4 Golden Lessons From The Apprentice by A.Williams

4 Golden Lessons From The Apprentice by A.Williams

Remember Melissa from The Apprentice? Yeah, neither do I. She did something unthinkable during some random task on the first episode of last season and got the axe. The same happened to Chris, Jennifer W., poor ol' Toral, and every other Tom, Dick and Harry who did something completely half-witted on national television.

Everyone watches the show and rolls their eyes in disbelief, completely convinced that they can outperform any one of these mindless candidates. But is this true? When the pressure's on, would you be able to impress dear ol' Donald and avoid the wrath of his spine-tingling, hair-raising catchphrase, "You're fired?"

Whether you find yourself in the audition room for the next Apprentice or in the conference room down the hall from your cubicle, here are some of the golden rules to succeed in business, Trump-style.

1- Keep it simple
It's Monday morning, 9 a.m. Your boss suddenly announces you' re going to be presenting your proposal to the company shareholders tomorrow. The sound of his, "You better make it good, Johnson," keeps resonating in your ears. In the midst of heart-pounding panic and a clammy, cold sweat, you think, "This has to be big -- I want music, I want effects, I want costumes!" But let's put a hold on this Broadway production before you make a fool of yourself.

The first golden rule of becoming successful in business is keeping it simple. Bigger is not necessarily better. For illustrative purposes, let's take a look at a past episode of The Apprentice. The teams were told they had to create a campaign to generate the most customer phone calls to a Shania Twain perfume hotline. One team hired people to wear sandwich boards and advertise the campaign by word-of-mouth, while the other team thought outside the box, plastering Shania Twain posters all over horse and buggy carriages, ultimately experiencing a shameful defeat.

The lesson of this story: people can sell, horses can't. While the music, effects and costumes might seem like an impressive, "outside-the-box" kind of move, you're better off going back to basics (i.e. a well-rehearsed speech, some handouts organized in drab, gray folders and maybe a short PowerPoint presentation). This foolproof method will have you lunching with the execs in no time.

There are reasons why a good suit is associated with success and not stupidity...

2- Research, research, research
Going into a presentation or writing a report without doing the proper research is on par with crossing the street blindfolded -- you're simply screwed.

Apprentice teams who missed out on executive interviews for marketing tasks usually ended up suffering humiliating losses ( la Capital Edge's loss after skipping an interview with executives for a Star Wars campaign).

You may have a brilliant idea for that BMW campaign, but all those bells and whistles might prove pointless if you haven't performed the necessary research. Put aside your great models in lingerie and dancing bears idea for a while, and have a chat with the BMW executives -- what's their target audience? What do they envision? What would they hate? If you get the scoop straight from the source, you'll be sure to impress.

3- No more Mr. Nice Guy
Have you seen Office Space? Not only does it portray the truth about life in the workplace, but it also shows a man living out every disgruntled worker's fantasy -- telling his boss exactly what he thinks. You'd think this would get him fired, but, instead, he gets promoted.

If Office Space taught me anything, it's that most jobs will leave you miserable and that nice guys definitely finish last.

Let's apply this idea to the ever-so-compelling Apprentice. Remember that episode when Excel stole the megapho nes from Capital Edge, destroying their competitor's campaign? While many of us with a conscience wouldn't even fathom the idea of stealing to win, these contestants didn't think twice. The outcome of this devilishly sly act? A congratulatory pat on the head by none other than Donald Trump himself, along with a landslide victory.

What's the moral of this story? Well, there isn't one -- morals have no place in business. It's a dog-eat-dog world, so if you think you have the perfect plan to sabotage Billy's promotion and nab it for yourself, don't bat an eye -- Trump says it's okay.

4- Dress for success
This might be a shallow lesson, but it's a golden one nonetheless. If you dress the part, you'll feel the part; and if you feel the part, you'll eventually become the part. So, go downtown and hit some swanky shops. You're going to need the basics -- a black suit and a blue suit (single-breasted jacket with three buttons, flat-fr ont pants), black leather shoes (no laces), and a varied color palette of dress shirts and ties (with no distracting patterns). It doesn't end with clothing, though. You must always be well groomed (neat hair, clean shaven) and do not overload on the after-shave.

You don't need to be tall, dark and handsome to succeed in business, but you need to appear in such a way that people will take you seriously.

I don't know about you, but I can't recall an unattractive, badly dressed contestant winning the big Apprentice-ship. After all, that guy with the bowties was fired well into the beginning of the season.

putting it all together

Each lesson might be difficult to integrate into your daily work routine at first, but if you ease your way into each lesson, one at a time, you'll notice an immediate improvement in your work performance. So go ahead, give 'em a try and make "The Donald" proud.

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