What A Critical Doer Can Learn From The TV Show “Shark Tank”

 A Critical Doer generates motion from “why” more than “what”


CNBC carries a popular show called “Shark Tank.”  On the show, entrepreneurs try to convince a panel of five highly successful business people to invest in their businesses in exchange for equity, royalties, or some arrangement in between through negotiation.

The exchanges can be entertaining (essential for a popular television show) and also highly instructive on some finer points of negotiation.  In following the show for a while now, I’ve noticed two consistent themes in unsuccessful attempts to woo the sharks into investing.  The first comes from lack of preparation that manifests itself in poor command of the basic numbers regarding sales, cost, margins, and pricing.  Lack of preparation is an obvious reason to not invest; there is another that’s a bit more insidious.

Many times the entrepreneurs have not thought through what they are willing to give up in order to gain capital and expertise from the “shark” that can get them to the next level.  Many times the sharks will offer an investment but will want 50 percent or more of the company in exchange.  Watching individuals grapple with the question of what they are willing to give up in order to gain later is fascinating to watch.  The ones who have not thought this through often turn down offers and leave the show with 100 percent equity and total control of…nothing.

The world of entrepreneurship isn’t the only place this decision is made.  It could be a time investment to get a promotion at work, it could be in pitching a new idea in a business or civic organization, it could be in teaching your children a valuable lesson to prepare them for the rigors of a practical world.

It could also be in the realm of ethics.  Just like in the Shark Tank, if you haven’t thought through what you will and will not do ethically in order to achieve a goal, there is a higher probability of making an unethical decision out of panic when faced with the prospect of seeing a dream go unfulfilled.

Understanding your “why” is the key ingredient in deciding what you are willing to trade away in order to see a dream fulfilled is essential for success that lasts.  The ones that are grounded with a firm price in mind have a higher probability of success than those that don’t.  They also have a keener sense of a bad deal that could sacrifice too much or put you on the wrong side of the ethics curve where any gain is short term and fleeting.

I encourage you to catch a few episodes of “Shark Tank” and learn a few tips about preparation, negotiation, and the all-important question of what you will trade to make a dream come true.  Come up with that price in partnership with key stakeholders…which includes your family…and you’re on the way to building success that lasts.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


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Updated: July 22, 2015 — 11:25 am