Commercial Loans and Fun Blog

Commercial Loans and Winning Through Intimidation

Posted by George Blackburne on Tue, Apr 21, 2015

WinningThe most helpful business book that I have ever read is Robert Ringer's 1973 New York Times #1 Best-Seller, Winning Through Intimidation.  In fact, I remember flipping through a Playboy magazine - just reading the articles - when I came across a photo of a party at the Playboy Mansion.  There was Robert Ringer, sitting in a hot tub with two beautiful, topless Playboy bunnies.  Wow, was I ever envious.

Before we go any further, I want to stress that the "intimidation" that Robert Ringer was talking about was NOT physical intimidation.  He was NOT talking about employing brown-shirted Nazi thugs to browbeat people.  What he was really talking about was flamboyance - intentionally creating the impression that he was important, powerful, and a person not to be trifled with.

The really interesting thing about this book was that Robert Ringer was a successful commercial real estate loan broker.  What a coincidence!  Here the author writes a #1 best-selling business book, aimed at the general business audience, but all of the horror stories about how he repeatedly got screwed in business were from his experiences as a commercial mortgage broker.  Talk about relevant!


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Robert Ringer - through his humorous war stories - teaches us that there are only three types of people in this world - the type of person who will cheat you out of your loan fee, the type of person who will tell you in advance that he will cheat you out of your loan fee and who will then proceed to cheat you out of your loan fee, and the worst type of of all, the type of person who will swear to high Heaven that he won't cheat you out of your loan fee and who will immediately proceed to cheat you out of your loan fee.

Mr. Ringer will teach you about Legal Man, the caped crusader trained in law school to intentionally kill deals on the two yard line.  He will teach the Expert From Afar Rule.  He will teach you many of the countless ways his commercial loans were killed or he was screwed out of his commission.

But then he will teach you how to put on a show that will impress your borrowers and convince them that you are this big, invaluable expert.   He once walked into a commercial loan closing with two attractive female assistants - one to carry his typewriter (this was long before computers) and the other to carry his briefcase - all so his hands would be free and to create the impression that he was far too important to carry a case.  He was just a loan hack, but he was a clever one.  (Know anyone else who comes across as this powerful expert in commercial real estate finance, but who, in reality, is short, chubby, and far from all-knowing?  Hint:  He is often seen in a dark blue suit and maroon tie.)




Robert Ringer gets screwed out of his loan fee so many times that he eventually starts bringing his own attorney to commercial loan closings.  Remember, he's not a fund manager or even the owner of a hard money shop.  He's just a loan broker!  The lender brings his attorney to the closing.  The borrower brings his attorney to the closing.  In past years, the two attorneys would often conspire to whittle down the size of Robert's fee; but not anymore.  You'll learn all about the Attorney-to-Attorney Respect Rule when he brings his own attorney to the closing.

Robert Ringer often charged five to six points on $5 million hard money loans, so the fees he was protecting were pretty large.  I don't really expect you to bring your own attorney to a closing.  Personally I solved the cost of an attorney by becoming one myself.  I was sooooo fed up with being cheated.

But the story illustrates an important point about business.  If you don't come from a position of strength and if you don't protect yourself, opposing businessmen everywhere will remove special parts of your body.  Robert Ringer called such surgeries, "commission-dectomies", and anesthesia was never administered  You will be immensely wiser (and richer) after having read this book.

My friends, outside of the Bible, I can think of no more influential book on my success in the commercial mortgage business than this book.  I've read it at least three times.  I am making my two sons read it, and I am docking one of them $50 if he doesn't finish it by next Monday.  I am not getting paid to hawk this book.  It's just a book that you abstitively posilutely need to read.  As us attorneys often say, the book is right on point.


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