Playing to Win: Lessons Learned from Ivanka Trump

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No one says “successful career woman” quite like Ivanka Trump. As the daughter of billionaire real estate tycoon, Donald Trump, you wouldn’t expect any less. In her book The Trump Card, Ivanka tells her story about growing up as a Trump and shares the lessons and insights she has learned along the way.

Most people are not as fortunate to be born a Trump. But Ivanka takes what she has to a whole new level by not resting on her father’s laurels or her famous family name. She fearlessly worked hard to forge a name for herself and make her own mark in the real estate industry.

Despite being born in the lap of luxury, Ivanka shared that their parents taught them the value of discipline and hard work. Yes, their parents provided for their needs. But if they wanted more, they had to negotiate for it. Thus, Ivanka learned early on how to hone her negotiating skills. At home, if they were asked to do the dishes after dinner or help fold the laundry, they were expected to do it right away with no complaints. Growing up, her father provided guidance yet never pushed them into doing things they didn’t want to do. He gave them free reign to make their own choices and commit their own mistakes.

 Never be afraid to try new things.

While at Choate, a college preparatory boarding school, a modeling agent invited her to try modeling. At 5’11” she certainly was tall enough to be one. Although she wasn’t really interested in modeling, Ivanka wanted to try her hand at something new. Something that was outside her fathers sphere of influence. She wanted to see if she could succeed in an industry where the Trump name didn’t carry much weight. As a model, Ivanka had moderate success. Still, real estate remained her first love. It wasn’t easy to juggle go-sees and college but she did it, graduating as summa cum laude with a BA in real estate from the Wharton School of Finance.

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Listen to advice.

Due to her exposure to real estate as a child, it has always been Ivanka’s dream to join the Trump Organization after college. But one of her college professors advised her to try working for a different company first before joining the Trump Group. Seeing the wisdom behind his advice, she joined Forest City Ratner, a diversified real estate development and management company. After two years, Ivanka resigned and joined the Trump Organization as the Vice President of Real Estate Development and Acquisitions.

Donald Trump may come across as brash, too outspoken and can rub some people off the wrong way. But based on how his 3 children turned out, it seems like he was a good father to them. He provided them with the guidance they needed. No matter how busy he was at the office, whenever anyone of his children called, he would pick up the phone. He also modeled the value of discipline and hard work. Now all three are doing well at the Trump Group as part of his team.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

Albert Schweitzer

Here are 3 things I learned from Ivanka Trump:

Follow your passion. Ivanka had discovered her passion for real estate as a young kid. She loved the times she would go with her mother, Ivana Trump, to check on their hotel operations or accompany her father on the construction site. Ivanka and her two brother got to work at the different aspects of their business when they were still in high school – mooring boats, landscaping and helping with operations. Donald Trump was a firm believer in hands on, from the ground up training. Business was their usual topic at the dinner. So although she could have been successful in other fields, Ivanka followed her passion to pursue a career in real estate and is currently doing well as Vice President for Real Estate Development and Acquisitions.

Make excellence a habit. Her parents taught her at a young age that whatever you do – be it school, modeling or business – do it to the best of your ability. Ivanka’s parents allowed her to pursue a modeling career while studying provided that her grades wouldn’t get affected. And their standard was no less than a 4.0 average. There is no room for being mediocre in this world. It’s easier to aim for the best when you love your job. Still, even if you don’t like what you’re doing at the moment, that’s no excuse to slack off. Successful people play to win no matter what they’re doing because excellence is not only a destination. It’s a way of life. It’s a habit.

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Hard work will never go out of style. The world may know about Donald Trump’s story. About how he built his real estate empire from the ground up, about surviving a financial crisis, from being almost a billion dollars in debt to coming out even wealthier than before. But not many people know that Ivana Trump, his first wife and the mother of his 3 children, is also very much like him. Ambitious, relentless and hard working. As a Czech skier who competed in the Olympics, Ivana was no stranger to hard work. And she brought this work ethic into the Trump Organization, matching her then-husband in his zeal for hard work.

Having successful parents like Donald and Ivana Trump can either leave you feeling entitled or determined to get out of their shadow and succeed on your own. For Ivanka, it made her determined to succeed on her own. As the Vice President of Real Estate Development and Acquisitions, she has worked hard to provide value to the company. When working on a deal, she does her homework. She studies the competition, analyzes the deal and gets the insight of a lot people (including her father) before making her decision. A famous family name is one thing, but without hard work to back it up, you won’t go far. It’s like style and substance. They need to go together. Aside from her success with the Trump Group, Ivanka has also ventured out on her own by partnering with Dynamic Diamond Corp, a leading diamond supplier, to introduce a line of jewelry called The Ivanka Trump Collection. This collection is targeted for the working woman who wants timelessly chic pieces that she can pass on to her children.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

-Colin Powell

As a career woman myself, I appreciated how hard Ivanka works and the effort she puts into doing what she loves. Success isn’t simply about money. It’s about significance – making your mark in the world through meaningful work and helping as many people as you can. As for me, I want to make my mark through 3 things: as a discipler, as a real broker and someday (hopefully next year) as an author.

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What about you?

How do you want to make your mark? In this day and age, we can succeed in almost anything. Do what you love, make success a habit and work hard at it. If you do, you will make your mark and success will be around the corner. It’s only a matter of time.

Go live Truly Wealthy life.



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