From Dan Peña – Executive Coach and Mentor to the High Performer.

Dear Subscriber and Friend,

"Glory is Fleeting but Obscurity is Forever"

Who said this? – Read on……

In recent weeks I have focused on perfecting our model at The Guthrie Group (TGG), which is based upon how do we render the best service adding the most value. Part of that process has been interviewing individuals that may join us at some point this year.

This process has been interesting. Though the last several years coaching have had an enormous effect on me vis-à-vis my ability to understand various personalities and to motivate them, it still gets back to people and their perceptions of themselves and how you can advance that positive perception.

As I have written on many occasions change is difficult.

To illustrate this point I have recently been drawn to Germany due to the massive tax relief change effective 1 Jan 02. In simple terms corporations can now sell off none-core assets for zero capital gain, and smaller companies can receive a relief of 50% from the old rate. The pundits, myself included, thought there would be an onslaught of activity at both levels. For the corporations it was thought of as a real windfall. Corporate finance teams and lawyers got ready for the selling frenzy and the fees. WRONG! In the corporations case unrealistic selling valuations put a halt to any avalanche of selling fees.

Now the private sector had the same result for a very different reason – it was cultural! The cultural outlook of business ownership being handed down from generation to generation KEPT CHANGE FROM OCCURRING. One would have thought, again myself included, having to pay 50% less tax would have driven German business owners towards sale. The belief system set up over hundreds of years was (at least for now) too great.

Culture plus the mistrust based on the high-tech/dotcom implosion and a general lack of confidence in BIG CITY financial people has actually, by some benchmarks, reduced the sale of businesses based on 1996 figures.

I should feel fortunate TGG was late in opening it’s German office. As I’ve said countless times, "it is better to be lucky than smart – or MAN PLANS, GOD LAUGHS!" (The German thought process is mentioned again later in this letter).

I am enclosing two different compositions, again to illustrate change and the lack of it. One is part of a letter I sent out in late 1999. The other is an email I received a couple of days ago. The 1999 letter was written to a prestigious group of CEOs that meet regularly through a common membership that I have spoken to many times.

The email is from a person who I just started a business relationship with after many months of talking and due diligence. I believe you will see the difference clearly.

Letter 1 (slightly edited) illustrating the theme of no change:

(Remember – being around high performance people that are comfortable does not help you grow past their comfort zones!)

Dear Club Members,


It was a lot of fun for me to return to the scene of the crime, almost six years to the day from first speaking at your Clubs various chapters in 1993.

I saw a lot of familiar faces – even familiar clothes! Sam (my host) is not the only one who hasn’t changed much – yes he’s lost weight, etc.

I’m writing to say, notwithstanding I appreciate the opportunity to spread my message I would be remiss if I didn’t say my mind one more time in writing as I fade out of this stage of my life.

Let me start by saying I love Sam. It’s hard not to love Sam.

Since 1993, every so often, Sam drops me a note asking if I’d speak again. I’ve historically said "no", but, this time it coincided with my phasing out of certain aspects of my coaching as stated back in 1993. This change will take place in August 2000 – my 55th birthday (it turned out to be August 2001).

Anyway, I was shocked to see so many people almost exactly where they were in 1993. Except for a very few virtually nothing had changed. A little greyer, heavier and in some cases MUCH POORER!

Members are complaining about the same crap they had before, but, now they are older and RUNNING OUT OF RUNWAY! Many of the participants agreed with my assessment, during my candid talks across the USA, yet still do the same old thing and still expect different results, than their quiet lives of desperation.


Many of you have heard me say, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." You’ve also heard me say "high performance people don’t waste time on things they can’t change." Therefore I realize, as I sit here in my London apartment writing this, I may get through to no one, with this letter. But, I’ve decided to endeavour one last time.

The problem with clubs like this one and others, is simple – no accountability. Ultimately they turn into (if not start as) a "social happening". I’ve had this discussion, years ago, with many club officials. In fact, during part of my East Coast trip I stayed with friends at their estate in Patomac, Maryland. An estate they would point out my friendship and business precepts help them acquire. Too bad more didn’t listen. I can’t be happier for them! (I have also had the privilege of counselling their extremely bright son who is now at UBS Warburgs – NYC).

The main difference between these friends and virtually every executive type at the club is simple – they take action and understand they will err and will make the appropriate corrections. They fail themselves to success after success like a rocket to the moon – correction after correction. (That was before the modern equipment). To build their net worths they expand their emotional bank accounts. Quite simple in words – very difficult in practice!

Another primary fault of the various clubs are the speakers trying to sell their various goods and services. Therefore they would rather tell you the easy stuff so you’ll like them and buy. During my seven days of speaking, across the USA, I told true stories of three members of two Club chapters, I could have told more but chose not to. Two paid me significant amounts of money to assist them in pursuing what they said was their dream. They brought several people to my week long "Castle Experience" and paid me as a consultant! Another one tried, unsuccessfully, to breach a contract with me. He was ordered by the Court to pay me.

The two who paid suffered financially and didn’t have to. As I’ve said before I take responsibility for not getting them to follow my advice, (at the end of the day I still believe it is the coach/mentor’s responsibility). They paid and didn’t, or couldn’t emotionally act upon the advice I gave them. Advice they paid a lot for, and now they are significantly worse off. In fact, one lost almost all he had. The bottom line is they both couldn’t take the actions to change. One of the businesses was becoming obsolete – yet couldn’t change even to save himself.

The two, who shall remain nameless, are very much like the memberships of all the various CEO clubs throughout the U.S. and the world. They pay to be members for, perhaps, some emotional security and they listen, ad nauseam, and take virtually no action towards change. I’ve never been able to understand!

Perhaps in my next life I will! Though going back to being a transaction junkie I’ll be dealing with different emotional bank accounts. In this arena death comes much more quickly if you don’t adapt through change.

To Your Quantum Leap
Daniel S Peña Sr.

Letter 2:

Hi Dan,

Today, the 15th, March, I said I would give a summary of how exactly I would proceed, (with change were necessary). Well that was done yesterday really. Instead today, I thought I’d do another type of summary, as it’s nearly two weeks since I "officially" came on board on my mind was doing a re-cap.


3 things about Dan:

1.You’re tough – there is no "soft under belly".
2.You eat people like me for lunch, but you protect YOUR flock.
3.You don’t want me to say or do anything to compromise or risk your name or business relationships or clients/mentees (i.e. Alternative topics to 3rd parties) – this I did know well, but I understand you needed to STATE IT VERY CLEARLY!

3 Things about life:

1.Shit happens!
2.Shit rolls downhill!
3.Get your shit together!

3 Bad things about me:

1.I had a tendency to "bullshit" – definition since established = "I talk about things that I had only read about, not done." (Like virtually all other coaches).
2.I had a tendency to justify or defend my position – understood to have been driven by the fact that I felt inadequate about my life and "success" to this point, in comparison to the high performance goals I had set for myself (i.e. low self-worth).
3.Networking and some of the other "Micky Mouse" businesses I have been involved with or worked at early in my life, will not cut it in the city big games or QL and should be left behind, not spoken about in public.

3 Good things about me:

1.You have a degree of respect for some of the character traits I have developed (discipline, persistence, follow-up, personal growth, punctuality).
2.You have decided that I DO have what it takes to QL with your guidance (well I was convinced, but I’m glad you agreed).
3.You recognize by now that I DO understand the definition of the words "integrity" and "honesty" and I live by them.

3 Things to Succeed:

1.Accept correction without retort and only talk about what I have done, or now what are my new goals.
2.Continue to absorb and apply the knowledge and information required to play and win in the land of QL.
3.Retain a consistent amount of New Deal Presentations (Deal Flow) and subsequent in person meetings.

Thanks for all of the above. I believe I have grasped things so far, no doubt there will be a lot more to come and I am looking forward to it.

I am grateful that you did give me the chance.

Talk soon



As you can see change is possible, I believe someone who is ready wrote the second letter. My first letter was written to hundreds where I was looking for maybe one that would write me an email similar to the above letter #2. As it turned out I got a couple out of the CEO Group across the USA. To me it was worth the week it took me to go to all the cities. ERGO PERHAPS I DO HAVE A SEMBLANCE OF A "SOFT UNDER BELLY"

To Your Quantum Leap
Daniel S Peña Sr

P.S. Congratulations to the following:

Ian Bruce and Michael Muzyak for each winning a copy of "Build Your Own Guthrie" as a result of achieving the best scores in the "Are You Afraid Of Success" series of tests for the months of January and February, 2002 respectively.

P.P.S. Speaking of change – next month is my 1st anniversary of being on the Internet as an individual. I have taken the following action in the last 11 months: Fired our web-server replacing them with a more responsive UK based one; had both my (our) websites reduced in size and redesigned producing significant results; now send my own emails which some may say is not such a good thing!

P.P.P.S. For you social scientists trying to be a high performance person in the business world I add these definitions for a little humour. (No offence is meant towards any of the groups mentioned):


A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT:You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbour.

A SOCIALIST:You have two cows. The government takes one and you give one to your neighbour.

A REPUBLICAN:You have two cows. Your neighbour has none. So what?

A DEMOCRAT:You have two cows. Your neighbour has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbour. You feel self-righteous.

A COMMUNIST:You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk.

A FASCIST:You have two cows: The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY:You have two cows: The government taxes you to the point you have to sell them both to support a man in a foreign country who only has one cow, which is a gift from your government.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and pours the milk down the drain.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

A FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You design them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce 20 times the milk.

A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows but don’t know where they are. You break for lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have 5 cows. You count them again and learn you have 17 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A MEXICAN CORPORATION:You think you have two cows but you have never actually seen them. You take a nap.

A SWISS CORPORATION:You have 5,000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge for storing them for others.

A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You enter into a partnership, with an American corporation. Soon you have 1,000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION:You have two cows. You worship them.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)