Here are some insights into my strategy during episode 1
I've gotten lots of questions about my strategy during the premiere episode, so I wanted to try sharing my thoughts openly and seeing how it goes. I also definitely don't mean to suggest that I had the right or best strategy -- I made plenty of mistakes and don't want to take anything away from other contestants whose strategies I wasn't privy to -- I'm just trying to give visibility into what I was thinking at the time:
1. Poker alliance: I had no idea if this was real, but I figured it didn't matter as long as I could use this to put an immediate target on other people (especially some of the biggest threats in the game) and build a separate alliance quietly.
2. Influencing people: In general, I try to avoid telling people what to do or being too obvious with my opinions. I've found it's usually more effective to share enough information and frame it in a way that it will lead to a natural conclusion, but stop short and ask the person for their thoughts/advice. Once they (hopefully) reach the conclusion on their own, I'll agree with them. That way, the person feels a sense of ownership and control, and it's less likely that things will be attributed back to me.
3. Why Amber got voted out: Tony originally wanted to vote out Tyson, with a split vote against Nick (in case Tyson had an idol). But I lobbied to switch the vote to Amber (with a split vote against Kim) because: a) Nick was my ally and I didn't want to lose him if Tyson had an idol, b) I thought Tyson was more likely to have found an idol since he'd done so in a prior season, Amber had never played in a season with idols, and there's a weird and really unfortunate statistical imbalance where men are far more likely to find idols (this is one of several reasons why I'm not a fan of letting idols be found by random searching), c) I felt we needed Tyson's strength for challenges since we had just lost one, d) Amber and Rob (both of whom I deeply respected as competitors) had the one alliance in the game that would be unbreakable under any circumstances, so I thought it prudent to vote one of them out before there was any chance of a tribe shuffle, and e) I wanted to make sure that someone from the poker alliance went home (in case it was a real thing) while keeping open the possibility of aligning with one or more of the remaining members. Voting out Amber was really tough because I think she's a wonderful person, but it's what I felt made the most strategic sense at that point in the game.
4. Why I nodded at Kim after the vote: Once a collective decision had been made to vote out Amber, Sophie and I reached out to Kim to let her know that we wanted to work with her and that she was safe. I told her that she would still be getting the smaller split vote, but that she would not be going home unless Amber had an idol (which Kim said was almost certainly not the case). Kim was still nervous that she might be the actual target, so right after the vote, I wanted to reassure her and affirm that we wanted to work with her moving forward.
5. Second immunity challenge: One tactic we used for getting over the barrel quickly is to have someone crouch with their back to the barrel, and clasp their hands together so that another person could put their foot in the clasp and jump over the barrel (the hand clasper would help by lifting up with both hands to give the jumper an extra boost). I can't remember where I learned this, but it worked well in the challenge, especially given how wet and slippery everything was (the clasped hands could hold the jumper's foot and prevent slippage).
On the combination lock, there's an algorithm for moving around the numbers methodically so that you're guaranteed to try every possible permutation only once. I practiced this at home before I went on the show. The correct permutation turned out to be the second-to-last one I attempted, so it took a bit longer than I'd hoped - in retrospect, it probably would have been faster if I had just randomly moved around numbers.
On the ring toss, if I ever have to throw a ring or a basketball when something important is on the line, I'm totally going granny-style using both hands (kudos to Jeremy for nailing the best approach).
Ok that's it for now. I have a lot of other thoughts, but am still trying to figure out whether sharing them online is a good idea (I think everyone who's gone through Survivor has deep emotional scars from getting trolled), and whether Twitter is the best forum for lengthy posts like this (I'd welcome any ideas). Thanks.