A controversial book choice this month! Love him or loath him, but you just can’t ignore Donald J Trump, the former US President. 

However, many years ago, back in 1987, he published what has been cited as one of the most successful business books of all time. This is long before becoming a reality TV star and then a political life as the US President. Although, interestingly in this book he actually says one thing he would never do would be to go into politics!! 

The writing style is very much Trump and you can almost hear him saying it aloud. Not surprisingly it is full of self-promotion and since the book has been published, Trump is accused of exaggerating his successes and downplaying his failures, although he wouldn’t be the first person to do this in their book! 

Trump Origins

The book is naturally over 30 years old, so times have changed since then, so this has to be taken into account when reading the book. Back then he was still married to Ivana! But for anyone looking for Trump’s insights into real estate and understanding his approach to deal-making and negotiation, then it is a good read.

The book covers his childhood and his early upbringing and the major influence of his father, Fred Trump. He worked with his father in real estate before building his own empire.

The first part of the book covers a week in the life of Trump and shows a day by hour and almost hour by hour review of what he spent his time doing.

Elements of the Deal

Aside from the detailed explanation of the deals and negotiations for land, buildings, developments, hotels and casinos, the key part of the book is all about the deal and he breaks down what he considers to be the different ‘Elements of the Deal’ – in reality some of these are purely real estate related but many link to any deals. Trump says in the book that ‘deals are my art form’ 

The elements are: 

  • Think Big – his view here is ‘I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big. Most people think small, because most people are afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning. And that gives people like me a great advantage’ – he goes on to say he is always looking to make a statement, and one of the keys to thinking big is total focus, being obsessive, driven and single-minded. 
  • Protect the Downside and the Upside will take care of itself – Trump says he always go into a deal anticipating the worst because if you can live with the worst, the good will always take care of itself. 
  • Maximise your Options – Always protect yourself by being flexible. Never get too attached to one deal or one approach 
  • Know your Market – He believes that some people have a sense of the market, and some don’t. He does his own surveys and uses his instinct to decide on deals.  He also says he doesn’t take seriously the critics (I think we knew that one!!) 
  • Use your Leverage – Aim to deal from a position of strength and become creative with leverage where it is not obvious. 
  • Enhance your Location – As Phil and Kirsty would say (no Trump doesn’t reference them!!) the key to success in real estate is ‘location, location, location’ but Trump disagrees as he says ‘You don’t necessarily need the best location. What you need is the best deal’ and location also has a lot to do with fashion. 
  • Get the Word Out – To Trump it is all about the promotion. Use the press as they are always looking for a good story and the more sensational the better. Make them want to write about you. 
  • Fight Back – When treated badly or unfairly, Trumps view is to fight back, albeit the risk is that can also make matters worse. 
  • Deliver the Goods – Ultimately you have to deliver the goods. If you don’t deliver, eventually people will catch on. 
  • Contain the Costs – Spend what you have to, but not more than you should. 
  • Have Fun – The real excitement is playing the game!! 

The book is naturally over 30 years old and times have changed since then, so this has to be taken into account when reading the book. Back then he was still married to Ivana!  

But for anyone looking for Trump’s insights into real estate and understanding his approach to deal-making and negotiation, then it is a decent read.