One of the biggest lessons to learn in business is how to communicate with warmth and appreciativeness, even to a perceived adversary. It’s a lesson I use nearly every day, and one I am constantly fine-tuning and trying to improve.
One of the biggest lessons in life in general is not to be a sore winner. This is evident in myriad public competitions, from newly elected political candidates congratulating their opponents on “a hard-fought race” to athletes like football’s Brett Favre pausing mid-celebration to shake hands with the opposition.
Somehow, the gentle and polite Randal Pinkett missed both these lessons. The winner of season four of “The Apprentice,” Randal, upon being hired, strongly said no to the suggestion of Donald Trump’s hiring Rebecca Jarvis, Randal’s impressive (and formerly friendly) competitor.
I personally can’t figure this one out. What did Randal have to lose by welcoming Rebecca into the fold? He apparently disliked the prospect of not being the apprentice, and I’m tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt: that when at the boardroom table opposite the Donald, the only thing a candidate considers is his or her own survival.
But in rebuffing Rebecca, he became the instant enemy of all her fans, and likely lowered his prospects for book deals, speaking engagements, and long-term success in the public arena. It was a huge misstep by someone whose grace under fire was celebrated by his teammates.
Randal could have had it both ways. The right answer to Trump’s suggestion of hiring Rebecca? “Mr. Trump, I am proud to be The Apprentice, and with that matter settled, I would be equally proud to have Rebecca join us in the Trump organization.” Randal has a title, Rebecca has a job, and they could both enter into years of public glory.
I suppose winning with style is a lesson that Trump can try and teach his new apprentice.