“Whatever it is you’re looking to do or make or sell, you build your business on the assumption that you can do it better, smarter, and more efficiently than the competition. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
Let me begin with the admission that I have not read Ivanka Trump\’s new book, “Trump Card” recently published by Touchstone Books/Simon and Schuster. I chanced upon an excerpt from the book on the Huffington Post website soon after listening to an interview with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics on NPR.
I was struck by how different these two successful women are in the circumstances of their upbringing and how that has effected their contributions, (or in Ivanka’s case might effect future contributions) to society.
I read a few more online articles on Ivanka Trump and by consensus she’s an accomplished, hard working and savvy businesswoman in her own right. I found an article on MSN.com touting her level headed handling of her celebrity and lack of a sense of entitlement. Psychotherapist and rich kid himself, Richard Clark had this to say about wealthy children, “The moment that a child begins to believe that they deserve their wealth is the moment where things will begin to go downhill. . . . The unhealthy, unproductive progeny of the wealthy are the ones who begin to believe their own press.”
By all accounts Ivanka hasn’t fallen into that trap. She’s the first to admit that she’s a child of great privilege, born with opportunities others were not. Still, she prefaces her book excerpt with the affirmation,
“We’ve all been dealt a winning hand and it is up to each of us to play it right and smart.’ This is the philosophy with which I operate in my day to day, and I hope that every reader walks away from my book with the feeling that life is a series of roads to success.”
While I applaud Ivanka’s desire to establish her own identity and means of success, (Paris Hilton was raised in similar circumstances and she’s a cautionary tabloid tale) we’re not all dealt such a winning hand. In a sense, I think, while the philosophy behind the book is well intentioned, it’s also incognizant. The fact is, there are many kids born with the same innate potential as Ms. Trump, intelligence, desire, talent, curiosity but for whatever reason are denied the tools with which to cultivate those innate gifts.
Malcolm Gladwell studies this conundrum at length in his recent book \”Outliers\” published by Little, Brown. Outliers is a term Gladwell uses to describe the uber successful members of our society. Bill Gates is the most obvious example but there are many others. He refutes the long held, cultural belief that successful people are just that much smarter, more talented, etc. On the contrary, he provides thoughtful and compelling evidence that success depends on a myriad of variables not the least of which is, who your parents are. Success is a product not only of the innate gifts with which one is born but also, and perhaps more so, of “history, community, opportunity and legacy”. All of which Ms. Trump has been gifted in spades.
So, is it really that special that Ivanka Trump is an author and successful executive (at her Father’s firm) with her own jewelry business? What can we really learn from her rise to success? Quite honestly, with all the advantages of being Ivanka Trump and a degree from Wharton School of Business shouldn’t she be expected to “do it better, smarter, and more efficiently than the competition”? If she couldn’t, who could?