Simple lessons in business from Reality TV

My stomach churns thinking I’m about to admit this: Hello. My name is Amber and I’m a reality TV junkie. (Wait a minute. Our firm posted a video of me chair dancing to Boyz II Men to our Facebook site. What am I ashamed of here?)

I LOVE reality TV albeit I claim myself to be a high-end reality show junkie I’ll have you know. (No “Flavor of Love” or extra cheesy “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF.” “That’s hot.”)

Although these shows suck my mind empty, between my “Tough Love,” “Rock of Love,” “The New Iron Chef,” “Deadliest Catch,” “Ax Men” and “Chopped” episodes, I’m convinced I’ve found a way to enjoy myself and identify parallels between reality TV and the business world (despite what my husband thinks).

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom that hide within reality TV:

Showcase your expertise – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat screaming at the TV wondering why Chef Mehta insists on making ice cream when he fails miserably every time. Granted, he made it to the final two, but he still didn’t win the contest. Perhaps if he had perfected what he already knows instead of trying to be everything to everyone, especially when he was under the gun and operating on his own, he would have won.

Don’t blow your gasket – The criers and fighters always get attention, but never win. Treat everyone the same, try your best to carry yourself and your business in a consistent manner at all times so people know what they can expect to get. In the end, it always pays off.

Listen – Of course judges and cast mates go overboard with criticism (that’s why they get casted for shows). However, in their own way, these people are trying to give you feedback you need to hear … even if it bruises your ego a bit. Listen and build upon it constructively. Consider biting your lip while the foolish scream your good deed for the day with the added bonus of an opportunity for improvement.

Don’t be a fraud – Can anyone honestly tell me Omarosa was destined to work for Trump? Even as outsiders looking in, we can all see a fake when we meet one. Yeah, yeah … she had a few decent ideas, but she was deceptive and a whiner the entire time. (See note above on criers.) No one likes or wants to be associated with a fake. Be genuine in your business. You will gain loyal supporters.

Have a goal in sight – It’s easy to get off track with goals from time-to-time. It’s even more challenging to find a track when you don’t have a goal at all. Whether you want be with The Bachelor, win $50,000, work for “the Donald” or expand your brand presence, you cannot do it without a goal in mind. Establish a goal and map out the steps you need to take to reach it. Evaluate and modify your efforts regularly.

Be a respectable leader – Man, I love “Ax Men.” Most of them are “real” people to me. They tell it like it is, and everything’s on the table at all times. If you don’t like it, hit the road. Rygaard Logging Co. is my favorite crew on the show. They’re hard-working, smart, fun, hold their guys to their word, go to bat for them and, if needed, let staff go if they’re not pulling their weight. It’s simple and everyone wants to work for their crew – even that one kid Bradley. (I hope that kid found an office job.) It’s an easy formula that allows the team to be a happier, more productive, and as a result, a more profitable company.

So, the next time you plop yourself down in front of the boob tube and switch onto a show, feel comforted in knowing that I fully support you. You are, after all, learning so much about how to conduct good business.

Amber Stidham is the director of strategic planning for Imagine Marketing.

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