Robert Donachie, DCNF
President Donald Trump has proven himself to be either a powerful ally or a formidable foe for chief executives in his first two months in the White House.
Since taking office, the president has met with leaders in the business, finance, regulatory, manufacturing, health care, pharmaceutical, and energy industries.
Speaking with Axios under the conditions of anonymity, some chief executives and aides who have met with Trump have a few pieces of advice for business leaders considering a sit-down with the president.
1) Show Up And Meet With Trump — Regardless Of How You Feel About Him
The president is a man known for his negotiating prowess. He seeks information from those with in-depth knowledge of an issue, and sometimes even takes the advice he is given. Essentially, executives have nothing to lose by discussing their concerns with the president, except leverage if they refuse a meeting.
2) Stoke His Ego
Give the president a victory he can tweet about and fan as a big win to his constituents. The easiest way to win favor with the president is to bring some jobs back to America, like with the Carrier deal.
3) Find Common Ground
The president loves to discuss issues that are in his wheelhouse, according to Axios: infrastructure spending, aerospace companies, politics, and people. Trump is comfortable talking about the plane industry because he owns a gilded Boeing 757, and he will always talk about infrastructure because he spent his life negotiating real estate deals. Leaders will do much better to start talks with things Trump is familiar with, rather than diving into wonky policy discussions that the president will likely gloss over.
4) Tread Carefully
If you publicly criticize the president or refuse an offer to meet with him, get ready for some serious backlash. The president gets daily hand-delivered statements made by CEOs and leaders who speak out against him. The list is reportedly used when deciding who to invite to meetings, who gets to speak on policy issues, and who gets an offer to fill a vacant spot in the White House. Don’t say anything, before, after, or during the meeting, that might upset Trump.
5) Make Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner Your Best Friends
These two men may be the largest power brokers in all of Washington, D.C. at this moment. Bannon and Kushner are present at nearly every key meeting, and both get private, one-on-one time with the president after meetings. The two are crucial in shaping Trump’s policy stances. If one wants to make headway with the president, having these two on their side will be a critical step in making that happen.
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