Last week we discussed the three roles that you have master (technical, entrepreneurial, and managerial) in business. Whether you are an entrepreneur or you work in a large organization, all businesspeople need to become proficient in these three areas.
The good news is that you can grow in those areas where you need improvement. If you need to learn about management, pick up a good management book (I have included) a list of great management books at the end of this section.
One easy way to grow is to watch TV. That’s right. Just watch TV. If you watch Shark Tank or the Profit, you will pick up important business lessons.
When you watch Shark Tank, you will learn:
-How venture capitalists (VCs) think about money
-How VCs decide to bet on a successful business
-How to price a business (business valuation)
-What entrepreneurs need to do to be successful
-Why VCs bet on the entrepreneur as much as the productWhat does not work and why (Gerdes, 2012).
-What does not work and why (Gerdes, 2012).
The Profit also provides a valuable, free education. Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, invests his own money in struggling businesses in order to make them profitable. Along the way, he is intentional about teaching his audience how to be more successful in business. In every episode, he emphasizes three areass.
Lemonis told Inc. Magazine that people are most important as they can be the most difficult to fix.
Maybe you work with dysfunctional people. Bad people can paralyze a great business. Or, maybe you work on your own. In that case, your problem may be that you do not have connections to the right people and you need to build these connections.
In contrast, the process is the easiest to fix if you know how to do it. This requires specialized knowledge about common business metrics that are helpful to almost any business.
Finally, you must have a great product. Even with great people and a great process, you will not go very far with a lousy product (remember New Coke?). As David Ogilvey once quipped, “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.”
Shark Tank airs on Fridays at 9 PM on ABC. The Profit airs on Tuesdays at 10PM on CNBC. Both have full episodes available online. You may also want to seek out one of the more specialized shows on Food Network or HGTV. For example, Restaurant Impossible filmed an episode at Valentinos Pizza on the corner of Old Trolley Road and Dorchester Road.
Here are a number of educational TV shows that may help you learn more about business:
The Apprentice was one of the earliest shows in the business as entertainment genre. Donald Trump and Mark Burnett get credit for introducing America to this type of programming in 2004.
Shark Tank is the American version of Dragon’s Den (a Canadian and British show following the same basic format). Shark Tank views entrepreneurs from the vantage point of venture capitalists. The VCs invest their own money in promising businesses.
Food Fortunes is Shark Tank for the Food Network. This show, however, takes the process a bit further by polling the live audience that gets to taste and handle the products before the VCs invest.
All-American Makers is the Science Channel’s version of Shark Tank. This show focuses on the inventions more than the entrepreneurs. Like shark tank, a VC is interested in buying, but first, engineers disassemble the product, test the inventor’s claims, and expose the product to a focus group before the VC makes an offer.
The Profit may be the best show to help you grow in your thinking as a businessperson. Marcus is intentional about explaining what is wrong and how issues can be corrected.
Actionable items:
Think about your current situation. Where do your greatest problems lie—with your people, the process, or your product? What do you need to do to correct these issues?
This week, I will (watch The Profit or another show business show, order a book, etc.):
What will you choose to do to grow this year? Read more management books? Watch Educational TV? Take a class or hire a consultant?
Gerdes, D. L. (2012). How to watch TV and increase your business I.Q. ProfessorThink Retrieved from
Why people, process, and product are the keys to success. (2014). Inc. Magazine. Retrieved from
Recommended Reading:
Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, S. (1982). The one minute manager. New York: Morrow.
Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap–and others don’t. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
Collins, J. C., & Porras, J. I. (1994). Built to last: Successful habits of visionary companies. New York: HarperBusiness.
Covey, S. R. (2013). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. New York : Simon & Schuster
Drucker, P. F. (2006). The practice of management. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Drucker, P. F. (2010). The effective executive: [the definitive guide to getting the right things done]. New York, NY.: Harper.
Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Boston: Little, Brown.
Goldsmith, M., & Reiter, M. (2007). What got you here won’t get you there: How successful people become even more successful. New York, NY: Hyperion.
Lencioni, Patrick. (2008). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, San Francisco. Jossey-Bass Inc Pub.
Peters, T. J., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best-run companies. New York: Harper & Row.
Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday/Currency.
Townsend, R. (1970). Up the organization. New York: Knopf.