Trump's books offer clues on how he'll lead from White House

Story highlights

  • Trump: Staff could distill information "with a minimum of words"
  • "Considering how much I have to do every day, I appreciate this," he wrote in 2009 book

(CNN)Donald Trump developed an admiration for brevity in communication long before he famously took to Twitter during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Key members of his staff were able to distill large amounts of information, Trump once wrote, "and can explain something to me with a minimum of words."
"Sometimes ten words or less," he added.
    "Considering how much I have to do every day, I appreciate this," the real estate magnate turned politician wrote in the 2009 book, "Think Like A Champion."
    This nugget may prove salient information for national security officials frustrated by Trump's periodic attendance of presidential daily briefings. The top secret meetings, held six days a week, are intended to keep presidents -- and President-elects -- up to date on pressing issues of national security, some of which no doubt defy easy explanation. Trump, who has written of having a short attention span, has been sending Vice President-elect Mike Pence to the meetings in his stead.
    Those familiar with the sessions say they are important opportunities for both the briefers and the recipients of the information to develop a relationship and create the feeling of a continuing conversation.
    Trump has suggested he found them mundane.
    "You know, I'm, like, a smart person," he told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday. " I don't have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day."
    A Trump transition team spokesman said Tuesday that the President-elect would begin receiving the briefings three times a week instead of just once.
    Of course, running a private company and running the US government are vastly different undertakings -- and Trump may approach the two differently. But his past writings offer insight into his decision-making process and leadership style as a businessman. They could provide clues for how he's choosing his cabinet and how he'll run his administration.
    Trump has described himself in his various books as a man who often operates on gut instinct and values loyalty above all else -- "more than brains, more than drive, and more than energy."
    "I have found that my first impressions are the best guide to selecting good people," he wrote in the 2007 book "Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life." "Extensive meetings and interviews are often a waste of time."
    Two guiding principles from his books that could have bearing on how he conducts himself as president seem to have either shifted over the years or to be in conflict with one another. One tenet holds that you must rely on others while the other decrees that people aren't to be trusted.
    The first was a rule Trump created for himself for "surviving the perils of success."
    "Don't think you're so smart that you can go it alone" Trump wrote in 1990's "Surviving at the Top."
    Trump wrote that while he was personally involved in virtually every aspect of his business, "I couldn't be a one-man show if I wanted to, or at least I couldn't survive very long that way."
    "So I surround myself with good people, and then I give myself the luxury of trusting them," he wrote.
    But his views had apparently changed nearly two decades later, after having emerged from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and the threatened collapse of his real estate empire.
    "DO NOT TRUST ANYONE" proclaims a section title in "Think Big."
    "I used to say, 'Go out and get the best people, and trust them,'" he wrote. "Over the years I have seen too many shenanigans, and I now I say, 'Get the best people, and don't trust them.'"
    He expanded on that theme two years later in "Think Like a Champion," writing, "no matter how much you want to trust people, you still have to be a little paranoid."
    "It's best not to trust people too much, because that's just setting yourself up for some nasty surprises," he wrote. "Be circumspect, if not paranoid, with people."
    Maintaining realistic expectations of those under you is key to staying in power, Trump wrote.
    "A leader needs to know about people to remain a leader," he said.
    Trump wrote that leaders should not worry about being liked by their employees.
    "They must respect or even fear you, or things will go very wrong," he wrote in "Think Big." "If you do not create an atmosphere of respect and loyalty, you will be in for a struggle."
    To what extent Trump has been guided by his strong thoughts on loyalty in the wake of the election is unclear.
    2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign, may have been a victim of this philosophy when he was passed over for secretary of state in favor of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. On the other hand, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, also a Trump critic, was named to the prestigious post of Ambassador to the United Nations.
    Some Trump loyalists, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who have been passed over for key cabinet posts, may be feeling as if that loyalty is a one way street.