Exclusive Audio Interview with Dan Peña
“everybody tries to do too much“
Hello everybody. Richard C. Wilson here at Billionaires.com. Today we have an interview with Dan Pena, who began his career as a financial analyst on Wall Street. He later on became the president of Great Western Resources, Houston-based oil company, and then was a serial entrepreneur.
He is well known for owning the Guthrie Castle in Scotland. He is a thought leader. He openly shares strategies, mindsets, mental models, openly with the public. I encourage you to do more research on Dan and I hope you love this interview.
Richard C. Wilson: All right, Dan, I appreciate you joining us here today. So first question, what is the number one most costly mistake you have made or seen many other investors and business owners make that could be avoided?
Dan Peña: That’s pretty darn easy for me. I was pretty much a hellion, a shit-disturber, got in a lot of trouble, and was arrested. Most of my arrests were alcohol-related. But when I went and volunteered for the draft in 1966 at the height of the Vietnam War, I was accepted into OCS. And about a year later I was commissioned as second lieutenant in the United States Army.
That was the pinpoint of my turnaround, or my ascension, to success or greatness, being in charge of men. Being in charge of tens of millions, in one case, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment, leading men changed my life. And so I thank the United States Army for that.
The discipline that I had there was not quite as hard as the discipline that I received from my father who, as legend has it, used to beat me like a rented mule. So I thought it was easy being in the army and the discipline, and so I’m forever thankful. But that was the beginning.
Richard C. Wilson: Okay, great. Thank you. The second question, what is a strategy worth far more than $1 million that you wish someone had provided you with earlier that you could share here?
Dan Peña: I wish that I understood as Clausewitz, the famous Prussian General said a couple centuries ago, “Focus on the few, not the many.” Most of us when we get out of school, or while we’re in school, or when we’re in our first real job, or not even our first real job, our first pretend job, we try to do too many things. And the biggest thing that I’ve noticed in 30 years that I’ve been coaching, and in the 50 plus years that I’ve been in business, is that everybody tries to do too much.
It was a study between, I think it was Harvard and MIT a few decades ago, that showed that the human brain, even if you’re Einstein, can focus on maybe two things at the most, maybe three if you’re really bright. So as I learned, the more high profile people that I was around, the more high performance people that I was around, they focused on the few, not the many. And so I wish I knew that early on in my career and I would’ve saved a lot of time. You can always make money back, but you can’t make time.
Richard C. Wilson: Great. Our last and final question here, what was the major turning point, the point of increased momentum, or a strategic choke point that once acquired or completed made everything you did surge forward very quickly?
Dan Peña: You are who you hang around with. A famous guru a few decades ago, and his name escapes me, it might’ve been Brian Tracy, said that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Coming from the barrio or the ghetto, the hood as they call it now, your friends of the guys that live down the street, around the corner. But I learned that the higher performance people that you hang with, the better off you’re going to be. And I didn’t understand that until I got out of the officer’s candidate school and I was an officer and more or less, I spent almost all my time with young officers and I was lucky enough to spend my time with some very senior officers, general officers, but you are who you hang around with. Thank you very much.