Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

I love the show: Shark Tank.

There’s nothing better than watching people take a risk to see if they can make a match. Does each side have what it takes to help the team build a dynasty? Do they have the winning combination to sustain long-term success?

While I haven’t seen every episode, the general routine is consistent. Because the show’s structure features universal commonalities that might even apply to you and your career niche–therein lies the gold.

Whenever a buyer meets a seller, the boss interviews the applicant, or dating partners commit to marriage, for example, there are undeniable prerequisites in play. After all, if you’re investing in a long-term project with someone–you need to know that someone–and what that someone has to offer–really, really well.

According to ABC’s website:

“The Sharks – tough, self-made, multimillionaire and billionaire tycoons – continue their search to invest in the best businesses and products that America has to offer.”

While I believe there’s an intangible “IT FACTOR” that ultimately closes each deal, the interactions and nuances to prove IT aren’t so easily defined.

Still, nothing captures the sweet spot like being in the shark tank. It’s the intersection of relational connection, substantial content, and collective efficacy on full display.

How might the important pieces fit the puzzle?

  • Connection: Do the bosses like the applicant as a person? Do those first impression moments foreshadow a long journey of synchronized swimming together? Are the waters deep enough for meaningful, extensive, adaptive, relational capacity? Do the bosses share a common familiarity, interest, and passion with the applicant’s product?
  • Content: Does the applicant have good stuff? Will the applicant’s reputation, resume, product, service, and persona sell well with others? Is the applicant’s skill set a good fit for this market pool?
  • Efficacy: Do the bosses believe that their long-term investment will yield high returns? Do both the boss and the applicant believe that they can swim upstream together? Does everyone believe that the applicant’s micro qualities can sustain macro demand, quantity, and tsunamis over time?  

When I watch Shark Tank, I’m literally looking for these three criteria. All three are needed to move forward. I’ve seen so many disconnects where:

  • The sharks didn’t like the fish or the product (connection);
  • The fish’s product wasn’t well-thought, developed, or tested (content); or
  • Even when it seemed like all the pieces should fit the puzzle, doubt lingered–someone didn’t believe (efficacy) in their gut that it would work. There’s no IT FACTOR.

It’s this thrilling theater that keeps me coming back for more.

The Preparation

The show will continue to provide glimpses of the entrepreneurs’ excitement and anticipation of what they go through backstage in the intense moments before they face the Sharks.” 

  • Fish may invest 20 years in an idea, only to get just 20 seconds to sell it. It’s not fair. Especially in 2020, you only get one shot to make it.
  • The Iceberg Effect: Shark Tank doesn’t feature the hard work, the heart work, and the blood, sweat, and tears that the fish invested in their idea. But the sharks don’t care. Their interests lie in making money–not making friends. They’re seeking collegial–not congenial–relationships.

The Shark Tank

The entrepreneurs who dare to enter the Tank must try to convince the Sharks to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they desperately need to turn their dreams into million-dollar realities…

But the Sharks have a goal too: to get a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea. When the Sharks hear an idea worth sinking their teeth into, they’re more than ready to declare war and fight each other for a piece of it.”

  • The sharks have all the money, power, and authority. But the interview is still a two-way street. Nothing’s worse than striking the deal of a lifetime with a billionaire if it’s just not a good fit and doesn’t have the IT FACTOR.
  • While the sharks run the show, the fish are also interviewing them to see if they want to risk and invest their life’s work in a potential partnership.

The Follow-Up Story

“As in past seasons, “Shark Tank” episodes will have follow-up stories, allowing viewers the opportunity to see how some investments led to success.” 

  • Effective educators follow through, finish strong, and follow-up. Many times, the difference between success and failure is this driven instinct to run through the finish line and not to let up even one step too soon.
  • While I love how the show really hypes the art of the deal, I’m disappointed that there’s not even more invested in the feedback process for those who experience rejection. Because rejection is not a finish line; in fact, for those seeking to become better, it’s another starting line.
  • Every Opportunity–A Learning Opportunity: When the applicant doesn’t get the job, tell the applicant why and what to do better next time. When one partner dumps the other, what were the reasons for that? When your stuff’s not good enough, ask questions, reach out for feedback and seek opportunities to become better. Painful as they may be–these are the best learning experiences of all. They literally last a lifetime.

I Hope You Dance

Viewers will continue to ride an emotional roller coaster this season, complete with heated fights between the Sharks, ingenious business ideas and touching moments. Whichever way the wheeling and dealing may go, many people’s lives will be better off – because they dared to enter the unpredictable waters of the ‘Shark Tank.'”

  • Life is so short. It’d be a shame if you harbored regrets and sentiments of opportunities unfulfilled and courses uncharted. If you didn’t dip your toe in the current. If you didn’t dive in head first.
  • It’d be a shame if we didn’t risk more, venture more, and test the waters… just to see if we can swim with the sharks. You never know what the tide might bring in…

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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