Notes From Donald Trump’s “How to Get Rich”

The following are some points that stood out to me while reading How to Get Rich, by Donald Trump, listed here by chapter. I’ve bolded both chapter titles (which are lessons in themselves) and extremely important points within the quotes. I’ve also added some personal observations in [brackets].

Be a General

  • If you are careful when finding employees, management becomes a lot easier.
  • Keep the big picture [your ultimate goal] in mind while attending to the daily details. This can seem like a balancing act, but it is absolutely necessary for success in running a company.

Stay Focused

  • I work as had today as I did when I was a young developer…

Maintain Your Momentum

  • No matter how accomplished you are, no matter how well yo think you know your business, you have to remain vigilant about the details of your field. You can’t get by on experience or smarts.
  • No matter what you’re managing, don’t assume you can glide by. Momentum is something you have to work to maintain.

Get an Assistant

  • [An assistant allows you to leverage your time in the best possible way. A good assistant will allow you to get to the important things faster, while keeping the non-important things from cluttering your radar.]

Remember: The Buck Starts Here

  • Set the standard. Don’t expect your employees to work harder than you do.
  • Winners see problems as just another way to prove themselves. Problems are never truly hardships to them, and if you haven’t got any problems, then you must not have a business to run.
  • Regard your company as a living, breathing organism, because that’s what it is. Those figures you see on your spreadsheets will reflect the health of that organism. Watch out for bad cells while allowing good cells to flourish.
  • Having a passion for what you do is crucial. If you can’t get excited about what you’re doing, how can you expect anyone else to? If your employees can see and feel your energy, it is bound to affect them.

Don’t Equivocate

  • [Call things as they are. If something is good, say so. If something stinks, say so.]

Ask Yourself Two Questions

  • Is there anyone else who can do this better than I? … If your competition is better than you are, you need to offer some quality they lack.
  • What am I pretending not to see? … Before the dream lists you into the clouds, make sure you’ve looked hard at the facts on the ground.

Bullshit Will Only Get You So Far

  • I never try to dissuade people from quitting. If they don’t want to be here, I don’t want them to be here, either.

Every New Hire is a Gamble

  • Do you work wholeheartedly or halfheartedly? Are you just going through the motions and hoping no one will notice? The only person you ever fool is yourself. You can’t fool others, even though you might think you can.

Ideas Are Welcome, but Make Sure You Have the Right One

  • I like people who don’t give up, but merely being a pest is detrimental to everyone. Once again, fine-tune your discernment. Know when to ease up. Keep your antennae up for another idea and a more appropriate opportunity. Sometimes we hesitate with good reason.

Focus on the Talent Instead of the Title

  • Very often, your resources are greater than you might think. I don’t like it when people underestimate me, and I try not to underestimate anyone else.
  • [T]ry to see beyond a person’s title. you can find talent in unlikely places.

Manage the Person, Not the Job

  • Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Keep Your Door Open

  • Learning begets learning. I’d rather be stimulated than passive. You can’t wear a blindfold in business. A regular part of your day should be devoted to expanding your horizons.
  • Learn something new, whether you think you’re interested in it or not. That’s the opposite of having a closed mind — or a closed door.

Think Big and Live Large

  • The possibilities are always there. If you’re thinking too small, you might miss them.
  • [W]hat’s the difference between losing $100,000 or hundreds of millions of dollars? Either way, you’ve lost, so you might as well have really gone for it.
  • If you’re going to think, think big. If you’re going to live, live large.


Take Control of the Job Interview

  • [If you know you can do a job, don’t be afraid to ask for the chance to do it, even at minimum wage, for a trial period. Action is worth a lot more than words, and your actions will prove to them you’re the person they’re after.]

Ask For Your Raise At the Right Time

  • The best way to ask for a raise is to wait for the right time. It also indicates to your boss that you have a certain amount of discernment and appreciation for what he might be going through.

Be Tenacious

  • At times, just about every executive will appear impatient, but to build something that endures, you have to take the long view.

Play Golf

  • Being an entrepreneur, even within a large company, is a solitary game.
  • [T]urn your passion into profit. The results of that passion will reward you in more ways than you ever could have expected. Passion is enthusiasm on a big scale. It is all-encompassing and consuming. People with passion never give up because they’ll never have a reason to give up, no matter what their circumstances may be. It’s an intangible momentum that can make you indomitable.

Brand Yourself and Toot Your Own Horn

  • If you’re devoting your life to creating a body of work, and you believe in what you do, and what you do is excellent, you’d better damn well tell people you think so. Subtlety and modesty are appropriate for nuns and therapists, but if you’re in business, you’d better learn to speak up and announce your significant accomplishments to the world — nobody else will. [Gnorb’s Note: From personal experience, this applies only when you are building something from the ground up. When you’re part of a system, edifying the system will usually result in the system edifying you in turn, since people with just as much credibility (and more) as you will be the ones tooting your horn. Inform the system of your accomplishments and the system will inform the world of them. Leverage whatever tools you have in the process of self promotion.]

Go with Your Gut

    Being an entrepreneur is not a group effort. You have to trust yourself. You may have superb academic credentials, but without instincts you’ll have a hard time getting to — and staying at — the top.

Be Optimistic, but Always Be Prepared for the Worst

  • The ups and downs are inevitable, so simply try to be prepared for them.
  • [Get a couple of stone tablets and carve this into them. Into the first, carve “Problems are Always Solvable.” Into the second, carve “Problems are Unavoidable”.]

Look Closely Before Changing Careers

  • Anyone with more than a little curiosity and ambition will at some point be tempted to try a different challenge on new terrain. Take the risk, but before you do, do everything you can to learn what you’re getting yourself into, and be as sure as you can that you’ve got the right mindset for the job.

Avoid the Handshake Whenever Possible

  • It’s a medical fact that [shaking hands] is how germs are spread. I wish we could follow the Japanese custom of bowing instead.

Pay Attention to the Details

  • If you don’t know every aspect of what you’re doing, down to the paper clips, you’re setting yourself up for some unwelcome surprises.

Connect with Your Audience (The Art of Public Speaking, Parts I & II)

  1. Think about your audience first. The rest will fall into place. Granted, having useful information will help, too.
  2. Involve your audience. They will appreciate being included.
  3. When you’re speaking, it helps to be prepared…if you read every day, you will already be prepared.
  4. Be a good storyteller…Storytelling is a skill, so work on it. It’s helpful to listen to comedians. The good ones can teach you the art of great timing.
  5. Think about the common denominator.
  6. When you are on the podium, you are the entertainer.
  7. Study Regis Philbin.
  8. Be able to poke fun at yourself.
  9. Learn to think on your feet. Memorable public speaking involves a good deal of spontaneity. [If you’re not good at it, learn. Knowing your topic inside and out also helps. A lot.]
  10. Listen in your daily life.
  11. Have a good time…Before you speak, remind yourself that it doesn’t matter all that much. Don’t feel that the weight of the world is on you. Most people in the room don’t care how well or poorly you do. It’s just not that important. It’s merely a speech — not an earthquake or war. You’ll have a better time and be a better speaker if you keep it all in perspective.

Change Your Attitude

  • If you have the right attitude, you can get where you’re going, fast.
  • Having a high frequency will attune you to a wavelength that exudes confidence and clear-sighted enthusiasm. I’m a firm believer that this is half the battle of any enterprise.
  • [M]y productivity was increased by a large percentage simply by learning to let go of negativity in all forms as quickly as I could. My commitment to excellence is thorough — so thorough that it negates the wavelength of negativity immediately.
  • Negativity is also a form of fear, and fear can be paralyzing.
  • Very often, negative thinking stems from low self-esteem. You have to work on this yourself.
  • [S]ee knocks as opportunities and as insight into whoever is doing the knocking.
  • [F]aith over fear. Faith can overcome the paralysis that fear brings with it.
  • People who persist have courage, because often it’s a lot easier to give up.
  • Maybe you’ve gotten to the point where you think you can’t get through another day. That’s shortsighted of you. You’re missing the big picture. You’re on the runway, but your fuel supply is the problem. You won’t get off the ground without it. Fed yourself some positive thoughts and you can take off at any time.
  • Get going. Move forward. Aim high. Plan for takeoff. Don’t just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won’t happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude.

Start Visualizing Positively

  • Keep a book of inspiring quotes nearby, so you can change a negative wavelength the moment it descends on you. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
    • Know everything you can about what you’re doing. — Fred Trump
    • I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you can to see happen. — Frank Lloyd Wright
    • A leader has the right to be beaten, but never the right to be surprised. — Napoleon
    • He who looks outside his own heart dreams, he who looks inside his own heart awakens. — Carl Jung
    • Imagination is more important than knowledge. — Einstein
    • Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential. — Winston Churchill

Read Carl Jung

  • As a safety factor, I very often see other people as a revolver that could be pointed at me. They are the gun. I, however, am the trigger. So I speak and tread carefully. It’s an effective visual aid to avoid conflicts, and I was unwittingly among people who were actually psychos underneath their dignified personas. We never know what will trigger another person’s killer instinct. It can be something that happened when they were five years old. So avoid being the trigger, and the revolver will not be a threat.
  • You have to know yourself as well as know other people to be an effective leader…reading the work of Carl Jung [is] a step in the right direction.
  • Reading Carl Jung will give you insights into yourself and the ways in which you and other people operate.

Have an Ego

  • Having a well-developed ego, contrary to popular opinion, is a positive attribute. It is the center of our consciousness and serves to give us a sense of purpose…”Show me someone with no ego and I’ll show you a big loser.”

Keep Critics in Perspective

  • There is constructive criticism, and then there are is destructive criticism. Here’s how to assess both types:
    1. First of all, consider the source. Should this person’s opinion even matter to you?
    2. If it does matter to you, take a few minutes to consider whether anything helpful can result for the criticism. Others can often see things that we have overlooked. Use their keen eyes to your advantage.
    3. Critics serve their purpose. Sometimes they serve a larger purpose, and sometimes they serve their own purpose.
    4. Everyone has an opinion. In most cases, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.
    5. If the opinion is worth the paper it’s written on, and it’s written on a paper people are buying and reading, then realize that if people didn’t find you interesting enough for public consumption, they wouldn’t be taking the time to criticize you. Think of their criticism as a compliment, proof of your significance.

Homework Is Required and There Will Be a Test

  • People who think achieving success is a linear A-to-Z process, a straight shot to the top, simply aren’t in touch with reality. There are very few bona fide overnight success stories. It just doesn’t work that way.
  • Every industry and profession has its bottom line for what is required to succeed. If you can’t stand to practice every day, being a musician is out of the question. If you hate to exercise, being an athlete is not for you. In business — every business — the bottom line is understanding the process. If you don’t understand the process, you’ll never reap the rewards of the process. You’ll never last long enough to achieve your ‘overnight’ success.
  • We can learn from our mistakes, but it’s better to learn from our successes. When I hear people say, “Well, it was an interesting experience,” I can usually safely assume they are deferring to something that didn’t work out the way they’d planned. I don’t find my goof-ups to be amusing or interesting.
  • We all know what it’s like to pretend to study. There are some courses in school that just don’t hold our attention. If you are choosing a career, keep that in mind. What most holds your attention? [What do you like about your business or profession? What do you not? How can you turn this into an advantage?]

Again, these were just a few of the nuggets I got from Trump’s book How to Get Rich. There was a ton more information in there, so if I were you I’d pick a copy up and start reading it. Even if you’re not in business, and even if you don’t like Trump, you know he knows his stuff, and his stuff is a lot more than just real estate and casinos.

8 thoughts on “Notes From Donald Trump’s “How to Get Rich”

  1. This is a good summary, but I haven’t found any place I can get naked article so I can print it and take it with myself on subway ride.

  2. I don’t have print option (though I really should put on in…), so Copy and Paste to your favorite word processor or text editor and print. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  3. donald i really wanna be like you
    your quotes keeps my spirit high,,,,,,i wanna build a maternity hospital for the women but i have no money BUT I HAVE THE POSITIVE THOUGHT IN MY MIND THAT I WILL BUILD ONE ..A BIGGER ONE IN AFRICA

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