Are You a Rock Star? 4 Things to Learn From the Trump Phenomenon

Look, before you read further, this blog isn’t about whether you should vote for Trump or Hillary. This is not a political post—not pro-Trump, or anti-Hillary. In fact, personally, I’m becoming alienated to the entire political system in general. (A blog post for another time, after I’ve had a few beers)

However, I am completely fascinated by the Trump phenomenon and what we can possibly learn from it and apply to our businesses.

If you follow my blog you are probably a salesperson, sales leader or entrepreneur of some sort. You know that it’s a noisy marketplace out there. You know you need to stand out in that crowd. But how do you get your voice heard? How do you get your message out? How do you get people to follow you?


How do you become a ROCK STAR in your industry?

If you are a Baby Boomer or a Gen Xr you may recall when music was dangerous and the establishment was pissed off at the way the music sounded and what they thought it may represent. This was before every band sold out and began playing to corporations to get money. Most rock (and rock related) acts today are indistinguishable from one another—just more faces in the crowd vying for attention. It’s actually very difficult to even point to a true rock star in today’s music industry because of the industry machine and the homogenization of the brands and sounds.

But, back in the day, you knew who the real rock stars were. They were VERY distinguishable. They had a swagger. They were counter culture—did things their way, seeming not to care who followed or who they pissed off. They were committed to their art and their message and would not compromise it. People could see that and it struck a chord and resonated…and people followed.

Donald Trump is a rock star.

Again, love him or hate him, he’s a rock star if we go back to what that (once upon a time) meant, someone who adhered to his own vision living a rich and famous lifestyle, someone who could care less about what others said. Trump paid for his campaign by himself, getting tons of free publicity in the process.

Your career may be tied to a corporation or organization. Many of us refer to these kinds of behemoths as the “mothership”. If this describes your scenario, it would be incumbent upon you to realize that your “mothership” probably still exists in their little monoculture bubble, believing “we are all on the same team.” They believe that we should obediently subscribe to any philosophy or marketing strategy that they cook up in the back room of the ivory tower. Worse, they actually think that our prospective clients will respond favorably to whatever untested theories that their marketing strategies are based on.

If you are trying to develop your own, identifiable brand inside of a corporate environment—trying to actually become a true rock star—good luck to you. Oh, you can probably exist there for a long time and make a nice living if you play it safe, but if you’re really talented and truly committed to the art and science of being uniquely great, you will probably have to eventually leave that bubble—that is, if they don’t push you out because you don’t completely fall in line with the many corporate edicts.

Isn’t this what the Republican Party is currently doing with Trump? The Paul Ryan thing is hysterical. He is the default leader of that party. Oh, you may argue that Rience Priebus is, but give me a break…the once great Republican party is coming apart at the seams. Priebus is a failed and frustrated career politician (and ex-practicing-attorney) with zero leadership skills. He couldn’t lead a Boy Scout troop down a lighted trail. And Paul Ryan…he suddenly becomes a wimp who won’t take a definite stand on whether he supports the Donald or not. Ryan’s non-support speaks volumes. It’s all very “corporate.” The Pubs just wish Trump would go away because they can’t control him or his message—one that doesn’t completely conform to theirs.

What’s really funny is that the Donald (in true rock star fashion) doesn’t seem to care about Priebus or Ryan or their support and he’s issuing them warnings!

Do you recall when Tipper Gore was afraid that young people would listen to Prince lyrics? That was 1985. She wanted to make sure the songs were all very “safe” to listen to. Fast forward to 2016. The Purple guy dies and gets more press than any public figure passing in years—he’s a national hero. When are we going to stop paying attention to the gatekeepers of our world who want us all to play it safe and fall in line? Who made those people king anyway?

I am not sure you actually want to become a true rock star in your business or industry, but if you do, it may be a good idea to take a look at what’s happening right in front of your face and determine what you can learn from it and possibly apply. Let me offer just a few thoughts to get your juices flowing.

  1. Tap into NEEDS and/or VOIDS in your respective marketplace

What Trump is doing is channeling the populace’s anger. He is tapping into a very deep-seated disdain for the established political culture. There are millions upon millions of people that NEED to feel they have a voice that matches theirs. They feel that there has been a VOID of those willing to take a stand on issues that may be seen as controversial.

Trump supporters aren’t insane. They’ve gotten a raw deal and they want a better one. In addition, they’re getting pleasure in seeing those who think they’re in power squirm. Trump’s personality and antics are aligned with the sensibilities of those followers, much more so than those who’ve controlled the pulpit for far too long.

The reason Trump is winning is because he is the other. He is channeling the audience’s anger. He is for all those closed out of the mainstream, and it turns out there’s plenty of them. Trump has figured out how to tap into those NEEDS and those VOIDS and it’s working…at least up to this point.

  1. You need to figure out the GAME (not just complain that it’s “unfair”)

Trump was the last man standing in a 17-person Republican primary field. He beat out the deepest and most seasoned field in our history. It’s true that he constantly bitched about how “unfair” the whole system is (cause that’s just his idiosyncratic way), but don’t mistake the fact that, all the while, he was figuring out how he’d WIN the GAME.

Trump figured out how to make the system work in his favor. He knew it was all about appearances. Think about it…the man declared himself king and then he utilized social media to get the word out and now the press is following him. Wanna’ succeed in your business? Do the same darn thing. Put yourself on the map versus just saying, “It’s not fair.”

  1. You can’t be LAZY and expect to WIN

Trump is all over the place. He sometimes does 10 -12 interviews with various media outlets in a day. There’s plenty of money available out there if everybody knows your name. Rock stars know this. They aren’t lazy. The people that fail in sales and other entrepreneurial endeavors ARE lazy. They want to get paid, but they expect the machine to make them a star, and that’s not going to happen.

The Republican Party’s core audience (and the samec an be said for the Dems) has moved on. Trump (and Bernie, even though he ain’t gonna’ get to the general election) understand the new game, where you’ve got to make news all the time. Hillary seems safer, but Trump is more dangerous and he just blew it up.

And isn’t this brief look at the two major political parties eerily similar to corporate ‘Merica…both clinging to past models, praying that the old days will come back, burying their respective heads in the sand regarding the new.

  1. You must be willing to be DISRUPTIVE

There hasn’t been a true rock star in the music industry since Shawn Fanning disrupted the status quo with his launch of Napster. And people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs before him were willing to do things differently within their realms.

Donald Trump is a disruptor, as is Bernie Sanders.

What’s humorous to me is that rather than their respective political parties taking a close look at Trump’s and Bernie’s surprising successes, rather than trying to bring the dissatisfied voters back on board, those in power only want to depreciate and quarantine them.

Every good entrepreneur and marketer knows that you ENLARGE the tent to bring people in…you don’t CLOSE the flaps!

But isn’t that what the idiotic Pubs and Dems are doing to a great extent? Isn’t this exactly what corporate America does when disruptive people or concepts creep into their neat little kingdoms? To see the Congress and everybody who paid their dues under the old paradigm freak out is incredibly pleasing to me.

Like it or not, Trump is more REAL (and entertaining) than Hillary. Who would you rather have a beer with? If you don’t say the Donald you’re probably lying.

Again, I’m not sure you are committed to becoming a true Rock Star in your business or industry, but I do know that there is a lot to be learned from the Trump phenomenon. Trump has tapped into some needs and voids, he’s figured out the game, he’s far from lazy and he is willing to be a disruptor.

Are you?

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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at:

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6 comments on “Are You a Rock Star? 4 Things to Learn From the Trump Phenomenon”

  1. Brent Carter

    Nicely written Joe. I especially like your four-numbered bullets, particularly about being a disrupter. That’s huge in marketing your brand.

    I disagree with a few of the oversimplifications of how Trump got there in the end, because I think it’s more convoluted than that. And getting others to unite with him is going to be the biggest test. But you are so on point with your message.

    You are a true leader and visionary. Keep spreading the word. Joe B. doesn’t suck at that!!!


      Thanks for your kind words, Brent. It’s never simple in politics. It probably os more “convoluted.” BTW…I have never thought or said that Trump would get the core of the Republican party (or the other party) to UNITE behind him, as a matter of fact, I doubt he will. Anyway…not a political post…more of an observation of how he gained some traction.

  2. Bruce D. Benton, RHU

    That was a very brave post, Joe. I tend to agree with you, but you also struck a chord as it relates to how one might approach business. I will be giving this a lot more thought.
    All my best!


      Thanks for shouting out, Bruce. Trump is a polarizing figure and a lightning rod for anger! (Both at him and with him) LOL! I simply thought there may be some things to learn about moving one’s message forward in this crazy, crowded world…and there are some things to take notice of. I wish he was a nicer person. He seems like a dick to me. LOL! Anyway, thanks again for your comment. Hope all is well with my fellow Grant Lancer!

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