The Master Persuader: Donald Trump’s Talent Stack and Winning in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter

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Cover image from @realDonaldTrump on Twitter


By Bob Shanahan


In the aftermath of the historic summit with Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, a feat no other president could accomplish, it’s time to look at why the president is so effective and where his talent truly comes from. He is far from ordinary and not your standard president. Proving the left and the media wrong time and time again, it is important for us to take an objective look at what makes the Donald so savvy in his new role as leader of the free world.


Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comics and author of several nonfiction works. He worked his way up in the corporate world before turning to comic books and writing. Yet, in recent years, he has jumped into the realm of political commentary.


Here’s his head-scratching but somewhat refreshing political points of view. Before the 2008 election, he said, “On social issues, I lean Libertarian, minus the crazy stuff.” But in December 2011, he said he’d do whatever Bill Clinton advised him to do because that “would lead to policies that are a sensible middle ground.” And yet, he has also said he is to the left of Bernie Sanders. To make things even more perplexing, he endorsed Mitt Romney for president in 2012 though he did not agree with him on most topics.


Now we get to the 2016 presidential campaign, when Adams truly established himself as a real force in political predictions and purposeful punditry. Adams claimed that Trump would win the Republican nomination and become president, at the point when all others were dismissing the Donald as a clown and a distraction. Adams pointed to Trump’s unmatched skills in persuasion, discussing what he called Trump’s talent stack.


Adams’ book released last year, Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter is his summation of how Trump won the 2016 election and how to be a master of persuasion when emotions and feelings matter more than policies and positions. Humans are irrational beings, Adams posits, contrary to what most people think. I would highly recommend reading this book for some great insights into Trump’s abilities and the particulars of persuasion. This article delves into Trump’s talent stack and how it helped him become president and remain an influential force on the world’s stage.


A talent stack, according to Adams, is “a collection of skills that work well together and make the person with those skills unique and valuable.” The power of the talent stack theory is that one can intelligently combine ordinary talents together to create extraordinary value. The key concept to remember is that the talents in the stack properly complement one another. One need not be the world’s best at any one of them if one possesses the right combination of talents.


Few thought Donald Trump would become president. Part of the reason for believing this is because “people don’t understand the power of persuasion,” Adams states. Trump is the best persuader he’s has ever seen. Adams calls him a rare breed: a Master Persuader. And because of this, the Dilbert creator accurately predicted Trump would win the presidency and he stuck to it in the face of excessive mockery and dismissal.


Trump is effective in persuasion because of his uniquely fine-tuned talent stack. If you look at any one of his talents in isolation, you would not be impressed. Because of this shallow manner of evaluating Trump the candidate, political pundits never thought he had a chance to be the Republican nominee, let alone president. The mainstream media saw a politician with zero experience who did not seem to be good at anything at all. Adams writes, “He wasn’t the smartest person in the race. He wasn’t the most experienced. He wasn’t the best communicator.” But none of that mattered. Even the fact that he was unlikable to a sizable portion of the population didn’t matter. Trump has one of the best talent stacks you’ll see in existence today. Believe me. His combination of skills is nearly unmatched.


And no, I haven’t drank the Kool-Aid. I now Trump is far from perfect. But you cannot deny he has an uncanny ability to persuade a wide swath of the population and hold anyone’s attention, which are quite pertinent traits to possess in the world of politics.



Here’s a breakdown of his talent stack and why he was so effective in his foray into national politics.

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Trump is a master in gaining publicity for himself. He knows how to get it and use it to his advantage. By being provocative and hyperbolic during the campaign, he was always the center of attention and media focus, despite spending far less on advertising and raising much less money than the Clinton machine. He has built the Trump brand, drawing attention to himself over the decades. In Trump’s world, no publicity is bad publicity. Though he is far from an expert in public relations and regularly gets in his own way, he is still strong in the publicity game.


Trump has solidified his reputation as a businessman who knows how to get things done. This serves him well whenever he enters a new arena as it did in real estate development, reality television, and politics. People expect him to do well because he has painted himself as a success story throughout his career in the face of his well-publicized financial struggles. Trump has branded himself not only through his hotels, condos, and office projects, but also through his business acumen and reputation as a changemaker in any industry he enters.


Though he is not the most strategic mind in America today, he is still good at making beneficial strategic decisions. The most strategic decision he made during the campaign was to outmaneuver the Fake News mainstream media by using social media, speaking directly to the American people, instead of wasting money on traditional advertising. He also knew a candidate becomes president by winning the electoral college, which hinges on the outcome in only a handful of swing states. So, Trump spent much more time campaigning in these pivotal states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania while Clinton barely visited these states or didn’t bother to show up.


Trump authored the negotiation bible, The Art of the Deal, and he knows how to broker the best deal for himself and his company. With his background in negotiating business deals, the American people believe he will strike the best deals for America and not get pushed around by bullies like China, North Korea, the European Union or Iran. He especially knows how to stake out his position at the onset of a negotiation by moving the goal posts and declaring his intention of obtaining the best deal for himself, despite the feasibility of the outcome itself, eventually moving toward the middle when the deal is struck which usually ends up much more in his favor than the other parties’.



“Trump is the best persuader I have ever seen,” Adams writes. But his persuasion derives from the effectiveness of his overall talent stack working in tandem with each other. Though Trump’s persuasion skills are fairly ordinary, writes Adams, he remains an exceptional force in implementing all facets of his talent stack to be the Master Persuader that he is.


Trump is an exquisite entertainer, perpetually provocative, and forever unpredictable. He goes off script despite not being the greatest orator in the world. President Obama was much better with delivering a speech, but he always relied on the teleprompter during his most impactful public speaking highlights. Still, Trump’s public speaking prowess is still far above average as we witness everytime he holds a rally.


Trump is a funny guy if you don’t get triggered by being politically incorrect. A good sense of humor is essential to being a Master Persuader. Being funny makes everyone like you and actually makes you look smarter. Trump is no stand-up comic but he knows how to get an audience laughing.


Trump has learned during decades in the public eye how to be quick on his feet regardless of the whole world watching his every move. He has developed a calm, relaxed, and mentally sharp demeanor in public and it has been put on display since his entry into politics.


Though Trump’s critics and the close-minded followers of the president continually label him as thin-skinned, just because he attacks his critics does not actually make him easy to ruffle or overly sensitive. Adams says that “counterattacking is good persuasion.” Why? Because “It tells people that being his friend is better than being his critic.” Though the president might look thin-skinned on the surface, he has actually developed a thick skin over time because he has endured a lifetime of harsh criticism. Trump can handle the abuse. And he has. He put the mainstream media in its place and goes after anyone who comes after him. He would not have run for president with the spotlight constantly on him if he wasn’t able to handle the attacks that would come his way.

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Unlike low-energy Jeb, the Donald seems to have an endless supply of energy. Maybe it’s because he drinks 12 Diet Cokes everyday. Whatever it is, this 70-year old fast-food eating barely sleeping president seems to always be on. Witnessing someone with high energy leads one to think that that person is competent and a natural leader. Trump naturally has high energy and is obviously not shy to remind us of that.


Trump is tall and American culture inherently views tall male figures as leaders. Trump’s stern look and quizzical hairstyle is a distinctive appearance impossible to forget. His business suit, unusual hair, serious face, and height help you remember him and remind you that he is important. Trump also sticks to his brand as the businessman always on the go, off to another important event. I don’t think I saw him out of a suit during the whole 2015-2016 campaign.


Trump is not an idiot, though the left would yell at you that he obviously is. His experience in a number of fields has instilled in him a wealth of knowledge. Sure, he’s not book smart, but he’s certainly street smart. Let us never forget this great quote by the Donald: “I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” Gets me chuckling every time!



So there you have it. Trump’s talent stack. His indispensable aid that enabled him to annihilate the Clinton campaign a couple years ago. He did not win because he promoted the policies the American people want. He won because of his talent stack and his exceptional persuasion abilities.


Trump held some very extreme views during the primary election season that helped him win the Republican nomination. But, as Adams also predicted would occur, Trump softened his tone and shifted some of his positions as he approached November 8, 2016. The most notable reversal during Trump’s presidential campaign was his move from mass deportation of all illegal immigrants to a deportation policy of only arresting and deporting criminal illegal aliens who have committed crimes since they entered the U.S.


If Trump’s policies got him elected, then why did they shift so much during his campaign? Adams explains, “Trump is so persuasive that policies didn’t matter. People voted for him even as his policies were murky and changing.” Trump inhabits a world where facts don’t matter. Feelings win the day. And persuasion is all that really matters.


Love or hate the president, you cannot deny his persuasive talents. He was able to toss aside a field of 16 viable candidates in the Republican primaries and ended up defeating the deep-pocketed Clinton machine in 2016. He is not the smartest politician we’ve ever had. He’s far from the most intellectual or policy-focused. But he is the man we need for these times. He is putting America First and inking the best deals for America and upending the status quo in numerous ways. He is setting himself up for a comfortable reelection in 2020, even if the Dems nominate Howard Schultz, Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren.


Believe me, Donald Trump’s talent stack got him elected and it continues to contribute to the success we’ve seen during his first 17 months in office.


Follow me @BobShanahanMan


Bob is a freelance journalist and researcher. He remains forever skeptical of the mainstream media narrative and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Bob writes about politics (in DC and CA), economics, cultural trends, public policy, media, history, real estate, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and geopolitics. Bob grew up in Northern California, went to college in Southern California, and lived 4+ years in Seattle. He now lives in sunny Sacramento. His writing also appears in Citizen Truth and has been posted on ZeroHedge.



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