How to be a success: 5 things I learned from Donald Trump

ve him or hate him, you have to admit Donald J Trump is hugely successful. He has built an empire, spread his name all over the world and against many odds was elected the president of the United States of America.

I don’t necessary agree Trump’s personality, his politics or his way of going about things. Actually, in many ways I disagree strongly, but I have to admit that Donald Trump has helped me learn a few invaluable lessons, and for that I must be grateful.

Read on to learn the valuable lessons I learnt from Donald J. Trump.

When I started out on my own mission to achieve success, it was around the same time Donald Trump was ‘shockingly’ elected president. Given he’d just pulled off the ‘unbelievable’ I felt I needed to know more. So I chose to read more about him and I came across a bright, little, red book that caught my eye: Trump Nation by Timothy O’Brien. This is an interesting book and I encourage you to read it for yourself.

I learned a lot from reading the book and subsequently watching documentaries on Netflix and listening to him online. He has plenty of good things to say but the five things that I learned, almost exclusively, from Donald Trump, which were extremely valuable for my development are as follows:

1. The Power of Confidence
2. The Importance of Branding
3. The Need for Financial Literacy
4. The Edge of the Winning Mindset
5. And the Advantage of having a Thick Skin

These vital lessons have forced me to change myself to become a more success oriented person.

1. The Power of Trump Confidence

Most people would automatically say that confidence is a key skill to being successful. And nearly anyone who’s heard of Donald Trump knows he has confidence. Actually, I’ve often heard of him being described as a conman or a confidence man.

I think the best way I’ve heard Trump’s confidence summarised, was as follows by Rex Huppke writing for the Chicago Tribunal:

“If Donald Trump were writing this column, it would be the finest newspaper column in the history of journalism.

Anyone who thought otherwise would be a dope and a loser and would know nothing about column writing. The piece would be amazing — period — and it would probably win a Pulitzer…”

I think the author was aiming for hyperbole here, however, it does sound exactly like Trump’s mode of operation. Everything he does he believes is the best. He even dismisses all the arguments before they come, usually with anecdotal evidence plucked from ‘somewhere’.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I will ever have this level of confidence and I don’t know that I even suggest trying to be that confident. This level of confidence leans on the side of delusion.

The Lesson

However, if you want to be successful you need to be confident. If you are not confident you won’t even try. 

This is a valuable lesson. I don’t actually think Donald Trump is that much better than me. He is intelligent, but then a lot of us are intelligent. He is well educated, but education is something we all can get. 

For me, confidence is Trump’s big key power advantage.

So if he can be that confident, then why can’t I?

I’m not saying being confident will make me a global name or a world power, but if I want success, I need to be confident.

2. The Importance of Trump Branding

Building on confidence is Trump’s truly great strategy of branding.

Now, I know that Trump actually made his money from property development, selling books and courses, and having a huge inheritance. But what has given him huge power, what’s driven him to the White house, and what enabled him to survive financial setbacks and be the king of the comeback, I believe is his brand.

Trump has plastered his name everywhere and with that name he has tagged on a message, accurately or not, that ‘Trump’ means success and extreme wealth.

It’s that brand which has driven his greatest successes. Just think of the Apprentice and mobilizing American voters. He has put in the hearts and minds of people all over the world that ‘Trump’ is larger than life; it means success and it’s a dream. That dream has filled people with passion and we know that passion sells. (Please see my earlier article on selling.)

Trump Brand

Tim O’Brien quoting from interviews shows the power of the ‘Trump’ brand:

“Mainstream America loves Donald because he’s successful and because he enjoys it. He enjoys his money. Most white businessmen who’ve had the success he’s had are more about getting the toys than enjoying the toys. Donald enjoys his toys and he plays with his toys. He’s the official bling-bling white man.”” (O’Brien 2016, p. 198)

For his audience he shows them the dream, the dream of being successful like Trump and having it all, and enjoying an amazing life at the very highest level of society. This dream ignites the passions of people and they will buy whatever he sells (even a wall) so that they can be part of it.

When I started out on this mission, I was the type of person to think brands were false and fake and were images to try to fool people. I felt that if you were honest and you just showed people your product or service and you made it good value, then you would win them over. This is not how things work.

Trump taught me the power of a brand.

And since then I’ve come to see that branding is essential. Apple, Coke, Amazon, etc. everything needs a brand. Also, as we move more into a digital world of avatars on the internet, we too as individuals need a brand.

What I learned from Trump, is that it’s very important to build a brand.

How did he do it?

• Trump won his brand by starting his empire in Manhattan – he refused to settle and he wanted his brand to say, “Trump is at the center of what’s happening”.
• Trump aimed for over the top opulence – his niche was luxury and extreme success. So Trump tower had to be gaudy and full of marble and gold. This was the dream and this is what people saw.
• Trump had victories – he knew it was vital to win and to appear to win.
• Trump is everywhere and his name is literally up everywhere and he tells everyone about it.
And so on and so on.

If I and you want to be successful we need to consider what our brand is. You need to consider what your work says about you, what your product says about you, what your appearance says, and you need to get your name out there and you need to make it mean something.

3. The Need for Financial Literacy

The third big lesson I learned, which wasn’t exactly exclusive to Trump’s teachings, was financial literacy. However, it was from Trump that the lesson really sank in.

Prior to beginning my study of success, I had no idea about investing and big business. I knew it was good but I was too scared to get involved. 

What I learned from Trump, is that you can be hugely over stretched, and hugely in debt, and hugely in trouble, but if you understand finance and you are resourceful, then you can still win.

Trump’s highly celebrated comeback also showed that even after a great fall, such as his Casino ventures, you can still go on being successful. You can still hold on to a brand and comeback to eventually be even more successful.

Financial Literacy

We don’t have time here to cover all these lessons on financial literacy. However, it’s something I now take very seriously and that’s thanks to the inspiration of Donald Trump.

Though I will add that I have no intention of going bankrupt and I would never be quite so brazen with the use of debt.

The overall lesson is that you can protect yourself so that you can take calculated risks and you can try to achieve a higher level. But you need to understand the game and you need to know the language of the game if you want to play seriously.

4. The Edge of the Winning Mindset

Again, another lesson that I learnt prior to Donald, but one that he really highlights is the winner mindset. As you may often hear him say on various sources: “never, ever, give up”.

Now, I know I learned a lot more about mindset and states from Tony Robbins than I will ever learn from Donald J. Trump. However, the big lesson I got from Trump was persistence. From reading the book Trump Nation, you get the sense of many times when Trump must have been under huge pressure and times that most of us may have folded our cards and said ‘ok, there’s no way I can win here’, but Trump never quits. He always keeps believing and keeps going.

So just when it looks like he’s baked, along comes the Apprentice and he’s right back in the game bigger and better than ever.

The other side of this winning mindset is that Trump thinks big, ‘massive’, and he never settles.

Trump didn’t want to build across the river, because that was small time, he built in Manhattan, because that was big time. He avoided starting small and moving up to big, he went straight to the million dollar deals. And he refused to go modest with Trump tower, he went over the top opulent.

Winning Mindset

The winning mindset is what leads to success. Those who are truly successful think big and don’t settle. The real winners set out to do big things and they never give up.

So love or hate him, I really have to admire Trump, because he had a massive dream, a dream that would scare the hell out of most people. And then when it looked like it was going to be too hard, he never quit, he never surrendered, he stayed in the fight and kept going until he found a solution.

For myself, I can definitely get the think big side of things. I want to build wealth, but I want to think big, so that I can add real value and do something substantial. However, it’s that never say die attitude that I need to work on.

As much as I hate to admit it, I still fear the fear. I would love to start a business but I’m still one baby step after another. However, learning my lessons I’m stepping boldly and while they might be small steps, I’m committed to not turn back. I will go forward. I will act like a winner.

5. And the Advantage of having a Thick Skin

No one can deny Donald Trump has thick skin. He has enemies, lots of enemies and he doesn’t care about them one bit. Well at least that’s the way it looks. 

Trump feels free to say what he thinks, whatever he thinks, and he takes all sorts of criticism, a lot fair, and a lot quite unfair. For example, his hair. I know he doesn’t seem to care what they all say about his hair, though if I was in the same situation I think that it would knock my confidence and seriously affect how I act in public.

Also, as argued above, he can certainly handle pressure. If I was facing a mountain of debt spiraling out of control, I’d be feeling like a complete failure and it would knock my confidence and effect my ability to operate.

My Lesson

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t worship Trump and I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve a whole lot of criticism. But I do have to admire that he can do what I can’t. He has thick skin and I don’t. That’s a huge advantage. He does what needs to be done and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

So, this is one area I need to start working on. Why do I really care what every one thinks? For now I can guess, something to do with needing acceptance. But it doesn’t matter, I know what’s right and now is my time to go for it.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, I have learned some hugely valuable lessons. However, I don’t agree with everything and I don’t necessary want to emulate Donald’s personality.

I personally just have to thank Donald for teaching me these valuable insights and I will hopefully have more to add when I read more of his material.
If you enjoyed this article, look out for my next success role model article, which will most likely be Robert Kiyosaki or Tony Robbins, as they are the current people I’ve been reading and listening too.

Thanks for reading, and I’d like to encourage you all to start reading about your own heroes and sharing your lessons.

If you would like to read about my last great book review, check out what I learned from Mark Aardsma’s, Investing With Purpose.

Thanks for allowing me to share and I truly hope you all keep working on your own mission and never stop striving for success.

2 Replies to “How to be a success: 5 things I learned from Donald Trump”

  1. Well, that was a pretty fascinating read, not going to lie. I really hope you continue to write. Probably one of the more informative pieces I’ve read on this subject. Thanks!

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