Lessons from The Apprentice, week 4
How not to get fired - with help from the BBC show
Week 4 sent the candidates to The London Pet Show to gain a slice of the profitable pet product market. Scott's ‘tail wagging the dog' leadership style saw his team return to the boardroom to face off with Lord Sugar, but it was Ruth and her technicolour dreamcoat that ultimately departed the process. Let's paws (sorry) and ask why.
How to avoid getting fired
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Lesson #1: Different times call for different measures
"When you try to make your point, you tend to take the scenic route"
Obviously the more commonly heard phrase begins ‘desperate times…' but it's unlikely desperate measures would have helped here. Like Jenny the week before, the most obvious criticism that can be levelled at Ruth is that she failed to close any deals. As a sales trainer by trade, Lord Sugar expected more of her.
Though she sold admirably in earlier tasks, the ‘talk and talk and talk and talk' selling technique might have bamboozled a few punters into shelling out for seafood in the street – but a very different approach was required to shift high end cat towers.
Key take-away: know what's required to close a sale – sometimes filibustering might get you there; sometimes the ‘golden silence'
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Lesson #2: Listen to those around you
"I would rather fall on my sword trying 110%"
Scott's early showing as project manager might have been less than inspiring – ‘non-committal … dancing around' said Claude – but he could see what was going on at crunch time. He appeared to take a mediation role between Ruth and Selena in the boardroom, effectively removing himself from the firing line. He switched up his sales teams when he saw energy levels dropping.
But his attempt to get Ruth to take it slower, dial back on the overbearing ‘110%', and trust that the sale was coming, fell on deaf ears. Scott saw what Claude saw, and was in a position to guide Ruth in the right direction; by not heeding his warning (instead shooing him away to latch onto the next punter), Ruth carried on down the same, ultimately unsuccessful track.
Key take-away: listen to people, especially when they're telling you to try something different and your current approach isn't working. They might not be right either, but give them a hearing
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Lesson #3: Be a bit more ruthless
"…and I'm not using that as a pun"
Slightly sloppy delivery on the final verdict this week, but the point stands: Ruth was anything but ruthless in this task, and that's why she didn't cut it. As Lord Sugar put it so eloquently ‘you got no money, sod off'. Scott's boardroom strategy was to bring back polar opposites in Ruth and Selena – ‘somebody who's very enthusiastic' and ‘somebody who doesn't seem to care very much'.
As Karen stated ‘she'd rather have neither' but it was Ruth's combination of enthusiasm and lack of end product that lost out in the head-to-head. At the end of the day, creating few sales opportunities and closing one (with an assist from Scott) proved preferable to creating many and closing none.
Key take-away: you can't please all of the people all of the time. Your customer service can be impeccable, but if you're meant to be selling that's what you'll be judged on
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It's not all bad…
Possessing bundles of enthusiasm, a consistently high work ethic, and a reluctance to put personal glory before team success, Ruth was a refreshing addition to this year's Apprentice. She gave her all – whether modelling for a shampoo commercial or shovelling manure – and showed great team spirit in coaching and lifting up those around her: a sad loss for the show, but sure to do well outside it.