Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen will be featured on the Season 6 finale of CBS's award-winning series, "Undercover Boss," Friday, February 20, 2015. We talked to Todd about his experience being part of the show. He shared some details that provided a great sneak peek to the episode.
Q: How did you get on “Undercover Boss?”
A: The Undercover Boss team approached Vivint about participating in the show.
Q: What was your initial response to being on the show?
A: Initially, I wasn’t interested at all as I’m not into “reality” television. Plus, being in front of a camera 24/7 is not my idea of a good time.
Q: So what changed your mind?
A: I actually watched a few of the episodes with my wife, and I was touched by the experiences the bosses had with their employees. We had a discussion about how we used to know the names of every Vivint employee, and often the names of their spouses. But we’ve grown exponentially since I founded this company two decades ago. We now employ 7,000 people and I don’t have daily interaction with many of them. “Undercover Boss” presented an opportunity to not only get to know some of my employees better, but also to learn more about the day-to-day processes that keep the company going.
Q: What about the “reality” thing? Is “Undercover Boss” real?
A: I haven’t seen the episode yet, but while undercover I found it to be pretty real. My responses, experiences with the employees, their background stories, etc. – all of that is authentic. I didn’t know anything beforehand. I had no idea which employees I would work with or the jobs I would complete until the morning of the each job. Sometimes I would even get on the plane without knowing my destination.
Q: How did you or the production crew convince employees that they weren’t filming “Undercover Boss?”
A: I actually got to come up with my own alias: Eddie Sorensen, a video store owner from Bend, Oregon. I chose the name Eddie because that’s my grandfather’s name. As for the production crew, those guys went through a lot of effort to convince employees that it was actually a different competition reality show. They created a fake show, wore fake badges, and even had a fake television show host to introduce the show every morning. Sometimes, I even forgot I was on “Undercover Boss.”
Q: Does the show determine the employee rewards at the end of the show?
A: “Undercover Boss” is known for its end-of-the-show rewards, so it is certainly encouraged. As for the amount and type of reward, that was completely my decision, and Vivint covers 100% of this expense.
Q: What was the biggest surprise for you during your experience?
A: I actually didn’t know that I would have that wig glued to my head for an entire week. I thought I would maybe have a nice toupee that I could take off at the end of each day. It turns out that the makeup crew is pretty serious about their hairpieces.
Q: When will you see the show for the first time?
A: I actually won’t see the show until the live broadcast on CBS this Friday, February 20. This is part of the show’s protocol that bosses don’t get to see the episode before it airs live.
Q: How did this experience change your own perception of being a CEO?
A: I’ve always tried to have a lot of interaction with my employees, but this was a unique opportunity to show up and not be treated like the CEO. My experience on “Undercover Boss” reminded me just how essential Vivint’s employees are to the success of this company. If I could get away with convincing the rest of our executive team to put on wigs and glasses, I would want them all to have the same experience.