Lessons From Shark Tank – Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Watching Shark Tank is my version of a contact sport.  I repeatedly get to the point of either wanting to throw something at the TV or wanting to find the person ‘in the tank’ and reach out and shake their hand for a job well done and sticking it through to execute their original idea.

While I think the show can actually teach you a lot (good and bad), which is why I watch it, I had an extremely fitting lesson on one of this season’s episodes.

Almost immediately upon the start of this particular person’s session in the tank I knew what was going to happen based on the name of the person’s Company.  As soon as the person started talking s/he (yes, I’m being vague so you can’t guess… yet) began to describe a business EXACTLY, WORD FOR WORD how I’ve been describing one possible venture for the past two and a half years.  Did you ever have that feeling where you’ve felt you had a great idea and found out someone had it at the same time – but they’ve been doing something about it.

I actually had to stop the DVR and pick my jaw up from the floor.

After a very brief (brief because it is a brilliant idea after all, said modestly) intro the sharks immediately began to try and work with the person.  Multiple sharks got into bidding wars and just about anything and everything the owner could ever have dreamed for the Company on Shark Tank materialized even better.  It’s obvious that the Company now has an exponentially better chance at success, even though already successful in its own initial stages.

I felt honored to be handed another great reminder of a very important lesson that day: actions speak louder than words.

For this person it wasn’t just another idea for something that maybe one day would get done. Instead it became a calling and got executed.  It wasn’t just a concept (although before knowing anything else the Sharks were excited about the concept), it was something tangible.  A small, start-up that had proven out some initial things but didn’t even need all the bugs (or revenue) worked out to be worthwhile.  Lots of great lessons indeed, but mostly it was about taking those first important steps and getting something ‘in market.’

Congrats to the Company, enjoy your new partners, and thanks for the reminder.

Just for fun, here’s some other lessons that this particular owner, Company and tank session reminded me of as well:

  • If you’re not going to follow through on an idea, set it free and let someone else. This also helps alleviate the excuse of ‘I have so many ideas I don’t know which one to move on first’ syndrome / excuse.  I can almost guarantee I never would have executed this idea personally, for a particular reason, but it’s funny how it’s always been in the back of my head as, well I could if I wanted to.  It’s funny how you can make anything into an excuse.
  • When you think your idea is so great no one else could think of it, someone else is already working on it so you better get started to eventually beat them or find them and accelerate it.
  • Describing your idea as: This is the ___”A”___ of ___”B”___, where “A” is an already successful company and “B” is an untapped industry where it isn’t applied yet, is a great way to make your idea more understandable from an investor – and give it some credibility because “A” has succeeded before.
  • Actual learning and failing is much better than theoretical. I’ve thought through the ins and outs of this particular idea and what could work and what wouldn’t.  I’d even consider myself somewhat of an expert in that area. Compare that to the owner in this case that got actual in-market feedback.  It’s no competition – learning what people will actually do by giving them the opportunity to do it or not is always much better than just asking like on surveys and focus groups (or believing someone claiming to be an expert).


Matt Kane

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