Tweets and a Project Oriented President

A refrain endlessly repeated during the 2016 presidential campaign went something like this: “Donald Trump is a businessman, he’s not one of those DC politicians.” Which is true, and has proven even more so over the past few months.

But, and this is a very important “but”,  there seems to be a massive misunderstanding regarding what type of businessman our President was. Why is this differentiation important? Because there are several different types of businessmen, and each type approach life, problem solving and conflict resolution in very different ways.

As an example, President Trump was a businessman, but then so was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as was Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Three executive businessmen, yet all three came into government service with vastly different resumes, and managed three wildly different businesses. To understand President Trump is to understand his background as a high-end real estate developer.

The group of elite billionaire real estate developers is very small, it is perhaps one of the most treacherous arena to play in, and the risk of failure is amplified exponentially as the size of the deal grows. But, one thing never changes, there are just a few phases to any real estate development project.

  1. Land/building acquisition
  2. Permitting
  3. Breaking ground to ribbon cutting
  4. Profitability
  5. Sell or refinance

A successful developer views each project as a “new deal”, it has an independent corporate identity, wholly separate from the primary corporation, and is responsible for providing revenue to this primary corporation. This revenue can range from fees, commissions, or profit.

The “mothership”, the primary real estate development corporate office is a very different animal than most businesses. To be sure, it has many of the same type departments, (HR, Accounting, etc.) but the main difference lies within the fact that it exist solely to service the developer and his/her projects. A real estate developer’s corporate entity is by and large a “cost center”, with the developer at the top of a pyramid being the rainmaker. Everything is about the developer and the project, nothing else really matters. The corporate entity typically has no ability to make money outside of the developer and his/her projects.

It is also important to understand failure is a given. No every project comes out of the ground, the reasons might vary, but no real estate developer brings every proposed project to fruition. Failure isn’t debilitating, its just a message to move on to the next deal.

So, back to the four phases, and their importance. Each relate to a phase of the President journey to the White House.

  1. Land/building acquisition:
    1. Bold announcement to move into the primary. Remember the ride down the escalator? Massive PR push to acquire.
  2. Permitting:
    1. Often the most difficult grueling part of any development project, it was at the Republican Convention where Mr. Trump finally consolidated all of his “permits”.
  3. Breaking ground to ribbon cutting:
    1. The general election describes this phase very nicely and it’s easy to equate President Trump’s  inauguration to a Trump Tower ribbon cutting.
  4. Profitability:
    1. Not every project is immediately profitable. Some require more work than others to realize profitability. The President’s first four years in office will prove if his supporters view him to be successful or not.
  5. Sell or Refinance:
    1. This is typically the point in a real estate project where the developer realizes the vast majority of  his/her profit. Whether it is a complete or partial sale, or refinancing of the initial loan, the project will come to be viewed as ultimately successful or not based on the outcome of this phase. A successful sale is the second four years in office.

The point is this, the success of the project is the only thing that matters. It just is. This is how the developer lives to fight another day. To date, the President has successfully navigated the first three phases, what exist to convince him he is headed to failure now?

I am convinced neither the President, his White House staff, nor his supporters care one iota about how anyone reacts to his tweets. From careful examination of hundreds and hundreds of MAGA tweets over the past few months, I am further convinced his supporters are right there with him with his each and every tweet.

Whether the Republican Party wants to admit it or not, most of the President’s die-hard ardent supporters view the majority of the GOP as life-long inhabitants of the swamp. And why not? Republican office leaders have long voiced conservative values yet disappointed year after year. Conservatives have opined about conservative values for some time now. Yet neither have had a noticiable impact on DC or the seemingly life-tenured politicians; and as a result the swamp remains as putrid as it has been for decades.

At the end of the day, success is binary. It is a yes or no thing. It is not a fuzzy, “well we tried, but…” metrosexual excuse. Either the President is successful in meeting most of his campaign promises or he isn’t. Either the unborn are being murdered, or or they aren’t. Either the border is being overrun by illegal aliens or its’ not. Either the number of jobs increase or they don’t. This isn’t terribly complicated, and this is why nearly all polls are so significantly off.

Those who delight in criticizing the President’s tweets are helplessly trying to beat him at 3-card Monte, and yet never understand this one vital fact. When you spend your time criticizing the President’s tweets, you have just picked the deuce not the queen. Because, for all the criticism of the President, very little applies to the changes taking place in federal government. For all of the hysteria of the MSM, this revamping of the federal government is going virtually unnoticed.

Each new uproar of criticism just bounces around the DC/media echo chamber, reverberating like a clanging cymbal. This endless criticism hasn’t moved his poll numbers down considerably, and in all probability never will. All of the hand-wringing whining and recriminations haven’t stayed his hand or slowed him down, and there is absolutely no indication that it ever will.

Perhaps, the President’s critics would best remember this one memorable line from the movie Rounders, “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table then you ARE the sucker.” 


About the author

Wm. P. Fitzhenry

5th generation Texan, 2nd generation reformed Presbyterian, a twin and a serial entrepreneur.

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