Much as I enjoy the TV show Shark Tank, I can see that I’m a guppy. Like the Cowardly Lion of Oz, I play it safe. I’m afraid to strut my stuff. And according to the Sharks, being bashful about my fiction is the wrong way to think.
My sons and I love this show for its banter, crisp intelligence, and excellent advice. Episode by episode I am learning to do more than develop goals and the drive to pursue them relentlessly. I must also be myself. Not only in the classroom, but also as a writer and in the world of social media.
Likeability is important. Sure, hard numbers count, but so does being likable. Really? Don’t the nice guys finish last? Not necessarily. Even power brokers like the Sharks are not immune to the pull of personality. It’s more than having a quality product and being willing to work. Winsomeness carries powerful appeal.
Surprise! Passion counts. How many times have I heard one of the Sharks marvel, as the disappointed contestant walks off, that he or she did not defend their business. Where was the drive, the burning desire to succeed? Having “skin in the game” counts, but so does a passionate commitment to the product.
Gut impressions count too. “I’m going with my gut on this” is seen as a legitimate reason; nobody rolls their eyes. I’ve seen Sharks back away because the truth comes out: a contestant is too smooth or lazy or unprepared or (ha) selfish. On the other hand, support from one Shark will often draw other Sharks to reconsider investing.
Our failures can be our best teachers. The Sharks are where they are because they have taken risks. Is every business venture successful? Of course not. (Will every book I write be a bestseller? Nope.) The key is to get back in the game and move ahead.
So it’s time for me to grow and change and take baby steps in a better direction. Because I am an entrepreneur. And surprise, success in business isn’t as “Me First” as I once thought.