Tony Schwartz: From Trump to Transcendence

Tony Schwartz is the ‘coauthor’ of Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal. As a journalist, the Trump book carried Schwartz to the peaks of material success, and the forefront of his field.

You might not associate the author of a Donald Trump book with a seeker of perennial wisdom, but following this wave of success, Schwartz embarked upon a 5-year journey of seeking for wisdom in America, culminating in his next book, What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America.

Ken Wilbur comments in his private journals:

Tony’s is one of the great stories: an accomplished journalist – he had worked for the New York Times, New York magazine…and he had just finished coauthoring Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal, which promptly…tossed Tony into the big time of megabucks, glamour, and glitz. Being immersed in Trump’s extravagant world let Tony know that, even if he had all that material wealth, it somehow wouldn’t touch the really important issues in life. So, with the money he made on the Trump book, Tony spent the next five years on his own search for wisdom, crisscrossing this country and talking to over 200 psychologists, philosophers, mystics, gurus, therapists, and teachers of all sorts…What Tony wants to do next is work on an integral approach to human growth and transformation…He is determined to take this integral message to a larger audience…”

Ken Wilber, One Taste

It’s fascinating, and almost too fitting, that an author steeped in Trump-style luxury immediately rebounded towards wisdom; having to reconsider what’s important.

Schwartz, of course, made headlines back in July for reneging on the myth his Trump book constructed with a feature in the New Yorker:

‘I put lipstick on a pig,’ he said. ‘I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.’ He went on, ‘I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.’ ”

I still find the recoil from luxury to wisdom a far more compelling and newsworthy story than these quips, though certainly satisfying to read, offer.

Maybe Trump’s trajectory will follow suit, moving from self-aggrandizement to self-enquiry. Who knows?

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