Words of Wisdom from Donald Trump

While recently promoting his new book “How to Get Rich” in the New York Post, Donald Trump had these suggestions on how to get to the top in business — and stay there:

1. Dress for your culture. The way we dress says a lot about us — before we ever say a word.

2. Let your guard down, but only on purpose. Offer a calculated nugget of information or a provocative opinion to see what the reaction will be. It’s a good way to assess the folks across the table.

3. Be your own financial adviser.

4. Sometimes, you still have to screw them. Be paranoid. I know this observation doesn’t make any of us sound very good, but let’s face the fact that it’s possible that even your best friend wants to steal your spouse and your money.

5. Go with your gut. Being an entrepreneur is not a group effort. You have to trust yourself. There are inexplicable signs that can guide you to, or away from, certain deals and certain people.

6. Be optimistic, but always be prepared for the worst. I’m actually a very cautious person, which is different from being a pessimistic person. Call it positive thinking with a lot of reality checks.

7. Pay attention to the details.

If you don’t know every aspect of what you’re doing, you’re setting yourself up for failure. What do you think of this advice? My overall reaction is, “Can’t Donald Trump come up with seven stronger ideas?” Yes, go with your gut. I’ve written on that subject many times.

In a world flooded with information, third-party accounts, and spurious advice, the wise man heeds his instincts. And, yes, dressing well has benefits. I wouldn’t put it in among my top 10 recommendations for success, but it is something I do and encourage other people to do. “Be optimistic, but always be prepared for the worst.”

This is Trump’s strongest idea. But I don’t like the way he puts it. Being prepared for the worst means recognizing that the worst often happens. In business, the worst sometimes turns out to be something that, in retrospect, you would have very happily settled for.

I’d say you need to be realistic about the future and realistic means understanding that the natural tendency of things is to disintegrate. Expect that to happen — but have enough confidence in your personal strengths to confront and eventually overcome all obstacles that you encounter.

Be your own financial planner? Definitely. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek advice. Get the best possible unbiased advice. And then, in a calm and protected environment, make your own decisions.

Nobody cares about protecting your wealth as much as you do. Many financial advisers care only about shifting some of it from you to them. Take responsibility. You have no choice.

Two of Trump’s points that I disagree with entirely are No. 2 and No. 4. These are the ideas of an egocentric, borderline paranoiac. Am I qualified to make that statement? One year of psychology in college says I am.

And, finally, there is idea No. 7: “Pay attention to the details.” As you become successful, it’s easy to start thinking that minding the details is beneath you.

Granted, you shouldn’t be spending time worrying about who’s taking out the office trash or who’s parking in the wrong parking lot outside. What I’m talking about is minding the details of the core of your business.

That’s something you should never let up on. If you do, you’ll find that — slowly but surely — inefficiencies and losses will start creeping in. Before you know it, things will have gone way downhill.