ISSUE #16

 

The tactics of survival backed by a sound Personality Development Plan

A proper personality development plan backed with a sizeable amount of experience a lot can be achieved. Most often there is a tendency to take the easy way out as it justifies any self-serving agenda. To gain that extra edge, as part of a personality development plan there has to be an uninhibited nature to be mentored by experienced personnel. Mentoring offers advice continuously as high performance people understand the tactics of survival. But sometimes being prepared for the unexpected makes perfect sense as things can get unpredictable in business.

Despite having a personality development plan a lot depends on the significance of the problem. Realizing what is right and wrong and going beyond the actual dispute makes the big difference. This is recognized by people with high performance careers irrespective of economic circumstances.

Today litigation has been accepted as a business tool and with exorbitant court costs most opt out of this approach not because of financial weakness but because the emotional bank account runs out way before the financial one. Acceptance is difficult on this issue and can be outside the comfort zone.

Everyday worldwide many deals are struck. Most of them are cleared for various reasons but they are no longer expeditious or convenient. Further, accomplishments are always perceived differently and life is fairly simple. Overall, it reflects on the personality development plan where honoring the promised word makes a difference though it can be difficult.

 

From Dan Peña – "The Money Messiah" and Mentor/Coach for The New Millennium

Dear Friend and Subscriber:

"Duty – Honour – Integrity"

As I sit here in Amersfoort, Holland, watching the snow fall, answering E-mails and faxes during a break, I reflect on why I’m here, and more important, how I got here and what my readers could learn from this experience.

Recently, Dec. 11th 2000, my young and inexperienced partner and I closed on an acquisition here in Holland. Due to the VC, the assets of this 120-year-old company were purchased in a way that wasn’t envisioned and necessarily good for all directors except the founder. Fortunately, they believed in him because he had dealt in confidence! (I wonder why?) I presume they felt since they hadn’t met any of the directors (through a quirk of fate) or me, it was easier to deal with the young founder only. They had only met our accountants and lawyers who, probably, took the easy way out since they hadn’t been paid in more than two years. As you know, most people will almost always take the easy way out and can justify any self-serving agenda.

The original corporate set-up [never memorialized] had to be abandoned. The new entity was set up in a hurry and couldn’t be documented since it was agreed 48 hours before the close; i.e.: proper ownership was not recorded in the way previously agreed. So, potentially two years of work could be taken away from the other Board Members because the VC didn’t see any use for them in the deal, especially since nothing was in writing. In fact, they didn’t want me in the deal either for the same reason. Now that they have met me, they don’t love me, but they do see and understand why my young Dutch partner wouldn’t let the deal go forward without me! He introduces me as "my Mentor and Chairman"! I actually like that title!

My partner strongly said "Dan’s in the deal at 35%". The deal closed with considerable change at the holding company level. The other Board Members got their shares, and my ownership was upheld and only now is being documented after the fact.

The moral to this story is my 29-year-old partner upheld his original agreement as had I for more than two years. There were no changes to our deal, even under great pressure to him, i.e., imagine the entire deal collapsing because you kept your word! Notwithstanding it took him 26 months to close his first deal I continued to advise him because he continued to listen to me. A deal is a deal is a deal – as you’ve heard me say ad nauseam! Whether written or a handshake. High performance people don’t change deals in good or bad times. Though people will advise, quietly, to do so. High performance people fight for what is theirs even if it costs them dearly.

Unfortunately all business experiences don’t always turn out this way. In recent days two business relationships I am in have turned, potentially, in the wrong direction. One is significantly more important and therefore could present a large problem. One is extremely well documented and one is much less well documented. One has permutations beyond the actual current dispute. One is based on greed and one is based just on naivete – in fact, one is based on plain stupidity!

Deals are made countless times in a career. Some will be well documented and some not at all. High performance individuals don’t change deals, irrespective of economic circumstances. I’ve stuck by and honoured deals that have cost me many, many millions! I’ve had to keep people honest in court while making sure I, nor my partners, didn’t get the bad end of the deal on many occasions!

You know I’ve said "Litigation is a Business Tool" and I’ve taught that concept at universities on both sides of the Atlantic. Most of the time you will not have to go to court, but you must be willing to do so. Today, with court costs high, most opt to not take this approach, notwithstanding it is best. You can say most people are weak, financially speaking. That’s incorrect! As you’ve heard me say, "People’s emotional bank account runs out way before the financial one". Most people don’t have the stomach! It’s out of their comfort zone. My experience vis-a-vis comfort zones is women are willing to stand on moral issues more than men. Women fight harder! Women are tougher! If men had to give birth, there would be a lot fewer people – I can assure you! I can just imagine some of the men I know carrying a baby! Forget About It!

Deals are made every minute of every day – Worldwide. Not all are upheld for various reasons – but a common thread is they become no longer expeditious or convenient. It’s like your Significant Other getting fat, wrinkled and/or infirmed, or a little daft in the head! People come up with all kinds of reasons why they no longer have to, let alone should, honour the agreement/deal, i.e., he/she really didn’t accomplish what we agreed upon, etc., etc. Accomplishments are always perceived to be much less in hindsight! Life is fairly simple if you always honour your word and I can assure you – it will not be easy!

To Your Quantum Leap,
Dan.

P.S. While dealing with the Onassis Group, I never had a written agreement! Countless transactions were completed. And, as those of you that know the story, I was only financially hurt when the Vatican was our partner and didn’t pay. The CEO of the Group – Constantine Gratsos (my mentor) had warned me to get paid all the money up front. I didn’t listen and it was a $250,000 bad experience I couldn’t afford! When a mentee doesn’t listen to me, I always think of that expense.

P.P.S. I’ve just entered into, potentially, a $500 million transaction with a partner I’ve been involved with for seven years. We have never had a written agreement. It’s not likely we’ll get one in time for this deal either, but, as he said, he "trusts me and I’ve always been fair!" That wouldn’t be a bad thing to have on my tombstone.

P.P.P.S. I’ve just been informed my litigation record went to (and I’ve really lost count) about 280 wins and 0 losses. A case the partner in the above P.S. and I have fought for almost two years was adjudicated in our favour today. I stand to get, probably, no money out of the deal. As indicated, over two-thirds of my litigations have been over principal not money! This fight has been for the "others" involved in the multimillion dollar transaction. As usual, the bank and the other wealthy individuals in the deal were the only ones to show interest. Of course, they were fighting for their own interests!

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