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Donald Trump's Advice For Millennials

The iconic baby boomer offers his unique perspective to up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
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With the baby-boomer generation soon to hand the reins of power over to a younger generation, I thought it would be interesting to ask the business world's most iconic baby boomer--Donald Trump--for some advice to the up-and-comers. In an email interview last week, here's what he had to say.

You possess probably the most recognizable personal brand in the business world. If you were starting out today, what first steps would you take to create your personal brand?

You have to understand that a brand requires integrity on every level. Set the bar high from day one and never let it slide. If starting out today, I would have the same vision I've always had--to create a gold standard brand. Every endeavor reflects that attitude.

On "The Apprentice," you mentor and assess dozens of eager young entrepreneurs. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming generation?

Their strengths are their ambition and their energy to do what it takes to get the job done. One generalized weakness would be their lack of experience which is more evident when arguments erupt. The ability to assess a situation and take the high road is sometimes lacking. However, it is an intense competition so visceral reactions are more apt to happen. In the original "Apprentice" seasons, prior to "Celebrity Apprentice," I realized that anyone who made it on to the show was already a winner. It's a tough process and their tenacity is to be admired.

As you review the early events in your adult life, which experiences and achievements brought you the most happiness?

I was very happy with the success of Trump Tower, which opened in 1983. It's the first building with my name on it. It wasn't easy but it is now one of the top tourist sites in NYC and it remains an iconic building. My children have always brought me great happiness, and I am very proud of them.

You're well-known as a master at creating effective corporate cultures. If you run for political office, how would you go about improving the culture of our government?

The government needs to be run as a business. Negotiating is an important skill in business and diplomatic relations and we need dealmakers with this ability. Also, leadership is crucial and I believe we don't have the best leaders. Teams are important but there has to be strong leadership. As an entrepreneur, I understand this concept and it applies to government as well.

Workers and managers alike often complain about the bullsh*t they encounter at work. What do most companies do wrong that you've done differently inside your own companies?

I allow people to work and think independently. My employees know the worth of the Trump brand and they work hard to keep the gold standard in everything they do. It's actually pretty simple if you find people with the same work ethic, and I'm aware that I set the example.

Also, I don't believe in long meetings or big meetings. I hear that some companies are constantly having meetings and I don't think it's an efficient use of time or energy. I give my people credit for knowing what they should be doing without having to reiterate that as a group. Giving people confidence on their own will contribute greatly to the efficiency of your company.

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IMAGE: Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Last updated: Jan 22, 2014

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 that You Need to Know."

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



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