How Elon Survivor Made Me A Better Marketer
By: Dominique Rousseau, Account Executive
Growing up an avid fan of Survivor, I picked up tricks on how to communicate with people and when to tell if people were being “sketchy.” I attribute a lot of my communication skills to the show as it’s crucial to maintain a good social presence to avoid being voted off the island.
Sadly, my days of keeping up with Survivor and binging past episodes fizzled when I went to college since I became increasingly occupied with extracurriculars. That was, until, I saw a poster for Elon Survivor tucked behind more posters on the bulletin board in the mailroom.
I scanned the QR code and submitted my application, having no idea what I signed up for.
On the first day, we were split into tribes and told the rules of the game. We completed our first challenge and attended tribal council (unfortunately). Luckily, I survived the first vote.
As I walked to my car, I was approached by a senior who was a returner, meaning he had played the game before. Immediately he offered an alliance, showing me all the cards he wanted me to see, but not the ones he didn’t. He told me I could trust him because he knew the ins and outs of the game and could guide me through it.
I accepted immediately, not once questioning his integrity or sincerity, because why should I? Of course he was going to look out for me. Of course he cared about protecting me and would never vote me out (spoiler alert: he voted me out).
I took what I learned my first season with what I learned watching 35 seasons of Survivor, and I applied my knowledge to the next four seasons. With each season I became more strategic, more competitive, and more dangerous all because I got better socially.
I learned to sell myself, my tribe, and my alliances. I fought to stay in each elimination, not by blackmailing people or being desperate, but by persuading people that their biggest threat (me) should be saved over someone who was an easy target (an example of this can be seen at Final Tribal).
I learned the importance of building relationships, trust, clear communication, empathy, and teamwork. I practiced active listening, fostering relationships, and knowing when to play others’ strengths and weaknesses (see an example of Survivors making alliances here).
Every class I had, I applied something from it to my gameplay. Every gameplay I had, I brought to class as an example. I learned how to “close a sale” by ensuring I had people’s word when making alliances. I learned the difference between “task-oriented” and “relationship-oriented” when fostering connections and making plans to play idols.
Each move I made connected back to communications and advertising as I had to promote myself and sell my services to other Survivors. Why should they work with me over someone else? What can I provide them that they don’t already have? Why should they flip on their entire tribe just to save me?
Finding the answers to these questions never got easier, I just got better at communicating. I went from 8th place in my first game, to 2nd place in my last game.
Elon Survivor made me a better marketer because I was forced to recognize my own strengths and weaknesses and communicate them to others. I grew a network of friends and competitors that I know I can rely on in the future. Overall, it has shown me the importance of transferable skills and it’s given me an incredible talking point in interviews.