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
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
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
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
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
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