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Trump calls for calm in this economic storm

These days confidence is hard to come by. But that's certainly not the case for Donald Trump — and he says it shouldn't be for any of us.
Trump Interview
Among the advice in Donald Trump's latest book: Everyone should confront their fears.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

These days confidence is hard to come by. But that's certainly not the case for Donald Trump — and he says it shouldn't be for any of us.

Among the advice in his latest book "Think Like a Champion," the chairman and president of The Trump Organization, says that everyone should confront their fears.

But don't act too hastily. Trump cites an old German proverb encouraging caution: "fear makes the wolf bigger than he is." He stresses throughout the book that how we label a problem can have a significant impact on our ability to tackle it.

This latest work is a collection of 50 essays that aim of offer lessons about the workplace and life in general. He explores themes that are well traveled — like teamwork and positive thinking — but that doesn't undermine their importance. It's interesting to get his take on everything from whether he would call himself a genius (yes, why not? he says), to at the same time, never being a know-it-all.

In a recent interview at his offices in Trump Tower, Trump spoke about his new book and offered some thoughts on the real estate and the job markets, which are both still languishing. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

Q: We're obviously in a challenging economic time, why this book now?

A: Well when I began writing the book, the times were really better from the world economy standpoint. But I really felt that this was, in retrospect, a great time to write a book about thinking like a champion, because people have to think like a champion. Times have been tough for a lot of people.

Q: You touched on hard times. The unemployment rate's above 8 percent, so many people are thinking about striking out on their own. Is now a good time to explore becoming an entrepreneur?

A: There are a lot of opportunities now that you'll never see again. You can buy things today that, frankly, you couldn't have even thought about buying even a couple of years ago. So in a way, this is a great time to strike out. And in some cases you really don't have a choice, because people have lost their jobs they have to go out and do things for themselves. I think this is a good time to go out and make a lot of money.

Q: In your book you distinguish between fears and concerns. There continues to be a lot of anxiety out there, so tell me more about what you mean.

A: When you have some fear in your life, that's not the worst thing in the world — because it equates to caution. And what you need today more than anything else is caution — you have to know what you're doing, you have to know your subject. But because of the horrible economic times, you have to be cautious. And using fear to your advantage can be a good thing.

Q: You make another comparison when discussing learning from setbacks, and that's asking whether something is a "blip or a catastrophe." Are we generally too focused on the negative in the current economy?

A: Well I was one of the first ones to go out and say that we're going into a depression. And I watched the way banks behaved, I watched the way a lot of people behaved and I really saw a lot of very bad things. Whether it was on Neil Cavuto or whether it was on CNBC, I mean they'll all tell you that I was probably the first one that they know, I believe, that used the "d" word.

Now the government came along and rightfully stuffed the banks with money. The banks aren't lending the money, but these are minor details. They stuffed the banks with money. They saved the banks. If the banks were not stuffed with money you would have had depression number two, absolutely.

Q: Millions of people are now finding themselves in the job market. What impresses you in a job candidate?

A: One of the things I like seeing, and I think it's very important, is longevity in other jobs. If I'm hiring somebody out of college, I like seeing great marks, great school, great university. But oftentimes I'll have somebody who's been through at least a good part of their career and they'll show me, like seven or eight or nine different jobs over a seven year period. And they're so proud of all this different experience. And I look and I say, they've never worked for a company for more than a year. So that's a killer. I want somebody that's going to be around for a long time.

Q: A lot of homeowners are still in serious trouble. What's your outlook on the health of the real estate market?

A: I think real estate is a great investment right now. I used to go around saying, "Don't buy, don't buy." Two years ago, I'd say don't buy real estate and don't take these exploding mortgages, and I'd make speeches and exclaim "Don't buy real estate right now, it's too high."

Now is the time to get out and buy. And I would say buy it from institutions, buy it from banks where they can give you seller financing. Because you really can buy real estate without putting up very much money. This is the time to buy.

Q: For people who are out of sorts right now in their careers, what would be the key piece of advice you'd offer?

A: I think the key message is love what you're doing. You have to love it, you have to love it beyond all else. And if you do love it you're going to be successful. Now beyond that, you have to pick things that you like, that you know, that you understand. But you know, when you like something you'll really understand it a lot better. So know what you're doing, enjoy that you're doing, and pick the right subject.