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IVANKA TRUMP - Lessons Learned from Her Father |

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IVANKA TRUMP - Lessons Learned from Her Father

"I've never had a sense of entitlement. I saw how hard my father worked for his money and it was always made very clear to me that things wouldn't just be given to me." Ivanka Trump was born not so much with a silver spoon in her mouth as she was a full platinum-laden dinner service. As the eldest daughter of property billionaire Donald Trump and his first wife Ivana, her upbringing was one of extreme wealth and privilege. However, to think that she had it easy or that life was handed to her on a plate would be a mistake. The former model has worked hard for her money, and she is now a successful Manhattan dealmaker in her own right. She has served the ultimate apprenticeship under the oneman marketing machine and empire-builder of a father. The 27-year-old is very much a chip off the old block. Beautiful, bright, and incredibly ambitious, the mogulette is the executive vice president of Development and Acquisitions, charged with the global expansion of the Trump Organization. She is a board member of the publicly traded Trump Entertainment Resorts, and is the youngest person to sit on a publicly traded board in the U.S.A. Her appearances on her father's show The Apprentice have pushed her to new prominence, and in 2007 she launched her own jewelry line. She represents a new generation of wealth and business--keen to make her own mark and careful not to be seen as riding on Daddy's coat tails.

Conservative parents

Trump and her two brothers Donald Jr. and Eric have avoided the perils and pitfalls that befall many scions of the superrich and successful. So often for children, with riches comes trouble-- or at the very least an unproductive and unfulfilled life, inevitably creating a lack of motivation for work. This is not the case with the Trumps, which is even more surprising after Ivanka's parents went through a very messy, very public divorce. She is remarkably well-grounded, which she attributes to her parents who, despite their own personal extravagances, gave the children a background that was as normal as was possible for them to give. They were very conservative--not a word that is usually associated with Donald Sr. They were also very strict, never allowing the children to rest on the family's laurels, as Ivanka once explained to New York magazine. "Look, none of us are saints. We all like to have fun. But I think our parents have just been pretty tough with us. They've always made sure that we lived within some realm of reality." Her childhood wasn't bought off, which happens a lot with children from prominent and wealthy parents, and Mom and Dad constantly stretched and challenged her. And while there was abundance in some quarters, summers spent with their maternal grandfather in the then communist run Czechoslovakia were a complete contrast.

Follow in father's footsteps

Trump knew from an early age that she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps but was initially nervous, fearing failure. And she didn't want to be handed some mediocre job with a vanity title. So, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School (her father's alma mater) with a bachelor of science in economics, she took a job outside the family firm. Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner employed her as a project manager. She received no special favors and was determined to prove herself. By all accounts, she worked hard and well. Her strong work ethic was drilled into her by her father and her days are long. Typically, she's up at 6:00 a.m. and when she's not in her office on the 26th floor of...where else? Trump Towers--she's out on the road visiting projects. And there are many--not only in this country but across the planet.

Quick learner

The dynastic daughter is definitely cut from the same cloth as her father and he has been a tough and effective tutor, whether that's schooling his daughter in the workings and politics of a construction site or how to market the Trump name. And she's proved to be a very quick learner. She has moved out of the shadow of Donald Sr. and is much more than just the boss's daughter. Associates and colleagues have often noted that in negotiations, people soon realize they are not dealing with some flunky. There is also much praise for her decisiveness. Although this hasn't stopped some people from assuming that Daddy's little girl will be a pushover. Her technique, apparently, is to let them think that for as long as possible, believing that these misjudgments and blind spots give her more power at the negotiating table. She is able to wrong-foot them and take advantage of the situation. Her role is pivotal to the company's fortunes as she is leading its global expansion plans. Along with her siblings, she is working on over 70 new and current projects throughout the world--an extensive and demanding portfolio. Trump is involved in all aspects of real estate development on Trump projects. It starts with deal evaluation, whether that's vetting proposals that land on her desk or actively identifying and seeking out strategically important markets. Then there's predevelopment planning and construction as well as sales and marketing. She oversees an extensive property portfolio, and according to the Trump Organization's website, one of the projects she spearheaded, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, Waikiki, sold out its 464 units for $700 million in eight hours. It's been reported that this is a world record for real estate. The corporate high-flyer is very hands-on and not only cuts deals, but in the case of some projects such as the Chicago Trump Tower, she also designed some of the rooms and staff uniforms as well as created the shampoos.


IVANKA TRUMP - Lessons Learned from Her Father |

Business is in the blood

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The family has many detractors and there are people who scoff at Ivanka, saying that she's had an easy ride because of who she is. The simple fact is, if she weren't any good she would be removed. Business may well be in her blood, but let's not forget that her father is a brilliant and ruthless operator and does not tolerate fools gladly. There is much riding on her shoulders; and yes, because she is a Trump she has been given opportunities that she would never get anywhere else. That much is true, but it's been up to her whether she sinks or swims, and so far she's capitalizing on all that comes her way. There's also the added pressure because she has a lot to live up to. Her father has also commented on several occasions that if his children are not up to the job they won't have that job for much longer. Of course, because of where she works and her prominent media presence, Trump is most closely associated with her father. However, she is also her mother's daughter, and Ivana has been and continues to be a tremendous influence in her life. Ivanka once joked that she has taken over her mom's role as "resident chick" in the Trump Organization. A light-hearted comment for sure, but Ivana, like her daughter, is a highly competitive businesswoman. She is a former Olympic skier who was selected for the Czechoslovakian Ski Team in the 1968 Olympics. The experience served as a good apprenticeship for the entrepreneurial career she started after retiring as a model. When she was working with Donald, her portfolio of responsibilities included being in charge of designing projects and running the Plaza Hotel in New York and the Trump Marina in Atlantic City. She is a very successful businesswoman in her own right, and even today, Ivanka often seeks her mother's advice. With two very competitive parents, it's hardly surprising that she has become such a success story. Trump also has a loathing for the sense of entitlement that appears to be part of the DNA of some of her peers, and as a sign that she is in touch with Planet Earth, bought her New York apartment from her father with her own money. And she pays a mortgage on it. She is about as far removed from the image of a spoiled rich brat as it is possible for someone of her background to be. The rich heiress tag does bother her sometimes, especially when she used to be compared to Paris Hilton. It still happens, but less so these days as news of her entrepreneurial success filters into the outside world. Her comment to one reporter summed up her feelings succinctly enough. "I think there's something more accessible about me. Not relative to her, just being lumped into that heiress category. It's somewhat annoying. I work my ass off."

Marketing genius

Ivanka has inherited as The New York Times put it, "her father's prodigious flair for self-promotion." She can simultaneously be on the covers of Forbes and several men's magazines. Pictures of her straddling a drill in a bathing suit have done the brand no harm whatsoever. Well, she is a little easier on the eye than Dad, and admits she enjoys playing up to the sexy image, remarking to one interviewer, "I tell myself, `Why not have a little fun with that?'" Then there are the numerous television and radio talk show appearances. Each guest spot is cleverly calculated to promote the brand. Entertainment has long been used as a valuable promotional tool, and her father is surely king when it comes to marketing. There are hundreds of property developers in the world, but it's Trump that most people have heard of. Although Ivanka hasn't been in the game for long, she has learned all there is to know about being media savvy. She is a genius at it. Listen to her the next time she comes on the television or radio--not only for what she says but how she says it. Ever conscious of the brand, her conversations are littered with superlatives such as amazing, exciting, and tremendous. These are coolly and calmly delivered, and most sentences emphasize just how well the company is doing, even when she hasn't been asked a direct question about this. For example, during an interview to promote the opening of the Chicago Trump Towers, the interviewer expressed surprise that Ivanka was so hands on with the design, to which Trump responded, "I designed all the uniforms for the Trump Hotel Collection, which is one of 13 new hotels opening within the next two years, the first of which is right here in Chicago. The pre-function space, the banquet space, the rooms themselves right down to the layouts are the largest rooms in the city of Chicago, the largest banqueting facilities. We've booked not less than a hundred weddings already." So much information and hype came out in that answer and none of it was specifically asked for. Now, on paper that may come across as a bit in-your-face, but it's actually not. That she doesn't dwell on any one statistic for very long makes it appear that she is not bragging. Every utterance reinforces the strength of the Trump name. As a consumer, you believe and trust in it. She has perfect poise, excellent delivery, and is incredibly articulate. What you feel is that she is an incredibly accomplished woman who's in control and on top of her game. It's an utterly brilliant technique.

Born to build

Ivanka is continuing the Trump tradition of expansion and is taking their international Hotel and Tower projects and the Trump Hotel Collection brand to global markets. She is reaching out to virgin territories and countries and vigorously chasing new markets in Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and many other locations. Like her father, there's the belief that bigger is better, and the launch of a jewelry line that bears her name is a recent addition to the empire. Pieces start at around $750 and are sold on her website and in her own boutique on Madison Avenue. A Las Vegas store will open soon and other locations are currently being scouted. Many of the collections are designed by Ivanka and are inspired by her mother. As she told Julie Chen, host of The Early Show (CBS), "Much to the chagrin of my father and all subsequent boyfriends of my mother, she's always loved jewelry. And what we're trying to do, and looking to my mother as inspiration, is bring back old Hollywood glamour." As a demonstration of how she always has an eye on a business opportunity, the idea for the jewelry venture came to her while working on a property development deal. She was negotiating with someone who just happened to be a large DeBeers site holder and they decided to do the collection together. Promoting the range was another triumph in brand marketing. She invited cameras and reporters to a party at the Trump Taj Mahal to celebrate the jewelry and the $10,000 a night penthouse suites. The news coverage that evening and the pictures in the papers the very next day featured both. How could they not when she was posing inside a new penthouse wearing items from her jewelry collection? It's marketing at its best, and other than the cost of the party, it was free. Anyone wanting to learn a thing or two about brand promotion should just watch Ivanka at full steam.


IVANKA TRUMP - Lessons Learned from Her Father |

Taking over from Donald

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All three children from their father's marriage to Ivana are being given much more responsibility. Their public profiles are also on the upswing and it leads to a lot of chatter and speculation in media and business circles about who is going to be his successor. At the moment, he's still very much in charge and shows no signs of wanting to slow down. It won't always be that way and he appears to have done a fantastic job of grooming his kids to take over when he decides to call it a day. The expectation is that he will anoint one of them. Who will it be? It would be only guess-work at this stage. Until that time comes, Ivanka is concentrating on living up to the family name and building an even bigger brand, taking the company into new markets and territories. Like her father, she is also a multi-skilled multi-tasker, and there are always dozens of irons in the fire. The family business is not a breeze, and there will be tough times ahead. But she has learned how to cope. It's something she's been practicing all her life while watching her father at work and seeing him handle difficult times, particularly when he faced near bankruptcy in the 1990s. As she told Lloyd Grove of Condé Nast Portfolio, it's his perseverance that she hopes has rubbed off on her. "It's purely his stamina and his fight that got him through, and I hope that I've inherited that. I'd like to think that I did, but we'll see."

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