How An Elite Execution System Holds The Blueprint To Success In Any Business With Don Wenner And The Power Of Perception With Dr. Diane Hamilton

A disciplined and organized execution system is like a well-oiled machine that will keep your business running. Dr. Diane Hamilton is joined by Don Wenner, founder and CEO of DLP Capital, author, speaker, and expert in scaling business for greater profits. Don proposes that more than external factors, it’s the internal systems and processes that predict business success. In this episode, he explains how building successful business results from building an elite organization. If you want to learn more about improving your business operation, this is the episode for you. Tune in as Don shares insights from his latest book, Building an Elite Organization: The Blueprint to Scaling a High-Growth, High-Profit Business, and gain insight that could save and grow your business.

In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton dives deep into her latest book with Dr. Maja Zelihic, Power of Perception: Eliminating Boundaries to Create Successful Global Leaders. She expounds on the concepts behind the Perception Power Index and shares how understanding perception ultimately leads to better communication in the workplace.

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I’m glad you joined us because I have Don Wenner. He is the best-selling author of Building an Elite Organization: The Blueprint to Scaling a High-Growth, High-Profit Business. He is going to talk to us because he’s had some amazing success in his own capital company. I’m excited to see what he learned from that business.

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How An Elite Execution System Holds The Blueprint To Success In Any Business With Don Wenner

I am here with Don Wenner, who is the Founder and CEO of DLP Capital. He’s also the author of Building an Elite Organization. It’s nice to have you here, Don. 

It’s an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.

I was looking forward to this. I know you have done some amazing things. You have been ranked on Inc. 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in the US. I was looking at some of the awards you’ve won. You had some great successes. I know you deal a lot with real estate and other things. Your book is more of a general book. That’s great for my audience because you’re talking about building an elite organization, which everybody wants. I want to get a background on you for people who aren’t familiar with you. How did you get to this level? What led you to write this book?

Thank you for that. I’m the Founder and CEO of a real estate company called DLP Capital. I founded that company in 2006 when I was a college student at Drexel University studying Finance. I grew up in a lower-middle-class working family. We bought everything at yard sales. My parents had me at sixteen years old. I moved out of my parent’s home in high school. I was always good at math and entrepreneurship.

I decided early on in life, in eighth grade, I was going to become a financial advisor and that’s what I went to Drexel thinking I was going to do. Of course, best-laid plans often don’t work out the way you originally thought. I stumbled into real estate essentially by mistake through a friend while I was still in college as a real estate agent at Keller Williams Real Estate in 2006.

The month I received my real estate license, which was October 2006, was the peak of the real estate market. That month was the peak in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. The market only went down for years. The great part about that is my marketing message from the first day I had my real estate license was, “Your home sold guaranteed or I’ll buy it.” I market that message everywhere. It led to a lot of motivated home sellers when it was a challenging market.

We went through the Great Recession. I had a lot of motivated home sellers who would contact me to sell their homes. I would either help them sell their home, remove the risk of the sale or I would step in and buy their home. That led to me building an investment business initially flipping homes. I built a construction company to support the home-flipping business. At the bottom of the market, I started building a rental portfolio and I started doing property management.

We started launching private investment funds and bringing in individual investors into our investment funds that were buying distressed housing. People call it family and friend’s money, but my family all worked for me and still do. My friends were in their mid-twenties. There was no family and friend’s money. I worked hard for anybody I could find with money, any leader in my community, bankers, attorneys, accountants, doctors, and so forth. I fought hard to raise some money and it started going well after a couple of years of a lot of hard work.

In the 2014 timeframe, I had about 100 employees, team members as we call them. We owned 700, 800 properties and we said, “What are we going to do when we grow up?” We decided that our world revolved around housing and more specifically, it revolved around providing affordable workforce housing. We decided to start buying large apartment communities and that brought me to where I’m talking to you from, St. Augustine, Florida, where I reside. We focused on the Southeast. We also started lending money to other real estate investors. That’s all growing fast.

Fast forward, we’re a real estate investment management company at our core, but we run thirteen different businesses that work together to execute on providing workforce housing. We have 450 team members. We do about $500 million in revenue. We’ve grown by 60% or more every year for over fifteen years. I’ve been in Inc. 5000 for nine straight years. I built a phenomenal leadership team. We’re excited about what’s ahead.

I worked at Keller Williams in 2005. I was a loan officer, an account executive, and subprime before all that crashed. As you were saying, “We bought their houses.” Where did you get this money to buy all of that? That’s not exactly easy to do.

It was not easy to do in the beginning days. That started in 2006, and because of the subprime days, everybody was a real estate investor. The story is every waitress, taxi driver, and so forth owned four rental properties. Everybody wanted to be a real estate investor. I started helping people find properties as a real estate agent.

One day, I was sitting at a closing table representing an investor who’s going to buy this home from this little lady named Eleanor. I’m the real estate agent sitting across the closing table and she’s about 82 years old. My buyer doesn’t show up. A half-hour goes by. I’m trying to make small talk and keep calling him. His name is Frank. He doesn’t pick up. Finally, about a half-hour, he picks up his phone and I say, “Where are you?” He says, “I can’t get my hard money loan, so I’m not buying the home.” He hangs up on me.

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Building an Elite Organization: The Blueprint to Scaling a High-Growth, High-Profit Business

I tell Eleanor that my buyer can’t buy her home and she breaks into tears. She’s going to lose the assisted living facility she’s in if she doesn’t have the money. The house was $72,000. I’m not exaggerating the story. I was sitting in the building, which is right next door to my headquarters in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I could see it out the window, the closing table, PNC Bank that I banked at the time. I ran across the street and I withdrew all my money, which was $72,000. I was 22 years old. I saved up to $72,000 from selling alarm systems door to door, which is my job before real estate.

I bought this lady’s home and didn’t know that much about what I was doing. I hired a good contractor and managed it well. I made $20,000, $30,000 profit and said, “This wasn’t that difficult.” I started doing it more often. I started finding local professionals who had known me from helping them buy or sell real estate. I would get them to partner with me and help provide some of the capital. That started taking off to the point that we then started launching private investment funds soon after.

It’s an interesting industry. I loved being a loan officer. When I left, I wanted to continue learning about that industry and that’s when I got my real estate license. I am around people who make a killing in commercial real estate. That’s where you see some of the most financially wealthy people out there. Real estate can be good, but it’s also scary for a lot of people. I’m sure you’ve probably learned some hard lessons in some of that. It’s not always a good market, as we found out and if you’re subprime and all that. What did you learn from that, that you incorporated the hard times to write your book? Did that have any impact at all on real estate?

The reality is I always think about it. Certainly, you’re right. In a recessionary environment, a lot of people got hurt in 2008 and 2009. That certainly is always a risk in any investment. What I’ve learned over the years is that the real risk real estate investors or any business owners or leaders face is much less often external risks such as an economic downturn, as it is an internal risk of not running a disciplined organization that can handle turbulence. That certainly are things like not having cash reserves or not having strong cashflow as some basics.

In most cases, what I find over the years, we’ve either acquired and/or funded as a lender somewhere around 15,000 to 20,000 investment properties over the past years. Out of all of those investment properties that have gone bad or had problems, almost never was the issue in real estate. It was almost always execution. It was almost always that the operator didn’t hire the right people, didn’t put enough structure in place, didn’t financially project cashflow effectively enough for the duration of the investment. It was a lack of planning and discipline.

My book is called Building an Elite Organization: The Blueprint of Scaling a High-Growth, High-Profit Business. In 2014, when our lending business started taking off, we started helping a lot of investors. All of a sudden, now they had access to more money, so they were buying more properties and doing more deals. That was exciting for them and for us. All of a sudden, we started having some of our good borrowers go into defaults. They couldn’t make their loan payments.

Almost every time, it wasn’t the real estate that was the issue. It’s that they didn’t put enough discipline structure organization in place to handle the growth. The proverbial incredible CEO with a bunch of minions or followers is a great individual. A CEO can get to a certain level of success, but they don’t develop their leadership and their team, doesn’t put structure in place to handle communication, project management, and so forth. They run into a problem.

What started happening is we started helping these borrowers of ours implement what the book is about. Our elite execution system is an internal operating system to how you go about hiring, developing leadership, communication, prioritization, and how you build a clear strategy, direction, and culture. We started helping on a one-off basis these operators implement this system and write their business and get things back on track. We realize there was such a need for it that it led to us writing the book.

We have a full business today that helps companies, real estate, and otherwise, implement the execution system, put discipline in place in the four quadrants of a business as I call it, which are strategy, people, operations, and acceleration, which is sales and marketing combined. What I find is that people who want to learn, grow, and get better, which I’m going to assume most of the people reading fall into that category who are curious and want to get better.

There are so many gurus out there and they tell you, “If you get great at leadership, that’s the secret to a successful business. If you get good at content marketing or if you get good at having a great strategy. You implement checklists.” There’s this one silver bullet that if you were better at that, it would solve all your problems and you’d be able to grow a phenomenal business. The reality is there’s a lot of things that have to happen together as a part of one plan to get consistent growth.

That’s why despite all the awards we won, the one I’m most proud of is that not that we’ve been on the Inc. 5000 list, but we’ve been on it nine straight years. I’ve never been one of the 500 fastest-growing companies. I’ve never been higher than 2,500. Every year, for nine years, we’ve been between 700 and 2,000, year after year.

[bctt tweet=”There’s a lot of things that have to happen together as part of one plan to get consistent growth.” username=””]

We’re the fourth fastest-growing company in America that’s made the list five or more times ever. We’ve been on the list nine straight years. Consistency is about putting discipline into your organization that leads to consistent and credible work. We’ve grown by 60% or more for over fifteen years by putting the right structure in place. That’s what we’re passionate about, helping others be able to grow businesses and create jobs and develop leaders.

You’ve also done well with this book. I have many authors on the show. Of the 1,500 or whatever people I’ve interviewed, a lot of them are authors. You have a Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling book. That’s not easy to do, especially right off the bat like that. What was the unique thing about this book? Was it how you marketed it with? Did you have a big following, to begin with? A lot of people who read want to know how you touched a nerve so much.

As with any other success within a business, there’s a lot of things working together in an organized plan. The center of that always is great people. We put a process in place. Certainly, we did things like building list coming on great shows like this that have a following to get the message out. We’re working on growing our email list and providing free books in your initial launch week to pick up additional buyers. Engaging our 450 team members and employees into the promotion through their social media and their networks. Engaging our thousands of investors to get it out to their network. Just active basic plan. We don’t think we did anything earth-shattering, but we did a lot of consistent activity.

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Execution System: The real risk real estate investors or any business owners or leaders face is much less often external risks, such as economic downturn, as it is internal risks of not running a disciplined organization that can handle turbulence.


I will give credit, we used an organization that helped me in putting the book together called Scribd, which was a good organization, and then we work with an organization called Igniting Souls to help us with book promotion. They’ve been phenomenal to work with and they’re working with me on writing the next book called Building an Elite Career, which is not for those who own the companies but work within entrepreneurial organizations. Those are two great groups that were powerful, Scribd and Igniting Souls, on helping us with both the creation-publishing and promotion of Building an Elite Organization.

You also created a companion Elite Journal to go with it. How was that?

That’s been a cool experience. The Elite Journal is a way to put the concepts of the lead execution system or what I teach on it in the book into action. At the end of the day, a company, an organization as we call it in the title of the book, is a team of people. In order to build an elite organization, you need the people within your organization to operate in a disciplined manner. It’s about having success in business and life, set clear goals, and then take discipline, consistent action towards those goals. That’s what we teach and how to put that in place within a company, within the building of the organization.

The journal is a way for every person within a company to put that discipline into their own lives. The Elite Journal, which we launched right after the book, has been a phenomenon. My chief experience officer, Patrick, did a lot of the work of creating this Elite Journal. We had hundreds of our team members test it and use it for many months and refine it before we formally launched it. I spent 1.5 years writing the book and years learning and putting the systems or concept behind the book in place. Often, I get even more positive feedback about how impactful the journal has been, which is a simple tool.

If you’ve ever read The Miracle Morning or 5 AM Club with the concept of first and foremost mastering your morning routine and starting your day with an attitude of gratitude, writing down your big goals for the day, and scribing throughout the day what you accomplished. Being a part of putting the habits in place of journaling is incredibly powerful. The journal starts with laying out your big long-term goals, breaking it down to annual, which we call living fully dashboard, and breaking into your top priorities for the next 90 days, which we call Rocks. It is a critical component of our elite execution system that the book is on, and then breaking into weekly plans and then your daily pages of journaling what you’re going to accomplish, what your wins are, what your lessons learned are, what you’re grateful for each day.

The only way you can improve your performance and improve your life is to change how you spend your time. Few overall people out there take the time to set realistic goals and write them down in a disciplined way. Even those who get good at setting goals, where they usually fall short are then making sure that their schedule changes how they’re spending their time in order to change the results that they’re looking for.

That’s where the journal comes into play. It helps you start reevaluating how you’re spending your time and adjusting where you’re putting your focus in order to achieve the goals in all areas of your life that you’re looking for. We call it the eight Fs of life, which are Faith, Family, Friends, Freedom, Fun, Fulfillment, Fitness, and Finance. We want to help people be successful in all eight of those areas, not just in their professional lives.

As I was looking through your book, I love journaling. I love all this that we’re talking about because it ties into what I teach a lot at different universities where we incorporate this information in the class for especially entrepreneurs and different things. I’m curious about some of the contents in your book because a lot of it seems intuitive. You’re writing about mitigating risks, execution, and all that. You’ve got a couple of chapters that I’m curious about. What is WIGs about?

I’m glad that you said a lot of what is in the book is intuitive. Maybe it wouldn’t be my first choice words of putting stuff. It’s not the first time you ever heard before.

The chapter titles tell you what’s coming is what I meant by that, but WIGs, I don’t know what’s coming. What is coming in that chapter?

WIGs, which is a concept we did not create and that’s where a lot of what’s in the book I. I give credit to the greats, Jim Collins, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, and Sean Covey. Sean Covey is the person who created wildly important goals or WIGs. There’s a great book out there called 4 Disciplines of Execution, which is a book on WIGs, which is wildly important goals. WIG is what the number one priority is within your team or your organization that if you accomplish this, nothing else would matter? It was that big goal. It’s a discipline about getting everybody on that team working together in order to achieve that goal.

There’s a specific structure, four disciplines to how you go about achieving your wildly important goals. It’s been unbelievably powerful for us in putting the right focus and attention around what’s most important. It’s a wildly important goal. It’s about putting a little bit of your time around what’s most important. It’s not going to get you away from what we call the whirlwind of all the stuff that acts on you, all the stuff that comes at you all day, every day that you have to react to.

That’s the key. Putting a little bit of your time around on the most important things that you’re going to act on is the difference maker in achieving your biggest goal. One of the great statements I learned from the book 4 Disciplines of Execution is what’s most important is rarely urgent and what’s urgent is rarely important. Of course, though, it always feels that way.

That’s the tough thing because there are proactive things that are important and there are things that are important you have to be proactive about. You have to act upon them. The things that are urgent that aren’t important act on you. It doesn’t take any work because you’re just reacting to something that’s acting on you. Those are some of the concepts of Wildly Important Goals.

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That’s interesting because in some of my courses, I still teach The 7 Habits by Stephen Covey and proactive was the first habit. There’s so much that you’re covering. Sometimes we read a little bit about something in somebody’s book and we go, “That relates so well to what I’m looking at here.” I did the same thing with my books on curiosity and perception. I incorporated a lot of either Daniel Goldman‘s work on emotional intelligence or whatever it was that I was discussing. We often find some parts to what other people write that they don’t even know how much it influences us in a different way. I love that’s what that was. Tell me a little bit about the chapter on Rocks.

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Execution System: Putting a little bit of your time on the most important things that you’re going to act on is the difference maker in achieving your biggest goal.


Rocks are, in many ways, can seem similar to WIGs or Wildly Important Goals. The simplest way I describe the importance of Rock is we say in our organization, we accomplish more every 90 days than our competition accomplishes all year. When you look at our results, we’ve grown by over 60% every year for fifteen years. Meaning we’re growing 10% to 15% every 90 days, which is for most companies would be great growth for a year. A big part of that is this simple concept of Rocks but there are certainly some important components.

Rocks is, what are your top priorities for the next 90 days? In a company that runs our operating system, elite execution system that the book is on, every person in the company will have three professionals or Rocks that apply to the company every 90 days. Also, three Rocks or top priorities that apply outside of work. Nobody can have more and nobody can have less. Every person has three top professional Rocks and three top personal Rocks every 90 days.

The magic to achieving Rocks is that every other week, two times a month, you have a milestone and that milestone is what has to be accomplished in the next two weeks in order to achieve this 90-day top priority. That’s the area that makes the difference because you set an important goal for 90 days. We all get so busy that all of a sudden, there are three weeks left in the quarter and you haven’t done anything yet. Having these milestones every two weeks that can be a mix between activity-based and results-based that allows you to gauge and stay on track. It helps you stay focused and break it down into smaller priorities.

When done well, it’s unbelievable how much you can get done and how many tremendous priorities you can have. If you think of an organization with 450 team members, every one of them having three company top priorities, that’s 1,350 priorities being achieved every 90 days. Of course, we don’t achieve them all. We end up achieving our goal every quarter to achieve 90% of them. We usually end up in 80%. We’re far from perfect at it as a whole, but we can achieve 80% of your top goals within 90 days.

Most of the ones we missed, it’s not that we didn’t make any progress. We just didn’t get it all the way done and maybe took another week or 2 or 3. That discipline is amazing. The part that I get the most joy out of that I absolutely love is seeing people set their Rocks outside of work and seeing how they improve as a father, mother, husband, wife, a leader in their church, or whatever is important. They transform their fitness or their health.

When people join us, they think it’s just in hiring rah-rah that we act like we care about what happens to you individually or what happens outside of work, then they realize, “You’re holding me accountable to achieving my personal priorities. You’re holding me accountable to losing weight or spending more time with my kids,” or whatever the case may be. It also builds great, deep relationships between our leaders and their team members and the depth of that relationship. It’s amazing.

You see people who come into an organization in roles like construction or maintenance or frontline coordinator roles, people who’ve never been involved in personal development, or people coming to us in their 50s, 60s, 70s even. This is completely foreign, too. Putting this into place and seeing the transformation in their lives is awesome.

I could see that there are so many people who could benefit from this. A lot of people are reading this and wanting to find you, your books, and all that. How could they find you and learn more?

You can find the book anywhere you buy books, Amazon, Audible, Libra, which is the Audible competitor that we now use as our company because Audible stopped their business account. You can find me on any of the social media platforms. My website for the book and everything related to this elite execution system is, and then my main company website is

You’ve done extremely well with that. I saw you have sold close to more than $4 billion in real estate transactions. Congratulations on the success of your company and the book. It’s interesting, Don. Thank you for being on.

Thank you, Diane, for having me.

You’re welcome.

The Power Of Perception With Dr. Diane Hamilton

I get many great guests on the show. Sometimes I want to take a little bit of time to talk about some of the research I do. I’m going to talk to you about perception and some of the work I did with Dr. Maja Zelihic, who is also one of the people I’ve worked with at the Forbes School of Business. She’s been great in this process of researching how perception process in our mind, opinions, version of the truth, biases, and how we live. What’s in a rose? Would it smell as sweet by any other name? All that, that we read about.

We looked at what we can do with the perception in the workplace to discuss it. We looked at it as a combination of IQ, EQ, CQ for cultural quotient, CQ for curiosity quotient, and we thought, “This is something that they’re not talking about enough in the workplace.” We talked about this perception reality and to what extent are our perception is true? They’re our perceptions. What is a reality to us may not be the reality to them?

There is a truth to some extent, but what’s real and all that? We start to get into this analysis paralysis thinking about it. We thought, “If we’re thinking like this, we need to showcase what others have done to try and look at this because the world’s changing.” We’ve seen The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, which is a great book. We know that what we used to think is the reality of everything that we thought we could do. Now, it’s different. We’re becoming more connected and we know that there are a lot more issues with global tragedies.

As companies are trying to do work in a global dot-com industry, it’s a lot different from how we look at things than when I originally got into the workplace or when Maja got into it. We’re looking at some of our belief systems of what shaped us both consciously and unconsciously. If we know that, we can be more responsive and respond to this multicultural and multi-language world in which we’re living. 

If we can monitor our perceptions and guide them towards where we want to go or where we don’t want to go and understand what other people believe and maybe not necessarily agree with everything that they believe in, we can understand that and see where they’re coming from. That way, we manage our perceptions and we’re able to build empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence.

[bctt tweet=”Be able to set clear goals and then be able to take disciplined, consistent action towards those goals.” username=””]

Maybe you can’t walk a mile in my shoes, but we can have a better appreciation for what it would be like to do that. We looked at what was available in terms of assessments out there of how we can test and validate and do all these things with that. We came up with a Perception Power Index, which goes along with the book, The Power of Perception. Those are the things that we’re going to talk about.

We come into this world with this predisposition to how we view and interpret things. Imagine if you’re born where you are now compared to if you were born somewhere else. We know that twins are different if they were separated at birth. There’s a different upbringing. We have this cultural impact on how our behaviors, our beliefs, and everything that we relate to are impacted by our social, ethnic, age group, and everything. We’re seeing that there’s a lot more conflict in the world. A lot of it is because we don’t understand each other that well. 

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Power of Perception: Eliminating Boundaries to Create Successful Global Leaders

Something that we don’t even think about as acceptable or not questionable here in the United States might be something questionable in another culture. If you’re wearing a miniskirt in Brazil, it’s a lot different than if you’re worrying that in Saudi Arabia, for example. We have to appreciate where other people are coming from. Maybe we’re allowing our culture and our society to dictate what we’re thinking and perceiving.

I’ve had Joe Lurie on the show. He’s got a great book, A Mind-Opening Journey Across Culture, where he writes about all the different perceptions of things that he’s found in different cultures. Eye contact in Western cultures is maybe candor and confidence. If you go to Africa, they don’t want to do that. Eye contact with a person of authority, you’ve got to worry about respect. There’s a lot of different issues when you’re talking about the Western culture versus other cultures. In Asian cultures, they might use a calculator to negotiate the price of things, but you might not want to do that in some other areas because it may seem disrespectful. 

Looking at different areas is fascinating. Even how certain hand gestures mean one thing. It might mean A-okay in one language and maybe be insulting in another culture. A lot of studies look at Western culture versus other cultures and that is worth reviewing. Now we know that there’s a lot of stereotyping going on. We’re trying to get away from that. We’re trying to get away from biases. We have biases.

Beau Lotto talked about that on my show. I hope you’ve read that episode. He talks about how you need it and how you can’t live without some bias to give you some decision-making ability. We have to pay attention to unconscious bias. We’ve got to be careful that we don’t come across as arrogant or condescending. Saying something like, “Keep it simple, stupid,” might mean one thing in one language. We have that as a saying and it’s not meant to be insulting. If you tell it to somebody else, it could be insulting. 

These are the things that we were looking at when we decided that we needed to look at cultural quotients, IQ, CQ, our drive, motivation, knowledge, cognition, metacognition, and all those things to look at how we come up with these actions or behaviors. Do we have to adapt to customs or should they adapt to ours? Should we be more tolerant of differences? Change is a big thing that we teach in business classes and being proactive about it is also important. We know that we have these teams where there are in-groupers and out-groupers. We want to try and get people to get along. 

I’ve had Amy Edmondson talking about teams, teaming, and how people get along. A lot of collaboration is about having the curiosity to ask questions and learn from each other. We want to look at the path that we’re on that’s similar but also understand the path that we’re on that’s not so similar. Some of the things that impact that are things like spirituality.

Whether you’re religious or not, it can be different. Some people have this impact of how important their spirituality or their religion is to them where other people might be agnostic or atheist and that could completely shape your whole perception of the situation at hand. You might accidentally insult someone without even realizing how important something is to them. 

I don’t think a lot of people give a lot of thought to the differences of how much strength that can have in their ideas and things that they question or don’t question. It can have a big impact because we inherit a lot of beliefs from our family. We personalize our beliefs. We take things that work for us or maybe don’t work for us. We make something around what works in our situation. That can make us think we’re right and they’re wrong and vice versa. That is a problem in the business world if we don’t examine what is shaping what these people are coming up with or not coming up with. 

Having personalized beliefs are fine, but even though Stephen Covey says, “Spiritual renewal is one of the habits that are essential to effective leadership,” we have to look at what’s your greater purpose? What do they think is their greater purpose? What are our values or our ethical principles and what are theirs? What will our legacy be and what is theirs? Those are the things that we researched in terms of how people use their religion and spirituality. It was also fun to look at gender to see the differences in how people look at paintings. 

There was a comment that we put in the book. Two strangers, a man or woman, were visiting an art gallery and found themselves standing next to one another staring at a painting of an old country estate. Replete with an elderly man sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch of a mansion and with various barns and outbuildings and serving his background. The woman, without prompting, commented, “What a beautiful painting, so serene and peaceful. A beautiful blend of man and nature.” The man commented in response, “That barn looks like it’s in dire need of a paint job.” 

We both look at the same thing, but we see different aspects. There’s not that one’s right and one’s wrong. It could be the opposite way round. It could be the man seeing the great thing, the woman saying the opposite. We don’t want to stereotype necessarily, but it’s interesting to see that men and women do see things a little bit differently. There are psychological differences. These have been documented, including differences in their brains.

We hear gender bias and we know studies show women are viewed, treated, and paid differently. We know there’s a problem predominance in the number of men compared to women in executive positions. Those are the things that are important for leaders to recognize. We have to know the origins of all this and why we see things through these different lenses. We know that men’s brains are structurally different than the female brain and that’s a fascinating thing to look at in itself. We’re not going to exactly see things in the same way.

There is a New York Times bestseller called The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist. She also later wrote The Male Brain. She guides you through how the brains of each gender differ and how they shape our behaviors from the time we’re infants all the way into adulthood. The women’s perceptions and behaviors are different from men’s, mostly due to hormones. We do have different hormones. We know the women have more estrogen, progesterone. We even have testosterone but not as much as the men. It goes all the way back to some of these hormones. It’s how we are influenced by them.

I talked to Tom Peters on the show. That’s a great show if you get a chance to look at it. He talked about The Female Brain and he recalled an article from Duke University Basketball, Coach Mike Krzyzewski. In the Sunday Times magazine section, he described how that coach, often referred to as Coach K, would bring his wife to all the team meetings. He said the reason was so she would see what was going on in player’s lives that he didn’t notice. She would smell of a problem of a girlfriend 100 miles away or some distraction and he didn’t think men psychologically saw those things. He found it fascinating as an observation. 

There are differences. If we pretend like we’re not different, that doesn’t work and we get uncomfortable. If we look at that as one thing being better than another, that’s also uncomfortable. It’s important to recognize that these things are part of us and that we’re intended to be different. We’re not intended to be the same. Wouldn’t life be super boring if it was that way?

I thought that would be something that you talk about in the workplace of what we can get. We know that the percentage of women in the workplace is increasing. We know that the rate of women occupying key roles in the workplace is on the rise. We know that women are being hired into leadership roles more often than they were CEOs at an increasing rate and of course, we’d like to see it higher. We know that women are bringing different perceptions into the workplace. Those are different aspirations. 

It is an interesting thing to look at how we’re genetically wired differently from birth. These differences are spawning this ground for this history of beliefs and stereotypes of how we’re taught to view each other. We’re carving a different road for ourselves, the women versus the men. That’s important to know that we’re evolving. When we’re doing that, we’re impacted by our intelligence in this process. 

We talk about IQ and EQ. If we’re thinking of intelligence as what we know and how we apply what we know, we know that we need to be able to use our intelligence to understand how to relate with one another. We know that our intelligence and our perceptions evolve in different ways. Fluid versus crystallized intelligence comes about.

There’s some great work by Raymond Cattell, who talked about that. If you ever get a chance to read some of his work, there are all these different types of what we learn and how it changes over time. It’s an important thing to look at. Also, Howard Gardner is heavily cited in the area of types of intelligence. We thought we had one kind. He studied all these different types of abilities that we have. You could have naturalistic, music, logical and mathematical, and existential intelligence. Also, body, kinesthetic, verbal, linguistic, intrapersonal, visual-spatial intelligence, and interpersonal intelligence. The list goes on and on.

To say somebody is smart is a hard thing to do because there are these different types of ways of being smart. How do you value that intelligence? What’s important in your culture for that type of intelligence? That was interesting to us as we went through all the different ways that we grow, learn, and apply what we know.

[bctt tweet=”We come into this world with a predisposition of how we view and interpret things.” username=””]

We also looked at emotions as in emotional intelligence in that aspect as well. I had written my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence and that’s such a huge area. It was great to have Daniel Goleman on the show to talk about emotional intelligence. If you haven’t read that episode, I highly recommend it.

Emotions play a big part in how we make decisions. Empathy is a big part of emotional intelligence. Sometimes that ties into the curiosity that we’re asking questions to learn more about each other. Our emotions can be different across cultures. There are different studies between Japanese and American subjects. They found facial expressions and non-verbal behaviors vary significantly between them.

I had Paul Ekman on the show. The TV show, Lie To Me, was based on his work. There are certain expressions that we all make that are the same, whether you’re blind or not. I thought that was fascinating. My father was born blind, so it’s interesting what things we have similar and then other things that are completely different. It’s conceptually different based on the way you grow up and the influences around you of how you respond to your emotions.

Your emotions can make you perceive failure differently either. Some of us have the fight or flight response. Some of us will run from it or run to it. Most of us have that sense that failure is not our favorite thing. Our perception of failure can influence how much we explore things and ask questions. It gets back into curiosity again.

I tell a story in my talks and I write one in the book about different experiences where sometimes you’re in a sales presentation where you get your rear end handed to you. You might be on a call with your partner and your partner thinks it’s the worst thing in the world, where you might think it’s the best thing because you’ve learned everything you need to know to fix your next presentation.

If you don’t learn these things, sometimes your perception will get you down and you’ll quit. You have to learn from failure and if you don’t, you’re going to end up being the glass-half-empty person and you won’t move forward. You’ll stay where you are and move backward. That’s what we’re trying to avoid by understanding perception.

The other thing that we looked at when we were looking at perception was whether it’s your reality or not. Looking at some of the perception experts, especially Beau Lotto, I love his TED Talks. He talked about a lot of great things on the show. If you’re wanting to know perception versus reality, I would look at some of that because it’s fascinating. 

Talking about perception, you need to talk about collaboration because collaboration is a required skillset in the workplace. If you’re being hindered by your perceptions, there are so many variables. Think of the questions we ask ourselves, “Does this project intrigued us? Does it motivate us? Do we like our teammates? Do we like our leader? Do we like the role that we’ve been given?” You look at all this and if you’re getting mixed reasons for why you like something or don’t like something, a lot of it could be your perception of it.

When we talk about collaboration, I always think about Amy Edmondson‘s TED Talk because that ties into how they got the Chilean miners out in that disaster. These people were able to work together and collaborate because they maybe had different perceptions, but they knew that it was life or death, in this case, to help people get out from under that rock. 

Understanding that perception is critical to collaboration, getting people to work together, and being innovative and creative is interesting. Gallup says we’re losing $500 billion a year on engagement. We know that people want to be collaborative. If we don’t have this ability to get along, that’s going to be huge. We want people to be creative and see things differently.

In the Dead Poets Society movie, Robin Williams had the students get on top of their desks to look at life in a different way. He said, “To make a difference, you must see things differently.” That’s a key point that a lot of people always are looking at things from their vantage point. They don’t get on top of their desk. They don’t look at things from another way. 

I’ve done a lot of training classes where we’ve given Legos and we’ve had people build things as teams in collaborative ways. It’s fun to see them get ideas from each other and go, “I would have never looked at it that way.” If you aren’t a big fan of teams, sometimes it’s helpful to get on a team with people who are completely different than you are because if everybody thinks the same way, life’s boring.

TTL 887 | Execution System
Execution System: We have to appreciate where other people are coming from and see where we’re allowing our culture and our society dictate what we’re thinking and what we’re perceiving.


It helps to look at things from a critical thinking standpoint and to do research. How did these people do this? How have they made it successful? What facts support their argument? What’s the source of their information? How did they come to that conclusion? We’re back to curiosity again. Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves. I don’t think we get enough of that. There’s a lot of people who want to take things at face value based on what they’ve always known and what supports the values that they’ve always had. That’s common for people.

You watch the same either CNN or Fox or whatever that supports your values because it makes you comfortable. It is important to get curious and get outside. Our perception suggests we know something but our curiosity proves that we don’t. We need to know what we don’t know. A lot of people aren’t asking enough questions. That’s the thing that in the book, Cracking the Curiosity Code, is a huge part of changing the culture in organizations. 

I often talk a lot about that to groups because if we can ask more questions, we can get better at decision-making. Decision-making can be challenging. I love a quote by Deepak Chopra where he says, “If you obsess over whether you’re making the right decision, you’re assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another.” If you think about that, you always think you have the right or the wrong thing, but it’s not necessarily the case. There are shades of gray. Not everything is black and white. That’s what I find particularly fascinating in the research that we did.

If we’re trying to fix all the things in work and if we’re trying to fix engagement, I mentioned before that you’re losing $500 billion a year, according to Gallup. When people are financially invested, they want to return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute. That’s what we need to do, get people emotionally invested at work and contributing. Part of that is to ask questions and to understand each other better. We’re back to empathy, which is a big part of emotional intelligence and then we’re getting that perception of the other person’s ideas. We’re seeing it not just from our own standpoint but from theirs.

Some of the questions that we need to ask to improve engagement are, “Do my employees feel they’re growing in their work? Are they being recognized for their work? Do they trust that the company’s on the right track?” Those are some of the things that lead to great communication. I had Kevin Kruse on the show and he has a great book on information about engagement and that’s helpful. All this is so that we can be better leaders and better employees. We have to sometimes suspend our beliefs and be agile. Look in some of the words that we hear a lot about like vulnerability. 

Brené Brown made a lifelong career out of that. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable doing that. That’s what led to our interest in looking at what the perception process is and how we can manage our perceptions. Creating an assessment would be important and an epic decision of how we can help people understand what they go through. What does the process look like? We found it’s about evaluating, predicting, interpreting, and reshaping or correlating one’s perceptions. 

The EPIC acronym we came up with is Evaluation, Prediction, Interpretation, and Correlation. Those are the things that if you take the Perception Power Index, you will find out how you’re doing in those areas? What could you do to improve your EPIC process? It’s similar if you’ve taken The Curiosity Code Index. It’s simple. You get your results right away and you can find out a lot more about how well you go through this process and what things are holding you back. If you get a baseline of, “This is how I am at this,” then you know how to move forward.

[bctt tweet=”We have to know the origins of all this and why we see things through these different lenses.” username=””]

Let’s look at some of these because, in an evaluation, you’re going to examine and assess. You’re going to do a lot of these different things that you can recognize if you’re open to thoughts or ideas that you look at from your own perspective of your self-awareness. I think of this one in that respect. If you applied this element of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, then you’re going to get along better and you’re going to be able to be more aware of how you come across to other people. That’s a lot of a problem. I see a lot of people who don’t recognize body language, issues, tone, or if they’re typing in all caps. There are all these different things they can do of how they come across and they don’t realize it.

They can predict how the other person’s going to act. In a way, that’s another part of emotional intelligence. It’s their interpersonal awareness of, “Are they able to understand where the other person is coming from, what their perception is, their capabilities, their abilities, and how they make decisions?” It’s challenging to predict what other people are going to do if you don’t look into what they’re doing, have empathy, ask questions, and have that sense of emotional intelligence. It’s only then that you can make your interpretation. 

In your interpretation, you have to consider how all of this impacts your decision. The curiosity comes into this. You’re making assumptions and you’re looking at how their fear is impacting them. A lot of this ties back into their culture of how were they raised. We know that behavior and different things are rewarded or not rewarded in certain systems, so we need to look at that. How did their culture shape them? How did the company culture shape them?

TTL 887 | Execution System
Execution System: We’re looking at belief systems of what shape us both consciously and unconsciously because if we know that, we can be more responsive to this multicultural, multi-language world we’re living in.


It’s about assessing and understanding your own emotions for the EPIC part, but the I part is more about putting it collectively together and interpreting what you know. You end with your conclusions. Your correlation is your final C of the EPIC process because now that you have all this, you can come up with your solutions and conclusions after researching your facts. This is the critical thinking aspect of it all.

We know that there are so many great ideas that come out but if you don’t go to the part where you end coming up with the idea with taking what you’ve learned in this group setting and changing a little bit of your behavior so you can have a win-win situation. You haven’t come to any conclusion that’s going to be good for everybody. Those are some of the main points that we make in what we’re talking about in this EPIC process and this power of perception. This would be something critical to share.

You can take the Perception Power Index at All the assessments are there. You can take the Curiosity Code Index, the Perception Power Index, and even take DISC and emotional intelligence tests. A lot of that is all there. If you don’t see it in the drop-down menus at the top, there are more menus at the bottom. I hope you contact me if you have any questions and I hope that this helps you understand perception a little better.

I like to thank Don for being my guest. We get so many great guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can go to I hope you take some time to do that. I hope you join us for the next episode.

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About Don Wenner

TTL 887 | Execution SystemDon Wenner is the Founder and CEO of DLP Capital, a multi-faceted company that leads and inspires the building of wealth and prosperity through the execution of innovative real estate solutions. DLP Real Estate Capital is the parent company to DLP Capital Partners, DLP Lending, DLP Realty, DLP Real Estate Management, Alliance Servicing, and Alliance Property Transfer.

DLP Real Estate Capital is a leader in the single and multi-family real estate sectors of brokerage, investment management, asset management, property management, construction, and private lending. The company generates consistent returns and results for its investors and partners and gives back through the DLP Positive Returns Foundation, an organization focusing on two epidemics: lack of jobs and affordable housing. DLP’s purpose is Dream. Live. Prosper. Passionately creating prosperity through real estate. He is the author Building an Elite Organization.

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