Business and Life Lessons From “The Apprentice”™

Published on November 9, 2010 by

Part 2

1. You Only Get One Chance To Make A "First Impression"

Aaron blew it. Selected to be a project manager, he led his team to victory and then blew it in the boardroom with Trump! Here's the background: The week his team won their task, he was invited to sit next to Trump and weigh in on the decision of who would be told: "You're Fired!"

This was Aaron's time to shine and make a "first impression" in his new leadership role in front of Trump. The astounding thing was that he never spoke up! Trump glared at him and said, "What the hell is wrong with you? Why aren't you saying anything?" Amazingly enough, he didn't even jump on that opportunity and respond!

He blew his chance to make a positive impression and failed again when given the chance to reposition himself. What happened next? Aaron's team failed to win the next week in a task involving the production and selling of honey. In the boardroom, Trump kept bringing up how he had failed to speak up the previous week. Aaron's terrible "first impression" as an advisor assisting Trump became even more solidified in Trump's mind…therefore, he became the only possible candidate to hear Trump say: "You're Fired!"

The Lesson? You only get one chance to make that "first impression!"

2. Redefine "Mistakes" And "Failure"

Aaron got fired, ironically, because he was afraid to make a mistake, and that was his biggest mistake. Out of thousands of people who tried out to be an "Apprentice," only 18 people were chosen to show Trump what they're made of. You'd think that as one of the few given this opportunity, Aaron would pull out all of the stops to prove what he was really made of and take a risk-especially with Trump watching him!

When assessing a "risk," ask yourself, "What's the worst thing that can happen? Then ask yourself, "Is that really so bad?" Each season, everyone will "fail" and be fired, except one! But is being fired a "failure?" If so, exactly how is it a "failure? What about the lessons learned, the skills developed, the new friendships forged and the visibility and publicity?

The Lesson? The biggest risk is in not taking a risk!

3. Communication Is Everything

The Apprentice candidates soon learn that their ability to communicate effectively is intricately tied to their successes. In fact, all of their successes will rise and fall upon their ability to connect with others, sustain rapport and influence others. Is it any different for us…at work, home or play?

Choose your words, your tone of voice and your behaviors carefully (behavior is non-verbal communication!). Anything less will lead to a headache at best and heartbreak at worst.

The Lesson? The team that you choose to work with will make you or break you, it's that simple.

4. Success Is A Process, Not An Event

The Apprentice candidates do not succeed and advance because of any one endeavor or event. They are involved in a 14-week process and most of them understand that a setback is temporary and minor in the overall scheme of things. They fall down and then pick themselves up and move on.

Remember Heidi? She was the project manager of the first few tasks for "Team Kinetic." They won several weeks in a row. The week that Aaron won, however, he took the winner's title away from Heidi. The "losers" that week were cast out of the mansion and destined to live in "tent city" which was set up on the lawn of the mansion.

It was interesting watching how they reacted. Many acted as if they were homeless and living on the streets, taking their "setback" and turning it into a fiasco.

Any great leader knows that setbacks are not only a possibility, but also, a probability on their path to success. It comes with the territory, is temporary and not permanent, so what's the big deal?

The Lesson? When you make a mistake, fail to make a good "first impression," or disappoint those on your "team," you have a superb opportunity to learn from your "mistakes!" Then, take responsibility, change your behaviors and move on with greater wisdom.

5. Leverage Stress

Stress is an integral and essential part of life. Stress is never the problem, in fact; but our inability to response resourcefully might be a problem. Stress can be the catalyst that moves us into action to defy the status quo. That's why Trump purposefully places the candidates in stressful situations---to test and discover their skill-sets and their ability to bounce back from defeat.

If you've watched "The Apprentice," you've witnessed many "emotional meltdowns" over the past six seasons. But, you've also seen superb examples from those who have used stress to reach deep within themselves and achieve what they thought was impossible.

Most of what we call "stress" is self-inflicted. Often, how we respond to a "stressor" creates even more stress! The key is in learning how to respond to stress and to turn it into an advantage.

Better yet, why not prevent stress in the first place by taking pre-emptive action?

The Lesson? Make stress work for you by allowing it to trigger your brain to think, "It's time to do something different here!" Then you will find yourself creating a new path to reach your outcome.

Note: The First Five Business and Life Lessons From "The Apprentice" are:

  1. Focus On What You Want
  2. Get An Attitude: Believe In Yourself
  3. Surround Yourself With Great People
  4. Life Is Short…Have Fun
  5. Surprise Your Brain

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