Anthony Scaramucci has some leadership tips for President Trump: Stop living in the past; drop the victimhood routine; and own your mistakes.
The incoming White House communications director laid out his management philosophy last year in a breezy business-advice book called “Hopping over the Rabbit Hole: How Entrepreneurs turn Failure into Success.” Published in October, when the SkyBridge Capital co-founder was still a private citizen — albeit one with a rising profile as a conference host, financial cable news regular, and Trump campaign surrogate — the book draws on Scaramucci's own stumbles to offer career wisdom, ostensibly to budding entrepreneurs.
Scaramucci's theme, more or less, is that winners reveal themselves by demonstrating grace in a crisis. He opens with the story of how he blundered into founding the SALT Conference, the annual Las Vegas gathering that’s become a fixture for elites from the world of finance and beyond while elevating the one-time Goldman Sachs executive into a major macher. In the spring of 2009, the turmoil of the Great Recession threatened to sink his four-year-old hedge fund. Facing “all-but-certain death,” Scaramucci and his partners decided to stage an investing summit as a sort of Hail Mary branding play. “Call it ‘fake it ’til you make it.’ Call it ‘smoke and mirrors.’ Call it whatever you want,” he writes. “The message was clear — we were not going down without a fight.” To make a short story even shorter, It worked.
Scaramucci reveals himself in the telling to be a less-than-reliable narrator, since it’s clear he views the “editorial content” of the conference as secondary to its true purpose as a self-promotional tool. Much has been made already of Scaramucci’s similarities to his new boss — “a wealthy mini-me Manhattan bro,” as Maureen Dowd describes him. And the newest addition to Trump’s team demonstrated a recognizably loose fealty to his own stated beliefs over the weekend when he deleted a bunch of his now off-message tweets.
In the book, Scaramucci veers at times into the realm of a Successories poster with pearls like, “In business, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy,” and “Practice as if you’re playing a championship game.” Yet he's also surprisingly candid about his struggles to shake off the insecurities of a middle-class background as an arriviste among the Wall Street elite. He writes about ditching the chip on his shoulder and mastering impulse control. And he offers some measured words about managing through choppy times that could benefit the president.
Here are some:
1. Revenge is self-defeating.
Trump, on Saturday:
So many people are asking why isn't the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
"Revenge is attractive in theory, but is almost always unfulfilling. In fact, it’s often the contrary. Revenge hurts those seeking it the most… Think about some of the greatest leaders in history. Many of them worked with their one-time adversaries. Winston Churchill defeated Neville Chamberlain and added him to his War cabinet. President Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and then appointed her as secretary of state… Holding grudges is futile and evoking revenge tactics only makes you look immature and green, while your adversary comes away unscathed.”
2. "Own it."
Trump, in Oval Office comments on July 18 after the Senate Republican health-care repeal effort collapsed:
“I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it.”
“Whatever series of events conspired to separate what ‘ought’ to have happened from what actually happened is ultimately your responsibility. Let me say that again. It is your responsibility. Deal with the world the way it is; not the way you want it to be or the way it ought to be. Own it.”
3. An organization’s work environment can be its destiny.
The Post's Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, writing on July 12:
“Inside a White House in which infighting often seems like a core cultural value, three straight days of revelations in the New York Times about Trump Jr. have inspired a new round of accusations and recriminations, with advisers privately speculating about who inside the Trump orbit may be leaking damaging information about the president’s son... The three family members are especially concerned about the steady stream of unauthorized leaks to journalists that have plagued the administration over the nearly six months that President Trump has been in office, from sensitive national security information to embarrassing details about the inner workings of the White House, the officials said."
“When you create a highly competitive, bureaucratic, and politicized work environment — where every employee acts solely out of self-interest and self-preservation — the slope toward implosion becomes very slippery. Windows get broken, dishonesty and paranoia run rampant, and accountability and loyalty fall by the wayside. And, the next thing you know, the culture has descended so far into the abyss that many talented, hardworking, and innovative people can no longer save it.”
4. Leaders aren’t victims.
Trump, on Sunday:
It's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2017
“Victimization, self-loathing, and self-pity are perhaps the most self-destructive behaviors a person can possess. They are incredibly addictive and powerfully destructive. They paralyze you and prevent you from taking action – any action — to change your course. If you find yourself exhibiting these behaviors — and find yourself constantly reliving the past — my advice could not be simpler: STOP. Stop thinking about what could have been. It will not get you where you want to go. It will not change the past.”
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— BREAKING this morning: "I did not collude," Jared Kushner says in an 11-page statement ahead of two closed-door appearances before the congressional intelligence committees this week. The Post's Phil Rucker: "In his testimony, which will be submitted to the congressional committees before he answers questions from lawmakers, Kushner says he has had only “limited contacts” with Russian representatives and denies any wrongdoing... Kushner portrays himself as a goal-oriented task master new to presidential politics who assumed increasingly important responsibilities on a fast-paced campaign in which decisions were made “on the fly,” including serving as the main point of contact for foreign government officials." Trump over the weekend asserted via tweet his "complete power to pardon."
— Republicans control the government but they can’t control themselves. Six months into the Trump era, in which the GOP handles all the policymaking levers in Washington, the party is divided as ever and still struggling to notch a major legislative win. Sean Sullivan and Bob Costa report: "President Trump is scolding Republican senators over health care and even threatening electoral retribution. Congressional leaders are losing the confidence of their rank and file. And some major GOP donors are considering using their wealth to try to force out recalcitrant incumbents… The intensifying fights threaten to derail efforts to overhaul the nation’s tax laws and other initiatives that GOP leaders hope will put them back on track. The party remains bogged down by a months-long health-care endeavor that still lacks the support to become law, although Senate GOP leaders plan to vote on it this week."
And Trump's big plans for a $1 trillion spending binge on infrastructure projects has gone nowhere. The New York Times' Glenn Thrush reports: "Infrastructure remains stuck near the rear of the legislative line, according to two dozen administration officials, legislators and labor leaders involved in coming up with a concrete proposal. It awaits the resolution of tough negotiations over the budget, the debt ceiling, a tax overhaul, a new push to toughen immigration laws — and the enervating slog to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Trump’s team has yet to produce the detailed plan he has promised to deliver 'very soon,' and the president has yet to even name any members to a new board he claimed would green-light big projects."
Glenn reports that Gary Cohn has explored linking the issue to a tax overhaul, but Mitch McConnell and Steven Mnuchin are skeptical.
— BUT, for investors, this week will bring a few signs of a thaw. Namely, look for the so-called Big Six tax negotiators from the House, Senate and administration to demonstrate some progress from their weeks of closed-door huddling — a public signal to other policymakers and the business community that the effort is on track heading into the August break.
And Randy Quarles, Trump's pick to serve as the Federal Reserve's vice chair for supervision, will take his first step toward confirmation when he appears Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee, along with Joseph Otting, nominated for comptroller of the currency. "Now, finally, things are starting to happen on the finance front," writes Capital Alpha's Ian Katz.
— It's been all The Mooch all the time since news of the shake-up in the White House press office broke Friday afternoon. "President Trump’s decision to bring Scaramucci into a top White House role represents a remarkable political ascension for the investment veteran, who had bounced around several Republican campaigns before striking gold as a full-throated Trump supporter," The Post's Damian Paletta and Renae Merle report. "During his first visit to the White House press room Friday, he displayed both his effusive affection for Trump, whom he said he 'loved' several times, and his nearly 30 years of Wall Street experience as he bandied about financial jargon like 'arbitrage' and 'opportunity cost.'"
Politico's Ben White: "And Scaramucci hasn’t always embraced the same commitment to transparency he talked about from the podium on Friday. A few years ago, while interviewing PR firms, he was blunt about what he was looking for, according to one person present for the meeting. During the 90-minute meeting, Scaramucci told this person: 'I need someone who’s prepared to go to the mat and lie for me.'"
Scaramucci had a bumpy debut on the Sunday shows, contradicting Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for example, on whether the president plans to sign a Russian sanctions bill likely headed to his desk soon. But, as some noted, he was ultimately performing for an audience of one:
From The Post's Ashley Parker:
Same audience of one Scaramucci was talking to today on the Sunday shows... https://t.co/1C5BE3eliJ— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) July 23, 2017
Scaramucci even dropped the pretense at one point during his appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," by addressing Trump directly: "“If I said some things about him when I was working for another candidate, Mr. Trump, Mr. President, I apologize for that. Can we move on off of that? I know you and I have moved on off of that.” And the word is that Trump was very happy with his performance.
Reporters and Democrats haven't been as willing to let Scaramucci erase the record:
From The Post's Paul Kane:
As recently as summer 2009 Scaramucci was a max donor to Harry Reid. In late 2015 he maxed out to Rep. Rice (D-NY)https://t.co/qRGfvyxohq— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) July 23, 2017
Former Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) points out that Scaramucci once called Trump a "hack politician":
$5 to whichever reporter first asks Scaramucci about this. https://t.co/Dt2VewRp6t— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) July 21, 2017
From CNN's Andrew Kaczynski:
Scaramucci wrote 'America deserves better' than 'unbridled demagoguery' in early 2016 op-ed aimed at Trump https://t.co/aegrSfa33e— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) July 23, 2017
From The New York Times's Glenn Thrush:
I don't think attempting to delete history sends a great message https://t.co/wt4mmqqtjs— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) July 23, 2017
— Scaramucci is still working through the sale of his estimated $80 million stake in SkyBridge Capital to HNA Group, a Chinese conglomerate. The sale is undergoing a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, Bloomberg reported Friday.
HNA is a little sketchy. From the Bloomberg story: "CFIUS has had previous dealings with HNA, which proposed an investment in Los Angeles-based Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., a company that provides entertainment programming for airlines. Global Eagle said in April that CFIUS decided the deal presented "unresolved national security concerns." The companies withdrew their application and said they were considering changes."
And last week, Alexandra Stevenson of the New York Times had this report: "Bank of America has decided not to do business with HNA, citing concern over the company’s opaque structure, among other issues, according to an internal email reviewed by The New York Times. While the bank does not have major commitments with HNA, its pullback is a sign that Wall Street’s enthusiasm for deal-hungry Chinese giants is beginning to cool because of these companies’ often murky ownership and large appetite for risk."
FLASHBACK to Scaramucci questioning then-President Obama, his Harvard Law classmate, about his approach to Wall Street in a 2010 town hall on CNBC:
— Congressional Democrats today are rolling out an economic agenda they hope will organize their efforts to recapture majorities next year. The package, which Democrats are calling "A Better Deal," is "expected to focus on new proposals to fund job-training programs, renegotiate trade deals and address soaring prescription-drug costs, as well as other issues," The Post's Ed O'Keefe and Dave Weigel report. It is also expected to endorse long-held Democratic principles, including “a living wage” of $15 per hour and already unveiled spending plans for infrastructure that would expand broadband Internet access into rural counties."
— Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) may have found a multi billion-dollar pot of money to fund lower overall tax rates by targeting the sharing economy. He's shopping a proposal to lower the thresholds on taxable income for vendors using online platforms like Airbnb and Etsy. Bloomberg's Ben Brody reports: "Federal rules don’t require such companies to withhold any income taxes on the payments they route to people who provide services or sell items via their online platforms. The companies do have to notify the IRS about some participants’ earnings -- but only if they exceed $20,000 and conduct more than 200 transactions a year."
— Trump administration regulators are pulling back on Obama-era efforts to restrict Wall Street pay. But it may be too late for finance-industry executives to pocket much of a difference. The Wall Street Journal's Telis Demos and Dave Michaels report: "In theory, a regulatory pull-back now could prompt banks to resume some pre-crisis practices, such as cash bonuses that are free from multi-year vesting periods or dropping provisions that claw back pay for bad behavior. But big banks already have made moves to rein in pay, pressured by shareholders seeking higher dividends and stock buybacks and as they work under higher capital requirements that have pressured profitability and squeezed the amount of money available for compensation."
- The House Rules Committee holds a hearing on disapproval resolution for the CFPB arbitration rule.
- The Center for Global Development hosts an event on global economic challenges with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.
- Pew Charitable Trusts and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will hold an event on Economic Mobility, Economic Security and the Future of Employment with Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
- The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold an executive session to vote on various nominations on Tuesday.
- The Economic Club of Washington D.C. hosts an event with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Tuesday.
- The House Financial Services Committee will meet to mark up various bills on Tuesday.
- The House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee holds a hearing on Tuesday on the IRS’s record retention policies.
- The Competitive Enterprise Institute holds a regulatory reform lunch discussion on Tuesday.
- The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Treasury budget request with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.
- The Center for American Progress hosts an event on “How Trump’s Deregulatory Agenda Hurts People’s Everyday Lives” on Wednesday.
- The Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness hosts a discussion with SEC chairman Jay Clayton on Wednesday.
- The House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on renegotiating NAFTA on Wednesday.
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold an event on renegotiating NAFTA on Wednesday.
- The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup hearing on legislative branch appropriation bills on Thursday.
- The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the state of the International Financial System with Mnuchin on Thursday.
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