White House

Want to understand Trump? It's as simple as 'The Art of the Deal' for dummies

FILE -- January 30, 2017: President Donald Trump signs an executive order cutting regulations, accompanied by small business leaders at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

FILE -- January 30, 2017: President Donald Trump signs an executive order cutting regulations, accompanied by small business leaders at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.  (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

People are constantly asking me – “What makes the president tick?”

I reply – “The answer to your question is right under your nose. Read the ‘Art of the Deal.’”

If people who are struggling to understand Donald J. Trump just took the time to do their due diligence, they would realize that there is a method to his professional life. There are principles he adheres to and protocols he follows.

Here are some deal points that will tell you what you can expect from President Trump:

Chapter 1: “A Week in the Life” – In 1987, he liked flexibility in his schedule. He wrote that he cannot be “imaginative or entrepreneurial if you have too much structure.”

He loves the phone and the ability to touch as many as 50-100 people a day. In addition, he likes brief meetings and can manage as many as 12 per day averaging about 10-15 minutes per meeting.

His typical business day officially starts at 9am and ends at 6:30pm.

He rarely stops work for a formal lunch. And, when he retires to his residence he continues to make calls well into the evening.

There were no “tweets” in 1987 when he published his book so we can assume phone calls at that time took the place of them at that time.

Chapter 2: “The Elements of the Deal” – Trump aims high. He will keep pushing and pushing to get what he is after.

He will settle on less but only if he feels that is what it will take to close the deal. And, when a deal is closed, he will always claim he got the best of the deal.

Deal-making is an ability you are born with. It is not about how smart a person is, it is about their gut instincts and a person’s ability to act on them successfully.

So, what impresses Trump is a person’s track record, instincts and impression.

To be successful you must do the following: (knowing what you know about the president think of the ways he has applied these to his campaign and to governing so far.)

1. Think Big – Immigration, Repeal and Replace ObamaCare, Tax Reform, etc.

2. Protect the Downside and the Upside Will Take Care of Itself – Don’t be greedy. Get a deal you can work with -- plan for the worst and accept the best.

Compromise is a necessary component.

3. Maximize Your Options – Be flexible. Never get attached to a one-way approach to closing the deal. Consider many approaches, and then settle on the best.

4. Know the Market – Take counsel from the best and brightest who know their “market.” Cabinet Secretaries are the best and brightest in their “markets” and that is who was hired and that is the counsel he will take.

By and large, like the president himself, he has hired government “outsiders” who were successful business professionals in the area of the departments they now lead.

5. Use Your Leverage – Never show desperation for a deal. Deal from strength using all the tools available to you to project strength. Sometimes that requires “imagination and salesmanship.” The U.S. government and the president have a great deal of leverage to exert, economically, militarily, politically, etc.

6. Enhance Your Location – It is not about location. It is about getting the best deal that will yield the best return. So with governing it can be said that if you want to help a city rife with housing needs - building government housing in one location of Detroit may not be as attractive perhaps as homesteading a blighted area in another. Many more people could be helped at a much lower cost to the government.

7.  Get the Word Out – You can have the best policy and solution but if the people don’t know it then they can’t appreciate it.

You must generate interest with your own words and you must create a “buzz.”

You must create excitement.

Trump is about selling himself and thus he sells his products. He does not rely on others to sell. If it is a big enough deal – he does it himself.

The more sensational or outrageous the sale, the better, because the press eats it up.

He does not mind controversy and relishes a good fight with the media (witness Thursday's press conference).

He uses “bravado” as a tool of promotion. He plays to “people’s fantasies” like: “Making America Great Again.”

He realizes that people don’t always thing as big as he does but he can inspire them by giving them hope and a dream that could become reality.

Puffery is allowed as part of the sale because it is a tool allowed in the marketplace.

8. Fight Back – Trump does NOT back down when attacked. Sometimes the only choice is confrontation.

Trump will fight back harder than the attack itself. And, he will fight back on multiple fronts, i.e. courts, press, etc.

He never gives up.

9. Deliver the Goods – Trump realizes that after all the hype, promotion and excitement there must be a deliverable. You have to be able to talk a good game but in the end you must deliver.

The heart of getting a great deal is to have the best brand behind it. The United States is the best brand on the market for a president to work with to accomplish an objective.

10.  Contain the Costs – Spend what is needed but no more. If you feel you are being taken advantage of – pick up the phone and let the party know.

Even if the complaint is minor compared to the overall cost of a project it is important to let contractors know that you will not be taken advantage of. Haven’t we seen President Trump do this with Lockheed on the Strike Fighter and Friday at Boeing?

11.  Have Fun – The excitement of making the deal is playing the game. Trump does not rehash or relive deals because he is on to the next one. He claims that if you enjoy what you do, you will be successful. It is just that simple.

For more insights, you are going to have to read the book. Suffice to say, President Trump is more predictable and understandable if people took the time to learn about him from his own words and examples.

President Trump is applying his business principles to governing. He believes that by applying tried and true principles and protocols that made him successful as a businessman he will also be as successful as a president of the United States.

“The Art of the Deal” was businessman Trump and is President Trump.

Former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush