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How Donald Trump Thinks

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How Donald Trump ThinksPrior to assuming the role of President of the United States, Donald Trump was a well-known American business magnate, investor, television celebrity, and author. Trump was famous for setting standards of excellence in real estate, sports, and entertainment. In New York City and around the globe, the Trump signature is synonymous with the most prestigious projects and accomplishments. On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump formally announced his candidacy for the U.S. Presidency.

As I was somewhat aware of how Donald Trump thinks for over 25 years, I decided to conduct an analysis of his thinking during his U.S. Presidential announcement speech and his first interview after the John McCain heroism controversy.  I rated his comments according to our proprietary Hierarchy of Thinking Styles.

The analysis revealed primarily extraordinary negative thinking in his announcement speech, followed closely by extraordinary positive thinking. Trump’s ABC interview response with Martha Raddatz about his controversial John McCain remarks revealed approximately the same amount of extraordinary positive thinking and extraordinary negative thinking.  There was more negative thinking than positive thinking in both speeches.

How Donald Trump thinks

Unlike moderate thinkers who are motivated by acceptance, extraordinary thinkers are motivated by being outstanding and making a difference. Trump’s frequent use of extraordinary negative thinking revealed his disdain and deep concerns about the state and direction of the United States. He provides numerous examples to substantiate his assertion that the Obama administration is incompetent.  Trump also deploys extraordinary negative thinking to express his opinions about most of his competitors. When insulted personally, he responds with extraordinary negative thinking.
Why Trump is polarizing

Trump uses extraordinary negative words like “stupidity”, “disaster”, “vicious”, and “disgrace”.  He employs phrases such as “serious trouble”, “horrible labor participation rate”, “the big lie”, “amazingly destructive”, “political hack”, and  “terrible story”.

In contrast, Trump deploys extraordinary positive words like “great”, “thriving”, “fortune”, and  “terrific”.  He also uses phrases such as “beyond anybody’s expectations”, “truly great leader”, “tremendous potential”, and “I’m really rich”.

Not surprisingly, Trump used very little moderate thinking (positive or negative) in his announcement speech. However, in his interview, although non-apologetic, he demonstrated an ability to moderate his thinking. Approximately one-third of his comments were moderately positive or negative, with roughly the same amount of extraordinary positive and negative thinking. While still polarizing, his interview had fewer extreme statements than his initial announcement.

Why Donald Trump Needs Optimal Thinking

Optimal Thinking empowers us to be our best and stops us from settling for second best. With Optimal Thinking, our highest self takes charge, and we focus on the best or most constructive thoughts. We choose our best option in any given moment and take the smartest actions to achieve what is most important. We are not concerned with others’ concepts of “the best” and we are not in competition with anyone. We are concerned with what “the best” means to us and attach our own value to it.

America will no longer settle for anything less than the best.

Donald J. Trump, President-elect of the United States, November 9, 2016

The Trump brand is based on delivering the best, whether in real estate, golf, pageantry, casinos, signature items, or reality television. Trump deploys Optimal Thinking to produce his most outstanding successes. He uses Optimal Thinking to envision the highest standards, continually focusing on executing projects on time and on budget.

Trump employs words like “finest”, “smartest”, “right”, and  “greatest”.  He deploys phrases such as “smartest negotiators”, “best hotel”, “most highly sought after”, “the strongest military that we’ve ever had” and “the biggest bank in the world”.

An Optimal Thinking Challenge for President Trump

Optimal Thinkers accept, understand and bring out the best in others. We ask the best questions to invite the best solutions, and pursue the best means to achieve the best ends. When the cost of failure is high, we formulate an optimal contingency plan to achieve the most constructive result.

A big thinker and unrelenting achiever, Donald Trump is capable of leading America to unprecedented heights. However now, more than ever, we desperately need America’s CEO to deploy Optimal Thinking to overcome the extreme polarization in Washington and nationwide. Given the President’s obvious intellect and artful negotiation skills, imagine what could happen if he put his mind to this acute problem and met the challenge in his usual style, head-on.  This could be his greatest accomplishment.

How Do You Think?

To definitively assess your thinking and compare it to how Donald Trump thinks, take the Optimal Thinking 360 Assessment now. I created this assessment for my executive coaching clients over 26 years. More than one million executives and 6500 companies have used this proprietary assessment to uncover their primary thinking style, thinking profiles, core motivation, decision-making and communication styles, and how to best interact with others.  Take this risk-free assessment (designed for desktops and tablets) on your own as a Self-Optimization Assessment or with your team as a 360 to confirm your strengths and weaknesses, discover your blind spots, and optimize every situation.

The transcripts used in this article are US Candidacy Speech and McCain Aftermath Interview.

This article is part of our How CEOs Think article series.

If you would like to nominate a well-known leader for a thinking analysis, feel free to include them in your comments below.

12 Responses to “How Donald Trump Thinks”

  1. […] to Trump’s announcement speech and his ABC interview with Martha Raddatz, Glickman created a thinking profile that is as unique as Trump’s fingerprints, accurately reflecting his strengths and […]

  2. Barry Walsh says:

    Great challenge worthy of Trump’s money and time. I doubt that he could meet your challenge. He’s a fighter and thrives on controversy.

  3. Chris Jenkins says:

    If Trump took on your challenge and made it part of his campaign, he could become the next republican nominee. I don’t think it’s in his DNA and one reason he’ won’t be the next president, Still got to give him credit for bringing up controversial issues and getting tons of publicity.

  4. Anne Green says:

    You have got Trump’s modus operandi down. Great analysis and challenge.

  5. Leon Perkins says:

    Trump is a wild card. Fascinating analysis.

  6. M.T. says:

    Loved your article. In Trump’s attempt to win the U.S. CEO role ( which I predict will fail miserably), he is using extraordinary negative thinking to bully his opponents and anyone who gives him a hard time. He’s crude and nasty and repeats the same extraordinary negative talking points. Very unpresidential.

  7. Mike Sullivan says:

    Your analysis of Donald Trump’s language is accurate. However he scores on negativity, there is irony here. He represents a refreshing and completely intelligent paradigm shift in the direction of realistic problem resolution. He towers over the more mild career politicians who may perhaps score higher on positive political talk but whose actual performance and quality of ideas are mediocre. Donald is optimal in leadership and frankness.

  8. Bill J says:

    Trump is not capable of bringing the country together. His ego is too big. He fights with anyone who disagrees with hi. I enjoyed your article. It is very credible.

  9. Bruce Moss says:

    You have an interesting site and your analyses of these top CEOs are unique and thought provoking. I took your assessment and was amazed how accurate and helpful it is. It should be compulsory in every company as a recruiting and training tool.

    As Obama stated on 60 minutes, Trump knows how to get attention, but he won’t be President. His understanding of the issues is superficial. I agree that he is an extraordinary thinker and now that I am familiar with your thinking system, I hear it in his language. Thanks for your great contribution.

  10. Walt Berman says:

    What a fantastic article. Trump is undoubtedly an extraordinary thinker. Now he’s threatening to boycott the next debate. That’s not mainstream, moderate thinking as you point out. He uses extraordinary thinking to get attention. We are now assessing whether his extraordinary thinking is best for the country.

  11. Darren P. says:

    It looks like Trump will become the Republican nominee. If he does, he will need a boat load of optimal thinking to win the minority vote. He’s used extraordinary negative thinking in situations that are important to hispanics and women that will be very hard to overcome.

  12. Luke B says:

    This article nails Trump. I’m a Republican but can’t stand his divisive extraordinary negative thinking that on too many occasions does not coincide with facts. Your article has given me new understanding about how he ticks. We need an optimal thinker for President.

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