EFP 129: Dan Pena On Creating $50 Billion In Value

Justin Cooke March 13, 2015

Dan Pena isn’t your typical entrepreneur or self-made millionaire.

For starters, he owns a goddamn castle. (Image above relevant)

How to Become a High Impact Entrepreneur

He made his fortune as a sophisticated deal maker and I wanted to ask him how his old-school business tactics are relevant in today’s tech-driven business world. He did not disappoint.

In this episode, we’ll dig into how he turned $820 into $450M, the difference between being a mediocre entrepreneur and a high-performance entrepreneur, and why entrepreneurs today are setting their sights too low.

If you like a No-BS approach to business strategy, this episode’s for you!

Warning: This episode uses some adult language. If that bothers you, you’ll want to skip this show.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

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Topics Discussed This Week:

  • From OCS to the Real Estate Company to Bear Sterns to building a $450M publicy traded company
  • Difference Between Mediocre Entrepreneurs & High-Performance Entrepreneurs
  • Building High-Performance Teams
  • Other People’s Money Vs. Bootstrapping
  • Applying Old-School Business Principles To New Internet Businesses
  • Entrepreneurs Today – Are We Setting Our Goals Too Low?
  • Advice For A 30 Year Old Entrepreneur With $820 In His Pocket


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Spread the Love:

“Build wealth in low hanging fruit – why make it more difficult then you have to?” – Dan – Tweet This!

“You gotta KNOW when to say NO!” – Dan – Tweet This!

“Success is focusing on the few, not the many” – Dan – Tweet This!

“Drop cash flows and focus on your big win” – Justin – Tweet This!

“When value is clear decisions are easy” – Dan – Tweet This!

So – what struck a chord for you in this episode? What can you apply from this conversation to your own business. Let us know in the comments!


Justin:                   Welcome to the Empire podcast, episode 129. It’s not everyday you get to talk to a self-made millionaire who’s coached and mentored entrepreneurs to the tune of $50 billion in value. Today’s episode I sit down with Dan Pena to discuss his old school approach to business and how it applies to new school online business. You can find the show notes and all links discussed in this episode at empireflippers.com/danpena]. All right, let’s do this.

Speaker 2:           Sick of listening to entrepreneurial advice from guys with day jobs? Want to hear about the real successes and failures that come with building an online empire? You are not alone. From San Diego to Tokyo, New York to Bangkok, join thousands of entrepreneurs and investors who are prioritizing wealth and personal freedom over the oppression of an office cubicle. Check out the Empire podcast. And now your hosts, Justin and Joe.

Justin:                   I don’t normally do interviews like this. I’m not really a fan of the guru or coach that comes along, pimping their courses or spamming podcasters hoping they can get on the show, and we get pitched these a lot, but I took this one. First, I was contacted by one of Dan Pena’s people months ago and I was like, “Oh, just another one.” And then we got a referral from Jordan over at the Art of Charm. He’s another podcastor, had Dan on the show, said, “Hey, you should talk to this guy.” So I started digging into him a little bit, and I got sucked in, Joe.

Joe:                        Yeah. No, I remember the videos and he definitely sucked me in. I spent at least an hour watching that video where he answers the questions. Pretty amazing stuff. So did he get that aggressive with you?

Justin:                   Oh, yeah, buddy. Yeah, I mean, I probably spent, I don’t know, eight hours or so deep diving on some of his content and some of the other interviews he’s done. First I was looking for dirt. I just wanted to see like what’s this guy’s deal, what’s his spiel, like where is he coming from? Then I realized he’s not selling any courses. I guess he had in the past. He sold like seminars and courses. He’s known today as one … He has a book, he’s like, “Torrent it, whatever, it’s free, download it. It’s cool, it’ll help you.” And then he does this crazy mastermind, week long mastermind at his castle in Scotland. The guy on the castle, dude.

Joe:                        Sweet. I mean, I heard there are some real deals on castles these days since the government can’t afford to keep up, keep them. But still, to be able to run your own castle, that’s pretty amazing.

Justin:                   Yeah, he actually owns Guthrie Castle in Scotland. And you know our buddy Chris Guthrie over at Entrepreneur Boost, it has been kind of a dream of his to own that castle. So he actually mentioned that a bit in the interview. You’ll have to check it out.

I really want to talk to Dan about his like old school approach to business and how that compares to online businesses today. I thought that’d be pretty interesting and I thought he’d be a good guy to talk to.

Joe:                        Yeah, I know he definitely seems like a guy that’s [inaudible 00:02:46] to talk about business. I’m so glad he’s going to be in show. I’m really looking forward to this interview.

Justin:                   Now, he can be a bit abrasive, but he definitely tells it like it is. He doesn’t pull any punches and that’s something that I appreciate. I should put out a warning out there though, there is some adult language in this show, so just be advised. If that kind of thing bothers you, you might want to give this one a skip.

All right, Joe, time to pay the bills with our featured listing of the week. What you got for us, buddy?

Joe:                        Listing number 40185, it’s something that just went up this week, but it’s kind of a nice site. I like it. It’s a very simple AdSense site and it’s all about dogs. What are the best dog breeds? What are the best dog names? So if you’re into dogs and you know a lot about dogs, this is a great site for you. Right now it’s netting about $420 a month and we have it listed for just over $8400. It gets a large page views with over 200,000 in the last 30 days, and a half of that coming from organic search. So it does get good traffic. I think there are [inaudible 00:03:53] go ahead and make the site even better by making a mailing list, improving some social presences, which it doesn’t have right now. It definitely has the ability to be made into a better site and more revenue generated.

Justin:                   Are you a dog guy, Joe?

Joe:                        I am. I’m definitely a dog guy considering I’m allergic to cats.

Justin:                   Yeah, me too, man. I’m allergic to cats, too. So that’s definitely … That kind of forces you to be a dog guy, right? We’re looking at … You mentioned a 200,000 page views a month. I should also mention that the site is built on a platform or a CMS called Site Build It that’s not WordPress, although it’s similar. If you wanted to put on WordPress you would have to convert it, but it’s operating and earning fine as it is. I’d also mentioned that the site is awfully old. It was created back in 2008. So it’s been around there for quite a while. It gets a good amount of traffic.

One of the funny things, Joe, is I remember back in the day when people were talking about building AdSense sites and how to get started, the dog or pet niche was mentioned a lot. So it’s funny. I wonder if this is created based on that, someone talking about the dog niche and creating AdSense sites, and someone built that niche. It’s just kind of been hanging around there for seven years now.

Joe:                        Yeah. I mean, I definitely think it’s a great starter site for someone who wants to get their feet wet in the online business and something monetized [inaudible 00:05:08]. It’s not going to break the pocketbook, and it’s well set up, well established, it’s not going anywhere, has some repeat visitors as well as some good organic rankings. And like I said, if you know anything about dogs, it would be an easy thing to expand.

Justin:                   Cool, buddy. Well, let’s talk to Dan Pena on this week’s heart of the episode.

Speaker 2:           Now for the heart of this week’s episode.

Justin:                   Welcome podcast listeners. I’m really excited to have Dan Pena on the show today. He’s known as the 820 to 450 million dollar value builder. He’s also called the $50 billion man. He’s well known for his Quantum Leap Advantage castle seminars where he owns a castle in Scotland. Dan, it’s great to have you on the show, man.

Dan Pena:           Thank you very much, Justin. Thanks for having me on.

Justin:                   Yeah, man. So let’s talk a little bit about kind of how this came to be. I got an intro to you from a guy, Jordan, over at Art of Charm, and he mentioned that you might be someone interesting to have on the show. Honestly, I kind of brushed it off and I was kind of skeptical of some of the claims. I’m sure some of our listeners would be tuned [inaudible 00:06:11] first heard it, right? These kind of claims seem outrageous.

So I end of researching the hell out of you. I dug into kind of your background, spent a day and a half like digging into it, just because I wanted to make sure, right? I don’t want to have someone on here that I thought was a joke. And I found out that many of the claims that you’re making are legitimate. I found out that you’re not selling a bunch of ebooks and kind of crap. I mean, all of your stuff online is for free. You openly tell people they can download it on torrents. You’re not just pitching bullshit. And I said, “Okay.” And then I looked into kind of your business success in history, and you’re legit. I mean, you’ve made what we like to call fuck you money. You made fuck you money, and that’s pretty interesting.

Dan Pena:           Well, I’ve been making fuck you money … I haven’t heard that term in a long time. That’s an ’80s term and you’re not that old. But I’ve been making fuck you money since I guess maybe the late ’70s. One of my favorite fuck you … Now I’ll probably beat this phrase to death now that you gave to me. One of my favorite stories about fuck you money is turning $60,000 into 65 million in 100 days, and non-internet. And one of the claims of fame or makes me interesting as a high performance coach is I made 99% of all the money I created not on the internet, bricks and mortars. I’m most proud, notwithstanding, I did turn $120 into 450 million for myself in eight years in a collapsing market.

I’m most proud that I’ve created over $50 billion from my devotees and my mentees. And in fact, I’m sitting in Miami, Florida talking to you and the sitting governor of this state, Rick Scott, used to be my lawyer, and I sent him on his entrepreneurial way and to health care when he said, after we closed a large transaction, “Dan, how do I make the kind of money you’re making? And I said, “We gotta leave me for starters.” But I have a lot of great mentees, the current sitting Chairman and CEO of Alcoa, Dr. Klaus Kleinfeld, as a mentee [inaudible 00:08:02] that came to me as a middle manager, wanted to be CEO of Siemens, which was then the 20th largest company in the world.

And so, I likened the story since this should resonate even more because you’re sitting in Saigon, is that I feel like Forrest Gump in the movie when he’s saving Lieutenant Dan, if you recall the scene, and Lieutenant Dan’s legs had been blown off in a firefight, and Lieutenant Dan didn’t want to be saved. And so I carry people across the goal line that don’t necessarily want to be saved. And, well, my forte, Justin, is I get you, Justin Cooke, to do what you do not want to do, so you can have what you want to have.

Justin:                   Let’s talk a little bit about how you got started. I mean, you were kind of a goof off when you were young. I mean, you weren’t-

Dan Pena:           You’re being kind.

Justin:                   You weren’t terribly motivated. And then you became an officer in the military aAnd you said that that was kind of-

Dan Pena:           What?

Justin:                   I’m actually going to give some links to … You did some other podcast interviews, London Real and Mixergy, I think that would give some great background. But if you could tell me a little bit about after you got out of, I think it was the army you were in as an officer and how you kind of went to work on your entrepreneurial career. How did that kind of transition start?

Dan Pena:           Well, some people say I was either going to jail or going in the army. That’s partially true, but I volunteered to go in the army, then I volunteered to go to [inaudible 00:09:21]. When I got out of the service, I went back to school, which I flunked out at university three times prior, and I ultimately graduated with honors. And I went to work on with a Wall Street firm because that’s where I heard where the action was. And I [crosstalk 00:09:35]-

Justin:                   This is the ’70s, right? Was this Bear Stearns?

Dan Pena:           Yeah, this was. This was early ’70s, early, mid ’70s. The last Wall Street firm I worked for was Bear Stearns, but I ultimately went to work for one of our corporate finance clients who was an entrepreneur, Texan oil guy, and I became CEO of his company within about a year, but I got thrown out because I was headstrong, I knew we could do better. And so on January 1982, with 120 bucks, I start my own company. And eight years later, in 1990, it was worth about 450 million bucks.

Justin:                   Well, that’s a crazy story. I love how you take basically the way you made your money at that point. So you’d been the CEO that didn’t work out because you had that entrepreneurial streak, you wanted to go do your own thing. And you took the money, set up a company, and then you bought options to buy oil. And with that, you took a company public [crosstalk 00:10:27]-

Dan Pena:           I know, almost 100% correct. But as a pod star, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. The facts are that I had gone to the UK, I saw that they were taking small exploration companies public. I had nothing to really take public at the time, I went back to the United States and I found a bunch of reserves that were, I believe, undervalued, but I didn’t have the money to give him the two million bucks. So I gave him … I said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you a $60,000 today for a six month option like when you buy property, then come back and give you two million bucks.” So the guy thought, “Well, this kid is never going to come back with a two minutes back, so I’ll just take his $60,000 and I’ll run with it.” But I came back three and a half months later with a two million dollars. I took that option public and it was the first time anybody had taken an option public on Stock Exchange. Then I built Great Western up from there, but not to find oil. I had great difficulty finding oil. I built the company up to acquisitions and meet a lot of acquisitions. And we do the company to just a little bit less than a half a billion. This is pre internet.

Then I got tossed out and quite frankly, I didn’t find it that difficult going from 800 bucks to 450 million. And quite frankly, I mean, the job opportunities for a headstrong entrepreneur that had run his own shown and been a CEO of a public company aren’t that great. I had some money and I decided that, what about taking guys like Justin Cooke and his followers, didn’t know you then, across the goal line like Forrest Gump and help them learn how to do the same thing I did? Created a lot of product, which is now all free, and I wrote a book, actually, well, three books, the last of which is Your First 100 million, second edition, where I take you step by step. And everybody asked me, “Dan, why is it always you start with no money?” Because this is how the formula is, because I didn’t have any money. It’s real simple. If I had had money, I probably would have used different methodologies.

And so today, kids, tens of thousands, they say I’ve touched maybe a million people in 21 years of coaching, optimistically. I’m sure I’ve touched at least 200,000 or 300,000 and they’ve taken those steps and they’ve created their own wealth and today to over $50 billion. We have several billionaires and several guys that have made hundreds of millions and 10,000 or 15,000 of people that have created just a million. I’m not making light of you just made a million, and that’s the story, the short version.

Justin:                   Why did you take the risk on the $60,000 investment? I mean, I know your story. I bet you’re a bit of a risk taker, but like that seems like you’re throwing the money away. How sure were you that you’d be able to take the company public or raise the two million to be able to exercise those options?

Dan Pena:           I wasn’t, but I know now, I did then, no risk, no glory. I’m sure that in hindsight, the kids that are listening to this, and I call you all kids because I’m old enough to either be your father or grandfather, way more on the risk of the 60 grand of losing it, but I had already seen there were opportunities and my whole theory of building wealth initially is build wealth on low hanging fruit. Low hanging fruit meaning, why make it more difficult than you have to make it? And so most of the kids that are listening to this, my favorite example is apps. Now everybody in this fucking dog has tried to make an app and everybody talks about the five or six apps that make big money, but you realize over three or three and a half million apps have failed?

Justin:                   Yeah, app business is shit. I would hate to be in the app business.

Dan Pena:           Yeah, and so the that’s not low hanging fruit. Low hanging fruit, for example, and I’m not promoting Clickbank, I call it Clickfuck. Look at the products that are doing the most business on Clickbank. And Clickbank is a big forum where you look for products and you can sell them. You don’t have to have merchant accounts because they put up the merchant accounts. So you go and you see it says Clickbank is doing a whole bunch of business in one or two or three products, let’s say Pills and Potions healthcare, whatever it is, and then at least you know there’s the market. Most of the kids that are developing stuff on the internet, they have no idea if there’s a market. They got a wild hair up their ass that I got a dream. Well, that’s great to have a dream, but it’s better to follow your dream if it’s in an area that somebody wants. And so I go for low hanging fruit, and that’s the advice. And so that’s what I did and I continue to coach that.

Justin:                   Yeah, there’re a whole bunch of books out there now that are trying to help younger entrepreneurs figure that out, like there’s The Lean Startup, I have a buddy that wrote a book called The Seven Day Startup. And the idea is, get validation out there quick and easy. Stop sitting around planning, and actually start to make some moves so that you can get something done. It seems like you were the kind of guy 30, 40 years ago that was doing this, that would just get started, start making moves, and then make it happen.

Dan Pena:           Well, I mean, even now. I mean, the last words people ask me a question, and I’m not trying to steal your thunder at the end, if you were to start all over again, what would 25-year-old Dan Pena do? And follow my dream, follow my passion, and then just fucking do it. The whole system has changed now. In my day, you didn’t do a lot of research, you didn’t have the internet. So you just went out and did it, and either worked or didn’t. And if it didn’t work, you change it. We didn’t call it pivoting or morphing, but we just change and change. We kept changing until something worked. Now what they do is they google at the fucking death, I say Wikipedia to death, and then they never pull the trigger. They think, listening to podcasts, with the greatest respect to you and all the other pod guys that I’ve been on, they think listening to podcasts, and reading books, and listening to CDs is the same as gaining experience. And I’ve got a great slide in my show, well, my PowerPoint presentation of my seminar, it’s got like 70 or 80 dots on one side. And those are the guys that are all reading and doing research. And then it’s got 15 or 20 dots on the right side, but they’re connected. That’s experience. Experience is making failures and hopefully quickly.

Last year I failed in over 20 things that I tried, 20, but the only things that anybody talks about is the four or five things that I did very successfully.

Justin:                   We’re going to get into some of those failures and the successes in a bit.

Dan Pena:           Okay.

Justin:                   I do want to talk about that. And I’d like to talk about kind of what your business is today, but let’s talk a little bit about what the differences between mediocre entrepreneurs and high performance entrepreneurs. Now, part of what you do today is you coach people to become high performance entrepreneurs. What does that mean as opposed to like a mediocre entrepreneur? What’s the difference?

Dan Pena:           Okay. Let me just differentiate one thing, not just high performance entrepreneurs because I coach people to be high performers. We have several people, many, many people that are fighting their way up the ladder, General Motors, Klaus Kleinfeld fought his way up to the CEO of Siemens and is now Chairman and CEO of Alcoa. My stress is high performance. I’ve coached world class athletes, Olympians, you name it. It has to be a high performance person, because the mindset of a high performance person is significantly different than all the rest.

Now, getting back to your question about what’s the difference between a mediocre entrepreneur and a high performer or what I call world class entrepreneur, failures. The high performance world class entrepreneurs fail more than the mediocre one. Many of your listeners, I’ve got models, let’s say on the internet, that they’re eking out a living, and I’m not going to say what that number is because eking out a living to me is different than probably most of the people that are listening to this.

Justin:                   [crosstalk 00:17:13]. Dan, we call that coconut cash. So they’re making just enough to hang out in [inaudible 00:17:19], or Saigon, or whatever. They’re just kind of cruising along.

Dan Pena:           Okay. I like that, coconut cash, okay. They’re making coconut cash as opposed to staying at the Ritz, or staying in a $5000 a night suite on cruise liner.

Justin:                   Baller, yeah.

Dan Pena:           Yeah, correct. But the difference is failures. The high performer pulls the trigger. In Silicon Valley, even though it’s a cliche now, they say, fail, but fail fast. And a lot of the models that the kids that are making coconut cash, they’re afraid to stop that model and start another model. And when you don’t stop the model, and you try to do two or three or four or five things at once, you’re not giving your 100% full attention. So you never really know experiment two, three, four, and five were really going to work because you’re not leaving the shore to sail across the ocean. You got one foot on the shore, and you got one foot on the boat, and you have to be with your back against the wall. High performers aren’t afraid to put their back against the wall.

Justin:                   Dan, that’s so fucking true. I know we spent the most of this last year on our business getting rid of all of our side projects, everything that was distracting from like our main core purpose, because we want to double down and really own that and take it to the next level. And I think it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get distracted by all the different projects or things they could get involved in. How do you say no? I mean, in your position and throughout your career, you must have had a shit ton of opportunities or things slid across your desk, people looking for you to get involved, or just deals that could happen that just weren’t awesome. How do you say no and how do you choose the ones that you thought were worthwhile?

Dan Pena:           And Justin, you steal in a 10 minute, two slide of my presentation of my 1600 PowerPoints, I have a slide that says K-N-O-W, and I have another slide that says N-O. You got to know when to say no. And the way you learn when to say no, is to experience in making a lot of mistakes, but my system is built around what’s called a Dream Team. We put together three to six people that are your dream team that are going to help you fulfill your dreams and then exit, because creating wealth is really about creating wealth in a series of transactions, not creating wealth of one deal. 95% of all the companies in the world don’t sell every year because they’re trying to get rich off one deal, and they’re trying to milk the deal for more money than it’s worth.

So I learned how to say no. Well, now, I’ve been involved in more than 700 transactions and I stopped counting 15-plus years ago. But a joint brain is better than one brain. And getting back to the Dream Team, four or five guys that have been in business, 10 to 20, 25 years each, will be able to help you. But the real basis of the whole system is a mentor, even without the Dream Team or before the Dream Team. I believe in the mentor-mentee relationship. For example, even Bill Gates has got a mentor and I love to tell the story about Gates. This is about 25-plus years ago. He was already wealthy, and he wanted Warren Buffett as a mentor. And so his mother being a good mom, says, “Well, maybe I can arrange that,” naively. So she gives a dinner party, and guess what? She invites seven Seattle, Washington, she invites the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, and guess what? He comes.

He’s at the dinner party and they’re sitting around the dinner table and Mrs. Gates as the joint table of eight or 10 people, what do you attribute … And this is an open ended question, not directed to Mr. Buffett, or Mr. Gates, or Gates Sr., his dad that’s a lawyer, what do you attribute your success to? Simultaneously, almost instantly, both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates answered Mrs. Gates with a one word answer, focus, focus. That’s the secret to being a high performance person. Klaus was the famous [inaudible 00:20:47] general said, “Focus on the few, not that many.” In other words, you can’t fight 15 battles, you’ll fight them one at a time.

And so I focus on the few. And I tell the kids, I mean, if it’s outside your passion, if you can’t get up in the morning and say that you’re loving it every day, see, this isn’t work to me, even though I ostensibly I’m on holiday, I’ve had more meetings on holiday than most people have in a month at work, but I love doing it and I love assisting you and your podcast business, and hopefully, your main business, and the kids that I know that are going to be able to get a little closer to the goal line. But you got to know when to say no.

When I see people’s portfolio activities, normally I say that you can get rid of about 90% of them. Of course, that’s hurtful because everybody will say, “Well, I’ve got all this time committed, that there’s money involved.” And so it’s not easy. It’s a paradigm shift.

Justin:                   It’s difficult to get rid of cash flows that you have, so cash flows that are bringing money but that you need to drop to really focus in on your big wins, the thing that will really take it to the … It’s a difficult thing to do and it’s a painful thing to do, and we’ve been doing it. I think this will probably come up again and again in our entrepreneurial career and those of our listeners.

Tell me a little bit about … So you talked about your dream team, right? And you say, seek out a mentor. I’ve seen some of your other stuff where you say, it’s good to have a mentor in your organization and even in some places or times like the chairman of your organization. Do you think better to put yourself at the top, or to get a mentor for the Dream Team and put them at the top, and why?

Dan Pena:           Well, most of the kids listening to this, this is a gross exaggeration. Don’t have the experience of [inaudible 00:22:22]. They just don’t. They may think they do, but they don’t. And whereas a mentor that … And a mentor doesn’t always have to be financially connected to you. I mean, he can be, but I mentor a lot of kids that I have nothing to do with financially. And I’ve mentored some as much as 20-plus years now since I’ve been doing this, 21 and a half years, but they just have the insight and they’re not emotionally involved with the deal.

We have two bank accounts in life, Justin. We have an emotional bank account and we have a financial bank account. Kids, worry about the financial bank account, but the one that fucking puts you out of business, and the one that makes you depressed or not makes you, because you can only make yourself depressed, but the one that gives you anxiety, is your emotional bank account, and it’s because you don’t know how to step out of your comfort zone. And one of my mentors, Jim Newman, who invented the term comfort zone, and I only recommend forth buy books in one of which is Release Your Brakes by Jim Newman, he wrote about 50 years ago. And we can’t get out of our own way, so to speak, because emotionally, because of all the training, because of what mother and dad did. They all loved us, but very few parents are in a position to really know to raise a kid that they want to be high performers.

I give the example, now, you probably had a bike with training wheels when you were little. Most people had a bike that had training wheels. Well, you would have been better off if either you didn’t have fucking training wheels, or your parents took the training wheels off way sooner than they did. And when you fell off over on your big fucking melon head, not for your mother to go, “Oh, boy, Justin, Justin, boy, baby,” you know? But that’s how we’re raised, myself included. And emotional bank account is based on self-esteem, and most people don’t have such good self-esteem. In fact, most people have very little self-esteem.

Justin:                   I think that’s interesting. That seems to be a problem for young entrepreneurs is like the mindset, getting over the mindset, right? The obstacles they have, the I’m not good enough, or I don’t think I can make it. And I see that especially, I think, with kind of the late 20s, 30s, even 40s crowd, less with the young crowd, the 19-year-olds, the 20-year-olds, they are still ready and able to believe that they’re going to build a billion dollar business in the next three to five years, like they still have that. I think maybe as you get older, you start to set your sights lower. And that does seem to be a problem in our community. Do you think that entrepreneurs today are setting their sights too low?

Dan Pena:           I tell people, don’t think 10% on your money, think 10 times your money. All the time asked, then what regrets do you have? And I’m not going to say I have three or four, but I’m not going to say them in the order of importance. But one of the three or four regrets is I didn’t set my goals fucking high enough. And if I didn’t set my goals high enough, where does that leave everybody else?

Justin:                   Yeah, I remember you did an interview where you said that you wanted to do, what was it like? Four billion in sales?

Dan Pena:           Two billion. I had three goals when I started the company: be in the top five highest paid energy executives in the world. And I knew if I was in the top five, I would make a shit ton. Number two, I wanted to be the 50th largest energy company in the world. And number three, I wanted to build a two billion company. Now, when I left my company, I was in the top five all five years, and I believe I was top twice. I had the 50th largest energy company, but I felt 1.45 billion short on the two billion. Now, what if I said 20 billion instead of two billion? And isn’t it a coincidence, I said, 50th largest fucking company, and I was 50th, right on the button. What if I had said 10th, or 18th, or 33rd, or whatever the hell I did?

I’m a big believer in goal setting and affirmations. In all those years I set those affirmations, I’m going to be the 50th largest yada, yada, yada. And if oil hadn’t gone from $40 a barrel to about eight dollars a barrel, I would have been a two billion company because I built that wealth when oil, unfortunately, and I’m seeing that happen again and I didn’t think I’d ever live long enough to see that, oil went from $41.40 a barrel to $6.60 a barrel during my heyday. And I still built a company worth 450 million dollars.

Justin:                   Dan, I think this is really interesting. So there’s a conversation in our community, right? We’re talking about Elon Musk. I’m going to lean on Elon Musk because, you know, Tesla and SpaceX.

Dan Pena:           I know who he is well.

Justin:                   [inaudible 00:26:21]. So he’s amazing, right? I mean, he is amazing. We’re going to look at him in the next 10, 20 years and say, “Wow, that guy absolutely changed the world.” And so, some entrepreneurs go, “God, am I doing something big enough? Elon is actually changing the world, am I really doing that?” And so, one of the arguments put to that, and there was this debate back and forth, like whether you should be comparing yourself to Elon. And someone says, “Well, your third step with their 20th.” So yes, you may want to do that at some point in the future, but right now, you need to worry about what you do next week, next month, next year on that road to that. You need to … Yes, you can set your goal about 10 years from now, but that’s not happening tomorrow. That’s wishful thinking. You need to have a goal. So do you think that that’s having a plan to get there? Not just like, I’m going to do that next year or two years from now, right?

Dan Pena:           No, I disagree. The naysayer, that’s bullshit. It’s pea brain thinking. [crosstalk 00:27:11]

Justin:                   Well, having a plan to get there?

Dan Pena:           No, no, no, no, no. 10 years and all that, that’s bullshit. That’s not what Elon Musk thought at all. And I’ll give you a couple of examples. Bill Gates said that he was going to put a computer in every fucking home in America. That was it. He didn’t say tomorrow, 40 years from now, or next week. And he’s got a computer in every fucking home in America. He now says, and this gets back to not setting goals high enough, he now says, “If I was fucking half as smart as people think I was or am, I would have said, “A computer in every house in the world.” Okay?

Justin:                   Yeah, that’s [inaudible 00:27:41]. Well, he’s pretty close.

Dan Pena:           And getting back to Musk, Musk had a goal before he got involved in, I think with PayPal. I think it was PayPal. He had a goal. He wanted … with travel in space. This is when he was an engineer in South Africa, and I believe he went to school in Canada. When he was an engineer in engineering school, he wanted to … Now, this is before, when he was a little kid, before he went away to engineering school. And he dropped out of grad school, I believe, because he didn’t get his MBA or masters. He wanted to change the way we travel in space. It looks to me like he’s doing that, hasn’t he?

Justin:                   Yeah, it’s like he had these dreams and he said, “Well, okay, I need to go with the money then. I’ll probably get some money. So maybe I’ll get into the money space for a while. Get me some of that, and then go out and make this shit happen.”

Dan Pena:           Yeah, and for those of you that believe in global warming, and for those of you that want to change the world, and their tree huggers, and that’s your prerogative, but what I tell the kids is go and make some fucking money first like Bill Gates did, and he’s trying to change the world after he made a bunch of fucking money. Don’t run around embassies with placards saying, “Global warming, malaria, AIDS, whatever.” My wife and I support five or six charities, but we made money and then we supported charity. You know you got a business and we support three orphanages in Philippines, we support a mission in Sri Lanka, we support a school in Rwanda, and we support a college scholarship fund in East L.A. where my dad graduated from high school for Chicano kids, mostly Asian and Chicano kids go on to university. But we made money first, and then we did that.

So I mean, first of all, and I just wrote a blog for London Real on goal setting, look it up and don’t set time limit. I mean, time limits are bad. Time limits act as ceilings. I set a goal to be such and such by the time I was 40. It’s no coincidence at age 39 I created 100 million bucks. It’s not a coincidence. If I had said 35, or as soon as humanly possible, I probably would have done it sooner. Now you went to school at some point in your life, right?

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           Okay. So let’s say I tell you, I’m your professor if you went to college, or I’m your high school teacher if you went to high school, I say, “Okay, Justin, you’re only going to have two tests, you’re going to have a midterm and a final. 60% of your grades on your final, 40% on your midterm, and the midterm is going to be a two and a half months.” When do you start studying for the midterm, Justin?

Justin:                   Today.

Dan Pena:           You do.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           99% of the people on the planet don’t start … If they start a week before the midterm, I’d be surprised. And some people start the day before the midterm, and the same thing for the final.

Justin:                   Yeah, I get it, if you’re putting your goals too far out front. We were talking about that with buying and selling sites, right? A lot of times, sellers will try to put valuations on their business based on potential. So they say, “Look, it has the potential to do this, this, and this.” And the problem with doing that, first off, you look like a noob. You’re trying to sell your business based on what it could possibly, potentially do. That’s just bullshit.

The second you might be limiting it for the person that’s wanting to buy it. So if you say it’s going to 2X in the next year, a buyer may go, “Fuck that, 2X isn’t enough for me. That’s not good risk-reward scenario for me.” So I think putting limits … What you’re saying is interesting to me is the timeline. We just did a strategy meeting recently where we did, it’s based on timelines. It’s like our five year goal for the business and we work backwards to determine what we need to do to get there. And I see what you’re saying, like by saying, okay, we need to do this, this quarter, and this next quarter, that why are we limiting ourselves to a particular period of time? And if we get ahead of it, then what do we do? Relax and kind of let up until next quarter and we try it again?

Dan Pena:           Well, if I went in and looked at your business, and I saw these five-year timeline, I would normally say, okay, we’re going to do this in a year at the most.

Justin:                   Yeah, that’s interesting, Dan, or we’re just removing the timelines altogether.

Dan Pena:           Well, no, no, as soon as humanly possible, no. Some people, the corporate structures, you just go in and you say … It’s just like, when you ask people to produce software? “Oh, it’s going to take me three months.” I say, “You got three weeks. Three weeks.” Especially in Asia.

Justin:                   Yeah, in Asia within development and with developers? Oh, my God. Yeah, yeah.

Dan Pena:           Yeah. I mean, that’s all bullshit. I’ve been in the development business 15 fucking years and I’ve never heard of developer spit up. Now, they’re not knowingly trying to fraud you.

Justin:                   They’re trying to be safe. I think they’re trying to be safe.

Dan Pena:           Yeah, I know. Also, if they tell you, you can do it in five hours, they can charge you 15 grand.

Justin:                   Well, the other thing is just like the test, right? They say, “Okay, I’ll get it done in three months,” and they wait two months before they start working on it, trying to keep up with everyone else’s work that they had. Yeah.

Dan, let’s get back to you. We were talking about how to bring in mentors into your business and to set up the dream team. Can we talk a little bit about like, what your roles as an entrepreneur is in terms of like painting and selling the vision in a leadership position with your dream team?

Dan Pena:           A founder/CEO/Managing Director, whatever you call yourself now, 95% of the time should be devoted to two things: one, raising money, and two, looking for acquisitions to enhance your business model, not running the business on a day to day basis. One of the only other books, I don’t make anything from this, is read Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, not E-Myth two, not E-Myth five, none of those other fucking E-Myth books he wrote, and I happen to know Michael, E-Myth one because entrepreneurs work in the business instead of on the business. And it’s one of the biggest mistakes I see.

The second mistake in the myth of life is, money’s hard to get. Money’s fucking easy to get. I’ve been saying this for 50, 45, 50 years. I seem to be able to raise money when nobody else can because in my brain, whether it’s a pea size or as big as the planet, I don’t give a shit how you define it, I believe and always have believed, money is abundant and it’s easy to get.

Justin:                   Abso-fucking-lutely, Dan. No, you’re absolutely right. I mean-

Dan Pena:           Hence, therefore, I’m able to get the fucking money.

Justin:                   Yeah, the money’s there. People are wanting to give you the money for investment or for your business. They want to do it. The harder thing is for them, is to find the deals, the good deals, like those are-

Dan Pena:           Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Roy Disney, Walt Disney’s older brother told me about 40 years ago, something like, how I’ll sit on his big yacht in Newport Beach. When value is clear, decisions are easy.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           And the reason why you don’t make the value proposition clear enough, and so nobody wants to give you the money or by your shit.

Justin:                   That’s right. And they’re throwing money at you when you have a value proposition that is a no brainer, because that’s it.

Dan Pena:           Yeah.

Justin:                   So when we do the buying and selling sites, for us, it’s surprising, but it’s harder to find the sellers and the sites that are valuable than it is to find the buyers. We have way more money on the buyers side than we do. So like most of our focus in the business is in finding the deals. And so I’m actually interested in talking to you a little bit about that, like how in the past, and I’m guessing that even today, is that you have a team of people that are out there finding deals? That’s something that we’re going to work on this year, putting that team and processes in place to do that. How did you do that? So how did you go out and find those deals? Were they brought to you? Did you open yourself up to them to where people knew they could come to you? How did you find the right deals, so to speak?

Dan Pena:           All the above. All the above. But I mean, I likened an entrepreneur, the founder of a company be like a congressman in America, a guy in Parliament in the UK, a guy that’s running for office, shaking hands and looking for donations. That’s all he does, or she does, shaking hands and looking for donations. Always on the street, always going to forums. And I don’t mean forums in the fucking internet, and I don’t mean fucking blogs and all that jerk off shit. I mean, pressing the flesh. And we’ve got a whole generation and a half of people that their communication skills are so piss poor, because they do everything on the fucking internet. We just had a millennial at the seminar, a 21-year-old kid, this is what he said, and I don’t mean to be vulgar, “All we know how to do is jack off to porn on our internet and make our key sticky.” That’s him saying.

Justin:                   Can’t you just set up a squeeze page or a landing page and drive traffic. Isn’t that how business works?

Dan Pena:           I didn’t ask him that because I don’t give a shit, you know. But, I mean, most of the kids that have internet models, I mean, don’t know how to say how do you do, and that’s a problem. And that’s not a problem just for young entrepreneurs, it’s a problem for the world, but that’s a whole other story.

Justin:                   You’re saying if you’re finding deals, making connections, personal connection, we call it steak dinner, so you want to be open to deals, you want other who are bringing you deals, you want to find deals, take you off for steak dinner, have those like personal meetings. That’s actually been working really well in our business we started about six months ago.

Dan Pena:           Absolutely.

Justin:                   So a meeting those people in person, you’re able to build that level of trust, and I think a relationship with them that is invaluable. You just can’t do via Skype, right?

Dan Pena:           No, no, I think the internet was the worst thing that ever happened to the entrepreneur, because it’s cut out a whole two or three levels of communication skill.

Justin:                   I hear you, Dan. But God, that is so much easier to find deals.

Dan Pena:           Of course, it is. But except for Zuckerberg and a half a dozen … or maybe not, that’s an exaggeration. A few thousand people that have been able to do it via the internet, there’s millions that have made fuck all nothing.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           And you’ll always … It’s like a multi-level marketing deal. Everybody talks about Amway, and I happen to know who Richard DeVos is, he’s one of the founders, co-founders of Amway, but there’s only been five or six multi-level marketing deals, people who really made a lot of wealth, only five or six, maybe 10 in the 60, 70 years.

Justin:                   And the rest of them?

Dan Pena:           Are old dog shit.

Justin:                   But that’s the case … I know [inaudible 00:36:40] particular with MLMs, but I mean, that’s the case with success in general, right? It was the same … Things haven’t changed until ’70s, ’80s when you were coming up, right? I mean, because it was still the same case, or a few people that made a shit ton of money, and the rest made fuck all, right?

Dan Pena:           No, no, no. I think the people that made fuck all now make less fuck all than they did-

Justin:                   Ah, okay.

Dan Pena:           … 30, 40 years go, because Sam [Mooch 00:37:02], he lives at home and he makes $500 a week on the internet, and he’s got no expenses because his parents don’t have the balls to throw him out on his ass. He’s satisfied. In my day, I mean, you would rather kill yourself than live at home.

Justin:                   So it’s the easiest with which you can be satisfied for less, so it’s the acceptance of less I think that has made it worse. Okay.

Dan Pena:           Because they don’t set the bar high enough.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           They don’t set the fucking bar high enough.

Justin:                   I mean, that does go back to, I think, are we setting our goals too low? I think that’s probably true. Tell me a little bit about … Now you advocate, and you’ve done this a lot, is that you leverage other people’s money, right? And you bring other money into the deal or you make deals with that. And our community, generally, is probably more in the bootstrap space, not the startup, like raise money, VC space. So I mean-

Dan Pena:           No, no, no, I’m not talking about … No, no. Okay. Again, for a pod [inaudible 00:37:50], you’re almost accurate, but you’re not accurate.

Justin:                   So what do you mean?

Dan Pena:           I don’t know. What I mean is, normally things get funded. Friends, fools and family put up the first … No. No. First, your credit, you, your credit cards, then friends, fools and family put up the money, normally. I don’t do that.

Justin:                   So you’re not talking about just raising a shit ton of money first. It’s-

Dan Pena:           No, no, I mean, whether it’s 50 grand. [inaudible 00:38:12]

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           I don’t know if that’s a lot of money or little money. But I used to have a Chinese buddy of mine who used to say, “I see ants fuck, 50 grand.” In other words, he bet on whether the ant was going to fuck the other ant, 50 grand, okay? But maybe that’s … I’m not demeaning that, especially since we’re talking from [inaudible 00:38:30] in Saigon. But the point is that-

Justin:                   Let’s not demean ant fucking. I mean, it’s important stuff there, Dan. That’s good.

Dan Pena:           No, no, I understand that. But the point is that you can … The two biggest levers in life are other people and other people’s money, in a legitimate way. I haven’t put money in a deal other than my own deals in a long, long, long time. I can’t remember when. Donald Trump, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t put money in his deals. None of these guys use their own money. None of them. They use somebody else’s money. It’s only the Mooch net shit entrepreneur, the China. You know, make a couple grand a month that puts his last pennies in.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           And if the deal is worth a shit, he should be able to do a joint venture with somebody, I’ll put up all the skills, you put up all the money, and we’ll split the proceeds in some amicable way, and normally joint venture implies 50/50, but that’s not always the case. But most of the kids don’t have the interpersonal skills, the communication skills, to say that to anybody. They send a Skype. No, no, excuse me. They send a tweet or they send a text. I mean, nobody worth a shit does business that way?

Justin:                   No. Agreed. Yeah. It’s funny when you say those skills, because I’m just thinking in my head, I’ve actually seen this happen before. Okay. And one of the reasons, Dan, I wanted to have you on is because I really kind of like your old school business principles and kind of the no-bullshit approach.

Dan Pena:           No, wait, wait. Stop, stop, stop. It’s not old school. I’m told that all the time. It’s not old school. You guys have never dealt with any high performer.

Justin:                   No, no, what I’m saying is, is that you’re old school person-

Dan Pena:           But it’s not. I mean, the young-

Justin:                   I’m saying that old school approach is not-

Dan Pena:           … the young people that are making a lot of money.

Justin:                   Yeah, yeah. What I’m saying is that old school though is evergreen, meaning that it doesn’t go out of style. Old school approach is the new school approach, but I think it’s interesting that you’re applying it to internet businesses. Do you know what I mean?

Dan Pena:           Oh, yeah, I understand.

Justin:                   You’re taking legitimate business principles that are old school that apply on the internet as well, and I think a lot of young people forget. Here’s the thing, I see a lot of guys that are 20 years old, 22 years old, right? And they go, “Oh, I’m going to start a business,” right? And they have no business sense, that business experience, but because they can spend 100 bucks to get themselves a domain name and some hosting, and they think they have a business. I think that there’s real value in fucking getting some business sense before you just think you can start a company. Do you know what I mean?

Dan Pena:           Yeah, I understand.

Justin:                   I guess what I think is interesting is like, what do you think about the abundance mindset versus like crushing your competition? I’ve heard you talk about this a little bit. It seems like you view both as important. So like in a growing market, we talk about riding the tide, right? So when the tide’s going up, and you talk about this, too, I think, in terms of like healthcare, getting involved in communications, like those are rising tides, and they will continue to be. But there’s also a time where you need to just crush your competition. Do you think there’s value in having a nemesis, someone that you go after in your niche or your industry?

Dan Pena:           Oh, no. I would rather crush the competition, and when the competition starts to catch up with you, then ride that wave with them. But you got to be first on the wave. If you’re not first or different person in the wave-

Justin:                   So be first, get ahead of the competition. There are niches though where you start, where you see-

Dan Pena:           But if you can’t be first, be different, have a USP, unique selling proposition, different, so you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd. But ultimately, especially on the internet, they’re going to catch up. If they don’t copy your site verbatim within 48 hours, they’re going to catch up. That’s why I like to be in models that there’s a barrier to entry, and there is no barrier to entry on the internet. Most internet models fail because they don’t realize that to really make big money the internet, it’s beyond having a credit card. You have to be able to manage merchant accounts, you have to be able to manage your charge backs or refunds in a big way. And they don’t understand that. And by the time they get into that, they’re dealing so much with the day to day shit, they’re putting out fires daily. They’ve got irate customers, they don’t understand customer service, they don’t understand that you need a service center, you don’t need this, you don’t need … I mean, they don’t understand any of that.

Justin:                   You actually talked about they’re being a barrier to entry, we call it a moat around the castle, which is kind of appropriate because you actually own a castle. So I thought that was … Tell me a little bit about that. How the hell did that work out? You own a castle, that’s insane.

Dan Pena:           Yeah, it’s a 15th century storybook castle, 55,000 square feet house on 156 acres.

Justin:                   It’s amazing. I have seen pictures, I have seen a little bit of your QLA seminars from the inside when you’re talking to people and like there’s a little video in there. It’s amazing. I was showing my girlfriend and she was like, “Wow, this guy owns a castle.”

Dan Pena:           Yeah. I built a nine hole golf course about 15 years ago.

Justin:                   Was that your dream? I know that you were shopping for one, or you just wanted it, you said, “I’m buying a castle. I want to raise kids there.”

Dan Pena:           No, no, no. My dad was a cop. My mom came from Mexico initially as an illegal alien. And about 30 plus years ago, while reading the Robb Report, I would tell all your devotees to subscribe, or buy the Robb Report, R-O-B-B Report. And it came out about 30 plus years ago and it’s for high performance influential person or wanna be high performance person. And I saw that they advertised castles in the back of the magazine. They don’t do that anymore. They’ve got a special magazine for property. And I said, “Hell, I need big goals, so I want to have a castle on an island.” Didn’t work out with the kind of Island I thought because Britain is an island. And that was in March, April 1983. And in August of 1984, I moved in. I didn’t have a time limit, I had no way to buy it, I had no way to, you know, all the things that I talk about. But when you sit bodacious goals …

I don’t like President Obama, so much his politics, but I do respect him for one thing, setting bodacious, lofty, impossible goals. When he was a dope smoking kid at [inaudible 00:44:11] college before he went on the Columbia and he said, “I’m going to be the first black president of the United States,” that’s a pretty big fucking goal. And a lot of things happen because it sets our subconscious into working. And that was his focus until it became president, because he’s now at the end of a second term presidency, and you can judge for yourself whether he’s been successful or not, but he certainly was successful in fulfilling his goal.

Justin:                   Dan, I got to bring this up now. It’s a bit of an aside, but I gotta mention it. So I have a friend, his name is Chris, and one of his goals, long term goals is he wants to own a castle. In fact, he wants to own your castle. His name is Chris Guthrie.

Dan Pena:           I know who he is.

Justin:                   You do?

Dan Pena:           I know who he is, yeah.

Justin:                   Yeah, he runs Entrepreneur Boost, has a-

Dan Pena:           No, no. He’s contacted the castle and/or me over the last three or four years, yeah. His long-term goal is to own it 20 from now.

Justin:                   So I got to ask this on behalf of this buddy. Would you ever be open to it?

Dan Pena:           I told him to fuck off. I told him a fuck off five years ago, four years ago, two years ago.

Justin:                   You’re crushing his dreams, Dan. What are you doing?

Dan Pena:           Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean-

Justin:                   Well, I’ll tell you this, Dan-

Dan Pena:           He’s delusional. I mean-

Justin:                   If he’s that motivated, then he’ll make it fucking happen, right? And he’ll give you a deal you can’t refuse. He’s done well for himself, but I think he’s got a bit of ways to go.

Dan Pena:           Then tell him he need to take a stronger drug.

Justin:                   I would [inaudible 00:45:25]. He really wants it, he’s going to absolutely crush it and bring you an offer that can’t refuse.

Dan Pena:           Well, that’s not likely though. Last time I checked on what he was doing, he would have to marry into the Onassis family and use their money.

Justin:                   Oh, goddamn. I’m going to have him listen to this podcast. His dreams are going to be crushed, man. You officially [crosstalk 00:45:45]-

Dan Pena:           But I’ve already told him this.

Justin:                   Oh, gotcha.

Dan Pena:           My lawyer has told him this. And in fact, somebody in my staff said, “Quit bothering Mr. Pena. Fuck off.”

Justin:                   All right, I’ll pass the word on.

Dan Pena:           Okay.

Justin:                   Last thing I want to talk about is the topic of wealth building. So in terms of getting our businesses to the point where we’re starting to build up, let’s say, war chest, right? And I think for us, we see that as being important so that we can do the acquisitions that we want, so we have the cash lying around so we can make these acquisitions. How important do you think that is for entrepreneurs that are up and coming to have a war chest versus taking cash out of business personally?

Dan Pena:           Well, I mean, are you talking about the war chest that is built from the cash flow of their own stuff, or a war chest because they’ve gone to other people to sponsor this growth process?

Justin:                   I guess both. I think … Yeah. I mean, I guess outside money is going to get you there a lot faster, your own money put skin in the game.

Dan Pena:           Well, I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as that it’s easier to buy revenue, then create it, one. Two, if you’ve got the right unique selling proposition and the right deal, it’s quite easy to raise money. And I would rather have 40% or 30% of a billion dollar deal than 100% of a five million dollar deal.

Justin:                   Yeah.

Dan Pena:           It’s pretty simple.

Justin:                   So if you played the game right, you’re swinging for the fences. You’re not doing small singles and doubles that you can do with your own [crosstalk 00:47:08].

Dan Pena:           No. Well, you always want to put the bat on the ball, but most people don’t swing. They sit and think about it, they google, fuck it to death.

Justin:                   Yeah. Let me ask you this. I know that like on Mixergy, Andrew asked you about your personal cash and you said, “I don’t talk about that. That’s personal versus my public companies.” And I get that and I respect that, but what I’m interested in is about trust. So I know another guy that sold his company for 20 million and put the money in trust. When you start to get to fuck you money, as I talked about earlier, what’s the value there? That’s outside of me right now, I don’t really understand that very well. What’s the value? It protects you from you.

Dan Pena:           I created a revocable trust in the late ’80s which still owns my principal assets, so-

Justin:                   And that protects you like from being sued, or protects you from like all kinds of things, it’s billable?

Dan Pena:           Yeah. Basically, most trusts are generation skipping for tax purposes.

Justin:                   Okay. All right. So I guess as we start heading in that direction that’s something I’ll look into. I think it’s an interesting topic though and you’re I think one of the few guys that I know … I know a couple others, but you’re one of the few guys I know that has some personal experience there, so that’s interesting.

Dan Pena:           Yeah, and nothing to go pitch panacea because you’re giving up control.

Justin:                   Yeah. So, okay, you give up control, someone else becomes a managing director. What kind of-

Dan Pena:           Trustee, not managing director. Trustees.

Justin:                   A trustee, okay. So a trustee, and what right do they have to do with it? Anything they want? And how are the rules?

Dan Pena:           Yeah, yeah, there’s restrictions and there’s rules and regulations, but basically anything they deem as appropriate to protect the corpus, the main assets.

Justin:                   Gotcha, okay. And you have multiple trustS set up as basically your diverse [inaudible 00:48:38] your trust?

Dan Pena:           Yeah. Yes, correct.

Justin:                   Okay. Interesting, man. Well, Dan, I really appreciate you coming on the show. I think it’s really been entertaining, but I think more importantly, educational. I think your story is fantastic and I-

Dan Pena:           Thank you very much.

Justin:                   And I love what you’re doing.

Dan Pena:           And for your kids, just go to danpena.com and everything’s for free, and go to torrent, or you can go to the askthe50billiondollarman.com. And I wish them all, not good luck, because man makes his own luck, but good hunting.

Justin:                   Awesome. I’m going to torrent your book, Your First 100 Million. I think that’s an excellent name, and I’m sure it’s really interesting [crosstalk 00:49:11]-

Dan Pena:           And one of the last point, we have a success test on my site. It’s got a 95% success rate of showing whether you have what it takes to be successful. And it’s only 16 question, takes about two minutes. For some of the slow readers in the group may take five minutes, but 16 questions and it’s got a 95% probability. There’s also an optimism test and pessimism test, basically, the success test.

Justin:                   All right, Dan. I gotta ask them, do you think that, out the people that go through your course because with the QLA course … not the course, but the event that you have at the castle, it’s like eight days I think right now. Out of the people that go out there, can you tell right away whether they have the chance of being super successful? Or is it more of a they’re at different stages in the journey and they can all be kind of molded, or …?

Dan Pena:           It’s yes and yes. We have 100% track record for changing people’s lives, 100% for 21 and a half years. We can ascertain, you can ascertain, because there’s a podcast that I just put out, do you have what it takes, and is this what I really want? You will ascertain within the first 36 hours, whether your quest is legitimate. Most of the kids that try, shouldn’t, because they’re not willing to make the sacrifices, Justine, to be a truly high performance person. They’re not really willing to make the sacrifice the Olympian puts in, or that I put in, or some of these other guys put in, but that’s fine. It’s better to figure-

Justin:                   Yeah, I don’t think that’s fair. Yeah, as long as you know-

Dan Pena:           I’d say it’s better to figure it out when you’re 35, 36 or 25, 26 than beating yourself up till you’re 50.

Justin:                   Agreed, yeah. If you know that, okay, I want to spend more time with my family, or I want to balance this, or this other thing is more important to me, I think that you’re kind of hitting on a really interesting point there, it’s like you have to be honest with yourself, like deeply fucking honest with yourself and know exactly what it is that you want. And that, I think that’s a really important thing for entrepreneurs or just anyone to figure out. And if they’re not willing to be brutally honest with themselves, they’re going to be fooling themselves as they head down whatever bullshit path the wind blows and takes them on.

Dan Pena:           Amen. And vis-à-vis work-life balance. Jack Welsh said it best, better than I do, in much more articulately he says, “There is no such thing as work-life balance. There is work-life choices and they have fucking consequences.” I know that’s probably too heavy for your group, but there is no work-life balance, there’re work-life choices and they all have fucking consequences.

Justin:                   Yeah, I agree, Dan. Thanks, man, so much for being on. I really appreciate it and it’s been-

Dan Pena:           Well, I hope they do well and I know I added value for those that were listening carefully. And if there’s anything else I can do for you, let me know. Just go to danpena.com or askthe50billiondollarman.com and you’ll get a lot, a lot of free content.

Justin:                   Thanks, Dan, so much.

Dan Pena:           Okay, good talking to you.

Speaker 2:           You’ve been listening to the Empire podcast. Now some news and updates.

Justin:                   All right, let’s move on to listener shouts also known as the indulgent ego boosting social proof segment. First subject, we’ve got no new iTunes reviews, buddy. If you are a fan of the show and you like us putting out the Empire podcast, please head over to iTunes or Stitcher or wherever it is that you listen to the podcast and do leave us a review. We’ll appreciate it and we will share your review on the show and give you a shout. We’ve got a couple of mentions on Twitter. We had John Tucker, he said, “Did you guys check out helpflow.net today? I saw a preview for your site, didn’t finish around midnight, PST?”

Well, first off, John, it’s a little creepy that you’re stalking us like that, but it’s actually a really cool service.” John runs helpflow.net. And what they do is they provide on-site chat support. So if you’ve got customers that have questions, a lot of times those questions are similar or the same, and they’ll hop in there live with your customers and help answer questions and help move them along toward a sale. Actually, I think it’s something we should check out in the next couple of months, Joe.

Joe:                        Yeah, I definitely think this fills a hole in the marketplace. I think an instant chat support service is really needed. There’s plenty of technology out there, but there’s no real support service that just says, “Hey, we’ll have agents lined up and ready to go.”

Justin:                   Yeah, I like the fact that it’s a full on Done-For-You service. It’s not just the software, it’s also the agents actually answering the questions, and they do an onboarding process. This is something we’re going to take a look at in the near future.

Now we’ve also got another Twitter shout from Will, he said, “Hey, Empire Flipper. When are you hiring another apprentice?” Great question, Will. We’ve got the new apprentice coming out here in the next couple of weeks, so we probably aren’t going to be hiring again till Q3 or Q4 of 2015. We will send an email out and share that information when we are looking to hire. So as soon as that is out, we will make that obviously available for applications.

Alyssa Doucette gave us a shout out on Twitter, said, “Got some money to spend and want an online business? @EmpireFlippers has 30-plus vetted profitable sites listed for sale.” Alyssa is actually our editor for the Empire Flippers blog, and she helps us out with a lot of our content and editing, so I appreciate the shout, Alyssa.

We’ve got a couple of blog mentions. One of them is from Josh over at passionintopaychecks.com, talks a little bit about selling his site with us. If you’d like to see kind of the background on one of the websites we have for sale, he does income reports and share stuff on his blog that talks about the particular site that’s for sale. So you can get some details over there and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes.

We also got a nice mention from the guys over at NoHatDigital. They’re also selling sites with us, they’ve sold sites with us in the past. I’ll put a link to that, but they talk about building profitable partnerships and creating win-wins and getting more done through building teams, and bringing on partners, and building out sites, really interesting.

Joe:                        Yeah, I love what they’re doing over there at NoHatDigital. I’ve talked to those guys a bunch of times, we’ve sold their sites, we’re working on selling other of their sites. I would like to see more of their people selling their sites with us because they always do put out a good product.

Justin:                   Yeah, buddy. All right, that’s it for episode 129 of the Empire podcast. Thanks for sticking with us. We’ll be back next week with another show. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at empireflippers.com/danpena, and make sure to follow us on Twitter at @EmpireFlippers. See you next week.

Joe:                        Bye, bye, everybody.

Speaker 2:           Hope you enjoyed this episode of the Empire podcast with Justin and Joe. Hit up empireflippers.com for more. That’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.


  • This was a really great interview. No BS, theory which one can easily put into practice. Must listen again and take notes to apply to my business.

    I wanted for this interview to go on for another hour or two. Hopefully in the future.

    Thanks for this to both Dan and Justin.

  • This is Epic!

    Fcuking Epic!!

    This is awesome. I love it.

    Let’s shoot for the moon and at worse we make a shot at the stars! (or whatever they say it)

    Most importantly, let’s take some stronger drug 🙂

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Thanks, Sheyi!

      Really glad to have Dan on the show. He’s great for the No-BS answers and his story is really motivating. (To me and our listeners, I suspect)

  • Josh Shogren says:

    I have to say, this was my first ever shoutout or mention and it feels pretty good! Thanks for giving me and my site a shoutout I really appreciate it! I am planning on doing a full review of the selling process once my site is sold as well.

    Great podcast too, as always!


  • GDB says:

    Hated on Chris’ aspirations to buy castle Guthrie a bit too much, but other than that I like this guy’s approach to things.

    Specifically I liked what he said about setting a goal or having an ambitious dream, but not tying a deadline to it. This is something I’ve been struggling with too much recently, seeing other people pass me by or achieve similar goals a lot faster or seemingly easier than I’m managing to do.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Yeah, the Guthrie Castle bit kinda threw me off – I wasn’t expecting that!

      Yeah, was interesting to hear about goal setting from him. It’s true that setting dates/deadlines can “slow” you down if you’re ahead of schedule – that’s something we’ve experienced directly.

  • Edward S. says:

    This episode was AWESOME. What a refreshing hit of old school no bullshit energy from a voice outside of online business. Using “old school” principles is such a powerful way to differentiate in the new school. They truly ARE evergreen! Sometimes I feel we congratulate ourselves too much and overvalue the income because it’s semi-passive. Such an awesome reminder to set bigger goals and not be “OK” with simply achieving growth and profitability.

    As for the path: spend other peoples money. I would have liked to heard that principle with regard to newbies who can’t as easily apply “skills for money” since we don’t have the skills yet. He seemed opposed to bootstrapping/putting your own money up, but it seems unavoidable while we cut our teeth to provide value down the line.

    Either way, this episode is no doubt an INSTANT CLASSIC. Thanks Justin and Dan!

    Ed S.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Hey Ed,

      Dan argues an aggressive, leveraged position to building companies and wealth. This leads to a high risk/reward scenario which requires you to be quite bold and “drag” yourself across the goal line. (Kicking and screaming, if necessary)

      It’s not the only way, but it’s definitely something he’s used to success as have his mentees. I particularly liked talking to him about it as it’s so outside of our framework and nice to hear alternative strategies that have been proven successful.

  • Brent says:

    What an amazing guest! This was fantastic. It’s the shot in the arm I needed! Good stuff guys.

  • Jim says:

    Woke up this morning and listened to this podcast… was like attending the “Church of No Shit”.

    High energy and outright straight up!

    I have listed to 90+ of the EF/AF podcasts… and this is the 1st one where the Guest drove… I don’t mean road shotgun and tossed a few beers… I mean GRABBED the wheel, slapped Justin side the head, and said “whoa man, TURN RIGHT, there’s a stupid shit in the road!”

    This is one of THE MOST ENGAGING podcasts and a terrific example of two bright guys having outright candid conversation about success and drive. Very insightful and motivational.

    Truly enjoyed it. Thanks Justin / Dan!


    • Justin Cooke says:

      Glad you dug it, Jim!

      Dan clearly has real business chops and has been through plenty of interesting business situations, closed lots of deals, etc.

      Looking forward to having more guests like Dan on in the future!

  • Anon says:

    Dude is sharp as hell at 70 years old.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      I know, right?

      Dan clearly loves what he does. I don’t think he’d admit it, but I think there’s a bit of a softy in him to be doing this work at his age. It’s not just self-accomplishment – he truly enjoys helping others reach their potential, IMO.

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