How A Real Estate Genius Took The White House and Timeless Management Lessons From His Business Classic, Trump: The Art of The Deal

Donald Trump’s victory; a historic moment

On November 9, 2016 at 3:00 a.m. a jubilant Donald Trump the Republican candidate took to the dais at his magnificent real estate marvel Trump Tower in New York City to thank the American people for electing him as the 45th President of the United States ( # POTUS ).  

It was an incredible, unique and historic moment. The world was really taken aback and literally caught a flu. This was because virtually no one including Trump himself foresaw this moment. Right from the very onset of his candidature in late 2015, the odds were really stack against the real estate billionaire. He had began on a poor showing in the Republican Party or the Grand Old Party (GOP) primaries coming third in the Iowa Caucus after young, promising, charismatic and experienced sitting senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida

He only bounced back in the New Hampshire primary winning big there but again he lost to Governor John Kasich in the Ohio primary and as a result few took his candidacy seriously. Many people, no less than his opponents in the GOP, political pundits and pollsters dismissed his New Hampshire performance as a fluke, or the proverbial passing cloud or the calm before the storm-of his downfall.

Proved doubters wrong

Nevertheless, he would soon prove all his doubters and the doomsayers wrong and after the Super Tuesday (the day when most of the US’s 52 States carry out their presidential primaries for the two major parties the Democratic and the Republican parties) it was no longer in doubt that Trump was a serious contender and he would go all the way to win his party’s ticket and become its flag-bearer in the 2016 elections. 

Yet in this world of battle and blood, the end of one battle merely signifies the beginning of a new one perhaps even more demanding and daunting. As the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela once put it: “After climbing a great hill,one only finds that there many more hills to climb.”

Meanwhile, former US First Lady Hillary Clinton had piped veteran Vermont Senator and self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders to the Democratic Party’s ticket. 

Just the beginning of the battle

For the billionaire real estate developer, Donald J Trump, winning his party’s nomination was just “the end of the beginning,’’as Sir Winston Churchill once put it. The journey ahead seemed impossible and impractical. 

In the presidential elections, he would be up against one of the most adorned, adored and qualified candidates and career politicians or public servants in the history of the United States’ presidential elections. And rightly so, fewer could match Hillary Clinton’s glamorous public life in the history of American politics. In short, she had so many firsts to her name: Former First Lady of Arkansas, Former First Lady of the US (# FLOTUS), Former New York Senator (the first woman to represent the State), Former Secretary of State (the first white woman as US’s top diplomat) and the first female presidential nominee by a major party in the US. 

If the battle of clinching the Republican Party’s ticket was such a bruising one for the Manhattan rich chap, the mere thought of winning the presidency appeared far-fetched if not crazy. The odds were now even severe, the challenge too great and well, beyond his reach. So it seemed.  

At a disadvantaged point

He was really at a disadvantaged point in this election for a myriad of reasons. He had spent most of his working life as a real estate developer acquiring an envious, robust real estate portfolio estimated at more than $2 billion across New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco and Chicago among other major US cities. He also doubled as a reality TV show celebrity in some popular shows such as The Apprentice, Celebrity Apprentice, Miss Universe etc. 

Needless then to say that he had never before held a public office something unprecedented in the US history for a presidential candidate of a major party. Hence he was considered largely inexperienced, a joker, a nonstarter, and an accident among other uncomplimentary names.

Again, he was running as a populist candidate thereby unsettling the American political establishment especially that of his own Republican Party. It is usually the tradition in the US politics that the losing candidates in the parties’ primaries and the highly respected members (the establishment) of the two major parties embrace and throw their weight behind the winner. 

That was never the case with Mr. Trump the former celebrity of the reality TV show The Apprentice. Save for the celebrated African-American neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, the other losing candidates never endorsed him something weird in the US politics. So did the elders of the party like the Bush political family and former presidential candidates John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012). In fact, some respected party faithfuls like Hewlett Packard’s CEO Meg Whitman rejected him and openly endorsed the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as did so many other party’s top guns. 

Rocking the boat

Quite tellingly, a candidate who was out to rock the establishment’s boat could never win their approval. Indeed, most of the Republican faithful or the top guns so despised their candidate that some like President George W. Bush preferred to spoil or waste their vote by marking the “none of the above” choice in the presidential ballot to electing a fellow Republican.

No chance at all 

To crown it all, pundits never gave him a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating Secretary Clinton on the D-Day. And pollster after pollster, gave the Democratic candidate a comfortable lead nationally as well as in key battleground states where the US presidential election is either won or lost. 

For Mrs Clinton, throughout the campaign period it was not a matter of if but how wide she could make the margin between her and the unorthodox billionaire. Her demeanor, body language and public statements some blatantly condescending on her opponent betrayed enormous confidence and determination. You could get away with observing that she seemed too eager to deliver an early Christmas gift to her husband Bill Clinton by returning him to the White House some sort of reciprocating his magnanimity of taking her there in 1993 after he himself defeated the incumbent Republican George Howard Bush in the1992 elections

Still, Donald Trump was determined to prove he was no push over or a flower girl in that election. Still he was bent on showcasing his grossly underestimated political nerve and campaign talents and skills. Still he believed he was in it for the long haul, would silence his critics within no time that his grand match to the White House was unstoppable and he soldiered on with great zeal, sheer determination, diligence and industry.

2016 Elections

Before long Tuesday November 8, 2016 finally came and the Americans went to the polls. As the cliche goes: ‘’Man proposes but God disposes. That night would prove a long one for Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic faithful as some strange, devastating news started trickling in slowly but surely. Some cable network TVs like the respected and authoritative ABC News started calling the election for Mr. Trump in most of the key swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Florida among others one after another. 

Soon, it was no longer a matter of speculation but reality that the Republican candidature of Donald J Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence had overwhelmingly defeated the Democratic ticket of Secretary Clinton and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine after attaining the required threshold of 270 electoral college votes in one of the greatest and weirdest electoral upsets in the 21st century if not in living memory. What is more Trump would go on to win most of the swing states and amass 304 out of the total 538 electoral college votes against Mrs. Clinton’s 227 votes.

The improbable had turned possible. Quite rightly the world winced aghast at this unusual victory. He had all through ran a maverick campaign which was largely racist, sexist, anti-muslim, anti-immigrant and far right in the process alienating many. Thus, he was obviously a despised and distrusted candidate not only by a huge chunk of the American public but also the world over. 

Politics no spiritual undertaking 

Yet a political campaign is so unlike a spiritual undertaking lets say a pilgrimage or holy expedition where morality or righteousness is the yardstick. The implied or much unspoken truism is that it is rather a worldly pursuit where strategy, approach and tactics reign supreme. That is, the end justifies the means and if a plan of action can deliver the goods, other considerations are quite insignificant. 

Finally, on January, 20 2017, Barack Obama the first, African-American President of the United States passed on the baton to Donald J. Trump the man he had never thought or imagined would ever succeed him. The onus was now on the world to accept and embrace the unfolding reality of Donald Trump’s four years in the White House’s Oval Office no matter how unsettling and uncomfortable it felt. 

Now those of us who had all along underestimated or belittled Mr. Trump obviously had not had an intercourse with man’s thinking, competence and strong personality. Love him or hate him, he is greatly gifted in winning instincts, skills and ways. A little bit of time rewinding will help us understand the man who ran one of the greatest political fairy tales of the 21st century. 

In 1987, Donald Trump released a business classic “Trump: The Art of the Deal. The book co-authored with top journalist Tony Schwartz is partly a memoir and partly a business management and leadership masterpiece. It was an instant hit that became a best seller putting him on the global spotlight in a big way.  

Sample some of The Art of the Deal’s great and popular reviews. 

“President Donald J. Trump lays out his professional and personal worldview in this classic work-a firsthand account of the rise of America’s foremost deal maker. Here is Trump in action-how he runs his life as he meets the people he needs to meet, chats with family and friends, clashes with enemies and challenges conventional thinking. 

But even a maverick plays by rules, and Trump has formulated time-tested guidelines for success. He isolates the common elements in his greatest accomplishments; he shatters myths, he names names, spells out the zeros and fully reveals the deal makers art. And throughout Trump talks-really talks-about how he does it. Trump: The Art of The Deal is unguarded book at the mind of a brilliant entrepreneur-the ultimate read for anyone interested in the man behind the spotlight.”-Google reads

“Trump makes one believe for a moment in the American dream again,”- The New York Times

“Donald Trump is a deal maker. He is a deal maker the way lions are carnivores and water is wet.”-Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating…….wholly absorbing…..conveys Trump’s larger-than-life demeanor so vibrantly that the reader’s attention is instantly and fully claimed.”-Boston Herald

“A chatty, generous, chutzpah-filled autobiography.”-The New York Post

“The Art of the Deal made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business.”-The New Yorker Magazine

He would soon follow this up with other New York Times bestsellers including Time to Get Tough, The America We Deserve, Think Like a Billionaire, How to Get Rich, Surviving at the Top, The Art of The Comeback among others which have sold millions of copies worldwide but The Art of the Deal is the book that made him a household name the deal that made Donald J. Trump.

Look, Trump ran a phenomenal campaign a fact even acknowledged by his foes like his predecessor Barack Obama while criticizing his party’s candidate Hillary Clinton for what he saw as her lethargy and complacency during the campaigns. And by all means his incredible match to the White House is richly spiced with philosophies, practicality and experiences from The Art of The Deal. A serious reading and study of the masterpiece reveals why Trump had the perseverance, the smarts and the moxie (guts) to go all the way to paraphrase the celebrated American writer Peter Economy

The most important lessons from the book are the eleven incredible negotiating skills and strategies that are the basis of this great reading. Each of these tactics is well illustrated with timely quotes or excerpts from the book and flavoured with a dose of elaboration. Perhaps you may try them in your daily pursuits and who knows? They may work perfectly well and help turn your deals into great winners. 

 

  • Think Big

 

“ I like thinking big. I always have. To me it is very simple: If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.” Remember the celebrated American physician Ben Carson formerly at the prestigious John Hopkins University Hospital and currently Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development once wrote a book titled Think Big. Incidentally, Carson was one of Mr. Trump’s main challengers for the Republican ticket in 2016. Perhaps this goes to show the brilliant, positive and superior mindset and outlook of great personalities and reputations. 

 

  • Protect the downside and the upside will take care of itself. 

 

“ I always go into the deal anticipating the worst. If you can plan for the worst-if you can live with the worst-the good will always take care of itself.” You could add something similar from another top achiever the celebrated African-American writer Maya Angelou: “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst and unsurprised by anything in between.” 

The bottom-line? Approach your deals and affairs with an open-mind, broad outlook and tackle the resultant challenges head on. That is, never ran away from challenges as tackling them actually makes rather than break you and it may also present some new opportunities which you had not seen before or which would not have been revealed had you not started to tackle the challenges.

 

  • Maximize the options 

 

“ I never get too attached to one deal or one approach….I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first.” This point is largely self-explanatory but the emphasis here is:diversify and explore various or more options simultaneously.

 

  • Know your market

 

“ I like to think that I have that instinct. That is why I don’t hire a lot of number-crunchers, and I don’t trust fancy marketing surveys. I do my own marketing surveys and draw my own conclusions.” The market and all its trappings such as feasibility, segment, niche and the marketing process in general, is the turbo that charges a business and determines its survival. Get the market and the process right and the business is home and dry in terms of sustenance, growth and profitability. 

 

  • Use your leverage

 

“ The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.” The timeless wisdom here is: Don’t just do business at any or all costs.”

 

  • Enhance your location

 

“Perhaps the most misunderstood concept in all of real estate is that the key to success is location, location, location… First of all you don.t necessarily need the best location. What you need is the best deal.”

 

  • Get the word out

 

“ One thing I’ve learned about the Press is that they’re always hungry for a good story and the more sensational the better….The point is that if you are a little different, a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold and controversial, the press is going to write about you.” Well this consciously explains why Mr. Trump like George McGovern before him, the Democratic Presidential hopeful in the 1972 contest against President Richard Nixon, ran in the most unusual way. Here is a man who said all manner of of offensive things against certain groups of people namely women, immigrants, Latinos, Hispanic, African-Americans, Muslims etc and got away with it. 

In retrospect,this was surely a tactical decision, conscious and deliberate decision meant to attract publicity to ‘get his word out’ there to the targeted audience-his prospective voters. In other words, he was actually appealing to his constituency in a receptive, engaging way.

 

  • Fight back

 

“In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. I’m very good to people who are good to me. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude all my life, has been to fight back very hard.”  

 

  • Deliver the Goods

 

“ You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.” 

 

  • Contain the costs 

 

“ I believe in spending what you have to. But I also believe in not spending more than you should.”

 

  • Have fun

 

“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”

Conclusion

Once again, the US is in an electioneering period and in three weeks time on November, 3rd 2020, Trump will be seeking reelection for a second and final term in The White House- the world’s seat of power-and once more the odds are even starker than in 2016. Polls have consistently put his Democratic challenger Joe Biden comfortably ahead both nationally and in the key battleground states. 

Thus, he is fighting the battle of his life but wait a minute…..This is the #real Donald J Trump the guy who thrives best in a crisis and knows how best to turn an obstacle into an opportunity and don’t be surprised if sends the former vice president and long-term Senator into retirement in Wilmington in his home state of Delaware. 

And once more he could pull a winning trick or two from “The Art of the Deal.” He is a guy you can’t simply ignore or underestimate. You too could learn a lot of business tactics from this top achiever in the world of real estate industry.  

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