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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Donald Trump failed. But he got up again.

Congratulations, Mr Trump. You made it to the post of President. You won your election fair and square.

It may not be your intention to inform the public about your past failings, but I think it might be educational, even motivational, for ordinary people like me. Because your winning of the presidency means that you've succeeded where others have failed.

And that means that you probably have a number of lessons about failing, and getting up again, that could benefit ordinary folks like me. And the other readers of this blog. (There is intelligent life out there, no?)

Losses and Future Income

Newsweek tells us that in the 1990s, you lost over $1 billion. But that was a blessing in disguise, because by declaring your loss, you managed to avoid paying taxes for many years.

This is one strategy that we can learn from Mr Trump: "... deducting a loss against income in future tax years is both common and legal..."

It's saying to the government, and the taxman in particular, "Look, I lost money big time. So this is why you ought to grant me a tax break next year, and the year after that, because the income I make in those years must be seen in perspective. You must also consider the loss I sustained this year."

In other words, the savvy businessman like Mr Trump is likely to play down the success of later years in light of his earlier losses. "I was younger then, I know better now."

And that somehow seems like modesty, even though Mr Trump doesn't look like the modest type. But then, I saw someone post on social media a slightly disarming photo of a tattooed man smoking a cigarette, with the caption "Sometimes the kindest people you meet are covered in tattoos, and sometimes the most judgemental people you meet go to church on Sundays."

So from Mr Trump, we can learn that a big loss can be dovetailed into something good: Tax deductions, and a way of making future success look modest.

"Silver shovel in his mouth"

Newsweek said that Mr Trump was born with a "silver shovel in his mouth". That is a play on the saying, "born with a silver spoon in the mouth". 

But Newsweek also said that Mr Trump was "unable to control his spending." Instead, "He loaded himself up with debt from the credit line in an apparent belief that he could make enough money through other deals and investments to cover the interest payments."

His self-confidence was misplaced then, as the business plans he had lined up all fell through. His borrowing came near to its limits, and his income fell to, well, rather ordinary levels.

Eventually, Mr Trump got a bailout from his father, Fred Trump, who arranged for some loans for his son, Donald Trump, to stay afloat. Even his family business also lent him money, interest-free, without any fixed date for repayment.

My impression is that it was a young Mr Trump who floundered back there, and he would have already learned from his lessons. He would be smarter today. I hope that he will be.

Some of life's lessons are tough on us, but if we learn, we become better. If Mr Trump has weathered the storms of his youthful folly, and succeeded, it stands to reason that he is now a wiser, more capable person. 

And maybe, he can finally be trusted with investing huge funds.

The Lesson We Can Learn from Mr Trump

The Internet is so full of websites that trumpet Mr Trump's failures that I needn't number them here, but just in case some of you are interested in learning from failure (silver lining in every cloud, that kind of good thinking), here are some links:
  1. Donald Trump's 13 most epic business failures - Ranker
  2. Donald Trump, a failed bully in his debate with Hillary Clinton - New Yorker 
  3. 10 Donald Trump business failures - TIME
  4. A look inside Donald Trump's failed Taj Mahal Casino - Fortune
  5. Donald Trump's failed foray into the world of MMA - Bleacher Report
Going through some of these, I can understand that many of us would shake our heads. In every "failure", Mr Trump had started by stating clearly that it will be a success. "I do a lot of business, and build a lot of big buildings," he seems to say, "so this is no biggie, but it will probably succeed, like all my other projects do."

That's something that we can learn from Mr Trump. You have to be brave enough to say to the world that your pet project is going to succeed. Because the first person that should have faith in you, is you.

In other words, fake it until you make it.

And as the whole world has recently seen, Mr Trump has been heckled and jeered at, for his performance during the presidential debates. He wasn't as eloquent as Hillary Clinton, he came off as brutish, he got a bunch of ladies to condemn Clinton's husband for this and that... and then he won the election.

Maybe his eloquence wasn't that important, because he was eloquent enough to pronounce what he wanted. And he represented something to a sizeable segment of people, and was important enough to them that they would want to vote for him.

Jack Ma said in a talk (the crowd was mostly Korean), "Fall down seven times, get up eight." 

That's what real success is all about. You can't hope to achieve success on your first try, because statistically, many "overnight success stories" are the result of years and years of trying. But that's what the media wants to hear -- "he succeeded out of nowhere". 

Take a leaf out of Mr Trump's book. Take your best shot and just go for it. Never put yourself down. Never let others put you down. And if it's time to let it go, just let it go. It's OK to fail.

Mr Trump let a number of his projects fail, and still, he got to be President.

Fake it until you make it. But while you are doing it, you have to believe that it's real, and act upon that belief. And if it fails, let it fail, and move on.

Thanks for reading this blog

Here are some other pieces from me.