High Performance: What we can learn from the Trump doctrine

March 16, 2016 -  By


As Donald Trump continues to rack up delegates, politicians and pundits continue to be baffled by his seemingly unexplainable popularity. As a long-time political junkie, I’ve been fascinated by what has occurred thus far in the election cycle, and I can’t begin to imagine what’s still to come.

When it comes to The Donald, I clearly see the attraction. I call it the Trump Doctrine, which is to simply be yourself. Instead of telling people what you think they want to hear, tell them what you really think. Be authentic and true to yourself—whatever that is.

When other candidates try to act like Trump they look foolish, desperate or as if they’ve lost their way. Only Trump can be Trump. The other candidates would do well to strive to be authentic as well, whether they win or lose—not attempt to mimic Trump.

Regardless of your political views or thoughts about Mr. Trump, isn’t it refreshing to have a candidate devoid of pretense, posturing and political correctness?

I think so, and what a great lesson for us as business owners and managers. While I certainly don’t agree with Trump’s views on all matters or his style, the fact remains that he is wildly popular across the country because of the Trump Doctrine.

So how can you apply the Trump Doctrine in your business? Simply be yourself. Let your customers, employees, vendors and partners see the real you. Don’t hide behind slick marketing and empty promises, like a Washington politician. You’re so much better than that. Let people understand who you are. And, as you do, some will be attracted to you–very attracted to you. Others will not, and that’s OK.

For example, I often see websites with no mention of who’s behind the curtain. Instead, there are pages and pages of services, testimonials and claims of how great they are. Guess what? That’s not what people are looking for. Your prospects and customers want to know who you are, what you’re all about and what they might have in common with you. They want to connect with you on social media and really get to know you.

The Donald has this figured out and he’s running one of the most interesting campaigns in the history of American politics. Love him or not, the Trump Doctrine is what is fueling his success.

Now go forth.

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About the Author:

Harwood is a Managing Partner with GrowTheBench and Pro-Motion Consulting. Reach him at He is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager, NALP Trailblazer, NALP Consultant, and Certified Snow Professional. Harwood holds a BA in Marketing and Executive MBA with Honors from Michigan State University.

10 Comments on "High Performance: What we can learn from the Trump doctrine"

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  1. Matt says:

    I’ve always enjoyed reading the email updates from LM, but this is irresponsible. Unless it’s a legislative update, keep politics out of your magazine. Especially politics that are so flagrantly anti-immigrant. Celebrating any part of Donald Trump’s clumsy march to the nomination is reckless and offensive, and I feel deeply disappointed by your celebrating it.

    • Andy Felix says:

      You are missing the point from a sales/ management standpoint.

      This is a “blog” not an “article”. Comments like yours continue to drive Trump to the White House.

    • Brad says:

      I really enjoyed the article. I thought it was great.
      Unlike the other commenters, I enjoy learning from ultra successful business people like Trump. It is amazing how he has been so successful coming into the political scene, too. I enjoy watching how strategic he is.

      I don’t think he is anti-immigrant either… His wife is an immigrant? I think he is anti- ILLEGAL immigrant.

    • David says:

      There’s nothing in this blog that contains any anti-immigrant comments, nor in Trumps speeches for that matter. The thing Trump is opposed to is illegal immigration. So unless you ate in the practice of hiring illegal or are illegal yourself, you have nothing to be concerned about. I think you’re just trying to bring politics into a business discussion by playing the “Offended Card”, which is political correctness in itself. You need to get beyond that.

  2. The only thing we can learn, besides pandering, is to use other people’s money and then declare bankruptcy to avoid paying your debts.

    All legally of course.

  3. Matt, I don’t think this article is about politics at all, well maybe a little. But why not try to learn from successful business people in other industries, even big silly blowhards like Trump. Phil’s article hits on something that is important to understand as business owners. Phil just scratches the surface of it, but what he was trying to get at is the effectiveness of being yourself.

    What I think Phil was trying to say is that there is marketable value in being real. What he was talking about, but didn’t articulate it as such, is Brand. If your brand represents what you value as a person, what you find meaningful in your work, your true self will shine through. And people will be attracted to that. You will attract employees who believe what you believe and customers as well.

    In an industry such as politics, being clear about what you really believe is refreshing. Think what you may about Trump, he has made a commitment to his brand. And his message (read marketing) is based on what he believes. You may not believe or have the same values as he does but the people who do, are attracted to him.

    In an industry such as ours, where we have to fight constantly against the perception of the commodification of our services. Having a brand that represents who you are, what you believe and value will differentiate you from all of the competition. That’s what I believe Phil was trying to say.

    I think that’s a great thing for all of us to learn. Branding is about your values, your passion and your purpose. If you’re interested in how you can communicate your brand more effectively my company has a process for getting to what’s meaningful and real for you, your company, and the impact your company can have in your community. Our process helps get you to what’s real.

    • Phil Harwood says:

      Dan, excellent comments. There definitely is branding aspect to this but I often the word “branding” denotes something more artificial or manufactured, whereas Trump’s appeal is his authenticity, whether perception or reality. I think of green industry companies that attempt to brand themselves as something completely opposite of what they are and it fails. Customers are looking for authentic people to work with. That was really my point. Tough to squeeze into 300 words. 🙂

  4. Phil Harwood says:

    As the author of this blog post, I just wanted to share a few thoughts. Blog posts are designed to create discussion but such discussions should remain thoughtful and respectful at all times. We should be able to engage in the debate of ideas and leave everything else aside. My point in this blog post is that being yourself, whatever that is, is attractive (to some – not all) and that it promotes stronger bonds than the alternative. Mr. Trumps views are not promoted or endorsed in any way in this blog post, nor do I personally share them. But, the fact of the matter is that we have never witnessed something like this in our lives and it’s worth trying to understand, in my humble opinion. Disagreements about the premise of the blog post are welcome but let’s please leave it at that. And let’s not attempt to limit the exchange of ideas, whether in Landscape Management magazine or elsewhere. Thank you.

  5. Karen Morby says:

    I must differ. Trump is nothing but pretense and posturing. He appears to have no gate between his brain and his voice. This is not refreshing or honest. Saying the first thing that comes into your mind with no concern for how it sounds, who it hurts, the fact that’s it’s not true isn’t a good way to run a business or a country
    As for his success, DT acts like a guy who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.
    I doubt he would have been anywhere near as successful in business had he not had the family connections and money to start.

  6. Michael Voories says:

    This post isn’t the slightest bit political. The author is asking us to look at how Donald Trump presents himself to the world, and to hopefully invoke some deeper thought and discussion into how we present ourselves to the world. Donald Trump is incredibly successful, and there’s much to be learned from the success of others, rather you would vote for him as president or not.