Back to Portfolio for the Future™

Trumping the Competition: Lessons to Learn From ‘The Donald’

September 17, 2015

trumpBy Diane Harrison

Politics aside, Donald Trump is a master manipulator. He innately understands how to reach people and how to deliver his message effectively and consistently, something his fellow candidate hopefuls can learn a lot about from him. Trump grabs market share by being assertive, fearless, direct, opinionated, and relentless. Like him or loathe him, the competition in both political parties are furiously taking notes on Trump’s tactics as his campaign wages on and continues to build momentum.

Stripping away the election rhetoric, there are several interesting comparisons to make between what works for Trump and what can benefit hedge fund managers. The following takes a closer look at some of what makes ‘The Donald’ successful.

Trump exudes leadership. He knows how to get things done, which includes hiring others who know how to get things done. He runs a global, diversified, multi-faceted business empire worth billions and does this with a vast team, of which he is the undisputed leader. True leadership isn’t bought, it’s earned. Trump has earned the right to be called a leader through his business accomplishments.

Trump knows how to negotiate. Fans call him a brilliant success, detractors call him a flip-flopper, but the reality is Trump keeps his eye on the prize and adapts to get the deal done. There is an art to deal-making, and he has not only authored a bestseller called The Art of the Deal, but has mastered the ability to walk away with a positive outcome and to keep the ball moving forward.

Trump has plenty of self-confidence. Has there ever been someone who cares less if others like him or hate him? He stands by his convictions and is not swayed by “peer pressure” to veer from his goals. This doesn’t mean he can’t moderate or adapt, but he does do so without abandoning his core beliefs.

Trump has decades of demonstrated ability. Supporters and detractors alike have been forced to agree that Trump does know how to make things happen. He has built new businesses, expanded existing businesses, and orchestrated the complicated dance of getting others to fall in line with his wishes. Trump has a strong work ethic, and requires the same from the people who work for him.

Trump is a natural at expressing his opinions. He speaks extemporaneously about what he believes in, something the general population loves and the politicians fear. He doesn’t obsess over proper phrasing, rehearsed speeches, or what the reactions to what he says might be. He believes in what he’s saying and conveys the passion behind the words, which resonates with a considerable number of people.

Trump can hire and fire. Much like a successful trader, he knows how to cut losses and let his gains run. Because he is not afraid to make a decision, he is able to execute, pivot, or abandon an idea or path if it doesn’t match up with his objectives. He has the ability to back a good choice and the hard-nosed chutzpah to utter his trademark phrase, “You’re fired!” when necessary.

Trump’s children love him. This is by no means a small accomplishment; in fact, it might be the biggest testament to Trump’s influence on others. He has three adult children from his first marriage, and one each from his second and third marriages. Even his detractors can’t find a negative personal barb to throw at him in regards to being a good father- his children are the judge and jury of that case and Trump wins it unanimously.

Enemies will say Trump was born on third base and hit a single. That may have been true in the first few years of his adult life, when he took over his father’s business. But after overcoming several catastrophic failures in real estate, ‘The Donald’ has reinvented himself and his diversified business empire in a wildly successful way. Whether you are a fan or a foe, there is no question he embodies the American Dream. To borrow a quote from his presidential campaign slogan, “deal with it.”

In sum, ‘The Donald’ wants to succeed at what he believes in, personally and professionally. He wants to be great and he wants to inspire greatness. He has consistently claimed he wants to make America great again. Hedge fund managers who are defining their own unique role in the investment universe can learn much from these qualities ‘The Donald’ embodies so well. By expressing themselves with passion and laying out a set of clear objectives, fostering a strong team of like-minded individuals with the will and ability to execute to plan and adapt when necessary, and staying the course even in the face of opposition and hardship, some of these managers just might join “The Donald’ in trumping their competition.

Diane Harrison is principal and owner of Panegyric Marketing, a strategic marketing communications firm founded in 2002 and specializing in a wide range of writing services within the alternative assets sector. She has over 20 years’ of expertise in hedge fund marketing, investor relations, sales collateral, and a variety of thought leadership deliverables. In 2015, Panegyric Marketing received AI’s awards for Best Financial Services Marketing & Communications Firm, Innovation in Asset Strategy, and Business Excellence in Strategy & Positioning Statements – USA as well as M&A's Excellence in Financial Services Marketing – USA, and Best Financial Marketing Firm - USA. The firm also won consecutive year awards in 2013-14 as IHFA’s Innovative Marketing Firm of the Year and AI’s Marketing Communications Firm of the Year- USA. A published author and speaker, Ms. Harrison’s work has appeared in many industry publications, both in print and on-line.

Contact: or visit