Friday, November 26, 2004

The Apprentice 9 and 10


Well, last night had more to teach us about the nature of failure than the nature of success.

Episode 9 showed the teams renovating a house in one day trying to improve its valuation. Raj got kicked out, but at the same time did put up one of his better performances - one suspects that he had been sabotaging the team performance by making life difficult for project managers in previous episodes. This time, his ass was on the line, and he didn't quite make it. Essentially, it was a task which required sensible, basic ideas carried out efficiently. His decision to knock down a wall and reduce the number of bedrooms in his house was a stupid decision to make when there were still other, simpler, gains to be made.

Episode 10 was a farce - the 4-man Apex Corporation being reduced down to 3 after a dismal performance. Not one of the team members put in a fiery or vigorous performance. When you fail, it not good to have been meek.

As a philosophical exercise, two simple points can be made. Where easy gains can be made, make them. Don't think outside the square when your job is to build a square. Clearly, picking the difference between when to be conservative and when to be creative is a difficult one, and Raj didn't actually reduce the value of his house, but he achieved only mediocre success.

Secondly, fight with fire. Don't give up on a task before it has begun, and don't write yourself off. It is a fair accusation against Apex that they actually achieved the same quality of presentation as Mosaic, but completely failed to compete equally in terms of marketing and sales. Mosaic outperformed their sales by a factor of 12 - $12, 000 to $1,000. This is a motto for life - if you choose not to fight hard, you are choosing to make less money. Trump rightly fired the project manager for, essentially, being a feckless leader. Nobody excelled, but at the same time nobody let the project manager down. Failing to show motivation and inspire others to work hard is a failure of leadership, not a failure of the workers. This is an object level in the value of not allowing yourself the luxury of self-denigration. A positive outlook is no guarantee, but a negative one is.



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