Trump's Lesson for Sponsors


In my recent book "The Good Sponsor" I listed 10 major attributes needed to be a good project sponsor. The three most important were inspiration, perspiration, and imagination. Donald Trump’s adult and business life began as a project sponsor. Trump was a project sponsor whether he was building low-cost homes, condos in the Midwest, gaming casinos, or giant high-rise towers in midtown Manhattan. Trump often claims his projects come in OnTime, OnBudget, and OnTarget. This fact may or may not be true, but one thing is true: Most of his projects did get completed and became very valuable. However, the lesson for project sponsors comes from the recent presidential election.

Trump recognized a core group of stakeholders (voters) and inspired them to his cause. He used colorful language and much hyperbole. He gave them examples of how he could make their life better with the tagline “Make America Great Again.” He belittled his foes with rhetoric that was short on substance, but long on shrewdness. He gained great press coverage on his outlandish claims. All this inspired his core group and this group inspired others to join the cause. Each primary victory added to his following. In the end his presidential project was a success. In "The Good Sponsor" book we dedicate a chapter to inspiration and provide tools for you to get better at inspiring your stakeholders and team members.

Trump is a workaholic. He would get up early and be out on the campaign trail. He would stay up in the wee hours of the morning sending out tweets to his stakeholders. In between he would be holding meetings, or opening up a golf course or a new hotel. He would never stop. He really dedicated himself to the project. This was in contrast to Hillary Clinton; it seemed at times she was coasting through the process. It takes hard work to make a project successful. In "The Good Sponsor" we dedicate a chapter to perspiration. On our sponsor resource page there is a tool to estimate your time commitment.

However, in my mind Trump’s strongest skill was his imagination. He would constantly imagine things that were just not true in reality and convince his stakeholders to imagine along with him. In contrast, imagination was Hillary’s greatest weakness. Her messages were both stale and flat. Let’s face it, a project sponsor without imagination is like a bicycle without wheels. It is just not going to take you where you aim it. A sponsor with imagination will take you anywhere and everywhere. In "The Good Sponsor" book we dedicate a chapter to imagination and provide tools for you to get better at imagining how you can make life better for your organization.

Let me state that I am not a fan or supporter of Donald Trump and I was very disappointed in the outcome of the election. I am a fan of good sponsorship and Donald Trump is not just a good sponsor but a great one.

You can get my  "The Good Sponsor" book on LuLu. Another book you might find valuable is my “Dead Presidents’ Guide to Project Management,” also on LuLu.


  |     |     |     |     |  

Subject Matter

Executive Sponsor

About the Author:


Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson is a professor at the Antwerp Management School and the founder and chairman of The Standish Group. He has been professionally involved in the computer industry for over 40 years and has a long list of published books, papers, articles and speeches. He has a combination of technical, marketing, and research achievements focused on mission-critical applications and technology. He is best known for his research on project performance and early recognizing technology trends. Jim is a pioneer of modern research techniques and continues to advance in the research industry through case-based analytical technology.

The Standish Group
Jim JohnsonJim
Jim CrearJim
David JohnsonDavid
Hans MulderHans
Lee GesmerLee

The Standish Group News

The Standish Group Events


CHAOS Tuesday Podcast

The Dezider