It takes guts to appear on a reality show. Just like it takes guts to try and get a job — or keep a job — in today’s helter-skelter economy.
You can see what I mean on tonight’s season premiere of Dragons’ Den, the program I host on CBC. If you’ve never seen it, the premise is simple: Eager, cash-hungry entrepreneurs pitch for an investment from a panel of wealthy Canadian business moguls.
These “pitchers” as we call them, are trying to win a deal, not a job, but the process is similar. They have to make a good first impression, offer something valuable, describe it in an enticing way and answer a series of tough questions — all the while attempting to appear calm and confident. Not easy, especially when television cameras surround them while they face down five sharp-minded operators (or if you really need that job or promotion).
It’s fascinating to watch how people react under pressure — some literally sweat buckets while others are so slick and composed, it’s amazing.
In the Den, it’s fairly easy to see who came prepared, and who did not. Some pitchers have their numbers down cold — they can tell the Dragons the size of the market, the number of big competitors and their profit margins. Others are all flash — a glitzy demo that does not offer much in the way of business savvy.
I’m sure potential employers see the same thing. I know I did when I was hiring for programs in the past. Some applicants do their research — they know what Job No. 1 is for your organization and have thought hard about how to show that their qualities match the job requirements.
Today’s economic climate is no place to wing it. Employers are pickier than ever. Bad hires are expensive and no one wants to pay for hiring mistakes.
You may learn something from the wide variety of pitching styles on tonight’s episode — some good, some bad, some ugly. Questions from the Dragons include some about crabs in the nether region and the appeal of an eco-friendly approach to wiping in the bathroom. There are plenty of intriguing new business ideas too — Canada is bursting with creativity.
And when entrepreneurs do manage to convince these well-connected business titans to invest — they could soon be hiring, creating more jobs.
And that, too, takes guts.