with Lynne and Leslie

The Shark Tank of your mind: Are you in or out?

by SweetMidlife
How would you tell them what you’re worth?

I was making dinner in the other room, watching the pasta and making it sure it didn’t spill over and ruin my fancy pan, making sure the cat didn’t dart into the room and get scalded with her greedy people food-hunting self, and making sure my husband had something to eat that doesn’t resemble scorched ick.

In this room, I was watching a rerun of this kid completely talking his dream of putting bikini-designing software into malls into the ground, as the entrepreneurs of “Shark Tank” ripped him to shreds. This brave lad and his chum-colored aspirations were in the hands of people who just want to know how much money he was going to make them, and even if he got an offer – which he eventually did – the question he had to ask is how much those aspirations are worth.

What he was worth.

I love this show something fierce, not just because of the excitement of watching experienced business people and young shiny dreamers alike become instant millionaires, or in some cases, crashing and burning on a pyre of nerves, bad planning, worse presentation skills and sometimes fatal hubris, but because it makes me think about my own dreams and aspirations, and what they would be worth to investors.

I’m not sure what product I have to sell, other than myself – I would be the perfect spokeswoman, pundit, morning host and general dancing monkey for pretty much anything that isn’t immoral or fattening. I can also write, speak and dance a mean quickstep, given enough time and powerful enough Spanx. I’m funny and pithy and have a cute husband and a twin. I have cool hair.

I do not think that Mark Cuban and Daymond John are headed to my house right now to make me a cash offer to invest in me being me. But even imagining that this is a possibility gives me good practice for quantifying my worth, fiscally and otherwise. I have been at my current job for more than a decade, and when I negotiate my salary, which I am wont to do from time to time, it’s helpful to be prepared – What am I asking for? How can I prove that I am worth it? Is there a fixed number in my head, and am I willing to either come down off it, or be willing to give even more effort or time in exchange for my employer meeting it?

At the same time, I – and you – need to ask yourself that in your relationships, personal, professional and otherwise. Do I tell my current or potential partner verbally that I’m worth a lot but prove that I undervalue myself by letting them treat me badly? Is the price I pay for the expensive haircut too much for what the quality of the cut and the general foo-foo of the salon? Do I tell the stylist that it’s OK to treat me like a throw rug when they make me wait but I stay, pay and tip them anyway?

On “Shark Tank,” the negotiations last about six minutes, although I’ve been told they can last for hours. So we don’t see all the nuances, but we get the basics – what is being offered, what it’s going to cost both the entrepreneur and the investing Shark or Sharks, and whether they can agree. The ultimate test of the worth of the deal doesn’t come till much later, when it can be quantified whether either side made money.

But the risk, to me, is the important part. What is the entrepreneur willing to gamble or give up? What percentage of their business and profits? What amount of control? There are people who won’t agree until the Sharks promise not to, say, move production from Alabama to China, or who want their packaging to stay intact.

What is it worth to you? What are you worth to you, and to other people? And can you back it up and be proud of it?

3 Responses to “The Shark Tank of your mind: Are you in or out?”

  1. i don’t watch TV, but this sounds like a show i would really really enjoy!

  2. palmbradley@aol.com' Robbie says:

    We are addicted to this show! I’m usually not a Daymond John fan, but when he went after Billy Blanks Jr. to offer help, I was all in.

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