Employee Retention / Managerial Skills

Everything I Need to Know About Working I’ve Learned from the Biggest Loser

I think the Biggest Loser is the best reality show of all time. Not only is it inspiring and motivational, but it has all the drama and surprises that we’ve come to crave from reality TV. Plus it’s lessons are far-reaching and can parallel just about anything. Here’s why the Biggest Loser is a perfect analogy to the career world.

  • You Need a Mentor – Bob and Jillian are the world’s best trainers. Despite Jillian’s hard edge and harsh lash of her tongue, she and Bob know so much about nutrition, losing weight and getting fit. I’m always so impressed how hard the Biggest Loser contestants work! It makes me feel inordinately lazy. But the reality is that you HAVE to have someone pushing you, motivating you, teaching you, reassuring you and encouraging you in order to reach your goals.  I’ve found this to be true in my career.  A mentor is vital to growth and success. I have one of these. His name is Bill Matthews and he’s the best darn mentor I’ve ever had. When I was learning media buying he taught me more in a month than anyone had taught me in 2 years. He’s patient, methodical, logical, analytical and super funny. Trainers/mentors are paramount to you reaching your goals.
  • Successful Partnerships are Based on Trust and Mutual Respect. One of the things Jillian has failed out this season is getting two of her team members to trust and respect her. Filipe and Sione were with Bob in the beginning but then got switched to Jillian’s team. She hasn’t had time (or taken the time) to build a relationship with them, so they don’t know that she cares about them or their weight loss goals. When they get on her team, they’re already skeptical of her and instead of earning their respect, she pops off and pisses them both off. I think they are being babies about it, but whatever. The fact remains the same. To have a successful working environment, you have to believe your manager/boss cares about what’s best for you. If you don’t trust them, you won’t succeed. You’ll be waiting for the bottom to drop out – for him/her to disappoint you or fulfill your low expectations. If you’re a boss, you will lose your people if you don’t build relationships with them and show them you care about what’s important to them.
  • Focus on the Strong, the Weak will Follow. On the Biggest Loser, when you have a weigh-in and one team has a lower % of weight loss and falls below the yellow line, that team has to send somebody home. The Blue team lately keeps falling below the yellow line. Why? They keep sending their strongest and best people home! It’s ridiculous. They are keeping the people who “really need to be here” there and sending home the “people who can do it at home.” That might be a noble way to look at it, but every decision you make has it’s consequences. By sending their strongest players home, and focusing only on their less successful players, they are building a weaker and weaker team that can’t stand up to the Black team, thus they’re going to fall below every single week and will eventually eliminate themselves. In working, I’ve found that most managers, co-workers and bosses spend the MOST time with the weakest teammembers. I think if you’re trying to build a strong team, this is a terrible mistake. Sometimes it’s better to sacrifice a weak member who isn’t cutting it, so you can spend time and reinforce those who are working hard, are pulling their weight and are going to help you all become successful. It’s like at the daycare at the gym, my son gets neglected because he’s the “good” one and the baddies get all the focus and attention on their negative behavior. That’s only going to encourage the cycle of failure.
  • Little Slips Cause Big Penalties. Two weeks ago the big, bad, Black team won 24 hours of luxury. They spend it by drinking and eating like 20,000 calories in one night. When they showed up for the gym, they were tired and exhausted. The weigh in was brutal – nobody lost very much weight and the Blue team nearly took them. When you’re working little slips like this can cost you big. You may think because you’ve worked overtime lately that you can slack off a bit, at least for a day. But this kind of egotism will bite you hard. A lot of successes in the past don’t always carry you through when you mess up. People think they “deserve” to slack off a little because they’ve been working so hard, but in the rat race, you aren’t allowed this luxury. You have to show your A-game every day, every single time to move ahead and get in and stay in your boss’s favor.

Anybody else love BL? What have you learned?

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3 thoughts on “Everything I Need to Know About Working I’ve Learned from the Biggest Loser

  1. What a great post! The Biggest Loser is one of my guilty pleasures and I was blown away as you translated their experiences into business applications. My favorite point is you comparing the blue team sending home their strongest players to spending most of your time on weaker teammembers at work! BTW, it really upsets me that the blue team keeps doing that. Great job!

  2. Interesting. I need to tune into the Big Loser and look for these analogies. Weirdo that is me, I watch 60 Minutes, the Daily Show and then fall asleep. No longer. I’m on it.

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