It was the early 1970s. A dealmaker named Robert Ringer had written a self-help book no one would publish—the theory of how not to be intimidated by the likes of lawyers (a.k.a. Legal Boys), mothers-in-law, do-gooders, and sundry other manipulative graduates of "Screw U"—entitled Winning Through Intimidation.
Why such a scary title? "For the reason that makes you afraid," said Ringer, borrowing one of Ayn Rand's more intimidating lines.
In cartoons for the book the author would be represented as the Tortoise—someone who is slow but steady, and wins the race. With a generous helping of anecdotes about his own adventures in the business world, the Tortoise laid out how to Prepare, Follow Through, Close, and, finally (and essentially), Cash the Check.
Not just Get the Check. Cash the Check. Then Make Sure it Clears.
The matter-of-fact tough-guy approach—one of the first attempts at translating Randian egoistic insights into practical if somewhat tongue-in-cheek guidelines—was a tonic after an infinity of the "I feel happy, I feel healthy, I feel terrific" school of uplift. Winning Through Intimidation hardly proffered a well-rounded philosophy of life. But as far as it went, it was good. Damn good.
The only publisher willing to publish the book wanted to water down its message. Ringer decided to publish it himself, and so ushered in what Tom Wolfe would dub "The Me Decade."
Ringer followed up with a broader essay on the virtue of selfishness, Looking Out for Number One. It applied the value-for-value philosophy to life as a whole and skipped the Machiavellian flourishes. Next came a political work, Restoring the American Dream. While it too climbed the bestseller lists, it did not reverse the country's political direction quite as quickly as Ringer had hoped.
He went on to pursue other ventures, including a newsletter and a book publishing company (financial guru and fellow libertarian Doug Casey was among the scribblers he published), but ultimately returned to the book game.
Ringer has certainly earned an avid following. A Web-TV user in Easton, PA, describes Looking Out for Number One as "the best book ever written"; "a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred look at reality from a man who's Been There and Done That! ... some of the most profound insights into the motivations of Mankind, along with many funny and poignant observations.... I have adopted Ringer's philosophies to make significant positive changes in my life ..."
Perhaps Robert Ringer will always be thought of as the Intimidator, at least in some circles. But we here at TDO regard him as the Energizer. Someone who knows how to go out and grab life ... then teach others to do the same.
And now he has just published another book, which seems to have slipped into print below the libertarian radar screen. You heard about it here first: Getting What You Want: The 7 Principles of Rational Living.
Wow! Thanks, Robert Ringer; that will be very helpful!
Copyright © 2000, The Daily Objectivist - Reprinted with permission of The Daily Objectivist and Davidmbrown.com.
15 May 2009