Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Menschlachkeit: A Personal Branding Lesson from Apprentice Winner Brandy Kuentzel

The New 'Apprentice' Winner Is Brandy Kuentzel

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that my mother was finally victorious in getting me to watch The Apprentice.

I told her last night that I was watching and she got all excited. This was a great moment for her, I believe, as I never listen to anything she says, especially when she starts going on and on about it. (She absolutely hates my cooking, you should hear the lecture about my FANTASTIC chicken recipe: chicken thighs, skin on, broiled 5-7 minutes a side. She has to cook everything at 350 degrees for 1 hour and then let it sit out for 2. But that's another blog altogether).

Anyway, following is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation last night:

Ma: "So did you watch all the episodes?"

Me: "No, just the first two with the Kardashian perfume display and the commercial for Flo TV."

Ma: "So you don't know who won." (Yes, ma, you know more than I do - yet again!)

Me: "No." (Trying to eat dinner and talk at the same time. Family in the background trying to tell me about their days. Feedback that I talk too loud.)

Ma: "Go and find out who won and then we'll talk about it."

Me: "I'm pretty sure that Clint won. He seemed like the winner all along."

Ma: "We'll talk about it when you find out. Ask me what I think."

So I look up who won the contest and I am shocked to find that it was...BRANDY????

I was sure that Clint would win. He seemed at all times to be highly focused, adaptable, willing to learn, a decent leader and team member, etc.

Brandy, however, was fairly quiet and I didn't see her really stepping up aggressively in any way. I thought Trump would want an aggressive person to join the Trump Organization for sure. Like that not-nice woman from the previous episode who seems to now be a "spokesperson" for the brand.

Plus Brandy screwed up a couple of assignments she was given.

However, somewhere inside me I was rooting for her. For a few reasons.

1. Brandy showed some serious menschlechkeit (a Yiddish word for human decency) on the show. As the teams were whittled down she was paired with Liza, another female on the show who had been mistreated quite a bit. Instead of fighting to throw Liza under the bus, Brandy tried to give her some air time and let her be the project manager. In other words, she empowered someone who she could easily have tried to destroy. A TRUE LEADER.

2. Brandy accepted assignments she didn't like when it was good for the team. For example, she was asked several times to be a presenter because of her looks, gender, even her race. She didn't complain but rather genuinely tried to help out.

3. Brandy was able to confront tough issues, like hidden sexism, without losing her cool.

I am glad that Brandy won the race and think that she exemplifies an outstanding personal brand. Good luck to her and to all the contestants.