I’ve really enjoyed watching Shark Tank for the last 4-5 seasons. While the show can be a sensationalist, I think it provides some great insights for creators to learn how to pitch their ideas, and I’m sure many entrepreneurs have been inspired by watching the show.
While it might sound weird, one of the key aspects of the show is that each of the investors say, “I’m out” way more often than they reach a deal. We entrepreneurs always get so caught up in our own ideas–we think they’re the best ideas ever and that they’re worth way more than they really are. So it’s important for us to hear the word “no.”
However, there’s one shark who always says “no” in the meanest possible way. His name is Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary.” He belittles and bullies the entrepreneur, and if they don’t reach a deal, he says, “You’re dead to me” as if that’s a clever, business-savvy catch phrase. He comes across as a spoiled child, and the other sharks hardly ever call him out on it.
Enter Ashton Kutcher.
Kutcher was a guest on last week’s season premiere. The show has had a few guests in the past, and they usually seem to have a good time. They try not to rub anyone the wrong way.
Kutcher took a different approach. Twice during the episode when O’Leary was demeaning the entrepreneur, Kutcher cut him off, pointed out how much of an ass he was being, and demonstrated a more effective way to give similar feedback. I was really, really impressed. It takes guts to stand up to someone like that, especially on prime time TV.
Kutcher didn’t make any deals on the show (actually, that’s wrong–he partnered with Lori on a deal that he originally rejected), but he left a lasting impression with me (and hopefully O’Leary). Well done, sir.