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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Why Dilbert got Trump (and the media didn't)

Scott Adams -- creator of Dilbert -- got Trump in 2015 while your average reporter and editorial writer do not.

Powers of persuasion have nothing to do with this.

Adams calls Trump the Master Persuader, but that is only who Trump plays on TV.

Trump is a CEO.

Adams gets this because he has been around corporate executives most of his adult life.

Journalists don't because they hang out with politicians. They judge Trump as a politician, when in fact, he is a CEO.

That's like judging baseball players on how many touchdowns they scored and tackles they made.

Consider Paul Waugh, Executive Editor of Huffington Post UK who mocked a Trump speech.

By contrast, Barack Obama was supposed to be this great orator.

But when the teleprompter malfunctioned on October 18, Obama said:
“That is both irresponsible — and by the way, doesn’t really show the kind of leadership and toughness you want out of a president. You start whining before the game's even over — if, if, if, if, if, if whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else?”
On June 1, he also had a teleprompter problem he could not handle:
If we turn against each other based on division of race or religion. If-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if we fall for, you know, a bunch of okie-doke, just because, you know it-it-it. You know, it-it-it-it-it-it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative."
But journalists glossed over that because they worship Obama. He's the perfect politician. David Brook said he looked at the crease of Obama's pant (singular) in 2005 and knew he would make a great president -- if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if-if.

President Trump can think on his feet because he has been doing so most of his life. 

Trump is outside the Little League of Washington that D.C. reporters know.

Adams knows this world Trump is in, writing:
There are two basic styles of management. One is the cautious style of Fortune 500 companies. The other is the rapid-iteration and A/B testing style of entrepreneurs. Trump is bringing the latter style to the office. The markers for this style of management include:
1. Rapid and decisive hiring and firing.
2. Bias toward action. 
3. Rapid A/B testing. Release the early beta version and judge reactions. Adjust accordingly.
4. Emphasis on the psychology of success. Entrepreneurial management includes lots of persuasion and bullshit because entrepreneurs have to fake it until they make it. In other words, they have to create demand via persuasion.
Eventually, reporters may realize that covering a businessman as president is more fun than covering another politician who is worried about offending anyone.

Until political reporters evolve, they will remain befuddled by the president they were hired to cover.

He does not have to change.

They do.


Please read "Trump the Press," in which I skewer media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.

It covers the nomination process only. The general election is covered in a sequel, "Trump the Establishment," which will be published in paperback on Tuesday.

For autographed copies of either book, email me at

Be deplorable. Follow me on Twitter.


  1. I went through the same identification process when I decided Trump was the best choice available.

    (I don't know when I started reading Adams in this continuum--it does not matter, because I reach that conclusion on my own recognizance.)

    I am now unemployed and unemployable, but in a long and interesting working life I worked for a lot of bosses, and in the lot there are several that I have always identified as "favorites" to work for or to have worked for.

    I identified a long time ago the things about those favorites that they had in common.

    Leading the list: Most people didn't like them. There was a pretty constant undercurrent of grumbling disparagement of them and the way they got things done.

    But it was the totality of the kinds of things Adams lists. The exact manifestations varied over the years, but the core is clearly discernible.

  2. I said, Waugh!, good God, now, what is he good for?
    Absolutely, nothing
    Say it again, Waugh! what is he good for?
    Absolutely, nothing, listen to me.

  3. Since tuning in to Scott Adams' blog I have read a few of the books he has suggested on persuasion. One was almost a paraphrase of Machiavelli with a crosscurrent of Sun Tzu. Interesting stuff. It makes sense in so me ways but goes over my head in other ways. But hey, I am only a "grasshopper," just setting out on my journey of enlightenment. - Elric

    1. Congrats on the promotion to "Grasshopper", Elric.

      I'm still stuck at "Monkey Testicle, First Class".

    2. There needs to be a smiling emoji for some of these comments! :)

  4. Early beta testing, absolutely.

    Did you know that Bill Gates originally wanted to call his operating system "Microsoft Doors", until they found that the beta testers were being freaked out by the creepy Jim Morrison icon that came up with every error message?

  5. Reporters just don't understand. I guess it's because they've been educated past the limit of their ability to understand. Which is the point where their intelligence decreases. Steeply.

  6. Don't know how many entrepreneurs Adams knows (as opposed to CEOs), but he does get that entrepreneurial spirit which, in many ways, is Trump's essence.

  7. The media is so eager to keep thinking inside the box, I see...

  8. Adams other point is that Trump has a good stack of talents. While he may not be outstanding at any one thing, his combination of skills (the stack) is what makes him successful.

    Obama had no stack of any kind. He was good for/at nothing. I have listened to upwards of 10 thousand speakers in my lifetime, and Obama would not be in the top 9,990 of them. On the other hand, Dick Cheney is, IMO, the best extemporaneous public speaker I've ever heard among the well-known politicians of my generation.

    I've written it before, I'll write it again: Obama cannot think and talk at the same time. He is handicapped by being a very slow thinker. Compare him with Bill Clinton, a very facile talker and quick thinker with a retentive memory, which served him well in college where he apparently studied little during the semester but instead pulled all-nighters just before final exams (don't know how true that is, but those are the rumors I've read). Obama was overrated strictly on his race, which lowered expectations. He would never have passed any classes I took in college. He is just too dimwitted.

    1. Obama is the old Eliza computer program, rewritten for politics instead of psychoanalysis.

    2. Willie has a weaselling lawyer's way with loopholes. As for retention, he is, after all. a sociopath. Not quite the same way Barry is, but one, nevertheless.

      He's also a fool. He couldn't stay out of trouble to save his life and he always thinks it's his own brilliance when it's the doting media that always saves him.

      Say what you will about President Pissy, he knew how to keep a (more or less) low profile.

    3. I think Øb☭ma's got a cocaine stutter, which is why he relies on his teleprompter so much.

  9. Hey, I was calling Trump a master marketer and salesman back in 2015. And he had the biggest sale he needed to make. He had to sell himself to the American people as a President.

    Of course, he had been selling "Trump" for over thirty years so he had an advntage over everyone else.*

    -Mikey NTH

    *The one advantage of the long US presidential campaign is that there is time** for the hype on some people to wear off.

    **Not always - see 2008.