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5 'Shark Tank' lessons to take to the bank

Shark Tank, that wonderful show on ABC with Daymond John, Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec, is more than just a show in which people may or may not get deals for their small businesses. It’s also a show that manages to teach some surprisingly universal life lessons.

I’ve been mainlining the show after finally getting into it on my brother’s recommendation, and after watching season after season, deal after deal, and problematic pitch after problematic pitch, I’ve come away with five life lessons a person can apply to either the shark-eat-shark world of the tank or the shark-eat-shark world of everyday life.

1. All roads lead to a Mr. Wonderful.
One thing O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful (in contrast to his many heinously surgical royalty deals), is known for saying is that “all roads lead to Mr. Wonderful.” Indeed, all roads do lead to Mr. Wonderful, but not necessarily to O’Leary per se. In life, we will all have moments when we come to a fork in the road of a big decision. Whether it’s at work, with your significant other, or with family, you’re going to come to that fork and a stumbling block you’ll have to face. That stumbling block, your own Mr. Wonderful, is your test to figure out how much you really want something or value yourself. And, just like with O’Leary’s deals, there are always two ways it can go. Either you take the treacherous road, or you take the easy one. You take the road doing something that you agree with but no one else does, or you take the road where your self-worth is based on what everyone else thinks. You’ll have to take one of these roads, and the one you take could define your life for a long time, if not forever. Make sure you know what you’re doing when you come up against the wily Mr. Wonderful in your life.

2. Come in prepared.
One of the fascinating things about some of the Shark Tank pitches is that some folks come in without doing due diligence. Some don’t know their past sales numbers. Others don’t know the goals they want to reach. Still others don’t have a full grasp of the amount of money it’ll take to run their business. They want the Sharks to run everything for them. That doesn’t always go over well in the Tank, and it certainly doesn’t always go over well in real life.

It could be a business or it could be your homework, but whatever you do, you’ve got to be prepared for what’s ahead. In your life, there will be challenges that you can’t prepare for. But for the ones you can, it’s best to have a game plan to tackle them. If you know you’ve got a big meeting or test tomorrow, don’t wait until the night before; as my high school biology teacher told us, study a little every day, and soon you’ll know what you need to know. Or, if you are working on losing weight (aren’t we all?) don’t go for the classic “I’m going to lose 100 pounds by Christmas!” line. Instead, have reasonable goals, like losing 2 pounds a week or 5 to 10 pounds a month. You can start even smaller than that, by saying “I’m going to exercise at least 20 minutes a day.” (Much of the weight-loss advice is actually paraphrased from advice my mom gave me just a few days before writing of this post.) Any challenge that you have the opportunity to plan for—plan for it.

3. Don’t be presumptuous.
Surprisingly, very few of the Sharks seem to suffer from being unsure of the awesomeness of their product. Either they think the product is the best thing since sliced bread and that no one else could have come up with it but them, or they think they deserve to have the Sharks work for them and give them hundreds of thousands of dollars. When they come up against a Shark with this attitude, they get shot down quickly and violently (sometimes to hilarious effect). Don’t be this person.

The ego is something that we all struggle with (especially those of us who were born under both the Leo and Dragon signs). But the ego, which tells you that you’re the best ever and everyone else is dust, is lying to you. Sure, you might be awesome, but there’s always someone out there that’s just as awesome as you. You’re not the best at everything, and there’s someone out there who can do what you can’t. That’s perfectly okay.

Also, don’t presume that you deserve a handout. There’s nothing wrong with putting in work to get what you want. In fact, taking the hard path of working for something you want instead of waiting for it to come to you can help you learn some hard lessons and truths about yourself. You learn how tough you actually are, and that’s valuable.

4. Everyone starts as a crushable cockroach, and that’s okay.
O’Leary commonly states, when he’s laying into a small business in its beginning phase, that a bigger competitor could crush them like the cockroaches they are. O’Leary makes it sound like it’s a bad thing, but really, everyone starts out as a “cockroach.” A better way to say it is that everyone starts out at the starting line. Everyone has to work for the lives they want and/or have achieved.

The thing that distinguishes one “cockroach” from another is how much work they’re willing to put in. Persistence is the root of most success, not necessarily talent, although talent has its advantages. Being persistent, working hard for what you want, and not taking no for an answer can define who is successful and who isn’t. And “success” doesn’t mean having six figures. “Success” means fulfilling the mission or purpose you feel you have in life. That mission or purpose might be there, but if you don’t act on it, you’ll always be at the starting line.

5. Be genuine.
There are many business owners who have their pitches nailed down within an inch of its life. But there are just as many owners who come in just being themselves. The owners with a genuine attitude usually get their deal, even if they admit to not knowing everything they should. If they don’t, at least they get good advice they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The takeaway is that being a genuine, kind person takes you much farther than you’d think.

Some people think that being nice is a crutch or somehow a weakness. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a nice guy or girl is something that should be celebrated, not stamped out in favor of manufactured “toughness” or “strength.” A popular saying is that you can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, and being a genuine person commands its own brand of respect. Instead of feeling like you’re weak because you’ve been told you’re “too nice,” embrace it as your power, because with your power, you’ll be able to attract more “flies.”

What lessons have you learned from Shark Tank? Share them below!

Shark Tank airs Fridays at 9/8c on ABC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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