The Apprentice Week 4 – Muck and Brass

The Apprentice Week 4 – Muck and Brass

courtesy of BBC

courtesy of BBC

The teams assemble at Surrey Docks Farm in East London, with the girls desperately in need a win having lost 3 on the bounce. However, the teams are mixed with Uzma and Natalie going one way and 3 of the lads going the other way. At least some of the girls will win.

The task is to open a Farm Shop, source stock and sell it. Biggest profit wins. Both teams seem to miss the point of a Farm Shop and instead go for the more profitable “takeaway” market.

Luisa gets the nod as PM for Evolve, and they go for meat (buffalo burgers), jackets and soup. Neil leads Endeavour, as he’s “a born leader”. As he’s been leading from the back (according to himself) this should be a breeze. Kurt has some experience of dairy and Neil goes for his idea of milkshakes. No discussion allowed.

Each task is always about leadership, and we saw an excellent example of this last week from Jordan. This week we have the autocratic style of Neil versus the democratic / laissez-faire approach of Luisa.

Research and stock purchase follow. Buffalo is different, expensive and high margin at £159. At the dairy, Alex rushes the numbers and everyone is confused. They get it for £40 for 100l of Jersey milk, if they bottle it themselves.

The Evolve sub team is given £40 to buy veg for “window dressing”. They end up spending £146! Miles railroads Luisa, who caves in. Then they go for Apple Juice, and despite Miles wanting to spend more money, Luisa finally says no. There is no clear strategy or communication between the sub teams in Evolve, and Luisa comes across as indecisive.

The Endeavour sub team buys fruit, with a budget of £100. Kurt disagrees but Neil isn’t listening. Kurt is reluctant to spend and only buys a small amount of stock, using only £33! He is banking on the shake being profitable and promises to sell 200 units.

There is no clear strategy or communication in Endeavour, either.

Next day it is all about the selling. The shops are located at Broadway Market. Luisa gives a pep talk at Buffalocal, but Neil is frustrated that the sub team bought so little fruit and veg. The shop (Fruity Cow) is still not ready 45 minutes after opening time. Neil’s leadership style has shifted from dictator to more dictated to.

Early feedback on the Buffalo is that it is expensive and there are no early takers for lunch of soup and jacket potatoes. They have nearly 350 servings to move, in addition to the buffalo, which eventually starts to shift. Miles (of course) suggests the soup etc. is put on display outside of the shop. Eventually they start to move, but Miles is unhappy with the aesthetic of the jacket spuds, and blames Jason. Increasingly, it is Miles, not Luisa who is seen to be leading the team. Luisa recedes further into the background

The milkshakes start to come in thick and fast.  As stock moves, Kurt suggests buying cheap apple juice as a new line. By mid afternoon, Neil is looking to get rid of stock, but is unhappy with Uzma’s contribution (what contribution? I hear you ask). Both teams are left with unsold stock, but Neil is (of course) confident.

In the Boardroom, strategies and tactics are scrutinized, especially the takeaway angle from both teams. Miles sticks the knife into Luisa, and the support from the rest of the team is muted to say the least. Neil’s leadership style is also examined and Kurt is especially lukewarm about it.

The numbers for both teams come in and Endeavour have a profit of £539 to Evolve’s  £630. Neil loses by £91. They didn’t sell enough milkshakes (113 v a target of 200). For Evolve, Luisa was a poor, indecisive PM, and Miles is happy to take the credit for rescuing the team. From the edit, he may be right.

In the autopsy that follows, Sugar questions Neil’s inability to change direction when things started to unravel, but Kurt is given credit for the fruit juice initiative. Eventually Uzma comes under the spotlight as well, and her contribution is deemed to be lacking. Neil principally blames Kurt, but brings Uzma as well as she was the weakest person in the team.

Uzma puts up a spirited defence to Neil, who is accused of being “cocky” by Sugar. Kurt is criticized for offering to sell 200 milkshakes, but he did contribute a lot of the profit. Uzma says Neil should go, and Neil says it should be Kurt. Sugar inevitably fires Uzma, but not before scaring both Neil and Kurt. It is the right decision based on the first 4 tasks, but Neil could have gone for his poor leadership.

This week both PMs were poor leaders, but for different reasons. Luisa listened too much and eventually, Miles took over, possibly rescuing the team. Neil was autocratic, especially over the strategy, but then was weak and indecisive when things started going astray. It was Kurt who adapted the strategy, but he was over confident to get stuck with a large sales target.

Good leadership requires clarity over the task (better in Evolve) with the team pulling in the same direction to deliver the task (both teams failed here) and with every individual contributing. Uzma failed in this respect, but Jason is another yet to show any real talent. Jordan remains the most impressive of the boys, with Leah (quieter this week) the best of the girls. Miles may be annoying and vain, but he did make a solid contribution this week.











How marketing uses influential communication

I love the following video. It features Robert Cialdini explaining his Principles of Persuasion, and illustrating it with examples from American TV advertising. This is a great way to understand how to be more influential. How can you use these approaches to get your message heard, and more importantly, believed? More on this soon.

Semantic links, NLP and embedded commands

We are all familiar with semantic links. They are words in electronic media which are highlighted, often in a different colour to the main text. When you move your cursor over the word, it is revealed to be a hyperlink (a link that takes you to another web page) with more information the author wants you to read. Sometimes the sentence that the semantic link appears in is a pretext to get you to click on the link. This can be to link you to adverts or web pages, but it is also the trick used to infect your pc with trojans or viruses. You recognise the set up – a screen pops up looking like Windows Defender with scary threats that your PC is infected. You are then encouraged to activate an antivirus package, possibly one you believe you already have or one you have to purchase. The problem is that once you do this, you allow the trojan access to your pc where it can wreak havoc.  

What you may not be so familiar is that there is a linguistic (the L in NLP) trick that is used in influential communication to get people to do what you want them to. This is at the heart of the work of stage performers such as Derren Brown or Paul McKenna. In NLP it is called an embedded command. Here is how it works; the command is hidden or embedded in a longer sentence.

For instance:

“You may or may not decide to sign up to my blog site

In this example, the embedded command is written in italics. The conscious mind hears the full sentence, but the subconscious mind replays the words and can be inclined to hear the embedded command. This is particularly true if you like the speaker (another of Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion) and want to please them. This is a key basis of hypnosis.  Notice, all of this is happening at a sub-conscious level.  

Embedded commands are even more effective when they use ambiguous language, such as in the following example:

“You, like me, are probably a very reasonable person.

The embedded command is, again, in italics. The subconscious mind ignores the grammar and looks at the various possible meanings of the sentence. One interpretation, possibly the desired one, tells your subconscious mind that you like me. So you do.

The learning here is that by building up a stock of choice embedded commands you can develop as a more influential communicator. In this way you are more likely to get the outcomes you deserve.

You are probably now aware of the embedded commands you already use.

Share some of your examples below.

Cialdini, Principles of Persuasion and April Fools’ pranks that are believed

As today is the first day of the fourth month, there is a lot of influential communication to be observed in the form of April Fools’ pranks. Clearly, the aim of a prank is to influence another person to believe an absurdity.

But what makes one of these pranks more likely to be believed than another?

Well, the Principles of Persuasion, devised by Robert Cialdini, can give us some clues. One principle is particularly effective; Authority.

Basically, people are more likely to be influenced in their behaviour from someone to whom they attribute relevant expertise or authority.  Think about the most famous pranks, reported or perpetrated by the BBC such as;

 1957: Hoax BBC Panorama reveals spaghetti harvest in Switzerland

1976: Patrick Moore tells BBC Radio 2 listeners that at 0947 a planetary event would lessen Earth’s gravity and if people jumped in the air at that moment, they would float.

What made these pranks so successful was the fact that authorities such as the BBC or Patrick Moore, a leading expert on Astronomy and well known TV personality, were involved.

Of course, fun as this is – or not depending on your perspective – many organisations make use of the Authority Principle in their promotion, as indeed am I.

What’s your experience of this?

Comments welcomed