Here Is Guy Fieri's Cure for Camera Shyness

On 'Guy's Big Project,' the slicing and dicing madman is on a search to find and mentor the next big Food Network travel show star.

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By Dan Bova

Courtesy of Food Network

You learn a thing or two along the journey of turning your small family restaurant into a multi-million dollar global empire -- and you do it while hosting every other show on Food Network at the same time.

Armed with know-how, knives and one of the most distinctive hairstyles in human history, Guy Fieri has ruled the airwaves and the taste buds of Americans looking to get their eat on. And now on Guy's Big Project (premiering Nov. 5 at 9 on Food Network) he's decided to take all of the knowledge he's amassed and mentor a group of folks vying for the chance to host a brand new chow-and-travel show.

Entrepreneur caught up with the wild man to talk about what it takes to make the leap from a dreamer to a doer, and how to beat camera shyness into submission.

Related: How Guy Fieri's Empire Almost Burned to the Ground

What are we going to see on Guy's Big Project?

You know, you just might see a side of me you weren't expecting. Kinda like coaching your kid's Little League team for the first time, the kids are expecting fun and cool dad but all of sudden, here comes all-business, get 'er done dad. This was a new experience for everyone and I think we all surprised each other!

You got your start on Food Network in a contest format. What was it like being a judge?
For me, the idea for Big Project has always been about mentoring, not judging, and bringing out the potential in people. It's not necessarily about winning and losing, like in a true contest format. Don't get me wrong, I love to win but I also think that sometimes there are talented people and great ideas that get left on the table. So for me to go from contestant to mentor was a great experience in that I could try to give back some of the advice, coaching and wisdom that so many great people have given me in my career.

What was the toughest part for the contestants?
For most people, the toughest moment is every moment that the camera gets pointed in their direction. Kinda like a lion is pre-programmed to chase a gazelle, something in human DNA causes people to freeze up the second a camera is put in their face. So, we had to work on that with the prospects and some came around to it more naturally than others. I tried to get them to realize that as soon as they stopped worrying about it and acted like themselves, they'd be all the better for it.

Related: 4 Lessons for Overcoming Setbacks from Food Network Star Guy Fieri

How did you feel in the mentor position?

I loved it. When you see someone with potential, you gotta believe in them and get them to want to trust themselves. I worked hard at empowering them. I knew they wanted it, but getting them to reach their potential was so challenging and so rewarding at the same time.

Will you continue to mentor them now that the show is over?

Yes, I've been in touch with each person and will hold them accountable to implement what they learned. If they want to stick with it, I'll be there for them.

What's the most important leadership lesson you've learned during this process?

I learned that there's a right time to plant a seed when growing a garden and a right time to harvest. I had to learn to wait for the right time to give my strong feedback. Some prospects wouldn't be able to take it right there in the moment when something went wrong. It meant getting to know these people, and that reminded me of what a blessing it is to have had the people who have mentored me throughout my life.

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim and Spy magazine. Check out his humor writing at Planet Bova.

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