You're never going to be great if you don't look for the 5% You know, I think that you can pick up from from talking to me that I'm not on a different level. Okay, these are pretty simple basic tools and so nobody out there is listening to him and saying, God darn, he's just he's just using words and he's just so much smarter than me so I'm not going to become worth 5 billion dollars that book is crap. Okay, he's just naturally smarter than me. I think you can see that I'm no smarter than anybody else in this room I just use certain little basic tools to be successful every day. Take the word no out of your vocabulary, worry about your customer, no spare customers, use the 95/5 rule, Separate yourself from everybody else, be the bull at whatever you do. And on and on and on.
Well, you just got to keep punching and just take care of your business and you just realize until they come and shut you down or lock the doors or you can't get product or whatever until you can't make a payroll. You'd be surprised what you can take though and- and you just keep punching and punching and believe it or not times you know, get good and it goes back to what I, once again preach when times are really bad we forget that they’re ever going to be good again.
And when times are really good we forget they're going to be bad again. I don't fear anything, but I worry about everything and the day you stop worrying in good times the paddle will get your behind and- and- and so as great as things are in life I know you're only a few steps or a few incidents away from something bad happening and you can never forget it.
I'm taking the next steps right now to get to the next level because always that's my sport. Let's go play pick-up basketball Let's go to the office and play business. And that's what I do every day, I go to the office and play business you got to know what you know and what you don't know and- and I knew that I understood business You know, I think you know, if you know business or not and people ask me should I go get my MBA? And you know what I usually tell them, you know, if you need to go get your MBA.
If you don't have it inside of you and you understand economics and finance and- and operations of business then you need to go get it. I knew that I didn't need it. It was just a God-given gift You've got to know your God-given gifts, and everybody has it. Everybody in this room has it, right here. So do what you know was your God-given gift and find a way to use that as your path. You- you know-, you know if people know what they're doing and- and, but it's my job to make sure and bring everybody up to another level and I think that's probably one of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten is that I'll take somebody good and make them better.
Is that, is that a conscious process for you? Like what are you doing? Is it just kicking people in the @ss - Inspiring them? - all the above, all the above I think I, you always know where you stand with me. I have all my top VP's probably have been with me an average of 25 years. My two assistants have been with me 27 and 26 years And everybody will tell you that is the hardest son of a gun to work for but I would never work for anybody else.
What would you have to see in them to think it's worth the risk? I think one of the best things that I ever did. Was I will, I will look at somebody's resume and I can say you know, what? You've never been with the right company and that's why you haven't excelled and- and you are, that's why you're in here today. And so many people choose the wrong company to go to work for and I look at people all the time and I look at your resume why did you go to work for this company? I knew they were screwed up when you went to work for them, okay. And so some people just are not good at choosing the right company and also the person interviewing makes promises that never happen.
And I think that's one of the biggest mistakes that people make is choosing the wrong company to go work for. Do they really have good liquidity? Are they going to be in business? Are they an acquisition target where all of a sudden that they are and you're going to get bought and probably laid off? You Know everything is- is...
Do they, do they have a product that is going to be around for a long time? So everything from liquidity to product, acquisition, target growth of where you're going to go. Everybody should always ask themselves if they want to grow and they just don't want to just whatever is- is say, where can I be in five years? If I can't be at this position in five years, then this isn't a good career path for me. What made you good at selling? That is a very particular skill. Even today It's- it's all about, somebody said, why are you so successful? Because I sell and even when you go out and you raise billions of dollars in debt, and you're meeting with debt holders, you're still selling yourself that's what it's all about, you're not just selling the deal when I was public for 18 years Okay, and you're selling equity I did five follow-on offerings, the most a restaurant company ever did when I was public. And- and you're selling yourself and- and- and you know, you know your numbers, you know your business and you make yourself that you know more than everybody else even if you don't.
Let's do it another way, let's go back to 10 years old. I'm walking around with my business, my briefcase full of business, there was no business in it, but I wanted to be a business guy But you really didn't know what it was. By junior high, I was buying candy and reselling it at school by high school, I was already trading on the stock market. That's just, hey, doing whatever it took to make money I always wanted to make money, I always had money even when I was a kid because I always worked whatever job I could find whether it was mowing somebody's yard or washing cars or selling lemonade to the construction workers.
It was just always about making money. So at 21 I sold vitamins, I start building homes, building shopping centers. By the time I was 26, I built my first hotel by the time I was 25, I told myself I'll have my first jet at 35 and I did. You tend to know more about any deal, anything going on in your company than anybody else I want to know how? How do you master it to that level? Well, I mean I can't get into some details that people know that I don't know.
But- but if you walk into my office for a meeting, I don't care what department you're in, I will pick apart whatever you have and you better know your numbers when you walk in there with a spreadsheet or you better you have your ads right, if you're the marketing person walking in but you also you- you- you know, you know if people know what they're doing and, but it's my job to make sure and bring everybody up to another level and I think that's probably one of the greatest compliments I've ever gotten is that I'll take somebody good and make them better.
Know your numbers, no matter what business you're looking at always know your numbers. Number two realize that we're not successful if that consumer does not come to us. Whether they're eating in your restaurants, whether they're playing in your casino and- and- and whether, if you don't have a good product on that basketball court the fans are not going to come and buy those tickets, the sponsors aren't going to come and therefore you're not going to have the money to pay for those good players next year. You're not going to be able to pay Russell Westbrook and James Horan each 40 million dollars a year. You've got to always remember, we're only as good as us taking care of that consumer. One of the things I teach everybody and especially my kids don't assume anything. People think if somebody walks in and gives you an answer that it's the right answer. And- and- and even when I tell somebody to do something I don't assume they went and did it.
I'll ask them a week later, "Did you do that- that I asked you to do cause that was really important to me?" "Oh my gosh, I didn't do that" and I think that's the biggest mistake people make is don't assume that everything's running right. Don't assume anything. You can go to work everyday and separate yourself from anybody else and it's no different than the sound guy on this set if you pick up, you know what? This sound guy is really- really good and he's worried about this and he's worried about that then all of a sudden you tell somebody you need a good sound guy at this And then they end up on this person because of a recommendation and all of a sudden this guy is known as the best sound guy in LA because he's paying attention or she's paying attention to details that the other sound people don't. No. you know what? I hear an ambulance out there, let's cut it. You know just a little- little- little bitty things and I just think that it's easy to separate yourself from anybody else, no matter what your position is If you go to work for a company and you don't go up the corporate ladder, it's your fault, it's nobody else's.