Wrestling with ‘The Donald’

This past Sunday our good friends at ACN asked if I would come out to their convention and interview Donald Trump live on stage in front of their 20,000 reps.

Donald has a reputation of being a tad bit capricious in his commentary and particularly rough on interviewers. So I was ready, I had my knives sharpened in case he started throwing down. He didn’t.

In fact, he was really a sweetheart of a guy. I was asked afterward what surprised me most about the interview. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, as every time I interview an extraordinary superachiever I walk away with the same realization. There really isn’t anything that extraordinary about them. What I mean is their answers to all the probing success questions are usually the same, simple and not extraordinary.

What is extraordinary is that they actually DO the simple principles of success—relentlessly, passionately and consistently. And unfortunately that IS extraordinary.

Here are some of Trump’s answers to my questions (These are not direct quotes, as I am pulling from memory on the plane flying back):

Most important advice to a new entrepreneur? Trump: Be ready to work—hard and long.

Advice to leaders who lead large groups of people? Trump: Be good to your people. Genuinely care for your people. Help them succeed.

When you were a billion dollars in debt and everyone wrote you off as done for, how did you handle it, what did you do? Trump: I didn’t do anything any different. I kept working hard. I didn’t listen to other people’s opinion of me. I just kept working hard. I went to a dinner I didn’t want to go to and made a relationship that turned it all around for me in a single day. If I hadn’t continued to push myself to do what I didn’t want to do, I probably wouldn’t be on this stage today.

My editorializing: No matter how down you are, you are always one meeting, chance encounter or circumstance away from a complete turnaround. Just keep moving forward and working hard.

Mindset, approach to business? Trump: I approach problems, negotiations, potential deals with a positive mindset. See what’s possible, not what’s negative. At the same time don’t just walk around in positive la-la land. You have to always protect the downside. There is a time to think negative so you can protect yourself and the potential downside, but approach life and every situation with a general positive attitude and a positive expectation.

Advice you recently gave to 10-year-old CEO Joey McGuire? 1. Stay in school. 2. Work hard. 3. Never give up. 4. Never, never, never ever give up.

Wow. So to make several billion dollars, this the formula: 1. Love what you do (was a given based on the audience he was talking to). 2. Work hard. 3. Don’t listen to other people’s opinion of you. 4. Keep working hard even when you don’t want to. 5. Love and care for your people. 6. Never, never, never ever give up.

That’s it. And I am not kidding, that is it. Simple isn’t it? And this is generally the same answer I get no matter what superachiever or billionaire I interview. That’s a clue. Well, more than a clue—it’s the whole mystery solved.

The difference between you and The Donald is actually DOING the above principles—relentlessly, passionately and consistently.

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