Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reality TV Wisdom For Your Career

Reality TV is ubiquitous. It seems there is nothing that can't serve as a reality series premise, doesn't it?

Regardless of whether you watch reality shows or not, you're probably questioning my posit that there is wisdom to be mined. First, a caveat - I don't watch a ton of reality shows, so can't speak to all. However, I've stumbled upon a couple that I've been watching when I get the chance.  Guess what??  I really did find some tips for career and job search success from 3 of my favorites that I'd like to share.  Read on to find out how ABC's Shark Tank, Bravo's Tabatha Takes Over and NBC's The Apprentice can make you more effective at work:

Shark Tank: 
I don't know about you, but I am fascinated by the entrepreneurial mind. On Shark Tank, a panel of 5 sharks (investors) assess pitches by entrepreneurs and decide to invest...or not. Watching the pitches and observing the sharks' reactions is like sitting in on a mini MBA course on business valuations, marketing, presentation skills and finance. And earning a shark's support can send an entrepreneur soaring into the success-o-sphere. On a recent episode, shark (and technology innovator) Robert Herjavec decided to invest 300K with Guitar Buddy creator Travis Perry. Within hours, the demand for the product crashed the site. Travis has since hired additional staff and is on his way to $ucce$$!

Shark Tank Lesson: No matter whether an idea truly is the next best thing since sliced bread or not, the sharks always zero in on numbers and data. Their enthusiasm for an idea takes the back seat to prior sales figures and demonstrated success. As a jobseeker or someone looking for career advancement, can you provide objective data to support your abilities? You've got to be ready to share quantifiable evidence of your success and strengths to make your case as to why YOU are an organization's SOLUTION!

Tabatha Takes Over:
If salon owner and biz coach Tabatha Coffey comes into your workplace, get ready!  She whips small businesses into shape with a no-nonsense, lean-on-the-warm-and-fuzzies approach.  As a successful business woman, she has a knack for lasering in on organizational dysfunction as well as incompetence, and isn't afraid to talk about it!

Tabatha's Lesson: Constructive criticism can transform your skills...if you're able to accept it.  Show after show, Tabatha shares her considerable expertise with newer stylists. Some are wide open to it, asking additional questions, implementing her suggestions and, consequently, improving their skills. Others immediately move to the defensive, sadly squandering an opportunity to learn best-in-class techniques from a master stylist.  Whether you're a jobseeker or not, continually leverage opportunities to learn from those who are further along the learning curve! Check the ego and open the mind.

Celebrity Apprentice and The Apprentice: 
Both iterations of the show feature Donald Trump as the boss who must fire someone at the end of each episode. Celebrity or civilian, the final boardroom meeting (where someone is always let go) is often an exercise in incredulity. It usually goes something like this: Team member A is shocked and dismayed to be named one of the least contributing members for that week's project. He/she purports to have worked diligently and contributed significantly to the project.  It's not too soon after that Mr. Trump decrees 'You're Fired' and we cut to the tearful contestant in a taxi, heading to the airport.

Apprentice's Lesson:  Working hard is important.  But it's also important to be sure your boss understands what you're doing and how you're contributing to departmental goals.  It's the work version of one of the great philosophical questions... 'if a tree falls in a forest...'

One More Lesson...
I remember another reality series that aired on PBS several years ago - Frontier House.  Modern day families lived as if they had gone back in time to other eras - mid/late 1800s, for example.  From this I learned that I would not have made a very good frontier wife or mother. I'm not sure how that tidbit will impact my life or career, but it's tucked away for future reference!

All the best,


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