Global Turmoil

Global Turmoil
May 15, 2024 Rob Artigo
In Podcasts

Between global turmoil and more local chaos, how do you stay focused in life, and stay profitable in business? In this Tough Things First Podcast, Ray Zinn explores the finer points or knowing where to put your energy and what to avoid. (Watch Video Podcast)


Rob Artigo: Well, 2024 has been marked by small but vigorous protests around the world influenced by the attack on Israel and then Israel’s response to that attack, but that’s just one aspect of what’s going on in the world. We have Russia and Ukraine, we have China and Taiwan, and in the business world, we have higher than usual operating costs, difficult labor market, and lots of uncertainty out there. So this question really is in your wheelhouse, and I really wanted to ask you about it is, how do we as business leaders and entrepreneurs stay focused and profitable when everything else in the world seems to be going crazy?

Ray Zinn: This is all about being able to deal with challenges. Half the time, things are going to be going up, half the time things are going to be going down, and so you just have to be able to deal with the vicissitudes of mortality, meaning the challenges, the problems that face you as you wake up in the morning and try to execute your day.

If you think about a challenge, I think that what Donald Trump is going through with four litigated litigations that he’s dealing with and running for president, which is unbelievable task, and then still running his business at the same time, I think that’s like rubbing your head, patting your stomach and jumping rope at the same time. I don’t know how you do that. I can see rubbing your stomach and patting your head, but I don’t know how you jump rope, but he’s doing unbelievable.

I mean, how he does all aspects of dealing with four lawsuits or four litigatory issues, still campaigning, still running his business. It’s amazing that here we have an example of someone contemporarily who’s doing all that, and so I’m sure he’s been asked, how does he accomplish that? Well, he puts his pants on just like we do. In other words, we’re all human. We all face the same issues, health issues, family issues, business, economic, whatever. We’re all are faced with these challenges. So the key, as you would talking about the key to dealing with challenges and not getting derailed is to be able to compartmentalize, be able to separate each thing out one after another, and being able to not be derailed by the overall problem.

And so what you need to do is really break your day down into things you have to get done. Don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t worry about yesterday, just worry about today. What can I do today? And I think that’s what Donald Trump is doing is he says, “Okay, what am I going to do today? And I’m going to make the best of it,” so I’m sure he’s going to do the tough things first because that’s our motto and our book, Tough Things First, is you make a list of the things which you don’t want to do, wish you hadn’t had to do and you do them first. Get those out of the way, and then the rest of the day goes easy. Don’t worry about tomorrow, don’t worry about yesterday. Just focus on, “What can I do…” Because you can’t do anything about tomorrow. You can’t do anything about it yesterday.

All you can deal with is what’s going on today. And so just sit down first thing in the morning, make a list of the things you don’t want to do and then tackle them first, and then you just roll from there, and you really can’t worry about things that you can’t control because worrying about things you can’t control is an oxymoron. I mean, it’s like you break your leg and saying, “Oh, I wish I hadn’t broke my leg.” Well, you have a broken leg, you’ve got to go fix it. You can’t say, “Well, I wish I didn’t have a broken leg.” You could say that I guess, but it wouldn’t do you any good. So again, focus on doing the tough things first. Get those out of the way and you’ll see how much smoother your day will go.

Rob Artigo: We were talking about how don’t worry about the things that you can’t control, and clearly you can’t control world events, and because you have Ukraine, for example, if you woke up in the morning and focused all your attention on stressing out over Russia and Ukraine, but you can’t do anything about that. So if you waste energy on focusing on those things that you have no control over, that’d be like trying to focus on changing the weather. The weather’s going to happen one way or another. “Oh, I have to stress over the weather.” Well, from what I hear you saying is that clearly you need to just set aside, really compartmentalize those things that come into your mind that are out of your control and just say, “Look, I can’t do anything about that. That’s not my problem. My concerns should be what’s happening right now in the sphere in which I can influence.”

Ray Zinn: A friend of mine, and I [inaudible 00:06:05] more of an acquaintance of mine is T. J. Rodgers who used to run a company called Cypress Semiconductor, and I’ve known TJ for, gosh, I don’t even know how long, 40, 50 years. And he recently sold Cypress, and now he has a company called Complete Solaria which is a solar energy company putting solar panels on people’s houses and whatever. But anyway, he recently did a SPAC on his company, that’s a special purpose acquisition company, it’s called a SPAC, where he went public vis-à-vis another company at $9.30 a share, I think it was, and then that’s within the last nine or 10 months ago, and then he saw that stock drop tremendously over the ensuing two or three months, it dropped under $5 and then $3, and then right down.

Rob Artigo: Making him a penny stock, basically.

Ray Zinn: What?

Rob Artigo: Yeah, basically it became… I used the term penny stock, meaning it had gone way down [inaudible 00:07:24]-

Ray Zinn: What’s on NASDAQ anyway, but my point is that, and he’s dumped $68 million into Complete Solaria, and he saw that stock drop to 20 cents and the value of the company went down to nine or $10 million total valuation. And my grandson happens to work for Complete Solaria, and so I get to follow what’s happening with Complete Solaria by just checking with my grandson how it’s going, and it’s amazing to see your company… And by the way, TJ is a very successful entrepreneur, very successful and done very well, and he saw his company drop in value of 96%. I mean, drop. That’s tremendous drop.

He hasn’t given up. He didn’t lose his energy and enthusiasm for turning the company around. I mean, so will he do it? Sure. I believe that TJ will turn that company around, but he’s not going to let the world events or let what’s happening with Donald Trump or what’s happening with the riots at the different schools, he’s not going to let that affect him. He’s going to focus on what he has to do to get Complete Solaria up and running and get it back on its feet.

So he recently did a conversion where he converted $5 million in debt to shares in Complete Solaria. He had to do it at 80% of the market price. That was a few weeks ago, at 45 cents was the market price, and of course, he saw that drop all the way down to 20 cents, but he did a conversion at 38 cents, and it’s just incredible. Rather than throwing in the towel and saying, “I am not going to do anymore, I’m not going to focus on making this company successful,” he did whatever it took, and that’s one of the models or one of the cultures that I have is doing whatever it takes, no excuses.

Rob Artigo: … right.

Ray Zinn: So again, an excuse is a reason wrapped in a bag of poop, so he didn’t come up with an excuse. He just dove into it. Now, there’s a lot of challenges, a lot of problems. I mean, I just can’t believe that he could still keep his enthusiasm up when he saw this company’s value drop 96%, but it did, and now it’s back up again, now it’s recovering a little bit. But anyway, so to keep focused means you have to compartmentalize to separate out all those things you can’t control, things that are totally outside your scope of influence and focus on your task, focus on what you have to do, whether it be a family issue, whether it be a personal health issue, your company, your community, whatever it is that you have to focus on, focus on that because many of you who are watching this podcast or listening to it aren’t necessarily running a company, but you do have problems.

You do have challenges every single day. And so to deal with that, as I said, sit down first thing in the morning, make a list of all those things that you can control, that you have the ability to deal with. Write those tough ones, the ones you don’t want to do, get those done and out of the way, then the rest your day is easy.

Rob Artigo: Yeah. And your example of your acquaintance that saw that his investment was sort of… I wouldn’t say going down the tubes, but we started at one price point on the stock market and we saw it fall down to pennies, and he kept his wits about himself, and he managed to weather the storm just by being not, I’m assuming your read of it is that he wasn’t being emotional about the situation. He was being focused on what he could focus on and understand the fundamentals of the potential there. So he wants to see it turn around, of course, but he’s not freaking out, and everybody else, and many other people are probably freaking out.

Ray Zinn: Well, he may be. I’m not sure he’s not emotional, but I’m sure when I had my challenges, it affected my emotions.

Rob Artigo: Okay, okay.

Ray Zinn: I mean, it does affect you, you’re human. I mean, there’s going to be emotions associated with your challenge. So in any case, I’m sure he was emotional because I’m sure he didn’t like what was going on. None of us like challenges or problems. It doesn’t change our ability or our need to deal with them, but I’m sure he was concerned. The outcome of it is that he didn’t give up. He didn’t throw in the towel. He didn’t say, “Oh crap, I’m done with this.” He jumped, he said, “Okay, here’s what I’ve got to do.” He broke it down into segments that he could eat, he could chew. Like an elephant, how do you eat a whole elephant? You eat him one chow-chew at a time, one by bite at time. So he just broke it down and said, “Okay, I’ve got to do this, this, this and this.”

I have no doubt he’ll turn it around. I’ve invested in the company myself personally, because I know TJ will turn it around. I have faith in that. So anyway, I’m losing a lot of money right now because I bought the stock a lot higher. I mean, I bought it under a dollar and now it’s down around 30 or 40 cents. But anyway, I’m sure he’ll turn it around. My point for this whole podcast is don’t focus on things you can’t do anything about. If you can’t affect it, if there’s nothing you can do about it, then don’t deal with it, just move on.

Whether you broke your leg or whether you broke your arm, or whether you came down with cancer or whatever it is, you focus on what you can handle, what you can deal with, and then the rest is easy because you’re focusing on what you can handle. Don’t focus on things you can’t change the outcome. I do feel for TJ and what he’s going through and trying to turn Complete Solaria around, but I can’t do anything about it. There’s nothing I can do to affect what he needs to do to make it successful. And the same thing, I can’t help Trump, I can’t hurt him either. I can’t help him [inaudible 00:14:24]. I can’t do a thing. I can pray for him, but that’s about it. And so focus on what you can do. Don’t focus on things you can’t do.

Rob Artigo: Well, let’s let the listeners know we appreciate the fact that they are listening or watching this special edition of the Tough Things First podcast which is on video. Again, if you weren’t watching it on video already, you can go to the website toughthingsfirst.com, and you can click on this podcast and then click on, watch now or watch this video, and you’ll be able to see it. So if you want to review something or you want to see what it looks like to watch us on video, we would appreciate that here at Tough Things First. And this is a fast-growing podcast, rated one of the top in Silicon Valley, and we’d like you to keep that up for us by giving us a rating on your favorite podcast platform. Please also check out Ray’s books, the Zen of Zinn. There are three books. It’s a great series, and also, of course, Tough Things First is the flagship book and the motto, as Ray mentioned, of this podcast. Do the tough things first. Ray, awesome podcast. Thank you very much for your time.

Ray Zinn: You’re welcome.

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