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The Apprentice 3: Why Brian Lostby David Bloomberg -- 01/28/2005
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At first glance, it might seem like answering the question of why Brian lost is – like the Boardroom session itself in the second episode – a waste of time. But if there is something to be learned, not to mention an idiot to be poked, then it’s never a waste! With that in mind, we will look back at What ‘Apprentice 3’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where Brian went wrong (in so many ways), and why Brian lost.
The first, and always most important, rule is to show leadership. Once again this week, I was happy to see both teams actually picking leaders according to who felt they could do the best job rather than randomly drawing lots. And Brian does get one point for volunteering when nobody else (including Kristen, who also has real estate experience) did.
He gets one more point for following the portion of the rule that says not to let other strong personalities overwhelm you and if you’re going to be blamed for the loss, make sure it was a loss that you created. Well, this was definitely a loss that Brian created!
However, those are the only two points Brian will get, and they were quickly subtracted by the way he led. He was arrogant, condescending, obnoxious, short-tempered – I could get my thesaurus out, but you get the point. And although he took a stand and made decisions, he later tried to blame other people for the problems caused by those decisions.
For example, he decided to bust the budget by buying new toilets. Then he yelled (because that’s the only way he knows how to communicate) at Kristen about it (of course, yelling is the only way she knows how to communicate too).
When John tried to give Brian advice on leading, Brian didn’t want to hear any of it. He said he didn’t yell, he just has a naturally loud voice. You know what? I have a naturally loud voice too. But if I don’t want people to think I’m yelling at them, I make a conscious effort to tone it down. Brian didn’t seem to get that point.
Brian also seemed to think that Project Manager = Dictator. People should have just listened to him and did whatever he said, and all would have been fine, in his imaginary world. No amount of advice could persuade him otherwise. And in large part because of that, he completely lost the respect of his team, not to mention control of it.
What else does the first rule say? “What is worse than walking into the Boardroom after having lost? Walking into the Boardroom and saying, ‘Yes, we lost, but it wasn’t my fault because I had no control over my team.’” Brian at least didn’t try to claim it wasn’t his fault – he admitted it up front. But that was likely because he finally listened to John (who obviously has been reading my articles), who said Brian would look foolish trying to blame other people.
Moving on, the second rule says to stay cool under fire. Mostly, this rule is aimed at preventing behavior like Verna’s on Magna, who completely cracked under the stress. However, it also applies to Brian, who cracked differently.
Brian let the “power” of being Project Manager go to his head. He wanted to win, and he was going to dictate how everything went, so everybody who disagreed with him had to be squashed like a bug. However, Brian would have done well to listen to Donald Trump, who told Newsweek last year, “Good leaders handle conflict easily and bad ones are eaten up by it.” Brian was eaten up – he had to argue every single point. Even when John was trying to help him out, he argued. And when arguing didn’t hold the day, he flat-out lied, as he did several times in this episode about things that we had seen on camera.
Also, whether it was the pressure of the situation or just the way Brian is, he never took the time to sit down and think about their plan. In the Boardroom, he blamed the short turnaround time, but then was forced to admit (after lying about it when first asked) that he never had a budget and never had a timeline. It seemed like the stress just got to him and he was reacting rather than acting.
Brian had no problem with the third rule, having a backbone. In fact, he seemed to have enough backbone for everybody – until he got into the Boardroom. Then the backbone collapsed and he admitted it was all his fault. Mind you, I’m not disagreeing with him, but I’m not sure what he expected to accomplish with that “strategy.” Did he think others would speak up and say, “Oh no, Brian, it wasn’t all your fault. We deserve blame too!” Yeah. Sure.
The fourth rule says scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work, but you still shouldn’t show your hand. Well, I suppose Brian did okay here – but mostly because there was nobody to scheme and plot with and everybody already knew what he held in his hand because he screamed it at them! So because he believed they all had better hands than him, he folded. That may be fine in a long round of poker, but this was his last hand and all the chips were on the table. He should have at least attempted to bluff.1 2 Next-->
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