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What Donald Trump’s Books Say About Winning

Decades later came Trump, who followed this well-worn path with his own formula for success. First, his books stress that defeating (or crushing, if possible) your opponents is the key to upward mobility. Economic and social life is an arena for survival where the soft perish and the alpha male prevails. “The world is a vicious and brutal place,” Trump writes in Think Big. “They want your job, they want your house, they want your money, they want your wife, and they even want your dog. Those are your friends; your enemies are even worse!”

In this Hobbesian world where life is “nasty, brutish, and short,” Trump insists, the successful individual must cultivate hard-nosed traits to prosper. Trump’s father, himself an accomplished real-estate entrepreneur, taught his son to be forceful and dogged. Young Donald took to this naturally. He relates in The Art of the Deal an episode in the second grade where “I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled.” An adolescent stint in military school taught him to remain assertive while channeling his aggression into achievement. Trump drew a clear conclusion: “You can’t be scared. You do your thing, you hold your ground, you stand up tall, and whatever happens, happens.”

The successful person, according to Trump, must strike back at anyone who crosses him.  “My motto is: Always get even,” he writes in Think Big. “When somebody screws you, screw them back in spades.” He recounts how a real-estate competitor, for example, once hoodwinked him in a complicated deal, initiated a lawsuit, and then offered to settle for a life-time membership in one of his golf clubs. Trump accepted, but then publicly humiliated the man at every opportunity. He admits, “I love getting even. I get screwed

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