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Publishedby MJF Books FineCommunications 322 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10001

To Be Or Not To Be Intimidated? rsBN t-56731-699-9 Library of CongressCard Catalog2004110287

Copyright@ 1973,1974,2002,2004 RobertJ. Ringer

This specialeditionpublishedby MJF Booksin arrangementwith M. EvansandCompany,Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmittedin any form or by anymeans,electronicor mechanical,including photocopy,recording,or any information storageand retrieval system,without the prior written permissionof thepublisher.

Manufacturedin the United States of America on acid-freepaper

MJF Booksandthe MJF colophon aretrademarksof Fine Creative Media,Inc.

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)LJedicated to the millions of resilient souls who took to heart Peter Finch's battle cry in the movie Network-"![s'1g mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"-by adoptingit astheir mantra and drawing a line in the sand against the intimidators of the world.

C ONTENTS

Preface

I

Introduction

 

3

Chapter

I

Shattering the Myths

6

Chapter

2

Replacingthe Myths

X6

Chapter 3

PassingMy EntranceExam at ScrewU.

26

Chapter

4

My Three Unforgettable Professorsat ScrewU.

3 6

Chapter

5

Type Number Three Is Sincerely Sorry

 

That He GrabbedYour Chips, but the Result Is

)ust the SameAs If

He WereGlad

40

Chapter

6

Type Number One Isn't Sorry That He GrabbedYour Chips,BecauseHe Warned You Ahead of Time How He Plays the Game

5 6

Chapter

7

Type Number TWo Isn't SorryThat He GrabbedYourChips, Because-In Spite of His Assurancesto the Contrary-That Was His Intention from the Outset

63

Chapter

8

My SeniorYearat ScrewU.

v2

Chapter

9

My Graduationfrom ScrewU.

86

Chapter 1-0

Using PosturePower to Get the Ball

97

Chapter 11-

Advancingthe Ball to Midfield

n\v

Chapter 1,2

Reachingthe Opponent's20-YardLine

n2E

Chapter 13

Scoring

T3V

Chapter L4

It Doesn'tCount Until the Points Are on the Scoreboard

n53

Chapter L5

The Return of The Tortoise

159

Chapter 16

The Return of The Tortoise:PartII

lVs

Chapter17

The TortoiseDons His Hare Costume

n82

Chapter 1-8

The Tortoise Returns to True Form

n98

Chapter 1-9

The Ultimate InsurancePolicy

209

Chapter 20

Sticking with a Winning Formula

2\4

TOBEOR

l.lOTTOBE

INTIMIDATED?

PnEFACE

f you picked up this book in the hopesthat it might explain how to get aheadin life by intimidating others, I'm afraid you've madea badchoice.If that's your aim, you might find The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, or Mao Tse-Tungon

Guerrilla Warfarc more to your liking. As you will see on the

following pages,ToBe or Not to BeIntimidated!

fending yourself against intimidating people. Be forewarned:More often than not, thosewho feign indig- nation over the mere mention of the word intimidatron are the very peoplewho aremost likely to useit againstyou. So,make no mistake about it, what I have to sayin this book irritates a lot of people-especially self-righteous,self-anointed saints who are mastersat intimidating others.They would preferthat most peo- ple not understandthat intimidation is a common thread that

is a guide to de-

To Be or Not

to Be Intimidated?

runs through every business situation and a crucial factor that decidesthe outcome of many of life's most important events. At the top of the list of masterintimidators disguisedas(self- anointed) saints are chest-poundingcritics, syndicatedcolum-

nists, andTV commentators,everon the alert for an opportunity to seizethe moral high ground. Rest assuredthat authors,film- makers, and public figures in general ftnd it a distracting but significant challengeto fend off their intimidating mischaracter- izations andmisleadingcomments. What is a tortoise to do about such a relentlessonslaughtof distortion and truth-twisting, of having to listen to "the truth you've spokentwisted by knavesto make a trap for fools?" Ayn Rand offeredperhapsthe most rational solution for dealingwith

slandererswhen norance of your

virtue." Thankfully, I long agoadoptedher advice,andhighly rec- ommend that you do the samewith regardto those who would try to misrepresenteither your wordsor actions.

she said, "Freedom comes from seeingthe ig- critics and discoveringthe emptiness of their

InrrRoDUCTroN

he principles set forth on the following pagesdo not nec- essarilyrepresent the way I or anyone else may wish the world to be,but the way it actually is. In otherwords,it is a work basedon reality, particularly asit relates to human nature. Thus, the essenceof the philosophy contained herein should

serve you

changein the yearsahead. Though technology continually changes,human nature re-

mains constant. People,by and large,are pretty much the same

today asthey were in Mohammed, and it's

same 2,000 years from now. For example, fesus, above all else, crusadedagainsthypocrisy. But today,2,000 years later, can any-

well regardless of how the world around you may

the times of Confucius, Buddha, fesus, and a safe bet that they'll be pretty much the

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

one seriously say they see evidence that hypocrisy is on the decline? |udging from the way most peopletalk andast, one is led to wonder if a resistanceto reality is geneticallyprogrammedinto a majority of the human species.Perhapsreality was only meant to be embraced elsewherein our universe. However, unless you know how to build a spaceship-and fly it-I would suggestthat it would be much easierfor you to join that small minority of peopleon Planet Earth who are vigilant when it comesto recog- nizing and acknowledging reality. Unfortunately, most peoplechooseto live in a world of delu-

sions, stubbornly refusing to

life no matter how great the evidenceto support such realities may be. Why? Becausetruth is often painful, and peoplesimply do not like pain. My position, however,is that truth, by its very nature, is always preferableto falsehood,regardlessof how un- pleasantit may be.Self-delusionleadsto certainfailure, and fail- ure leadsto misery.What'ssonoble aboutpromoting misery? Sure, I sometimesthink that perhapsit would be easierto yield to the temptation to becomean ostrichandsimply hide my headin the sandsof unreality. In the end,though,I always man- ageto pull myself back toward realrty,becauseI'd rather go to my gravea battered realist than a bloodied ostrich.And rest assured that battering is an integral part of the journey-no matter who you areor what you chooseto believe. As you will see,to a great extent this book is an autobio- graphicalwork centeredaround my yearsasa real estatebroker, However, subsequentevents have repeatedlydemonstrated to my satisfaction that the lessonslearnedduring my yearsin the real estate businessapply not only to all other kinds of busi- ness endeavors,but to virtually all other aspectsof life as well. Unfortunately, anyone who misses this central point misses the book. Finally, a warning. The following pagesare not suitable for weak stomachs.The painful talesthat lie aheadmay causeyou to

accept the unforgiving realities of

Introduction

recall equally unpleasantexperiencesfrom your own past. With that caveat, I suggestthat you lock away all sharp obfects and place the Pepto Bismol within easy reach before commencing Chapter 1.

Cneptr*

[

SnerrERrNG THEMvrgs

he overriding messagein many motivation and how-to books is that if a person iust maintains a positive mental attitude and works long, hard hours, he ultimately will

succeed.A nice thought, to be sure,but one that bordersmore on mysticism than reality. How many times have you seena person get all chargedup

after reading a motivation

or self-help book, then, after the initial

high wearsoff, becomemore frustrated than everwhen he" realizes

that he is no closer to achieving his goals than before reading

'Becaur" I ftnd it cumbersometo usehybrid

posedto -plural debasingthe English languageby mixing singularnouns and pronounswith

pronounssuch as "his/hers," andam oP-

pronounssuch as "they," I

have,for convenienceonly, chosento usethe mas-

book in most instanceswhere the neuter hasnot been

Luline genderthroughout thii

employed.

Shattering the Myths

the book?Perhapsit's evenhappenedto you. To be sure,I experi- encedthis phenomenonmany times earlierin my career. Make no mistake aboutit, the illusions createdby the hyper- boleand enthusiasticverbiagecontainedin many motivation and self-helpbooks can be very uplifting, but almost without excep- tion they fail to addressthe realities that confront a personwhen he venturesinto the Businessworld |ungle andcomesfaceto face with its indigenouspredators. When these face-to-faceconfrontations occur, the synthet- ically motivated individual becomesconfusedandfrustrated when finding, to his dismay, that |ungle predatorsdon't have much in- terest in his positive mental attitude or work ethic. Unfortu- nately, this harsh reality often causesthe individual to cling to his favorite successbook's assurancesthat ultimately successwill come if he iust toughsit out and adheresto some simple rules. Sort of like waiting for one'sreward in the afterlife. Like millions of other people,I, too, fell into the trap of be- lieving that my great reward would ultimately come if I just fo- cusedon working hard and displaying a positive mental attitude. However, fry rewardswere not forthcoming until I invested a greatdeal of time and mental energyinto carefully analyzing my frustrating failures of the past and developing the courage to al- low truth and logic to prevail. The turning point for me came one day when I was having a discussion with a ffnancially successful acquaintance of mine l"Yern" ) who headedup his own insurance agency.Vern had al- waysintrigued me, becauseoutwardly he seemedlike the world's leastlikely candidateto becomea $uccessat anything, let alonea successfulsalesman.He was quiet to the point of being shy, and was very awkward in his mannerisms. In addition, he gave no outward indication of harboring a positive mental attitude, and worked fewer hours than anyoneI had everknown. Vern's successshatteredthe archetypal image of the "super salesman" I had held in my mind from the time I was a boy. It helped me to better understandwhy so many individuals whom

8

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

others had characterized as great salesmen often lacked the re-

sults to back up their reputations. I now realizethat when a per- son is taggedas a " great salesman," all too often it is the very reasonthat he is not successfulat his cra{t.The problem is that the individual with a mega-reputationas a super salesmanposes a threat to a prospectthe moment he entersthe room. Over a pe- riod of time, I developed a knack for spotting these paper-tiger salespeople,and came to referto them fondly asthe "all show,no

dough"

tention than getting results. During one of my conversations with Vern, I pointed out that the methods espousedin many so-calledsuccessbooks did

not seemto work in actual practice,and askedhis opinion asto

why this was so.His

that successfulpeople rurely know the real reasonsfor their suc- cess,though they themselves almost always believe they know. When I expressedmy curiosity as to why a personwould be un- awareof how he had achieved his own success,he said it was a matter of one'sbeing too closeto the treesof his businessto see the forest of his success.Absolutely fascinating insight, and one that I have never forgotten. With Vern's intriguing observation in mind, over a period of time I concluded that there were a number of reasonswhy suc- cessfulpeople,aswell asauthors of many self-helpbooks,tend to espouseunworkable solutions. Theseinclude, amongothers:

brigade; i.e., they were more successfulin attracting at-

answer was quite surprising. Vern explained

1. Successhas a tendency to breedself-righteousness,which all too often causesa personto overemphasize,to the exclusion of other crucial factors, such societalfavorites aspositive mental attitude and work ethic.

2. The media, government, and academiaare relentless in their intimidating efforts to try to make financially successfulpeo- ple feel guilty. As a result, those at the high end of the ffnan- eial spectrum are often self-consciousabout their wealth and

Shattering the Myths

tend to repressthe realities of how they achieved it. More to the point, they areconcernedaboutlittle inconveniencessuch asbeingburnedat the stakeby the enviousmasses.

3. Finall,

many authors of business,self-help,and motivation

books deliberatelywithhold, for commercial reasons,the re- alities of what it takes to succeed.It's much easier,and far

more popular, to sell successmyths that people have been weanedon sincetheir earliest daysin gradeschool than to say things that incur the wrath of society'sabsolutemoralistswho are forever roaming the earth searching for perceived bad guys.Aspiring authorsof self-helpbooksquickly learn to heed Publishing Rule Number One: Reality is a hard sel/. Shooting truth messengersis considereda noble occupation in a West- ern culture turned upside down.

I want to make it clear that, notwithstanding anything I have

said up to this point, there is no question in my

positive mental attitude and good work ethic are important to one'ssuccess.The problem ariseswhen onereliessolely on these two virtues to the exclusionof all other factors.Having a positive mental attitude and good work ethic are two traits that are so often misunderstoodthat I feel it is important to discussthem in more detail beforemoving on.

mind that both a

Positive Mental Attitude. It has beenmy observationthat most peoplehave a distorted concept of what constitutes a true posi- tive mental attitude. "fust fake it till you make it" are perhaps the most damagingmotivational words ever spoken, yet I have heard this phraserepeatedby positive-mental-attitude enthusi- astsmany times over the years. In reality, you can't acquire apositive mental attitude simply

by standing in front of a mirror and reciting self-energizing slo- gans,force-feedingyour mind with positive thoughts, or heartily

shaking people'shands(while grinning from

earto ear)and loudly

1O

To Be or Not

to Be Intimidated?

exclaiming, "Great!" when askedhow things are going for you. This kind of synthetic positive mental attitude cannot bring about success. By contrast,a real positive mental attitude can play a major role in one'ssuccess,but such an attitude is a result of beingpre- pared.In other words, a true positive mental attitude is possible only through one'shaving the ammunition to back it up. You de- velop a positive mental attitude by beinggoodat what you do,by being prepared,by understandingthe realitiesof what it takesto succeed,andby having the self-disciplineto baseyour actionson thoserealities. Hence, the successcycle is self-perpetual: The more pre- pared a personis, the more conftdent he becomes,which trans- lates into a natural positive mental attitude, which in turn increaseshis chancesof success.You can set all the goalsyou want, but I can guaranteethat you won't achieve them if you're

unprepared.A positive mental

the two of them work in concert to help you achieve your goals. But even after I concluded that a positive mental attitude was not a quality one could synthesrzetI still found myself ven- turing into the Businessworld |ungle (specifically,at that point in time, the real estatebrokerageareaof the |ungle|, sincerelybe- lieving that, becauseof my preparation,I would succeedin clos-

ing every deal,only to end up having my headhanded to me on a platter becauseof realities over which I had little or no control. As I struck out on one sale a{ter another, it became clear to me that it was iust a matter of time until my self-esteem-and my self-confidencealongwith it-was shattered.The result wascon- fusion and doubt.

attitude requires preparation, and

in time, it occurred to me that even

though I possesseda reasonabledegreeof self-confidenceandfelt I was prepared,I waslacking a method for sustainingmy positive mental attitude in the faceof ongoingdisappointments.This con-

clusion evolvedinto one of my earliesttheories,and prompteda major shift upward in my career.

Then, at some point

Shattering the Myths

I dubbedit the Theory of Sustenanceof a Positive Attitude through the Assumption of a Negative Result, which states:Due to factors beyond one's control, most deals do not close. There- fore, the key to maintaining a positive mental attitude is to aL- ways assume o negative result. In other words, hope and try fot the best, but assume the worct. Anticipating continual short- term setbacks hasthe positive effectof deflating their impact on one'smental state when they occur,which in turn paves the way

for long-tem

If, for example,you're in sales(which, directly or indirectly, everyone is), and if you're prepared,you should go in:o every situation believing that you can makethe sale,while at the same time assuming that you r4/on't make the sale. We're talking

graduate-schoolstuff here, so admittedly the difference is subtle, but the differencebetween successand failure usually is subtle. This realistic approach to life simply takes into account circumstances beyond one's conuol, and PMA one-trick ponies

seem totally incapable of grasping this you still have a pulse rate and areover 2l

sonal experiencehas demonstrated to you that no

well preparedyou are, most situations in life don't work out as

planned. In real estate,for example,a deal can blow up over any one of a seemingly inftnite number of unforeseen obstacles- e.9.,unwanted third-party opinions, ulterior motives on the part of the buyer or seller, or even a changein the health or marital statusof oneof the parties. Consequently, I ultimately concluded that the only way to guard againsthaving my self-confidenceand belief shatteredwas

to acknowledge the reality that,like

close. The only way I could sustain a true positive mental atti- tude, I reasoned,was to be come to grips with this reality and as-

sume a negativeresult in every deal.

success.

obvious fact of life. If yearcof age,surely per-

matter how

it or not, most deals don't

Did it work? Spectacularly.My income skyrocketed during

year that I implemented the essenceof this theory, but

the ffrst

it's important to point out that the dealsI closed during that year

12

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

representedonly a small fraction of the total number of dealsI worked on. In essence,I simply accessedthe power of the law of averages.Also, it's noteworthy that I worked iust ashard,and in many instancesharder,on the scoresof dealsthat didn't closeasI did on the onesthat were successful.Given theserealities,there is no question in my mind that without my ftrm belief in the Theory of Sustenanceof a PositiveAttitude through the Assump- tion of a Negative Result, I would not have had the confidence and persistenceto presson after seeingone saleafter another go up in smoke.

I guessyou might say that it was a paradoxof sorts in that

I prepared myself for long-term successby bracing myself for short-term failure. I againemphasizethat this philosophyworks only if you arepreparedto succeed.It doesnot work if you simply use it as an excuseto fail in a situation where it may have

been possibleto succeedhad you

persistent. With this unorthodox perspective indelibly stamped on my forebrain,I wasableto view eachnegativeresult asa learningex- perience and studiously focus on extracting the lessonslearned from each experience.Then, of utmost importance, I simply de- leted the negativeresult from my mind. When it comesto situa- tions that don't work out, whether in my businessor personal life, my motto remains: "Next!" Forgetaboutit, move quickly on to the next deal,and let the law of averageswork its wonders.

tried harderand/or beenmore

Working long, hard hours. As to the myth about working long,

hard hours, I cameto the conclusion that the words Jong andhatd are relative. What one person considersto be working hard, an- other may think of as coasting.What onepersonconsidersto be

long hours

The whole conceptof hard work, then, tendsto be subjective.It wasn't so much that I scornedhard work; I didn't-and still don't.

fray, by someone else's standards,be iust getting by.

Shattering the Myths

t3

vations through the yearshave, tnfact, convinced me that I work harderand longer hours than most peoplewho droneon endlessly about their labors. Since "working long, hard hours" is a relative phrase,it logi- cally follows that there is no setnumber of hours per day that one hasto work in order to succeed.The amount of time you must in- vest dependsupon your individual ability and the magnitude of your goals.For example,a personof greaterability who desiresto earn $100,000 ayear might be ableto do soby working four hours

a day,while someoneof lesserability who wants to earn $50,000

a year might find it necessaryto work l0 hours a dayto accom- plish his obiectives. Also, there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to putting in long hours. When energy is continuously expended

over a long period of time, both the body and brain decreasetheir

output, quantitatively

and qualitatively. Naturally, everyone's

body and brain have different tolerances, but nonetheless there

is a point at which results begin to diminish in relation to effort

expended. In fact, there'sa point

negative.It's an old axiom in football that a tired player is a player

at which one'sresults actually become

in

dangerof being iniured. Likewise, a personwho works too long

at

one stretch is in dangerof making costly mistakes. Mental and

physical fatigue are natural enemies of anyone who aspires to greatsuccess.

My answer to the "working long, hard hours" adagebecame known as the Uncle GeorgeTheory, which states:If your main focus is on keeping your nose to the grindstone and working 7ong,hard hours, you're guaranteed to get only one thing in re- tum: Old! One need only look at the empirical evidenceto conffrm the soundnessof this theory. Haveyou not seen,with your own eyes, that working long, hard hours doesnot by itself assurea person

of my Uncle George,

of success?In this regard,I always think

who servedas my inspiration for the Uncle GeorgeTheory. This

14

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

kindly little gentleman owned a corner grocerystole and worked

14-to 16-hourdaysall his life. He neversucceededin gettingrich, but he did get old. This didn't take any greatamount of insight on my part, iust good eyesight.I could see,with my own eyes,the hours and effort my uncle put in every day, and I could also see that it never got him anywhere. Everyone has an Uncle George.Of course,your Uncle George may be a cousin, a brother, or perhapsyour own father-someone who has worked very hard over the years,kept his nose to the grindstone,yetnever achievedany greatdegreeof success.When- ever you have witnessed such a saddrama playing out, you were observing, ftrsthand, the inherent truth in the Uncle George Theory. Perhapsyou're thinking that the world is uniust,andperhaps you're right. A11Iknow is that I didn't lay down the framework of reality; I just learned to acknowledgeit. The reality of the Uncle GeorgeTheory is self-evident to anyone who hasa seriousdesire to discover truth. All that is required to accurately observethis fact of life is intellectual honesty.By acknowledging this truth, I was ableto make it work for merather than allowing myself to be to intimidated by others into believing that hard work alone would make me successful. The same goes here for what I said about having a positive mental attitude, i.e., that hard work does not prevent orrefrom being successful;on the conttury, as previously stated,a good work ethic is crucial to success.The point of the Uncle George Theory is that hard work alonedoesnot dssurconeof success.I never had a problem with working long, hard hours, but I didn't

supplemented my hard

start making any serious money until I

work with the realities discussedon the pagesof this book. By gaining an understanding of what a positive mental atti- tude means in real-life terms, and by realizing that working long, hard hours doesn't guaranteesuccess,ffiy mind becamea clean

slate that was open to new ideas-ideas basedon reality rather than myths. And in order to construct a workable successphi-

Shattering the Myths

t5

losophy,one that would be ableto stand up to the punishment of real-world experiences,I knew I would have to build a strong foundation to replacethe old one that had not worked in actual practice. To accomplishthis, I undertook a seriousstudy of my own

past experiences.I tried to be painfully

honest in identifying the

factorsthat had contributedto my failures, aswell asthose that had led to success.I then beganpiecing togetheran overall phi- losophy basedon my conclusions.Though there have been no fundamental changesin my philosophy through the years, the natural processof maturation assuresthat I will continually find the needto fine tune it. I never ceaseto be amazedat how each new experienceteachesme anew,often subtle,twist that I hadn,t thought of before.It continually reminds me how exciting it is to

grow and evolve intellectually to the very end of one,sjourney through life.

CHaPTE "

2

RnprecING

THE MYrHs

our of the theories discussedin this chapterrepresentthe cornerstones of my reality-based philosophy, and are an- chored to a fifth theory that I look upon asthe bedrockof my philosophy. I use the word bedtock, becausewithout surely would have spentthe rest of my life asan intimidatee. The bedrock theory I am referring to is the Theory of Reality, which states:Reality is neither the way you wish things to be nor the way they appeal to be, but the way they actually are.EitheI you

acknowledgereality and use it to your benefit, ot it will auto-

matically

This sounds so elementary at ffrst blush that you might question why it would deservethe exalted status of being the bedrock my entire philosophy.Yet, no matter how simplistic it

it

I

work against You.

l6

Replacing the Myths

r7

may sound, it has beenmy observationthat while most people pay lip service to the importance of correctly perceiving reality, very few of them demonstrate,through their actions,that they,re

really serious about taking reality into account in their daily Iives. In my opinion, the single biggestcauseof failure lies in the inability to recognize andfor refusal to acknowledgereality. Like a majority of people,I spentmany yearsof my life cling- ing to idealistic beliefsabouthow the world works. For yearsI ac- cepted traditional nostrums and confusedthe way I would have liked things to be with the way they really were.In retrospect,I arn amazedat how I managedto limp along yearafter year,refus- ing to acknowledge reality in the face of one ugly ending after another.

I witnessed many people stubbornly adhering to conven- tional successrules, only to continually have their fingers sev- eredwhen they reachedfor their chips. Their wish was that these rules would work; the reality wasthat they did not. I myself had

a masochistictendencyto focus on the other person,s best inter-

est,particularly in businessdealings,naively clinging to the be- lief that my benevolentattitude would be appreciatedand that I would be handsomelyrewarded.At best,I endedup with a hand- ful of dfii dt worst, I got a ftnancial slap in the face.My wrsh was

that I would be iustly rewarded Ior my caring attitude; the reality was that I wasnot. Like millions of peoplebeforeme, I went into one deal after another on just a handshake,believing the other party's assur- ances that a handshakewas all that I needed-only to have him end up beating me over the headwith his other hand! My wrsh was that I neededonly a handshake;the reality was that I needed

a clear,written agreement.

I repeatedlylistenedto attorneysinsist that they weren,t deal-

killers-that

concentrated on ft.nding,rather than solving, problems-only to witness those same non-deal-killing attorneys blow up one

deal after another. My wrsft was that each new attorney who

they weren't like those "typical attorneys,, who

18 To Be or Not

to Be Intimidated?

proclaimedhimself to be differentfrom other (deal-killing)attor- neys would show, through his actions, that he wasn't a deal- killer; the reality, however, was that the vast maiority of such attorneysendedup being worcethan most of their brethren.

In essence,I, like most peoplein the

Businessworld |ungle,

wished that the gameof businesstook placeon a nurseryschool

playground; the reality, however, was that it was played in a vi- cious jungle.I concludedthat I must either acceptthat reality or, for my own well-being, give up all my worldly possessions(abi- cycle, clock radio,and tatteredMickey Mantle baseballcard)and becomea monk. I opted for the former. In addition to people confusing their wishes with the way things really are,there's another important factor that canblind

a person to reality: illusion. It's a lot more difficult and pain-

illusions than wishes, but one

gut-wrenching experienceafter another forced me to becamea hard-nosedrealist.As a result, I ultimately made it a habit to re- lentlessly probe everydealfor illusions, especiallyIf a deallooked too goodto betrue.

ful to recognizeand deal with

THE FOURCORNERSTONES

Cornerstone No.l-Theory of Relativity: In otdet to settle on a rational coulse of action (or inaction), one must first weigh all pefiinent facts in a relative light and carefully define his terms, Let's take honesty as an example.Everyonedeftneshonesty to conveniently ftt his own actions. Question: Have you evermet

a personwho admits to being dishonest?Secondquestion:Have you ever known a dishonest person?I would probably be on pretty safeground if I wageredthat your answerto the first ques- tion was negative and your answerto the secondquestion was

affirmative. SinceI had dealt with many peoplewhom I consideredto be

dishonest, yet had never known anyonewho admitted to being

Replacingthe

Myths

t9

dishonest,it was clear to me that a term like honesty wasboth

relative and subjective. In fact, every human being interprets everythingin life to suit himself. I'm not just talking aboutother people;I'm talking about you and me as well. we can't help it; we're human. unlike animals, human beings have the ability to intellectualizeandinterpret, sothe key issuebecomesobjectivity versussubjectivity. Either through geneticsor environment, or both, somehuman beingsarebetterthan otherswhen it comesto beingobjective,and such individuals aremuch more likely to be

rational in their interpretation of events.In any case/interpreting eventswith a bias toward our own well-being is a perfectlynatu- ral human trait.

once I recognized that honesty was a subjective, relative characteristic,I realizedthat for yearsI had beenoperatingunder the delusion that there were only two types of people in the world: honest and dishonest. I now understood that a person could only be honest or dishonestrelative to the facts in a given situation, or relative to some individual's personalmoral stan- dards.That beingthe case,if someonetells me that an individual I'm dealingwith is dishonest,it's meaninglessto me. I want him to carefully define what he meansby dis&onest in that particular instanceso I can then decideif his deffnition is relevant to my objective. As another exampleof relativity, I pointed out in chapter I that what is hardwork to onepersonmight be semi-retirementto another.Hard work, in other words,is a relative notion. Are you

working hardrelative to how hardyou usually work or relativeto how hard someoneelse works?A phrasesuch as "working long, hard hours" has no meaning unlessit is clearly definedby the user.

A final example of relativity is to be seenin the word suc-

cess.Thereis no such thing asabsolutesuccess. you canonly be successfulrelative to some standard,whether that standardbe

basedon your own goalsor someoneelse'sachievements.when a persontalks to me about success/I might have a completely

2O

To Be ot Not to Be Intimidated?

different mental picture of successthan he does.In orderfor us to have a rational discussion,he must first defi'newhat he meansby

SUCCESS.

It,s important not to allow yourself to be intimidated by vague or subjective words and statementsthat are meaningful only when examinedin the clearlight of relativity.

Cornerstone No.2-Theory

somethingmay be or how much it may pleaseyou, the primary

factor to take into considetation is how rclevant it is to your main obiective. Successresults from focusingprimarily on proiectsthat are relevant to achievingone'sobiectives.Earlyin my careertI had a habit of expendingenormousamounts of time andenergyon proi- ects that were, so to speak,sideissues.Ultimately,I developed the habit of trying to qualify eachpotential activity by ftrst ask- ing myself whether or not it would bring me closerto achieving my goals.If the answerwasno,I eliminatedit or put it on the backburner. For example, once I becameknowledgeableabout the rele- vant factorsin closingrealestatesales,it becameclearto me that the seller, in particular, had a tendency to dwell on qualities of. his property that werenot relevantto thevalueof his property.A sellerwould o{ten emphasizehow much it had costhim to build his apartment development,office building, ot shoppingcenter. While I may have had empathy for him in this regatd,his cost of construction hadno effectwhatsoeveron the prospectivebuyer's determination of the value of his property.If the sellerhad spent twice as much to build an apartment development as he should have,that was his problem,not the buyer's.The buyer of income- producing properties was primarily interestedin cash flow, and had little if any interestin the seller'scostof construction. Another examplewaswhen a sellerwould try to impressme with what an honestpersonhe was, andthus therewasno reason to worry about my commission.Needlessto sa, a discussionof his

of Relevance:No mattel how ttue

Replacing the Myths

2l

honesty wasn't relevant; what was relevant was whether or not he was willing to put into writing what we had agreedupon with regardto my commission. A discussion of honesty, then, is not only relative, but alsoirrelevant when it comes to businessdeal- ings. "Trust me" has becomesomething of a clich comedy line in the Businessworld |ungle.

Note that I didnot saythat honesty is not relevant, but that

a drscussionof honesty is not relevant. In other words, parties to

to impress each

other with their honesty, as such time could be more efffciently employedworking on a written agreement.In business,awritten agreementis high on the list of relevant factors. As a final illustration of the Theory of Relevance,whenever

a sellerwanted me to lower my commission (which wasvirtually 100percent of the time) becausehe "hadn't rearizedhow many additional expenses"he wasgoingto have at the closing,that was not a relevant factor from my standpoint. Sure,I may havebeen a good samaritan and had empathy for the seller in such a situa- tion, but that still didn't make his problem relevant the commis- sion we had agreedupon. In fact, it was no more relevant than if I had proclaimed that I neededmore money than our agreement called for, and that I would like my commission to beincreased.How many sellersdo you think would reactfavorably to that kind of logic? The only relevant factor was what our written agreement stated-period. In becoming adeptat recognizingwhat was and was not rele- vant, I found that it was not only important to try to keepbuyers and sellersfrom drifting onto irrelevant tangents,but to keep my own attention focusedon relevant factors. I becamedetermined that I would not waste time and effort on issuesthat had little or nothing to do with my earning,andreceiving, commissions.

a transaction need not waste their time trying

Cornerctone No,3-Mortality

earth is limited, it makes good senseto aim high and move fast.

When my participation in the game of life ends,I don,t want

Theory: Given that your time on

22

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

to be caught beggingfor an extra inning, for one more chanceto

grab the brassring. The fact is that I've never known a person who was given an extrainning. Most peopleblock from their con- scious minds the reality that they're going to die, and in a rcIa- tively short period of time at that. I didn't like facing this reality any more than does anyone else, but I finally did so after the Theory of Reality becamefirmly entrenched in my thinking. As a result, I quit hiding my headin the fantasysandsof eter- nal life and facedthe reality that I was asmortal aseveryperson who haseverlived on this planet.I figuredthat, with someluck, I might be around for another 50 years or so.By the sametoken,

circumstances beyond my control could reducemy secularvisit to a matter of months, days,hours, or evenminutes. There was simply no way of knowing.

something beyond our worldly existence,what a

great bonus that will be. However, I had no way of knowing for certain that there was anything beyond life on earth, so I decided to base my actions on the assumption that this time around would be my only shot. I made up my mind that I was not going to squander-becauseo{ f.eat,intimidation, or any other reason- what might be my only opportunity to win at the gameof life. In the event I had only one life to live, I figured I had better get on

If there is

with it asquickly aspossible.

Cornerstone No. Llce

mate fate of the earth and universe, it is vain and nonsensical to

take oneself too seriously.

I call this the Ice Ball Theory as a result of an ominous de-

au-

thor explained that our sun is slowly burning out, and that in

will be completely extinguished. When

about 50 billion years it

that occurs, the earth will be nothing but a ftozenball of ice. Ac- companying the explanation was a chilling illustration of what

the earth might look like at that time.

scription of the earth's future that I read someyearsago.The

Ball Theory: Given the apparcnt, ulti'

Replacing

the Myths

23

As ominous asthe explanationand illustration were,I came

to the conclusionthat it was just anotherreality of life, that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, and that, in light of this very long-term reality, the immediate problems plaguing

me-particularly in

the Businessworld fungle-were so insignift-

cant asto make me feel like an ant. The reality from my vantage point wasthat 50 billion yearsfrom now, when the earthis noth-

ing but an ice ball, my problems of today will be too insigniftcant to haveevenbeenrecorded.Indeed,therewould undoubtedlynot evenbe a record of the entire century in which I had lived most of my life. The Ice Ball Theory is the flip side of the Mortality Theory coin. While on the one hand it makessenseto "go for it" in the time you have left on earth, the Ice Ball Theory eliminates stress

and makesit fact, as most

and struggling for success,rather than successitself, that bring about the greatestamount of ioy. Having this kind of mind-setputs you at a decidedadvantage over opponents who tend to view every deal as life or death. Stressed-outindividuals presstoo hard for results at crucial mo- ments/ while you, by contrast, are able to calmly maintain your objectivity.And the hardersomeonepressesfor a result, the less likely it is he will obtain it. Not taking myself too seriouslyhelped me to look at life as a game,and at business as a sort of poker game within the bigger game of life. I pictured the earth as a giant poker table upon which the gameof businessis played,with only a ftxed number of chips on the table. Eachplayer getsto participate for an unknown period of time, and the name of the game is to seehow many chips he canpile onto his stack. (I should point out that yearslater, when I becamea student of Austrian economics, I came to understand that, technically speaking,the number of "chips" is not at all fixed; quite the con-

possiblefor you to enjoy your quest for success.In successfulpeople have discovered,it's the striving

21

To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?

traryt in fact. Businessis not a zero-Sumgame/ becausemore wealth is constantly beingcreated.The storiesin this book, how- ever, relate to speciftc real estate deals,and rest assuredthat every real estateclosingls a zero-sumgame.That's becausethe buyer is only willing to comeup with "X" amountof money/ the

seller insists

out that "Y" just

case-the real estateagentendsup with "2" las in zerol amount

of money.) The chips themselves,of course I

anyone. In {act, financial gluttons have found, to their dismay,

that either bathing in money or eating it are unsanitary habits that cancauseoneto becomequite ill. However,chipsdo serveas a meansto an end.The rules of the biggergameof life provide for

the exchange of |ungle chips for material items that can help to enhanceone'scomfort andpleasure. You might be inclined to ask, "If Ltfeis nothing more than a game,why play so hard to win? " To which I would answer,Why

as a bonus, have some fun along the way?.

Seemslike common senseto me. SoI decidedto gofor all I could get,asquickly asI could get it, while I was still vital enough to play the game.Recognizing that both life and businessare gamesalsomadeit easierfor me not to take myself too seriously,which in turn madeit that much easierto succeed.After all, if life is just a game,why be afraid to take chances?The reality is that there'sno way that you're going to get out of the gamealive anywaytsowhat's the point of playing a conservativehand? In the next chapter,I relate some tales of woe that I experi- encedprior to graspingthe signiftcance of the Ice Ball Theory, and explain how these agonizing experienceshelped me to further formulate my philosophy.As a result, I developedtechniquesnot

only to dramatically increasemy earnings,but, more important, to make certain that I actually rcceivedwhat I earned. And, of course,had it not beenfor my earlyunderstanding of

on receiving "Y" amount

of money, and if it turns

is usually the

happensto equal //f,//-v7fiich

areof no particular use to

not try to win-and,

Replacing

the Myths

25

the Theory of Sustenanceof a PositiveAttitude through the As- sumption of a Negative Result,I would never have beenableto survive the seemingly endlessnumber of heartaches,humilia- tions, and frustrations that I enduredduring those early yearsof trial by fire.

CnnPrE. 3

Pnssrxc Mv ENTnaNCEExelvt er Scnnw [J,

hen I enteredthe real estatebusiness,I wasboth igno-

rant and naive, with

tating realities that awaited me. Little did I know

absolutelyno ideaof the devas-

that I would be ableto survive only becauseof two theoriesI had developedyears earlier. Had it not been for those theories, I probably would not havehad the courageto becomea real estate agent, becausethe discouraging remarks that were gleefully di- rectedat me by numerousrealestatebrokersandsalesmenwould surely have crushedmy spirit.

to peoplein the business

about what was involved in obtaining a real estatelicense,they would go to great lengths to tell me how tough their profession was,how it was almost impossiblefor a newcomerto get started,

It seemedthat whenever I talked

Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U.

27

how exceptional a personhad to be to succeedas a real estate

agent,and, in summation, why it

entertheir field. Years earlier, this kind of talk would have totally intimi-

datedme, andI undoubtedlywould havebecomeconvincedthat I would be wasting my time to evenmake the effort. Fortunately, however,I had paid a lot of dueslong beforeI decidedto go into the real estatebusiness,soI was ableto ignoremost of the nega- tive grenadestossedat me. I had long beforeconcluCedthat all members of the DiscouragementFraternity had two things in

common: (1) Becausethey were insecure

would be a mistake for me to

,

they flearcdcompeti-

tion, and {2) they wereferociousaboutprotectingtheir turf. The two theories that helped me to survive my entrance exam (r.e.,hazingby the DiscouragementFraternity)at ScrewU. (my early yearsin the real estatebusiness)are the focus of this

chapter. The first is the Tortoise and Hare Theory, which states:The

outcome of most situations in

tem.

the individual

war, Battles are for ego-trippers;wars are for money-grippers. The Tortoise is the unglamorousplodderwho always seems to find a w^y to come out ahead,though he has a habit of getting bruisedand batteredalongthe way. He isn't flashyor impressive;

his strengthsareconsistency,perseverance,andresiliency. The Tortoise is the quintessential antihero. Ben Braddock (playedby Dustin Hoffman), the shy, stuttering boyfriend in The Graduate, wasa classicantihero.He lost everybattle, but some- how managedto win the war (thespoilsof which were none other than Katharine Ross).Colombo, the fumbling, stumbling detec- tive playedby PeterFalk in the old TV seriesof the samename, was slow when it came to ftguring things out, but in the end he alwaysgot his man.And how about Rocky Balboa(SylvesterStal- lone)in the Rockyseries? While still in my teens,I becameconsciousof the fact that I

life are determined over the long

The guy who gets off to a fast staft merely wins a battle;

who's ahead at the end of the race wins the

28

To Be or Not

to Be Intimidated?

was a very slow starter at most things,yet almost alwaysseemed to find a way to ffnish strong.I finally concludedthat it was my perfectionism that was at the heart of my slow-starthabit. I had an inherent urge to have all the ground rules defined, study the Layof the land, preparea gameplan, and organizeall the details beforemoving forward. I tried to (andstill do)live by the words of Abraham Lincoln: "If I had eight hours to chop down a tree,I'd spendsix sharpeningmy axe." As a result of my methodical approachto projects,I began,in a tongue-in-cheekmanner/ to comparemyself to the fabledtor- toisein the tortoise-and-haretale.I learned,overaperiodof time, that it was not so important to be the life of the party or the cen- ter of attention in a crowd. The important thing was what hap- pened afterthe party was over.The big points are scoredwhen you goone-on-onewith someonebehind closeddoors. Glibnessin a crowd more often than not is just part of the "all show,no dough" syndrome.So,though I realizedthat I was not particularly impressiveon first meeting-especially in situa- tions where three or more people were involved-I found that I could be very effectiveby doggedlyfollowing up with one-on-one meetingsat alater time.

I can't deny that it would be nice to havethe kind of person- ality that would dazzlepeopleon ftrst encounter,and I wouldn't mind being a little faster out of the starting gate, either. The reality, however, is that I don't have these qualities, and even back in my teen-dumb days I recognizedmy shortcomingsin theseareas.And that in turn causedme to focus on playing the hand I hadbeendealt to the bestof my ability. Having christened myself "The Tortoise," my motto be- came: If you slow down enough to loak over your right shoulder,

I'11 passyou on the left; if you slow down your left shoulder, I'Il passyou on the right;

me from passingyou on either side,I'll maneuver betweenyour legs,if that's what it takes. That heavy breathing you hear be- hind you is me-steadily closing in on you.

enough to look over and if you try to stop

Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U.

29

Or, in more direct terms: Quickly getting out of the starting blocks may get people'sattention, but all that counts rs where you arc when the raceis over. In other words, a tortoise focuseson long-term results. If a

stuttering

Ross, who knows what treasures might lie ahead for a relent- less,resourcefulreptile?So,after yearsof playing the role of The Tortoise-of ffnding^way to win somany seeminglylost races- I wasnot goingto allow myself to be intimidated by the Discour-

agementFraternitywhen I enteredthe realestatebusiness. The secondtheory that played a maior role in protecting me from the Discouragement Fraternity when I ftrst entered ScrewU. wast