She’s the daughter of a billionaire family who married into another billionaire family and she’s made millions selling merchandise branded with her name — enough to employ platoons of nannies and assistants. So what could Ivanka Trump teach America’s millions of way-less-privileged working women?
Trump’s latest book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, aims to try. The book, with a new preface she wrote after dad Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency in November, is to be published this week, some months later than originally planned.
If you loathe self-help books, don’t bother. If you’re looking for a synthesis of what she’s gleaned from her parents, her own business success and a slew of other advice books, then this is a chatty step-by-step guide to living a happy life and getting ahead in a career.
But if you’re curious about Trump, 35, who’s taken an unpaid job as a senior adviser to her father, and how she might influence the Trump administration’s attitudes about women, you might want to lean in.
The book’s voice reflects the young woman Americans are getting to know: Poised and measured, articulate, disciplined, organised, and very sure of herself.
She sprinkles in shout-outs and quotes from other voices – from the Dalai Lama to Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey to Coco Chanel – but the overall tone is one of a TED pep talk for women tycoons-in-the-making.
But what about her? Here are 10 things we learned about Ivanka Trump from her book:
Who gets her highest praise?
She pays fulsome tribute to her mother, Ivana Trump, 68, Donald’s Czech-born first wife, mother of his three eldest children, and once a key leader of his real-estate empire.
“It was my mother, unapologetically feminine in a male industry, who first embodied and defined for me what it meant to be a multidimensional woman – a woman who works at all aspects of her life,” Trump writes.
What’s been hardest since the election?
Like her father, Trump has been surprised by her new life in Washington and the White House. Compelled by ethics concerns, she took a leave of absence from her high-flying role in The Trump Organisation and her eponymous fashion brand, and that has been unexpectedly emotional for her.
“It is difficult to step away from businesses that I have worked hard to build and that I believe in so fully, but the potential to improve the lives of countless women and girls has caused me to fundamentally consider where my work will do the greatest good,” she writes. “I recognise the privilege and responsibility I have to use my voice to make a positive impact where I can.”
What did she learn from Dad?
“My father has always said, if you love what you do, and work really, really hard, you will succeed. This is a fundamental principle of creating and perpetuating a culture of success, and also a guiding light for me personally.”
She admires how he seeks out the opinions of smart people when making decisions. “He’s certainly known for having strong opinions; what’s less known is how he forms them — by asking the people doing the work for their feedback.”
Whom does she seek to emulate?
Family loyalty is in her DNA; she repeatedly praises her “amazing” parents and brothers. But she would like to be more like her husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior adviser to the president and scion of another New York real-estate empire. “He’s incredibly pragmatic, always cool in the face of adversity; he finds it unproductive to focus on the problem (versus the solution) or to react emotionally,” she writes. (Which is good since Kushner has been tasked by POTUS with a back-breaking to-do list, including brokering peace in the Middle East. No pressure.)
Did she really turn down a job offer from Anna Wintour of Vogue?
Yes, and was surprised when Dad said she should consider it. “Anna’s the best in the business. You could learn a lot from her,” she says he told her. She was so shocked she wondered if her father really wanted her to work in the family business. “My father wanted me to choose real estate for me, not for him..”
How important are her husband and three kids to her?
Her greatest passion, she writes, is being a wife and mother. “For me, family comes first, full stop, despite the fact that I’m obviously very passionate about my career.” From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, they observe Shabbat (she converted to Judaism) and disconnect: No emails, TV, internet, phone calls. They spend time together on long meals, long walks, reading, napping, or hanging out. Their new thing is gardening at their country retreat in New Jersey. She makes bedtime special for her children (Arabella, 5, Joseph, 3, Theo, 1) with “spa baths,” story time, cuddling and FaceTiming with the other parent who’s working late. She and Jared make an effort to have regular “date nights.”
What does she do for “self-care”?
She tries to squeeze in workouts twice a week before the kids wake, twice more if possible on weekends. She’s taken up meditation in the morning. “I couldn’t do half of what I do in a day without it. Twenty minutes is ideal for calming the mind, eliminating distractions and boosting my productivity.” Also, getting enough sleep and running help. Sometimes she’d like to relax in front of the TV, watch Real Housewives, eat a giant bowl of pasta and drink a glass of red wine. Instead, she turns off her devices and goes to her kids’ rooms to watch them sleeping.
How did her impressively curated social media accounts come to be?
At first she was wary of sharing, as a matter of privacy and also fear that lots of baby pictures would undermine her authority in the male-dominated industry of real estate and building. To fend off a paparazzi snap, she posted the first picture of daughter Arabella after her first birthday and was thrilled at the positive response. “These comments emboldened me to share all aspects of my life — not just my more polished persona — more frequently.”
How does she deal with stress?
She’s thrown over that whole work/life balance stuff women are always worrying about (but not men). When asked how she manages said balance, she is firm: “I don’t and you can’t, so I don’t even try. Work/life balance simply does not exist. The sooner we accept that is not a feasible goal, the less stressed we’ll be.”
What will she fight for in the Trump White House?
Economic empowerment of women and girls in general, paid maternity, paternity or adoption leave for workers and safe, affordable, quality child care in particular. “While I never expected to have this heightened platform — and stepping into the political fray was daunting — I recognized both the privilege and the opportunity to use my voice to dramatically advance an important conversation that benefits parent and families nationwide…We need to fight for change, whether through the legislature or the workplace.”