Winning Through Intimidation?

My middle son is reading a book called, Winning Through Intimidation: How to Be the Victor, Not the Victim, In Business and in Life by Robert Ringer. The title is a turn off to me as I do not consider intimidating others to be a virtue. However, I read the book and the author had some good points about how being intimidated by others can prevent a person from being successful.

I like the author’s willingness to face the hard realities of the business world and his corresponding insights. I do think that the author makes the mistake of using his specific experience in commercial real estate brokerage to hastily generalize principles for all of business. I disagree with his more cynical perspective on people, but I do understand how he came to that perspective based on the experiences that he shares in the book. In any case, I think there is truth to some of his theories and I think that it is worthwhile to consider his ideas. The author is also very humorous, which made it more fun to read the book. I’m looking forward to talking through the theories with my son.

I wrote up some notes about the various chapters. Below are those notes:

Chapter 1 – Shattering the Myths

  • Deal with the world as it is, not as you wish it was.
  • A positive mental attitude + hard work does not necessarily = success (that’s a myth).
    • The problem arises when someone relies solely on these virtues to the exclusion of others.
  • A real positive attitude comes by being good at what you do, understanding realities to succeed and having self-discipline to base your actions on the realities of the business world.
  • Preparation is key to success!
  • Theory of Next: The key is to realize that no deal is that important and be ready to move to next deal when the current deal does not work out. 
    • Anticipate short-term setbacks – this deflates their impact on you.
    • You need to come to grips with the reality that most deals don’t close.
    • Negative experiences = learning experiences – extract lessons learned.
  • “Working hard” is subjective.  Ability plays a role + the size of your goals.
  • Keep the law of diminishing returns in mind.
  • Uncle George Theory: If your only focus is to work long, hard hours then your only guarantee will be getting old.
    • Hard work alone will not make you successful.

Chapter 2 – Replacing the Myths

  1. Theory of Reality: Reality does not = your wish or appearance – acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit or it will automatically work against you. 
    1. Very few people demonstrate, through their actions, coming to terms with reality.
    1. It’s just a wish that you will be rewarded by focusing on the best interest of others, especially in business dealings.
    1. Handshake (wish) vs. clear, written agreement (reality).
    1. Business plays out in a vicious jungle.
    1. Illusions are a problem – learn to probe each deal for them.
  2. Four Cornerstones
    1. Theory of Relativity: In order to settle on a rational course of action/inaction, one must weigh all the pertinent facts in a relative light and carefully define terms (examples: “honesty” vs. “dishonesty”, “hard work”, “success” – define what you mean by that!).
    1. Theory of Relevance: No matter how interesting or true something may be, primarily consider its relevance to your achieving your main objective.
      1. Someone’s honesty is not relevant to a deal – what’s relevant is whether the person is willing to put it in writing.
    1. Mortality Theory: Given that your time on earth is limited, it makes good sense to aim high and move fast.  Don’t squander time/opportunity!
    1. The Ice Ball Theory: Given the apparent fate of the earth, it is vain to take oneself too seriously.
      1. Eliminates stress and makes it possible to enjoy your quest for success.
      1. Striving and struggling for success brings joy!
      1. Advantage: don’t see every deal as life or death.
      1. Look at life as a game – this makes it easier to take chances.
      1. Common sense: try to win and have fun!

Chapter 3 – Passing My Entrance Exam at Screw U

  • Be aware of members of the Discouragement Fraternity
    • Insecure with fear of competition
    • Ferocious about protecting their own turf
  • Tortoise and Hare Theory: The outcome of most situations is determined over the long term.  A short-term battle focus is for the ego-trippers.
    • Tortoise traits: consistency, perseverance, and resiliency (Rocky example).
    • It’s not important to be the life of the party or the center of attention.
    • Quickly getting out of the starting blocks may get people’s attention, but all that counts is where you are when the race is over.
  • Organic Chemistry Theory: Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by know-it-alls who thrive on bestowing their knowledge on insecure people.  Mentally close your ears and move relentlessly forward with the knowledge that what someone else knows is not relevant.  In the final analysis, what is most relevant to your success is what you know and what you do!
    • Role of the “Court Holder” in the organic chemistry class as an example of know-it-all who intimidated others but could not back it up in the end.
    • Mind your business – don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by someone else’s knowledge or apparent knowledge.

Chapter 4 – My Three Unforgettable Professors at Screw U

  • Three Type Theory: There are only three types of people in business.
    • Type One – The person who lets you know he’s out to get your chips, then he does just that.
    • Type Two – The person who goes to great lengths to assure you he would never pilfer your chips then he tries to grab your chips.
    • Type Three – Like Type Two with assurances, but he means it.  In the end, he still ends up trying to get your chips (good intentions are irrelevant to the final outcome – therefore, in the end assume that he will attempt to grab your chips).

Chapter 5 – Type Number Three is Sincerely Sorry that He Grabbed Your Chips, but the Result is Just the Same as If He Were Glad

  • Law of Risk and Reward: The less risk you take, the lower the potential reward.  The higher the risk taken, the higher potential reward.
    • Watch out for the reality of greed in others.
  • Attorney to Attorney Respect Rule: Don’t do harm to the other attorneys, protect your own interest (example story of his first real estate deal).

Chapter 6 – Type Number One Isn’t Sorry that He Grabbed Your Chips, Because He Warned You Ahead of Time How He Plays the Game

  • Type One is the most honest – you can choose not to become involved with him.
  • All wealthy people have an important weapon: staying power – no one deal is that important, therefore they cannot be intimidated.
  • “Professor” story
  • Value for value – this is the best, honest foundation for a business relationship.

Chapter 7 – Type Number Two Isn’t Sorry He Grabbed Your Chips, Because, In spite of His Assurances to the Contrary, that Was His Intention from the Outset

  • Type Two people can be devious.  If he says he will only deal with people like himself, with lots of integrity, and a holier than though attitude, watch out!

Chapter 8 – My Senior Year at Screw U

The three “credits”/experiences earned to complete his undergraduate degree from Screw U University:

  1. Credit #1 – What happens when you are in a position of need (weakness) and you let it show.
  2. Credit #2 – People resent someone without much money if they are set to make a lot of it – people think that little guys don’t have a right to make much money.  This can impact your mindset and your preparedness to see a big deal through.
  3. Credit #3 – The story of the author flying across the country to cash a check – presence and quickness are important!

Chapter 9 – My Graduation from Screw U

  • Leapfrog Theory: No one has an obligation (moral, legal or otherwise) to work his way up through the ranks.  Everyone has a right to re-direct his career and start operating at a higher level at any time that he, and he alone, believes he is ready. 
    • You decide to operate at a higher level, but be prepared!
    • There is no need to wait for the “conventional wisdom” crowd to anoint you.
    • Being intimidated in past deals limited the author – being intimidated by others is the source of most problems in trying to achieve your objectives (and therefore in allowing them to control your destiny).
    • When leapfrogging, prepare for jealousy, resentment, and scorn.
  • Theory of Intimidation: The results a person achieves are inversely proportional to the degree to which he is intimidated.
    • Knowledge and ability seemed to have no effect on people’s position as intimidator or intimidate.
    • The most relevant factor is my posture.
  • Posture Theory: It’s not what you say or do that counts, but what your posture is when you say or do it. 
    • The overriding question is: what can I do to improve my weak posture?  Wealth can help, but it is not necessary.
    • In life, substance is more important than perception, but in the reality of the business jungle perception is what matters!  But, you must have substance to back up perception.
    • Legal strength is an important power (real power).  Legal strength and image power together lead to staying power.
  • Three Legal Tools for Real Estate Agents
    • #1 – Real estate license in state of property
    • #2 – Signed commission agreement with seller before beginning to work on his property
    • #3 – Use of certified mail
    • Primary purpose of these tools was to avoid litigation
  • Beyond legal power, performance power is critical – being the best and having a reputation for getting results
    • Allow intellect to guide actions (author customized his theory to practical situations).
  • Bottom Line Theory: You’re not through until you’ve crossed all the t’s, dotted all the i’s, and the check has cleared the bank.  Everything else is fluff.  Fifth step added to traditional four steps to selling – GETTING PAID!
    • This philosophy can also be applied to your personal life.  Important question: What must I do to bring about the payoff that I am after?

Chapter 10 – Using Posture Power to Get the Ball

  • Marketable Deal Theory: Concentrate your efforts on finding a few marketable deals rather than working on a large number of unworkable deals with the desperate hope that one of them will miraculously close.
    • Focus on efficiency.
    • Great desperation of others makes a deal more likely (story of author using techniques to differentiate himself from normal real estate agents and create a posture of power/control/importance).

Chapter 11 – Advancing the Ball to Midfield

  • Serious real estate buyers DO have definite guidelines, regardless of what they say.
  • Learn to weed out curiosity seekers (not serious buyers) asap for efficiency sake.

Chapter 12 – Reaching the Opponent’s 20 Yard Line

  • In the area of sales/deal making, build a detailed record of your involvement as a reminder to all the principals that you were instrumental in making the deal happen.
    • A strong posture led to communication flowing through him instead of around him.
    • Posture maintenance (not allowing it to puncture) was important and he was always a part of conversations between the buyer and the seller.
  • The Fiddle Theory: The longer you fiddle around with a deal, the greater the odds that it will never close.

Chapter 13 – Scoring

  • Boy-Girl Theory: Everyone wants what he cannot have and does not want what he can have.
  • Better Deal Theory: Before a person closes a deal, it’s human nature for him to worry that there may be a better deal down the road (greed plays a role in this).
  • It’s good to analyze what the real objectives and objections of people are – buyers and sellers are not always consciously aware of themselves.
  • If you aspire to a high success rate in getting results, you must not assume someone else will take care of important details – take care of them yourself!
  • Role of Legalman character – looking to find problems (which leads to killing deals).
  • Degree of financial desperation of seller is the most important factor in determining how marketable a deal is.

Chapter 14 – It Doesn’t Count Until the Points Are on the Scoreboard

  • The Bluff Theory: The secret to bluffing is not to bluff.  Determination is key and getting paid is what matters.

Chapter 15 – The Return of the Tortoise

  • Be prepared.
  • Find the right opportunity.
  • Come through at the moment of truth.
  • Booze Bros. story – be ready to walk away.

Chapter 16 – The Return of the Tortoise, Part II

  • Continuation of Booze Bros. story – 2nd Kansas City deal closing and success of Leapfrog Theory

Chapter 17 – The Tortoise Dons His Hare Costume

  • Story of getting burned again – Dayton deal with “Mr. Biggshotte”, typical Number One – he let his guard down

Chapter 18 – The Tortoise Returns to True Form

  • Story of Memphis deal with “Bubba”, habitual backslapper and “Mumbles” – author recognized Type Number Two’s from the outset and came out ahead

Chapter 19 – The Ultimate Insurance Policy

  • Story of successful Dallas deal with “Paul Pervertte” and “Manny Moral”

Chapter 20 – Sticking with a Winning Formula

  • Story of successful closing from Omaha with Manny Moral: complicated sale, able to get paid on 100% of sale in leaseback scenario, new variety of Number Two – “Scott Scam” who came across as dumb but was clever as a fox.

Chapter 21 – Answer: NOT to be Intimidated

  • Author’s relentless pursuit of reality was the factor most responsible for him being able to turn the tables on intimidators and achieve many successful deals.
  • Following all the author’s theories together brought success.

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