Let’s forget for a minute all the fuss of the last four years. And let’s put a side for a moment that Donald Trump has probably been and still is the single biggest recent threat to the free Western world.

As Joe Biden is supposed to take over the White House today, it could be time to ask: “could I learn anything from that guy?”. We have collectively spent ages talking about him. With that much time sunk in the discussion, I would encourage you to spare a couple of additional hours and read one of his first books. It was published in 1987 (that’s 35 years ago!) and humbly titled The Art of the Deal. Read in particular the first 100 pages about his youth and his values. The rest is less interesting.

This 2 hour read says it all about who he is, what he believes in and what he stands for. It also explains a lot about why many people actually like him. And why my American friends tell me “Well, it’s not like if it’s a real suprise and we did not know what he was capable of…” when I ask them about what they think of the recent White House riots.

In case you would not want to read it. Here is a synthesis in 10 typical Trump punchlines. I read the book when he took office in 2017 and these are from my Kindle notes. So I think each word below is his.


This blog contains a curated list of business books you may want to read and business book syntheses. In the same category as this one, you may be interested by: Principles, by Ray Dalio.

Think Big – “I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”

Protect the Downside and the Upside Will Take Care of Itself –  “People think I’m a gambler. I’ve never gambled in my life. To me, a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It’s a very good business being the house.”

Maximize Your Options – “I also protect myself by being flexible. I never get too attached to one deal or one approach. For starters, I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first. In addition, once I’ve made a deal, I always come up with at least a half dozen approaches to making it work, because anything can happen, even to the best-laid plans.”

Know Your Market – “Some people have a sense of the market and some people don’t. Steven Spielberg has it. Woody Allen has it, for the audience he cares about reaching, and so does Sylvester Stallone, at the other end of the spectrum. To me he’s a diamond-in-the-rough type, a genius purely by instinct. He knows what the public wants and he delivers it.”

Use Your Leverage – “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. The best thing you can do to deal from strength and leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”

Enhance Your Location – “Perhaps the most misunderstood concept in all of real estate is that the key to success is location, location, location. First of all, you don’t necessarily need the best location. What you need is the best deal. Just as you can create leverage, you can enhance a location, through promotion and through psychology.”

Get the Word Out – “You can have the most wonderful product in the world, but if people don’t know about it, it’s not going to be worth much. There are singers in the world with voices as good as Frank Sinatra’s, but they’re singing in their garages because no one has ever heard of them. You need to generate interest, and you need to create excitement.”

Fight Back – “Much as it pays to emphasize the positive, there are times when the only choice is confrontation. In most cases I’m very easy to get along with. But when people treat me badly or unfairly or try to take advantage of me, my general attitude, all my life, has been to fight back very hard.”

Deliver the Goods – “You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

Contain the Costs – “I believe in spending what you have to. But I also believe in not spending more than you should. When I was building low-income housing, the most important thing was to get it built quickly, inexpensively, and adequately, so you could rent it out and make a few bucks. That’s when I learned to be cost-conscious.”

Have Fun – “I don’t kid myself. Life is very fragile, and success doesn’t change that. If anything, success makes it more fragile. Anything can change, without warning, and that’s why I try not to take any of what’s happened too seriously. Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”