Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Policy U-Turns Suggest the President is Listening to CEOs

All of those meetings with business leaders appear to be rubbing off, perhaps moderating the administration's policy direction.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink at the New York Times DealBook Conference

Donald Trump’s almost constant engagement with CEOs since he took office hasn’t been a one-way street. Sure, he’s put the hard word on leaders to corral behind his campaign pledges to create more American jobs.

Now, signs are emerging that the businessman is listening, too. And that’s quelling fears that he’ll follow through on some of his more extreme populist policy suggestions.

This week, Trump rescinded on his earlier claim that China was a currency manipulator, while converting into a supporter of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The president also told CEOs to expect “pleasant surprises” on the North American Free Trade agreement, though what those will be remains a mystery.

“I do strongly believe he’s listening,” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told dinner guests in Washington this week. Fink is among around 20 CEOs on Trump’s economic advisory council, which had another meeting on Tuesday.


“I don’t believe I’m wasting my time there,” Fink said. “Actually, I believe we’re being listened to and they’re taking some of our advice.”

Fink’s comments came as Politico reported that the chairman of the advisory council, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, has formed a particularly close relationship with the president. The two talk as much as twice a week, discussing everything from China to tax to immigration, the report said, citing White House and New York business officials.

Schwarzman told the publication that Trump is comfortable around business people and “learns best” by talking to people and observing things. “I think he looks forward to these things and he likes being with business people who have run businesses that are bigger than his,” he said.

Hopes that Trump is taking a more moderate stance were stoked by his decision last week to remove key advisor Steve Bannon from the National Security Council. In subsequent media interviews this week, Trump indicated that the former Breitbart news editor and powerful populist voice in his administration may be on the outer.

Schwarzman said the president is currently immersed in a “highly supportive environment” occupied by the likes of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, both Goldman Sachs alumni.

You might also like:
GE CEO Challenges Trump on Climate Change
5 Solutions for Overcoming ‘Continuous Improvement’ Challenges
The Top 3 Biggest Leadership Challenges CEOs Face


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.