Dan Gheesling returned this past summer to CBS's Big Brother, the reality show where contestants are trapped in a house for three months while evicting their fellow houseguests. After winning 2008's competition largely by forming personal bonds with each houseguest, then helping plot their evictions, he served both as coach to a team he selected as well as a contestant on the most recent season.
This season, he finished second, earning another $50,000. Now, the Union Lake, Mich.- based reality star coaches individuals and small business owners on networking and personal branding.
What can a reality star known for backstabbing everyone, including the contestants he coached, teach entrepreneurs? Here's what Gheesling learned from his time on Big Brother and how you can apply it to your business:
1. Never introduce yourself with a sales pitch. Fellow contestant Frank Eudy let all houseguests know why he thought he deserved to win. The problem was, the other 15 contestants had the same feeling. Gheesling asked each person about themselves, and never acted entitled.
When networking or meeting new colleagues, ask about them first. Your new contacts will contribute to your success if you care about theirs."To get people to want to work with you, or for you, they need to know it is in their best interest to do so," says Gheesling. "Take the time to genuinely help them first, then watch it come back around tenfold."
2. Build a team you trust. Voting other contestants out of the house is part of Big Brother, and building trustworthy teams is a strategy to avoid getting evicted next. But, once trust evaporated, Gheesling voted even those closest to him out.
"Spend time with your business pals outside of the work environment," Gheesling says. "If they act untrustworthy outside of business, like cheating in golf, or leaving a bad tip, they will end up treating you the same."
3. Don't rush to action. Instant reactions in Big Brother lead to one houseguest getting evicted for calling another fat. Gheesling's best move in season 14, dubbed "Dan's funeral" by fellow contestants, was letting everyone think he gave up so he could make side alliances without scrutiny. The idea was generated during 24 hours of solitary confinement.
While you don't have to lock yourself in a room for a day to come up with your next great business idea, consider giving your ideas thoughtful consideration. "If an epic idea comes from a moment of passion, write it down," says Gheesling. "After a good night's sleep, a good idea can seem horrible after looking at it from a different perspective."