Review, thoughts, notes & brief analysis of Trump’s Art of the Deal

By: Donald J. TrumpTony Schwartz
Narrated by: Kaleo GriffithDonald J. Trump
Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
Release date: 05-31-16

Listen to a sample or see other reviews here

Introduction

Let’s face it, you’re getting the book because you want an insight into The Donald after all the craziness that was the election and what’s happened afterwards… right?

Great.  I honestly think that’s great idea.  And… as the foreword that Trump actually gives himself to the release of the audiobook, he knows it too.

He still hails it as a great production, and honestly I agree.

If you want the insight into the man, the way he thinks, some history, even just how the book is written to try & find insight into the man, then this is very decent source material.  Just remember to think critically, and takes notes.

Criticism to the book or to Trump

Some will say that he made a fairly crappy deal when it came to the ghost writing of the book as the ghost writer (Tony Schwartz) in this case took 50% of the earnings of the book. (Normal ghost writers get more like 10% or a lump sum payment)

But I don’t see it as a bad deal for Mr Trump.

Trump has money, he doesn’t necessarily need more of it; what he does need though, is good publicity.  Not just any publicity, but good publicity. And for the chance for people to pay him whilst he’s getting it, and barely putting in any effort….sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

The biggest criticism from me is that the book reads a lot like a self-promotion, pushing a positive awareness of him and his companies kind of thing.  Telling only the good side of things, how he does business and who he deals with.

Everyone he’s ever worked with is ‘the best’, all his project managers are ‘extremely good at what they do’, everything has a big positive on it.

Which is fine, I mean after all it is an autobiography, even if its written by a ghost writer.  At the end, Mr Trump had final say about what stories went in and what didn’t.  If you have control over how an audience perceives you, you’re not going to make it overly negative, unless you can’t ‘learn some lessons from it’ or something that after a while shows the audience how it became a positive, or made you more human or something.  But the book doesn’t do that… it just leaves it out completely.

Everything is apparently going incredibly well in the book, the projected incomes are all way above targets, but as we know from documentaries after the fact, that this just wasn’t true. That casinos etc were eventually losing money.  And he must have known that at the time.

But in reality, considering that he had to placate money lenders, writing all this down in a book and giving the info to the public may not have been the smartest choice either.

I would think if it was a biography, then there’d be some different stories for sure.

I think it’d be difficult to read his book and not question your own preconceived ideas of Trump being sexist or racist, when you can easily look up all this information.

This was written around 30 years ago when he was 40 and this is when he was doing business at around 30.  He was hiring just whoever was best for the project, if it’s a woman, it’s a woman; if it’s a gay guy, it’s a gay guy.

Narration & Ghost writing

The book is written incredibly well, it really captures the essence of who Trump is (albiet with a positive lens), how Trump conducts business, the way he speaks, the way he thinks, and how he views the world.

I truly believe the ghost writer, Tony Schwartz, did a fantastic job with this book.

And yes, it was written by a ghost writer, no matter what Trump might have said in the past.  However, because the book is written with Trump’s inflections, way of speaking etc in mind, it reads exactly like how you would imagine Trump speaks.

Here are 3 examples:

  1. “I like the casino business, I like the scale, which is huuge, I like the glamour, and most of all I like the cash flow. If you know what you are doing, and you run your operation reasonably well you can make a veeery nice profit. If you run it very well you can make a ton of money”

Its written in the way Trump speaks. Gives it more credibility that its actually him speaking/ writing.

It also contains simple language and repetition of adjectives. Emphasising the word ‘huge’ and using the word ‘very’ over and over.

I believe Schwartz did this on purpose to capture Trump’s simple way of speaking. Everyone can understand him. Even primary school kids. There’s no big words here.

For the narration of the book, he actually pronounces it exactly like Trump would say it which is pretty funny, yet accurate.

  1. ‘Tremendous’  Words like this are used a lot.

Therefore it makes me think that the author spent a lot of time with Trump. And felt these words were important to put in.

3. He seems to use an adjective once in a sentence and continue to use it for the rest of the sentence.

Very good, very luxurious, very glamorous.’

Totally reliable, totally dependable and totally honest.’

Swartz (the ghost-writer) sell Trump very well throughout the book, he sells him as a reliable, trustable person making his decisions on common sense, and has a down to earth nature. And comes across as a straight talker. When it’s shit, he’ll say it’s shit, he calls it out.

I believe this book would have been incredibly different if it was read by trump. The guy they actually got to narrate the book is smooth and honest sounding.
And really makes you want to trust him, after a while you forget that it’s not Trump speaking, and I’m sure many people ended up trusting Trump more because of it.

I also really wonder how much creative license the ghost writer had, and how much was based on the interviews he had with Donald Trump.  I am aware that Schwartz had access to listen in on Trump’s phone calls during the time, and he must have got a sense for how he ‘deals’ with people as well.

I guess that Schwartz had to do quite a bit of research to verify everything as well.

Impact of the book on the elections

I honestly think this book had a huge impact on the elections.

There were people that must have read it before when it originally came out, and felt like they got to know Trump at that time.

And then there’s those that must have picked it up in the run up to the 2016 election, and with the audible book having a preface by Trump himself, it just made it that much more easy to consume.

I think the majority of people in the lead up to the election read/ listened to this book to try and figure out exactly how & what the soon to be President was thinking… and possibly find any skeletons in his closest.

I believe those that finished the book, actually came away thinking that they had a much deeper understanding on who he is and what he’s all about.  I think that they also believe him to be much more trustable than he comes across in the media, especially in the lead up to the election.

This book paints him as a smart (in his field) man, trustable and something to aspire to.  I honestly think the narration (not by Trump) and the way that the ghost writer (Schwartz) wrote it adds to this trust worthy feeling you get from the book.

While there were many things that I questioned, and took notes on, for me to then look up later, I could understand if many people did not do that at all, and just took it at face value with trust.

I’ve been trying to find statistics on just how many people bought this book, but its been difficult

Print copies: Many accounts state that its sold more than 1 million copies.
Audio books:   ?
Torrent pdf versions + torrent audio book copies:  ??

To find the penetration of a book like this one & how many it might have influenced, its important to know that there’s many people that would have simply borrowed it from a library, borrowed it from a friend, or downloaded it illegally as “I’m not lining the pockets of some dick that I hate”
So, just stating 150,000 copies, or even 1 million copies doesn’t really mean anything.

If anyone knows where I can find this information… I’d really like to know.

My point is, that I think this book was downloaded en-masse coming up to the election, and since then as well.
And I think with just a few careful prods into knowing just how horrible Hillary was, this is the kind of book that could have turned around the minds of thousands of people who felt they knew Trump better with such a book, saw the media as un-trustable, and maybe convinced themselves that Trump was just ‘working the media’, and thus ignored it, and then voted for Trump on the basis that he wasn’t Hillary or wasn’t part of the establishment…. Whilst also ignoring all the things that he mentioned in the book that then went on to fail.

On the Media

In the book Trump/ the author/ lessons from Trump’s life .. brings up the media a lot. Like a lot, a lot.  It should be obvious to anyone who’s read the book + to anyone that followed along in the 2016 presidential campaign that Trump has a certain way with the media/ press.

He sometimes can’t get enough of them, he sometimes calls fake news on organisations, yet what he does well, is not let certain cases get to him. Most people would be destroyed by most of the things the press attack him with, move on, next story from someone else… but not Trump.  He rebounds, ignores it, finds a new angle, works the press, and over a period of time, gets what he wants.

As far as I heard, he doesn’t mention that he only got a loan for 1 million dollars from his father. Many people reference it from the book. But pretty sure it’s not in there. He just makes out that he went to work for the family company, did the casino stuff, worked with partners for financing, didn’t’ risk any of his own money because got favourable conditions most of the times, and went from there.

There was nothing about loans, there was obviously nothing about the 300 or so million that Fred Trump apparently laundered through one of Donald’s casinos.

So no sure why this is an often quoted figure.

If Fred Trump really did launder 300 million through the casinos, then 4.5 billion dollars doesn’t seem like a great amount to be worth afterwards.  I feel like he could have made similar money, parking it in an investment fund.

Media related points

Be straight when you talk to reporters.

Try to frame a positive answer.

“If someone asks what negative effects the world’s tallest building might have, I turn the tables and talk about how much new Yorkers deserve the world’s tallest building”

Me. Isn’t that just not answering the question?

“I call it truthful hyperbole, it’s an innocent form of exaggeration”  [highlighted quote]

“If you do things a little different or a little outrageous or do things that are bold or a little controversial, the press tend to write about you.”

“I’ve always done things a little different, I don’t mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious”

Me. Definitely true, also on the political front for that for sure.

I wonder if he was doing things in a controversial way, just to get the press attention? And even if he wasn’t and he truly believed in the weird way he was doing things… how many people believed he was doing it just to be controversial but didn’t mean any of it, instead just wanted the free press coverage?
It’s a possibility based on the way he deals with the press in his early years, and in the book.

Doesn’t trust marketing surveys, does his own surveys.

Me. That probably played into well to his political lead up.

Doesn’t trust critics or consulting firms.

Critics he says, mainly write to impress each other.

Hahha. I think that might be right.

He says, they have no idea what the public wants.

“When I do give interviews I keep them short. That interviewer is in and out in 20 mins”

“Contrary to what a lot of people think, I don’t really like doing press conferences. They ask a million questions, and I don’t really enjoy talking about my personal life, nonetheless, I understand that getting press can be very helpful in making deals, and I don’t mind talking about that”

I just choose to be very selective.

Me. I think this thing with press and social media is an extension from these early days where he’s killing it with the press.

One of his lawyers is gay, and Trump doesn’t care, it’s not what he is, it’s what he can do.
Me. Which I believe it’s the way it should be.
Also, completely not in line with what the media says about him at all.
Again, this is something that the readers of Trump will instantly not trust the news networks that claim he IS anti-gay, anti-black etc… because that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from dealing with politicians over the years, it’s that the only thing guaranteed to force them into action, is the press. Or more specifically fear of the press”

“You can make all sorts of promises, threats, contribute money to their campaigns, and generally it gets you nothing. But raise the possibility of bad press, even in an obscure publication and most politicians will jump.”

Decent Lessons/ quotes from the Book

“Sometimes it pays to be a little wild”

“In the end, it never pays to be in too much of a hurry”

“It’s not how many hours you put in, it’s what you get done while you’re working”

“The most important thing in life is to really love what you’re doing. Because that’s the only way you’ll ever be really good at it”  – Fred Trump

“Money was never a big motivation to me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game”

“You can dream great dreams, but they’ll never amount to much if you can’t turn them into reality at a reasonable cost”

If you see someone overcharging you for something call them and complain.

“the day I can’t pick up a phone and make a 25c call, to potentially save 10,000 dollars is the day I close up shop”

“life’s losers are those people who gain great satisfaction from stopping the plans of others.”

“If they had any real talent, they’d be doing something constructive. But they don’t , so they aren’t.”

“If you’re fighting for something you believe in…. even if it ends up alienating some people along the way….Things generally work out for the best”

A full page ad in the new York times may cost 40,000 dollars. But a moderately received article written about you is free, and worth a lot more than 40,000.

“Even negative stuff can be good”

“Attention creates value.”

“The worst thing you can do in a deal is seem desperate to make it.

The best thing you can do is deal from strength.”

Leverage is having something the other guy wants, or better yet, needs.

“Leverage often requires imagination and salesmanship.

You have to convince the other party that it’s in their interest to make the deal”

“Know your market”

“One of the keys to thinking big is total focus. I think of it as a controlled neurosis”

“Which is a quality I’ve noticed in many highly successful entrepreneurs, they’re obsessive they’re driven, they’re single minded, sometimes they’re almost maniacal, but it’s all channelled into their work”

“Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, less is more”

“I hate lawsuits and depositions, but the fact is, if you’re right, you’ve got to take a stand, or otherwise people will walk all over you”

“If you’re going to make a deal, you got to go to the top.”

Each tier down, it is padding or a barrier.

Go for the controlling interests of any major business decision.
Controlling interests, board partners etc., THEY need to be swayed.

From the people that I’ve personally dealt with in business, it sounds like there’s many that have read this book and taken the lessons in this book to heart.  They may not tell people that they’ve read this book, but are definitely  propagating messages from it.  As I’ve mainly done business with Chinese business people, I find it interesting that this was one of their ‘go to’ ‘how to do business like a business champion’ kind of books, that Trump’s book was one that they immediately went to do get business sense from.

To be fair, there’s a lot of good information in the book. I wonder how much actually came from Schwartz though, and not Trump, but it’s interesting to hear quotes, or mentalities crop up among people around you, especially those that are a generation above you. (40-55 years old)

Recommendation

Whether you want to get the book to dig for dirt on Trump, or whether you want to find some insight into the man himself, I would say this is a decent book. Just listen carefully, and with some degree of cynicism, takes notes and I think it will be very valuable to you.

It takes an pragmatic & open minded person to try and see the other side is all about, and the best way to do that is find insight into how that person thinks, and why that person thinks the way they do, through their culmination of experiences.

I understand that many people go to the equivalent of ‘I’m right .com’ or find more and more articles that reinforce their previously held ideas, which unfortunately is just echo chamber (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo_chamber_(media)) stuff, and its dangerous & close-minded for meaningful discussion.

But for those of you that are open minded, and do want to have a go at this, I would say definitely go for it.

Just for me, I’m still not a fan of the man, so I would recommend going to your local library or borrowing it or…whatever.

Notes:

Trump Art of the Deal.

The audio book has a foreword by Trump himself as he’s running for president.

Me. I think that’s fairly interesting.  Its as if he knew this would have a big impact in swaying voters or people that were sitting on the fence with him, or just people trying to wrestle with, and get to grips with what was Trumps actual thinking, and what made him who he is today.
I think the book had a very big impact on swaying a lot of minds to believe they really knew trump and then to go out and vote for him.  This combined with all the crap that Hillary has done, meant that the least worst candidate was actually Trump, or that people were willing to take a chance on him.

“I enjoy seeing the lengths to which bad management’s go to preserve what they call their independence….Which really just means their jobs.”

Me. Everything seems to be the best, all the people he works with is the greatest.  They can’t all be that good right?

“Sometimes it pays to be a little wild”

Trump sued the NFL, saying it was a monopoly. They won, but only got a token value of 1$

“I don’t hold it against people that have opposed me, I’m just looking to hire the best talent, wherever I can find it”

“I hate lawsuits and depositions, but the fact is, if you’re right, you’ve got to take a stand, or otherwise people will walk all over you”

“Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, less is more”

Donny trump was 9 years old at the time of writing of the book, Ivanka was 6, Eric 3.

“I always take calls from my kids, no matter what I’m doing”

Donny called to ask what time he’d be home.

Says for the casino business.

“I like the casino business, I like the scale, which is huuge, I like the glamour, and most of all I like the cash flow. If you know what you are doing, and you run your operation reasonably well you can make a veeery nice profit. If you run it very well you can make a ton of money”

Me. Its written in the way Trump speaks. Gives it more credibility that its actually him speaking/ writing.

He calls his brother Robert honey?  Wtf? Why?

“He is definitely the only guy in my life whom I ever call honey”

Me. Huh?

Dryer & Trobe real estate law firm.

Also the best apparently. Handled many of Trump’s deals.

Ivana grew up in Czechoslovakia.

They met at the Montreal summer Olympic games in 1976.

Says of his then wife “Ivana may be the most organised person I know, as well as looking after the kids and looking after our 3 homes, and now she also manages Trump’s castle that has 4,000 employees”

“I’ll say this much, I wouldn’t bet against her”

It says Cadillac was considering making a new line of limousines call the Trump golden series.

“Listen to your gut, no matter how good it sounds on paper”

“You’re generally better off sticking to what you know”

He talks so causally about catching a helicopter to go and get cocktails.

“My philosophy is always hire the best from the best”

He says he’s “a stickler for cleanliness”

“Contrary to what a lot of people think, I don’t really like doing press conferences. They ask a million questions, and I don’t really enjoy talking about my personal life, nonetheless, I understand that getting press can be very helpful in making deals, and I don’t mind talking about that”

I just choose to be very selective.

Me. I think this thing with press and social media is an extension from these early days where he’s killing it with the press.

Narration. This book would have been incredibly different if it was read by trump. This guy is smooth and honest sounding.

“When I do give interviews I keep them short. That interviewer is in and out in 20 mins”

Talks about art and his art friend pouring paint over a canvas.
Says that he thinks a lot of art is a con, that they focus more on marketing and sales than the art itself.

He planned to build the world’s tallest building and have it in new York. And have NBC in it.

Me. That obviously didn’t happen.

But at the time of writing, people were convinced and trusted him that he would do it. That he can ‘think big’.  And that probably held him in good stead coming up with the 2016 election, because they felt he was the one who could make change.

He likes earth tones more than primary colours.

Trump cards. The elements of the deal.

“I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after”

Me. That could become a bad quote for an sexual assault allegation.

He thinks deal making is in the terms. It’s about instincts.

“Most people that DO have the instincts, but they’ll never recognise that they do because they don’t have the courage or the good fortune to discover their potential”

Me. He self admits to a certain extend that he was lucky or fortunate enough to be in this position to realise he had these talents. And that others may not realise they have particular talents because they don’t have the good fortune to discover their potential.

“Think big. If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you may as well think big”

“Most people think small because they are afraid, afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning”

“And that gives people like me an advantage”

Me. Uh Huh.  Afraid of winning?  Really?  That’s just stupid

“One of the keys to thinking big is total focus. I think of it as a controlled neurosis”

“Which is a quality I’ve noticed in many highly successful entrepreneurs, they’re obsessive they’re driven, they’re single minded, sometimes they’re almost maniacal, but it’s all channelled into their work”

Protect the downside, and the upside will take care of itself.

“In fact I believe in the power of negative thinking. If you plan for the worst, and you can live with the worst…Then the upside will take care of itself”

Me.  What? I get what you’re trying to say, but it doesn’t always work out like that. It’s a bastardised version of the old adage ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst’.  But don’t forget if you’re constantly planning for the worst, then you’re not fully invested in making it work in the 1st place. Important to consider the possible negative effects, but this is a weird way to say it.

Also, always keep a lot of options available in how to respond to things depending on which way they go.

Keep a lot of balls in the air because most deals fall out no matter how promising they seem at first.

“Come up with at least a half dozen approaches to making it work, because anything can happen , even to the best laid plans.”

Me.  I wonder if this lesson was actually made by Trump, or deduced by Schwartz (the ghost writer)

“Know your market”

Trump highly respects Sylvester Stallone.

Doesn’t trust marketing surveys, does his own surveys.

Me. That probably played into well to his political lead up.

Doesn’t trust critics or consulting firms.

Critics he says, mainly write to impress each other.

Hahha. I think that might be right.

He says, they have no idea what the public wants.

“Follow your own instinct, but I’m not going to kid you, it’s also nice to get good reviews”

– use your leverage.

“The worst thing you can do in a deal is seem desperate to make it.
The best thing you can do is deal from strength.”

Leverage is having something the other guy wants, or better yet, needs.

“Leverage often requires imagination and salesmanship.

You have to convince the other party that it’s in their interest to make the deal”

“Enhance your location.

It’s not necessarily about location, location, location.
You don’t need the best, you can enhance it.
You can make it better through promotion and psychology.”

What you should never do is pay too much, even if that means walking away from a very nice site.

– get the word out.

“You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it…Then it doesn’t mean anything.”

“If you do things a little different or a little outrageous or do things that are bold or a little controversial, the press tend to write about you.”

“I’ve always done things a little different, I don’t mind controversy, and my deals tend to be somewhat ambitious”

Me. Definitely true, also on the political front for that for sure.

I wonder if he was doing things in a controversial way, just to get the press attention? And even if he wasn’t and he truly believed in the weird way he was doing things… how many people believed he was doing it just to be controversial but didn’t mean any of it, instead just wanted the free press coverage?
It’s a possibility based on the way he deals with the press in his early years, and in the book.

A full page ad in the new York times may cost 40,000 dollars. But a moderately received article written about you is free, and worth a lot more than 40,000

“Even negative stuff can be good”

“Attention creates value.”

Be straight when you talk to reporters.
Try to frame a positive answer.

“If someone asks what negative effects the world’s tallest building might have, I turn the tables and talk about how much new Yorkers deserve the world’s tallest building”

Me. Isn’t that just not answering the question?

“I call it truthful hyperbole, it’s an innocent form of exaggeration”

-fight back.

“If you’re fighting for something you believe in…. even if it ends up alienating some people along the way….Things generally work out for the best”

He says, “life’s losers are those people who gain great satisfaction from stopping the plans of others.”

“If they had any real talent, they’d be doing something constructive. But they don’t , so they aren’t.”

-deliver the goods.

Says Jimmy Carter had the balls to get himself into the position but when it came to deliver, he just couldn’t. And the people realise this.

Says Ronald Reagan is the same.
So smooth.
This book was written when Reagan was in power.

Trump atrium is meant to be pretty impressive.

-The dollar always talks in the end
-Contain the costs.

Says he built low income housing. Kind of admits that he built it quickly, and inexpensively. So he could rent it out quicker.

Says it was adequate though.

Me. I wonder how much this part was true.  I’ve seen documentaries on the quality of the Trump tower, and everything seems pretty shoddy. And that was for his OWN building, that he decided to live in.  How would it be like for poor people that he doesn’t necessarily care about?

If you see someone overcharging you for something call them and complain.

“the day I can’t pick up a phone and make a 25c call, to potentially save 10,000 dollars is the day I close up shop”

Me. I really wonder how much creative license the ghost writer had. And how much was based on the interviews he had with Donald Trump.

“You can dream great dreams, but they’ll never amount to much if you can’t turn them into reality at a reasonable cost”

-have fun.

“Money was never a big motivation to me, except as a way to keep  score. The real excitement is playing the game”

Me. Fair enough.  Because once you get to a certain level… you really don’t want anything more. When you can eat lobsters every day, and could literally do nothing and still buy the things you want, why would you keep going? It has to be either because you enjoy it, or because you’re an egotistical maniac where you believe everything is a competition and power & wealth works as zero sum games, meaning if you get richer then someone gets poorer, and you enjoy that.

Written when Fred Trump was still alive.

Father was the ground up success.

“The most important thing in life is to really love what you’re doing. Because that’s the only way you’ll ever be really good at it”

“We were brought up to know the value of a dollar and work hard”

The eldest son- Freddy, flew aeroplanes.

He enjoyed his life.

Freddy died of alcoholism. Addicted to drinking and the effect killed him.

Me. While it doesn’t say it in the book, this is one of the big reasons why Trump doesn’t drink, however he decided not to drink before this. Rather this moment reinforced his no drinking commitment.

“The difference now, is I like to use my brain instead of my fists”

Trump low income buildings in Queens still there?

Trump went to a military academy, however it’s actually a very expensive private school.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Military_Academy
$41,210 (local, boarding)
$14,410 (day students)  per year.   The school wasn’t so much a military school, but a private school that took on a military discipline kind of approach.

Wharton school of business.

Considers his actual degree from Wharton as the prestigious thing, that opens doors. But I guess doesn’t value the content very highly.

“I can always tell a loser, when someone has a car for sale that’s filthy dirty, it’s SO easy to make it look better”

“It’s no different for real estate. Well maintained buildings are always going to sell better than poorly maintained ones”

“It’s been less true in new York recently, when there’s been such a fever for real estate that people will literally buy anything.

But it’s a mistake to be lulled by good times.”

(A quick job to make it look better results in a much higher sell rate)

“Markets always change, and as soon as there’s a downturn, cleanliness always pays.”

Me. He sells himself very well though this book. He sells himself as a reliable , trustable person making his decisions on common sense, and has a down to earth nature. And comes across as a straight talker. When it’s shit, he’ll say it’s shit, he calls it out.

I think this book may have done more for Trump than his political rhetoric ever did. With people choosing to believe they knew the real Trump because they’d read the book, rather than trusting his mumblings in a political stage.

The narrator of this book as well , his voice is honest and kind, therefore you trust the person apparently saying these words more.

I think this book was written by a ghost writer but from many interviews with Trump. And I wonder how much editing had to be done to make it intelligible, or if it just rolled off Trump’s tongue and more or less went straight into the book.

I also understand that Schwartz got access to Trump’s phone calls, so could hear how he interacts with people.

“It’s not how many hours you put in, it’s what you get done while you’re working”

Irving.

For any person that handles money, he puts a bond on people.

Accidentally hired a conman to handle one of his housing projects.

“Stealing is the worst”

Talks about Irving and him collecting rent from a house, and he tries to smooth talk his wife.

Me. He just talks about like it was natural, these are all figures that in some way he looks up for having skills/ ways of doing things that he doesn’t.
Stuff like this must have had an impact/ influence on him, where he now incorporates it into his new world view. Maybe later on in life, he thought ‘fuck it, I’ll go for it…with whatever women I want. If they don’t want it, they’ll say no… but its up to me to go for it’  – kind of fair, but it depends on what extent you go to, and how you do it.
If you make anyone feel intimidated or cause relationships to break, or people to be insulted, or break trust in anyway, or are disrespectful to people, then its not worth pursuing.  And I doubt he had any of those boundaries judging from the people he learnt from.

“In the end, it never pays to be in too much of a hurry”

Chapter 5 -The move to Manhattan.

He says, when he graduated college he had a net worth of perhaps 200,000 dollars. And most of it was tied up with buildings in Brooklyn.

Joined Le Club, prestigious club in new York for contacts and women.
Found the women that were part of the club to be vain.

Met Roy Cohen. Lawyer

“And then he agreed with me, I like that”

Had a civil rights case brought against them for not renting to blacks.
They did rent to blacks though.
The government couldn’t prove anything. They did settle though and ran some equal opportunity adverts for the apartments.

Talking about Roy.
“Sometimes next to loyalty I think toughness is the best quality to him”

“I’m basically an optimist”

Me. I feel like there’s a lot of quotes that people have said to me that makes sense, like the chances are pretty high that they’d read this book. They didn’t say it at the time. That ‘I read this book and it had a big impact on me’., Yet you can understand a bit if their business thinking came from this.

From Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veracity_of_statements_by_Donald_Trump#Business_career

The book coined the phrase “truthful hyperbole” describing “an innocent form of exaggeration—and… a very effective form of promotion.” Schwartz said Trump loved that phrase

“Like all developers, my father and I contributed money to bean (political party representative) and to other politicians.

The simple fact is that contributing money to politicians is very standard and accepted for a new York city developer”

“We didn’t give any more to Beame than a lot of developers did, in fact it often seems to me that perhaps because we knew Beame personally, he often went out of his way to avoid appearance that he was doing us any special favours”

Me. Fair enough, that’s what he should have done. And… in reality, even though that’s how the silly political donation system in the USA works, it shouldn’t be legal that you can corrupt a politician with donation money regardless.

Beame, mayor of New York at the time

Abraham Beame – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Beame

Me. He kind of just nonchalantly describes lobbying/ political favours in a very casual way…Like it’s no biggie.  And then I guess this because his new normal, and he incorporates this into his world view.

That… is pretty dangerous. And that is what many people are fighting against. The national corruption of the elites, and politicians bending towards donation money.

Me. The book is written in a really simple way, kind of like how Trump speaks. I think it’s well written in that regard because it makes you think that Trump actually wrote it.

Trump seems to rely on subsidies to build housing or anything, or massive tax breaks.

Me. Another book that came out around this time was “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. It sounds like Donald Trump did not read that book, because the tips on influence, he’s doing exactly the opposite.

I guess the difference is that he doesn’t care about how people see him, and cares more about the press.

In normal relationships the press component doesn’t exist.

Maybe this is a critical factor that’s not taken into account in “How to Win Friends”

Urban Development Fund = New York city development organisation.

Separate project

The Commodore Hotel 42nd street

250,000 dollar deposit to get the deal going.

He says he ‘stalled’ yet it really sounds like he said ‘I stole’

Me. He sells suppliers, as the right to do the work for him. “That this is going to be a monumental project for you, it will be worth it in the end ”

I think he does this essentially so he can pay them less money.

“If you’re going to make a deal, you got to go to the top.”

Each tier down, it is padding or a barrier.

Go for the controlling interests of any major business decision.
Controlling interests, board partners etc., THEY need to be swayed.

He discovered the only way he was going to get financing was if the city gave him tax abatement.
The business investment incentive policy.
To encourage commercial development. City program for bad times.

The city was to give him a total abatement of property taxes for 40 years.

I’m return he would pay the city a yearly fee and a share of any profits the hotel made.

He’d buy the commodore hotel from the owners, sell it to the city for $1 and then lease it back to him for 99 years.

He’s pay 250,000 dollar a year and by end of 40 years it would be 2.7 million dollars, which would pretty much equal the property tax.

Me. Although I’m guessing for accounting terms, it really works out in his favour.

City’s hotel association.

Others at the time argued that the tax abatement would give trunk an unfair advantage in competing with other hotel operators in the city.

He got it.

He says “over the course of 40 years, that tax abatement would save me 10’s of millions of dollars”

Me. I really want to look at what the Commodore Hotel/ Grand Hyatt looks like now. 

This looks really familiar, I think I passed by this on the way to Grand Central station, as its meant to be right opposite it.

Turns out the Grand Hyatt was announced February 2019 that it will be demolished subject to the approval of the city & state to make way for a new structure.

Opened in September 1980.

Trump has a 50% interest in it.

The Hyatt management got their way because they gave Trump so much information on what was going on that trump eventually said, ‘look I don’t want to have anything to do with it.’

Me. Sounds like Trump got played in this respect. It was a way that Hyatt could take over full management. And Trump still had to pay for shared costs, I presume.

Trump has some sort of clause in his will in case some of his heirs aren’t that smart to protect his buildings from competing joint ventures hotel setups.

One of his lawyers is gay, and Trump doesn’t care, it’s not what he is, it’s what he can do.
Me. Which I believe it’s the way it should be.
Also, completely not in line with what the media says about him at all.
Again, this is something that the readers of Trump will instantly not trust the news networks that claim he IS anti-gay, anti-black etc… because that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

Says at that time that his partnership with Hyatt had been really strong due to his fondness and relationship with A.N. Pritzker.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abram_Nicholas_Pritzker

Me.  From later reading his relationship with the company was actually terrible which led to Hyatt buying him out of his share for $140 million

Chapter 7 the Trump Tower – the Tiffany location.

‘Tremendous’  Words like this are used a lot.

Therefore it makes me think that the author spent a lot of time with Trump. And felt these words were important to put in.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Hyatt_New_York

“I was relentless”  – the narrator does a good Trump impression for a few key phrases.

I think this was definitely done on purpose.

He was relentless just because he wrote letters apparently. I don’t know how that makes him relentless.
It’s a letter every 3 months or so. Doesn’t really sound relentless.

Jack Hannigan was a guy that cut up companies to sell their assets and move on.

Trump talks about him with reverence. However this is a terrible way to run businesses or bring a company back.
It’s a very American way, zero feelings.

He says he planned to build it 70 stories high.

Me. Just how high is Trump tower in actuality?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_Tower  = 58 stories tall.

VERY.

Me. He used simple adjectives a lot.  I realise it was written by a ghost writer (Tony Schwartz) but I think he did this on purpose to capture Trump’s simple way of speaking.

Used the press, namely the New York Times, for his favour.

The city said trump was meant to provide public amenities. Is that right? And did he?

His project/ building manager for the trump tower was a 33 year old woman who he’d worked with on the Commodore Hotel project.

He then goes on to list a couple of the high profile women he’s hired for his projects.

Me. I think it’d be difficult to read his book and not question your own preconceived idea of Trump being sexist or racist, when you can easily look up all this information.

This was written around 30 years ago when he was 40 and this is when he was doing business at around 30.  He was hiring just whoever was best for the project, if it’s a woman, it’s a woman; if it’s a gay guy, it’s a gay guy.
The bottom line is, it’s got to be the best. (For a particular cost it seems) yet there is not discrimination based on presumed sexism, anti-gay, anti-black whatever.

I would think those that are patient and pragmatic enough to look up the information he says, and verify it, might slowly become secret Trump supporters. All the media that says ‘fuck trump, he’s racist, sexist anti this, anti that”… They will know is simply not true and to ignore, because they’ve heard the actual examples of him being exactly NOT any of that.

“Good publicity is better than bad publicity, but from a bottom line, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all”

“Controversy in short , sells.  So does glamour”

The atrium has a water fall in it. 80ft high that cost $2 million at the time.

“We were selling fantasy”

He gives the example of prince Charles with the rumour that maybe he was buying an apartment in trump tower.
A new York reporter called and asked trump if this was true.
He simply said “we can neither confirm nor deny this” .

To the best of his knowledge and the best of the Royal family spokespeople which also said that…It wasn’t possible to know it was true or not. Meaning that they conveyed suspicion and it sounded like it WAS possibly true, thus gaining bigger fervour around the subject, and thus the apartments.

Talks briefly about Francois Mitterrand being a socialist and being dangerous because he started selling nuclear technology to the highest bidder.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Mitterrand  (yes, he pursued socialist agenda, nationalising key companies. Although, I don’t really see anything wrong with this, provided that these are companies considered key infrastructure to the running of France)

[Mitterrand followed a radical left-wing economic agenda, including nationalisation of key firms, but after two years, with the economy in crisis, he reversed course. He pushed a socially liberal agenda with reforms such as the abolition of the death penalty, the 39-hour work week, and the end of a government monopoly in radio and television broadcasting. ]

[..several nationalizations, a 10% increase in the SMIC (minimum wage), a 39-hour work week, 5 weeks holiday per year, the creation of the solidarity tax on wealth, an increase in social benefits, and the extension of workers’ rights to consultation and information about their employers (through the Auroux Act). ]

Me. Sounds ok to me.  I realise most Americans confuse Socialism with Communism, and hold that connotation for socialism, yet having a fair minimum wage, decent holidays each year, a wealth tax, all sound like pragmatic policies for America even now. And France implemented this between 1981 -1988 in Mitterrand’s 1st term.
Only now are some proposing a ‘Wealth tax’ in the USA, to limit the wealth discrepancy.

Turns out [In September 2017, the French government decided to abolish ISF and replace it with the tax on real estate (IFI), exonerating all financial assets, from 2018.]

Meaning if you had your assets in property, you were screwed, but anything but property, you were laughing.

Believes everything runs in cycles, real estate, stock market.

Talks about the Japanese and their group buying, group tours mentality.

“They rarely smile, and in addition they are very serious, so much so that they don’t make doing business fun”

Me. Haha sounds pretty funny.

“Fortunately they have a lot of money, and like buying real estate”

“What’s unfortunate is that for decades now they have become wealthier in large measure by screwing the United States with a self-serving trade policy that our political leaders have never been able to fully understand or counteract”

Me. Good point there. And that’s exactly what they did, and what China is copying now.

The majority of the trump tower chapters are just boasting about how good his accomplishments are.

421 A tax exemption. To encourage residential development. Over a 10 years period.

They turned him down.

Then he filed an article 78 proceeding. State court.

Me. All of this stuff is a trust building exercise, it shows that 1. He knows what he’s talking about… he’s got the experience by himself,
& 2. He can remember, and wants to put it down as correct the exact name of the form so that others can look it up and see that he is working within the confines of the law, thus also building trust with his readers/ followers.

Of course, whether or not, he’s telling the whole story is a different thing altogether.

Whole project cost him 190 million dollars.
He earned around 250 million just on the apartments sold.
Not counting the office spaces and shops at the bottom.

He says that the partner called him to ask why they were spending so much money on maintenance.

Me. I’m guessing there’s some dodgy shit behind the scenes, for example him paying a subsidiary company to do the maintenance. And therefore making more tax free money.

Anyways, he bought out his partner.

He seems to like the word classy. And shows great respect when others. But… He doesn’t always show the same himself.

It seems he can acknowledge it in others, but maybe not replicate it.

The worst of times often create the best opportunities to do deals.

He seems to use an adjective once in a sentence and continue to use it for the rest of the sentence.

Very good, very luxurious, very glamorous.

Totally reliably totally dependable and totally honest.

So 3 things he did or he felt contributed to coming in in time. For his Atlantic hotel casino:

  1. ‘Value engineering’ when architects or interior designers cone to you with a plan about how something should look, you run it past the engineers first, they tell you what you can actually do, and what is excessive. If a door is recommended to have 4 hinges my the interior designers, yet your engineer says you actually only need 3. Then you save a bunch load of costs with 3 multiplied by the 2000 rooms you have.
  2. The state of the Atlantic construction business at the time, that there were lots of people there, but not much construction to do as most major projects had finished, therefore lots of supply not much demand and they could take advantage of it.
  3. By having all their plans, architecture and building plans intricately detailed meaning whoever was going to bid on it had to bid on it correctly. Couldn’t under bid just to get the contract, and then run up excessive costs later because plans were changing and they had to account for that.

I think smart, but also reasonable.

He says his management style for hotel staff and management was to hire the best from their competitors pay them more and give them bonuses when they do well.

Says Holiday Inn initially went into partnership with them to leverage his building in time and their hotel management.

They had disagreements later on, but he signed a NDA, and said that’s not what he is all about. “A deal is a deal” and he honours it.

Me. I wonder how much he sticks to that in considering he apparently didn’t pay contractors for one of his projects much later on.

(On the Taj Mahal casino hotel & the contractors that were not completely paid – start from 0.45)

He said that he utilised the maximum depreciation rate to his advantage. Thereby not having to pay as much tax.

He says corporations mainly report revenue, and revenue earned before costs, depreciation and taxes, … But for him, as a private company it’s mostly about PROFIT.

The profit is calculated after depreciation and tax, if he can depreciate something for the max, he can pay less tax. The more money for him, the better.

Me.  Yes exactly, I never understood why they reported Revenue instead of profit. Is it that they want to hide how much they’re ripping off the public, or other companies? Or is it just that a bigger number sounds better?  Probably both.

What happens when the depreciation reaches zero though? I’m guessing some creative accounting comes into play..

Says the first year he wasn’t 25 million in profit.

Says in a prediction that by 1988 he will earn 95 million dollars a year from his Trump Plaza Hotel and casino venture.

Me. I wonder how much he actually DID earn? Because surely there are records of that kind of stuff.

(The aftermath of Trumps Casino ventures, a really good 6 min watch)

His whole book he’s hinting that not paying tax or paying less tax is how business is done, minimising his tax as much as possible, getting tax incentives etc.

Can people really be surprised that he hasn’t paid much tax, or any tax? It’s literally written down in a book.

Are these people simpletons or something?

Tax minimisation is one thing, I think if he actually evaded tax…That’s a different thing.

Conrad Hilton gave his son and grandchildren fuck all in inheritance. He controlled 27% of the hotel company shares. Gave it all to his foundation. More or less.

1986 he said his revenue on Trump Castle was 226 million dollars.

“Sometimes when you lose a battle, you find a new way to win the war.

What you need generally is enough time and a little luck”

Tells a story about a bunch of tenants that stalled trump from tearing down their building for several years.
* And to build a new one.

Rent controlled and rent-stabilised apartments.

In this setup, very difficult to cover costs. So you’re holding onto the property for land values to rise, capital gains.

Tearing down rent controller apartment in a nice area to build luxury apartments.

Me. This is probably where a lot of the stories come from

“Unfortunately rent control is a disaster for all but the privileged minority who are protected by it. ”

“As much as many other single factor, rent control is responsible for the desperate housing crisis that has plagued new York city for the last 20 years.”

Me. Has it? How did he come up with that?  How do you prove that its true or not?

‘Rent control started as a temporary policy in 1943 meant for returning veterans.’
Me. Basically true – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent_control_in_the_United_States

Says when costs rose, landlords abandoned their buildings. And so people were left out on the street.

Me. Were they? How does that work? OK so there no landlord, but there’s still space. I don’t get it.

Rich people taking up rent controlled apartments. There was no test to deem who legitimately needed this, and who didn’t. The wealthy and prominent always ‘needed’ them.

Use of harassment as a buzzword to stall a law case, / housing development.
Tenants need to use the apartment as their primary residence.
Need to actually pay the rent.

Me.  Yes, I think he’s pointing out a legitimate thing here, and not just saying ‘screw the rich/ prominent, but giving suggestions for how an existing policy can be changed to make it more fair for the people it was originally made to help.I believe this line, and these suggestions he made did a lot for people to cement their belief that Trump wants to do the right thing…. Whether it was true or not.

USFL, he bought the football league? Or he bought the New Jersey Generals, and this came with a stake in the league and a vote on the direction?

“To me, committees are what insecure people put together to delay having to make a hard decision”

Me. Hahhaha great line.

So it seems Trump was responsible for poaching players from the NFL to the USFL which slowly but surely started increasing the salaries and contracts of players.

The current silliness with monetary contracts in the NFL is in part (although he doesn’t say as much) due to him. This song really a good thing. It means ticket prices have gone up considerably, and for the average person it’s needlessly more expensive.

The NFL apparently tried to sabotage the USFL using art of war tactics, trying to unionize the USFL to drive up wage prices.

“I like consultants even less than I like committees”

“You can imagine how much stock I put in polls” (not very much)

Will hold him in good stead later on in politics.

Trying to move to the fall, or different season or whatever to compete with NFL.

“The press thrives on confrontation, and they love a story about extremes, whether it’s negative or positive”

Me. Very true, and this must have helped in the political sphere.

The new York post criticised Koch (mayor at the time) for his indecision to let Trump build the ice rink.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from dealing with politicians over the years, it’s that the only thing guaranteed to force them into action, is the press. Or more specifically fear of the press”

“You can make all sorts of promises, threats, contribute money to their campaigns, and generally it gets you nothing. But raise the possibility of bad press, even in an obscure publication and most politicians will jump.

Bad press translates into potential lost votes, and if a politician loses enough votes he won’t get re-elected.

If that happens he might have to go out and get a 9-5 job. That’s the last thing most politicians want to do.”

“Ed Koch is a bully

Bullies may act tough, but they’re really closest cowards. The only people bullies push around are the ones they know they can beat.
Confront a strong confident person and they’ll fight back harder than ever.
Confront a bully, and most likely fold like a stack of cards”

“Sure enough Ed Koch folded.”

He just goes on and on about the ice rink.

If this was a book that I actually had to read, not listen to, I’d have skipped this entire chapter I think.

Me. paraphrasing trump.

Leadership is a key point for getting any project done. If there’s no leadership, things invariably don’t get done. A leader needs to check in on their team every so now and then…Otherwise people reduce into not doing anything when they’re not entirely sure what needs to be done, or how it needs to be achieved. There needs to be someone that says yes, or no, for this to proceed, not proceed or give explanation when needed.

When contractors come to the city government and say, oops we need 2 million dollars more to do the contract.

The city government people don’t have the expertise to know anything about construction to know that they’re being ripped off.

“Create excitement about a project”

Good advice.

He really doesn’t like Edward Koch. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Koch

Says to get a 20 year tax abatement in television city, he would hand over 25% profit from his TV city operations for 40 years.
That sounds pretty drastic to me.

Keeping NBC into the city.

“It’s easy to be generous when you’ve got a lot”

2 things I do very well.

  1. Overcoming obstacles
  2. Motivating good people to do their best work.

“I make deals because I like to do, not because I need the money.

Text copyright 1987.

Cadillac Trump Golden Series. = The most opulent.

Trump executive series slightly less luxury version of the golden series.

https://autoweek.com/article/wait-theres-more/when-donald-trump-and-cadillac-joined-forces-build-most-opulent-limo-ever

Sent a gold Cadillac Allante. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Allant%C3%A9

He banks with Bear Sterns.