Think Like A Champion: An Interview with Donald Trump : Under30CEO Think Like A Champion: An Interview with Donald Trump : Under30CEO
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Think Like A Champion: An Interview with Donald Trump

| February 15, 2010 | 17 Comments

Interview conducted by Kristi Frank, JW Dicks & Nick Nanton from CelebrityBrandingAgency.com

Thanks for your time today, Mr. Trump – congratulations on the continued success of The Apprentice – how has the series changed in your opinion, and will we see another non-celebrity series again?

The Celebrity Apprentice raises a lot of money for charities, as well as enhancing public awareness of the charities that are featured. It’s been a wonderful vehicle in the philanthropic arena, and has had terrific ratings. Since this format is working so well and on so many levels, we will keep it that way, but that’s not to say there won’t be another non-celebrity series again. Time will tell.

In Think Like a Champion – in the opening pages you talked about multi-level focusing and how intersecting ideas creates innovation. Entrepreneurs rely on innovation, so can you elaborate on that?

An example of that is the Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1 Central Park West in New York City. I had decided to do a mixed-use concept, which was the first time it had been done. To me it was common sense, although it was labeled ‘innovative’ by others and has been copied worldwide. One thing to consider is that very often, common sense can be innovative and sometimes people are so concerned about being original or creative that they overlook something simple that can still be groundbreaking. I intersected the hotel concept with the condominium concept and put them together – with great results. Thinking on several levels can only increase your capacity for originality – without losing sight of the common sense aspect that keeps usefulness exactly that – useful.

You reference the importance of momentum in terms of both gaining it and sustaining it in your life. Right now because of the economy, there are a lot of people who have lost or are losing their momentum and frankly don’t know how to get going again. What steps would you recommend to jump-start themselves and find new direction?

The most important thing is to remain positive. There are always opportunities. When I started out in real estate in Manhattan, the market was terrible. Everyone was negative. I decided to move forward anyway because it’s what I wanted to do. I had to be more creative and look for ways around the situation, but if I’d listened to what everyone was saying, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s imperative that you continue moving forward to keep that momentum going – even if you seemingly run into brick walls. Nothing of consequence is easy, so you just have to keep at it – every single day.

In Think Like a Champion you describe the book as an example of your approach to life and business. To quote, “I take a topic, dissect it and put it back into a formula that becomes what I believe is solid advice.” What advice would you give to President Obama to direct the country out of its financial crises?

He has to pay more attention to OPEC and what they are doing. They have been allowed to do whatever they want to do, and they have had serious impact on our country and our economy. President Obama walked into a mess and he’s been doing what he can, but this is one area that should not be overlooked.

You acknowledge your father for the role he played as your mentor and champion. Who do you see today as someone who emulates the life of a champion that kids can look up to and follow? And what are the key attributes this person displays?

One reason I wrote Think Like a Champion is due to the positive influence my father had on my life and my resolve to succeed. His integrity of purpose was without equal, and I can’t think of anyone else who comes close. But the key attributes of a champion are a significant sense of purpose combined with the keen conscience of quality on all levels, whether personally or professionally and preferably both. Being rock solid is necessary, and in the long run that approach will always win out. Highs and lows are always a part of life, and riding them out while maintaining integrity, equilibrium and momentum will ultimately be what creates a champion.

You encourage your readers to tell people about their own success as a method of networking to find out if you might have common interests with people. You also use your own name in your business when some people suggest that isn’t a good idea. Would you advise others to brand themselves and their own personality in their business?

Creating a brand takes constant focus. It also requires self confidence. One of the good motivators for branding is if your name is on something, you are immediately more alert to every single detail. The Trump brand is known worldwide for being the gold standard, and that’s not by accident. If you have a product that is worth putting your name on, then I would advise you to do so – provided you have the stamina to keep it at the highest level and to keep at it day in and day out. To me, the Trump brand is personal – it represents my family heritage as well as myself and my children. Do people take their families lightly? Not usually, and the same goes for your own brand. You will never take it lightly and, therefore, your margin for success will be greater. Putting yourself on the line can be a tremendous motivator.

I love your writing on “fear” – a debilitating emotion for so many. How can people overcome the fear, as you put it, “to attempt something”?

It’s important to replace the word ‘fear’ with ‘concern’ – we all have concerns but they shouldn’t be categorized as fears because that will immediately constrict your sense of power. Conquering ‘fear’ can be as simple as analyzing what the so-called fear is, breaking it down, and dealing with each aspect of it. Visualization also helps – don’t think so much about the problem that the solution can’t surface. Focus on the solution. Attempting something means the idea, the visual, is already somewhere in your subconscious and simply needs to be brought to conscious action. Not everyone succeeds at everything, but unless you try, your margin for success will be nonexistent. Go for it – it’s sometimes as simple as that. Being afraid to fail can also be seen as being afraid to succeed. If you look at it that way, you are more likely to get yourself going.

How tough are you on the people in your organization? There seems to be incredible loyalty, but that loyalty is only matched by your high standards. Any advice for small business owners on setting such standards?

I expect people to do their best, and anyone who works for me has to have a strong work ethic. I work quickly and they have to keep up with that tempo or it won’t work. I’ve noticed that people learn by watching, so it’s important to set the standard. I work long hours and love what I do, and everyone who works for me can readily see that. It can be contagious in the best way possible. They can also see that while I may be demanding, I am fair. We get things done and the standard is high, which is good for everyone. People should be proud to have the opportunity to work hard and to do their very best – and I give them that opportunity.

You talk about passion and efficiency being a combination that has helped you be successful. Can something as wild as passion be controlled by efficiency? How do you combine those sensibilities?

It’s passion with constraints. Without passion, there will be something missing, but technique is necessary. Business isn’t much different from the arts. In The Art of the Deal, my first book which is considered a business classic, I mention that deals are my art form. I have the passion but I also have the technique to get things done. If you have the know-how without the passion, a fizzle will result. Passion is a great motivator. It can conquer against great odds because of the energy that it generates.

Your style of negotiation is one of the things you are best known for and is one of the key skills to survive today. In closing, could you talk about the balance you refer to as key to any negotiation.

Negotiation involves consideration – you have to consider what the other side wants. Negotiation can’t be one-sided, and I’ve noticed many people fail to do their due diligence in this area. What do they want? What do you want? You can’t go in expecting to appease everyone, and you can’t go in expecting to get everything you want. That’s where the balance comes in. Be realistic while knowing exactly what you want.


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Category: Entrepreneur Interviews