Guest Blog by Mark Wall: What does the Apprentice say about us?

The Apprentice is undoubtedly good telly, and my Wednesday nights have been blocked out for the last couple of months.  But as the hopefuls have been whittled down to the contenders, it has become increasingly depressing.  Is this really the best that we have to offer as a society?  Do these people represent us?  Or even worse, do they represent our future?  Are Jim, Helen, Sue and Tom going to be running the country, or providing us all with jobs, in the next decade?  This is worrying.

So I tuned into the final excited, but with a heavy heart.  In a way, perhaps the four contestants are a group everyman.  We are all like one or the other.

Are we like Jim the cliché king?  Unable to talk without resorting to a hallmark inspired or fortune cookie led pearl of wisdom.  He can blue sky think outside the box and has some windows we can double-click on.  Or whatever.

But like it or not, phrases have become clichés for a very good reason – they work and people understand them.  We mustn’t be Jim like and overuse them, but if we are trying to explain something, surely using language people understand, like and use themselves makes sense?

Or are we like Susie.  Obsessively confident, her self-belief was overwhelming and slightly scary.  Like the American preachers of the last 20 years she knew that if she wanted something enough, then it would come to pass.  And so the sense of joy in unbelievers when it didn’t was palpable.

And yet don’t we all slightly envy her?  And wouldn’t our communication work so much better if we actually believed it, rather than just parroting it?

And then there are the Helen followers.  Boasting about their lack of a social life and excessive work hours, they check and double-check, cross-reference and re calculate to make sure everything is just so.  They are the ones who point out our grammatical errors when they don’t really matter, and send us examples of when we had fewer, not less, mistakes.  The apostrophe police; they have a role, but not as communication leaders.

So I am genuinely thrilled that Tom won.  Tom who couldn’t project manage his way out of a paper bag, even if it there was a trail of crumbs for him to follow.  Tom who lost 8 tasks when winning was the whole, if not the only, point of the contest.  Tom who seemed unable to make a decision that people went along with and had the sweet yet sad habit of putting his hand up if he had something to say; only to be roundly ignored by the cliché filled, self-believing checkers.

I like to think Tom won because Lord Sugar knew that in the end it was Tom who would get through to people; Tom who people would actually respect and listen to; Tom who would ultimately make the difference.  The same Lord Sugar who brought Klinsmann back to White Hart Lane as a crowd pleaser when he was well past his best, knew that Tom is the one we’d want to go for a beer with, even if he would spend the evening showing us his latest nail filing back saving chair.  And he’s right.

So what does the Apprentice tell us?  Maybe that ideas work; that nice guys can win; that you don’t have to be aggressive to be a success; and that when all is said and done, good communication works.

See, I feel better already.

Mark Wall is Director of Mark Wall Communications and an Associate at The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

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One Response to “Guest Blog by Mark Wall: What does the Apprentice say about us?”

  1. Away from home: What Does the Apprentice say about Us? | markwallcomms Says:

    […] >> Read this post on the Campaign Company blog […]

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