28th January 2008

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

Dear High Performance Person and Visionary,

It is not where you start, it is where and how you finish!
It’s another year gone by and where are we as individuals?
For the weak of heart and stomach you should stop reading now!
If you were to grade yourself what would you give yourself for the year just ended? What would I give you as a grade? What would your best friend give as a grade, if you asked them to be candidly honest with you, no bars held? Are you in the top 25%? 10%? 2%? Or are you living a life of quiet desperation?Are you alive or really dead?

Being in a rut is being in a coffin with the ends knocked out!

How many of you spent last year doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results? You wasted all last year; if you learned nothing from spending that time, if you didn’t learn anything! Why?

Do you consider yourself a high performance individual? Why? Why not? Write down your answer in detail. Keep it through the coming year and refer back to it weekly!I ASK MY SELF these types of questions EVERY January. AND MOST YEARS I rank myself pretty damn high, but not all years, because I don’t compare myself against just anybody. I benchmark myself against other high performance individuals. If I listened to the standards of others I would have stopped many years ago. I have often been asked what continues to drive me? What drives you? What gets you going each day? Or do you get going?

As I have grown older I have reduced my expectations of others based on over 35 years of experience. It’s not that I have given up on humanity, but I now appreciate more than ever you must pick your choices very carefully and super success is certainly not for everyone! When I started coaching in 1993 and till 1997/8 I was involved with more than 50 companies at a time. Now I am involved with a mere handful. Why? Because you need to be focused and you can’t focus on the many. High performance people focus on the few, not the many! If you have 5, 6, 9, 10 businesses you are involved with, you’re probably, if not failing, certainly not accomplishing what you could if you were more focused.

As I have said in my seminars and all published material, it is even more apparent to me now than it ever was in my very long career, super success is not for the lame of heart, or weak! And now after 35 years, I know it is very difficult for most to achieve the success often talked about in my seminars, no matter how hard people try. Why? Lack of focus! Lack of commitment! Oh there are always reasons; my mortgage (a real laugh now), kids, in laws, no time, my job and I could go on and on! In most cases it is you are not hungry enough or you’re in your comfort zone!

But the good news is we ALL can make our life better if only part of the QLA precepts are focused upon. For example, what if we only followed things we were really passionate about and let the others go? By definition you would be more focused. Ergo, you would be committed to only things you really like doing and will get geometrically more done over a career!

What if you didn’t spend time on things you can’t change?

What if you didn’t procrastinate? And this is a very BIG one!

In line with this one, what if we made the tough decisions first and not last, if at all?

And what if you only followed your dream?

In the years gone by I have diligently kept my standards higher than almost everyone I know. And in recent years, since I started coaching, it has been especially hard to get business partners to apply tougher standards to themselves, let alone their employees and their partners. Why? We all want to be liked and thought well of and we mistakenly confuse being liked with respect and follow through in business.

I have personally had the same difficulty applying these precepts to my own children. It is hard to believe I have children of 21, 24, and 26 now. One appears to want a life in business and is pursuing his MBA. The others have different ideas about life and are pursuing much different interests than I. Of course I want the very best for each one and try and support their efforts. As a parent this is not always easy! Of course for those of you that are parents you understand exactly what I mean.

A lot has transpired since my last news letter. I have not written because there was not news worthy stuff! I have not written because I am merely too damn busy to write! It’s hard to believe at age 62 I can be as busy as I am. I have been on the road living in hotels and rental houses almost all 2007. As I begin writing this letter I am in Manila ostensibly fighting off dengue fever, I apparently caught in Macao, China. (My USA DOC says I was merely very sick with a viral infection!) I would like to tell you I caught it crawling through some jungle in Asia, but it appears I got it somewhere in civilized China, where I spent Christmas and New Years. Hence, I have spent a couple weeks in my hotel room with doctors and nurses in and out taking blood, etc. I checked my self in and out of a hospital in 3 hours. It’s a long story, but not all medical advice is good!A better tale, also happening to me in China was getting yanked out of my hotel room in a 5 star hotel by 5 policeman, 2 security guards and a night manager at 12:30 am on 2 January. Two colleagues and I were going over the events of the day when there was a big knock at the door. I opened it to this squad of guys and a cab driver demanding I pay a bill for him taking my group to dinner earlier that evening. I had told him and the hotel manager I would not succumb to them attempting to rip me off for services not rendered; a hotel Mercedes car taking us to dinner and back. Instead they took us in a Chinese made car that was a cab. I told them to f off and they could take me to jail and I wanted to speak to someone that could speak English. The cab driver had already attempted to take us to another restaurant and showed us his brother’s police badge. I told him to f off as well! It was a classic shake down! What made it even better, the cab driver had grabbed my colleague and I pulled him off, whilst I was on my crutches (oh ya I ripped my meniscus in my left knee whilst pumping leg presses of 400 pounds. The docs say my heavy leg lifts are a thing of the past!)

The story is much longer, but I mention it here to make a point. Most people would have paid the cab so the problem would go away. It wasn’t a lot of money. I can tell you Jack Welsh, Donald Trump, nor Ross Perot would not have paid. I know Perot is older than most that read this letter, but he may have been willing to do even more than go to jail, as I was. The point is simple: at 62 with a torn meniscus in my left knee and on crutches – I was not willing to do what was conventional wisdom! I had trained my comfort zone to be ready for extra stress a very long time ago. I had trained my mind to believe with all my heart – with no sacrifice there is no victory! Needless to say I was pretty irritated at the time and I was ready to do what was needed. In candor, at 62 with a bum leg, I might have gotten hurt since the 5 cops had guns and clubs. But I was ready to do what ever was required!

Some who witnessed the event in the hall in front of my room said I was raising my voice. Frankly I don”t remember that. All I remember was putting my hands in front of me and saying – take me to f’ing jail, but I am not paying this extortion! I said, put it on my bill like all the other cars I have rented whilst here. Why won’t you want to put it on my bill? Why? Because you are trying to extort me!

The next morning there was no related car bill on my final account.

I am writing you this tale to illustrate a very simple point;I have trained myself to do things others find difficult. Many of you that have known me over a long time know I am not like most people and there is not much I fear, but as I kid I was a mamas boy and was afraid of my own shadow! As I grew I knew I didn’t want to be afraid and I began to stretch my comfort zone, though I didn’t know it then. But if you want to change you need to start NOW!

You don’t have to be willing to confront Chinese cops to be successful, if you follow QLA precepts. I am sure the cops were not part of the attempted extortion, as I am sure the hotel employees and taxi driver were. The guy at the concierge desk and doorman that put us in the car all knew what was going on.

I have been so busy the last couple of years that I haven’t even given any seminars since Dec ’05. If you remember and read my news letters in 2005 I set up new goals for my self to abide by in my 60’s. The best read you can have lies in my old news letters! And they are all still FREE!As much as I enjoy seminars I have been forced to cancel the last couple and return all money, due to my schedule.

As has been written I have been spending a lot of time in Asia since late 2004. In fact, as I wrote above, I just ended a prolonged trip to China over Christmas and New Year visiting Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao. The “Forbidden City” and the “Great Wall” were great but, call me old fashioned, I enjoyed Hong Kong and Macao more. This trip was tacked onto to an extended trip through Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Bangladesh, Monaco, France, Panama, Brazil, Canada and the USA.

China is full of business opportunities for those with patience and a great joint venture partner. In the weeks I was there I ate enough Chinese food to last a life time!

As you probably know, I am giving a seminar after a long lay off. It will follow the old 7 day format that I made infamous starting back to 1993. I am looking forward to this seminar and showing all the updated information. Change is even more important than it was a few years ago. Change agents have become common place in the 21 st century. Adapting to those changes and understanding how it affects you and your dream is absolutely critical!Speaking of change, as I work on this letter Obama and Huckabee have won the Iowa caucus. Then Clinton and McCain won New Hampshire and the results are now in on Nevada and South Carolina.

The voters there are plainly saying they want something very different than they have received in the past. How many would have ever thought a black junior senator and a Baptist minister ex governor would be at the head of the democrats and republicans, respectfully, a few months ago? (Of course that has changed since I started writing this letter.) And then on the back of this mandate the voters more or less reversed themselves going back to more of the norm with McCain and Clinton.

I personally like McCain a lot! He is a real American hero in a world of false and shallow people. He certainly is a QLA man if there ever has been. How many of us (me included) would have gone through 5.5 years in a prison camp being beaten and tortured, when they could have been released. Senator McCain, then a navy pilot, was also son of an admiral in charge of naval operations for the Pacific during the Vietnam War. On many occasions he was offered release and refused till all men were released, who were captured before him. This was and still is the honorable thing to do under the Military Code of Justice. Hence, he was one of the last to be released at the end of the Vietnam conflict in 1973. Now don’t get me wrong! McCain has made plenty of mistakes like we all have. After all he is human. But he has been in the eye of the tiger and I find it remarkable at 71 he has the energy and commitment to want to lead the USA. How many of us would of stayed a POW when we could have been released?

Of course if I was a democrat (I am neither a republican nor democratic) I would probably fall into the Obama camp, partially due to him being out of the box and against conventional wisdom. Time will tell if he is real.

We need people more now than ever to lead us all over the world. Change agents are not new. Yet every time I read about the new wave I am surprised. I have studied the lives of many change agents over the years. Their names are too numerous to list here. But what they all had in common was they wanted something, some out side the status quo; out side the box; outside the conventional comfort zone; and they followed their dream with passion and laser beam focus!As you measure yourself and your efforts, ask what did you do outside your comfort zone last year? What did you do that was criticized and made fun of last year? And I am not talking about hitting a 2 iron over the water, instead of going with a 5 wood you hit more comfortably!

High performance exercise that should make you uncomfortable. What did you do in 2007?

1. Risks taken. 1a. Risks not taken.
2. Relationships started. 2a. Relationships ended.
3. Successes, personal and business. 3a. Failures, personal and business.
4. Goals. 4a. 2007 Goals accomplished.
5. Fun time. 5a. Crap time.
6. Time spent daily on phone 6a. Time spent on PC.
7. Time spent in meetings. 7a. Time spent exercising.
8. Time spent closing deals. 8a. Time spent trying to save deals.
9. Time spent in bed. 9a. Time spent having sex.
10. Time spent with family. 10a. Time spent alone
11. Time dreaming. 11a. Time doing the same crap
After doing this exercise take all 3 tests on my site: results of my 3 tests and the above will tell you where you have been in the last year and how you think vies-a-vie, success, pessimism and being an optimist like virtually all high performance people are. Do this exercise at you own peril!

This QLA seminar will be my first to address other traits of high performance people, including health. As a part of getting older I am more concerned with my health, notwithstanding my family seem to live into there late 80’s and 90’s. I had lunch with my almost 90 Dad!

I am pleased to say we will have a section on the health of high performance people.This 2 hour block will be headed by Dr Allen Peters. He is a doctor with 40 years experience. He is teamed with his nutritionist wife with 25 years experience to form our “first executive health section” in a QLA seminar. I have just joined their program myself.

This isn’t a MLM or anything like it. Though they have not had adequate time with me, only 2 months, I believe very strongly in what they have already accomplished with me. I already feel better! To read more click here: “”. Click here for “ more information on Dr. Allen and his wife .”

In addition a QLA mentee and former business partner will be present to talk about his experiences.Tony Ward is a Chartered Accountant in Dublin and a great guy. He has overcome his blindness and in resent years has participated in Para Olympic events. He is a physical and mental phenomenon. He started his athletic career when he was 35. He now represents Ireland. He is a QLA devotee dating back to 1997.

And if his schedule doesn’t change I will have a mystery QLA business partner attending the entire seminar, because he never tires from learning more QLA. This will be his 5th time! He is top in his field world wide. He heard me speak first at a Ron LeGrand (another QLA devotee and former partner) seminar in the mid 90’s. He kept trying (swinging at the plate) till he hit it for 6 (a grand slam home run)!

I have written and said in my seminars since 2000 the world would have to pay the piper vies-a-vie the massive debt we had been building since WW2. Late last summer we saw the tip of the ice berg. Now 6 months later many companies have gone into forced mergers, or simple buy outs, or gone under. Many CEO’s are now gone from there extremely high paid jobs. There are government panels looking into – what the f happened? And there are fingers being pointed back and forth. Having been through a few cycles it never ceases to amaze me how no one ever seems to learn from the last cycle and that greed seems to eventually kill them off!I write this with some amazement! Why? Because I am not the only person that has been saying the end would come to the easy money. And it would cause a tremendous tragedy to business but more importantly to the common man. The big difference is all who were predicting the collapse were not collecting fees and commissions selling various and sundry debt products.

Notwithstanding my prediction coming true I am sad to see how badly our government and financial institutions can get it so very wrong. And as of the last few days the markets around the world are going down at an incredible rate.

It is fairly clear we are most assuredly in a recession. Not saying we are in a recession does not keep us from being in one. I am not going to claim the real estate bust brought on the recession, but it certainly didn’t help. This real estate bust will take a few years to iron out, just as the tech bubble took 6/7 years to make its come back. Most people get aggressive with their investment plans just at the incorrect time. It’s called greed and stupidity! You see others profiting and your not. It’s human nature and a lack of experience. As I have said for many years HEALTH CARE AND TELECOMS(INTERNET) are the wave of the future vies-a-vie opportunities to change your life!

There was an interesting closing of a movie I saw on a plane recently. It was interesting to me because I have been saying this for many years. The star of the movie said to his partner about jumping into the worm hole to the future – what will you tell your grand kids 50 years from now – you didn’t want to take the risk!As I have said for many years it’s the risks you didn’t take that you regret when your time comes to meet you maker. I have buried a few people in recent years and the story is always the same! It’s the things you didn’t do that you regret! Not the things you did! JUST DO IT!

To Your Quantum Leap,

Dan Peña