Bottom Line Secrets reports that at an age when most people have contemplated retirement and are slowing down, Donald Trump, at age 63, is busy ramping up his activities. In addition to developing hotels and golf courses around the world (including in the Dominican Republic, Dubai, Washington, DC, and Scotland), he has had resounding success with the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, founded the online education company Trump University, gotten his golf handicap down to three, written another best seller, Think Like a Champion, and concluded the 2009 season finale of his TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, by selecting a 75-year-old dynamo named Joan Rivers as champion. The series has received terrific ratings and will soon be entering its ninth season.
Even in trying times, the charismatic, outspoken Donald Trump manages to stay energetic and stimulated by life. And as we all know, money alone can’t do that for you. So Bottom Line/Retirement spoke with Trump to find out how he stays so productive and keeps challenging himself. Here are his six secrets…
1. RELENTLESSLY CONFRONT YOUR FEARS
You can’t let fear — fear of the new, fear of growing old, fear of failure — settle into place in any part of your life. Fear has a way of making problems bigger than they are. The trick is to recognize your fears and then zap them with a problem-solving attitude, faith in yourself and hard work.
Example: I owed billions of dollars in the early 1990s, and many people thought I was finished. Major newspapers were announcing my demise. The difference is that I didn’t believe that I was finished for one second, no matter what people thought. I simply refused to give in to the negative circumstances and kept working to overcome my challenges.
Useful exercise: Rename your fears. Call them “concerns.” Just using a different word can affect your approach and reactions. “Fears” create blocks that will only hinder your creative thinking. “Concerns” can be broken down into units of thought and dealt with in an orderly and persistent manner.
2. MAKE YOUR COMMUNICATIONS SHORT, FAST AND DIRECT
As someone on the receiving end of conversations with people who do not know how to edit themselves, I know what agony means. I think to myself, How long is it going to take for this person to get to his/her point?
People are very, very busy today. They are overloaded with information. Don’t drone on and on. Don’t force people to sort through it all to get to the important stuff, the good stuff. More often than not, your listeners — whether it’s your family, business associates or those in a social setting — will be grateful for your ability to get to the essence quickly for them.
In any conversation, I give myself an internal deadline. I say as much as I can in as few words as possible. If you practice this technique every day, whether it’s relaying a message to someone, writing a letter or ordering lunch, it will become natural for you — and you will accomplish more.
3. PUT BAD NEWS IN PERSPECTIVE
The way you handle difficult situations in life says a lot about who you are. The same event can wipe out one person but make another more tenacious. Whenever I am in the midst of difficult times, I ask myself, Is this a blip or a catastrophe?
This question reminds me that most problems are temporary if you keep your equilibrium and maintain your momentum. Realize that there will always be blips in your daily life but that you never know when the tide is going to turn in your favor, provided you are paying attention and still working toward something worthwhile.
Example: I was scheduled to make a brief appearance on a boat docked in New York City and then get off before it departed on an evening-long cruise around Manhattan. I was about to leave when I noticed that the boat was already in the middle of the river! I wasn’t too happy about this turn of events, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Instead of fuming and complaining, I adjusted my mood and treated it as an unexpected adventure. I actually wound up having a memorable evening, meeting some fascinating people and getting some great ideas.
4. DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY
Over the years, I have been offered a lot of TV commercials and turned most of them down. But my favorite one allowed me to display a self-deprecating attitude that I think took people by surprise. It’s a commercial for Visa. I’m shown on the top of Trump Tower in Manhattan holding my credit card when a gust of wind blows it out of my hand, down many scores of floors to the street below. Next, I am seen rummaging in a dumpster in search of my lost card. A well-dressed passerby remarks, “And I thought he was doing so well.”
I do take my work seriously — but the ability to laugh at myself keeps my perspective intact, adds an element of fun to my endeavors and makes people realize that I’m a complex person, concerned about more than just ambition.
5. NEVER LET ONE PERSON DETERMINE YOUR WELL-BEING
Several years ago, the now notorious hedge fund manager, Bernie Madoff, approached me in Palm Beach, Florida, where we both owned property. He said, “Why don’t you invest in my fund?” I had enough going on in my own businesses, and I didn’t know much about him, so I declined.
I know a lot of very smart people who became victims of Madoff’s unscrupulous scheme and had their futures severely compromised by it.
Money is not a prerequisite to live an active, exciting life, but it does provide security, confidence and comfort. The takeaway here is that you must be careful with your financial transactions no matter how much you like or respect a person. Never bet the ranch on one person or one person’s idea. Spread your money around with numerous people and organizations. While we have no guarantees in life, we can take precautions.
6. TURN YOUR PASSIONS INTO PRODUCTIVE ACTIVITIES
One thing that I’ve learned about life is that it should be a series of discoveries. Remember how exciting it was to learn to ride a bike? If you can capture that kind of excitement as you age, you will never “stop” — you will always be on your way to finding where you are meant to be in life. Remember, whatever you do at this point in your life, it’s better to love it. Enthusiasm on a big scale equals passion, and passion is what gives you the resiliency to take yourself to amazing places.
Example: I love playing golf, so when I was looking for new real estate projects, I wanted to build the world’s greatest golf course. I spent five years reviewing sites around the world and turned down more than 200 possibilities. Finally, I found a dramatic, 1,400-acre landscape in Aberdeen on the north coast of Scotland with miles of spectacular oceanfront and sand dunes of immense proportion. The place had sentimental meaning for me — I have Scottish roots, and my mother’s first language was Gaelic. I knew this was the right place, but the scope of development and the cost, one billion pounds, was such that no one thought I would get approval to go ahead. In fact, building this course became such a saga that the BBC hosted several documentaries and HBO did a feature. I’ll be breaking ground in 2010.
Bottom Line/Retirement interviewed real estate developer and entrepreneur Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization, New York City. He is author of the recent Think Like a Champion (Vanguard). www.trumpthinklikeachampion.com.