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A Tale of Two Solutions

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The difference between obvious and upside

Last week, I wrote about finding hidden profits through the upside . In that post, I encouraged you to open your eyes to the possibilities around you to find upside. When you do so, often you’ll find it in the most unexpected ways.

This week, I’m going to share a short story about my friend Donald Trump that wonderfully illustrates the concept of upside—and the value of creative thinking in finding it.

A while back, Donald Trump invited Robert and me to visit him at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. As Mr. Trump was giving us a personal tour of the gorgeous oceanfront golf club, he stopped in front of the main ballroom and said, “I’ve got to tell you a story.”

Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Donald Trump and other successful investors and business people are through their personal stories.

The problem

The story began with a problem: The main ballroom at Trump National had seating for a maximum of 150 people, so they could not compete with other venues for requests for parties larger than that number. The folks at Trump National began looking for a solution.

The “obvious” solution

The most apparent answer was to add an addition onto the existing ballroom. The bids started coming in. When the final numbers were tallied, the total cost of the addition, including additional chairs and tables, came to an estimated $3 million. The project would probably take six to nine months to complete. $3 million and nine months is a lot of money and time.

The upside solution

One evening Donald was walking past a large party in the ballroom. He paused for a moment to observe the celebration, thinking about the problem of how to expand the ballroom to accommodate more people. He noticed an older woman struggling to get out of her chair. The ballroom chairs were very nice, but they were big and heavy. They were awkward to maneuver.

That’s when the idea struck Donald. Instead of building an addition onto the ballroom, why not get smaller chairs?

The next day his team started researching this idea. The final result? They found smaller attractive chairs that increased the seating capacity from 150 to just over 250 people.

On top of that, they were able to sell the existing large chairs for more money than the new chairs cost! Trump National increased the capacity of their ballroom so they could now handle parties of up to 250 guests.

Instead of costing Mr. Trump $3 million, he actually made money on the deal. Now that is putting your creativity to work while adding considerable value to your property.

The lesson

Successful people rarely focus solely on the “obvious” solution. While it may be true that the obvious solution can be the right one, successful people also explore many avenues that may bring much more considerable upside to a deal. In short, they think creatively and look at the world with open eyes.

The good news is that we can all think and see this way, if we make the decision to. Will you?

Original publish date: March 20, 2014

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