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The Trump University Playbook

How Trump University scammed people with the simple powers of language and communication

Resources:


A Note Before Reading

You may wonder why I added the Trump University Sales Playbook to my notes repo. Seems totally out of place, and a poor choice of reading. But know I did have my reasons.

First, in a dark way, it’s fascinating. This is a detailed manual on how to slowly manipulate how normal, intelligent people make decisions solely through words and body language. It’s a true source of power, to control people’s thoughts and actions in this simple way. It’s sadly a negative use of said power, instead of rallying the townsfolk to revolution it’s scamming people out of thousands of dollars at a time. But it’s still power, and it’s still an art.

They have turned casual conversation into an art, persuading by subtle inference and influence rather than more overt presentation and persuasive talk.

The second follows right after this one - the best defense against this power is to simply be aware of it. People routinely dismiss the power language and communication can have over us. Don’t listen to them, they’re the ones who know that if you don’t understand this power, they can control you with it. Learning the tricks and deceptions are the best way to avoid them yourself. Otherwise it can and may happen to you. You may be smart, but you’re still human, and all humans are susceptible to this if they don’t know.

So please read up on the sleazy horror of Trump University, both for intrigue and for self-defense.

Assumptive Language

A major theme in many of the playbook is what I call “assumptive language.” Several paragraphs end with the importance of being short, simple, and assumptive.

Assumptive language basically has built in suppositions that aren’t directly said by the seller, but are built into something else they say. Similar to notes from The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, the trick is to build assumption X into a statement but get the buyer to focus on responding to statement Y, which is the “bait”. Responding to statement Y makes the seller “swallow” assumption X, and makes them more likely to act as though they agreed with it.

An example from this playbook is “What type of credit card will you be using today?” The question makes the seller focus on choosing a credit card, but the assumption built into this is they’re already paying. Therefore by answering the “bait” of the type of credit card, they’re passively accepting they’re going to pay! So it’s important to spot and directly address any assumptions in statements like this, and not take the bait.

This subconsciously nudges and pushes sellers into believing they’ve already decided to buy. Thankfully you can avoid this by simply being aware of it, and calling out the assumptions when you spot them.

Never approach someone and ask, “Do you have any questions?” Be presumptive and say, “It looks like you’re ready to enroll; let’s get you started!”

It’s also important since sellers are told they need to be able to sell someone in two minutes or less. Assumptive language makes it easier to save time with people who’re more likely to buy.

The playbook has lots of examples of assumptive language for the sellers:

The words “I noticed” […] send a subliminal message to them that they stood out in the crowd, that they are attractive or charismatic or that they impressed you. People love recognition and attention.

Give them credit for taking a great first step, but don’t let them think three days will be enough to make them successful. Use doctors or lawyers as an example, or any profession that requires time, money, and the right education for success.

Controlling the Conversations

Sellers will employ many tricks to control the conversation and flow of the event. They already have a natural advantage here since they’re organizing the event itself, and are in a position of “organizers” controlling the flow of things.

We are the leaders. We decide what the training will be like. Customers are responding to us. We have control.

The playbook mentions many other tricks to reinforce this.

…The more concerns you have to resolve the more power you have given the other person and they will begin to enjoy the power on a subconscious level. They don’t even realize it, but having us “wait on them” gives them a feeling of supremacy and they feel they are an important sale to us.

Remember that we have time to think and plan and develop questions and commands that lead people into a flow that they must deal with and respond to. Without a game plan you are required to respond to them and do much more thinking on your feet. Remember that we need to stay on “offense.”

When you get excuses after asking for the sale (and you will), remember to bring in everything you learned from the beginning of your presentation…

Problems are like health. The more a problem hurts now, the more the need for a solution now. And the more it hurts, the more they’ll be prepared to pay for a speedy solution. It’s got to hurt enough!

_____(insert student’s name), you’ve already been thinking about this too long and it’s time to commit to yourself and learn the TRUMP way to invest. You saw our ad, made the DECSION to attend the preview, you made the DECSION, to sign up, you made the DECSION to do your homework, you made your DECSION to stay with the program, and when you heard of the chance to have a personal TRUMP trained expert to guide you in the field you made the DECSION to sign up for this one on one and NOW here we are. YOU’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS! What’s stopping you is fear and the same fear that stops you from investing in yourself to be with the best will ultimately stop you from investing in REAL ESTATE. A TRUMP trained Mentor will push you through this fear, and will keep you going when you want to “THINK ABOUT IT.” Average people get to a defining moment in life and think about it until it is too late. So come on, let’s get you a Mentor and get you to a whole new level of thinking and investing. Congratulations!

Cheap Tricks

The most persuasive words in the English language according to a study by the Psychology Department of Yale University are: You, New, Money, Easy, Discovery, Free, Results, Health, Save, Proven, Guarantee, and Love. They share three characteristics: they are simple, familiar and dramatic.

…there may be much logical processing, but the point of decision is always emotional, and usually subconscious.