Sunday, March 25, 2007

Thoughts on The Apprentice: LA, Episode 10

At the start of the show, Mr. Trump called James at Arrow and asked him to choose someone to go to Kinetic. This was an awkward spot for James, but one that he needs to be able to handle. First, James asked for a volunteer, but got no takers. Compare that to how eager Surya was to move when he had the same chance. This was an opportunity for one of the team members to shine above the others. I'm disappointed that no one took it.
Lesson 1: Take every opportunity to shine - volunteer.

James narrowed it down to Tim and Nicole because he considered their skills similar to his own. Again he looked for a volunteer, got none, and was forced to pick Nicole. She complained, "James must think I'm weak." Later, after her team lost the challenge, Nicole complained that she was upset at Tim for not standing up to keep her on the team. That didn't go well for James or Arrow.

James had alternatives. Asking for a volunteer was great, but when he didn't get one, he could have expressed disappointment and picked someone unilaterally, "Each of you should be jumping at this opportunity. If I need to pick ... I pick Nicole." Explaining his reasons only made the team question them. As it was, Nicole decided he had picked her because he saw her as the weakest member. Another approach was to build up the team with a joint decision making process, possibly a single-elimination rock-paper-scissors tournament.
Lesson 2: Don't apologize for being decisive.
Lesson 3: Look for ways to turn difficult situations into positives.

The task this week was to sell passes to Universal Studios Hollywood using a human-wearable, point-of-sales device called the Adwalker system. Both teams were set up to sell at the same location. During the sales, Arrow commented that Kinetic's girls-on-skates approach was good. As a result, Arrow started using dirty tactics to steal business from Kinetic, including interrupting Kinetic's sales-in-progress to grab customers. Ivanka called them "competitive" and "ruthless," traits that Trump valued as good business. I think that kind of dealing sets a reputation in the long-term that ultimately turns away customers.
Lesson 4: Sometimes all is fair, sometimes it isn't. Consider the difference.

Kinetic lost the task by a large margin. I blame some of it on being less aggressive than Arrow, but there was some amount of failure in not making a comfortable environment for customers to buy from them. Angela was fired as team leader because everyone on her team did good work, nevertheless Kinetic lost. Angela couldn't give a reason to keep her or fire anyone else.
Lesson 5: Always be ready to make a strong case for why you are great.

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