Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is not going away anytime soon. While there are plenty of “what NOT to do” tips we can take from his long and controversial career, there’s no disputing the fact that his billions in the bank came from somewhere. And although Trump is a pretty unique phenomenon (no matter what you do to your hair to try to emulate his signature ‘do), there are definitely some takeaways that we can apply to our own careers.
1. Get investors.
Trump inherited money from the family real estate business, and used this to get started with his own investment career. Now, most of us don’t have millionaire parents (at least not before this week’s Powerball drawing), so we’re not working with that kind of startup capital. But these days we have a ton of great crowdsourcing tools, if you have a small business or an idea that you want to bring to life. Sites like gofundme.com give you the opportunity to bring investors into your professional life.
2. Don’t give up.
Some choices will just not pan out, whether it’s a job you hate or your Atlantic City casino going belly-up. Trump’s professional entities have gone through a number of bankruptcy proceedings over the years, yet here he still is. The most important idea to take from this is that there’s always another opportunity. Learn from your losses and frustrations, and be ready to leave them behind and try again somewhere else.
3. Realize everything comes down to the deals you make.
Trump is synonymous with the phrase “the art of the deal.” It’s debatable whether political deals are exactly the same as business deals, but a philosophy that Trump clearly takes to heart is one that states that you will never get ahead if you don’t negotiate for yourself. That can apply to salary negotiations, working with your boss, or even managing relationships with your colleagues. Always look out for your own best interests.
4. Try new things.
How many billionaire businessmen can you remember hosting Saturday Night Live? When I was a kid, Donald Trump was THE go-to businessman. In later years, he started to branch out more into the entertainment industry—not the most intuitive path for someone with a Wharton business degree. And after that ran its course (with endless seasons of Apprentices and Celebrity Apprentices running around New York trying to organize soft drink launch parties to curry favor with The Donald), he took another odd turn—this time into politics. Reinventing yourself is necessary to stay out of professional ruts.
5. Find talented people around you.
The whole premise of The Apprentice was taking a successful person (Trump) and finding new and fresh talent to bring into his professional orbit. It’s a formula that has worked in a number of industries (every Gordon Ramsay cooking show seems to feature a chef-ship in one of his restaurants as a prize), and can work in the real world as well. No one, not even Trump, can manage an empire alone. The key is to find people around you who bring knowledge and skills that you might not have, to make sure you’re performing your best. If you’re a manager, that might mean hiring diverse talent. If you’re not a manager, that might mean bonding with a variety of different coworkers, or finding a diverse range of people to add to your network.
If you like what The Donald has to say, you are likely already paging through your copy of The Art of the Deal for the third or fourth time. But even if you can’t imagine yourself ever voting for him on Election Day, it’s not the worst thing to stay open to the idea that there are things he can teach us about our own careers.
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