Motivational Articles: "Inside Trump Tower" (Newsletter)

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This is a compendium of motivational articles from Inside Trump Tower, of which I was editor in chief and primary writer. (Click link below to see PDF version of this collection.)

CONTENTS:
Title of Article [Theme of Issue]

Thinking Big: Your Vehicle to Success [Think Big]

The Path to Success: A Long, Winding Road [Never Give Up]

Improvisation and the American Character [Learn to Think on Your Feet]

Don't Just Work, Create! [View Your Work as Art]

Different Varieties of Success” [Don’t Do it for the Money]

Integrating the Fragmented Self [Strive for Wholeness]


Thinking Big: Your Vehicle to Success

Reach for the stars, go for it, man!
—Sammy Davis, Jr.

America is a big country and bigness is essential to the American Way. It's everywhere you look: big money, big portions, big ideas. In a place with so much of everything, there's a lot of smallness, too, like millions of people of modest means, whose lives just don't play out on the grand scale of everything around them. They can turn on a TV anytime or visit a multiplex and see a world that dwarfs their own. Some react with indifference, while others seethe with jealously and frustration. Then there are those who are emboldened by this grand landscape. It helps fuel their ambition to reach their outsized vision. These people think, "I may be little now, but not for long."

When you truly think big, you never feel small. Your vision elevates you above your surroundings. Your vision protects you, too, by providing a bulwark against bitterness and resignation, afflictions common to the smalltime and small-minded.

Your vision of the future may be at odds with the facts of today. Now, this moment, might hold only failure and doubt, but to succumb to the moment before your dream takes shape is to veer toward surrender. Thinking big is what carries you past the moment.

Business, art, or any creative endeavor isn't just a few "eureka" moments. It's hard work, and it's not always fun. Ideas of any complexity advance by increments and require a certain combination of broad strokes and big-picture thinking (the fun stuff), and intense concentration on details (the real work). To do it right and to see it through you need time and energy, but above all, you need discipline. Thinking big is a discipline, a means of getting past the minutiae. You can say to yourself, "Right now is a chore, but just imagine the final outcome!" That's thinking big. It's not a passing thought: it's a mindset.

If you think big, you will have at least the engine of genius. Trump University can help add the rest. Knowledge is a vehicle, and our online courses and other learning products are fully compatible with any model of success, whether it's advancing your career, starting a business, or creating wealth through investment. The biggest thoughts need a corresponding strategy to harness them. Marketing yourself and your ideas is key. Our course, Build a Powerful Marketing Strategy will give you practical experience developing a marketing plan for your product or service. Trump University Personal Assessments will help you learn what you're made of and see just how big you might get.


The Path to Success: A Long, Winding Road

Jamie Meiselman is an entrepreneur who pursued the idea of bringing the perfect surf indoors through an enterprise known as Surfparks. A veteran of the action sports industry (snowboarding, skateboarding, etc.), Mr. Meiselman nurtured his idea while studying for his MBA at Columbia University. He left school with a degree and a working business plan. Now, more than five years later, he is on schedule to open the first of many Surfparks facilities in Orlando, Florida in spring 2006.Tenacity and vision were crucial factors in Mr. Meiselman's realization of his plan. He discovered, though, that these qualities, often thought of as wholly personal, are subject to a number of external factors that can ultimately determine whether an entrepreneur succeeds.

When Mr. Meiselman began circulating his plan, he was greatly encouraged by the positive feedback he received - many business experts and savvy investors told him his idea was solid and had a lot of potential. Market conditions, however, were less than favorable. The internet bubble was about to burst and most investors were wary of even the most promising ideas. A variety of other factors combined to create a challenging environment for Mr. Meiselman's idea. The odds were stacked against him and the entrepreneurial process itself seemed to present other major difficulties.

"Even if your idea is great and you come across as a manager who will run the business competently, you're only as good as the other business plans on a potential investor's desk," says Mr. Meiselman. "Your idea may not be right for a potential financier for reasons that have nothing at all to do with you."

As Mr. Meiselman continued to modify his business plan and integrate the advice he received from those to whom he showed the plan, the positive feedback he received helped him weather the adversity.

"Seeing evidence for the potential of my idea ultimately kept me going. A business plan is all about assumptions, and when you see your assumptions validated by others - including potential investors and customers - it really motivates you."

Tenacity, beyond the role it plays in personal motivation, is a key factor in how others involved in an entrepreneur's enterprise perceive him or her. "With most business ideas you can't do it yourself," says Meiselman. "I have two partners and 50 investors. Tenacity is important because it shows the people around you that you've got what it takes to get through the rough times, and that you're going to maintain your focus and keep a level head."

Tenacity, vision, and motivation are the key elements required for any entrepreneur to reach the starting gates of his or her business. These three elements, Meiselman says, are completely interconnected, and must all be present to ensure that an entrepreneur succeeds. "Motivation is the engine, tenacity is the fuel, and vision is the course you're following. If you're missing any one factor, the others won't work or will be weakened."

A modified version of Mr. Meiselman's business plan for Surfparks is featured in Trump University's online course, Critically Evaluate Your Business Plan: Seven Essential Questions You Must Answer. This self-paced online course gives practical experience analyzing a business plan. The Wealth Builder's Blueprint, a multimedia home study program, addresses many of the important issues entrepreneurs must consider to realize their goals.


Improvisation and the American Character

The art of improvisation is quintessentially American. In our individualistic, action-oriented culture, being able to think on your feet is a real asset. Our most American folk heroes–the pioneer, the outlaw, the self-made millionaire, the bohemian freespirit–were masters of improvisation. Our capacity for improvisation is what distinguishes us from autocratic and authoritarian societies. Rigid hierarchy and inflexible tradition are the antithesis of America’s ideals.

A look at the military culture of authoritarian regimes, such as North Korea, offers a vivid contrast to the American military's emphasis on individual initiative and its essential component, improvisation. The military cultures of such countries stress rote learning and a centralized, inflexible chain of command. Field commanders and lower-ranking soldiers are actively discouraged from innovative or independent thinking. The realities of war, however, demand quick-thinking under stressful conditions. In the fog of war, one's survival may hinge on the ability to improvise. In the American military, extensive preparation, an emphasis on combat instincts, and a high regard for innovation converge to produce a potent force that epitomizes the value of improvisation.

On the illicit side, there are the legions of mountebanks and carpetbaggers who plied their dubious trades amidst the relative anarchy of the Wild West and the south during Reconstruction. The wily operator who makes it up as he goes along is an American archetype with a rich variety of incarnations.

Artists at the forefront of new movements like Bebop pioneer Charlie Parker and writer Jack Kerouac, founder of the Beat Generation, created innovative work that was rooted in improvisation. Parker and Kerouac, along with their peers and acolytes, romanticized the idea of going with the flow and being in the moment. They championed an artistic and spiritual domain ruled by instinct, whim, and spontaneity.

Improvisation, backed by some degree of training and study, reveals your inner character. Your decisions and actions define you as a person and direct the course of your life. It’s about using what you know to affect the outcome of complex situations in which you are just one part. Essential to this idea is that of amor fati–love your fate, that is, embracing the aspects of your life over which you have no control–like the circumstances of your birth or happenstance. It means responding to fate in a deliberate way, and engaging in a constant effort to creatively integrate randomness in your life and work.

Entrepreneurship is a realm where improvisation applies in a much broader and deeper way than anywhere else in business. A start-up company might be called the business equivalent of bebop, where improvisation is the dominant mode. In a start-up, all the surrounding creative energies of the company are geared toward making products or services happen and getting them to market. To this end, people in start-ups perform many roles, some of them less than familiar, and encounter problems that may be new to them or simply new, owing to the fact that entrepreneurship often involves navigating uncharted territory.

Business, like the rest of life, rarely comes with an edited script, and sometimes there's no script at all. Your success in business rides on your ability to improvise. Mastering improvisation is a sure fire way to become better at everything you do.


Don't Just Work, Create!

What does it mean when someone claims his or her work is art? Some people actually do make their work into an art form. In addition to competence and real talent, their accomplishments stem from their strong belief that what they do is art. Raising one’s every day work to the level of art is, as much as anything, an exercise of will.

Art takes the mundane and transforms it by infusing it with something special. To raise one’s work to a level of art means bringing to it a transcendent quality that distinguishes it from everyday work product. The standards for art are higher than the standards for mere competence or utility.

People’s ideas about what makes their work art vary. Richard Portman, one of Hollywood's best sound mixers, labors at one of the more utilitarian (certainly less glamorous) aspects of filmmaking. Yet, he sees his work as an art form, and he is an uncompromising perfectionist. He believes that when sound mixing is done right, movie viewers don't notice anything. The footsteps on the sidewalk, the cars going by, the slight rustle of leaves all blend together to make the soundtrack real. Portman's work creates the mood and tone of a film.

Commerce does not determine what is and what isn’t art. There are plenty of hacks who believe they’re artists just because they’re not making money and not actively participating in a commercial system based on financial reward. There are also field goal kickers and plastic surgeons whose work, while obviously well-paid and unambiguously part of the marketplace, could be considered art.

A lot of jobs that require special skills or training require the person doing it to be much more than an employee. A degree of specialized skill and careful, consistent application to regular tasks, as well as innovation and resourcefulness, are what define the artisan. But art is something different, something entirely new.

There’s more than one way to approach work in any profession. Some workers are meticulous and unerring in the day-to-day stuff–which is quite valuable. Some are quick and accurate; others are quick and less than accurate; and others work slowly and see the task as something that simply must get done. Yet, there will always be a select few who are unusually deliberate and approach their work as an art form.

What a barren place the world would be without artists. For those who have managed to take their work to a level beyond the mundane, the standards are exceedingly high, but their work proves by example that something bigger and better exists.


Different Varieties of Success

Generally there are two types of people who claim they “don’t do it for the money”: those who already have plenty of money and those engaged in fundamentally non-lucrative creative or service-oriented fields like the arts or social work. In both cases, passion or some other deeply held personal value is what drives them to keep working and succeeding on many levels.

Artists epitomize the idea of working vigorously for something other than money. The creative realm is one of extremes–feast or famine–and the vast majority of artists make little or no money. They often pursue their “real” work as a sideline to some less than fulfilling job that pays the bills. Even successful, well-compensated artists usually started quite modestly and worked for years making no money while honing their talents. Visions of wealth and riches might be a key factor in the ascent of some artists, but even they must enjoy making art for its own sake to be successful at it on any level.

The process of making art, the day-to-day engagement with technique, and the whole experimental/trial-and-error mode at the root of creativity is miles away from the realm of dollars and cents. An artist will not be successful artistically or financially if he or she is not focused on the creative process and that process is separate from the process of moneymaking.

Products or enterprises spawned from passion and whim, rather than some wholly commercial impetus, have a different character. Compare a Motel 6 in Any Rest Stop, U.S.A, to a bed and breakfast in Vermont. Compare a blockbuster Hollywood movie, backed by a multimillion-dollar marketing/merchandising campaign, to a more nuanced film that is an obvious labor of love. When something is done not just for the money, it shows.

There are more than a few professions that require years of study and training, yet assume that whoever makes the effort will not get rich. Law enforcement, social work, environmental preservation, and countless other fields attract the sort of people who work for something besides money. It may be the feeling of making a difference in the community or helping others that motivates people to spend so much time training for a job that may actually result in a long period of financial struggle. In many of these cases, the work and the feeling that comes from seeing the results is its own reward.

Money is essential to the “business of life,” which revolves around food, shelter, intoxication, entertainment, and the rest. But also essential are those aspects of human beings, deep-seated and very basic urges, which have little or nothing to do with money. Of course, money intersects with everything in this society, including all of our passions. That’s why some people who honestly claim they “don’t do it for the money” may actually make a lot of money doing what it is they don’t do for the money.


Integrating the Fragmented Self

The contemporary world presents us with an oceanic array of choices, stimuli, responsibilities, and distractions that often keep us from achieving personal harmony. Many people either fail to realize or are indifferent to the fact that their lives are really a form of controlled chaos. Others are all too aware of this situation and find themselves overwhelmed by the excess, burdened by their inability to incorporate and/or filter out unnecessary or harmful mental input.

Some people, though, have taken on the modern world in all its excess and have found a way to thrive, enjoying a life that is happy, healthy, prosperous, and dynamic. Chances are such people are continuously striving for wholeness and have learned the fine art of personal integration.

One key to becoming integrated is to incorporate the opposite qualities of those aspects of life we generally think of as positive. For example, cheeriness, charm, and good-humor can only be authentic if one has also experienced some pain and suffering. Good humor is not about denying or repressing the grim things in life, it’s about coming to terms with them and making them a part of us–contained, understood, and even nurtured. Through our struggle to achieve personal integration, we gain insight into living well.

Avoiding the painful and the unpleasant often makes a situation worse. Embracing pain--using it, transcending it--is the way to achieve a higher pleasure. Striving for wholeness and achieving it will enhance and elevate the full range of our desires and aspirations.

Wholeness means uniting all the aspects of one’s self, integrating all innate capacities, however disparate they may be. Achieving wholeness or integration is a daunting task. One of the many obstacles to wholeness is that people, in a cosmic sense, are small, limited, and inadequate; tiny pieces of a vast, imperceptible whole. This realization can become a source of defeatism, leading one to believe that achieving wholeness is impossible in such a fragmented world.

As individuals, we experience the various effects of dualism--that separation between essential aspects of ourselves, like mind and body--on a daily basis. Duality is based on the law of attraction and repulsion, and, therefore, creation itself is founded on the principle of duality. It would seem, then, that we are meant to exist in a state of fragmentation, and the noise of media and technology does not add to this situation so much as mirror it. This makes the task of wholeness that much harder.

It is difficult to talk about a theme like wholeness without lapsing into the abstract and metaphysical. It’s a chimerical topic, but the consequences are very real. The person looking to succeed must have his own house in order and maintain some peace of mind simply to make it to work in the morning. But to thrive and reach the zenith of success, a person needs to do more. It’s a matter of reaching self-knowledge, and taking the next step after that: applying that knowledge in your professional as well as your personal life.

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