlylistened to attorneys insist that they weren,t dealkillers-that they weren't like those "typical attorneys,, who
concentrated on ft.nding, rather than solving, problems-only
to witness those same non-deal-killing attorneys blow up one
deal after another. My wrsft was that each new attorney who

18

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

proclaimed himself to be different from other (deal-killing)attorneys would show, through his actions, that he wasn't a dealkiller; the reality, however, was that the vast maiority of such
attorneys endedup being worce than most of their brethren.
In essence,I, like most people in the Businessworld|ungle,
wished that the game of businesstook place on a nursery school
playground; the reality, however, was that it was played in a vicious jungle. I concluded that I must either acceptthat reality or,
for my own well-being, give up all my worldly possessions(a bicycle, clock radio, and tattered Mickey Mantle baseballcard)and
become a monk. I opted for the former.
In addition to people confusing their wishes with the way
things really are, there's another important factor that can blind
a person to reality: illusion. It's a lot more difficult and painful to recognize and deal with illusions than wishes, but one
gut-wrenching experience after another forced me to became a
hard-nosedrealist. As a result, I ultimately made it a habit to relentlessly probe everydeal for illusions, especiallyIf a deallooked
too goodto be true.

THE FOUR CORNERSTONES
Cornerstone No.l-Theory of Relativity: In otdet to settle on a
rational coulse of action (or inaction), one must first weigh all
pefiinent factsin a relative light and carefully define his terms,
Let's take honesty as an example.Everyonedeftneshonesty
to conveniently ftt his own actions. Question: Have you ever met
a person who admits to being dishonest?Secondquestion: Have
you ever known a dishonest person? I would probably be on
pretty safeground if I wagered that your answer to the first question was negative and your answer to the second question was
affirmative.
Since I had dealt with many people whom I consideredto be
dishonest, yet had never known anyone who admitted to being

Replacingthe

Myths

t9

dishonest,it was clear to me that a term like hon esty was both
relative and subjective. In fact, every human being interprets
everything in life to suit himself. I'm not just talking about other
people;I'm talking about you and me as well. we can't help it;
we're human. unlike animals, human beings have the ability to
intellectualize and interpret, so the key issue becomesobjectivity
versus subjectivity. Either through genetics or environment, or
both, somehuman beingsare better than others when it comesto
being objective,and such individuals are much more likely to be
rational in their interpretation of events.In any case/interpreting
eventswith a bias toward our own well-being is a perfectly natural human trait.
once I recognized that honesty was a subjective, relative
characteristic,I realized that for yearsI had been operatingunder
the delusion that there were only two types of people in the
world: honest and dishonest. I now understood that a person
could only be honest or dishonestrelative to the facts in a given
situation, or relative to some individual's personal moral standards.That being the case,if someonetells me that an individual
I'm dealingwith is dishonest,it's meaninglessto me. I want him
to carefully define what he means by dis&onest in that particular
instance so I can then decide if his deffnition is relevant to my
objective.
As another example of relativity, I pointed out in chapter I
that what is hard work to one personmight be semi-retirementto
another.Hard work, in other words, is a relative notion. Are you
working hard relative to how hard you usually work or relative to
how hard someoneelse works? A phrase such as "working long,
hard hours" has no meaning unless it is clearly defined by the
user.
A final example of relativity is to be seen in the word success.There is no such thing as absolutesuccess.you can only be
successfulrelative to some standard,whether that standard be
basedon your own goals or someoneelse'sachievements.when
a person talks to me about success/I might have a completely

2O

To Be ot Not to Be Intimidated?

different mental picture of successthan he does.In order for us to
have a rational discussion,he must first defi'newhat he means by
SUCCESS.

It,s important not to allow yourself to be intimidated by
vague or subjective words and statements that are meaningful
only when examined in the clear light of relativity.
Cornerstone No.2-Theory of Relevance:No mattel how ttue
something may be or how much it may pleaseyou, the primary
your
factor to take into considetation is how rclevant it is to
main obiective.
Successresults from focusing primarily on proiects that are
relevant to achieving one's obiectives.Early in my careertI had a
habit of expendingenormousamounts of time and energyon proiects that were, so to speak,side issues.Ultimately,I developed
the habit of trying to qualify each potential activity by ftrst asking myself whether or not it would bring me closer to achieving
my goals. If the answer was no,I eliminated it or put it on the
back burner.
For example, once I became knowledgeableabout the relevant factors in closing real estatesales,it becameclear to me that
the seller, in particular, had a tendency to dwell on qualities of.
his property that were not relevant to the value of his property. A
seller would o{ten emphasizehow much it had cost him to build
his apartment development,office building, ot shopping center.
While I may have had empathy for him in this regatd,his cost of
construction had no effect whatsoever on the prospectivebuyer's
determination of the value of his property. If the seller had spent
twice as much to build an apartment development as he should
have, that was his problem, not the buyer's.The buyer of incomeproducing properties was primarily interested in cash flow, and
had little if any interest in the seller'scost of construction.
Another examplewas when a seller would try to impress me
with what an honest personhe was, and thus there was no reason
to worry about my commission. Needlessto sa, a discussionof his

Replacing the Myths

2l

honesty wasn't relevant; what was relevant was whether or not
he was willing to put into writing what we had agreedupon with
regard to my commission. A discussion of honesty, then, is not
only relative, but also irrelevant when it comes to business dealings. "Trust me" has become something of a clich€ comedy line
in the Businessworld |ungle.
Note that I did not say that honesty is not relevant, but that
a drscussionof honesty is not relevant. In other words, parties to
a transaction need not waste their time trying to impress each
other with their honesty, as such time could be more efffciently
employed working on a written agreement.In business, awritten
agreementis high on the list of relevant factors.
As a final illustration of the Theory of Relevance,whenever
a seller wanted me to lower my commission (which was virtually
100 percent of the time) becausehe "hadn't rearizedhow many
additional expenses"he was going to have at the closing, that was
not a relevant factor from my standpoint. Sure, I may have been a
good samaritan and had empathy for the seller in such a situation, but that still didn't make his problem relevant the commission we had agreedupon.
In fact, it was no more relevant than if I had proclaimed that
I neededmore money than our agreement called for, and that I
would like my commission to be increased. How many sellers do
you think would react favorably to that kind of logic? The only
relevant factor was what our written agreement stated-period.
In becoming adept at recognizing what was and was not relevant, I found that it was not only important to try to keep buyers
and sellers from drifting onto irrelevant tangents, but to keep my
own attention focused on relevant factors. I became determined
that I would not waste time and effort on issues that had little or
nothing to do with my earning, and receiving, commissions.
Cornerctone No,3-Mortality Theory: Given that your time on
earth is limited, it makes good senseto aim high and move fast.
When my participation in the game of life ends, I don,t want

22

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

to be caught beggingfor an extra inning, for one more chance to
grab the brass ring. The fact is that I've never known a person
who was given an extra inning. Most peopleblock from their conscious minds the reality that they're going to die, and in a rcIatively short period of time at that. I didn't like facing this reality
any more than does anyone else, but I finally did so after the
Theory of Reality becamefirmly entrenched in my thinking.
As a result, I quit hiding my head in the fantasysandsof eternal life and faced the reality that I was as mortal as every person
who has ever lived on this planet. I figured that, with some luck, I
might be around for another 50 years or so. By the same token,
circumstances beyond my control could reduce my secular visit
to a matter of months, days, hours, or even minutes. There was
simply no way of knowing.
If there is something beyond our worldly existence,what a
great bonus that will be. However, I had no way of knowing for
certain that there was anything beyond life on earth, so I decided
to base my actions on the assumption that this time around
would be my only shot. I made up my mind that I was not going
to squander-because o{ f.eat,intimidation, or any other reasonwhat might be my only opportunity to win at the game of life. In
the event I had only one life to live, I figured I had better get on
with it as quickly as possible.
Cornerstone No. Llce Ball Theory: Given the apparcnt, ulti'
mate fate of the earth and universe, it is vain and nonsensical to
take oneself too seriously.
I call this the Ice Ball Theory as a result of an ominous description of the earth's future that I read some years ago. The author explained that our sun is slowly burning out, and that in
about 50 billion years it will be completely extinguished. When
that occurs, the earth will be nothing but a ftozenball of ice. Accompanying the explanation was a chilling illustration of what
the earth might look like at that time.

Replacing the Myths

23

As ominous as the explanationand illustration were, I came
to the conclusion that it was just another reality of life, that there
was absolutely nothing I could do about it, and that, in light of
this very long-term reality, the immediate problems plaguing
me-particularly in the Businessworldfungle-were so insigniftcant as to make me feel like an ant. The reality from my vantage
point was that 50 billion yearsfrom now, when the earth is nothing but an ice ball, my problems of today will be too insigniftcant
to have even been recorded.Indeed,there would undoubtedly not
even be a record of the entire century in which I had lived most of
my life.
The Ice Ball Theory is the flip side of the Mortality Theory
coin. While on the one hand it makes senseto "go for it" in the
time you have left on earth, the Ice Ball Theory eliminates stress
and makes it possible for you to enjoy your quest for success.In
fact, as most successful people have discovered, it's the striving
and struggling for success,rather than success itself, that bring
about the greatest amount of ioy.
Having this kind of mind-set puts you at a decidedadvantage
over opponents who tend to view every deal as life or death.
Stressed-outindividuals presstoo hard for results at crucial moments/ while you, by contrast, are able to calmly maintain your
objectivity. And the harder someonepressesfor a result, the less
likely it is he will obtain it.
Not taking myself too seriously helped me to look at life as a
game, and at business as a sort of poker game within the bigger
game of life. I pictured the earth as a giant poker table upon
which the game of businessis played, with only a ftxed number of
chips on the table. Each player gets to participate for an unknown
period of time, and the name of the game is to see how many
chips he can pile onto his stack.
(I should point out that years later, when I became a student
of Austrian economics, I came to understand that, technically
speaking,the number of "chips" is not at all fixed; quite the con-

21

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

traryt in fact. Businessis not a zero-Sumgame/ becausemore
wealth is constantly being created.The storiesin this book, however, relate to speciftc real estate deals, and rest assured that
every real estate closing ls a zero-sum game.That's becausethe
buyer is only willing to come up with "X" amount of money/ the
seller insists on receiving "Y" amount of money, and if it turns
//f,//-v7fiich is usually the
out that "Y" just happens to equal
case-the real estateagent ends up with "2" las in zerol amount
of money.)
The chips themselves,of courseI areof no particular use to
anyone. In {act, financial gluttons have found, to their dismay,
that either bathing in money or eating it are unsanitary habits
that can causeone to becomequite ill. However,chips do serveas
a means to an end. The rules of the biggergameof life provide for
the exchange of |ungle chips for material items that can help to
enhanceone's comfort and pleasure.
You might be inclined to ask, "If Ltfeis nothing more than a
game, why play so hard to win? " To which I would answer, Why
not try to win-and, as a bonus, have some fun along the way?.
Seemslike common senseto me.
So I decided to go for all I could get, as quickly as I could get
it, while I was still vital enough to play the game. Recognizing
that both life and businessare games also made it easierfor me
not to take myself too seriously, which in turn made it that much
easierto succeed.After all, if life is just a game,why be afraid to
take chances?The reality is that there's no way that you're going
to get out of the game alive anywayt so what's the point of playing
a conservative hand?
In the next chapter, I relate some tales of woe that I experienced prior to graspingthe signiftcance of the Ice Ball Theory, and
explain how these agonizing experiences helped me to further
formulate my philosophy.As a result, I developedtechniques not
only to dramatically increase my earnings, but, more important,
to make certain that I actually rcceived what I earned.
And, of course, had it not been for my earlyunderstanding of

Replacing the Myths

25

the Theory of Sustenanceof a Positive Attitude through the Assumption of a Negative Result, I would never have been able to
survive the seemingly endlessnumber of heartaches,humiliations, and frustrations that I enduredduring those early years of
trial by fire.

CnnPrE. 3

Pnssrxc Mv ENTnaNCEExelvt
er Scnnw [J,

hen I enteredthe real estatebusiness,I was both ignorant and naive, with absolutely no idea of the devastating realities that awaited me. Little did I know
that I would be able to survive only becauseof two theories I had
developed years earlier. Had it not been for those theories, I
probably would not have had the courageto becomea real estate
agent, because the discouraging remarks that were gleefully directed at me by numerous real estatebrokers and salesmenwould
surely have crushed my spirit.
It seemed that whenever I talked to people in the business
about what was involved in obtaining a real estate license, they
would go to great lengths to tell me how tough their profession
was, how it was almost impossible for a newcomer to get started,

26

Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U.

27

how exceptional a person had to be to succeedas a real estate
agent,and, in summation, why it would be a mistake for me to
enter their field.
Years earlier, this kind of talk would have totally intimidatedme, and I undoubtedlywould have becomeconvinced that I
would be wasting my time to even make the effort. Fortunately,
however, I had paid a lot of dues long before I decided to go into
the real estatebusiness,so I was able to ignore most of the negative grenadestossedat me. I had long before concluCedthat all
members of the Discouragement Fraternity had two things in
common: (1) Becausethey were insecure, they flearcdcompetition, and {2) they were ferociousabout protecting their turf.
The two theories that helped me to survive my entrance
exam (r.e.,hazingby the DiscouragementFraternity) at Screw U.
(my early years in the real estate business)are the focus of this
chapter.
The first is the Tortoise and Hare Theory, which states: The
outcome of most situations in life are determined over the long
tem. The guy who gets off to a fast staft merely wins a battle;
the individual who's ahead at the end of the race wins the
war, Battles are for ego-trippers;wars are for money-grippers.
The Tortoise is the unglamorousplodder who always seems
to find a w^y to come out ahead,though he has a habit of getting
bruised and batteredalong the way. He isn't flashy or impressive;
his strengthsare consistency,perseverance,and resiliency.
The Tortoise is the quintessential antihero. Ben Braddock
(played by Dustin Hoffman), the shy, stuttering boyfrien d in The
Graduate, was a classicantihero. He lost every battle, but somehow managedto win the war (the spoils of which were none other
than Katharine Ross).Colombo, the fumbling, stumbling detective played by Peter Falk in the old TV seriesof the same name,
was slow when it came to ftguring things out, but in the end he
always got his man. And how about Rocky Balboa(SylvesterStallone) in the Rocky series?
While still in my teens,I becameconsciousof the fact that I

28

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

was a very slow starter at most things, yet almost always seemed
to find a way to ffnish strong. I finally concluded that it was my
perfectionism that was at the heart of my slow-start habit. I had
an inherent urge to have all the ground rules defined, study the
Layof the land, prepare a game plan, and organizeall the details
beforemoving forward. I tried to (andstill do) live by the words of
Abraham Lincoln: "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd
spendsix sharpeningmy axe."
As a result of my methodical approachto projects,I began,in
a tongue-in-cheekmanner/ to compare myself to the fabled tortale. I learned,over a periodof time,
toise in the tortoise-and-hare
that it was not so important to be the life of the party or the center of attention in a crowd. The important thing was what happened after the party was over. The big points are scoredwhen
you go one-on-onewith someonebehind closeddoors.
Glibness in a crowd more often than not is just part of the
"all show, no dough" syndrome. So, though I realized that I was
not particularly impressive on first meeting-especially in situations where three or more people were involved-I found that I
could be very effective by doggedlyfollowing up with one-on-one
meetings at alater time.
I can't deny that it would be nice to have the kind of personality that would dazzle people on ftrst encounter,and I wouldn't
mind being a little faster out of the starting gate, either. The
reality, however, is that I don't have these qualities, and even
back in my teen-dumb days I recognized my shortcomings in
these areas.And that in turn causedme to focus on playing the
hand I had been dealt to the best of my ability.
Having christened myself "The Tortoise," my motto became: If you slow down enough to loak over your right shoulder,
I'11 passyou on the left; if you slow down enough to look over
your left shoulder, I'Il passyou on the right; and if you try to stop
me from passingyou on either side, I'll maneuver betweenyour
legs, if that's what it takes. That heavy breathing you hear behind you is me-steadily closing in on you.

Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U.

29

Or, in more direct terms: Quickly getting out of the starting
blocks may get people'sattention, but all that counts rs where
you arc when the race is over.
In other words, a tortoise focuseson long-term results. If a
stuttering shrimp like Dustin Hoffman could win Katharine
Ross, who knows what treasures might lie ahead for a relentless,resourcefulreptile? So, after years of playing the role of The
Tortoise-of ffnding^way to win so many seemingly lost racesI was not going to allow myself to be intimidated by the DiscouragementFraternity when I enteredthe real estatebusiness.
The second theory that played a maior role in protecting
me from the Discouragement Fraternity when I ftrst entered
ScrewU. was the Organic Chemistry Theory, which states:Don't
allow yourself to be intimidated by know-it-alls who thrive on
bestowing their knowledge on insecure people. Mentally close
your ears and put blinderc on your eyes, and move relentlessly
forward with the knowledge that what someone else knows is
not relevant. In the final analysis, what is rclevant to your successis what you know and what you do.
This theory was derived from an experience I had at age2O
that forever changedmy life. When I was in college,I took a curriculum that was required for application to-of all things-dental
school. One of the required courseswas organic chemistry, which
also was one of the most dreadedof all undergraduatesubiects.
The course was so difficult that it had a 50 percent student failure
rate.
After attending the first lecture, I became convinced that I,
too, was destinedto join the legions of studentswho had flunked
organic chemistry. I had absolutely no idea what the instructor
was talking about. For all I knew, a molecule was a spare part in
an automobile engine.The worst, however/ was yet to come.
On the secondday, we had our first laboratory session,and it
was like a psychedelicnightmare for me. All I could seewas one
big blur of test tubes,acid bottles, and white aprons.I considered
it to be a giant step forward when I ftnally located my laboratory

30

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

desk. As I sat on my stool, displaying what would years later
come to be known as the Dan Quayle look, I kept thinking that a
savior-instructor would appearat the front of the laboratory at
any moment and explain what we should be doing. No such luck.
What was especially disconcerting to me was that all the other
students in the lab appearedto know exactly what they were doing. Could this really be the road leading to Katharine Ross?
Then, all at once, I saw him-tall, slender, and sporting a
blond crew cut and look of self-assurancethat suggestedboth
boredom (with how easy it all was) and disdain (for thick-headed
reptiles like me). As big as life, there he was-standing right at
the end of my laboratory row-the guy who was to be the focal
point of one of the most important revelations of my life, a revelation that I would ultimately transform into a theory to help me
snatch victory from the jaws of defeat time and again long after
my graduationfrom ScrewU.
Who was this tall, light stranger?None other than-Sound
the trumpets!-a Court Holder. (In the coming years,I would find
that Court Holders come in all shapes,sizes,and colors;i.e., tall
and blond are by no means required physical characteristicsof
this fascinatingspecies.)
What qualiftes an individual to be a Court Holder? It's really
quite simple: A Court Holder is a person who makes a careerout
of holding court. He was the fellow at the last cocktail party you
attended-the one standing poised and charming, one elbow on
the mantle, a drink in his hand, and a group of informationstarved puppies flocking around him in a semicircle-explaining
how utterly simple it all is. Most important, a Court Holder is a
master intimidator.
A truly professional Court Holder is not particular about
where he holds court, either. He can do it just as effectively
whether he's in a clubhouse locker room, at the offtce, or, by
golly, in a chemistry lab. The only requirement for calling his
court into session is that there be two or more informationstarved subjects willing to listen to him pontiftcate. Of course,

Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U.

3t

the more subiectsthe Court Holder has in his court, the better he
likes it. And the more wide-eyedthey are with awe, the more inspired he is to sprinkle smatterings of his seemingly infinite
knowledgearound the court.
My eyesnearly bulgedout of my head as I watched the Court
Holder flipping test tubes around like a professionaljuggler,nonchalantly lighting his Bunsen burner backhanded, and leafing
through his laboratory workbook so quickly that I was certain he
would finish the entire coursein less than two days.
A crowd was quickly gatheringaround him. Hope shot into
my heart as I bounded down the aisle toward this dazzling paragon of knowledge. Surely there must be a crumb or two of wisdom he could spare a hopelesslylost reptile like me. Surely he
would not turn me away without his tip of the day.
I was in luck. As the Court Holder breezedthrough the laborutory experiments for that particular day, he graciously and simultaneously held court for a dozen or so puppies and one
tortoise.He even took the trouble to answer a couple of my intellectually loaded questions,such as,"Er, where do I obtain a key
to my locker?" and "Who do I see about getting a laboratory
apron?" without so much as looking up from his test tubes. I
wasn't even granted a look of disdain like most of the other
subjectsin his court. I guessI was such a hopelesspudding head
that I was consideredto be an untouchable in organic-chemistry
circles. Nonetheless, for me it was true love. Fantasiesof some
day getting an autographedpicture of this modern-day Einstein
floodedmy mind.
This pattern repeateditself for severalweeks, though I eventually did succeedin getting both a laboratory apron and a key to
my locker. However, I acceptedthe fact that I would never be
anything but a lowly serf in the Court Holder's organic-chemistry
kingdom. That being the case,I decided to play the hand I had
beendealt as best I could. I trudgedahead,tortoise style, studying
my textbook hour upon hour each night. Yet, no matter how
much I studied, I never seemedto be quite up on what was being

"Oh, Great Blond One, where might I obtain
a key to my laborutory locker!"

PassingMy Entrance Exam at Suew U.

33

discussedin class,and I continued to be completely lost in laboratory. Regardlessof how much time and effort I put into it, it
was obvious to me that I would always be an untouchable in the
eyesof his majesty,the Court Holder.
Then, one day, a funny thing happened on the way to court:
We had an examination. As the instructor passedout the test,
you could hear moans throughout the room as the studentsbegan
to glance at the complex questions.Much to my surprise,however,whatever had been going on in laboratory during the preceding weeks evidently had been explainedin the textbook (which I
had virtually memorizedl, becausethe material on the test seemed
pretty familiar to me.
When the exam was over, students came stumbling out of
the classroomlooking shell-shockedand talking in a thoroughly
defeatedmanner. I was too embarrassedeven to mention it, but,
frankly, the questionshad not seemedthat difficult to me. Surely,
I reasoned,I must have completely misunderstood the subiect
matter during my long and gut-wrenching study sessions.Why
elsewould the test not have seemedvery difficult?
When it came time for the test papersto be handed back to
us about a week later, fear ftlled the auditorium-size classroom.
The instructor announced the " curve" (i.e., grading scale based
for the test as follows:
on averages)
48&up
4A47
26-39
20-25
19 & under

A(excellent)
B (good)
C (average)
D (poor)
F (giveup and get a Burger King applicationf

The instructor told the classthat the scoreshad rangedfrom
zeroto 105.(Therehad been two bonus questions, so it was theoretically possibleto score 108on the test.)He went on to say that,
out of a class of approximately 300 students, the next highest
grade(afterthe scoreof 105)was 58. The classgaspedin unison.It

34

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

was inconceivable that the secondhighest scorein a classof 300
students was 47 points lower than the top grade.
The instructor said that it was only appropriateto hand out
the paper with the near-perfect score of 105 first, and that he
would then call the rest of the students in alphabeticalorder to
come forward and get their results. The students sitting around
the Court Holder began patting him on the back and elbowing
him ("You sonofagun/you . . ."1, but he looked so bored by the
certainty of it all that I thought he was going to fall asleep.
P.S. He should have. Impossible as it seemed, the Court
Holder didn't get the 105.In fact, he didn't evenget the 58. What
this master intimidator did get was a solid 33 that placed him
smack in the middle of the class. Inconceivableas it may have
been, the reality was that the Court Holder was only average.He
was, in fact, the Organic Emperor who had no clothes.
Of course, you've already guessedthe punch line. You can
imagine how embarrassedI was as I walked to the front of the
room to pick up my 105 test score. Though I looked straight
ahead during the remainder of the day's session,I could feel 300
pairs of eyes staring at me. Telepathically, I could hear the Court
Holder's groupies wondering, "Who is this green,scaly character,
anywayT.I've never even noticed him in here before."
When the bell rang, I hustled out the door, feeling too selfconscious to talk to anyone. I immediately resigned from the
court and breezedthrough the remainder of the course with a
high ttA." The only thing that put a damper on the remainder of
the year for me was the uneasy feeling that the Court Holder was
continually staring at me out of the corner of his eye during laboratory sessions.Egad,I loved his crew cut. Why in the heck did
my hair have to be so fi.ne that I couldn't get it to stand up
straight even with gum tar? Ah, well, we can't have it all, can we?
BlessedCourt Holder, wherever you may now be, I want you
to know that I shall forever be indebted to you. Since my encounter with you in organic chemistry lab,I've met many members of your species,and in each case,becauseof my experience

Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U.

35

with you, I was able to quickly identify them as Court Holders.
Further, I've had the self-confidenceto ignore their intimidating
ways and go for life's big payoffs without a shred of embarrassment. Yes, it was that Hall-of-Fame Court Holder in organic
chemistry who provided the ftrst step toward my understanding that the refusal to be intimidated was a crucial element in
winning.
In summation, if someone feels the psychological need to
hold court, that's his business; your iob is to mind your business. Don't allow yourself to be intimidated by someone else's
knowledge-or apparentknowledge.What another personknows
or doesn't know will not affect your successone way or another,
so from your standpoint it's an irrelevancy.
Armed with the Tortoise and Hare Theory and Organic Chemistry Theory, I felt qualified and ready to enter that most revered
of all institutions of higher learning, Screw U. These theories
gaveme the strength to withstand the negative barragesof intimidation directedat me by the DiscouragementFraternity, and the
courageto forgeaheadinto the real estatebusiness.

cHAPrr" I

Mv THnEn
UUToRGETTABLEPnornssoRs

ar ScnEwu.

refer to my ftrst three years in the real estatebusinessas my
undergraduatedays at Screw U. becauseit was during this
time that I was forced,through firsthand experience,to come
to grips with the realities of the Businessworld|ungle. In curriculum terms, you might say that my rnaforwas Reality and my minor was Real Estate.
Without question, the most important reality I discovered
during those early years was that there are basically only three
types of people in the businessworld. (Thereis actually a fourth
type-the individual who stands to benefit directly as a result of
your ffnancial success;L.e., the more you make, the more he
makes. However, the latter type, in its pure form, is a rare excep-

36

My Three Unforgettable Professorsat Suew (J.

37

tion, so it neednot be addressedin this book. The emphasishere
is on the majority of individuals who do not stand to beneftt from
your success.)
Let's assume,for the moment, that you're areal estateagent,
and that you represent the owner of a property. It's nice to say
that the owner will beneftt by your successin selling his property, but, as discussedearlier, successis a relative word. Granted,
he will beneftt to the extent he receives money from the buyer,
but he will not benefit by your successin collecting a real estate
commission. Like it or not, it's a zero-sum game, so collecting
your commission should be your main criterion for success;selling the owner's property (which is his chief criterion for success)
is but a meansto the end you seek.
The painful reality is that the less the real estate agent
makes, the better it is for the seller (and,theoretically, the buyer,
since the buyer is the one who comes up with the money that ultimately pays the real estate commission). This is why buyers
and sellers understand all too well the Mideast proverb that "the
enemy of my enemy is my friend." And if you have a commission
or fee owing to you-regardless of the business you're Ln-you
are the enemy of both principals! If you don't believe it, save
yourself a life of grief and become a California beach bum.
There's an old business adage that "the only way a deal
works out is if everybody beneftts from the transaction, " and, in
theory, I supposeit's true. But in real life, this philosophy doesn't
seem to include deal "pests" who are owed fees and/or commissions for their work. In the real estate business, for example, the
empirical evidence suggeststhat the word everybody refers only
to the buyer and seller.
Regardlessof the type of businessyou're in, the above example should help you understand why certain people may have
been less than fair with you in past dealings. It may have been in
their best interest to see you succeed,but their deffnition of success may not have included having to pay you what you earned.

38

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

It's nice to get patted on the back and told what a dandy job you
did, but that shouldn't be your definition of success.What you
want is cash,not kudos.
What I'm talking about here is the Three Type Theory,
which states: There are only three types of people in the business
world (with the one exception noted above), as follows:
Type Number One, who lets you know from the outseteither through his words, hls actions, ot both-that he's out to
get yout chips. He then follows through by attempting to do iust
that.
Type Number Two, who goes to geat lengths to assureyou
that he would nevet dream of pilf ering yow chips, often trying to
throw you off guard by assuring you that he really wants to see
you. "get everything that's coming to you." Then, like TJtpeNumber One-and without hesitation-he goesabout trying to grab
your chips anyway.
Type Number Three, who, like TJrpeNumber Two, assures
you that he's not intercsted in your chips. Unlike TYpeNumber
T,vo, however, he sincerely means what he says.But that's where
the difference ends. Due to any one of a number of reasonsranging from his own bungling to his amoral standards for rutionalizing what's right and wrong-he, like Tlpes Number One
and T\,vo,still ends up trying to grab your chips. Which Ineans
that his supposed good intentions ate really irrelevant to the
final outcome.
In summation, no matter how someone positshimself, you
would be wise to assume that he will, in the final analysis, attempt to grab your chips.
So, even though someone may say that he wants to seeyou
"get what's coming to you," that doesn't mean that you have to
believe it. Instead,you would be wise to count on human nature
guiding the other person's actions when the money's on the table,

My Three Unforgettable Professorsat Screw (J.

39

and in turn rely on your own survival instincts to guard against
an attempt to heist your chips.
Let me emphasize that if I could recreate the world so the
above realities did not exist, I most deftnitely would. Alas, however,humility forcesme to admit that I cannot alter human nature
one iota. I am but a messenger,and, as such, am merely passing
along to you what my firsthand experienceat ScrewU. taught me.
Like it or not-and most people don't-the Three Type Theory is
simply arcality of Planet Earth.
In the next three chapters,I discuss (in the order in which
they came into my life) three of my most exemplary professors
during my undergraduate days at Screw U. These noble gentlemen will forever serve as my stereotypes for the three kinds of
creatureswho inhabit the Businessworld |ungle. They were highlevel frnancial proctologists who did a marvelous job of teaching
me how to identify other members of their species.The lessonsI
learned from them helped to prepare me for their ruthless relatives who were lying in wait for me in the fungle, and I am forever
in their debt for sharing their wisdom with me.

CHePrE. 5

TYpn NuNreEn TSREEIs STivcERELY
Sonnv THan Hn Cneneno Youn CHTPS,
BUT THE Rnsurr Is |usr rHE SelvrE
As Ir HE WBnn Creo

hat makes a Type Number Three so deadly is that
he's neither menacing like a Type Number One nor
diabolical like a Type Number TWo. On the contrary
he has good intentions. He sincerely wants you to get a fair shake,
but, due to some "unforeseen" reason(s),he somehow always
seemsto find himself in a position where he has "no choice" but
to grab your chips.
The fact that he is genuinely sorry for having to hurt you
makes it diffi.cult for you to think of him in a negative light. After
all, the devil made him do it. In essence,what a Type Number
Three is really saying to you when he separatesyou from your
chips is: "/ really didn't mean to cut off your fingers,but I had no
choice when you rcached for your chips."

40

TYpe Number Three Is Sincerely Sorry

4X

My maiden contact with a Type Number Three came on my
very first day at ScrewU. I knew virtually nothing about real estate, let alone the warped psychesof buyers and sellers. Yet, as
fate would have it, the first deal I worked on-a $5 million apartment development in Cincinnati-was quite large for a newcomer to the business.
I had heardrumors that the owners of the Cincinnati project,
which was still partly under construction, were in serious financial trouble, so I decidedto try a unique approach.I contactedone
of the partners and, instead of inquiring about the possibility of
listing his property for sale, asked him for a job. The way I
phrasedit was that I would like to "work on solving the financial
problems (his) apartment development was experiencing." He
told me that he couldn't afford to hire anyone, and, even if he
could, he wouldn't hire me, becauseI had no previous real estate
experience.
I quickly assuredhim that I could make up in energy,enthusiasm, and persistencewhat I lacked in knowledge and experiertcetbut he continued to resist. Being the relentless tortoise I
was, I finally offeredto work for him on a "prove it or else" basis.
I told him that I would work without a guaranteed salary, and
would even pay my own expenses,but if I solved the ftnancial
problems of his apartment development/ I wanted to be "paid
handsomely in return." Slavelabor is always an appealingcarrot
to dangle in front of penny-pinching real estate developers,so,
proposition,
basedon my everything-to-gain-and-nothing-to-lose
he ftnally relentedand allowed me to work on the project. On the
strength of this shaky and vague verbal understanding, my real
estatecareerwas thus launched.
What I was counting on was the Law of Risk and Reward:
The less the risk, the lower the potential reward; the greater the
rrsk, the higher the potential reward. In a perfect world, a salesman would have no guarantees,but would also have no limit on
what he could earn.If my first professorat Screw U. had agreedto
put me on his payroll, it undoubtedly would have been at the


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