Last week I had the privilege of hosting winner of The Next Food Network Star Melissa d’Arabian at my meetup! Not only is Melissa the winner of a reality show competition, but she has also hosted her own Food Network show and web series, she has several cookbooks, and she is a mother of 4 girls! Melissa had so much to share and so much passion and heart!
We chatted about how Melissa and I found each other on Instagram (yes social media works!) and how sometimes Instagram DM is the best way to connect with people – that is how I landed her as a speaker! We also talked a lot about how Melissa won The Next Food Network Star and Melissa credits her MBA and business background for her win. In fact Melissa shared 3 valuable business lessons that she says are the reason she won the show:
1.) “Play a game that you can win”. For the Next Food Network Star competition the “game” was to be the best chef on a television show. Melissa soon realized that she was not necessarily the “best chef” but that she could still win the competition by “playing an adjacent game” and that is exactly what she did. She figured out “the game she could play that she was the undisputed champion of”.
2.) ” The threshold competency being asked of you is very rarely your competitive advantage”. In the case of the cooking competition the threshold competency was to be a good chef – everyone including Melissa fit that description. However she soon realized that since everyone fit that description and she had to figure out a different competitive advantage. She was the only contestant with an MBA and 4 young children at home and she soon realized that could be her competitive advantage and that is what help her to inevitably win.
3.) “Cater to your audience”. 2 of the 3 judges of the competition were Food Network executives. Melissa leveraged her business acumen to answer questions that catered to these executives’ areas of business. She purposely utilized business buzz words in her answers and thought about the consumer and marketing approach when she answered the judges’ questions. She didn’t necessarily win the week to week cooking competitions but in the end the judges voted her the winner of the competition because she catered to the interest of the judges.