Dan Pena: Real Success, Performance, & Being High on Life
By: Dave Asprey
Dan Pena is the founder of Quantum Leap Advantage (QLA), a mentoring program that teaches people how to achieve unprecedented levels of success and high performance. Dan is also currently Chairman and Founder of The Guthrie Group, an international investment consortium group, and over his lifetime has helped to found and grow several multimillion-dollar companies. He draws on his experience and success in business to coach thousands of people every year as an eccentric mentor, lecturer, and motivational speaker, teaching them the proven methods and characteristics that make the highest performing individuals successful and allow them to achieve their dreams.
Why you should listen –
This is a special in-person interview shot live from the 2014 Bulletproof Conference! Dan comes on Bulletproof Radio to discuss the characteristics of high performance individuals, how to tear people down in order to build them back up as a better version, what it takes to have true commitment and accountability, and what you can accomplish when you’re high on life. You don’t want to miss his top “3” recs for kicking ass at life! Enjoy the show.
What You’ll Hear
- 0:10 – Cool Fact of the Day!
- 0:30 – Welcome Dan Pena
- 3:29 – Being high on life
- 7:25 – Finding flow by helping others
- 9:47 – Dan’s Castle Seminars for success
- 10:45 – Characteristics of high performance individuals
- 17:45 – The ability to reach within yourself
- 20:35 – Commitment and accountability
- 24:35 – Tearing down to build back up
- 30:05 – Glory is fleeting
- 34:10 – Is there such a thing as a balanced life?
- 36:16 – Top three recommendations for kicking more ass and being Bulletproof!
Dave: Hey, this is Dave Asprey with Bulletproof Radio. Today’s cool fact of the day is that the flu virus can survive outside your body for about 48 hours normally, but on a piece of currency, it can last for up to 10 days.
Today’s guest is Dan Pena. Dan has been chairman of a lot of companies and a lot of industries, has raised billions of dollars in venture capital, and been a very successful business guy for multiple decades. He’s also the author of a book with a great title, called “Your First Hundred Million”, which almost sounds over the top. You also, Dan, run the Quantum Leap Advantage podcast.
Dan Pena: Correct.
Dave: If I had to think of words to describe you, over-the-top might be the right word. Would you agree with that?
Dan Pena: Eccentric. Over the top. A little bit outrageous. Yeah, those all work.
Dave: Those all work? What’s something about you that not a lot of people know?
Dan Pena: Well, since we’re filming here in Pasadena, even though I tell people, but not too many people are listening, I’m from about 10, 12 miles from here in East L.A. From the barrio. When we came from the airport driving here a few nights ago, my driver, who I use when I’m here in Los Angeles, said, “Are we going to go by the old place, boss?”
I said, and his name happened to be Dave, “Dave,” I said, “No, my kids aren’t with me, so we’re not going to make a spectacle.” because whenever I come with my children, and they know we turn left on the Bakersfield Freeway coming just past Chavez Ravine to go left, they know we’re going to go by my old house. Of course my kids are up to here with looking at my old house, where I was raised as an adolescent, but not many people know that. It’s nostalgic being this close to my old house. So most people don’t know that.
The other thing that maybe perhaps most people don’t realize that I’ve been in to, and we were just discussing it before we started filming, health and fitness for over forty years. They didn’t call it biohacking then, they called it health, fitness, etc. Fitness science, etc. I got serious about my health about 1974, and in preparation for the first 50-mile marathon that I ran, and got more serious about it the second 50-mile marathon that I ran. I got even more serious about it when I ran my first 100 … I only ran one 100-mile marathon, and the first time I ran 1,000 miles in month. So I’ve been into health, seriously, for a long, long time. It’s been enjoyable to spend time with the kids here, and I call all of you kids because I’m old enough to be your father, not your grandfather. When these kids talk about some of the things they’ve experienced, I say, “Yeah, I experienced that in ’77.” You look at me like, “’77?” It’s almost like I said 1877. It’s been enjoyable.
One thing that is really remarkable to me, and I hadn’t really given it any thought, and I’ll be 70 on my next birthday, is that according to what I’ve listened to, I’ve been in the flow, or in the zone, almost all my life. Literally.
Dave: Explain your success.
Dan Pena: Again, I hadn’t thought of it that way, and that’s why I’m grateful to you for having this because the things that I’ve taken for granted … In the late ’60’s, when I performed my first high-performance act, I always said “I’m high on life”. For my age, that meant you were loaded.
I wasn’t; I skipped drugs. Now I realize I had been high on life. I didn’t understand how high I really was, until I’ve listened to some of your great speakers about being in the flow and in the zone. I’ve done some pretty remarkable things that, looking back in hindsight, I just took them as matter of fact. As you well know, being a high-performance guy yourself for a number of years, when you’re used to setting the bar high, it becomes second nature to you. It just does. You do extraordinary things. For the few kids, not few, maybe 60 … 50 or 60 kids that I’ve talked to since I’ve been here, when I tell them about … Most of them are the age of my children, that are 32, 31 boys, and I have a 28 year old daughter, I’ve set the bar for them very, very high. These kids say it must be tough being your child, and of course my kids have been telling me this all their lives. I see your kids, those must be your kids running around.
Dan Pena: Yeah, and I think it’s your son in there taking notes. He’s wearing glasses, right?
Dave: That’s actually Joseph. He wrote an essay. He’s eleven. Unsolicited, had the composure to write two pages asking to please come to the Bulletproof Conference, so I gave him a pass, along with his parents.
Dan Pena: Oh.
Dave: My son was 5 year old beating all the adults at the memory game.
Dan Pena: Oh! That’s okay. But I mean, it’s remarkable that then kids will, you know … I wish there was something like this when my kids were that small for them to get in the habit. So, I’ve been in the flow. I’ve been in the zone. I’ve accomplished a lot of things.
The most remarkable thing from the last 21 years, since I’ve been a high-performance coach and QLA, Quantum Leap Advantage methodology I formulated when I started doing this in 1993, is that I’ve been able to create with guys and gals in the last 21 years over $50 billion in equity and value for them. Not for me. For them. I’ve gotten off on that more than my own claim to fame, which is taking eight hundred bucks and turning it into 450 million in eight years. Non-internet. Brick and mortar.
Dave: That’s even harder.
Dan Pena: I’m still looking for my first big internet hit. I mean, I really get off on that, because the knowledge that I have gained through my mentors, I’ve been able to translate and memorialize, and pass on to tens of thousands of kids. There are some things that, most people, that unless they did some real research on my websites and or Wikipedia, which is only about 85% accurate, which some people say, “That’s pretty accurate for Wikipedia,” I’m not one to point any fingers of indignation, but … I think those are some things that are pretty remarkable that people may not know about me.
Dave: You’ve had these multiple successes, yet you spend a ton of time sharing this knowledge. Steven Kotler, the guy who wrote “The Rise of Superman” and the main first keynote here at the Bulletproof Conference …
Dan Pena: Great, great deal.
Dave: Great guy. I’m assuming you got some time to spend with him.
Dan Pena: Oh, yeah.
Dave: Good. Just a gem of a guy. One of the things that helps you enter the flow state is giving back and serving others. I imagine that some of the flow state that you’ve experienced over the last 20 years, you’re helping these entrepreneurs make billions of dollars, and …
Dan Pena: Correct.
Dave: It keeps you focused and sharp.
Dan Pena: Correct.
Dave: You don’t strike me as a seventy year old guy.
Dan Pena: Well, I’ll be seventy on my next birthday. I don’t feel seventy. I don’t believe I look seventy. Some people say I dress seventy, but this is me, this is how I dress. I’m not here to stand out amongst everybody else in their jeans and t-shirts, but this is how I dress. Some people would say that that’s kind of like a Neanderthal, maybe it is. All I know is, it works. I dressed like this when I was 30. And it’s worked for forty years. Or thirty nine years.
I do give back. I give back about one third of my time pro bono. The other two thirds, I manage my own assets and or look for opportunities. Earlier in my career when I was a young guy like you, my pro bono was very minimal. As I’ve gotten older and because I get so much enjoyment out of it, which I didn’t think I’d do in candor, and my wife is still surprised that I get off on it so much helping the kids. It’s made my life very gratifying.
We travel a lot. From here, tomorrow, we’re on our way to Rome for three weeks in the Mediterranean sailing around. Then I’ll be up to Castle to meet your friend Brian Rose who’s going to come to the seminar.
People have asked me, surprisingly enough, “Are you going to treat him any differently than everybody else?” I don’t know what he’s told anybody, but I told him, “If you come, I’m gonna treat you like everybody else.”
Dave: What do you do at your conferences?
Dan Pena: Okay, we have fifteen people, roughly. They’re eight days. The opening night is business dinner attire where we all sit … Like an ice breaker, so to speak. The next morning, it starts at seven o’clock with breakfast, and you go eight days. It’s basically from seven in the morning ’til roughly 6:30 at night, the whole day. We break for an hour for lunch. We have two fifteen minute breaks during the day. The last night is a graduation night, where it’s equivalent of black tie, and kilts. Everybody wears kilts and tuxedos, where we hand out awards and graduation certificates, etc.
We basically take them, very much like the military. We tear them down the first two or three days to their, some people say their bones, some people say their souls, and then we build them up with the characteristics of the high-performance people that I’ve been privileged to be around.
I’ve been around a lot of people, and 75% of the high-performance people that I’ve been privileged to be around all do things about the same, 75%. The last 25% makes everybody different. Steve Jobs was different than Warren Buffett, that 25%. Notwithstanding Steve, I happened to have known Steve, God rest his soul, he didn’t go to college … Three weeks at Oregon State or Oregon, whatever school he went to.
Some guys went to Harvard. Some guys went to Wharton. Some guys have multiple degrees. Some guys have no degrees. We go through the characteristics of what has made these people happy, it’s not all about money. It’s like I told Brian a few months ago, “If your mother gets sick, and your daughter wants to go to Wharton and pay the money” … My daughter just graduated from Northwestern Graduate School “and you want to pay the big money, it takes money. If you want to support various orphanages, as my wife and I do, that takes money, not zen.”
Dan Pena: That’s what we teach them, but we’ve had people lose a hundred pounds, a hundred and fifty pounds. Some people say the Kool-Aid is better for losing weight … By the way, I know you lost one hundred pounds. Correct?
Dan Pena: I lost seventy.
Dan Pena: Okay. I used to be a big weight lifter. When I turned sixty, nine years ago, I tore both rotator cuffs. Both sides. I tore my long head biceps. I have an artificial shoulder, titanium shoulder. I have a steel hip. My body started to, because I was lifting too heavy, now in hindsight it seems very clear to me, at the time I said, “No, I can still push myself.” Well, anyway, that’s a whole other story. That’s my Type A personality.
I decided to stop lifting heavy weights, go back to medium weights or light weights, and I lost about twenty five pounds of fat and about fifty pounds of muscle.
Dan Pena: I mean, I was like this.
Dan Pena: I was big guy. Two hundred and eighty. I weigh now 210.
Dave: Even at sixty, you were 280.
Dan Pena: I was 280. When I used to walk through the airport, people used to think that I was a sumo wrestler. Yeah, I was a big guy. Only on a six-foot-one frame. If I was as tall as you, I probably could have carried 280 a little better.
I decided to get more healthy, and so the last seven or eight years, and I’ve kept the seventy pounds off. Just as you’ve kept your weight off. I’ve been a proponent of healthy living, because the high-performance executives that I know are in good shape.
There’s the odd … With the greatest respect, Mr. Buffett’s not such in great shape. Okay. His partner, Charlie Munger, who’s ninety-something, is not in such good shape. Those guys aside, most of the high-performance guys that I know are in pretty good damn shape. They are.
Dave: Is that just a part of being high-performance? Is taking care of your hardware?
Dan Pena: Yes, I believe so. We didn’t call it that. Okay. Your generation calls it that. We all die trying to live longer.
I didn’t understand that until about eight or nine years ago. That’s why I admire these kids; they’re getting started early. I mean, they have no idea what a benefit this is going to be for them twenty, thirty years from now.
Now, when I talk to some of the kids about twenty, thirty years from now, their eyes roll back in their head. Twenty, thirty … we’re worried about next month! Twenty, thirty years from now. Dave’s stuff works, and not just because he lost one hundred pounds and is healthy, but all these people in the audience wouldn’t be here if it didn’t work.
Dave: Yeah, they’ve all done a lot of it in order to just take three days out of their life to be here.
Dan Pena: Absolutely!
Dave: The thing that actually touches me the most is Joseph, that eleven year old kid, who in his essay, “I wear my BluBlocker glasses at night when I’m doing my homework.”
Dan Pena: Haha! That’s great.
Dave: “I’m eating healthy stuff. I pay more attention in class.” If you get this right when you’re eleven or when you’re twenty … I didn’t get any of this really until I was, my mid-twenties I started realizing there’s some serious problems here. But I didn’t get the stuff dialed in really until I was about thirty. I’m forty one now. The amount of damage that I incurred, just the amount of stress and pain and the screw in my knee after three surgeries. All that stuff was unnecessary. The money and time that went into just reversing the crap, instead of just not having it in the first place, the younger a person started …
Dan Pena: Amen.
Dave: It’s such a gift when they do it. The trick, for me, and one of the things I work on in Bulletproof, how do you show people who aren’t sick and aren’t old the value of being young and healthy?
Dan Pena: The benefits.
Dave: You don’t value it until you lose them. Right?
Dan Pena: I had my knees operated on three times, I’ve had my elbows operated on three times. I already told you about some of the artificial parts that I have. If I had been smarter in my twenties and thirties, and even forties, I wouldn’t have had … Because most of these, all these operations happened to me in my fifties and sixties. I just, I wore out the parts when they didn’t have to be worn out. I hadn’t thought about this until I was reading some stuff on you, about money that you called biohack. Well, I spent over a million bucks on me.
Dave: Good for you.
Dan Pena: Yeah, and I went back and did some calculations. I didn’t tell my wife.
I had no idea, because I was going to La Clinique Prairie in Switzerland and Johns Hopkins and Scripps in San Diego and those kind of places since the middle ’70’s because I was interested in keeping myself as healthy. I must admit the period of six or eight years that I lifted big, heavy weights, I lost focus about staying lean. I thought, I was trying to get up to 300 pounds! I could make it! 280 and three quarters pounds was the heaviest I could get. When I tell people that, they look at me like, “Have you lost your mind, Dan?” It was a good thing at the right time, at that time I thought it was a great idea. It’s like, I was listening to the zen guy this afternoon.
Dave: Dave Kalstein?
Dan Pena: Yeah, oh no. The guy this morning.
Dave: This morning?
Dan Pena: Meditation guy.
Dave: Oh! Pedram, Pedram Shojai, the Taoist monk.
Dan Pena: Okay, yeah. I’ve never meditated. But when we got up and he says bend your knees like this, tuck your butt in. Now … and I talked to a number of people, I’ve done this before, I can see through my third eye. Okay?
Dave: Just naturally you can do that?
Dan Pena: Naturally. I could feel like he was talking about. The people next to me couldn’t feel anything. Okay? Then when it was over, I was still standing like that and the young colleague that I’m here with, Chris, and they said, “Is he all right?”
Me! Am I all right? I can feel it, and I have that ability. Whereas I praise the people that do meditate, I haven’t had to do that because I have the ability. I can get within myself in about sixty seconds. I’ve never had any trouble sleeping. I’m ashamed to say when I was your age, I used to tell people, “I give stress, I don’t get stressed.” “I give heart attacks, I don’t” … You say a lot of dumb things when you’re young, kids, and I’m a classic example of that. Now I realize, because I’m … I fall asleep between 90 and 180 seconds every night. No matter if the ceiling just caved in on me.
Dave: You got me. It takes me three minutes every night.
Dan Pena: Okay.
Dave: Up to three minutes, but you’re the first guy I know who can do it faster. That’s amazing.
Dan Pena: I don’t worry. I know, I can just imagine having then conferences like this … It rained this morning. I felt for you. I felt, I said, “Oh, why’d it have to rain on Dave’s parade this morning?” I’ve been there! I’ve shown up in auditoriums as big as that with two people in the audience.
Dave: You know, they all showed up. We had over 500 people.
Dan Pena: Well, no, that’s great. That’s great. I’m glad the sun came out.
Dan Pena: If it was still heaving down rain, I’m sure you would have lost some people.
Dave: I was doing some biohacking last night to end the drought. I was …
Dan Pena: Haha! Oh, good. That’s great.
Dave: Not really. It’s interesting. So you’ve always had a natural or spiritual connectedness to your body. Some intuition or some senses…
Dan Pena: Correct.
Dave: That maybe most people don’t know that they have or just don’t have.
Dan Pena: Correct. I have a … I don’t do the model anymore because it was too hard on people, but I used to give my seminars for free in the ’90’s. I used to fill up the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. I used to give them at the L.A.X. I used to get free PBS advertising, and I would put eight hundred or a thousand people … For free, I used to give the seminars. We tracked the results. The results were okay by industry standards, but were mediocre, because if the people didn’t have a pay price to action, nobody followed up.
Dave: It’s true. All right, I’ve known many people who have retired after very successful careers and they volunteer for free, and no one will listen to them. If they charge $100 per hour, they’re experts, and everyone will listen.
Dan Pena: Correct.
Dave: There’s something about an exchange there, and some of the most impressive spiritual teachers I know, charge. They do it for that reason. Even if they don’t need the money, because when you make a decision to overcome, even a small hurdle, a $20 hurdle or $20,000 hurdle, it makes you commit. If you’re not committed to a change process,
Dan Pena: Correct.
Dave: You don’t do it.
Dan Pena: I agree 100%. What gets measured, gets accomplished. The message for the few people that I’ve talked to one-on-one, or in little groups, is that we all … Fear is False Expectations Appearing Real. We all fear accountability, no matter what we say. We all fear accountability, and it’s the differentiation between the super high-performance individual, and everybody else.
My most successful corporate mentee is Klaus Kleinfeld; he’s currently the CEO and Chairman of Alcoa. He was the CEO of Siemens AG, the twentieth largest company in the world. In the late ’90’s he came to me as a middle manager, he was thirty-nine years old, and he said, “I’d like to be on the corporate executive board of Siemens.” Which, they run it by corporate executive board and then a supervisor board, and I said to him, “Dr. Kleinfeld, I think we’re going to make sure that your goal is now to be CEO.” Six years later, when he was appointed CEO of Siemens, I was the first person he called, and … because most of us, because we were afraid of failure, set our benchmarks low. Our expectations low. I don’t know if you were trying to lose one hundred pounds …
Dave: I was.
Dan Pena: Okay.
Dave: Desperately, yeah.
Dan Pena: Well, you committed. One of the guys that I, I read his book just because I skimmed his book fast, quickly, the Spartan Up! guy.
Dave: Yeah, Joe De Sena.
Dan Pena: He said, “Commit yourself!” I committed myself to seventy pounds. Now, I should have committed myself to eighty pounds. I didn’t, I committed myself to only seventy pounds. I figured out that 210, which was my high school football weight, was the weight that I should weigh, but when you commit yourself, and you’ve done a great job, and I’m sure the next conference will even be better. Congratulations on your and good fortune to you on your restaurant that you just opened up.
Dave: Thank you.
Dan Pena: I look forward to eating there when it does open next time when I’m back in Los Angeles. But I’m sure it’ll be a success. You opened it up in the right area.
Dave: Santa Monica.
Dan Pena: Believe me. Believe me. I mean, the west side is … If anybody’s going to eat Bulletproof, that’s the place.
Dave: It’s amazing. My goal with the restaurant is to just show people how good they can feel, because that becomes their new bar. Then they’ll make that commitment to doing other things that make them feel good most of the time. My experience is that a lot people a lot of the time feel crappy and they’ve become used to it, but they don’t know it.
If we can shock them out of a little bit, then they’ll feel good. My goal is one hundred million people helped. I don’t mean they have to go to my restaurant, that’s going to require a lot of restaurants, but I mean that they’ll get the knowledge and they’ll do things that reduce their incidence of disease. More importantly, it will turn their brain on all the way, so they can do whatever the heck they want to do. You talked about something kind of interesting. At your seminar, you tear people down and build them back up.
Dan Pena: Right.
Dave: All of the good personal growth things I’ve taken and that I’ve done, the most impactful ones take at least seven days, oftentimes ten days. The first three days are basically about breaking through defenses so you can actually see what’s going on and then do the work. What do you do to tear people down?
Dan Pena: Okay. We have two bank accounts in life. We have an emotional bank account and a financial bank account. Most people worry about the financial bank account, but it’s the emotional bank account, getting out of your comfort zone, et cetera, that really dictates what your financial bank account is. We tear down the conventional wisdom, and I believe political correctness is almost always wrong. Even though our parents loved us, at least my parents and most of the parents I know, yours might be different, were in no position to train a high-performance kid to be a high-performance, okay?
Dan Pena: Unless your parents are both Olympians, it’s not likely that you’re going to be an Olympian. I love this story about the doctor who, when he was ten years old, who was the … He went to the Olympics in 1972 …. We tear through a lot of those, as many of those barriers. Before you come to the seminar, you fill out a very lengthy questionnaire, detailed questionnaire, so really I know more about your life and your business, for your business for sure, than you do. I ask questions, hard questions, that you hadn’t really thought about. Or you put back some place you don’t want to think about.
When the seminar starts, and I go through this copious information, and so I restructure the last 20 or 25% of the fifteen hundred PowerPoint slides that we go through to the individual audience. I know Dave’s got this issue, I know she’s got this issue. When husband and wife teams come, you have no idea. I talk to them separately, and the wife, the husband says, “She loves coming to work with me everyday. She loves doing our books. She loves this.” I talk to her, she says, “I hate it! I’m going to blow my brains out. He doesn’t know.” I say, “Well why don’t you tell him?” “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” You understand.
We go through those issues, and normally we teach them how to realign their goals to bodacious goals. I’m not a proponent of Mr. Obama’s politics, but one thing I do agree with, he set bodacious goal to be the first black president. Those are the kind of 10-X, we want ten times whatever you were thinking. When I took $800 and turned it into 450 million, the goal … I fell $1.5 billion short. The goal was two billion, but nobody’s feeling sorry for me. Okay. We tear those down, and we don’t want realistic goals. We want them to be very unrealistic, and then the real key to the program, and the reason we’ve had so much darn success, is I coach them for free, mentor them, for a year afterwards for free. For free. They pay for the seminar, they show the commitment, and even though I don’t think 10,000 pounds is so expensive, most people do. Okay, for a week. Although, your forty years of zen guy, similar price point.
Dan Pena: Okay, but to go to that thing, you’re committed.
Dave: That’s true.
Dan Pena: Now for the next year, I mentor them for nothing. We have weekly reports. Since the mentor program is for free, if you don’t do what you said you were going to do, I throw you out. Okay? Every week, after three or four weeks, I look at your report and I say, “Dave, you said this. You said this. You said this. But you only did two, not one, three and five. I’ll give you a couple of opportunities, we’ve all got excuses. If you continue that pattern, well then it’s just one less person that I have to deal with. We have monthly conference calls. Either on Zoom, Zoom calls, everybody can see everybody’s face on the call. When Dave is making excuses, you can read it in the faces. And then the other kid will jump in and say, “Hey, Dave! Last month you said so and so. That’s bullshit, Dave!” It works very well. By the end of the twelve months, I mean these guys are really emotionally Navy SEALS. We’re not making them physically Navy SEALS, but emotionally they’re Navy SEALS. As I said, two bank accounts. Emotional bank account, financial bank account. They’re tough kids. Another one of my favorite stories is I had a kid who came to me flinging pizzas.
Dan Pena: 26 years old. I was staying at the Beverly Wilshire. He comes up and a friend of mine says, “Can you meet this pizza kid?” “Okay.” He came in and said, “I want to be Steven Spielberg.””Okay. I’d like all of his academy awards, but okay.” I told him, “Be a limo driver, you’ll meet actors, da da da da da da.” Last November, his premier show, movie that he produced and directed was just aired in New York City. Six years later. From pizza boy, to limo driver, to movie maker.
Dave: Wow. I’ve got a question for you. When I was sixteen, I read Napoleon Hill, was a big Napoleon Hill fan, wrote down what I wanted to do. I said I want to be millionaire by the time I’m twenty three. I made six million dollars when I was twenty six. I lost it when I was twenty eight.
Dan Pena: That’s, unfortunately, pretty normal.
Dave: What’s up with that?
Dan Pena: It is because a couple things. Number one, you had already fulfilled your expectation. You might have let down, in fact I’m positive you let down. You lose focus, a kid with that much money. I don’t know you well enough, but you could have engaged in self-sabotaging activities.
Dave: Most definitely.
Dan Pena: Maybe I didn’t really deserve it; I didn’t pay my dues
Dave: Yeah, some of that, too.
Dan Pena: I tell the kids, when the people tell you when you’re young you’ve got plenty of time, that’s bologna. That’s B.S. You don’t have plenty of time. Pretty soon, you wake up and you’ll be forty one. Pretty soon, you’ll wake up and you’ll be sixty nine, like I am. That happens all the time. We’ve got half a dozen guys that have created billions, we got a couple that have lost billions. I’m not proud of it, but I’m personally, probably the only high performance coach around that has personally lost three or four hundred million myself. Okay? Fortunately, I made more than that. It’s … We all, not all, I can’t speak for everybody, but you get full of yourself. You have a lot of people, with the greatest respect, telling you how smart you are.
Dave: It’s all the speakers who’re smart.
Dan Pena: You got them together.
Dave: I’m a collector of ideas and I test some stuff.
Dan Pena: It’s like when Caesar was coming through the Coliseum and his driver is yelling, “Caesar! Caesar! Glory is fleeting!” Okay? We don’t have people that ground us. We don’t have people … and I went through this. In the last twenty years, I haven’t gone through it, but in the first twenty, twenty five years that I was very successful, I mean, just imagine. In my thirties, I turned $60,000 into $100 million in 90 days.
Dan Pena: I did a bunch of really magical things; I didn’t think they were magical at the time, because I was in the flow.
Dan Pena: I was in the zone. I was the first person to pay myself a bunch of money as a CEO of a public company in the London Stock Exchange. Guys like Murdoch, and all these guys are calling me up and saying, “Thanks, Dan. You broke the ceiling! Now we can pay ourselves whatever we want.”
When you … show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. The kids that I talked to today didn’t like hearing that. You’re the average of the five people you hang around with most. They didn’t like hearing that either. Most of them, they’re not hanging around with you, that’s why it’s tough for you to get some free time. They realize on a subconscious level that, “God, if I spent more time with Dave, I’m going to be like Dave.” They’re right! You can’t spread yourself four, five, six hundred people, you can’t do that.
Dave: Haven’t figured out how yet.
Dan Pena: When you do, let me know
Dan Pena: That’s what we do, and we’ve got to … It’s the mentor program. It’s the … That’s the key. I had three great mentors. One was Constantine Gratsos, CEO of Onassis Shipping Lines, who was the sixty year friend of Aristotle Onassis. I had Jim Newman, who wrote “Release Your Brakes”, and I had a guy named Jerry Orman who was an oil guy. Those three guys, from my early thirties until they passed away, were the guys that structured my lateral thinking, because when you stay focused, I mean, you can get a lot accomplished. A lot of the other parts of your life, all the crap. If you stay focused …
I got asked at least twenty five times since I’ve been here, “Is there such a thing as a balanced life?” I now use a quote by Jack Welsh, a guy that I know, former CEO of General Electric, arguably the greatest CEO in the last 50 years, he said, “There’s life choices, and they all have consequences.” You play with that the way you want: there’s life choices and they all have consequences. We didn’t get to do this podcast because you wanted to be a father the other night. I took my hat off to you, remember? Okay. I wasn’t that good a father. If my three kids were sitting right there, they’d say, “That’s right, dad.” but I admire that. Okay? We’re here now, and now I’m glad it turned out. As my mother would say, dearly departed, “Everything works out for the best.”
Dan Pena: I wound up coming here and it worked out. The consequence was, I have a studio. My film crew was sitting there, and I said, “We’re not doing it, we’re not shooting tonight.” As it turned out, we did another.
Dave: We did, and I apologize.
Dan Pena: There’s no problem. I only bring it up because life has choices, and there’s consequences.
Dave: Yeah. One of my kids made the commitment to fly down, which is a big one when you’re five and seven … There was only a little window for them, and my responsibilities as a dad are more important than even a fantastic interview like this.
Dan Pena: Sure. Well, thank you. I appreciate that.
Dave: There’s a question that I’ve asked every guest who’s been on the show. I’m really curious what your answers are going to be, because I doubt they’ll be ones I’ve heard before. The question is, given all of our accomplishments, all the things you’ve learned about life, including your flow state, whatever it comes to you, the three most important pieces of advice you’d have for people who want to perform better at whatever they do. Doesn’t have to be in business or in sports. Just perform better as human beings.
Dan Pena: There’s only one: just fucking do it. Don’t analyze, don’t spreadsheet. In the old days, they used to say, “Load us, 1, 2, 3.” The kids still remember when … know what that means?
Dave: Yeah, I do.
Dan Pena: Okay, just do it. If there was a sub-one, a second one, is: focus on the few. Another question I’m often asked, “What’s the best advice that you never took that you should have?” Okay? It’s focus on the few, not the many. Costa Gratsos told me that when I was, … a long, long time ago, again, God rest his soul. I thought he was wrong, that I could do fifteen, twenty things at a time. He was wrong … He was right and I was wrong. Just do it. Don’t analyze. Follow your heart. Focus on the few, not the many, and you’ll be successful. The money will follow. If you’re doing something that you’re passionate about, and you love, I mean, the money will follow. The accolades and the success, and the emotional fulfillment will follow. A lot of kids that are, not just kids, but I mean a lot of people at this seminar are doing, they’ve got six businesses, ten businesses, twenty businesses. The long term of me being in business almost fifty years, tells me that the chances of there being a high-peformance across that spectrum is pretty slim.
Dave: Focus on the few; the few businesses, few opportunities, few people.
Dan Pena: Yeah, the few. It’s very important, as Oprah Winfrey says, who you bring on our bus. Okay? You want people to be on your bus that … It doesn’t matter how many times you pivot the business idea, that they’re going to play an integral part to your future. The key is, for everybody that’s going to watch this and the people that I’ve talked to at the seminar, find a mentor. You’re not going to be mentor to six hundred people, I understand that. Although I’m sure you could line them up here. Find a mentor that’s where you want to be someday. He or she is, personifies what you want to be. Whether it’s in health, science, whatever the idea is. You’ll have a great career, and we’ll read about you.
Dave: Dan, thanks a lot for being on the show.
Dan Pena: My pleasure.
Dave: Can you tell people where to find out more about your learning academy, Quantum Learning Academy?
Dan Pena: DanPena.com. Or askthefiftybilliondollarman.com.
Dave: I love that URL.
Dan Pena: When you turn it on, it’s got the Rocky theme, which I actually pay residuals for. I’m one of the few guys on the internet that actually pays residuals. If you have questions, you can email me or the site, or you can actually phone in. We have a toll-free number. We’re giving away a free council seminar to the best question after this seminar in October. You can actually win a Castle Seminar. We’ve got some great questions, but we’re going to do that. It’s the first time we’ve tried it. We’ve been … We’ve got a lot of smart people out there. Remember, kids, show me your friends, and I show you your future.