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Published on July 26th, 2011 | by bubble


Avoiding the Board Room

The deranged rantings of an under pressure Recruitment Consultant …

As I write this, miserable old Lord Amstrad has just hired soppy-faced human nodding machine Tom, to be his “Business Partner”. Don’t say you don’t know what I’m talking about, we all watch it. There will now be a gaping chasm in the Wednesday night entertainment schedule but worse, our Thursday morning work banter will have to go back to shuffling awkwardly and asking the old-faithful … “So, any plans for the weekend?”

Whilst it’s unlikely that watching The Apprentice will ever be an integral part of the curriculum for a Harvard MBA, every week the candidates give us a master class in the real skills we all need to succeed in business. No, seriously, they do.

So if you’re thinking about your next Business Development job in a thriving internet business, interviewing for a senior Social Media position or being considered for that Head of Ecommerce promotion, you might want to take a few leads from ‘Jedi Jim’ and co’

The Importance of Artifice

There’s a good reason why an episode of The Apprentice looks like a walking advert for TM Lewin – that’s what we expect the candidates to look like. That’s the dress code. Dressing differently doesn’t make you stand out from the crowd as a maverick, cutting-edge thinker, it just causes alarm, arouses suspicion and makes people think you’re weird.

So if the dress code is uncomfortable suit and tie combo, then get starching those collars. Similarly if it’s Board Shorts and T-Shirts with slogans like “My Dad’s Made of Chocolate” then get down to Camden Market. Unfortunately perception is nine tenths of the law in business and first impressions are everything.

The Power of Conviction

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you say something with a serious amount of confidence and conviction, no matter how preposterous, some people will believe you. Entire religions have been founded on this principle. Even people who don’t believe you will start to question themselves. Like in the Pub Quiz when you’re thinking … “I’m pretty sure William Hague is the current Foreign Secretary and not Dale Winton but this guy just seems so confident. They must be right. I’ll shut up”. Every year there is one Apprentice contestant who is always right but never gets listened to. Without fail they are the ones with the whiny weakling voices and the least confidence to stand up and influence the group. Meanwhile the Big Gobs drive the agenda, f++k up the task and then save themselves in the Board Room with an impassioned display of twittery about how they “always give 110% and hit the ball out of the park”.

You might hate these loudmouths but come appraisal time, they’re the ones who have been noticed!

Make A Decision … And Make It Yours

Contrary to popular opinion, in the film Zulu, Michael Caine never said “Don’t throw those bloody spears at me” but he did say to Stanley Baker, “When you take command old boy, you’re on your own”. When you’re the Project Manager all the decisions are yours. Everybody will have an opinion, some will have more opinions than others but when the time comes to make a decision they’ll be silent. The worst PMs prevaricate, waiting for something to happen. It won’t. You have to make it happen. And if you’re making the decisions, go with the one you think is right even if it’s unpopular. There is some shame in knowing you should have listened to others but far less than when you knew you were right but went with a majority view. You’ll still be taking the blame even if it wasn’t your idea.

The Chumbawamba Effect

“I get knocked down but I get up again” sang 90s agit-pop anarchists Chumbawamba. The best candidates on The Apprentice have the hide of a Rhinoceros. No matter how calamitous their performance, they dust themselves off and get back in the game. They have unshakeable self-belief. Even when they’re in the Taxi after Shuggsy has just given them the boot for being supremely inadequate, they still sit there and say “I think he’s made a big mistake and I’m sure I’m going to go on to bigger and better things”. We may laugh at their misplaced optimism but you can’t knock the fact that they will keep trying.

So farewell to this year’s batch of wannabe captains of industry – roll on the new series of Junior Apprentice … where a bunch of school kids demonstrate further proof that “business” is actually a lot simpler than everybody makes out.

I’m off now – all I can say is I appreciate you taking the time to read this and thank you very much for the opportunity.


Bubble07 is our undercover headhunter working in the the big city providing you with his own, unique take on the business world.

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