Business Lessons Learned From Joan Rivers


I don’t know how it happened, but it did.

In any event, I found myself glued to the TV set every Sunday evening for weeks on end. Couldn’t miss NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice. From that first episode to the season finale – I just couldn’t kick it.

Quite honestly, I rooted for Herschel Walker and Annie Duke – although Joan Rivers was always a distant favorite. So I wasn’t upset that she won. In fact, I feel I learned a lot from Joan.

She's one pokah-playin' hatin' broad

She's one pokah-playa-hatin' broad

“Nazi-calling” aside, Joan’s stamina and talent for giving the public what it wants is admirable. But I don’t believe Joan won for these reasons only. Joan won because she lives by the stage creed, “Leave with the audience wanting more.”

Joan had two strategies: to humor us (as she said of Clint Black, ‘If he went to a single’s bar, he’d pick up himself.’) and to win at all costs, no matter how distasteful that strategy might be (only Joan could pull off calling her female impersonator friend – who was mourning the death of his mother – and follow up with ‘I’m so sorry to hear about your mother, but I need your help.’).

So how can we apply Joan’s strategy to business? Simple: leave your client always wanting more. Not that you’d short-change your customers (or do anything distasteful), but in the sense that they will always want to come back to YOU to see what else you’ve got to up your entrepreneurial sleeve. Let your customers know that you’d do just about anything to win their business – and most importantly – carry out your promises.

Joan Rivers fought a worthy fight against formidable opponent Annie Duke, a card shark who led the race from the beginning.

Her whole deck o' cards were not a match for Joan

Her whole deck o' cards were not a match for Joan

During any other season Duke probably would have prevailed. But this season, unfortunately for her, she was up against the aged, “pokah-playah” hatin’, mobster-callin’ Joan Rivers. Duke’s entire deck of cards couldn’t bring down Rivers, who is a credit to geriatrics everywhere (and to proponents of plastic surgery, but that’s another blog post).

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