… drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.”
Last week, my theme was Persistence. A theme that I’ve persisted with this week, as I continue the story of the 2 preliminary game show appearances (both on Sale Of The Century) that prepared me for what was to come later.
The year is 1994. I’m 25 years old. I’ve auditioned for Sale Of The Century, passed the test, and am waiting by the phone.
This is not necessarily a good idea. One thing that was made clear to all of us at the audition was that passing the test is no guarantee of getting on the show. There’s also an interview component to the assessment process. You can have the highest score possible on the written test, but if you don’t come across as likeable and confident when you meet the producers, you won’t hear from them ever again.
I recall a stark illustration of this principle, from the audition at the time. Back then they would ask everyone who passed the test to get up in front of the room and say a few words about themselves; the logic being that if they fall apart in front of a room of 50 or so people, they’ll probably be useless in front of a TV camera. I remember one would-be contestant shaking like a leaf as she very nervously and haltingly told us all about her 3 cats. It seemed to be as excruciating for her as it was for us. Eventually, one of the producers sensitively (mercifully!) said “Thank you very much – I’m so sorry to cut you off, but we have lots of people to get through. Thank you, though – that was really interesting.”
It wasn’t. Now I don’t know for sure, but I’m tipping that would-be contestant never made it onto the show.
Anyway, eventually I do get the call, and go in to the studio for the recording of the show. They taped 5 episodes on each recording day, and there was no way of knowing whether you’d be scheduled for show #1 (“Monday”), show #5 (“Friday”), or any of the shows in between. They asked me to bring 3 changes of clothes (in case I won more than one game, and came back on different “nights”), I went into the Channel 9 dressing rooms and sat nervously with the other contestants. We were briefed about all the things we needed to know. Among them;
Smile! Even if you are nervous, smile! Everyone looks better when they smile!
If, for some reason, your episode never goes to air, you don’t get any of the cash or fabulous prizes you win. We all signed documents to this effect.
As it turned out, I was on the “Friday” episode. This was Good News and Bad News.
Good News, because it gave me the opportunity to watch – and study! – the 4 shows that would be recorded before mine. I could get the lay of the land, and analyse the carry-over champ’s strengths and weaknesses (if indeed there was a carry-over champ)…
and Bad News, because the suspense – and time to worry about everything – was increased.
So, I’m sitting in a section of the studio audience as the show is being recorded. Most of the the seats are filled by the actual studio audience, but a small block of them is set apart for us – the upcoming contestants. At one stage, the audience warm-up man Pete Smith works this into his routine; “See those well-dressed people down there?”, he asks the audience. “They’re the next contestants on the show. That’s why they look so much smarter than you!”
Eventually, the 4th show of the day (the “Thursday” episode) is recorded, and the champ elects to leave the show with everything they’ve won so far. This means that my episode (show 5 – “Friday) would begin with 3 brand new contestants, and my 2 opponents would be unknown quantities. If I’d been going up against a carry-over champion, at least I would have had an idea of their strengths.
And so Robin, Kate & I took our seats and the game was played.
I was nervous, and made classic rookie mistake after classic rookie mistake. I was completely unfocussed and thrown every time things didn’t go my way. And although I was ahead for most of the game, in the dying seconds, I fumbled time and time again, to eventually lose to Robin by $10 (two questions).
Quite the Baptism of Fire. Here are the mistakes made that day, which I learned from, and vowed never to make again….
– buzzing in too early; I hadn’t got my anticipation skills honed finely enough. I’d buzz in early enough to lock the others out, but too early to get all the information I needed in the question, that would enable me to answer it!
– every time I got a question wrong, I’d beat myself up for getting it wrong And while I was doing that, the next question was being asked, and not receiving my full attention.
– getting overwhelmed by my run of incorrect answers, and allowing it to give me “brain freeze”. My question answering abilities were clouded by the accumulation of negative results, and worrying about those results.
When Robin won, she seemed very surprised that she had won the game. Or rather, perhaps, that I had lost it. I had handed it to her, through my own (unintended) self-sabotage.
I went home extremely disappointed – after all, I’d been waiting for this for a long time! On my way out, the producers were very consoling – which of course is part of their job, and reminded me that I was welcome to re-apply to go on the show again after a year.
I would be back.
Oh yes, I would be back…