How to get rich | Donald J. Trump


Published in: 2004

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The book was written in 2004, at a time when Trump was at the height of his real estate career and a well-known for his attandence on the popular TV-show “The apprentice”. The book is about Trump’s recipies for success in business as well as in life.

DEALMAKING 101. Dealmaking is about persuasion, not power. A great negotiator is a chameleon, changing strategy depending on the person on the other side of the table. He or she also understands the counterpart very well. What are their primary goals? How do they usually negotiate? Also keep your cards close to your chest – the less you reveal the more flexibility you will have as you gather information on the potential deal. To speed up a deal, one tactic is to show a lack of interest in it – this will often make the other side put in some effort to get something going.

“If the other party to the transaction wants to acquire something you own, let them convince you that you really don’t want it or need it. In doing so, they’ll convince you of just how badly they want it.”

STAY FOCUSED. In the 1980s magazine headlines read “Everything he touches turns into gold” and Trump believed it. He had gone straight from school to richness and had begun to think it was easy. In the late 80s he lost focus and was traveling to Europe to attend fashion shows. Then the real estate market crashed. Trump lost everything and was $9.2bn in debt with personal guarantees. When he passed a homeless man in the street, Trump realized that that man was $9.2bn richer than himself. With a lot of work and the help of some understanding bankers Trump survived the early 90s and got back on track. But he learned the lesson: stay focused.   

DON’T LOSE MOMENTUM. In the 1950s a man name William Levitt was the king of real estate. In the late 50s he sold his company for $100m and retired. He married what later turned out to be the wrong woman and moved to France. Years later, he got a chance to buy back his old business, after the new owners had run it into huge problems. He got it back cheaply and thought he could easily turn it around – which was not the case, and he ran it into bankruptcy. In 1994, Trump saw Levitt at a party and asked how he was doing; “not good, Donald, not good – I lost my momentum”. “I was out of the world for 20 years, I came back, and I wasn’t the same”. If you lose your momentum, others will pass you, and you might not be able to get it back.

BRAND YOURSELF. Trump was originally going to call the Trump Tower “Tiffany Tower”. He asked a friend about the decision and got the answer: “when you change your name to Tiffany, call it Tiffany Tower”. Branding yourself will hurt a bit now and then, but will pay give huge rewards over time.

OPTIMISTIC BUT PREPARED. In business as well as life, there will be a lot of ups and downs. They are inevitable and part of the game. If you are prepared, you can ride them out and maybe eventually even prosper from them. If you don’t know every aspect of what you’re doing, down to the smallest details, you’re setting yourself up for future problems. Know what is going on in your market and be the most knowledgeable player in your field.

“Can I handle it if it doesn’t go well? Will I be asking myself later, why did I ever do that? What was I thinking? I’m actually a very cautious person, which is different from being a pessimistic person. Call it positive thinking with a lot of reality checks.”

AN EYE FOR AN EYE. Trump is well-known for his revengefulness. He stays on his guard and says that it often pays to be paranoid. He believes that if someone hurts you, you should go after them as fiercely as you can.

“I know this observation doesn’t make any of us sound very good, but let’s face the fact that it’s possible that even your best friend wants to steal your spouse and your money.”

HAVE AN EGO. Trumps believes that having a well-developed ego is a positive attribute. The ego is the center of our consciousness and gives us a sense of purpose. A person with no ego will seldom get much done. But a person with too big of an ego will often get into problems. So there need to be some balance to get the right force.

GET A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT. The statistic of marriage speaks for signing a prenuptial agreement. But signing one does not mean that you do not believe in your relationship. It means that you understand that a relationship is a complicated matter and that a lot can happen in the future. Trump has seen many failed marriages, without prenuptial agreements, leading to disastrous and infected outcomes.

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