It’s surreal to see someone you know rise to the highest office in the land. I’m feeling that right now as I watch President-elect Donald Trump go about his transition. As you probably know, I met Trump during my 2004 stint on The Apprentice.
I learned a lot from Trump and continued to watch him during his Presidential campaign. Here are 12 traits I’ve noticed that have served Trump well, and will likely define his Presidency.
Be a great communicator. Trump is widely acknowledged as the master of using social media for political messaging. He was brilliant on Twitter. But his real communications genius is his ability to talk in terms that resonated with his target audience. Instead of using speeches written by others and delivered with a Teleprompter, Trump reached hearts and minds with plain-language, off-the-cuff statements and answers to questions. Thus, he came off as a real guy – not some blow-dried pre-programmed candidate. I expect him to speak to Congress and world leaders in the same manner.
Be decisive and stick to your principles. Trump was pretty much his own campaign team. He made policy and campaign strategy decisions quickly. No matter how much heat he took from critics or the media, he generally stood by his most controversial policy statements, like building a wall on the Mexican border, and his more outrageous comments, such as criticizing Sen. John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam. Trump understands that a leader can never abandon core principles for short-term gain.
Surround yourself with excellence. Trump has always turned to the best and brightest for advice. Look for him to build a team that shores up his weaknesses. First example, naming veteran Washington insider Reince Priebus as his chief of staff.
Take calculated risks. Some of Trump’s biggest business successes have come in situations where he acquired distressed properties and turned them around. In those instances, he saw something others didn’t, and had the courage to take his shot. I think we’ll see him act similarly as he grapples with both foreign and domestic challenges.
Understand the business environment. Trump has an intimate understanding of the business playing field – financial, regulatory and legal. This will serve him well as he works to rev up the economy. His business experience has also given him a deep understanding of healthcare, the economy and debt – all issues that will have to deal with as President.
Be open to new ideas. How many business moguls would have even taken the meeting to discuss hosting a reality TV show? President Trump won’t be excessively bound by tradition or conventional thinking.
Know and believe in your brand. Trump’s swaggering over-the-top style may or may not resonate with you, but it has served the Donald very well. It is unmistakable and identifiable. Don’t look for Trump to abandon or marginalize it anytime soon. In fact, he will likely continue to reinforce it aggressively through his Presidency.
Learn from failure. Not everything Trump has touched turned to gold. He’s had plenty of failures, as evidenced by the lawsuits and business bankruptcies. But Trump always picks himself up, internalizes the lessons and moves on. That trait will serve him well as he deals with a totally new career.
Be diversified. Trump has expanded from real estate into all sorts of other areas – retail, media, publishing, resorts and casinos. I think there is something to be said for a President who doesn’t need the job; he can act on his core beliefs without worrying about getting re-elected or his post-Presidential career options.
Love what you do. The most successful people are those who are able to “harness what you have.” This means marrying their love for an industry or market with their inherent skills. Trump has done that in spades so far in his career. Based on things I hear from Trump insiders, including reports that he works nearly ‘round the clock, I suspect he’s bringing the same passion to the White House.
I understand why some people disagree with Donald Trump’s political views, but I think even his detractors must admit that he brings some amazing traits to the job of President of the United States. I’m looking forward to watching him apply his skills and experience to this new and most important job.