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Netflix’s The Apprentice: 10 words of wisdom to navigate the biz world from ONE Championship CEO


Described by its makers as “the world’s toughest Apprentice in history”, ‘The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition’ reimagines the popular format of the original show to test strength, character, and determination to find “The One”.

16 candidates from around the world are handpicked to compete in a high-stakes competition that involve tough challenges that test their business acumen as well as their physical strength.

Special guest CEOs from the world’s biggest companies appear throughout the show as advisors, including Eric Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom; Anthony Tan, co-founder and group CEO of Grab; Jeff Lawson; founder and CEO of Twilio; Ankiti Bose, co-founder and CEO of Zilingo; and Kishin RK, founder and chairman of TiffinLabs.

The winner of the show wins a US$250,000 job offer to work directly under ONE Championship founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, for a year as his protege in Singapore.

Image Credit: ONE Championship

Headquartered in Singapore, ONE Championship is Asia’s largest global sports media property that broadcasts to over 150 countries globally. According to Nielsen, ONE ranks amongst the world’s top 10 biggest sports media properties in terms of viewership and engagement.

Founded in 2011, it has since achieved ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of over US$1 billion. Despite helming such a successful company, Chatri remains grounded and humble.

Besides instilling the traditional values of martial arts such as integrity, humility and honour, Chatri also imparted some insightful business advice throughout the show, that have now become infamous quotes:

1. “Let the person for the right job go forward”

When you are the project manager, it is not necessary to take on all the important tasks. Instead, Chatri advised that it is good to “put your ego aside” and instead find the person best-suited for the job — that is actually one of the business principles at ONE Championship, he added.

When it comes to delegating tasks, it’s important to play on an individual’s skillsets. If his or her strength does not correspond with the task they are assigned, they are likely to struggle, become frustrated, and produce poor work.

As such, instead of handing tasks to whomever is available, a good leader needs to pair them to the person who can complete them best.

2. “In my company, I make the most number of mistakes, but what’s important is intellectual honesty. It’s the humility to learn from your mistakes. To admit that you screwed up and to think deeply about ‘How can I improve?’.

Chatri stressed that no one is perfect and that everybody is a “work of progress”, including himself. It’s human to make mistakes, but what’s more important is the humility to acknowledge it.

In fact, making mistakes can be a valuable learning opportunity. However, you can’t learn from a mistake until you admit it and take ownership of it.

Also, you need to reflect on what caused the mistake, how you could have avoided it, and how to best resolve it. Analysing and understanding your mistake can help you determine what you need to do differently in the future to ensure it does not happen again.

3. “Ideas are a dime a dozen in business. If you don’t know how to bring an idea to life and execute, it means nothing.”

Chatri’s “right-hand woman” at ONE Championship, Niharita Singh, who is a co-judge on the show, chimed in on this sentiment with another quote: “Execution eats strategy for lunch.”

“If you cannot find a way to bring your brilliant ideas to life and have actual impact, then it’s not really worth anything,” she said.

Execution not only nurtures an idea, but also tests its potential at each stage to determine the viability to attain success. An idea, however unique it is, remains a concept and a mere representation of thoughts. It is the execution plan that gives real vision and direction to an idea.

4. “We all lose at different points in our life, but we must not be defeated.”

Everyone is bound to experience some form of failure at different stages of their life, but what’s important is to keep a positive mindset and not give up.

Chatri himself suffered tough times growing up. His parents had lost everything during the Asian Financial Crisis and poverty ripped his family apart. At his lowest point, he survived on $4 a day in the US. He lived out of his suitcase, and ate only one meal a day.

When Chatri moved to Silicon Valley to launch his first startup after graduating from Harvard, he and his mother would sleep on the office floor in sleeping bags and lived on $1.50 microwave meals. Through a combination of luck, perseverance, and determination, Chatri pulled his family out of poverty.

5. “There are no dreams that come true without obsession (and) hard, hard work.”

There really is no shortcut to success. Making your dream come true takes sweat, determination, and hard work.

While luck and fate play a small part in success, for the most part, only one’s persistent efforts can help make your dream a reality. That’s good news because it puts your success in your hands.

A person who works hard possesses discipline, dedication, and determination to achieve what he or she wants in life. The path may not be easy, but it will pay off sooner or later. You just need to have patience and faith in yourself.

6. “If things aren’t getting done, somebody’s got to step up to the plate. It does not matter what your capability is.”

This speaks volumes about someone’s initiative. Initiative is the ability to assess and initiate things independently, and also refers to the power to act or take charge before others do.

It is an essential trait of a leader as it shows that they can think on their feet and take appropriate action. They are proactive, rather than reactive.

When push comes to shove, a leader should have the ability to step up to the plate in a difficult situation and help resolve it. This demonstrates how you respond and deal with problems that may occur, and proves that you can handle any situation that come your way without being told what to do.

7. “Leadership has everything to do with serving your team to the best of your ability, and most importantly, doing what is right.”

Chatri stressed that a leader must serve his or her team’s needs by doing what is right, not what is easiest.

Personality-based leaders are preoccupied with “looking good” in hopes of being liked instead of “doing good”. True leaders however, are principle-based instead. They may struggle to know the right thing to do, but they have the courage and integrity to do the right thing, even it’s painful or unpopular.

Leaders must make the best available, “right” decision. Flip-flopping for approval is not leadership; sticking by your principles is. When it comes to integrity, honesty and ethics, there is simply no room for compromise. Always make the effort to choose what’s right over what’s convenient or personally beneficial.

8. “A fool blames the world. A wise person blames himself or herself.”

When something goes wrong and we feel threatened, it’s natural for us to want to defend ourselves against any repercussions and we might find ourselves trying to shift the blame elsewhere.

However, being able to admit that you got it wrong is true leadership. Blaming others when things go wrong is not.

In fact, we need to move the mindset from blame to accountability. Becoming aware of our own errors or shortfalls, and viewing them as opportunities for learning and growth enable us to be more successful in the future. When you own your mistake, you will gain respect and loyalty from your followers, as well as help prevent a culture of “blame game” from emerging.

9. “Early on, you micromanage. But when somebody shows you he or she can deliver, then you back off a little bit. That’s smart leadership.”

Micromanaging has earned a bad reputation, but it can sometimes be necessary.

In the long run however, micromanaging can dent your team’s morale by establishing a tone of mistrust, and it limits their capacity to grow.

As such, leaders need to recognise when to give their people the space they need to learn and succeed, prioritise what really matters, and when to get comfortable to step back.

10. “I let my martial arts principles guide me. If I’m going to fight, I’m going to fight fair. I’m just going to fight by the rules. But business is not that way – there are competitors who cheat, lie and steal.”

The business world is not always fair. There are bound to be competitors who will play dirty, but you should never stoop to their level and “take the high road” instead.

When a leader takes the high road, he or she rises above the occasion and sets aside his or her ego to do what is right according to accepted moral and ethical standards. Leaders who take the high road set a positive example, while those who do not risk losing respect and influence.

All businesses will experience a variety of challenges as they grow and evolve. What is most important is to evaluate your company’s core beliefs, reconnect with your customers, and learn from others.

The man behind the billion-dollar business

Image Credit: ONE Championship

A self-made entrepreneur and martial artist from Thailand, Chatri’s rags-to-riches life story is certainly an inspirational one.

Living up to his name, Chatri means warrior in Thai. He has been named ‘Asia’s King of Martial Arts’ by Financial Times, and the ‘Second Most Powerful Person in Sports in Asia’ by FOX Sports.

Inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame (Class of 2019) alongside legendary martial artists such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Demetrious Johnson, Georges St Pierre, and many others, Chatri has over 35 years of martial arts experience as a student, a fighter, a teacher, and a coach.

He is a certified senior Muay Thai instructor under Kru Yodtong Senanan, and also holds a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Master Renzo Gracie.

Through the practice of martial arts, he has inherited various positive values which helped empower him with an unbreakable “warrior spirit” to conquer adversity in his life.

His mission in life is to unleash greatness in the world through the power of martial arts. Through his companies and charity work, Chatri hopes to alleviate some of the injustices of poverty and inequality throughout the world.

Featured Image Credit: Chatri Sityodtong’s blog

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