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Business Lessons Donald Trump Can Teach Us About Publicity

12/15/2015 12:30 EST | Updated 12/15/2016 05:12 EST
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a portrait after an interview with The Associated Press in Sterling, Va., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. Trump says that if he’s elected president, he’ll know within six months whether he can achieve an elusive peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians, one of the world’s most vexing challenges. But the Republican presidential candidate says he has doubts about each side’s commitment to the peace process. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Whether you love him or can't stand him, you've got to admit that Donald Trump knows how to get publicity. Publicity is business. Donald knows business, and we can learn from him.

The fact that you are reading this right now shows that his name makes you want to stop what you are doing, and look at the trainwreck that is known as Donald Trump.

This isn't about his political views. It isn't about whether you agree with him or not. It's about learning what The Donald has done and how his lessons for getting publicity can be applied to our business.

1. Be Loud and Proud.

You have to believe in your business. You must have more faith than anyone else that you have the greatest product (or service) since sliced bread.

Not everyone will agree with you, and that is fine. The fact that you are shouting from the hilltops about how great it is, is the lesson here.

Can you name three other candidates in the U.S. election?

Donald does that. He believes in what he is saying. And clearly people are listening, regardless of whether they agree or not. That kind of publicity is priceless. For the people who have never heard of your service or product, at the very least they will hear about it. Once they hear about it, they can decide if they want to buy it.

Can you name three other candidates in the U.S. election? How many people get elected solely on the basis that the people casting their votes say "I've heard of this guy"? (Answer: A lot.) People buy products and services the same way.

2. Don't Give Up Easily.

Trump has filed for bankruptcy four times. And yet, he is personally still worth $4.5Billion. If he were to have given up, saying 'this isn't working' he wouldn't be the person he is today. Donald will argue that the filing of Chapter 11 four times wasn't a sign of failure, but a smart business decision. The smart business decision that we can learn is that if something isn't working, don't give up. Do what you need to do to make it work.

Be smart about when to walk away, but that doesn't mean giving up. Trump didn't give up on those businesses; he restructured them to make them work better.

3. Be Willing to Experiment with Calculated Risks.

When Donald was scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live, I was convinced it was an incredibly stupid thing to do. Until he did it, and only then did I realize the genius in the decision. Yes, they made fun of him. Yes, they deliberately tried to make him look unintelligent. But how many people watched just to see what they would do (myself included)?

Are you willing to experiment to see if you can do something that others are not doing? Are you willing to fail in front of others, because the cost of failing is far lower than the cost of winning?

4. Make Yourself Different From the Competition.

Well, Donald is certainly different from any other politician we have seen in the past. We can see that he "isn't like the others" at all. Regardless of why he is different, and whether we agree with him or not, every other candidate is compared to his "differentness."

Donald doesn't need every vote.

Wouldn't you want every one of your buyers to say, "That's not how X company does it" or "Every other company does X, yet this company does Y"? I certainly do. I don't want my company to look the same as every other company; I want it to stand out. And if the way it stands out isn't right for you, then you are not my buyer. That's okay. Not every person needs what I'm selling.

Donald doesn't need every vote. He wants those people who agree with him to just board the Donald Train. If you don't agree, then don't vote for him.

5. Think Big!

It doesn't get much bigger than President of the United States, so we will give Donald kudos for being someone who knows how to think big. What is big in your industry? You want to think SO big that those around you aren't sure that you can accomplish your goals. Make them a challenge. Like they say, "Reach for the moon. Even if you fall short, you'll land among the stars."

It is not mandatory that you like everything -- or anything -- about Donald Trump. However, be willing to look at what he is doing and learn from it.

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