Don’t Be Nice, Be Committed! Dan Pena At The Ritz


James here, with this week’s #ThrowbackTuesday.

I have already looked back at the second conversation Brian had with Dan Pena at Guthrie Castle in Scotland. Now it is time to return to the infamous Ritz seminar that Brian and Dan organised together in London. 

Here you get a Dan with more edge and less pleasantries. He starts right up the track, calls most of the room c*nts and proceeds to detail exactly why this is the case.

Brian’s introduction is worth watching over again. It’s funny, honest and raw. It is also a detailed and powerful account of what resistance looks like.

Brian talks about his first meeting with Dan, and what was going through his mind when he travelled up to Scotland for the Castle Seminar.

For Brian, the proof was in the results. The sharp difference between who he was when he went in, and who was when he came out, was evidence enough that Pena wasn’t screwing around.

As you know, Dan doesn’t do political correctness. He insists that trying to be nice all the time has nothing to do with being moral, but everything to do with having low self-esteem.

I think this is an important lesson for my generation, and younger. We have learned to equate being good, with being nice.

For people like Dan, being good means being successful, acting with integrity, meaning what you say and following through on what you say you are going to do.

Being nice means you are looking for the shortcut. You want the gratification of respect, without the hard work it takes to earn it.

This is hard to swallow. Even now, as I write this, I can hear my mind scratching around my skull for excuses.

The truth is, it is easier to be nice. It takes real work and dignity to command respect, and you can’t do that worrying about offending others.

In the end, it is about leadership. We must stop waiting around for affirmation. Just F*cking Do it.

On a related note, Dan goes pretty deep about the issue of Emotional Bank Accounts.

Not only is this more important than the Financial Bank Account, there is a real-world, causal relationship.

A strong Emotional Bank Account has a direct impact on the money you make. You can’t be successful without it.

So how do we take care of this account?

The truth of the matter is Dan doesn’t give a formula. It just isn’t that simple. Dan gives some pretty heavy examples of what a strong Emotional Bank Account looks like, and talks about the qualities a person has when they possess emotional wealth.

If you have ever suffered from low self-esteem or a negative self-image, Dan’s message here can be frustrating.

You are still waiting for the magic spell, the trick that will turn you from a “p*ssy” into one of the world’s influencers.

There isn’t one. The uncomfortable truth here is that you have to make a decision, you have to simply be prepared to fake it until you make it.

Dan describes the reaction of his former teacher when he was asked if Dan had changed since being at school.

The teacher says no he hadn’t, and the only thing that changed was the fact that Dan’s achievements “caught up with his big mouth”.

Nothing outside of you can make you a stronger person. Nothing can give you the hunger and the character to be successful. If something could, it wouldn’t be called SELF-esteem.

What marks out successful people from unsuccessful people?

We know it isn’t talent!

At The Ritz, Dan talked about this a lot. It comes down to commitment.

For Dan the word commitment is almost a spiritual word, it is the foundation of everything he teaches. It is Dan Pena’s religion!

We must live every minute of every day like our lives depended on it. As if we had our “backs to the wall”.

Hardly any of us do that.

Why? Because we have been taught not to, we have been raised to hide our light under a bushel, not to stand out from the crowd.

Living life with commitment means going all the way, and that comes with a price. Being successful requires taking risks, gambling with life, facing our weaknesses and standing out.

I think it goes back to that “being nice” thing. It is easier to be a doormat, to create a wall of defences around ourselves, than it is to pull the trigger, make the damn cold call, and declare yourself honestly to the world.

Successful people are successful because they break through these ego defences. And ego defences can be hard to punch our way past, because they often come in the guise of the moral highground or being “good”.

Does any of this resonate with you at all? Let me know guys, because this is just my take!


6 Comments on "Don’t Be Nice, Be Committed! Dan Pena At The Ritz"

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8 months 23 days ago
Being good or being bad is not the fucking point. If you don’t know who you are or what you want, you simply cannot “move” off the spot. In order to move you must take action. Dan Pena is nothing if not a man of action. His patented “asshole” routine is designed to shake your tree. He’s good at it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve been “shaking my own tree” all my life, to either positive or negative effect, I think I would have been more responsive to his schtick, because it is a schtick! The fact… Read more »
Enming Wang
8 months 24 days ago
Thanks James, great post! Dan doesn’t speak nicely, but we are compelled to listen to his shit again and again even with a notepad, because we know his message contains the knowledge that could help us to move up to the next level. Dan earned his respect by demonstrating the fucking actions he took. He radiates leadership. One of the rare animals on the planet, but don’t worry about their extinction because they command more than 2/3 of the world resources. Don’t get offended Dan, I have learned to speak out what in my mind without concerning too much political… Read more »
Aude Debenest
8 months 24 days ago

Indeed your insight into Dan’s speech helps a lot James, it speaks to me directly (I think I’m the same generation as you). I have made efforts to be very nice all my life and I’ve got a nice social life, but I’m also stagnating, and because it still takes a lot of work to please everyone I’d never realised that being nice might the easy option and can only get you so far, so I have to stop placing my energy in the wrong place. So thank you! Keep blogging!

8 months 24 days ago

I just experienced the seminar all over again in my mind. Good work James! I’ve just started a journey to replenish my emotional bank account. Guys: please read Release Your Brakes by James W. Newman. Maybe I’ll blog about it later. It’s a wonderful yet powerful book.

8 months 24 days ago

Brilliantly written James! The most obvious thing about Dan’s impact was how it immediately and profoundly affected Brian He was so clear and happy at the end of the seminar, and since then has pulled the trigger and let rip. It’s been one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever watched. It’s been a massive source of inspiration to me. I’ve started my own business and it’s taken off and now that I have some of my shit together I’m going to Guthrie Castle this April to step up a major notch. Keep up the inspiration London Real!

8 months 25 days ago

@james-black this was a phenomenal blog post! I watched the Ritz event and through the jarring of curse words was not able to walk away with all of the insight you brought out in this post. Thank you for the continued contribution and the high quality writing, looking forward to continuing to read your posts.


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