Manage This

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Manage This

Well, were on a two task winning streak. and I think we won both of them handily. Now in the back of my mind, I’m trying to figure out when I should be project manager. Compounding things we’re going from three days for a task to two days for a task. Everything’s going to speed up.

Matt Eating an Orange

In real time we just had the Super Bowl at my Denver Broncos won. I had a chance to go to the game, but I knew I’d be hung over. And I just couldn’t have that. So I watch the game with an orange in my mouth to keep me from yelling. I was concerned that I would scream so much I’d lose my voice and be unable to speak during the show.

So, we get the task at a park just off La Cienega. A majestic million-dollar view of the entire city.

Million Dollar View

Every time we’re at a location, we start to wonder how much it’s related to the task. What we can glean heading into it.
Turns out, Hahn Park was completely unrelated.
This new brand was Welch’s grape juice, and the emphasis is on health. Immediately I felt like this was my chance to be the project manager but I hesitated. And Chael and stepped up. Given his background with dieting and physical fitness, he made a legitimate claim. And he stepped up. That’s what fighters do.

I won’t lie, I was kicking myself. Having seen the variety in the first two tasks you realize anything close to your wheelhouse is something you should jump on. And, as a former doctor, this one was in my wheelhouse. So at this point, all I could do, was be a value-add. The good news was, Chael was looking for help. And had really begun to establish myself as the go-to guy for logistics. No one was going to outwork me when it came to the dossier, deadlines, resources, etc.

Meanwhile, we’d already said goodbye to two celebrities. Carrie Keegan was the first to go. Carnie Wilson followed her. I don’t think either of them had to go. You started to see how important strategy was not just during the task, but also in the boardroom. You have to fight to stay. And sometimes that means throwing someone else under the bus.

This game was starting to get real. Having watch reality shows at the beginning you see there’s safety in numbers. Nothing feels too real because there are so many of you, no matter how bad you are one of the odds you’d actually be the one going home. But you also start to see who the strong players are. Who are the ones who stand out, who are the leaders?

The game is really speeding up now, too. Two days per task. There is barely time to breathe. And certainly, no time to celebrate. Or to mourn. Because as soon as you close your eyes you open them again and a new task is at hand. $50,000 on the line. And the chance to stay in the game.

We started at 7 am that day and we get back to the hotel at 8 pm that night and we’re in the elevator and Chael tells me he will chop my head off in this game. But not tomorrow. I did great work stepping up.

Such a surreal moment. Having a dude who could literally crush my skull tell me that he’ll chop my head off but not today. And, it worked. I loved it. I knew where it came from with Chael. He’s a bit of a crazy dude, but I dig that.

Show Layout

So here’s the layout for the show that Carson was putting together. And then my timing script for during the show


For every task, there were some souvenirs, that we signed that I presume will give away for charity. Here’s boy George blaming everything on me. We’re besties.

Boy George Signature

Here’s some remnants from Vince Neil’s birthday cake.

Birthday Cake

Team Arete in the board room, eight strong. This is the last time we’d all be together.

Team Selfie

Eric Dickerson ended up being the one going home. I think he was fine with it. Honestly, he’s the only one this entire season who would be. I feel like everyone else is fighting to be here and fighting to stay. And now that the women have a victory, this competition is getting much more cutthroat.

You can see how close this competition is. Both sides have a lot of talent and ultimately this can be very subjective. You don’t leave anything to chance. And you don’t want to make any mistakes.

Boy George, John Lovitz, and Laila Ali have already won $50,000 for their charity. Carrie Keegan, Carnie Wilson, and Eric Dickerson are now out of the game.

I feel like the lesson to learn here? Know when to take your shot. It’s never easy to be the project manager if it’s close to your wheelhouse go for it. Because you don’t want to get caught in the corner where all of a sudden you’re the project manager on a fundraiser. Find a way to be useful. Be the medical expert. Be the logistical organizer. And speak your mind. If you don’t like something register your displeasure and then move on.

So, the men finally got our nose bloodied and tensions are rising. The women have a little more confidence and we had to take a couple shots at each other in the Boardroom. Everyone seems to be finding a rhythm in the game but, with a task every two days, things are really accelerating.

The game within the game is very interesting. Trying to get a feel for when you need to be the project manager when you have no idea what tasks are on the horizon. But, you do know that a fundraiser is looming and I want no part of that. So, going into this, I felt like if it was remotely close to my skill set, I’m jumping on it as project manager. Making videos about BBQ sauce? I’m in.

The immediate challenge I see with this is it’s not just one video it’s two.. two visions being executed at the same time. As the project manager, you have to divide and conquer. This is a real challenge. With Trident, we had a song and a video but they were together, they were the same thing.
To me, this one’s all about leadership… which really means managing egos. And John Lovitz is pushing back hard.

But at the same time, he has a vision and I need him to execute it.

Matt Selfie

Boy George went all in on the football video… until he had to wait. Then, he let me know what he thought of my project managing skills.

Boy George

I love Boy George, but this was frustrating as hell. I felt like I’d had his back when he was project manager for Tyra Beauty but, now, he was throwing me under the bus, driving over me, backing up and doing it again.

Jon Lovitz is a comedic legend. So when we all try to collaborate, he gives us this look.

Jon Lovitz

Lovitz wanted to split up the teams. I was concerned that we couldn’t get it done if the teams were split up. In the end Levitz was right. But I had to get there on my own. One of the things you need to learn on the show is how to move forward with a bruised ego.

Things are going to go wrong. You’re going to have issues. You have to figure out how to handle them and keep moving forward. Avoid panic, avoid making other mistakes that compounded and really send you down the wrong path. Boy George having a temper tantrum? No problem. I just decided to let him vent nothing we could do about it at that point. And if he wanted to trash me, that’s fine. He’d been a good teammate before I think will come around again.

Carson showed me he’s a total rock star. He completely stepped up with the organizational help, knowing that that was the area where I felt most comfortable. And he completely gave up his body for the video. he seriously damaged his body, and he left the emergency room to come help edit. I won’t forget this. I owe Carson Kressley.

I also got to see Ricky Williams really deliver on a video he had a vision and he executed it he made it work and it was an awesome video. On the other hand John Levitz delivered as well he was a pain in the ass to manage but he delivered. I saw with Trident and I sought here again the man understands videos. The man understands comedy.

Boy George and Vince Neil on the other hand were hard to work with when Vince didn’t feel heard I felt like he checked out. Honestly, it didn’t feel like Vince Neil really wants to be here. And he got very frustrated with Levitz. Boy George was just being a diva. But God I love him for it. And the reality is, he’s incredibly creative man.

The other thing I realize, is you need to take every opportunity in the show to sell your ideas. That comes down to even how you name the videos. They didn’t show it, but I thought that was an opportunity that I really capitalized on. I think that something I get from comedy, understanding the importance of framing. You feel like these videos stand alone, but they don’t you have a chance to introduce them you have a chance to give them a title you have a chance to sell them. Take every opportunity you have to shape the conversation. I think it shows an attention to detail. And it shows that you listen to the brand. This was a lesson I learned here. That would really come back in the finale.

And that’s you realize on the show you’re constantly learning every task helps inform the next one the skills you learn the confidence you build that grows and you get better and better as you go.

Having boy George trash me to Patrick Schwarzenegger in front of me While we were in the editing booth? Not the best feeling. But honestly, it didn’t bother me. I felt like I done a good job. And I felt like the results were good to be okay. In fact if anything, I felt like he was making himself look bad.

And then John Lovitz and Vince Neil having a blowup? I thought it was an excellent chance for me to get to handle some egos. And pretty cool, too.
Carson doing the DAP? Carson doing the DAP.

Honestly, it was a total pain in the ass having Vince Neil storm out. But at the same time, I got to feel like motley crew was breaking up. I got to feel like I was at the heart of a rock ’n’ roll band blowup. If it wasn’t my ass on the line in the game of celebrity apprentice, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more.

The lesson here is you can’t do everything. The first three tasks, I establish myself as the one who’d be organized. But when you’re the project manager, you can’t focus on details, you have to focus on big picture.

You also have to manage talent. Manage egos. And get the most out of them that means challenging them, pushing them, leading them. In the end, you may have to swallow your ego, just to get the job done.

I also saw the importance of framing your work. Taking every opportunity to spell out why your project is great. Show the brand how much thought you put into it. Connect the dots for them.

Pick your battles: let boy George have a diva moment in the park. Let Vince Neil storm away. Let John Lovett’s complaint. In the end, I won. My charity got $50,000.

Matt Iseman Champion

Matt Iseman
Matt Iseman
I'm the host of American Ninja Warrior and I'm squaring off against 15 other celebrities, all representing their favorite charities while vying for the title of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
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