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How "The Art of the Deal" Gave Rise to One Entrepreneur

By Mike Wood
Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

This entrepreneur was about to give up his overwhelming business, but then he remembered the words of none other than Donald Trump.

Page 147. That is the page that kept going through the mind of Ken Kilpatrick as he contemplated running from his own success.

After creating a public relations empire, Ken was considering giving it all up.

“It wasn’t long before I began to buckle under the weight of my own success,” says Kilpatrick.

Ken had built a database of clients that had grown unmanageable. He was also dealing with a potential mutiny from employees caused by a manager who felt they were indispensable. “If I got a job first, nobody could say I failed,” thought Kilpatrick as he contemplated walking away. But then, he remembered page 147.

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Ken was in his teens when he first read The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump. “I have learned that each book of substance contains only 1-2 points within that have true life changing potential,” recalls Kilpatrick.

I happen to agree. In fact, I make note of two or three important points in each book I read. If it is good enough, I will read it again and get a few more to learn from. It was page 147 that contained the most important lesson that helped Ken through his potential downfall and ultimate success.

“I was relentless, even in the face of the total lack of encouragement, because much more often than you’d think, sheer persistence is the difference between success and failure.” – Donald Trump

Ken started his own public relations firm after being laid off from his previous job in the industry. He started working remotely and hired a virtual assistant to make the business look well-established. “I knew the craft, and had no doubt that I could build a business,” stated Kilpatrick. He was right. Success started coming his way. “In a short period of time, I attracted clients and earned enough to lease office space.”

Ken’s success was almost his downfall. As with many businesses that grow quickly, he earned more business than he could handle despite hiring a manager and several employees to help manage the workload. He became spread so thin with the amount of work he had that it was only a matter of time before clients would have begun pulling out. He was losing sleep while wondering if he would be left without employees at all, thinking of the list full of clients that he needed to call and inform he was out of business.

Ken chose the path of most resistance, keeping the words of Trump in mind. “I became persistent,” said Kilpatrick. “I persisted in attracting the right employees; I persisted in attracting a new client base, and I persisted in making the changes in myself that are necessary to ensure I run a solid business and not a house of cards.”

Ken Kilpatrick with wife Jody and daughter Shauni.

Ken's success (and almost failure) can teach us quite a bit about business and our own entrepreneurial spirit. If you are stuck in what seems like an impossible situation, think about the possible outcomes. If there is potential for light at the end of the tunnel, persistence can get you there. Having the will to move forward in the face of adversity is an entrepreneurial trait that is needed if you want to be successful.

You should also keep in mind that many people in Ken's position have given up. That opens a window of opportunity for those who are relentless and see it through to the end.

Business can sometimes be an endurance race and the one who outlasts everyone else can reap the benefits of success. Even Thomas Edison once said that "many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." This holds true in the business world.

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Today, Ken enjoys success with his firm Sylvia Marketing & Public Relations. He serves as the President and CEO of the firm he founded 11 years ago, the one that he almost left behind. Because of the words he found on page 147, Ken has established a multi-million dollar firm as opposed to buckling and giving it up for someone else to grab. 

When it comes time to put up or shut up, sometimes we must make the decision to give it everything we have. At that time, persistence is one of the traits needed to help us through to the other side.   

Image via Flickr

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