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I’ve recently encountered a situation that brought me back to something I had learned a long time ago—that it’s not just business acumen, but integrity, that carries you forward in the business world. It’s as simple as keeping your word or, in some cases, remembering what your words were. It seems that, for some people, simple isn’t always easy.
I came from the world of construction and real estate development, which is known for being demanding and difficult, but it also requires precision. There can’t be anything haphazard in construction or people could be injured. “Happenstance” is not acceptable. I’ve applied that approach to everything I do.
I can remember when a visitor to my offices commented on how many blueprints there were. He said, “Some people have skeletons in their closets, but I can see that Trump has blueprints in his.” Sometimes I think people forget that I’m a builder, a developer. That’s my core, and blueprints are important. It took me a while to realize how valuable that background was in forming my discipline as a businessman. It gave me a foundation from which to operate and expand and a tendency toward thoroughness.
There’s integrity to building that cannot be compromised. We’ve all seen the results of hastily constructed buildings in the earthquakes and in other disasters around the world. I will not jeopardize the safety and well-being of people, and if I’m known to be a stickler for details, that is one of the reasons.
Our actions and words will eventually point us toward having a reputation for having integrity or not having integrity. I’ve been around long enough to know how valuable a commodity candor can be. As a businessperson, it’s a strength that can see you through everything.
Another important skill is negotiation. I receive many requests asking me about my negotiation skills, and there’s a balance to successful negotiation that many people fail to see. The best negotiation is when both sides win. There’s a compromise involved, which means careful listening, and when that is achieved, you’ll see results that work. Business is an art in itself, and powerful negotiation skills are one of the techniques necessary to facilitate success.
I give a lot of speeches, and one thing I will always emphasize is the importance of passion. If you don’t love what you’re doing, your margin for success is significantly reduced, and tough times will be much tougher to get through. Passion gives a resiliency that is necessary to achieve great things. Michelangelo is remembered in our time more than any pope or politician of his time simply because he gave the world so much— and against great odds. That guy was intransigent. There is no doubt that he was passionate about what he was doing. When things seem difficult, it’s good to remind yourself of someone like that, someone who kept the integrity of his art first and foremost in his mind and actions.
"Intrinsic value is a value that has been overlooked in today's marketplace...Not everything is dollars and cents, although in many cases it has to be. Look for the gray areas; it will enhance your life as well as your business sense."
The second point I will bring up when it comes to success is that you cannot give up. You have to keep going and moving forward, no matter what is happening around you or to you. It’s a form of positive thinking that is very powerful. A word that comes to mind as a result of this approach is indomitable. I overcame some great setbacks just by being obstinate. I refused to give in or give up. To me, that’s an integrity of purpose that cannot be defeated or interfered with to any significant level. Being steadfast in your intentions can reap great results.
The other word I like to think of along with indomitable is tenacious. In a way, they are almost interchangeable when it comes to business. Being tenacious will make you indomitable in the long run. The old tortoise vs. the hare story still prevails.
With today’s globalization, I will emphasize the importance of paying attention to global events. The United States cannot be isolationist. We may be the superpower, but what that really means is that we have more responsibility. Our position requires us to be more alert, more careful and more empathetic than ever. Power is at its best when it’s used in the most compassionate way possible.
When it comes to business success, it is equally important to know that success carries the same sort of responsibility. Always know that you can be topped and that you can be toppled over. Keeping that in mind will guarantee that you are in your best form for competition. Even if you are currently the top gun, pretend that you are the underdog. It will improve your insight as well as your vision.
Intrinsic value is a value that has been overlooked in today’s marketplace. Everything has a dollar value, and it becomes very black and white. That is necessary in business. We live in a tangible world with tangible needs. But I will say that I often look for the obscure, the gray area, that implies a mystery or a value that is more than money alone can carry. I think most people will know what this is—something that is beyond monetary value. I read a story about an art collector who had amassed a fortune in art, but his prized possession was a painting of his deceased son done by a friend of his son’s. This painting was hung next to works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Miró. But it mattered most to the art collector. Its intrinsic value far surpassed the millions represented by the masters. When the collector died, he bequeathed his entire collection to the person who bought the painting of his son, which was sold for $10.
I mention intrinsic value because, as a businessman, it’s something that gives integrity and even mystery to everyday business. Not everything is dollars and cents, although in many cases it has to be. Look for the gray areas; it will enhance your life as well as your business sense.
As a businessman, I have realized that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” See yourself as having a lot already, and keep your integrity intact. It’s the best way to pave your way to a comprehensive success.