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Archive for the “Donald Trump” Category

In the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks, playing Jimmy Dugan, the crusty, alcoholic manager of a professional women’s baseball team, delivered the now famous cinematic pep talk that concludes with the statement, “There’s no crying in baseball!!”

Well, my fellow entrepreneurs, there was crying in baseball on July 29, 2015, by 23-year-old New York Mets infielder Wilmer Flores. When Flores took the field for the top of the eighth inning he was crying because he had just heard the (false) report that he had been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He sobbed, very publicly, his way through the inning. It was a level of naked vulnerability I have seldom seen in professional sports. He took his position with red eyes and tear-lined cheeks and throughout the inning was seen wiping his nose and upper lip on his glove. At one point he wiped both his eyes on his sleeves. It was a truly touching and guileless evincement of human vulnerability.

But what is really interesting and surprising about this incident is that it has turned this middling, quiet, unheralded baseball player into a cult hero for the nonce. The Flores incident has tapped into a cultural longing for the real, for the authentic. During August, Steiner Sports, a sports memorabilia company, started offering signed pictures of Flores at $80 a pop ($215 with frame!) and can’t keep them in stock.

Likewise, let us consider the phenomenon of Donald Trump. In addition to making the race for U.S. president enormously entertaining, Trump has tapped into a zeitgeist that longs for the real. Maybe vulnerability is not the first word that comes to mind when thinking of him, but Trump is also speaking into this longing with his startlingly un-PC spontaneity. He is frankly telling the truth–his truth–uncensored by societal cliches of what is deemed acceptable among traditional elites.

The Flores and Trump phenomenons point to a new and universal yearning for simple unalloyed candor.

Donald_Trump_August_2015There is a lesson and a learning here for those of us trying to lead our small companies successfully. And that is that the command-and-control trope, long so dominant in corporate leadership thinking, is less and less efficacious. (Note the negative repercussions for Jeff Bezos of last week’s New York Times article documenting managerial bullying at Amazon.) There is a growing cultural uneasiness with executives who govern from fear and the heavy hand, and who swing their big corporate leadership dicks with statements like “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Leaders so enamored of their own top-down power are old-fashioned in a world where effective organizational hierarchies are increasingly horizontal.

Georg Vilmetter and Yvonne Sell wrote an interesting essay for the Harvard Business Review website last July in which they divided executive leaders by the type of power driving them. They define these two types as the egocentric and the altrocentic. Vilmetter and Sell say the following:

“Egocentric leaders tend to be concerned only with personalized power–power that gets them ahead. Altrocentric leaders, on the other hand, derive power from motivating, not controlling others. The altrocentric leader who is intrinsically motivated by socialized power, and who draws strength and satisfaction from teaching, team building, and empowering others, will be able to handle the increased pressure of tomorrow’s business environment. They understand that they need not ‘have all the answers’ themselves, and this mindset and willingness to turn to others for help better equips them to handle the stress of the uneasy chair.”

hqdefaultWhich brings me back to Mr. Trump and Mr. Flores and the public’s hunger for the no-bullshit Real. We respond to these two very different men because we viscerally long to find simple, direct truths for ourselves and in our confusing, complicated world.

Brene Brown, in her recent book Daring Greatly: How the Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, says this. “There is no triumph without vulnerability.” Thank you Sister Brown.

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Donald_Trump_Laconia_Rally,_Laconia,_NH_4_by_Michael_Vadon_July_16_2015_20For more than two months, I’ve immersed myself in news coverage of the presidential primary races, especially the meteoric (and surprising) rise of billionaire Donald Trump. As a longtime “political junkie” – having begun my news career in the CBS News Washington bureau, I frequently visited the White House press room and had a chance to interview numerous senators and representatives – I find this process fascinating, and I’ve never previously seen a primary race quite like this one. (I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing!) If you’ve been watching the recent political coverage – although 14 months still remain prior to Election Day 2016 – what are your thoughts about all the news from the campaign trail?

A number of years ago, long before he ever declared his candidacy, I had the pleasure of talking with Donald Trump during the taping of a one-hour PBS special titled “How to Get Very, Very Rich” or something like that. I’ve been reflecting on that conversation and I think it offers a few useful insights into the way we connect with others and the way we each communicate our own unique message. (I’m not announcing that I intend to vote for Mr. Trump, by the way. I want to be very clear about that!)

In this newsletter, I’ll share those observations with you. (And I’ll do my best to do it concisely – as a number of people have let me know that my previous newsletters have been way too long!) As always, I also have a few recommendations for you. I’ll also tell you about an interview that I’ll be doing on Wednesday, which will also be available for listening on demand.

My Conversation with Donald Trump

As I mentioned, my conversation with the candidate who is currently the Republican front runner dates back a few years. During the time I spent working as a producer for “Good Morning America,” I had become friends with Robert Kiyosaki (author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”) and his wife Kim. In turn, they introduced me to their friend Bill Zanker, founder of The Learning Annex and co-author along with Donald Trump of a the 2008 book, “Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life.”

When Bill Zanker was organizing the production of a one-hour PBS special featuring his friend Donald Trump, I was fortunate enough to be among the 100-person audience and even had the chance to ask the billionaire real estate developer a question.

As millions of people who have read “The Art of the Deal” — or heard his recent ideas from the campaign trail — know quite well, Mr. Trump said that he certainly understands the value of “thinking big.” He also said that in building his billion-dollar business empire he frequently does one thing that many other business people don’t do. He engages in “negative thinking,” which he said should not be confused with “defeatist thinking.” I asked Mr. Trump about this, and here’s what he told me.

Donald Trump said that despite the impression that many people have of him, he is actually very conservative in his approach to business. He said that he clearly visualizes “the worst that can happen” before he heads into any deal, and he makes sure that he can withstand that outcome if it comes to pass. “If you plan for the worst,” he said, “the good will always take care of itself.”

What We Can Learn From Donald Trump

Reflecting on that brief conversation, and having had a chance to see this controversial yet magnetic leader in action, here are a few of my observations. (And again, I’m not necessarily casting my vote for this provocative candidate!) Hopefully, you’ll find these ideas useful in the way that you connect with an audience and/or the news media.

Come in with a Game Plan. Donald Trump didn’t just show up at the television studio for that PBS special prepared to “wing it.” He had an objective in mind – providing useful information and a “pep talk,” as well as steering viewers to his online “Donald Trump University.”

Demonstrate a Genuine Desire to Connect with Others. Although some of the people who have met or heard Donald Trump on the campaign trail over the past couple of months (especially those who have been on the receiving end of some of his more “inflammatory” comments) may disagree with me, I got the impression that this is a man who – despite his wealth and the number of “yes-men” he surrounds himself with – genuinely wants to be liked by others, and shows an authentic interest in listening to their concerns — and he’s not doing it in typical “campaign-speak.”

Passion Is Powerful. In almost every one of the hundreds of television interviews I’ve produced over the years, I’ve made it a point to seek out the passion that my interview subject has for the book they’ve written, the business they’ve created, or the way they serve others. This quality of passion is what engages an audience, and inspires them to follow up on that relationship.

Assess Your Strengths, and Describe How You Can Serve Others. Although, in a number of interviews and press conferences, Donald Trump is beginning to reveal his weaknesses, he’s also not bashful (!) about touting his ability as a “deal-maker” and job-creator. Like Mr. Trump, in media interviews or speaking opportunities, you may need to bring up your “strong points” on your own, rather than in response to a question.

In my work with clients at Tom Martin Media, I enjoy coming up with strategies that maximize each of these areas, and lead to media coverage and new conversations with potential clients and customers.

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Albert EinsteinIt’s good to know where you’re going before you begin to go there.

My minister tells great stories. Here’s one. Supposedly true. It concerns Albert Einstein who was notoriously absent-minded. Einstein was taking a ride on the Metro North train out of New York. The conductor comes by to collect the tickets. Albert pats his pockets and can’t seem to find his ticket. The conductor recognizes him and tells Einstein not to worry about it. He goes through the rest of the train collecting tickets. On his way back he sees Professor Einstein on his knees on the floor frantically looking for his ticket. The conductor once again tells him not to worry, it’s alright if he can’t find his ticket. Albert Einstein looks up from the floor and says, “But I can’t remember where I’m going.”

There are many things I do poorly as an entrepreneur. I am a poor administrator.  I am impatient with meetings. I am not good with the quotidian details of spread sheets and day-to-day financial analysis. I am a poor technologist. My personal organization is frequently inchoate. And this is but a short list.

Nevertheless, I’ve led my firm, Corporate Rain International, for sixteen years. Probably the chiefest reason I’ve managed to get by is that I am very clear about where I want to go, who I want to be, who I want to have as clients, who I want as employees and associates, and what I want my brand to represent.

Harvard Business School I ain’t. For example, when I started out, I typed my bills on an old Underwood typewriter. Even then (1996) that pretty much classified me as a dinosaur. I knew nothing. But I very clearly did know where I wanted to be in five years, ten years, and fifteen years. I had a clear unalloyed personal goal. I knew where I wanted my journey to take me.

There are lots of ways to be a successful entrepreneur. The entrepreneurial pilgrimage I’ve chosen involves creating value in my life. Unlike many entrepreneurial colleagues, my ambition isn’t to be a master of the universe. Though I am successful one day at a time, money is also not it for me (though I’d love to be very rich). But those goals are also fine. (I’m a huge admirer of Donald Trump, though not remotely interested in being like him.) However, as naive a point as it is, it’s really necessary to know where you personally want to go if you are to get there. Thanks, Albert.

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