As we know The Donald is #94 on Forbes Richest List with an estimated net worth of 2.9 billion. In a recent interview conducted by his grown children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka for the Forbes.com video network Donald Trump shares his best quick advice for success as a real estate developer.
1. Always Have a Variety of Choices
Ivanka: One of the things we talked about is your ability to see a proposal and get to the core of it to see if it’s a viable option for you. How are you able to do it? What gives you the strength? How do you view all the enormous amount of proposals that come to you each day?
The Donald: I have a lot of good people that work for me and they bring me lots of proposals and I’m a big believer in looking at lots of different things.
You have a choice. You have a menu. It’s like going to a fine restaurant. Usually the better the restaurant the more things you see on the menu. You have a menu of things. And then you chose the one or two or three that you like.
I know people that look at one deal and then they do that one deal and they don’t see a big display in front of them. Usually that one deal doesn’t work out so well.
I like to have a big choice, a big variety. It’s very important to me. Then I’ll choose a percentage of them that I think are good. You get to see a big beautiful menu and that’s what I like.
2. Be Flexible and Change with the Times
Ivanka: You’re one of the few developers out there even from the luxury level who is really able to do every single side of real estate from golf courses, incredible single family homes, condominiums, hotels. How do you manage that sort of diversity of projects?
The Donald: It’s all in the imagination. It’s having an architectural flair. It’s in the location. We have a site that you folks know every well. 300 acres right in Los Angeles, in Pales Verdes, which is a fantastic location. It’s 2 and 1/2 miles on the Pacific Ocean and we’re building mansions there. We’ve just built a golf course that’s rated the number one course in the state of California. It’s just a fantastic piece of property.
When I saw that [tag-ice]property[/tag-ice] I immediately knew I wanted it. After I got it, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I had to go through a lengthy zoning process. They felt very good about me and very good about Trump and the Trump brand. And they approved this massive project and it’s been a great success as you two know very well.
I really like looking at different things. I like executing. Sometimes I change. You can’t be totally blind sighted by one goal. You may look at one site and you may have an office building in mind. You can’t keep that in mind because maybe all of the sudden it works much better for a residential building.
"Chicago" is an example. Seven Springs in an example. We were going to do a big golf course with houses. We ended up changing it a couple of times. You have to change with the times. Like a fighter says, you have to go with the punches. I think I’m very flexible in that way.
I’ll take a piece of land- it may be a much different project when I conceived it and bought it and then five years later it’s totally different. The man thing is to make it really terrific, really great and make it work.
3. Keep Focused.
"You have to stay focused. When times got bad, I kept focused. That’s why I came out strong. I stayed focused during the real estate depression of the early 90’s. Many of my friends went bankrupt and went out of business."
Yes, The Donald does have relevant sage advice and all of us would be smart to listen. After all, he’s the wise older tycoon sitting in a high office with windows overlooking such glittering crown jewels as the Trump Tower. (He starts his kids off in small windowless offices, we’re told).
He does have drive, discipline and a hard business instinct. He believes in himself. I can’t picture him reading touch freely personal growth books like Tony Robbins’ Unlimited Power.
Even the tiniest [tag-tec]Trump[/tag-tec], born last Spring, has a large life-sized stuffed animal lion with an open mouth in his nursery. Seeing a plaything like that would be enough to scare most children, but these kids are being conditioned to stand firm on their [tag-self] real estate[/tag-self] locations even in the cradle. I just wonder what that "poor" baby goes through every night once the lights have been turned out.
But there’s actually a fourth reason for The Donald’s wild ride to success which has nothing to do with real estate. That’s his ability to promote mainly himself, which he refers to as the Trump brand. I couldn’t help but snicker just a little as I noticed a copy of one of his books,No Such Thing as Over Exposure, which had been strategically placed behind Ivanka where we could certainly see it. Kind of makes me wonder if these two kids grew up with pictures of their Dad, complete with a pouty Mousolini-like expression, always dressed in dark suits with wide ties, staring down at them from all over the house(s).
But we’ve got to hand it to him on the name. Let’s be honest. He started out with a great name. "Trump". I like it. You can easily spell it. It has chutzpah.
Just the ring of a name like that can get an average Joe to the starting gate. But The Donald is no average Joe by any standards. He’s an icon. He icons himself. And he does it shamelessly.
This reminds me of country music diva Reba McIntyre signing 8X10 glossies of herself even while she was leisurely sitting around her pool. I guess the lesson here is there’s no such thing as too much publicity. You can’t depend on the hired help to do it all for you. You’ve got to promote yourself, yourself.
But behind all the beautiful board room interiors there’s a machine at work. Did you catch what he said about Pales Verdes? The zoning battles and all? It kind of makes us believe we’re looking at the Patton of real estate. The Donald will get out there and fight. In fact, that may be the main reason why he wins more than he loses. He’s a military man at heart. But unlike Patton, this Donald won’t be fading away any time soon.