Good Advise

Best Advice: 50 Percent of Something Is Better Than 100 Percent of Nothing

February 24, 2014

This post is part of a series in which LinkedIn Influencers share the best advice they’ve ever received. Read all the posts here.

The best advice was served to me at Morry’s Deli on the South Side of Chicago.

Morry was my dad.

His overstuffed pastrami and corned beef sandwiches were beyond delicious. And that’s not just me saying that. There was always a line out the door at our family deli. My dad’s huge sandwiches were a Hyde Park institution.

Still, my father struggled to support the family. We were always barely getting by. It was heartbreaking to see my father work so hard. He suffered from emphysema, a result of reflexively running back into his burning take out chicken stand to grab the metal cash box holding that day’s money.

Still, that setback didn’t slow him down. Once the deli opened, I would listen to my father leave the home at an insanely early hour each morning to get ready for that day’s sandwich onslaught. Only his family knew he had spent the evening in fitful sleep between constant coughing and gasping for air.

I was desperate to help him. One day when I was maybe 16 or so, I ventured into downtown Chicago with friends. We ended up grabbing a sandwich at a deli. The pastrami and rye I was served was half as big as what Morry’s served. And it cost twice as much. Bingo! I was so excited to realize I had just solved my father’s — my family’s — money problems: Charge more!

I raced back to my dad’s deli, and shared my insightful business plan.

Dad listened. And then gave me one of those smiles parents reserve for their kids, and patiently told me: “Suze, that is not going to happen. I would rather have 50 percent of something than 100 percent of nothing.” And then he paused and added, “You should never forget that.”

I haven’t. His spin on risk-taking has stayed with me.

I am well aware that plenty of entrepreneurs routinely put everything on the line. That’s not me. I don’t want to have everything at risk. One hundred percent of nothing isn’t in my DNA. I prefer to partner on projects. I structure deals that do not require me to provide the upfront financing; I am fine taking a piece of the profits if they materialize. Most often they do. Sometimes they don’t. That’s fine with me. I have always seen my net worth rise by following my dad’s advice to be content with 50 percent of the profits rather than shoot for the moon and end up with 100 percent of nothing.

Have I settled for less? Just the opposite! Aiming for 50 percent of something ultimately has helped me make more money. I am a firm believer that power attracts money. When we feel overwhelmed or worried about our money decisions, it seeps out of every pore. If I was constantly aiming for 100 percent of every deal, I know I would have been nervous and uptight. Focusing on 50 percent of something allows me to always feel in absolute control of my money. That confidence — that power — is what attracts businesses to want to do deals with me, and it’s part of what has drawn people to buy my books and products. Fifty percent of something has been my incredible ticket to success.

Photo: Suze Orman in 1957 at her father’s deli with her mother and grandmother; Shutterstock


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