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The Apprentice: Martha Stewart – Why Leslie Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/06/2005
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Leslie has had some issues as this series has moved along – recall when she was forcing salad dressing onto people, who were then leaving it behind. But until her final challenge, she seemed to be moving along nicely and most people certainly did not expect her to leave before, say, Marcela. Yet that’s exactly what happened, and we can scratch our heads wondering about it or we can dig deeper and figure out why Leslie lost.
Of course, we’re going to do the latter – by going step by step through What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned. By the end of this article, we’ll have all the answers we could ever need.
The first rule Leslie should have followed was to show leadership. In this particular task (which we’ll concentrate on here because she had an identical long-term record to Marcela, who was really the only other person who could have gone this time), Leslie was the project manager but did a lot more dithering than deciding. Then, when she did decide, she did so late in the project and, frankly, made the wrong decisions.
At the very beginning, Leslie asked Ryan and Marcela for a clever idea. Ryan came up with one. But Leslie didn’t want to go with it, so she hemmed and hawed. She decided to go with it, but still felt uncomfortable and decided to consult with a consultant. Together they changed the idea, which might have been okay if they had done so before all the video was shot and when they had time to come up with a different set-up for the showroom. But that wasn’t the case.
What appeared to be worse in Martha Stewart’s eyes was that Leslie didn’t trust her own ideas or those of her team – she went outside to see if it was okay and then changed it based on that opinion. In a way, this violated the part of the rule that says, “When you are the Project Manager, by all means be the manager. Don’t let other strong personalities overwhelm you.” Leslie didn’t let strong personalities within her group overwhelm her, but she did let the opinion of a PR consultant do just that.
Leslie did make a smart move earlier in the game, when back in the fourth week she volunteered to leave Primarius and take over as project manager of the miserably failing Matchstick. But even then, she held the infamous never-ending brainstorming session and took so long in coming to a decision that they ended up not finishing the task. Dawn saved Leslie’s butt in that task by being a pain in the ass, but apparently Dawn didn’t really learn anything from it.
The second rule says to stay cool under fire. I believe Leslie failed her somewhat. She knew that she needed a win as project manager and became overly anxious about it. As a result, she second-guessed things. She asked for an idea and then second-guessed it. She settled on an idea and then second-guessed it. She saw the “dinner table” in the showroom and second-guessed it. Etc. There is an old rule of thumb that people are supposed to follow when taking multiple choice tests that says you should almost always stick to your first answer. I don’t know if it’s true or has been tested or anything, but in this case, Leslie should definitely have followed that rule. Every time she second-guessed, she was wrong.
Her nerves took over again when she made the presentation to the Buick executives. By that time, the challenge was pretty much lost, but she had no way to know that. As recapper Betsy described the situation, Leslie was “stuttering and stumbling all over the place.” Marcela noticed how nervous Leslie was. Charles was bored or uncomfortable enough that he started checking his watch.
Some of the same problems we’ve already discussed also carry over into the third rule, which says to have a backbone. To put it bluntly, on this task, Leslie was practically spineless. She didn’t like Ryan’s idea, but she didn’t not like it. She wanted to go forward with it but she wanted to change it. Etc. She needed to take a stand one way or the other and go with it. If she didn’t like Ryan’s thoughts, she should have simply said so and gone with something else – that would have been much better than the mishmash approach she took.
The fourth rule says that scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work. Leslie didn’t specifically plot with anybody, but she did talk out her plans with Bethenny and convinced herself that it was a problem with the idea rather than the execution. Frankly, she deluded herself, but I don’t think that’s a violation of this particular rule.1 2 Next-->
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