Is Donald Trump just acting like a (good) agent?

Donald Trump is a lot of things . . .

One thing he is not, is an idiot.  You don’t get to be a real estate superpower if you’re a moron.  You just don’t.

So every time he makes a misogynistic, racist, or just plain ridiculous statement, I bite my vitriol-filled tongue and ask myself, “Why on Earth would he say something like that?”

Because there has to be a reason.  And I think I’m starting to figure it out.

Donald Trump is a master negotiator.  A guru game player.  While it may seem like everything is just coming off the cuff, there is no question it’s all part of some big chess game.  And not the blitz chess they play in the park.  Oh no, he’s playing the long game here.

And he’s starting to remind me of some of the better agents I’ve dealt with in our business.

Here’s how a couple of negotiations I’ve been in have gone down:

  • I make an offer.
  • Agent (usually from one of the higher-powered, triple-lettered agencies) responds with a counter offer that is SO high it’s ridiculous.
  • I have to bite my vitriol-filled tongue before responding (or I don’t, and the agent gets what he/she wants because my anger demonstrates how passionate I am about his/her client).
  • We end up settling on an amount that is higher than I was originally planning on paying, solely because the counter started out so much higher.

Now of course, I have the option of moving on to another person after that counter, or trying to get the client to put his agent in a more appropriate place, but more often than not, we settle.  Because I want that person on my project.  And because of the high counter, and my emotional response, the agents get a little more out of me.

I’m wiser to this game now, so I know how to defend myself, but it still works (and I’ll admit to using it a few times myself).

So when I heard Trump’s ridiculous call to “Ban all Muslims from entering the United States,” I had to wonder . . . is Trump doing the same thing?

He’s not an idiot.  He knows that such a ban would never pass Congress.  Just like an agent knows that I would never agree to a ridiculous precedent-setting counter that would blow my budget out of the H20.

But he also knows that this country wants to feel safer.  Just like the agent knows I want the client on my project.

So, is Trump calling for something ridiculous and racist like the ban with the hope that the settlement . . . the middle ground . . . will be moved higher than it would have if he said nothing?  Was his ban just a high counter?

I’m starting to believe that’s his game.  And he’s admitting to it as well.  Just last week Trump claimed his call to deport ALL illegal immigrants as the reason why Obama has agreed to deport more illegal immigrants in 2016 than in previous years.

Huh.  Could it be working?  Could it be that this is one of the reasons that he’s at the top of the Republican heap?

I don’t know about all that . . . but there are two things that are definite takeaways from this blog:

1.  Asking for something big so you can settle on something more than your adversary wanted to give is a good negotiating strategy.

2. Trump is not an idiot.

Oh, wait, there’s one more . . .

3.  He also should not be President.

I forgot about that one, but I figured you already knew that.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.