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As night follows day, so the tradition of releasing The X Factor winner’s single the week before Christmas comes to pass. This time it’s the turn of Louisa Johnson, a talented singer from Essex who won last night’s contest, who is ready and waiting to top up Simon Cowell’s coffers with next week’s top slot.

You might not even watch it (or perhaps be a passive watcher: pretending not to whilst it’s on in the room, but secretly checking in this mornings Metro who won…?). And it’s very easy to knock it. But whatever you think of Simon Cowell’s dress sense or how contrived you think the show is, you’ve got to hand it to the man who has managed to grab viewing figures of over 63% of the UK population as well as the coveted No.1 slot for every single one of the winners of his show since 2005. In commercial terms, if nothing else, it is success personified.

So in the spirit of focussing on positives and being a bit a tongue-in-cheek, here are some great lessons for your business which can be learnt from the unstoppable machine that is The X Factor:

  1. Game What You Present To The Outside World: Edit your ‘show’ to put your best foot forward. We all know that it’s impossible for all those contestants to sit in front of the panel and do their first auditions (as Ben Elton puts it in his hilarious and thinly veiled take-off of the show in his book ‘Dead Famous’  – “Just do the Maths!”). But no-one questions (or cares perhaps?) the physical impossibility of the judges carrying out all of these auditions….I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t lie if asked about it, but the producers are selective over the impression they give to their audience. And you can be too.
  2. Big Your Team Up: Listening to Reggie N Bollie talk about their ‘journey’ through the competition, you hear them saying that despite being kept in the competition time and again by the voters, the first moment they felt they could win the competition was when they got a public endorsement from the big man himself, Simon Cowell. Public (and private) praise instils belief and motivation in your team. So use it!
  3. Keep The Magic Alive: Do you think the production company owns up to the viewers and aspiring contestants that much of their ‘pipeline’ of talent comes from various scouts or those being managed already within the industry, rather than those who spent their days waiting tables and just wandered into an audition one day hoping to make it BIG? Of course not. They need to make the impossible seem possible but in doing so they don’t need to put every aspect of their process up for scrutiny. And neither do you. People buy into your product, service or company and what it can do for them. Not exactly how you do it. So sell to your team what they can get out of it.
  4. Don’t Be Afraid To Change Your Line Up: You would have thought that after dropping Cheryl Fernandez-Versini from his US line-up after 1 episode (the poor loves weren’t sure anyone would understand her Geordie accent) and her successfully suing them for unpaid earnings for the whole series to the tune of £1.4m, that this would be the end of this particular team of talent. But no, last year saw a return of Cheryl to the judges chairs in the UK and this year she only just missed out on bagging the winner herself. All of which served to keep ratings nice and healthy for Cowell. The lesson? No-one is ever too big to say sorry or bury the hatchet.
  5. Tell A Story: It’s not enough for us viewers to see raw talent (or not, as the case may be…) and respond accordingly. We’re greedy and want more than just a song. We want the story. Take another look and you’ll see that the singing part accounts for about 15% of the programme. The rest is spent building the back story and ‘why’ we should vote for each person. So focus on ‘why’ you are here and inspire your team’s dreams……

p.s In the writing of this article, I’d in particular like to thank my Mum for believing in me. My dog for showing such loyalty. And to say that I’ve grown so so much on this journey…..

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Photo Credit: X Factor Auditions by Beacon