Shark Tank And Manufactured Choices

Always, always, always ensure you understand your real set of choices. 

I will humblebrag this:  I don’t watch much TV. On one level, it’s embarrassing to be so out of the loop on TV entertainment, but on another level, meh.  Even when I do watch, it’s usually in snippets, which is where this post comes from.

A week or so ago, I caught the last few minutes of an episode of “Shark Tank.” The pitch was by a woman named Lindsey Laurain–leader of a company called EZPZ.  That’s “easy peasy” for those of us who are phonetically inclined.  Laurain’s company makes a line of all-in-one plate-placemats for the toddler dining scene.

All of that is well and good, and as a father of four, I can appreciate the invention, too.

But what was interesting was this:  Laurain asked for $1 million in exchange for 5% of her company, and she received two offers.  The offers were not without “hair” as we call it, but they put the value of her company at $20 million.  Not a bad indication.

And you know what?  She walked away.

The “sharks” were perturbed.  Why would she do such a thing?

Why? Because it was a bad fit, she had a good product, and there are other options for her to capitalize her company.

Which brings me to the point:  We all get into manufactured situations where others offer us options, sometimes even good ones, which you might even call opportunities.  Ms. Laurain certainly had an “opportunity” to tie into the sharks and gain the potentially increased promotional benefits that can come from their support.

But such situations are often manufactured in such a way that we are led to believe they are our only options. You see this everywhere from real estate (agents constantly extol how “hot” the market is when trying to get you to make an offer on a house) to elite investment banks (bankers will pull out all stops to ensure that the buy side ponies up and the sell side keeps their feet warm).

I’ve got news for you:  You will be a better decision maker if you learn how to take a breath–take time to think and then make a decision that avoids the manufactured circumstances entirely, a decision that evaluates all the outs, not just the cards on the table.

For instance, suppose HR says you need to accept the job before next Tuesday or else, and they question your loyalty because you decide to look their gift horse in the mouth. What kind of company looks to coerce people into roles they aren’t sure about? In a healthy company, career choices are made by the individual, without ultimatums or undue pressure, so take a breath.

Or suppose that the guy making the offer on your business thinks you’re an idiot for rejecting it. Of course he does…that’s his position in the negotiation.  But take a breath and realize your options.  You may still be an idiot, but at least you’ll know where you stand.

The “Shark Tank” anecdote was a great example of an entrepreneur who knew what was right for her team, and we should all learn from her example.

Take a breath, think it over, and always, always, always ensure that you understand your real set of choices.


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