Building a Castle

We just receive a limited edition of Dan Peña hardcover book Building Your Own Guthrie. It’s 325 pages with gold leaf trim at the edge of the pages. On a bookshelf it looks more like a holy book than a business book. It looks to us as if Dan has a self published it and is contemplating a mass-market book to follow.

Without a doubt, Dan has created more controversy than any other CEO Club speaker; some members say he is a devil incarnate, and others say he is the best business coach on planet.

Dozens of CEO Club members, after hearing his talk at a CEO Club meeting, spent a fortune to attend his one-week “ Quantum Leap” seminar.

He holds it in Scotland at his 50, 000-square foot Guthrie Castle. Everyone agrees it’s a spectacular property.

We excerpted part of a book on page 4; however, we caution you that half the CEOs hate him and the other half love him. What percentage of the following Peñaism are true?

You be the judge, but they will get you thinking, and Dan is an expert at shuffling your card deck.

Building Your Own Guthrie

The world’s greatest teachers are able to boil down pages of text and hours of oratory into a pithy phrase or quick parable. Over the years I’ve used the quotes of others and a few nuggets of my own wisdom to better clarify Quanturn Leap concepts. My protégés have come to call them “Peñaisms.”

1. Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.

2. Don’t waste time on things you can’t change.

3. When you deal with the opinionated or egotistical, always give credit where it isn’t due.

4. Business deals start and end with people—the interaction of flesh and blood, bone and sinew, heart and mind, emotion and soul.

. Dream big. . .think big.. be big.

6. Dream big—and dare to fail’

7. The more you investigate, the less you have to invest.

8. Never, ever second-guess yourself.

9. Cash only prolongs death. It doesn’t prevent it.

. I’ve never seen a “part-time” super-successful, high-performance per- son.

  A deal has to sound good before it is good.

During Quantum Growth, any prob1cm you solve will be replaced immediately by a larger, more complicated problem.

13. Every party to every negotiation has a comfort zone. The effective negotiator is the one who can define the boundaries of the other party’s corn- fort zone, then place the deal inside the boundary of that zone nearest his own interests.

14. Stick to your knitting. To maximize the return on invested capital, deploy your assets, resources, and capabilities in those areas wherein lie your expertise and experience.

15. Man plans; God laughs.

16. You won’t always have all the answers. Take seriously the advice of only those you greatly respect.

The consequence of a misguided decision is de minimis in the cosmos of eternity.

18. Always shoot for the moon. Even if you don’t hit it, you’ll at least get

19. Always, always, always pay your- self—and your employees—first’ through all economic cycles.

Plan for success. With no backup plans, no ripcords, no fail- safes—or you will fail.

21. Management performance sins will always be for- given during pen- ods of rapidly in- creasing revenues.

22. Learn to play bad golf well.

Become more disciplined. The pain of discipline hurts less than the pain of regret.

24. Hunger makes beasts of men, and demons of beasts.

25. Everybody is worried about life after death. I worry about life before death.

26. The business world is divided into people with great ideas and people who take action on those ideas.

. If you want things to change, first you have to change.

28. A man who dwells on his past robs his future.

29. There’s a big difference between playing to win and playing to not lose.

30. The difference between a failure and a high-performance individual is how each deals with fear. We are all afraid. A high-performance person uses fear to galvanize actions.

31. Ignorance is a steep hill with jagged rocks at the bottom.

32. The only difference between a chAmp and a chUmp is U.”

33. To succeed in business you must do more than take a step in the right direction. You had to take a Quantum Leap.

34. A good plan executed today is better than a great plan executed next week.

In order to really succeed in business, you must have outside advisors. These must be trusted advisors, professionals at your accounting and law firms with whom you have a very special relationship. These advisors be- come your moles within their own or- ganization, more loyal to you than their employer… motivated, aggressive, ambitious, and bright—but not as bright as they thinks.

The fulfillment of your dream is directly proportional t your desire to succeed – . and how much you’re willing to sacrifice. If you are not prepared to die, then you are not prepared to live. .

38. When you get rid of someone, never give them a “hook’ with which to get back in. Always make a clean definable and irrevocable break.

39. Quantum Leap success means fishing with nets, not just with lines.

To achieve “hyper-growth “avert avoidable mistakes and let your successes run their course. Do more of what you’re doing right—and less of what you’re doing wrong.

You always need a reason to overlook the obvious.

Never underestimate how wrong you can be. Even the most careful planning can be overtaken by external events and circumstances.

43. Always maintain your personal relationships on the same plane upon which they were formed. True friends will rejoice in your professional successes. Allow them to enjoy them with you. Never reassess their personal and professional lives in terms of your own.

Your most valuable natural asset is your own gut instinct. Don’t be afraid of it. Your instinct has more power than all of the conventional wisdom in the world.

45.8usiness.opportunities abounds—but formidable barriers exist. And the biggest barrier is psychological. It Is you.

46. Your greatest idea, born out of revolutionary thinking and passion, will die of indifference, apathy, and the satiation of low expectations.

Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.

48. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because something has never been done doesn’t mean It can’t be done. The fact that you have never seen or heard something is not proof it doesn’t exist.

Every worthy dream has a “pay-price-to-action.”That means you have to give up something to get something. You can’t have it all.

50. The old Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler” has a message for CEO’s. “You’ve got to know when to hold’em, and know when to flod’em.” As a CEO you’ll get more advice from your staff than you know what to do with. But it’s up to you to know when to “hold’em and when to “fold’em.” Listen to your gut. Make your decision and move on.

51. I never met a super-successful, high-performance per- son who wasn’t enthusiastic.

52. The best way to predict the future is to create it your- sea.

53. A deal is either hot—or it’s not.

54. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there. But you do need to know where you want to go.

If you have no destination, wherever you end up will be acceptable.

56. It costs nothing to aim high—but if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit anything. -.

57. FEAR . . . is False Expectations Appearing Real.

Patience Is just an excuse for procrastination.

“Thinking it over” is for people who can’t take action.

Quantum Growth eliminates dear sailing. So you’d better learn to navigate troubled waters.

From chaos comes order. In chaos is opportunity.

62. Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness doesn’t know where to shop. (A “Linda Peñaism”)

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

More of the same usually just gives you more of the same.

85. Structure follows strategy. If you base your strategy on your existing structure, you limit your potential to what you’ve already done.

Watch your business peaks and your troughs. As long as your lows are higher than before, your Quantum Leap Action Plan is working.

A guarantor a fool with a pen.

88. No matter how tempt- g, never accept shot-term solutions to long-term problems.

89. Too many companies try to patch when they should amputate. “Let’s reorganize and save this mess” is a clarion call to disaster. Cut your losses, kick the cuttings out of your way, and move on.

90. If you want to travel above and beyond the herd, don’t try to be bet- ter. Try to be different. Or better yet, be first!

Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking, but of habitual thinking.

92. Find your passion and wrap your career around it.

Live your life on purpose!

. You’ll be motivated by inspiration… or desperation. It’s your choice.

95. People with low self-esteem pro- ted themselves by not taking risks. High self-esteem gives you the power of confidence to take chances.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes. It’s called learning.

97. The only things in this life that you’ll really regret are the risks—and adventures—you didn’t take.

“Hell” can be the video of your life if you had taken the actions to become super-successful.

99. Nothing you’ll ever do in business is a matter of life or death. In the cosmos of time, any decision you make is
a fart in the wind.

You cannot make a Quantum Leap if you don’t share the wealth with your Dream Team and employees—be it cash, equity, options, or warrants that are tangible rewards for performance and loyalty.

Never, ever share doubts with anyone.

102. Being all you can be is possible for anyone, but…

Super success is not for every- one. Period.

Fear of failure is caused by lack of self-esteem and confidence. Dealing with fear is the key to super success.

Don’t take high-performance ad- vice from your peers, family or friends unless they are high-performance people themselves.

You cannot grow exponentially by yourself. You need the support of others

107. Don’t set time limits for achieving goals. They should transcend time.

Set goals you cannot achieve in your lifetime.

Business should not run smoothly while you’re making your Quantum Leap. Chaos is normal. The business on quiet waters is still in the harbor.

110. Life is what happens while you’re making plans.

The road to success is always under construction.

112. Get ruthless about trying some- thing different.

113. Motivation is your “fire in the out.” But unless it’s fueled it goes.

I have no more mountains left to climb—but me!

Five Tips for Dealing with Legal Issues

While CEOS love to tell lawyer jokes and blame all their problems on these officers of the court that paints only a partial picture. Of all the outside resources that CEOS mangage, the one managed least effectively is the legal function. In practice, CEOS do well with bankers, accountants, shareholders, employees and suppliers, but too high a percentage fail to appreciate the value of top-flight legal services.

Here are a handful of useful legal tips that will make your CEO job just so much easier.

1. Dan Peña (see article on Page 4) says CEOs’ biggest legal problem is that they are cheap. Consequently, they hire cheap lawyers. He asks, “If you were going for brain surgery, would you ask for a discount from the surgeon?” You can’t pay enough for good legal counsel, according to Dan.

2. Peiia also overpowers the normally bland deposition. Not only does he have a court stenographer present, he hires a video crew to videotape the deposition. Besides the obvious intimidation effect, a careful editing of videotapes can be devastating at trial. Another smart idea.

Do you know what it means to conflict out the usual suspects? That’s lawyer talk for limiting your opponents’ access to the top lawyers. The ruse is that if you visit a law firm and tell your story, you just conflicted out all the lawyers in that law firm. In issues of narrow scope, it could be possible to tie up all the good guys before your opponent knows what is happening. Too few of us ever take advantage of this rule. You don’t have to pay the lawyers; you just have to tell your story.

4. Do you know the best time to serve or initiate a lawsuit? That answer varies by area of the country, but you’d be shocked to discover the percentage of lawsuits filed the day before Ramadan, Christmas, New Year’s, and Yom Kippur. This limits opponent access to talent as the lawyers are on vacation. The best month to file a lawsuit is August.

Many lawsuits require the use of an outside professional investigation (P.I) service. This tip comes from David Zeldin, a P.I. in NY. Never hire the P.I. directly, as you could be forced to disclose all you’ve learned. If your lawyers hire the P.I., the work considered part of the lawyer’s work product and is therefore, not subject to full disclosure. The same, interestingly enough, does not apply to the work product of accountants.

CEO Observation

As you’ll see, these little tips are not widely known but they are example of what leads to frustrations in dealing with attorneys, and that leads to lawyers’ jokes; which are belly laughers. The mature CEO soon learns to be smarter at managing the legal function.

However, lawyers’ jokes are still a mild seductive when the other side has you “out-layered.” The problem is not that there are too many lawyers – rather, there are not enough good lawyers.


June 1998
Volume 4 – Issue 6