Finding value in reality TV is like finding a $20 bill on the street. Between "Real Housewives" and "Jersey Shore," it's hard to believe that there could be any shows of actual substance. But according to www.cable.tv, more than 88 percent of Americans have two or more TVs in their home and "Jersey Shore" sells, so that is what we get.
But between the lines, there are a few programs that give entrepreneurs advice and motivation regarding success in the real world.
1. Shark Tank (ABC)
If you've ever presented in front of a board of potential investors, no matter how formal or informal, you're likely familiar with the pressure of keeping ones attention while selling your product and yourself at the same time.
Now imagine that board consists of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban along with some of the country's richest and most successful angel investors. Intimidating enough?
"Shark Tank" gives entrepreneurs, from stay-at-home moms to seasoned veterans, the chance to present their business and ideas to the panel of celebrity investors who could potentially spend enough money to make the participants overnight millionaires. All they have to do is sell themselves to some of the most critical people in business. Cuban has built a reputation for quickly calling BS on entrepreneur's ideas when he doesn't like them.
The presenters who succeed have done their homework and know how to pitch their idea, but more importantly they know how to project confidence and pitch themselves, pay attention to the winners of "Shark Tank" and apply the same skills and confidence to your own presentations.
2. The Job (CBS)
Even though it's canceled after just one season, you can still catch old episodes on CBS.com. "The Job" took young, unemployed professionals and gave them a chance to compete for positions with Fortune 500 companies. But there was a catch — unlike shows like "The Apprentice," these jobs were very mid-level positions.
Many criticized the show for exploiting struggling job-seekers during our current recession, but it teaches an important lesson to those who are seeking work — check your pride at the door. Many of the contestants on the show were competing for jobs that were downgrades from their previous careers, but that doesn't stop them for the chance at a brand new start. There's no room for entitlements and egos when you're starting out.
3. The Pitch (AMC)
To complement the popular drama "Mad Men," AMC created "The Pitch," a show that follows various advertising agencies that compete for campaigns with big companies like Subway and Waste Management. The company will give two competing firms a general idea of what they're looking for, and the firms will go back to headquarters to develop "the pitch," hoping to win the project.
In an early episode, two firms sought to win a campaign from Subway who was set to release their new line of breakfast sandwiches. The marketing representative for Subway was clear: "We want a campaign that simply makes our customers hungry and say 'I want to eat that.'" Despite the direction, though, the firms came back with ads attempting a groundbreaking ad that would put Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad to shame.
Despite the quality of work, Subway was displeased. The lesson? Branding yourself is just as much, if not more, about the person you're selling to as it is about you. Listen to what your potential client or employer wants before presenting your most important product — you.