Dion Friedland is a South African businessman residing there, in Miami and London.

Thirty some years ago, Dion was a client. Ever since then, he has been a close friend. I have been with him when he negotiates, when he deals with employees and spends time with his family. I have been watching him from close and I realize that there is much to learn from him.

Dion is a very successful businessman. He started a retail store chain in South Africa, moved to the USA to build a sales training firm, then a store chain to sell lighting fixtures. Next, he became an art dealer and then established a fund of funds to manage money invested in hedge funds. He also has a company that has a patent on machines that convert water into disinfectants or detergents. In between all of this, he built, owned and sold one of the top ten resort hotels in the world, located in the Caribbean.  By and large, most of his endeavors have succeeded.  How did he do it?

One thing I’ve noticed over all these years is that I have never ever seen Dion angry; upset for few seconds, yes, but never angry, despite many warranting situations. He solves problems with no apparent emotions.

The guy simply has no “internal marketing”, which I define as internal conflict.  Internal marketing leads to symptoms of paralysis, inconsistent decision-making, reversal of decisions already made and by and large causes great anguish and loss of energy.  Dion exhibits none of that; he decides and executes. I have never seen him not implement a decision. Simply stated, Dion has the strongest self-discipline I have ever encountered.

Many of us decide but then waver on implementation. With Dion, implementation is prompt and swift and reflects exactly the decision taken.  Here is an example. He is now 67 years old. He decided that he will reverse his aging and his goal is to look and feel, at 70, better than how he looked or felt at 60. So? He has a regimen on what to eat that he follows religiously. There are zero deviations. Once he decided to live in this way, that is it, the decision is enforced.

He also spends three hours, every day, in the gym pumping iron and doing his aerobics.  He works four hours a day leading his vast holdings, managed by professional managers, using the Internet and Skype. The rest of his time is dedicated to family and friends that he chooses carefully- people that add rather than subtract his energy– people he can learn from or laugh with.

Ichak Adizes and Dion Friedland

I have never seen Dion in bad mood. “Why waste time brooding. Act on the problem or forget it,” is his motto.

He sold many of the businesses he started. “Today no one should fall in hopeless love with any business.  Move on when it does not work.  Stop beating a dead horse if the business is no good, and if it is good, stop digging when you hit oil”.

In a sense everything seems simple black and white with him. Very   (P) but also lots of (E) but without all the confusion (E)s bring to the table. He is an (E), having started so many businesses, but not done like a typical Arsonist, which is to erratically jump from one idea to the next. He (P)s his (E), kind of. If you ask him what his main priority in life is, his response is his health and the health of his family, followed by the health of his businesses.  His goals are simple and well focused.

I think the cause of his lack of “internal marketing” is his level of commitment. Or maybe I am wrong.  I am actually wondering why most people I know do not walk their talk; they decide but their implementation is weak or often non-existent.  With Dion, the uniqueness is that he implements his decisions totally and swiftly, almost effortlessly.

George Soros, a renowned businessman and investor, apparently has the same character because in his book Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve, he says that the secret of his success is that he identifies and corrects his mistakes sooner than most people. This is the same principle of implementing decisions without hesitation. I find that surgeons, especially heart surgeons, have the same characteristic: there is no wavering between deciding and implementing. It is the artists and so-called intellectuals who “decide” but then have second and third thoughts, and their execution, if any, resembles only vaguely their initial decision.

I know I am terrible in implementation. All the excitement is in the decision-making. That is where mind is fully engaged. Implementation is pure hard work no fun.

Can someone enlighten me what is going on? Why is Dion so special? Do you know people like him? What makes them so different?


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes