Survivor Winner Tells His Secrets!by David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
101 Survival Secrets: How to Make $1,000,000, Lose 100 Pounds, and Just Plain Live Happily, by Rich Hatch, The Lyons Press, $12.95, Publishing Date: Nov. 14
Rich Hatch, as everybody surely knows by now, was the winner of CBS's smash summer hit, Survivor. He won through wits, guile, a little bit of deception, and a lot of planning.
But this book has almost nothing to do with that.
CBS wouldn't let Hatch write about what happened on the island, so instead he wrote about his life in general, and his secrets to success.
The first question you have to ask yourself is whether his fame from winning Survivor is enough that we should be looking to him for advice on life in general. If you presume it is, then we can look at the book. If not, then this book probably isn't for you right off the bat. But it is worth noting that Hatch was fairly successful in his own right before ever getting on the TV show.
One of the topics Hatch writes about before explaining his 101 secrets is his interaction with “morons and bigots and bores.” In fact, he ends his Acknowledgements by thanking “all the ignorant bigots I've encountered in my life for helping me develop confidence and self-esteem by exposing the irrationality and vacancy of their views.”
His second chapter deals with them in greater detail, explaining that being gay helped him win because he'd been forced to understand himself better in the face of bigots. But he doesn't care about being gay so much as he cares about who he is overall: “Yes, I am gay, queer whatever term you prefer. So what? I gave up caring what other people think about my gayness a long time ago. I'd prefer you just call me Rich.”
It's hard to argue against that attitude, and I think it's one that many others should adopt. And that's even before we get to his “secrets.”
Also before the secrets, he notes that while we know everything about how he acted on the island, we really know virtually nothing of who he really is. Sure, we got a glimpse a couple times on the show, as when Sean's father brought care packages from home, which included e-mail printouts for Rich from his friends, but that was about it. So he tells us a bit about his real life, how he found happiness, and what he has done with it.
We find out that, in school, he hated being naked in front of others such as in a locker room at school. We certainly know that has changed!
We also get his answer to a question that many fans have asked regarding Rudy's repeated use of “queer” to describe Hatch, and the use of other terms that are usually considered denigrating. He says: “Words don't bother me as long as they're not malicious or mean-spirited.” So, no, it didn't bother him at all.
Some of what he says sounds a bit too much like pop psychology gone awry. For example, when he discusses his weight gain up to 360 pounds, he says he realized that he was fat because he wanted to be fat. Not consciously, but unconsciously. So he made a decision to change and did it.
The problem is that he takes his own experience and assumes that everybody else is the same way. If he can lose that much weight just by deciding he could do it, then anybody can. Unfortunately, things are seldom so simple for most people. That said, he does have some solid advice on losing weight; one of his rules is that “Diets don't work. They're stupid.” You will only lose the weight when you change your lifestyle. This much is certainly true.
He is realistic in some of his other rules as well, even when he promotes high-minded ideals. For example, he suggests that people who are unhappy in their jobs should simply quit and pursue what makes them happy. But he knows this is not possible for many, so he qualifies this advice by adding: “don't quit your job this second, but make it a point to find time to do something that makes you happy and could lead to a new career or a new source of income.” This is something that most people can work towards if they put their minds to it.
Something like that may be risky, but Hatch says that you have to accept risk, evaluate it, and learn from it.
Perhaps the most important of his rules is to listen to people. He emphasizes communication throughout, and you can't communicate without listening. At the same time, you can't communicate without being honest, and he says that is “the most compassionate thing one can do for another human being.” Some may think this conflicts with his actions on the island. But we have to remember that he wasn't dealing with people there as friends or people he would see for the rest of his life he was playing a game.
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, two of his rules are to learn the rules of whatever game you're playing and to build whatever alliances are necessary. It was obvious to all who watched Survivor that Hatch is a master of both of these. While others muddled through the beginning of the game, Hatch had fully grasped its nature and knew what he had to do to win. Indeed, he claims to have known how to win even before he got on the show, and had told the final interview panel for the show: “Look, you all know you're gonna pick me. What you don't know is that I'm gonna win. And what you need to know for planning purposes is that I'm gonna host next year's show, so can we just move this thing along.” Well, he was partly right, anyway.
Many people claimed Hatch was too egotistical on the island. But he says that being egocentric (which is not quite the same) is a good thing, because it means focusing on yourself, your own needs, etc. He says it is impossible to be happy if you don't take time out for yourself. Solid advice.
Other rules are often variants on these themes. Make yourself happy, learn to deal with people around you, and challenge yourself. Hatch says that is how he succeeded both off and on the island and he believes others can benefit from the same advice.
The book also contains about 20 pages of photos, where we see Hatch going from young and thin to older and fat and back down again. But one might suspect it was mostly to fill pages of what would otherwise have been a pretty thin book (it's still only 127 pages as it is).
But perhaps most important is the final section, in which he talks about what to do once you have attained your goals. He says that he wants to make others happy, and that is what he will be doing with his life now that he's won Survivor. As he has mentioned before, he will be trying to start up a camp for troubled youths, like the one that got him on track when he was younger. He also still has his adopted son to raise, though he refuses to discuss anything about their situation other than giving his side of the “abuse” charges early in the book. (But see the review of The Stingray for more information on the situation with his son.
So, will buying this book make you, the reader, happier? It depends on how likely you are to take his advice. Are you going to stop smoking just because Rich Hatch says you should? Are you going to suddenly decide to lose those extra pounds just because he did? Are you going to give up your friends because they aren't challenging you enough?
All of these are fairly unlikely scenarios. So while Hatch has some generally good advice, including many that provide realistic options, the fact is that most people simply won't adopt his secrets as rules to live by. In that, his book is probably no different than 99.9% of other “self-help” books that people read but don't follow.
So, Rich Hatch's 101 secrets may provide something for people to mull over, but it's likely that most folks are more interested in his life on the island than they are in his real life.
Isn't reality TV ironic?
Click here to check out additional book reviews! New ones added regularly.