The Apprentice Episode 10

Published on 11 December 2014 at 2:54 pm #assertivenesstraining #communicationskills #impactfactory #linemanagement #negotiationskills #presentationskills

What a relief that we can now move on from all the foodie jokes and foodie double entendres.

Yesterday's episode was all about creating a new product, branding it, doing market research and pitching it to three supermarket chains. Two people got the chop (sorry, hard to resist, isn't it?) and the anticipation is on the evisceration to come during next week's episode.

Last night, however, Lord Sugar said something that is fundamentally antithetical to Impact Factory's ethos and is worth exploring here.

Sanjay, who was in charge of the market research in his team, made the point that if 6 out of 7 people said good things about the product then that was a positive result.

Lord Sugar, in turn, said something along the lines of "What you should do is focus on is what is bad about the product."

Although we think there is some merit in looking at the negatives, if you put all your focus on trying to fix them you're focusing on the wrong thing. You're actually catering (sorry, sorry) to the wrong 'crowd'.

Yes, it's good to listen and take comments on board and then assess whether they make sense for your entire brand profile. On the other hand, if you try to adjust your product/brand to each negative comment, you will have a product created by committee, rather than something which reflects your ethos and values.

Our belief, experience and root of our way of working is to focus on what's already working about your brand so you can put your energy into developing it and making it even better. Another way of putting it is, if you spend more time working on what already works and doing more of that, then what doesn't work begins to fade away and be far less noticeable.

When we use the term 'brand' we also mean you - you as a brand. Just think if your tried to change yourself to appease every negative comment anyone makes about you. You'd be twisting yourself into knots and what happens when you have conflicting negative comments: one person likes your measured way of talking and someone else thinks you talk too slowly. Whose advice do you listen to?

To get specific, let's take a look at one of our courses - Presentation Skills. Most Presentation Skills courses are designed to look at delegates' faults and then try to fix them: don't fidget, don't jiggle the change in your pocket, don't say 'um', don't pace about. And so on.

It's really hard to keep a drop down list in your head of what not to do.

We don't work that way at Impact Factory. What is far more effective is to notice what already works about your presenting style: you have good eye contact, you have an easy voice to listen to, you are a great story teller, you know how to tell jokes, etc. In every instance, we would ignore the change jiggling and go for telling more stories.

The jiggling may be a distraction only if your audience isn't engaged. You engage your audience by being more natural and the only way you can be natural is to use what you know works and do more of that.

The same with any brand. If enough people love something, then you need to find out the fine detail of why and promote that. If 6 out of 7 people like your product, dig down and find out what specifically they like. You can then draw attention to the fine detail which reassures other people that the product has substance.

Of course it's important not to ignore the negatives but if you put the majority of your effort into them you give yourself a far harder task and it will erode your confidence. It's so much more fulfilling and energising putting effort into developing positives, which gives you more resilience when the bad stuff comes along.

You can listen to Lord Sugar if you want and put effort into trying to fix stuff, or you can listen to us and develop all those positives, whether they sit within a product or sit within yourself.

Check out Impact Factory's range of Personal Impact, Negotiation and Communication Skills Training.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory