TRUMP: LUCKY OR SMART

Mr. Trump is a very wealthy person and although he did get an edge up through birth, he has added to that wealth and used it to accumulate much greater wealth. If your definition of success is attaining great wealth, then he is a successful person. That monetary success does not mean the same as being extremely intelligent, having great physical ability or possessing a substantial concern for people? Is this success the same as a researcher who dedicates a life to curing some disease, a missionary travelling the far reaches of this planet to help people, a Mother Teresa, a great athlete or a school teacher educating children?

Most of my adult life has been spent working with land developers in obtaining the government approval to build large scale developments including luxury high rise buildings. Early on I realized that developers, the people who put the idea together including finding lenders, hiring the lawyers, architects, contractors and the various consultants needed to actually make the project a reality, are like sheep. This is not meant in a derogatory sense. For example, if a luxury high rise building is successful on main street then other developers will gravitate to this area and build comparable type developments. If developer A is doing well in sales, then developer B will seek to do the same down the street as will other developers. When the market is strong then everyone is doing well having located in the right place with the right size units, views, amenities and price. When the market shifts or slows down is when the problems begin. A developer has an enormous payment due each month to cover the costs of loans, professional fees and construction costs. If the fees can’t be paid then the project is over. In order to avoid that outcome developers will try to offer something more as an inducement to purchase his product over others in the area. Keep in mind that the products are essentially the same in appearance and style with some relatively minor distinguishing features. In order to cope with the market decline and loss of sales the developers will start adding and marketing certain unique features. Such additions may include enlarged amenities, a known restaurant operator to operate the restaurant in the building or even reduce the price which is generally the absolute last resort. The developer is gambling that his offering will catch the purchasers and bring them to his product. This is all a marketing effort to say to potential purchases that this development is better and offers more if you purchase one of these units. The more is often a higher monthly maintenance fee which may not matter significantly in a luxury building. If it works to improve sales, who cares?

This in often the world of real estate development. In order to be successful a developer must know the right people, have some luck and brand his product as unique and therefore better than the other competitors. Keep in mind that each is selling basically the same product to the potentially same purchasers. They are not saying their product is different because it’s not, they are saying theirs is better. The wonders of marketing, if I am better, than you are not as good.

Thus Mr. Trump enters the presidential race. It is apparent he is different from the others running. He has limited knowledge of world affairs and possesses only a superficial understanding of domestic policy. His administrative ability may involve managing a relatively small group of employees. His lawyer is usually the team quarterback, the architect manages design and the contractor the construction but all are ultimately answerable to the developer. In order to improve his election prospects, his sales, he must market himself as better. He says things that offer appeal but have no real substance. His utterances offer appeal to people who feel let down or out of the market. He then tells them they can afford to buy his product because his product is different and better. He claims his opponents have low energy as in Jeb, lying as in Ted and now crooked Hilary. These are not substantiated statements of fact but marketing tools to say he is better without claiming to be. Sometimes the marketing works and his product sells. Other times he may not be so lucky.

The chief occupant of the Whitehouse does not have the options of selling his interest in the building or of filing for bankruptcy. He must lead despite apparent disagreements, downturns or problems. It is not the President’s job to “cut a deal” but rather to solve problems. The President must work to insure the welfare of the American people both at home and throughout the world. These problems rage from unemployment at home to committing American soldiers into combat.

Unfortunately for Mr. Trump we are not selling real estate developments. Various marketing techniques and/or tricks should not be effective this time. We are not selling hamburgers, we are electing a President of the free world. Surely as a nation we know the difference between a big mac and a rib eye steak but then again maybe not.

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