Business is about making money. It’s about the bottom line. The sooner you realize that it's not personal, it's business, the sooner you’ll make it to the top in the business world. I’m often surprised by people who think business is something else. They come in with lofty ideas and philanthropic purposes that have absolutely no place in a business meeting. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

I remember when a group of businessmen wanted to build an atrium on the ground floor of 40 Wall Street. It was a beautiful idea. They wanted to make 40 Wall Street the downtown equivalent of Trump Tower, except they forgot something. What would they do with the steel columns that support a 72-story building? That rather major structural component never entered their minds. I hope they didn’t take it personally when I pointed out their oversight.

Business is business. For example, if you get fired, there’s usually a number behind it, and that can take the personal affront right out of it. Businesses have to watch out for their bottom line, or they won’t be in business for very long. Don’t get worked up. If you do, you might be taking it the wrong way. Be objective.

It's not personal, it's business.

I learned early on that business can be completely impersonal even when dealing with human beings. One banker I was dealing with was like a machine. When a machine says no, it’s very tough. There’s no negotiating. I remember writing that you’d be better off dealing with a killer with real passion than with an institutional type who has no emotion and just wanted to go home at 5 o’clock. Sometimes we run into brick walls like that. Our only recourse is to find another way around it, which I did. And I gained insight into how impersonal business can be.

"It's not personal" does not mean "Become impersonable."

I’d rather be personable. It works better, provides more options for everyone, and allows for more creativity. It can require more energy, but I can tell you the results will be worth it. It still strikes me as funny that I suddenly became very popular after I started firing people every week on national television. People really liked me for that. Or so I thought. What they were seeing was the real person behind the famous name. They saw that I could be tough and demanding, but that I tried to be fair. I’ve always been this way, but it was never seen before except by my employees. I’m personable, but I can be all business. Believe me, it’s a formidable combination.

I have to be careful not to blow people away because if you cross me personally and professionally, I’ll have a double whammy waiting for you. I don’t enjoy being vicious, but sometimes it’s necessary for self-defense. I don’t like the double standard, as in, whatever I do is okay and whatever you do isn’t okay, or vice versa. If you treat me a certain way, then I can treat you that way, too. Some people call that the “eye for an eye” approach, but I call it playing fair. Sometimes the only way to deal with a bully is to punch him back. Let them know who they’re dealing with. Fair play is fair play--and once again, don’t take it personally.

It’s wise to be circumspect: get yourself out of the picture first in order to see the big picture. Don’t take personally what is not meant personally. A lot of times people misdirect their anger, and if you take it personally, you’ll become a bull's eye for angry darts. I’ve had people say totally off the wall things to me, which I can now deflect, knowing that about 90 percent of the time their comments have next to nothing to do with me. You have to develop a thick skin and keep your own positive wavelength going at all times.

Be tough, be smart, be personable, but don’t take things personally. "It's not personal, it's business," is good business.

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