SOURCE: CTW Consulting, LLC

July 19, 2005 11:58 ET

Cheat to Win? Business Executive Says It's the Honest Way to Succeed

Bob MacDonald Takes Aim at Dishonest Business Rules

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 19, 2005 -- In these times of exposed corporate malfeasance and nefarious acts of individual greed, what type of business executive would have the audacity to write a business book titled -- "Cheat To Win"? Well, probably someone who bristles at the notion of "business as usual" and openly declares war on the idea that "you can't do that." Chances are it is an established contrarian who has a history of going against the accepted norm and has made millions doing so.

That someone is Bob MacDonald.

Not familiar with Bob MacDonald? Well, he's a well-known executive in financial business circles who, when president of ITT Life publicly chastized the life insurance industry for wallowing in the comfort of "the way we've always done it" mentality and failing to respond positively to changed consumer needs. For his approach to MacDonald was both vilified and validated. You may remember MacDonald's ads that proclaimed, "Your whole life is a mistake!" and put ITT Life in the forefront of industry change.

Now he's at it again. But this time his blunt and candid brush paints with broader strokes.

In his new book "Cheat To Win: The Honest Way to Break All the Dishonest Rules in Business" ($26.95, Paradon Publishing, Minneapolis, Minn.), MacDonald, 62, challenges many of the sacred rules of business that he claims are outmoded, ineffective or downright dishonest.

MacDonald says the business world is fettered by old and obsolete rules that cripple peak performance, inhibit creativity and stunt the growth of both individuals and businesses. "Worse yet," says MacDonald, "we are conditioned to accept and follow the rules of business--regardless of their validity." He proposes that the path to real success in business is to identify dishonest rules and cheat on them.

Which rules? Exposed by MacDonald are outmoded rules like how to get a job and advance up the corporate ladder. "They're totally anti-individual," says MacDonald "and so are many of the 'human resources' departments that perpetuate them." MacDonald shows why the rules dealing with gaining wealth and power are "back-assward." "The way to gain power and wealth in business," he insists, "is not to hoard them, but to share them." Put under a microscope are rules about winning negotiation ("Never, ever go for the jugular"), creating an entrepreneurial company ("Do everything in parallel"), about dealing with employees ("Treat them as 21st century capitalists.") And, that's just the beginning.

"Cheat To Win" was written to teach readers how to break the obsolete rules and help make their own way to success instead of being led down a path of mediocrity. The book offers proven, real-life how-to advice strategies that readers can start using right now to gain control of and brighten their business future, whether ascending the corporate ladder, building their own ladder as an entrepreneur, or leading a company.

"The philosophy of the book," says MacDonald "is about winning the honest way and how to avoid being cheated out of the opportunity to live the life we desire. The ideas of cheating and honesty may seem like competing concepts, but the paradox is intentional. What separates the winners from the losers in life is their willingness to question, challenge, and, under the right circumstances, violate some of the rules. When the book refers to 'cheating', I am not writing about doing something dishonest or immoral. Quite to the contrary, this is honesty in its purest form. This book was written to expose the inherent dishonesty in many of the rules that control us today. The fact is cheating on some of the rules imposed on us by others is the only honest way to live and achieve real success."

Quite correct as you might imagine, "Cheat To Win" is not your typical business book (the dust jacket claims it eats other business books for lunch), and Bob MacDonald is not your typical business executive. He has had a remarkable 40-year career in the financial services industry, beginning as a life insurance agent in 1965 for New England Mutual Life in Los Angeles, and retiring in 2002 as CEO of Allianz Life of North America and as its chairman a year later.

As president and CEO of ITT Life Insurance Corporation, he became one of the best known, most influential and controversial leaders in life insurance for bold stands he took on issues that often ran counter to the conventional thinking of the industry. After seven years as chief executive of ITT Life, MacDonald struck out on his own to form a new life insurance company, LifeUSA.

He not only founded, but as chairman and CEO of LifeUSA, turned the business into one of the fastest growing, best-known and most successful companies of the 1990s. In a transaction valued at $540 million, in 1999 the financial giant Allianz AG of Munich, Germany acquired LifeUSA and merged it with the larger Allianz Life of North America. MacDonald was asked to continue on as CEO of the merged companies. Today, he continues to serve as a board director and member of the Allianz Life audit committee, and an international consultant to Allianz AG. In addition, he serves on the board of The Fireman's Fund Insurance Company of Novato, Calif., and Buffalo Wild Wings of Minneapolis, Minn.

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