SALES

7 Smart Things Donald Trump Told Me

The real estate and entertainment mogul spills a few of his secrets. On the agenda: Talent spotting, sales mistakes, and personal branding.
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Donald Trump is almost undoubtedly the world's most famous business leader.  I recently had the opportunity to interview him on the subjects of sales, entrepreneurship, and other business topics.

Trump is a smart man. Here are a few of the most interesting things he told me.

1. The Value of a Personal Brand

"A brand saves time for the public. They will know a gold standard brand because the name will stand for the gold standard. It takes the guesswork out. Chanel did this with her fashion and fragrances and was extremely successful.

"It has been done before, but the Trump brand is very comprehensive--it's not just beautiful buildings, but golf courses, books, a hit television show, a men's clothing line and fragrance, and a hotel collection. This list goes on. But every aspect of the Trump brand will signify the best because that is our standard.

"The first building I put my name on was Trump Tower, which has become a top tourist site and remains as beautiful as when it opened in 1983. That was the beginning, for me, of the Trump brand."

2. Mistakes People Make When Selling

"When people come in with a sales pitch, it's always bad news when they appear to be desperate. That works against them immediately. Enthusiasm is fine, but it shouldn't be extreme."

3. What Makes a Great Entrepreneur

"First-time entrepreneurs have to do their research, and they should be very passionate about what they are doing. Passion is the No. 1 ingredient for success ... because it's necessary in order to withstand the challenges and difficulties one will face.

"You have to completely believe in what you are doing, and a knowledge of business is useful, but I would mention that passion, momentum and focus are crucial. It's good to read books by successful people ... A good one for entrepreneurs is the recent book I wrote with Robert Kiyosaki, Midas Touch."

4. Branching Out Into New Endeavors

"I like learning new things and the challenge that's involved. For example, when I hosted Saturday Night Live, I knew I wasn't a professional entertainer and I'd be surrounded by them, but I thought the experience would be worth it. It was: It went well and everyone had a great time. I had to focus.

"That's the key with entering a new space--you have to focus because it's necessary and there's no back-up experience. I learn quickly and that helps, and I make the effort to learn as much as possible."

5. Spotting Talent

"Self-confidence should be apparent, along with a desire to learn and excel. No one goes into business knowing everything, so it's important to be open to education on a daily basis.

"I learn something new every day and it keeps things interesting. It also keeps you young. But again, they've got to have passion or they won't get too far. Passion is the key to success."

6. Bringing Your Kids Into the Business

"I was their example, and I set the example. That goes for my children and my organization.

"My children saw how hard I worked every day, and that work ethic was apparent since their early years. I am fortunate that they love their work and are very disciplined. I made sure that working with me was their choice–I didn't want them here if they weren't passionate about what they were doing. I haven't really had to mentor them--they watch, listen, learn, and apply. They've done a tremendous job and I'm very proud of them."

7. Upside & Downside of Fame:

"Getting a reservation in a restaurant is very easy, and on the downside, sometimes being mobbed can be disconcerting. However, I'm very grateful for my success and there are very few downsides to mention. Most of it is has been great."

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IMAGE: Flickr photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore
Last updated: May 1, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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