Transcript Of The Virtual Speaker Series With Peter Thomas Voiceover: Peter Thomas is the author of the book ‘Be Great’ (http://www.begreatbook.com), a book about five foundations for succeeding in business without compromising your values. Peter has lived it, he has developed billions of dollars in real estate projects in North America, and the founder and developer of Century 21 Canada. Michael Simmons (MS): Hey everyone this is Michael Simmons, co-founder of the Virtual Speaker Series. I am honored to present our awesome guest. Thank you for joining, welcome. Let me jump right in! Peter Thomas (PT): Michael, I just remember where I met you before, at the C.E.O. conference. You were on stage giving a presentation. MS: You are absolutely right, I sat right next to you. It was about two years ago. I‟m so glad you remember that. MS: Is there anything in your background that I missed that you‟d like me to hit on a little bit? PT: No not really. I think we can float on through it. It‟s on the website, for anyone who‟d like to see more about me. I had an amazing journey with an amazing amount of angels I‟d like to call them, my wife and a lot of people helping along the way. You never get anywhere by yourself so all the credit goes to my support system who put up with me and keep me going. I‟m looking forward to a good session where we can transfer some experience and knowledge to your listeners. MS: Awesome, Perfect. So I‟m just going to jump right in, this first part I‟m going to focus on is the philanthropy part. My first question is: What would you like your legacy to be, and how does your financial giving fit into that? PT: That‟s a pretty simple question for me, because I feel like I‟ve been blessed. When I look to see why I‟ve been blessed, I heard a long time ago a guy say that the reason he was so blessed was that he was just lucky sperm. I think it‟s one of the best things I ever heard. I think all of us, in the United States and Canada, are just lucky sperm because we‟re able to be successful because of the laws that govern our land, our freedoms that we protect and what we have. That‟s what‟s so critical you know I‟m an immigrant. I came from England to Canada with my mom. I‟m a single parent child and coming with my mom to Canada, I left home when I was fifteen and got a job joined the army and really had an amazing life of experiences only made possible by the political system and way that we can just accept every morning when we get out of bed the freedoms that are allowed us. My travels, I‟ve been to Lima Peru, Africa, and so many places. The freedoms in the life that we have which we fight for, just being grateful for them, I‟ll talk a lot about gratitude as we progress through this piece. My legacy to answer your question, I want the wealth that I have left to go back into sustaining the lifestyle that we enjoy. I got all my stuff that I have by being an entrepreneur, by being allowed to become an entrepreneur so I want all of my stuff to go back towards that. I‟m starting to decrease other giving to be honest with you, and giving back to support people who are getting the messages out. Not unlike you Michael and what you‟re doing, systems and networks that give tools to allow people to become successful in life. (4:41) What my book is about, „Be Great‟ is about how to understand who you are and maybe give you a few little tips about how you can make it through in the same system. I‟ll tell you on my gravestone it‟ll say “Here lies a happy soul”. MS: I like that! What‟s you‟re approach to giving back? I heard the quote “making the money was easy, and the hard part was giving it away”, maybe Warren Buffet said that. It‟s not easy to give away money and to have it have the impact you want so tell me how are you approaching that process? PT: When you and I first started you said somebody asked the question “Are relationships important?” relationships are everything. As you go through the walk of life it takes a lot of time to find the people who talk the talk a nd really walk the walk, you‟ve got to separate those people out people who are totally committed. I have a little formula for people who are writing this down, it‟s called A.M.C. = Attitude Motivation & Commitment. I talk more about it in the book. In the Century21 sales books we actually had 8,500 sales people and of that 80% of them didn‟t do much, and 20% of them did a lot. Of the 20% who did a lot we boiled it down to 13 winners in different regions of the country. These people were of different races, different religions, different educations but they all had one commonality among them, they were successful. So we tried to give them all a test to find what made them successful. We found a lot of common things honesty, integrity, hard work, education, being smart. There were three things that rang loud and clear with us, and it was that every successful person has to have a good attitude, it‟s critical. The next thing is that they have to be motivated – self motivated not looking externally for it, but get out and read good books see good motivational films, having motivating & successful friends. You‟ve got to reach out and motivate yourself. We‟ll talk more about that. The last thing is commitment. We had a seminar today at 1:30pm and you know I‟m a busy guy and you‟re a busy guy but we both knew at 1:30pm we‟d be here because we said we would, and your word has got to mean something. (7:15) Everybody I look at whether I‟m going to hire them, or whatever I‟m going to do with them I look for their A.M.C‟s, I‟ve got a little pin actually that I give out which says A.M.C. on it. MS: Great. How about at the organizational level? There are so many different great organizations out there spreading the message, whether it‟s in higher education, non- profits, even for profit entrepreneurs. I know there are some for -profit divisions of colleges on this call today. Do you use that same formula or a different formula to evaluate what type of organizations you get involved with? PT: Before I did this workshop today, I have one unbelievable resource I went to and that‟s my wife. I asked Rita because she‟s been with me all the way on this journey, and I asked Rita to go through these all these questions Michael‟s put together and asked “Have you got any ideas on it?” There‟s a whole thing on values. When you‟re looking at fundraising you‟ve got to evaluate what you‟re raising these funds for, your organization and what your values stand for. This is whether you‟re a student, a fundraiser whatever you are- you want to be helping and helpful to other people who share your values. Then it‟s very easy. For example if you went to get a job, and say Al Capone interviewed you. You ask, “Well what do you do Mr. Capone?” and he‟d say “Well I kill people everyday”, and you think well I don‟t think I want to be here, you know it‟s pretty obvious. People who have good values are out there more and more. We did a little bit of work on the internet and picked up on some companies and It‟s amazing, the bad guys: Enron, BP, Tyco, the [Bernie] Madoff situation… I get this question a lot, “what is the difference between your corporate values and your personal values?”, and they‟re the same thing Michael. They don‟t get much different: integrity, freedom. For me it‟s very blurred together, very similar corporate and personal. You can go on a website Richard Branson‟s for example and his values are right there on the website, also Lulu Lemon (lululemon.com), or Whole Foods (www.wholefoodsmarket.com). If you came to me saying, “Peter we want to hire you for our organization to raise some money for us,” the first things I want to know is who you are and what your values are, now I can relate to you. What do you want to accomplish and what do you want the mone y for? “I want to hire a research assistant, I need $40,000”. Okay well I get that. Now I might say well who do I go and get that money from? MS: Can I interrupt you for a second Peter? PT: Absolutely anytime. MS: I completely agree about the power of finding someone‟s values and that the corporations and their personal values reflect each other. At the same time in talking with other philanthropists in the field, one of the challenges let‟s say at a university you may find someone you really like, and you invest in them but then for whatever reason a few years later they leave – Do you find that to be a challenge? PT: What do you mean? For example saying I invested in the University of Houston because I know the dean there very well, and the dean leaves? MS: Yes. PT: Well the way I look at it, everybody leaves. I‟m not investing in the dean I‟m investing with the dean as a conduit to an organization. I had that exact situation with the dean at ASU who left to go to Houston. She actually teaches our program. You asked me earlier about credibility & values. The dean is one of my certified life pilot teachers, Dr. Leanne Atwater. Leanne left ASU to go to Houston, and what I know is that Leanne is a values person, wherever she‟s going to be she‟s going to integrate those values into that institution. I‟ll move with her, if she‟s got a program she wants to do. The journey of life is much larger for me as a fund giver than one organization – one show. MS: When you go to a University you see a lot of buildings and they‟re perhaps named after successful entrepreneurs. At the same time in the field you see people giving back maybe to the University, but not necessarily to the field of entrepreneurship. I‟m curious do you agree with that? Also why do you think that might happen? PT: I do my assessment and make a decision as a fund giver. I just did this with a major university I gave them a half million bucks and they funded over 3 years $166,000 a year. They said they were going to do „this, this, this & this‟, so every year I measure „Are they doing this, this, this & this?‟ I watch it very closely and see. We‟re just coming to the third year now and we‟re doing a real evaluation to see are they working on the goals they set with us for this money, or have they got their own goals in the background going on. I‟m a little concerned they‟ve got their own goals in the background going on. They‟ve doing this university stuff and not the stuff we talked about. So now, if they want anymore money they‟d better come around back to the table. MS: I know among your friends, since birds of a feather flock together people that you associate with have great values and are successful. I wonder, are any of them giving back to their entrepreneurship programs? PT: You know Michael giving back and entrepreneurship are different things. Success for example, people think Peter Thomas is this very successful guy they look and say in ‟74 he started Century21 and sold it in ‟87 and built the Four Seasons hotel is Scottsdale, we‟ve got these pinnacles. They don‟t recognize that on these mountains, we‟ve got these different peaks and you have to go down the mountain to get back up to the next peak and many times in that jungle down below is very tough times. So you make it, then it‟s tough, then make it again. There is a pattern of success. The fund givers want to find out where that entrepreneur is in his cycle. Is he in a flush cycle, or not a flush cycle? Are times flush or are they not flush? No matter how hard you work you‟ve got to fish where the fish are. (14:38) You can be there all day long with the best equipment, the best bait and never catch a fish if there‟s no fish there. The best prospectors are the best sales people not the best convincers. Right now it‟s economically tough, and with my own giving I find I‟m giving less to each organization, to spread it out. I‟m taking a real good look at my defined objectives. Another answer to your question is from where I sit, there are no bad charities I don‟t know one that exists. They‟re all good and driven by individuals who believe in their cause and their all good causes. In my career I’ve had lots of times where I had no money, and lots of times where I’ve had lots of money. In the times of no money, I’ll give my time. I’ll sit on a board, and that’s what I tell my entrepreneur friends ‘Money is only one thing that you have to give’. What I think entrepreneurs have to give is if they learn their lessons they can share those lessons and what I call the soft side. I went through a terrible situation I lost my son ten years ago. When I lost Todd it took me a couple years to put everything into perspective. In those two years I chose to honor my son‟s life and everything I do is for charity. Any books that we sell anything we do is all charitable and given to certain organizations. What I found is that I went on several boards of charities, and I‟ll call the entrepreneurial side the hard side and charitable side the soft side, and you meet unbelievably amazing people on the “soft side”. I find that sometimes their skill sets are not the types of skills that are needed to close deals and raise money and that type of stuff. They have more organizational skills and know about preparing to give the money away, but they‟ve got to get it to give it. Every entrepreneur listening to this, and anytime you know any entrepreneurs get them to take their skills to the local school board, a local church group, any organization that‟s a charity organization needs the skill sets of an entrepreneur. So that‟s another way every entrepreneur can give back, the boards are crying for help. If a young entrepreneur, for example a girl that owns her own Baskin Robbins franchise calls up her local church and offers help. I‟m getting to a future question you‟re going to ask right now…I have a friend who has a business and his business is based on giving charity, giving money away. His name is Al Molina and he‟s a jeweler. Al‟s the chairman of the G.S.D.A‟s here in Phoenix next week. MS: Yeah, I saw him last year at C.E.O. PT: Right, I got him in there. Well if he‟s going to open up a store in let‟s say San Diego. What he‟ll do is go to San Diego and look up all the charities and see who is doing what. Then he‟ll go around and say “Hi, my name is Al Molina can I give you some money?” they‟ll say “Yeah!” So he sits down with these people, finds people he can align his own values with, he creates relationships in that new town, guess where these people are going to buy their jewelry from now on? He‟s unbelievable! He‟s given away around $4,000,000 a year. Giving money away is a part of his business plan. MS: You hear of cause related marketing, but you don‟t hear of many entrepreneurs who are that serious about it. PT: It‟s pretty simple, you go into a strange town and you look. Who gives to charities? It‟s the movers and the shakers and people who are trying to get their ideas supported. When you go and give somebody support for their concept, you‟re the best person in their lives! MS: So I have a question for you, and I think Al Molina is a great example. Al would be a great person for a University to approach and it could be very mutually beneficial. The challenge is that he‟s not an entrepreneur of the likes of Century21 who everyone knows about, a brand name or high profile entrepreneurs. People are used to approaching those kinds of entrepreneurs but there are many entrepreneurs out there who are like Al, who have very successful businesses that are harder to prospect. You said prospecting is a big part of it. How would you go about prospecting people like Al? PT: A very simple answer which is: read the paper. I look at my newspaper every single day. I‟ve hired some of the best people in the world through reading about their accomplishments in the newspaper. I remember Neil Miley a guy I hired about 100 years ago he brought me one of the best projects I‟ve ever seen in my life, a very successful project in San Antonio Texas. The way I got his name was that they told of his appointment to a competitive mutual fund company in the paper. I picked up the phone thinking „I‟ve got to get to know this guy!‟ I gave him a call and said “Hi. I want to welcome you to Edmonton Alberta, I read in the paper about your accomplishments you sound like a great guy, I‟m a business man here in Edmonton and I‟d like to meet with you. How about tomorrow over coffee?” and we clicked! A guy like Al Molina he‟s very approachable and I think most entrepreneurs are approachable, but fund raisers have to be prepared for rejection but they want to meet people and open new doors. MS: What are some of the ways that people do that wrong? My experience on many campuses is I find that people running the entrepreneurship programs they may have more experience on the administrative side either being a professor or running great co- curricular programs, but they may not have experience in some cases in being an entrepreneur themselves or in raising funds. PT: The little bit that I know about, in knowing you, is that you‟re full of one of the most important ingredients that one has to have; it‟s called passion. You‟re passionate about what you do! Everyone listening in on this telephone call, a few hundred people here- if you‟re not passionate about the organization you‟re raising funds for you probably won‟t be that successful. You might have a degree of success but you‟ve got to be burning with it, passionate about it. That passion ignites you and it translates to the people you talk to. I talk to a lot of people about fundraising all the time and I feed from that person. I might look at them for six months but when they‟re on my radar, they’re on my radar! You‟ve got to learn, how does that person communicate? Al Molina for example doesn‟t go near his email everything‟s through his assistant. So when I first got to meet Al, I didn‟t approach him personally, I went through Georgine. Next thing, me and Georgine got a relationship going, and all of a sudden that nice man Peter Thomas, his requests go to the top of the list. MS: Awesome! You talked about involvement earlier that if you‟re involved with entrepreneurs, using them to raise funds. There‟s lots of different ways to involve an Entrepreneur, I‟ve made a list of them here but off the top of my head some of the different ways I‟ve seen in Universities are: - having an entrepreneur in residence - have them as a guest speaker - as a mentor - subject of a case-study - be a business plan judge - have them serve on your board Do you have any comments on those types of ways of involving entrepreneurs? (24:05) PT: Yes I wrote them down. You‟d asked me to rate them #1 is have them as a guest speaker. I‟ve been asked to be all of these, most entrepreneurs are very busy. The entrepreneur in residence; that‟s an old guy who is living in town and you know he‟s got time. You‟re looking for an older guy whose settled down in town, who has slowed down and it would probably be an honor for him to come and talk to students he‟d probably like to do that. If it‟s a guy who is full and traveling all the time, he‟s not going to have the time but I think he‟d be honored to be a guest speaker. A friend of mine just gave $10,000,000 to a University. It was the biggest gift they‟d ever got and it was in all the papers. He just sold his company for over $300,000,000. That University reached out to him 3 years before he sold his company. They had him first on the Deans List, then asked him to sit on their centennial cl ub, then to become part of the entrepreneurial program and he was there. You create relationships. A quick sidebar: When I used to sell Century21 franchises, I wouldn‟t allow the sales people to sell a franchise until you‟ve visited with the franchisee seven times. First it‟s prospecting and then you sit and talk and get the relationship going, leave them with something to read. You‟ve got to create the relationship – the fundraisers have to create the relationship with the entrepreneur. The quicker you can get the guy to write the check the better it is for you, and the guy [the entrepreneur] knows that. Like what you‟re trying to teach people right now is, how you get the guys like me. You get them by developing a relationship, you get an interest going. Recognize your successful pillars. Make a point of going after those targets, develop a pre-planned program call it a 7 step program. The first step, „Meet the President‟. That‟s what they did at the University of Victoria for me. I got a letter from the President of the University saying „Oh Mr. Thomas, we‟re so honored to have you as a part of our community you do so much...I‟m in town for the next three weeks and I would like to meet you…‟ Next thing you know, I‟m honored by the invitation, „Whoa! Well can I bring my wife?!‟ I think he had the dean walk me around the campus, and I developed a relationship with the dean. Now I get a letter every quarter from the dean a personal outreach letter and now I know they care about me as an individual, I feel that way. MS: We‟ve got a question from Cindy Bush, who is actually a [Extreme Entrepreneur tour] client of ours. She‟s the manager of the center for innovation at Metro College Denver, her question is: How do we engage someone who does not ha ve a connection with our college who supports entrepreneurial programs? So for you, have you mainly been approached in [towns/states] you have homes in? I know you have houses all over, are you comfortable with people who have no relation to you contacting you? PT: The last one. People with no direct relationship, either I‟ve contacted them or they‟ve contacted me. MS: Okay great. So you mentioned earlier a 7 step process. You‟ve met the president, then met with the dean what‟s the next step? PT: The next would be a lunch with the dean where he shares the program, or the outline of the program with me. The third one is maybe a call to action When I‟ve been told they want me to be involved in the University, I say well pick out where you want me. Do you want me on the entrepreneurial board, the president‟s council? On the latter, the president would perhaps have ten people like me and would invite us all to dinner one evening, and then you‟re starting to identify with the campus and their needs and what they‟re doing. I‟ve done that several times. MS: Wow that‟s great! I never would of thought of going with this approach of right away to involving the President and the Dean. Would you be resistant if it was a professor that approached you initially? PT: The answer is yes I would probably be resistant to it. Once I‟ve got the relationship built through the President or the Dean, then the professor is great. There are just too many other people calling on me as an individual for my time. In the 7 steps, what you‟re building toward now is see where the hot buttons are for that donor. What does this donor respond to, is it prestige? Is he a guy with time on his hands? Figure out what kind of person your prospect is, because we all respond to different stimuli. Me for example, I am a visual guy who is busy all the time. Respect that time. Then you get to the fundraising and say “we know you‟re a really busy guy and we‟ve got one of our vice presidents in place but we‟d love for you to share in the fundraising next year for the business school”. I might say yes because I‟ve gone through a process. I‟d say the minimum would be two years, before you would do that type of ask. MS: Know someone two years before you make that kind of ask, or any kind of ask? PT: You‟ll know when the time‟s right but I‟d say for that kind of an ask. MS: How long would you wait to invite a guest speaker? PT: I‟d go right at it. Depending on how you found them [the entrepreneur] if he just bought a company or just moved into your community. Depending on his timing (his schedule) I‟d go right for that because the kids love it, and he‟s got a great story. I‟ve never seen anyone flub with that. Whether the person‟s a good public speaker or not, if they‟re successful, everyone is interested in how they came into success, and what‟s their secret formula. MS: This is really great. You mentioned „hot buttons‟. Someone may have time or another person may have expertise, are there certain categories of hot buttons you‟d look for? Or is everyone unique? PT: There probably is some kind of formula I‟ve never really quite thought of it. The hot button means, what motivates that individual. You get to know them over that period of two years. I‟d say to you Michael, what are your passions? I‟d be surprised at some of the answers I get, maybe you‟re a toy soldier collector, or really into bike racing, or maybe you‟re mother had cancer – and maybe the schools heavily involved with cancer research. I feel a lot of unplumbed talent is Alumni. As an entrepreneur the first thing I‟d ask the university for is some kind of list of alumni. If you hired me today back at Florida State I‟d ask them for a list of their alumni. Find out who are their more successful alumni and get letters out to them because then there‟s a real connection to the school. (35:49) MS: That definitely makes sense. From what I‟ve heard from a lot of folks is that they want to go in that direction but that it‟s hard to build a program or a sustained system to identify all these alumni. PT: I‟ve always been one when I get involved in programs, to create things that create money. Rather than ask for money, create money. There are schools that sustain programs that fund themselves. You have to fund yourself I have to fund myself, that‟s why I‟m critical of the program that the president wants to run to print more money to stimulate the economy. Every time you print more money you dilute the economy. A university creating fundraising programs is a great idea. I‟m doing one now, we‟re creating an idea, a fundraising idea it looks like fun we can take it across the country and we can maybe raise a couple hundred thousand every time we do it, and it‟s just an idea. Entrepreneurs will do that if you get them involved with your programs. MS: When you talk about sustainability you‟re not necessarily talking about having folks create a program where they charge students or get local sponsors – you‟re talking about creating a sustainable fundraising system that you could replicate is that correct? PT: That‟s exactly correct. We did that, we had one at St. Michael‟s University school, we had some seats that we wanted to fill up so we said „let‟s do some scholarships but we wanted to fund the scholarships. So got kids to apply for the scholarship, and then we had a real person: (i.e.) Michael Simmons, a picture of him, his age, his goals you‟ve got a whole bio on him. Then we‟d go to the entrepreneurs and say „will you fund [his] scholarship? It‟s $2,500. Now you can identify Michael, you can meet him, he‟ll talk to you, he‟ll give you updates on school and how he‟s doing…‟ I think we had about 15 seats and we filled them up and bam we sold them out within the community. MS: Wow! That‟s kind of like HEVA where you can actually get a relationship with a person and really invest in them. Instead of just giving money and being unsure of where it goes. PT: I always say the apple falls closest to the tree or the truck, going straight down and not way out there. If you‟re going to invest in your community as an entrepreneur you can help a student who doesn‟t have the funds that you can identify with that student. That student can become an employee down the road, you could mentor that kid. If you‟ve got a student in an entrepreneurial program and that student doesn‟t have enough money to get his MBA, what‟s better than being funded by a local person? MS: That‟s an awesome idea do you have any others like that? PT: That‟s just off the top of my head, an idea that we did that goes with self-sustaining. MS: Great. I want to jump back to something that you said that I kind of glossed over before. You said that for finding someone like Al Molina a key would be reading newspapers, well what sorts of newspapers do you read? What would you recommend for educators and entrepreneurs to read? PT: Well I think you should read the Wall Street Journal because it gives you sort of the overview or overall picture of what‟s going on with the econom y. Then you‟ll learn what industries are still hot and working or what have you. Then you read your local, like when I‟m in Phoenix I read The Phoenix Republic. So those are the two main ones. I of course read The Global Mail in Canada because now digitally I can read it while I‟m riding my bike. I find that one of the reasons people are successful is because they‟re engaging, they have something to bring. So when you make that call and you‟re going to meet that fundraiser you want to bring something to the table. If you have knowledge you bring that knowledge to the table. I think of so many kids I‟ve funded over the years, like Doug Evans who has got Organic Avenue in New York. MS: Oh yes I know Doug! PT: Well yes, he‟s crazy you know. He‟s got this amazing idea. I remember when I met him fifteen years ago he attended a speech I gave. I couldn‟t not see the guy he just was relentless. MS: Yeah he definitely has that personality. PT: When I finally let him in, he‟s now a very close personal friend. We‟ve invested in his company. The new palm phone had just come in this was 15 years ago, and I had it and all I was using it for was to make phone calls. He helped me learn to use it he‟d come down and work with me for hours and hours. He was a real techie and he got me going on that phone. He gave me a gift. Now I can‟t do enough for him he‟s never asked me for anything, it was me that had wanted to help him. MS: Providing value – that‟s a great point! I definitely feel this as an entrepreneur and when speaking to someone like you. You have so much more experience and a lot of my biggest goals you‟ve already accomplished. What possible value could I provide to you? I know one thing I‟ve seen in people I‟ve worked with is helping on the technology end. What are other ways that an entrepreneur or someone just out of school could provide value to an entrepreneur like you? PT: Well you know you‟ve got one thing that I don‟t have and that‟s time. I‟ve got knowledge and you‟ve got time. For example, I want to get the word out and have people recognize – and I‟m really cutting to the bottom line of my book: (you‟ve got to read through a lot of stuff to get to that bottom line) I truly do believe that genius is in everybody. When you read the book you‟ll see why I believe that, there‟s proof that it [genius] is there in everybody. The reality of why some people are more successful than others is that some people are more aware of their own genius than other people are. Some people don‟t believe enough in themselves. So if you can get someone to believe in themselves; Doug always knew the gift he could bring me. I wasn‟t aware of it, but he was, so when you recognize my needs and help me with the journey I want to go on well then where do we go… Giving, I‟m trying focus back on your listeners, and how can we get people like you to be into giving. Giving truly is an honor. To be able to give back, when you don‟t have any money it does not sound believable but the best pleasure I get- is through giving. My wife‟s face when I buy her something. I think of a charity here in the valley „Kids Help-Line‟, I watched this girl start „Kids Help-Line‟ many years ago and now she‟s doing very well, we were one of her bigger donors. Big was $10,000, only ten grand she needed to get this thing off the ground. Now she‟s having John McCain coming in and speaking, raising half a million dollars in an evening – she‟s become really big time. It‟s trying to fit the entrepreneur/the giver/ the donor with the need. If you believe as a fundraiser in your cause, the passion will translate. I learned as a kid you‟ve got to make 18 calls a day to be successful, and you got to make 3 presentations everyday to be good at selling. You‟re going to get that rejection. I was never a very good salesman, I‟m not a very good closer but I‟m a great worker! I always said I‟m not that smart, but I know the rule of delegation which is to surround yourself with smart people. Find out what you do well as an entrepreneur. I know what I do well, I‟m a great leader, I‟m a good visionary but I‟m a lousy operator. If you and I were going to go somewhere in a vehicle, you drive and let me tell you where to go because I‟m much better that way. Same with a company or in any organization, find out where you fit surround yourself with people that are better than you are at those other tasks. MS: Going back to your point I thought that was an amazing point about making 18 calls a day and making 3 presentations. Eighteen calls just to clarify that could be voicemails or sending an email out? A presentation is actually going out and meeting with someone? PT: No. No the call is actually a specific call with the prospect of getting an appointment, it is not an email. You can send thousands of emails out, when one comes back, then that‟s a call. (50:06) MS: I want to make sure I get to more questions here, what are your thoughts on the area of impact investing? Not a donation but an investment with low returns to help a cause or program that supports and encourages business ownership? PT: I‟ve got no grudges against that. It‟s like when you die a lot of people say I want one son to get my watch and this one to get this. I call that ruling from the grave. I am giving all my money to my wife, she‟s going to have it all, and what she wants to do with it she knows what I‟d like done with it. I feel the same way with my gifting program now, like if I give you $10,000 it‟s gone good luck! If you want another $10,000 I want to know what you did with the first ten. The more articulate you are, „Peter I took the $10,000 we moved our program to New York and this is what we did!‟ maybe you sent along a little PowerPoint presentation to explain what happened, and how excited you were, and how it was the lead capital for something else. I did that with a $1,000,000 we raised for an organization, I said I‟m in for the last $100,000. If you raise the other $900,000 I‟ve got the $100,000. MS: You kind of already touched on this in what you said about giving. It can be a huge honor and it feels incredible and that‟s why I‟m a social entrepreneur I completely agree. A question for you is what can fundraisers and entrepreneurship center directors do to make someone like you feel good about what you‟ve given and want to give more? I know you‟ve touched on it a little that they can update you on successes and how the money has made an impact. What more generally and specific examples on what people have done for you that made you feel special. PT: I used to be in the real estate business where there‟s what‟s called the disappearing salesman, they get your listing and then they‟re gone. Instead of following up and following up because you know you‟re going to buy many houses in a lifetime. It‟s the same with fundraising; I want to know how well it‟s doing so the more articulate you are in letting me know what you‟re doing with the money- the more you‟ve got my attention. Now you can over do that, I‟ve had it overdone. A nice mix is where you send me an updated letter, and it depends on the relationship. If you‟re putting on a program, and you‟re raising $100,000 or something you should be sure and identify it. Don‟t waste anybodies time. Once I‟ve funded a program and someone gives me a call for more help, I may say „hey well why don‟t you give Bill Johnson a call he might be just what you need to help you out‟. The easiest person to sell a Rolls Royce to, the best prospect is somebody who already owns one. If I‟ve already bought into your program & it was successful, chances are I‟m more likely to help out again, of course you don‟t want to redundantly keep bugging me… (54:19) MS: This is great, this is incredible, I personally learned a ton and I‟m sure the educators that are listening today have learned a lot. My intention and hope is that people are able to walk away and apply that and raise more money for their programs so they can do more, and better programs. If you do that, please send me an email about how you did & the result that so I can forward that on to Peter and keep him informed as well. I‟m going to switch gears here and talk about how entrepreneurship directors can supercharge their entrepreneurship curriculum. Before I do that I want to talk about your book because I think that is going to inform a lot of how entrepreneurship leaders can take their programs to the next level. Can you tell us a little bit about the book, „Be Great‟? I read it and I also read your „Life Manual‟ and I thought they were incredible. I was doing all the activities every single one and I‟ve been waking up every single day really excited. It‟s been hard for me to fall asleep because I‟ve been so excited, usually I need about 8 ½ hours of sleep but for the last week I‟ve been getting six. Can you tell us a little bit about the book Peter? PT: Sure. I lost my son ten years ago and up until that point I‟ve always had a giving spirit, but I‟ve learned to develop this time element to give of my business acumen/my business advice. Someone would come in with a good cause, a good company I‟d write a check. Something which I think a lot of entrepreneurs do. When I lost Todd I did a lot of introspective thinking and the really learning curve of a tragedy is that you never get over a tragedy Michael, but you learn to move past them. We all have them marriages, divorces, deaths, sicknesses – but we‟ve got to get over them, its part of life. What I chose to do was honor Todd‟s life. I thought „well what can I do?‟ What I chose to do is teach. Teach what? Well the only thing I really know how to do that I could teach is what I now know. I looked back on what really helped me as an entrepreneur on my journey to success. As I started going through it and looked back on my journey from a guy making $35 a month in the army moving up to the multi-million dollar level, that journey was how I met people and friends along the way. I got to see what they did. I had the experience at Century21 evaluating the successful people there. Success to me Michael, is simply reaching a predetermined goal. For instance, if you want to be a mother, and you become one- you‟re successful. If you want to become a marathoner and you run one, you are successful. Money is probably a byproduct of success – it just comes to you if you are already being “successful”. It all comes to you when you‟re fixed on your MIT‟s. You‟ve been reading the book this week and you know now. MS: Yes, they‟re your Most Important Things. (58:15) PT: Everybody listening should just write that word down and we‟ll talk about it in a minute. I found that successful people have common habits. There are commonalities in success; the Wayne Gretzky‟s, the Magic Johnson‟s, the Mandela‟s: My heroes. These people have all reached predetermined goals through unbelievable hardships. So I found the most important thing that successful people need to have; are values. Value‟s can differ, for example your values and your wife‟s values do not need to be the same, but you need to know what your values are so you can honor them. For example, when I first met Rita 23 years ago, we set down and discussed our values. MS: Now, is that Rita in the background? I haven‟t had the fortune of meeting her yet. PT: Honey! Come on out and meet Michael and the people. MS: Haha, this are the benefits of virtual technology. PT: She says that her hairs not done. Ha ha ha …There‟s a company I don‟t know if you know of them, Lulu Lemon they‟re a clothing line, they set out their values right there on there on their website: “We create components to help people live longer, healthier, more fun lives” Richard Branson: “quality, product, integrity, balance, entrepreneurship, greatness, fun” Whole Foods: “Selling the highest quality of natural organic products available… Supporting our team member‟s happiness and excellence & creating wealth through product and growth, caring about our communities and environment” When people put their values out there, be it personal or professional then you know how to identify them. Then you attract those people to you into your life that share your values. If your value is health, then we would probably have a great dinner together. It‟d be very different if it wasn‟t your value and you‟d rather go out and get drunk, we just wouldn‟t work. It‟s no moralistic judgment either; it‟s about what you choose to do with your life. It‟s making the choice, and writing it down. (1:01:00) MS: Can I stop you there? I came across a great video clip online which talks about your values and about how you were exposed to it by going to Y.P.O. and seminars. I‟d like to play that before you jump on I thought it was really good. (1:01:32) [Video taped interview plays] I first joined this business organization Y.P.O. called the Young Presidents Organization back in ‟74. I really had quite an epiphany. I went there because I wanted to be a macho big business guy and I wanted to learn, learn, learn everything I could about business. They have what they call universities, but really they are sessions you get together 4 or 5 days to learn, you go through a menu of the guests – the teachers, and you pick whoever you want to go to. They have competing classes. This particular guy his name is Red Scott and this took place in Hawaii. His bio, the part that I picked up on was that he had 17 companies which qualified to be in Y.P.O. I has just gotten in, and I knew how tough it was to get in and I thought „My God, this guy has got 17 companies I need to go hear what he‟s got to say I want to be just like him. Interviewer: Yes because you don‟t get into Y.P.O. without leading at least one million dollar company, there are some rules. PT: Anyway I couldn‟t wait to go to his class. I went to his class and the room was big enough for about 50 people and there were about 15 of us in the room apparently a lot of people wanted to go somewhere else. I was really excited because I had gotten the front seat. Red looked around the room and said “You know, it‟s a beautiful day why don‟t we go outside and sit on the beach?!”, so we walked outside the 15 of us sat around on some rocks, and he said what I want you to do is take out a piece of paper and I want you to write down your values. I‟m like, „um okay well what‟s that?‟ Interviewer: Haha, um okay I‟m worth $5.00… PT: Exactly! Well he goes on and says “values are what are important to you”, and I say „Oh okay‟. I wrote down all this stuff and I had about 13 of them at that time Fannie. I realized everyone else was still po ndering around and I sort of ran through it. Then he said “I want you to take out another clean piece of paper and I want you to write down what you‟ve done for the last two weeks- your schedule”. So I wrote down everything I could think of that‟d I‟d done in the last two weeks. Then he said “What I want you to do now is line up what you‟ve done against a value”. That was the wakeup call. (1:04:06) MS: Okay great! So I‟ve just shown everyone video and I remind you about the clip because a lot of times people take the first step in identifying their values but they don‟t take the next step which is where you actually take action on it. PT: The values of the foundation, we‟ve got so much to say in such a short time. I want to cover the other critical parts of a life you‟ve got to have to be successful. You‟ve got to have values - the next one is to focus. One has got to have the ability to keep focus. The book tells you much more about that, of the foundation- this is a pillar. The next thing is: visualize. Stephen Covey said “begin with the end in mind”. You‟ve got to be able to see if you‟re going to raise funds, you‟ve got to see yourself successful in doing that. The next thing is inspiration, we all get inspiration from different sources. Me, I‟m a visual guy so if I‟m going to run a race, the next thing I should do is put pictures of me running the race up, or watch movies about racing. Get things that inspire you. The last thing we use is reflection; reflect back about your past successes. You are young and might say Peter I‟ve not gotten that much success that far, I‟m only 28 years old I‟m just getting started along my journey. To which I‟d say, Michael that‟s a bunch of crap! You‟ve graduated, you‟re a father, you‟re making a great living, you inspire people. You‟ve done all kinds of successful things. People don’t recognize their own genius - that’s critically important. I‟ve told you these fundamentals and in our LifePilot program that we teach they all have a part in that. I love this question that you gave me, “Are the principles academically proven?” I‟m going to read to you a page I took from the first page of the Harvard Business School‟s program. It says here: “Leadership & Values: At Harvard Business School we believe that leadership and values are inseparable”. So when you ask me, “Are the principles academically proven?” – That‟s Harvard so you can quote the bastards! Haha. At a school that I talked about earlier giving three years of funding, we have gotten our LifePilot program embedded in the M.B.A. program there. So the principles are proven academically beyond a shadow of a doubt, values are critical to success. MS: Yes. Well we‟ve had the opportunity to go to hundreds of schools now and meet hundreds of thousands of students. One of the things I still think is missing from entrepreneurship programs is that they focus so much on the technical parts like how to create a business plan. I really feel that what creates the core of success are the soft parts which in some ways are hard because they create so much of an impact. The focus, visualization, reflection & values- those are so important. I just want to pause here for a second because earlier we eluded to a great opportunity that you‟ve given everyone on this call. I‟d just like to give that, and then we can jump back into the program. Peter has offered a terrific opportunity, and first of all I think you should go out and purchase Peter‟s book „Be Great‟, I think one of the best investments you can make is a book. Peter spent years of his life putting it together, and decades of his life living those lessons. You can buy it online for just twenty dollars. Here‟s the opportunity: For the first 10 people to buy 25 books or more, will be offered a ten minute phone session with Peter! It‟s my understanding that for a number of years now Peter has been charging $25,000 for four hours? PT: Correct. MS: So that comes to about $1,000 worth of his time. More importantly it‟s an opportunity to get in the door with Peter and build a relationship where who knows what can come of that. If you are not one of the first ten, but you purchase the books, you‟ll get an access code to his LifePilot program which is valued at $99.00. What‟s great about it is that it‟s about how you can apply everything that you‟ve heard about today to your life. It‟s one thing being exposed to the concepts and the next step, the really critical thing is taking value from it. I‟ve been exposed to it and going through the program this week, and I am going to complete it so I‟d highly recommend that. Just speaking from the heart, it‟s an incredible opportunity and I know if I were in the audience listening I would personally be rushing to get all of my friends to do it because it‟s a great opportunity. PT: One thing I‟d like to tell people is that our website is: www.greatification.com. MS: Yes I had it on the screen there Peter, the link which is also pasted in the chat. It is www.promo.greatification.com/vss Okay great, I wanted to make sure we exposed that opportunity. So we‟ve talked about the book and some of the core values you have in your life and how you started thinking that way in your life. Now let‟s go to an entrepreneurship curriculum. Let‟s say so -and- so university wanted to bring you in to teach a course and it was local so it was a great opportunity for you too. How would you go about creating an entrepreneurship curriculum? What would the keys be, not only the content but also the structure – guest speakers, case studies, oral presentations, competitions… PT: Any time I get involved with anything a kind of program, I write the words „WOW factor‟ down. You‟ve got to give a WOW factor – something kind of exciting and fun! We‟ve done several programs at universities where they have to form teams, form a company and they have to go out and make some money in ten days. Then on the 10 th day they have to wind it up. They have winners, and we get local business people to sit on the panels and evaluate how well they do & don‟t do. It‟s an amazing little competition. If you were to call upon me to organize it I would call upon a few of the local business people that I know, and I‟d call upon some of the professors – not the president or the dean; the entrepreneurial professors. I‟d say to them what are you doing now? What have you done in the past? What plays here and shows do they like here in San Antonio, this is to get the flavor of the local place. Some universities exist where sports is really big, others have hotel programs- I‟d say see where the interest of the community lies because then you‟ll have the support for the program. Getting some of the people in the community or people there with that area of common interests and they can help in designing the program. I was chairman of what they call the privatization review committee for the province of British Columbia Canada, and what they wanted to figure out was everything the government shouldn’t be doing. I went in there and thought well you shouldn‟t be doing this, you shouldn‟t be doing that for example: they had their own airplanes and they were flying them around this little state and it was just a little province and I said „Sell the airplanes, get rid of them‟. There were a million little things that I saw and said get rid of this. I call it privatizing. It‟s a good exercise to do, so if you‟re at a university and creating a new program I would first get all of the old stuff out of the way. This is perfect way of bringing in an entrepreneur, there‟s a real need that could be gapped and give him a bond to that school. If I had just moved to San Antonio and got called by the dean who said „Hey Peter we‟re going to start a new program a new project and we‟d like to get your ideas because you‟ve been so immensely successful in your life‟, I‟d love that- I‟d do it. MS: That‟s really interesting that you went straight there because a lot of people go toward the content and you really walk the talk of get the people involved who are going to support the program and give ideas. Probably because the earlier you do it the more buy in they‟re [local entrepreneurs] going to have and the better ideas you‟ll have. PT: Yes because they’ll see it as ‘Well I designed that program over at Arizona State‟ and they‟ll identify with it and they‟ll tell their friends about it. I was appointed chairman of the VC housing commission. The first thing I did was appoint 25 members of the community, successful real estate people from the community. I designed a 100 day plan of things we would do in the first 100 days and all of those ideas came from the business people. I then presented that to the governor of the province and the ideas all came from the community. MS: Great so that‟s the first step you‟d do. Someone just asked a question “where do you start when beginning a successful entrepreneurship program?” and that was the first step, what you said to involve the people. Now going back into a class, what would you plan, or is it hard to say because you really just go from the steering from what the local entrepreneurs think is best? PT: Well see an entrepreneur, well for example, the Global Student Entrepreneurial Awards they needed judges and they needed money so I said okay. Here are the judges, five guys I know. I‟ll pickup the phone and sell the judges on it. I have no time to write the judges a letter or to give them a rundown of the curriculum of the GSE program- Greg Hill does all that. He just sends it to me, it‟s all written up, I put in my electronic signature in my email and then I just bang them off. “Thank you so much, it‟s an honor to have your interest in me…” I didn‟t write it, but that goes off to the entrepreneur. That‟s the kind of support the university can provide to the entrepreneur so the entrepreneur can be the visualizer, and do what it is he does well. MS: I really like that vision because you‟re not saying I‟ll come in with all my own ideas. You‟re talking about bringing people in and empowering them to come up with their own ideas. PT: Absolutely. In that example the GSEA‟s - that‟s a program. Once I brought in that person then they managed the program. I will now go to the GSEA program here, and welcome my guys and once in awhile give a phone call and check in and see how they‟re doing. There‟s a lot of administrative work that goes on in the background, and now the university can go ahead and provide that backup to the program. In fact incorporate all the program and the entrepreneurs words and ideas, and incorporate it into the curriculum. The blueprint created by the entrepreneur for example „The 7 Steps to Fundraising‟ can be the groundwork where then they can continue where the entrepreneur left off and write steps 3-7 themselves. MS: This is great because it‟s really tying in the fundraising into the curriculum as well. What step would you take next? Imagine you are a professor designing an entrepreneurship course… PT: Well does the project need funding? Or does it just need to be written? MS: It just needs to be written. PT: Then I would gather the intelligence I could from the community – successful entrepreneurs from the community. I would pick all ages, men & women – and try and get the profiles that I want that reflect the programs students then the job of the curriculum being written up, that‟s the job of the university. You‟ve got the ideas of what‟s selling in San Antonio say, hotels are big there. You‟ve got hotel management, how to market rooms etc…Then a university located there would want to start up a successful program about the tourism business- a hotel program. MS: Okay. I‟m going to take the conversation in a different direction but still within the idea of curriculum. The topics that you discuss in your book: focus, reflection, visualization- you don‟t really see them in entrepreneurial textbooks that are out there. I know your book was intended for a wider audience, but do you think those principles should be in all entrepreneurship textbooks in your mind? PT: Well Michael, I‟ve written another book which is going to come out next year that‟s called „Be Great in Business‟ so it‟s a different base of fundamentals. We don‟t have time to get into that book now but the fundamentals are not much different from the point I told you about having your values first. Once you have yourself together – once you‟re „Great‟, then you could be great at business, within religion, in charity or in any aspect. As you drill down within the specific area that you want to be great in, there are rules in those areas. MS: Great! I feel like I haven‟t been answering all of the questions that I want to from the audience. This is a question about focus from Bruce Wong: “About focus, is that in a sense narrowing your business objectives/ventures or is that in reference to being able to fully concentrate on effective action no matter how many businesses you have?” PT: The second. It‟s about being able to fully concentrate effectively no matter how busy you are. They say there‟s a rule of 5. Five things that you can manage effectively at one time, but you can delegate a bunch of stuff. So in my taskbar I have my MIT’S (Most Important Things). They’re not necessarily about business – a haircut might be one of them. I like to make those up the night before. I might have a list of 600 things, but my 6 get done. (1:22:39) My day is then filled up by other stuff, like right now I‟m renovating my boat, I‟ve got to call the guy about that but none of that distracts me from the haircut if that‟s on my list of MIT‟s. Like your workshop today, that was on my list of priorities. MS: My priority too. PT: Yes see so we are focused. He [listener Bruce Wong] was right in his second reflection. You can manage a thousand projects but don‟t let it interfere with the MIT‟s. Success is picking your MIT’s. Everyone has lists and at work for instance you‟ve got these inboxes. Everyday you take from the top of the pile and work your way down. You might never get to that bottom of the pile. What I do is I sort through the pile everyday. Everyday I chose from the ever expanding pile and pick my 6 things on the top for that day. MS: In our organization we have a Virtual Business Incubator, and it‟s very cool to hear the similarities. What people do is they login and they enter the top 3 things they want to do to push their business forward that day or within a given time period. Then they‟re held accountable to it. For you, you‟ve developed a habit of it and it‟s very easy. One thing I‟ve really noticed is that for students, and myself especially, is that towards the beginning of our careers it‟s easy to identify what those top 3 things are that need to get done, but very often those most important things are ones that lie outside our comfort zones. How do you force yourself to focus? Even when you have distractions, it‟s outside your comfort zone, you don‟t want to do it at all- how do you focus? PT: I learned somewhere that you do the most difficult, most scary, most important thing first – you get it done. Let‟s say you have an important call with the bank and you‟ve applied for your $50,000 loan and you‟ve already spent $35,000 of it and you haven‟t heard from them. At 9 o‟clock in the morning I phone the bank and you find out 9 times out of 10, its good news! You find out they‟re not ready yet or whatever. That gets the worry out of the day. (1:25:26) The real key to success is figuring out what the most important things are. I pick six. Sometimes there are eight or nine. I‟d like to say to you Michael okay tomorrow is Friday, what‟s the most important thing you have to do tomorrow. It might be, taking your wife out to your anniversary dinner. You‟ve got to take care of your support system because it‟s only you who can do that. There‟s no difference with me between business and the most important thing in your life. We‟re almost getting close to the end here is that right? MS: Yeah it‟s amazing how quickly the time went. PT: I do have to give you one last tip. There‟s an old show called the Ed Sullivan show and a guy used to be on it that would spin plates on the end of a stick. You should look that up. MS: I will. If there‟s anyone in the audience who can find that link maybe you can post it in the chat. PT: What happens is he starts to get more and more plates up, 2 then 3 then 4 and they‟re spinning…When he starts to get to about 12 or 13, 14 - they start dropping. He‟s running back and forth to these plates and I always think of that as my MIT‟s, things I‟ve got to do or as the people in my life. There‟s my Rita plate - my wife. There‟s my daughter Leanne, there‟s my grandkids plate, there‟s Rita‟s moms plate. How are those plates doing? They‟ve always got to be spinning perfectly. Your business plates are the same way. Once you get too many they‟re just going to fall and break. The most critical part of my success is my ability to delegate and to attract, and retain, and motivate people who are smarter than I am. (1:27:47) I mean that humbly, I know what I‟m good at I‟m a great leader, I‟m not a great operator, I‟m not a great accountant, I‟m not a great financial guy, I‟m not a great salesman. I lead and so every team knows where to go. You can only do so much. I’ve always had a great number two. MS: I feel like we have so many questions here in this hour and a half we‟ve made a dent. I have many more questions off of what you just said, but I do want to ask just one more question from someone because I thought it‟d be a good way to end. From Ji m Kurston from Iowa Central Community College: “How can we our local community, our state, and nation create a culture of entrepreneurialism in our country beginning in the k-16 education system and then throughout our local communities? It is my belief that for our country to recover from the recession and reduce our federal deficit growth and change must come from the local level up and entrepreneurs will lead the way. Do you have any suggestions or a template that local communities can follow to help jumpstart a culture of entrepreneurialism?” I know it‟s a big question but do you have a fairly short answer for that? PT: It‟s a profound question with a profound answer and it is - honor your entrepreneurs in your community. Have an entrepreneurial hall of fame. Entrepreneurs get banged on all the time, the Madoff‟s for example - you have two or three bad business men and a hundred million businessmen get convicted. It‟s like the Jimmy Swaggert‟s of the religious world, two or three bad apples and the whole religion is bad. Business is not bad. You know I‟ve been in business for 40+years and I haven‟t met a crook- I‟ve never met one. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of a community, a community with strong entrepreneurs makes for a strong community. So honor your entrepreneurs! MS: Peter thank you so much, that‟s an awesome way to end. You are awesome I want to give you a virtual high five!
Pages to are hidden for
"Peter Thomas Transcript from Virtual Speaker Series"Please download to view full document