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Lie a lot, cook a little to survive

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Be nice, but not too nice. Firm, but not too firm.

And maybe just a little sociopathic.

With $1 million at stake, the cast members of the hit summer TV show Survivor (which airs 7 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS) should maybe have considered consulting a counselor or a management advisor type to help cultivate their personal staying power.

Howard Bloom, a personnel recruiter in North Dallas who evaluates people as a regular part of his job, puts "ability to cook" at the top of his list of must-have assets for survival on the island of Pulau Tiga.

"And preferably something better than rats," he says.

Leadership skills and a sense of teamwork would also be good, but you can't be too good, because you'd be a threat.

"That's why the vote is such a farce, because it doesn't encourage you to keep the best people," he says. "I'd want to vote off the biggest competition to me, which may be the best person there."

There's where sociopathic characteristics are a plus, jokes Pat Russell, who works as office manager at the Psychiatric Center of North Texas.

"You'd have to be a good liar, to be everything to everybody," she suggests. "Whatever they're looking for, you can be it."

Food-and-shelter versus politics - it's a difficult balance. But never mind the nuances: "At the very least, you have to have a stomach of iron," she says, squirming at the concept of a diet of rat.

Mr. Bloom also thinks about quality of life, about staying entertained.

"On a desert island, you don't have electricity, so you'd need somebody who is a good storyteller," he says. "I can think of other forms of entertainment, but it might not be suitable for your paper. But it doesn't take much skill, either."
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