The Name Loses the Game

The Trump Plaza hotel and casino in Atlantic City N.J .(Photo: Wayne Parry, AP)

Trump Plaza hotel and casino in Atlantic City N.J .
(Photo: Wayne Parry, AP)

Last week was tough if your name is on the company door. It opened with an article in the USA Today about 8 high-profile founders who wrecked their companies, and the week ends with news that Trump Plaza in Atlantic City ignited a fire sale that may help bring down a city and the casino industry in New Jersey by being sold for $20 million. None of the 8 CEO’s cited by USA Today–including Martha Stewart and Michael Dell–remotely approaches the carnage DONALD Trump presides over.

Sustained success in any field is built around continuous improvement. Intellectual honesty must be coupled with a willingness to seek out flaws and competitive threats as the basis for improving anything, and it requires a leader more interested in organizational success than personal fame and fortune to instill it as a consistent behavior. Under no circumstances can a boss best known for bellowing you’re fired” ever understand these principles. Indeed, with a new season of “Celebrity Apprentice” about to air, if there are to be any redeeming business and even entertainment value coming from that show then the cast should fire the host who presided over turning one of the best pieces of real estate in the Northeast into a discount tract; Mr Trump might be the first person in history to turn a Boardwalk property into a Baltic Avenue one, too bad his Monopoly game is played with real money though.

In true Trump fashion, Robert Griffin, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, told The Associated Press the casino deal shows the Atlantic City market is still attractive to investors, given the right price. This is good news for the city, for the state, and for the Plaza, he said. ‘There is still considerable interest in this market.'” Believe that and I look forward to swapping your Boardwalk for my Baltic Avenue next time we play Monopoly.

Fundamentals always rule and the most basic of all is “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” As is always the case, when a leader puts him well above and beyond the organization, the best he can ever expect is a staff of incompetents or sycophants. Even if Trump isn’t the self-absorbed ignorant fool he presents himself as in the media, the fact IS his name precedes everything in his business. He has built a sum where only the sun shines on him, so there can never be any whole AND while Trump might create a personal legacy, he most certainly will never create a truly successful business accomplishment.

When it comes to fundamentals and building value, as far as I am concerned the executive to start with remains Ford’s Alan Mulally. Mulally arrived at Ford in 2006, a year the company was on its way to posting $13 billion in losses. Mulally joined Ford not to burnish his personal image or become a hero CEO, he came to fix one of America’s great companies. Though everyone knows Donald Trump and even more know Ford was saved from near death, few know Alan Mulally–exactly as any leader putting the organizational whole above all else would want it. Ford’s $8 billion 2012 net profit remains a reinforced beacon that fundamentals and meaningful executive leadership rule.

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