Self-Help Advice Books Winning Through Intimidation

About the self-help book Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer, history and advice from the book.



The Head Man: When Californian Robert Ringer wrote Winning through Intimidation, he was more than $200,000 in debt (because, as he says, "I forgot my principles and started to trust people"). He had been a college dropout (from Ohio State dental school) and, by his own admission, a "schlepp" most of his life. Once he sold strawberries from the back of a truck in order to make a few dollars. In the late 1960s, Ringer began to deal in real estate, mainly apartment buildings. When he lost some fees through the sharp dealings of other people, he began to apply his intimidation tactics, which included maintaining fancy headquarters as a front, a $5 calling card, an entourage of aides who followed him into important meetings carrying folders and equipment, and a Lear jet. In his first year as an intimidator, he made $849,901. Deciding to use his techniques for further profit, he wrote his book, which was turned down by 10 publishers. He published it himself, promoting it through ads in the national media, then made a deal with Funk & Wagnalls for distribution. He also acted as his own agent, using the pseudonym Henry Reardon, which he took from a character in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. Between 1973 and 1977, his book sold 1.7 million copies.

Overview: Ringer feels that his success in real estate is a metaphor for success in life, which is a game played on a giant poker table, the object being to see how many chips you can get. His book is, according to him, "a book about the philosophy of reality." In it he recounts his education at "Screw U.," whose "professors" taught him that everyone is out to get your chips, no matter what they say.

His get-it-while-you-can philosophy comes from his experiences and his theories, one of which--the Ice Ball Theory--says that it is ridiculous to take yourself too seriously because in the long run, nothing makes any difference; one day, the earth will be a lifeless ice ball.

Help-Yourself Advice:

1. "Theory of Sustenance of a Positive Attitude through the Assumption of a Negative Result": Assume that you won't (not can't) have success every time you try something, but that you will succeed in the long run.

2. "Uncle George Theory": The only guarantee that comes from keeping your nose to the grindstone and working long hours is that you will get old. (Based on Ringer's Uncle George, who didn't get rich owning a corner grocery.)

3. "Theory of Reality": Acknowledge what reality is. This includes the certainty that you will die ("The Thirty Year Theory"), so you might as well make the most of your one shot at life.

4. "The Tortoise and the Hare Theory": All that counts is where you are when the race is over.

5. "The Organic Chemistry Theory": Don't be intimidated by know-it-alls.

6. "The Leapfrog Theory": It is not necessary that you work your way up through the ranks.

7. "The Theory of Intimidation": In Ringer's words: "The results a person obtains are inversely proportionate to the degree to which he is intimidated."

8. Do a good job, be prepared, and expect to get paid. Ringer carries around a card reading:

Closing deals is so much trash

If you, my friend, don't get no cash.

9. "Bluff Theory": Don't make threats you're not prepared to carry out.

10. "Boy-Girl Theory": People want what they think they can't have, so play it cool.

11. "Makable Deal Theory": Don't waste time with deals which are not likely to close; work hard on the ones which are.

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