Workplace Lessons You Can Learn From Watching the TV Show Survivor

What is Survivor all about? Well, the theme of the show is to OUTWIT – OUTPLAY – OUTLAST. For those who don’t know, Survivor is a reality competition/strategy show that has been on since 1997. The 40th season is about to start in February! In each season, 16 to 20 contestants/castaways are marooned in an isolated location, where they must provide food, water, fire, and shelter for themselves as they play a “social experiment” type game to become the “Sole Survivor” and win the 1 million dollar prize. Castaways vote each other out one-by-one until only two or three are left. Then, the finalists must convince a jury of ousted contestants to vote for them to win the prize. They are judged in the following three categories, which are OUTWIT – OUTPLAY – OUTLAST. A lot of manipulation, lying, feats of athleticism, and intelligence help lead someone through the game to finally claim the prize and be declared the “sole survivor”.

Many strategies in the game can be applied to life as well as the workplace. There are many topics and scenarios on the show that can relate to our lives and the things that happen around us. Here are some of the specific business lessons I’ve learned from Survivor:

Starting an Alliance

In the game of Survivor, contestants at some point will try to start or join an alliance with other tribe members to give them some security in the game. While they are part of an alliance, they will generally vote together and share secrets and any information they have on the other contestants in an attempt to help everyone in the alliance move forward in the game and continue to survive. One of the keys is to make sure your alliance has the majority of the votes to ensure your safety when it comes time to vote someone off. This all sounds easy, but there are always blindsides and this is part of the game. Some people will lie, steal, and cheat to help them win this game.

In the workplace, a good team is sort of like an alliance. You need people on your team who you can trust. You also need to be someone your team can trust as well as depend on to follow through on the game plan. When you are forming a team, you must make sure that all the members are moving towards the same goal. Because if you have one person on your team who is making moves or doing what is only in their best interest and not the interest of the team, that is when the team may be blindsided; which then results in the team failing. Treat your work team just like your alliance in the game of Survivor and the sky will be the limit! You will watch your team soar!

It has taken years to do, but I feel I am part a super team! We are all working toward one goal, while also helping each other hit our personal goals. This is how a good team works and I hope at some point everyone can experience this in their lives. It is a fun ride to be part of.

Race for Immunity

There are a few other ways in the game that you can guarantee yourself that you will not be voted off each week. You can find a hidden immunity idol, which is something you can then decide to use when it is time to vote, and any votes against you will not count, thus making you safe for another week. In the workplace, I would compare this to doing your job. If you do what is required and asked of you in the workplace, 99 percent of the time this should guarantee you will still have a job. You can also relate to your team. If you do your part and what the team needs you to do, then more than likely, you will continue to be a part of that team.

In addition to finding an idol, there are also immunity challenges in which contestants compete as part of a tribe against one or more tribes or as individuals competing against each other. The winner receives either immunity from the vote for that week for the tribe or the individual. How can this relate to the workplace? Well, every company has goals. Some of those are team goals and some of them may be individual milestones or goals. Hitting these goals sometimes will result in some sort of an award. Maybe a bonus? If we are lucky, right? But even if there are no rewards, hitting goals like sales dollars, productions quotas, or whatever your workplace goals are, will result in a win. A win for the company, the team, and YOU for the part you played in helping the company or team meet those goals. Which in turn, keeps you safe another week.

Convincing Others

In the game you need to convince others to trust you, to vote with you, to join your alliance, as well as to vote for you at the end of the game so you can win the prize. In the workplace, no matter what role you have, you have to be convincing at times. In sales, you need to convince your clients and potential clients that your product is the best and that you are the salesperson they should buy their services from. If you are hiring employees, then you need to convince those candidates that your company is the best place for them to be employed. If you are a candidate, you must convince the hiring authority that you are the candidate they must hire. I think we can all think of a time we needed to convince others and at times our job may depend on it.

Are You Going to Win?

I hope that even the people who have never seen Survivor will take something from this and maybe you will become a new fan of the show. It is my dream to someday be on the show, but until then, I will continue to use these strategies in the workplace. Once I finally live out my dream of being a castaway on Survivor, I plan to implement everything I have learned as well as some new tricks I have up my sleeve.

So, as we come to work everyday to do our job and hope to grow in our career, at times it may feel like we are playing a game. Are you going to win this game? I feel like it is a must; you must win this game!

You must OUTWIT – OUTPLAY – OUTLAST the competition!

Kevin Browne, AurStaff

Kevin Browne, AurStaff Sr. Account Manager
Kevin is from Omaha, NE. He attended college at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management. He has been with AurStaff since January of 1999 and currently is a Senior Account Manager. Kevin is a huge North Carolina Tar Heels fan as well.

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