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8 Reasons why you should watch “Shark Tank” with your children

While the vast majority of television is not something I recommend watching, there are some serious positive ramifications of watching a show like Shark Tank with your children, who could be as young as eight or nine years old.

Shark Tank is an American reality competition television series that premiered August 9, 2009, on ABC. Based on the international Dragons’ Den format, Shark Tank has aspiring entrepreneurcontestants that make business presentations to a panel of “shark” investors.

Unlike so much of the high drama that is on TV that is pointless, this show’s drama is composed of real world, normal people like you and I who would have  broken their back in order to take an idea and develop it into a product.  The stories of some of these people are truly inspiring!  Often they come to tears, and I think there is a real beautiful genuineness to these normal people showing extraordinary drive and passion for an idea that in many ways becomes all-consuming.

While there is certainly no shortage of greed on the part of some of the investors on the panel, I believe that the life lessons your child can learn from witnessing these interactions far out shadows the negative aspects that you can discuss with your children as well to teach them about the financial aspects to human negotiation.

Here are the valuable lessons that I think the show teaches:

1.  To be a successful entrepreneur means you may have to go through somewhere between 100 and 1,000 ideas that don’t work until you come up with the ONE TRUE IDEA that does work.  But All It Takes is one good idea and the commitment to following through on it.  Discuss with your child how great inventors for the vast majority of the time experience failure and yet every time they fail they make sure to learn something so that they are one step closer to success.

2.  Women are just as capable as men coming up with great ideas, and in some ways women are better at consulting others in order to get input.  In other words, women in many ways may be more resourceful than men in business.  This is just my anecdotal perspective, but one that is shared by many other business leaders I have been a consultant to.  Make sure to talk with your daughters about how they are just as capable and able to come up with a GREAT IDEA.

3.  Most great ideas start out in the garage or in a basement, and solve everyday problems that most of us face.  In other words, you don’t have to go into a laboratory to discover great ideas, you simply need to pay closer attention to everyday reality and think about solutions to pressing problems that cause people pain and frustration.  Remind your child that even they can come up with a great idea if they just pay close attention to what frustrates people in their everyday life.

4.  Anyone with a good idea, who is willing to work hard AND SMART enough , can “make it” in the business world.  Teach YOUR child that it is not enough to work hard, they must not only work hard but must work smart by utilizing the resources in any environment they are in.  Warn them that they should always assume that there are smarter kids around them so that they become more of a listener and absorber of knowledge and wisdom rather than a self-absorbed know-it-all.  There are too many of those running around.

5.  Great entrepreneurs are not necessarily the smartest people in the room.  However, they are some of the toughest-minded people who are also are the most resourceful.  In other words, they may readily admit they’re not the smartest person around.  For what they are the best at is finding the most efficient way to test ideas and can get critical input at various stages of an idea to product process.  Discuss this process with your child.   Remind them that the quietest people are often the smartest because they are learning the most from everyone around them by listening carefully.

6.  To be successful, it is not enough to have charisma and to believe in yourself, you must have a combination of the following qualities: grit, intelligence, good judgment, insight into human nature, tough mindedness, business acumen, and be open to even painfully  – and brutally honest  – input from more seasoned consultants.  Narcissism means you will become shark meat. 

7.  When you have a great idea, you need to protect it carefully and be wary of the greed of others.  At the same time, if you are overprotective and do not seek adequate input from others that you trust or who have been successful, then when the day comes when you present to venture capitalists you may look like a naïve fool.  You may not get a second chance with that kind of crowd.  Seek input carefully over time from wise people in your business community.  Talk with your child about the balance between protecting an idea and exposing it to reality so the value of the idea is tested. 

Of course, you can also use this show as a way to talk about the various types of success, to make sure and clarify that financial success is only one way to assess one’s contributions to society.   Since this is a business oriented show, one must be careful to not give the message that financial success is the most important kind of success.

8.  But to me this show’s core message is not that becoming rich is the ultimate goal, rather, that it is important to have a dream and to follow it matter where it takes you.  No matter how dark the tunnel,  no matter how risky the venture.  In the end, you want to teach your child that there are times when you have to take risks in order to Make a Dream Come True.

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Meet Doctor Brunner

Dr. Thomas (Tom) Brunner is a Tucson based psychologist and published expert who has a 20 year track record of clinical excellence, scientific research, teaching, publications, awards and podcast interviews.  He is the senior author of a psychological measure adapted into 14 languages worldwide, and has written over 250 blogs, many of them have gone viral.  He is revolutionizing the field of career guidance with his fresh and trademarked approach that is spreading like wildfire. Sign up here to be notified of soon to be published book, Find Your Real Me: Career Guidance Making You Truly Free.