Everything that is most important or meaningful from the book which is about 11 bullet points from the second chapter.


1. Think Big

I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big. Most people think small, because most people are afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning.

2. Protect the Downside and the Upside Will Take Care of Itself

I always go into the deal anticipating the worst. If you plan for the worst—if you can live with the worst—the good them.

It’s been said that I believe in the power of positive thinking. In fact, I believe in the power of negative thinking. I happen to be very conservative in business. I always go into the deal anticipating the worst. If you plan for the worst—if you can live with the worst—the good will always take care of itself.

The point is that you can’t be too greedy. If you go for a home run on every pitch, you’re also going to strike out a lot. I try never to leave myself too exposed, even if it means sometimes settling for a triple, a double, or even, on rare occasions, a single.

3. Maximize Your Options

I also protect myself by being flexible. I never get too attached to one deal or one approach.

For starters, I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first. In addition, once I’ve made a deal, I always come up with at least a half dozen approaches to making it work, because anything can happen, even to the best-laid plans.

4. Know Your Market

Some people have a sense of the market and some people don’t. Steven Spielberg has it. Lee Iacocca of Chrysler has it, and so does Judith Krantz in her way. Woody Allen has it, for the audience he cares about reaching, and so does Sylvester Stallone, at the other end of the spectrum. Some people criticize Stallone, but you’ve got to give him credit. I mean, here’s a man who is just forty-one years old, and he’s already created two of the all-time-great characters, Rocky and Rambo. To me he’s a diamond-in-the-rough type, a genius purely by instinct. He knows what the public wants and he delivers it.

5. Use Your Leverage

The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead. The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, which is why leverage often requires imagination, and salesmanship. In other words, you have to convince the other guy it’s in his interest to make the deal.

6. Enhance Your Location

Real money isn’t made in real estate by spending the top dollar to buy the best location. You can get killed doing that, just as you can get killed buying a bad location, even for a low price. What you should never do is pay too much, even if that means walking away from a very good site.

7. Get the Word Out

You can have the most wonderful product in the world, but if people don’t know about it, it’s not going to be worth much. There are singers in the world with voices as good as Frank Sinatra’s, but they’re singing in their garages because no one has ever heard of them. You need to generate interest, and you need to create excitement. One way is to hire public relations people and pay them a lot of money to sell whatever you’ve got. But to me, that’s like hiring outside consultants to study a market. It’s never as good as doing it yourself.

One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better. It’s in the nature of the job, and I understand that. The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you. I’ve always done things a little differently, I don’t mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious. Also, I achieved a lot when I was very young, and I chose to live in a certain style. The result is that the press has always wanted to write about me.

I’m not saying that they necessarily like me. Sometimes they write positively, and sometimes they write negatively. But from a pure business point of view, the benefits of being written about have far outweighed the drawbacks.

8. Fight Back

Much as it pays to emphasize the positive, there are times when the only choice is confrontation. In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. I’m very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard. The risk is that you’ll make a bad situation worse, and I certainly don’t recommend this approach to everyone. But my experience is that if you’re fighting for something you believe in—even if it means alienating some people along the way—things usually work out for the best in the end.

9. Deliver the Goods

You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.

10. Contain the Costs

I believe in spending what you have to. But I also believe in not spending more than you should. When I was building low-income housing, the most important thing was to get it built quickly, inexpensively, and adequately, so you could rent it out and make a few bucks. That’s when I learned to be cost-conscious. I never threw money around. I learned from my father that every penny counts, because before too long your pennies turn into dollars.

11. Have Fun

I don’t kid myself. Life is very fragile, and success doesn’t change that. If anything, success makes it more fragile. Anything can change, without warning, and that’s why I try not to take any of what’s happened too seriously. Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score.