The new season’s HGs are likely in the final days of preparing to head out to LA and start their adventure (if they’re not already on location). Both the new cast and future Hopefuls can gain a lot of solid advice here on how to build your own approach by knowing your skills. – Matthew Boyer
Dear Big Brother 18 Houseguests,
Congratulations on joining the ranks of the Big Brother houseguests! You’re one of the very lucky few who has been selected out of thousands of applicants to go on this crazy and wild ride. You are about to have an experience that is unique, exciting, exhilarating, and intimidating. It is unlike anything you have ever encountered before. It’s essential that you take every last drop out of the experience, and enjoy each individual part as much as you can.
Notice how I call this an experience. It is almost never a stepping-stone. It’s an experience. You need to be ready to come back to the same life you’re leaving. Stay on good terms with your employer or university; you’ll need them again in a few months. I went back to school the very next semester. The only changes in my life have been more Twitter followers, people saying “Hi, Steve!” in public places, and, fortunately, more financial comfort. That’s it. It’s all very fleeting, so it is essential that you get each last drop of enjoyment you can out of the experience. It will be over before you know it.
Get a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Bring it with you when you’re kidnapped with your key. It has some great tips on how to talk to people and get what you want out of them.
There is one strategic point we need to get through first: never make a game decision based on your personal feelings. It doesn’t matter who you like more. It doesn’t matter who annoys you. It doesn’t matter how you feel about stabbing your friends in the back. Every single game decision you make should be based solely on which option you think gives you the best odds of going furthest.
With that out of the way, here are some words of wisdom from BB16’s Derrick Levasseur:
“You have to develop an approach to how you will play the game. Notice I didn’t use the word ‘strategy’? That’s because there is really no way to have a solid strategy before you enter the house. With the constant changes in format and the unpredictable twists, it is better to have an approach to how you will conduct yourself. This entails developing your backstory, improving your interpersonal skills, and, last but not least, fine-tuning your appearance (I think we can all agree that recent seasons have proven appearance can have a big impact on how you are perceived by other houseguests). These facets of your game are something you will always have control over, regardless of what is thrown at you.”
The ultimate goal of deciding on an approach is to answer the following question: If the alliance opposite yours is in power, why are you not the target? Are you persuasive enough to get their alliance to implode on itself? Are you socially savvy enough to make both sides think you’re working with them without getting caught? Are you personable enough to make everyone see you as a close friend? Can you sell that you’re so useless or alone that you’d be a waste of a HoH reign? You should be confident with your decision before you move in, and you should begin implementing your approach immediately.
This begs a new question: how do you decide which approach is best for you? The answer: awareness of your own skill set. If you’re a trained undercover cop, wrote a thesis on game theory, are a wildly successful poker player, or something similar, you’re likely capable of doing whatever you want. This point doesn’t apply to you. However, if you’re with me in the other 99% of the population, your choice of approach is limited by who you are and what your skills are.
Take some time for some deep and honest thought about what your strengths and weakness in the game will be. Try taking a look at your life right now. Are you a clear and logical thinker? Are you a persuasive speaker? Your answer to these questions in real life will likely have the same answers in the house.
For example, I was an engineering student, and I was comfortable with logic and probability. Therefore, I hoped I would be able to make sound strategic decisions and perform in mental comps. Conversely, I’m bad at holding small talk, and I’m not very charismatic in a dialogue. I knew I was not going to able to manipulate and persuade people to make decisions against their own best interest. Think about what you do in your life and what skills it would translate to in the game.
When you’re deciding on an approach, you should have a clear understanding of 1) why it will keep you safe, and 2) why it works with your skill set. (The following examples are here for the sole purpose of elaborating on this idea). For example, I told my preseason interviewers that I wanted to be “the cute, sweet, innocent little kid” who will be the “super loyal player” at “the bottom of the alliance” and “isn’t emotionally ready for the game.” 1) An approach like this could help a player avoid becoming a target, since many would see him or her as a waste of a HoH reign. 2) This worked with my skill set because it’s not too far from who I really am.
While it would be very challenging to completely lie about who you are, it’s much more realistic to plan on exaggerating or minimizing certain characteristics that could help you form an approach. In my case, there would have been some truth to my interview quotes no matter what I did. I knew I could never position myself at the top of an alliance because of how commanding I am (not) in real life. Therefore, I looked for a way to turn this weakness into an advantage. For my approach, all I had to do was exaggerate my interview quotes, since they were always going to be somewhat true, and put them on display for the other houseguests to see. This could fall into my lap and keep me safe. You should pick an approach that does the same.
It’s just as important to also think about your skill set when you planning your in-game strategy. Knowing the best move for your situation won’t help if you aren’t able to implement it. You should always be biased toward decisions that play on your strengths.
For example, I had the opportunity to flip a vote between Meg and Julia. I thought that my best move, theoretically, was to create an alliance with Meg and vote out Julia. However, I knew I didn’t have the charisma to convince Meg to turn on her current allies and work with me. Therefore, because of my limitation, I concluded the best move for me personally was to vote out Meg. Based on your skill set, the best move in theory may not always be the best move in reality. You should keep this potential paradox in mind as you play.
To summarize: you need to develop your approach and strategy based on your skill set. I’m going to say that again because it’s really important: The approach you establish pregame and your strategic decisions in-game should revolve around your personal skill set.
You are about to have the craziest sleepover in which an adult could possibly partake. You’ll get to wake up to fun music every morning, change your microphone batteries, and participate in what is only a dream to so many people. “After all, it’s not often that that we as adults get the opportunity to hang on a pole and have barbecue sauce poured all over us” (Levasseur).
As an avid feeder, I can attest to how frustrating it is when houseguests complain about late diary room sessions when I would have given anything to do that session for them. Appreciate each competition. There are countless people who put in hours of hard work to put it together for you. Appreciate each live show. Appreciate milestones like OTEV, Zingbot, the Face Morph, slipping and falling while wearing ballet shoes and filling a ridiculous container, and wearing the HoH bathrobe. No matter how hard it is, there will always be millions of people who would love to be in your shoes. You’ll miss it more than you know when it’s gone.
This experience will never define you. Your success in life is not your success on the show. Your true character is not reflected in the game. After all, none of it can be taken too seriously simply because luck plays a bigger role than most would like to admit. The best you can do is enjoy the ride because you never know how long it will last. And, above all else, remember – it’s a TV show in a parking lot. And that’s it.
One more thing – if you’re a nerdy guy with glasses, get contacts.