I came home late on a Friday evening two summers ago, my then 12-year-old twins in tow, and found my wife riveted to ABC's Shark Tank, a show I knew nothing about. I do, however, know that my actress wife cares as much about high finance as I care about the Lifetime network, so if she's hooked on Shark Tank it must be good.
Shark Tank has a simple premise: An entrepreneur enters a room of rich mahogany and leather chairs occupied with five "sharks" - billionaire investors ready to evaluate and invest in new ideas.
One of my recent posts dealt with money lessons for kids. There are five reasons Shark Tank is great family TV:
1) Shark Tank is great drama. After entering the Shark Tank and making their pitch, entrepreneurs are subjected to grilling about their company by the "sharks." It's fun to root for business owners or against a Shark like Kevin O'Leary, a smarmy, condescending type who refers to himself as "Mr. Wonderful" (though it turns out in business he's not so wonderful). Contestants tell emotional stories about their life's work in the hopes of realizing their dreams. Shark Tank captures the "art of the deal" in real time.
2) Shark Tank offers lessons in presentation and negotiation skills. Entrepreneurs aren't selling products as much as selling themselves. Shark Tank offers lessons in salesmanship and the ability to think quickly. Who could forget contestant Michael Tseng and his "plate popper" pitch? Tseng had significant sales and a sky high valuation for his company (which he refused to give), leading to a bidding war among the Sharks before his arrogance nearly left him without a deal. In the words of Kenny Rogers "The Gambler," you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
3) Shark Tank is a great way to learn math skills. Can your kids do math problems in their head? For example: When an entrepreneur enters the Shark Tank and says he wants $70,000 for a 10% stake in the company, how much is the company worth? In our house we see who can come up with the answer first, then guess at an effective counter offer. Shark Tank is a response to the teenage lament, "How does this matter to me?"
4) Shark Tank is a celebration of the human spirit. Our society relies on ideas and innovation from small business. We need entrepreneurs to fuel the so-called frontier economy. Everyone who walks into the Shark Tank believes in themselves. They aren't afraid of hard work and following their dreams.
5) It's fun to witness the "Shark Tank effect." The "Shark Tank effect" occurs when the Sharks look back on a prior investments. The inevitable reaction is, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Are you a fan of Shark Tank? I would enjoy hearing from you, and thanks so much for reading.