22nd September 2004

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

Dear High Performance Person and Visionary,

As I watched the tribute to the people who died on 9/11/2001 I felt for all that suffered and are still suffering. In no way am I making light of what happened in this newsletter. I still choke up when I see the tapes of that fateful day. I still remember very vividly watching CNN from London with the sound muted, thinking I was watching a movie about some psycho who was blowing up NYC. As life is stranger than fiction, I was correct.

Today the only way suffering can change is for people to take positive actions. World wide there is suffering. We see starvation all over the globe and most people starving can’t take the actions to reverse the cycle. Vis-à-vis these tragedies the only way any good is done is for others to take positive action. And for the rest of us without our own positive action we can’t help ourselves.

Since I began my coaching career in 1993 I have said, "Most people lead quite lives of desperation." We continue to do the same thing over and over again and are expecting different results. You know this is merely my definition for insanity. Most people in life would like to be somewhere else, doing something else, but they become disillusioned and eventually submit to the norm and conventional wisdom. For the most part we copy our parents and the norms of where we grew up. It’s tough to break that cycle – Just as it’s tough to break the cycle of poverty and starvation.


Reflecting on my self, I remember back to 1976 when I redefined my own life. I then, like many of you, was suffering, but I didn’t know from what. Of course now I know I wanted to "be all I could be." Ross Perot’s mentor Joe Batton coined the phrase for the US Army many years ago – "Be All You Can Be" Join the US Army! Whilst you may not agree with the Army – you have to take seriously "Be All You Can Be!"

I have said, there is a "pay price to action" – meaning for everything in life there is a specific price. Much of the time we don’t even notice. I use my body weight as an example. For every martini I have I pay a price and the older I get the bigger (literally) I pay! For example, a few weeks ago, I flew in for a dinner meeting with a good friend and mentee. We had intellectual discourse, ate, and drank for 6 hours. His driver carted us around. As an aside, the person I met is perhaps the brightest person I work with. It’s questionable whether he is as bright as he thinks he is, but is certainly anybody’s intellectual match because I knew he is a match for me! He has become super successful and takes life very seriously with little time for himself. I may be the only person on earth that can get him to break out of his mould other than his wife and kids. Hopefully he will have more time to be not so structured. I will continue to suggest he takes more time for himself. I mention this by product of success (no real time for yourself) to illustrate there are other challenges and constraints when you are super successful! Now back to my weight – the bottom line, I had to diet a few days after our extended meeting, but wouldn’t have traded the experience and friendship. There are some things all of us aren’t very disciplined about! And that is a good thing!


At the recent August Castle Experience, as I will describe more fully later, a young European who had experienced success sat quiet during most of the seminar. Only at the end of the third day did he become more vocal. He had built up a very successful business only to have it ripped from his hands. And to add insult to great injury the government regulatory authorities slapped him with massive fines and sanctions. His life was nearly destroyed. What little money he had left he spent fighting the government to exonerate himself. As important as this process was to heel himself – what he does next is the most important step in the rest of his life! He was merely one of those living a life of quiet desperation till he decided to take action. Whilst he had achieved success it was taken from him. As successful as he had been he came to the realization he had to do something different if he wanted different results and taste success again – even greater success! What he had accomplished meant little going forward, other than to himself. I am proud to say I will be part of his future! He has decided, in a major way, to break out of his recent desperation which means there will be major changes in his life. WE MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE FAIR FOR US TO SUCCEED, IF WE TAKE CHARGE AND BECOME MASTERS AND CREATORS OF OUR OWN DESTINY! – NEW PEÑA-ISM!

A little more about this exceptional guy: A few months ago whilst sitting in my office Paul (my right hand man – a retired Royal Marine) came in to say, "A European investment banker has questions about "Your First Hundred Million" – do you have a minute to talk to him?" I took the phone and spent time answering questions. (In hindsight I wish I had taped it!) Because he was an investment professional, I am sure he was wondering if the material was beneath his intellectual level. This happens quite often. As I told him, and countless others, no matter what his level of financial acumen he would be satisfied. A few hours later he called back and ordered YFHM. Shortly after completing the book he purchased all QLA product listed on my site. A few weeks later he registered for the August Seminar and has requested a place for a seminar in early 2005. When he came for the event he was one of the most prepared individuals who ever attended a Castle Event. As he says (see his testimonial) the event was a life changing experience!

I mention all this because as well prepared as he was, i.e. successful entrepreneur, financial background; sales background (I forgot to mention); well educated; and having immersed himself in QLA before arriving – he still found it an extraordinary experience! He says now, "I have been looking for this kind of coaching guidance and a framework to put to use for over 10 years." He is in his mid 30s and plans to spend the rest of his life using what he has learned and continues to learn. QLA, like life, is a work in progress! I will keep you appraised!

– I have never done this before, but for those who are on the fence about QLA, the Castle Experience or taking a Quantum Leap, I can put you in touch with individuals like the one described above by contacting

Whilst updating for the recent August event I thought about what I have done as a coach for many years. Since I restarted my coaching career earlier this year, I have refined how to articulate the QLA Methodology better than I ever did. The 2½ year layoff from seminars helped me crystallize my thoughts about improving QLA! I now know one major task for me is:

To get you (the reader or attendee) to do what you don’t want or like to do, so you can have what you do really want! I have always known there was a real dichotomy between what we are willing to do, and not do, to get what we want in life. There is no easy answer, because all of us have a different "comfort zone" in relation to your "pay price to action."

Last month saw my 3rd Castle Experience completed this year. The new block on Leadership and Overcoming obstacles went very well. As I have said countless times, "Leadership skills are extraordinarily important to success in business and life." (Just think if your leadership skill were better with your kids or spouse!) As the attached comments indicate the very diverse group had an awesome experience.

The group included individuals that came from the US, Canada, Netherlands, Dubai, India, England, Australia and Switzerland. As diverse as the geographic distribution was the individual backgrounds were even more diverse. Among the group represented were: a senior sales executive from a Global Top 25 company, a mortgage broker / real estate entrepreneur, a hairdresser owner / entrepreneur, financial service owners, a team building / training entrepreneur, an international tax expert chartered accountant, and a leading MLM founder.

Some seminar comments …

"This is by far the best seminar I have ever attended. Dan totally walks his talk. I’ll recommend his seminar to anyone who wants to make a real financial and personal difference in their lives." OSCAR R (Switzerland)

"Dan is an outstanding individual who tells it how it is – no bullshit. I look forward to working with him in the very near future." SHEZ K (Dubai)

"I was extremely impressed, my high expectations were exceeded! I’m re-ignited to create bigger and better, be less compromising and make a bigger world for myself!" ANDREW R (Canada)

"23 years in business and I have had a unique experience with you, Dan. You get straight to the point – as straight as it comes." TAN C (England)

Our October Castle Experience looks to be just as interesting. Based on the success of the other Castle Events in 2004 I have decided to give seminars in 2005, beginning with Feb 6th – 10th. Again the seminars will be limited to 12 and follow the same format as August: QLA, Raising Capital, Deal Making and Acquisitions, and Leadership. Of course all the attendee’s deals will be covered and all questions answered. The seminar content is described on my website:


As I have said before, the world is flush with cash looking for good deals. In recent months I have reviewed three great deals from you. On a recent trip to the US it was brought home to me once more! The sage advice I give in this letter and in my QLA products, seminar and as a coach is still extremely unusual. How do I know? Because the people I meet and coach tell me so. They say they are paying others great sums for guidance that is less than! I asked myself why it is so unusual. There are countless people that have had more success than I, but they don’t coach or teach! I could write a series of books why more don’t coach or teach! The bottom line is they just don’t and I am one of the extremely few that does from entrepreneurs to top global executives! Of course this begs the question why do they continue to pay others? Part of the answer is simple – conventional wisdom is hard to break away!


Almost like an epiphany whilst attending a series of meetings on another recent trip it became clear to me, words that were uttered to me a couple of years ago, "You don’t know what you don’t know" resonated in my brain over and over again! I was sitting in an investment bank board room at 4am, a CEO after being scolded by me said, "Dan, you don’t know what you don’t know!" (This same CEO had led his company through several rounds of fund raising and a very successful IPO (making him wealthy) and the company had been voted "Mid Market Company of the Year" in the UK. But on this recent trip what this CEO / mentee had said years before became even more obvious to me listening to another group of successful, yet inexperienced entrepreneurs. "You don’t know – what you don’t know!" Their focus was wrong! They were intellectually smart, but naïve to the hard facts of life! They just didn’t understand. They are now back on the bumpy road of success!

And yet on another recent occasion I was sitting with young entrepreneurs, again ostensibly successful, who weren’t asking the right questions and didn’t appear to have been able to prioritise what was really important. For example, I thought it would be standard practice and matter of fact that you would attempt to be careful whilst dealing with government regulatory authorities. One would think that anything that could close your business completely would get your attention – even if you weren’t experienced. I was wrong! Of course they were bright enough and took some action. They came to the Castle and asked me to visit them to consider being their Chairman. (Or perhaps it was merely their survival instinct ‘ either way they are not dead and also back on the road of success!). In similar circumstances many aren’t this smart! Many will perish without giving themselves a real opportunity to make their own Quantum Leap! Too bad!

At the August Castle Experience one of the attendees who came from Australia, said, "Dan, you are really giving back by giving seminars again for a lot less money than you charged in the past?" I hadn’t really thought about it in that way. When I came back it merely seemed like the right thing to do. And I don’t want to give myself too much credit or blow smoke up my arse! It’s an interesting thought, but the bottom line is I am continuing my coaching career and enjoying it more than I thought I would. And never forget your coach, mentor or teacher is only as good as the information and feed back you give them! Bad, or incomplete information will only get you bad output. Garbage in – garbage out as they used to say in the ’60s.

I have sat in countless meetings knowing I would have done things differently. I have sat with very Senior Executives giving advice they perhaps hadn’t thought of or perhaps didn’t think important. So it’s universal – you don’t know what you don’t know! So how do you know what you don’t know? You make a million mistakes – or find someone that knows! If you don’t have a mentor / coach – just get one!


The biggest difference between a senior executive / entrepreneur and a young entrepreneur is simple. The senior person usually knows what he doesn’t know and a young entrepreneur just doesn’t. The senior guy may merely be arrogant or too busy and decide not to ask, even if he doesn’t know. An inexperienced person (senior or junior), though he may also be arrogant, usually doesn’t ask what he doesn’t know because he just doesn’t know, and, or may be trying not to act stupid. Speaking of stupid, how many times have you heard, "I know this is a stupid question?" Or, "I know I must be slow, but…" or "My partner / spouse is the real smart one…" Don’t do this! Nothing good comes from alluding to slowness or stupidity! I don’t remember saying anything like this my entire life – Perhaps when I was a little boy. Remember your self esteem is pretty much in line by the time you are seven or eight.

Recently I have had a very senior corporate executive mentee have one of his life time goals come to fruition. I have worked with him for several years. He called me and I immediately began with my assistance for the next phase of his life and new goals and aspirations. I also had a young mentee fulfil one of his long term goals. Subsequently I didn’t hear from him about his business for sometime. I heard from him about changes in his life (cars, houses etc) when I bumped in to him, but virtually nothing about the business. Though I was extremely proud of both, I saw the undoing of one on the horizon. The younger success story lost focus and forgot how he achieved his goal. Though both were grateful, the older mentee was mature enough to know what helped him get to fulfil his long term goal and continued what worked! He also understood it is harder to stay on the tape than it is to get to the top!

As a mentor (and minority shareholder in many cases) you can’t force people to do things they don’t want to do even though that’s my remit. Therefore it’s my task to somehow put the difficult choice on their road to success just outside their comfort zone, causing them to stretch. It is extremely easy to forget how you got to where you are, when you’ve achieved success and you have accomplished goals, especially monetary ones! Over my long career I have assisted, helped, coached and mentored many to achieve their goals. I have witnessed many successes for others in my life. I have seen the sacrifices required for success at all levels of personal pursuit. And it’s never easy! In fact the only thing that’s easy is to forget who and what got you there! Some say this is now Tiger Wood’s problem. Since he has sacked his long term mentor / coach in 2002 he hasn’t won a major and has been struggling! It’s strange but I hear through various sources different reasons why he dropped his mentor / coach, but they all revolve around – the coach made too much money!

Another obvious difference from being young and older, and (seemingly) mature, is not really understanding RISK. When we are young and successful we are either oblivious to the elements to measure risk: cause; effect; and impact. (I will write more about this in my next newsletter). Or how will this act ultimately affect me and my business? The other side of this coin – when your young you don’t know or understand the wall of China can’t be built – so you proceed to build it! It’s a fine balance! Mature sage advice coupled with youth can make a formidable team!

Remember the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!

To Your Quantum Leap

Daniel S Peña Sr.

P.S. In recent months I have updated my website and will continue to do so for some time. I have tried to simplify my QLA message. I have stated my USP and what differentiates Dan Peña QLA from the heard! "I have created more wealth from scratch than any other seminar guru coach in the trenches of real business – not by putting butts on seats or writing books!"

I have looked for a middle ground to teach QLA. This hasn’t been easy for one simple reason! Where do you set the standard? For the geniuses who are reading you may find it intellectually boring. For average intellects reading this or buying QLA product may find me just right. In truth it works no matter what end of the continuum you are. I have often said when you are too smart you tend to dissect what works! My advice to those intellectuals reading this – just do it!

I have installed a new interactive message board (which just went down) and audio interviews. More audio and visual aids will come shortly. To answer many questions, though I would like to track who uses the message board, etc, you don’t need to answer all the questions to log on. Just log on and get involved – take action! More neat stuff will follow soon!

P.P.S. A reminder to all. These Peña – isms are listed on my website:
1. Don’t waste time on things you can’t change!
2. Tough times don’t last – tough people do!
3. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!
4. Dream Big, Think Big, Be Big!
5. Man Plans – God Laughs!
6. Don’t under any circumstances, ever, second guess yourself.
7. Even when one thoughtfully and judiciously plans, more often than not, such plans are overcome by external events. Therefore, never underestimate how wrong you can be!
8. Any problem solved will be replaced immediately by a larger more complicated one!
9. Don’t focus on mistakes; focus on the positive "next time"!
10. Progress often masquerades as trouble.
11. The more you investigate, the less you have to invest.
12. Cash only prolongs death, it doesn’t avoid it.
13. I’ve never seen a "part-time" super successful, high performance person.
14. A deal has to sound good before it is good.
15. Hunger makes beasts of men, and demons of beasts.
16. If you want things to change, first you have to change.
17. The only difference between a Champ and a Chump is "U".
18. Quantum Leap success means fishing with nets, not just with lines.
19. Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.
20. A deal is either hot – or it’s not.