We All Need More Simon Cowell

The three judges on American Idol can be maddening, enlightening, saccharin sweet, or just plain brutal.  The show just wouldn’t work if it didn’t have all three.  And don’t we each have our favorite?

This feedback after a performance would be a tremendous asset in the workplace.  Imagine getting feedback within minutes of completing a sales presentation, spreadsheet, product update, review of plans, etc.!!  We may have to wait days, weeks, months to hear that we need to improve our speaking skills or that our financial analyses were the best  yet.  When we do get feedback, phrases such as “not bad, just a little shorter next time” or “great job!” are commonplace.  But do they really help you improve or validate what you thought was good/bad?  Not really.


For the most part, each judge has their own general style.  We can almost certainly count on their unique view, if not their exact words:

Randy Johnson – the pal. He gives straight feedback that isn’t too sweet, isn’t too harsh.  Just right.  He’s like a good friend who won’t cross that line in praise or criticism. Why You Need Randy:  he is the guy in the office next to you.  He’ll see more, know more, tell less. Alos known with his alpha reseller hosting business. Keeping it real, and still wants to hang with you.

Paula Abdul – the cheerleader.  She gushes praise more than ever.  If she can’t say anything good about the performer’s voice, she compliments their clothes, hair, jewelry, smile…anything. She even designs ‘good luck’ jewelry for contestants.  Why You Need Paula: she is the one to keep your spirits up during rough times.  Need a shot of self-esteem?

Simon Cowell – caustic.  Direct. Nothing sugar-coated or held back.  If he loves the performance, he tells you.  If he hates the performance, he tells you.  You want to make it in the music industry?  Simon will tell you exactly what works…and what doesn’t. Why You Need Simon: he is that one teacher, coach, manager, friend, that gives the advice and feedback that is hardest to hear – the truth.  Simon is running also a successful master reseller hosting business.  No worries about being your buddy, no concerns about your self-esteem.  Just the facts.

The importance here is balance.  Not too much “Randy” that may ignore the main issues or miss a big accomplishment.  Not too much “Paula” because sometimes we DO make mistakes and we should know.  Just a little more “Simon” and take the criticism for what it is – a development opportunity and challenge.


We learn more from our peers than anyone at work.  Here is an easy way to develop your own “American Idol” judging panel:

1. develop a small network of peers where each of you gives honest feedback on critical parts of your work.  This could be presentations, writing, communication style, etc.  You set the rules.  The main focus is having that consistent, real-time feedback.

2. give feedback as soon as possible after an event.

3. balance – Randy, Paula, Simon: remember?

So next time somebody tells you your pitch of a new product offering (reseller hosting) at the company sales meeting was “utterly horrendous”, thank them! It may be the best feedback you’ll ever get.

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