So. The season finale of ‘America’ has dropped and it’s not the end many of us expected. Say what you will about Trump and Clinton, this election has been beyond entertaining – a Hunger Games for the over-65s. And there’s plenty to learn about business from both candidates.
Here’s our pick of career-related quotes as spoken by each candidate.
On doing business
“The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”
– Trump, The Art of the Deal, 1987
The Art of the Deal was Trump’s hugely successful ‘autobiography’ of 1987. It’s full of gems, including this statement – basically a ballsy rewording of ‘Fake it ‘til you make it.’
We all know what Trump means: treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen, in business as well as love. It’s sound advice for any sales or deal negotiator, where it’s essential to avoid looking too eager.
Does the book’s ghostwriter, Tim Schwarz, buy into the Trump myth? “[Donald] doesn’t have any core beliefs beyond his own aggrandisement and power,” the author commented last month. That’s a no, then.
“I choose my cards. I play them to the best of my ability. Move on to the the next hand.”
— Clinton, New York Times, November 2012
Clinton stresses the significance of personal resilience, a quality no hopeful businessperson should be without. While it’s important to do your best at any job or application, you must also be able to move on when times get tough.
The most successful, happy people in life are those that have learned to pick themselves up when times get tough. Fell through on your third sell of the week? Keep calm and carry on. Nothing is permanent – including failure.
“How do you define leadership? I mean, leadership is a very strange word because, you know, some people have it, some people don’t and nobody knows why.”
— Trump, Larry King Live, 1999
A fascinating take on leadership ability here. If everyone agreed with the Donald, management workshops would be out of business; after all, you either got it or you don’t.
The debate as to whether leadership is taught or innate goes as far back as business. The general conclusion is a bit of both, with a good education pretty high up the recipe list. The best news? You can always get better at it.
“People can judge me for what I’ve done. And I think when somebody’s out in the public eye, that’s what they do. So I’m fully comfortable with who I am, what I stand for, and what I’ve always stood for.”
– Clinton, PBS NewsHour, June 2014
Hillary’s manifesto of ‘Let them talk’ is something we can all learn from. Anyone who puts themselves in a position of authority, whether it’s the CEO of a company or the manager of a local team, will find themselves the object of co-worker scrutiny – chances are, not all of it good.
It takes a thick skin and a bucket of self-confidence to lead in a work environment. After all, with great power comes great responsibility.
“I was the one that really broke the glass ceiling on behalf of women, more than anybody in the construction industry.”
- Trump, Fox News, June 2016
There are a lot of things said about Trump and women. We shan’t regurgitate his inappropriate comments. But do you know that some of Trump’s ex-employees agree he is a champion of the female cause?
Louise Sunshine, a former underling at Trump’s real-estate business, once related how the Donald used to keep an unflattering photo of her in his desk drawer. On occasions where she failed him, he would take it out as “a reminder that [she] wasn’t perfect.”.
‘I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfil my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.’
– Clinton, ABC's Nightline, March 1992
Now here’s a statement from over twenty years ago that has haunted the Clinton brand ever since. Hillary’s irritated response to a question about her legal career drew polarised reactions at the time. While most women lauded her strong career instinct, many found her comment patronising to stay-at-home mums.
Whatever your opinion, Clinton fulfilled on her promise: she dreamed, and she dreamed big, and no anti-feminist backlash was going to stop her… Oh wait.
"I never get too attached to one deal or one approach...I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first."
– Trump, The Art of the Deal, 1987
Another one from the ghostwriter, but this is some solid advice. In work and play, it’s easy to get overly attached to a new direction. But when over 90% of start-ups fail, you’re better off maximising your options than putting all your eggs in one basket.
Engineer multiple opportunities for yourself. Plan for failure, hope for success. Look at Trump. Out of his many business ventures, he only has a 42% success rate – and that’s considered good.
"You know, everybody has setbacks in their life, and everybody falls short of whatever goals they might set for themselves. That's part of living and coming to terms with who you are as a person."
– Clinton, People, December 1992
Everybody fails at some point. It’s a fact of business, love and life. It’s how you bounce back from it that’s important; just look at all the famous people who failed at first, only to come back fighting.
Let’s hope Hillary can follow her own advice in the coming days.
“You know, it doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
- Trump, Esquire, 1991
Alas, it was not to his own arse that the Donald was referring here. Ignoring the somewhat misogynistic connotations of the above, what Trump is really saying is that he doesn’t care what people think; he knows that he’s better than them.
There’s a lot going for this approach, especially if you have as much s*** said about you as Trump does. Hell, if it gets you to the Capitol…
‘Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.’
– Clinton, NYU, February 2014
Clinton elaborates on Trump’s approach, counselling that criticism should be ignored unless it is constructive. Learning to accept criticism gracefully from one’s superiors is an essential business tool that will make you a better employee and, ultimately, a better leader.
Unless you were born into a multi-million-dollar franchise, in which case you can expect to always be the boss – yes, even in the White House.
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