Russ would practice for hours every day-day after day after day. He was able to, without any physical exertion, strike a brick and literally shatter it. He could take a 5-foot tall four-by-four hardwood pole and hit it so the area where he struck would explode into a mass of splinters. Despite those demonstrations, when he entered the ring it would only take a few minutes before he was on the ground and in pain. Iron palm can be devastatingly destructive but it only works if you can hit your opponent. If your opponent strikes first, then follows up with a barrage of kicks and punches, it's hard to recover. And, for Russ, that was always the scenario. Nevertheless, he really loved the training and, back then anyway, he healed quickly. That was before he took a sabbatical because it was healthier to move on.
It was then that a few of us defined and set the parameters for The Glass Bead Game. We took the name from Hermann Hesse's literary masterpiece. In his book, the exact nature of the game is elusive, which made it so very appealing to us. We could make it be what we wanted and we did. Our version of the game was an intellectual exercise of nurturing personal power and translating that power into a personal fortune. Our environment was the perfect one to ethnologically study the successful and wealthy. All we did was critically evaluate how the self-made super-rich thought and acted. Pretty quickly, we were able to strip away the hype and drill down to the core mindsets and behaviors that translated into significant wealth. By looking at the matter within a sociological framework it was easy to identify and prove out the requisite "rules of conduct." Very quickly we moved from The Glass Bead Game being a loosely defined concept to an experiment to, eventually, a clear-cut roadmap to the pinnacle of the financial pyramid. For one of us, we'll call her the Mistress of the Universe, it was her life's answer.
Playing The Game
The three of us are sitting with the patriarch of a terribly successful family business. While he's never been married or been married three times (we never did get that straight), he has more then a dozen sons. We were introduced to him by his number two concubine-a close friend of the Mistress. He's quite interested in the Mistress and she's more than happy to be coy, embarrassed, honored and generally delighted at getting his attention-all at the same time, which is no small trick. We're there to learn and after a lot of alcohol, he's happy to share. Over the next few months, as he becomes more enchanted with the Mistress, he shares his experiences, letting us move quickly past the big ideas to concentrate on specifics.
He lectures us on how to read people. He instructs us on how to identify and exploit the interconnection between parties. He shows us how to triage the demons and angels in a person's soul. He shows us the mechanics of making a great deal. He explains that the wealthy get their share of the prize and that they're amazingly selfish-but in a good way.
In our conversations with the patriarch, we learn that he starts each and every day thinking of how he will grow his fortune. He focuses on the meetings he will be having and how he will take advantage of the weaknesses in others. He's considered a master negotiator because he defines his criteria for success and, unless he achieves his goals, he will always walk away.
The Mistress instinctively gravitated to his approach. Negotiations are about victories. Negotiations are not about fairness, they're about unfairness. It's about achieving the interim goals that are crucial to achieving the ultimate goal-a vast personal fortune. She embraces the art of negotiation as a foundation for her personal development, for her personal power, for her personal wealth.
Together we work out an intricate process that lets her clarify her actions in business situations. This takes a variety of forms. For instance, we develop, with great precision, a structure for how she needs to address each and every stage of a major negotiation, all the way from setting the stage to managing expectations on the back end. We also developed a complex set of procedures to identify all the people who could help her achieve both her interim objectives and the ultimate goal. Another facet of the process is a motivational analysis that allows the Mistress to have a powerful (and definitely unfair) edge.
Though the Mistress has no issue with the other parties doing well in negotiations, they rarely do, so it's no surprise that this approach nets more hostility than friendship. But making other people happy is not the objective-getting sensationally rich is.
About six months after we first sat down together, the Mistress is ready to put our lessons and newfound advantages to use. The patriarch was in the midst of some severe problems that were impacting his personal and professional life and, therefore, his judgment. The result was a prickly arrangement-one that was particularly favorable to the Mistress and left the patriarch with a deal worth mere pennies on the dollar. Once the Mistress took over ownership of the company, she delivered the final insult: naming her friend, the number two concubine, as president of the firm.
A Rose By Any Other Name...
Today we refer to The Glass Bead Game by another name: Money Rules. While we saw the "rules of conduct" all those years ago, over the decades we've been able to obtain a more expansive, in-depth and holistic understanding of the self-made super-rich. These insights and perspectives, coupled with years of consulting experience, have enabled us to vastly refine the methodology that can be employed to produce extreme wealth.