Friday, July 10, 2009

Ronnie Kagan Interview (Part 2 of 3) - My midnight interview with the International Business Guru

The Interview

I coach corporate executives on powerful networking - building real and fulfilling relationships for business and personal success. And nothing excites me more than distilling lessons from top performers who excel in their various passions.

Ronnie Kagan is one such person.

This interview is written in a very conversational tone. Because it is directly transcribed from the voice memo recorded on my iPhone (psst again: a free and fabulous iPhone application great for anyone who wants to freelance as a journalist)

Me: You have written a best selling book – The Winning Way…. You have the philosophy that knowing the right people, reading the books makes a difference. How has knowing the right people made a difference for you?

Ronnie: Brilliant question! And I have a very simple answer.

We all going to have to pay the price in life. We either have to pay retail (full price) or wholesale (discounted price). If we try to learn everything from our own experience, we are going to have to pay Retail Plus. We are going to make mistakes, and we are going to make some big ones, often. But if we learn from other people who have gone out there, and already made the mistakes, we can pay wholesale. We can learn from their mistakes, and shorten our learning curve.

Me: How much has your success do you attribute to having the right connections?

Ronnie: 100%.

I have the philosophy that you can’t be a little bit pregnant. Either you are or you aren't. You are either successful or you are not.

My success has been determined by the people I have met along the way.

Me: Do you have a few instrumental people that have made a huge difference to you? And can you share some of their names?

Ronnie: I was president of Brian Tracy International. I used to bring out Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Jack Welsh, Lee Iacocca. I've hung around people like Dr. John Demartini, who I used to promote and is a personal friend of mine; Allan Pease, Jim Dornan, and I have a vast network of support structure...

Me: You mentioned Tony Robbins and many other big names... How have they individually impacted you? Were they more mentor figures, idea generators... etc?

Ronnie: Everybody adds a little bit extra. Its like a layer of cake. No single person has enabled me to become where I am today. It is each person's small amount of contribution, layered upon the previous small amount of information, layered upon the previous, that has enabled me to get to where I am.

Me: Interesting. Do you have a lowest point in your life?

Ronnie: Many. (laughs) How many would you like?

Me: Lets start with ground zero...

Ronnie: My story is vast. I grew up in a home where my mother was alcoholic. She had a drug problem. My father worked as a butcher. I left home at 15. I lived in a park. I used to have to steal washing off washing lines in order to sell the clothes at the second hand store and buy food while I still go to school. I was a mercenary for a couple of years in Angola. I was happily married, then my ex-wife walked out on me. I loved her. I was devastated. I was a single dad for a couple of years. And then she decided she wanted the kids, we went to the courts and they just took my boys away from me. I lost money 3 times. The third time I lost $160 million.

I mean how many points do you want? (laughs again) I think we can stop there for the moment.

Me: Yes, I think so! What was your turning point from the lowest of low... to the first point of success?

Ronnie: You know that's a very good point. After my wife left me, I started doing drugs and drinking again, and I would go day upon day of drinking and smoking, and there is no conscious thought as to what actually happened. I then got to the stage where if I didn't take responsibility for myself, no one else would take any responsibility for me.

It's not like I had this bolt of lightning that came down through the heavens and jolted me into the reality.

It was more a matter of what I call 212 Fahrenheit (°F). (note: that's equivalent to 100 degree Celsius)

What is 212 °F? You may have seen this on TV. Water boils at 212 °F. So what happens when you have water at the temperature of 210°F? Its not boiling. 212°F? Its still not boiling. When you get to 212°F, its boiling.

So was it the last Fahrenheit that got it boiling or the first 211 Fahrenheit?

Me: That's a very good analogy... Would you attribute your success to your own personal desire?

Ronnie: I suppose part of it comes down to desire. Part of it comes down to instinctiveness.

Me: When you were the president of Brian Tracy International, you were already at a successful level. Going back in time, how did you engineer the first wave of success?

Ronnie: One step at a time. I don't have an education. I started my first job as a packer in a warehouse. I packed shelves. I worked hard. I got promoted to packing shelves on the shop floor, not just the warehouse. I got promoted from that to a junior position. And I left that position and got involved in selling cutlery and crockery door to door. From there I became a junior manager, then a senior manager and a vice president. Then I bought the company and expanded that company into 32 companies in 8 countries.

Was there any single point where I broke through?

I married the boss's daughter or I won lottery or my father left me an inheritance? (thank goodness he is still alive!) There was no single point.

Me: So its really you learning and imbibing life lessons...Do you have a mentor? People whom you have a mentoring relationship, who have guided you or coached you (formally or informally)...

Ronnie: Well, that's what all these people have been, that I mentioned earlier. They were all some kind of mentor. Was there any single individual who sat down and put me under their umbrella and said to me "Don't do this, do that", bounce off ideas with them? No there was never. Had there been one? Boy, I would have been a lot further ahead and saved a lot of pain and left less corpses along the way.

Karen's thought of the day: Successful people all have mentors. It does not mean you need to keep searching for that god-father figure to take you under his wing. Think: What help do you need? In every area of your life you want to improve on, who around you has already achieved more than you? Mentors exist all around us to help us shorten our learning curve. And they don't even need to be living, breathing people. Books and the internet qualify.

Me: How did you manage to attract these people to support you and be around you? Was it about you that attracted these connections?

Ronnie: I suppose my high energy, being authentic. Not putting up with NO for an answer. Taking responsibility for my life.

Me: What sacrifices have you made in your life, to achieve your success so far?

Ronnie: The sacrifices could be... I emigrated to new countries, started over again. There are many sacrifices I have made. But I haven't made them as a sacrifice to be a martyr, I have made them as a sacrifice to move on to a higher level. Because if you are never prepared to give up what you have got, then you better hang on to it tightly, coz that's all you will ever amount to. You need to be able to be prepared to give up what you have got, to achieve and aspire to something greater.

Me: So if you could live your life again, would you change anything?

Ronnie: Well bloody lots of things! (hearty laugh)

Me: What would one thing be? With hindsight and wisdom?

Ronnie: I would have been less gullible. I saw the writing on the wall, but didn't react to my instincts. But rather I responded to my greed.

Me: That's a powerful statement. How many times have you been gullible?

Ronnie: I don't live in the regret of the past. I don't live in the fear of the future. I rather just be present with what I have today.

Part 3 of this interview posting will shed more insights into Ronnie's keys to connecting and success. And how we all can create our own luck :) Coming up soon!

No comments: