No matter what it takes, every morning you wake up with ‘this isn’t working, but I’m going to do this.’ I don’t care what obstacles are in my way, it’s not who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.” – Lori Greiner, Shark Tank, investor, entrepreneur
A lesson on how to tell YOUR story – from the Shark Tank.
I watched Shark Tank a few weeks ago, and a woman on the show shared why her sales were flat for a few years. The sharks always chomp on flat growth. She talked about how there was an issue with manufacturing, an issue with inventory, and another issue with… (you get the pattern). Her pitch was unsuccessful.
I watched another Shark Tank this weekend (yes I love the show) and a woman named Talia Bahr Goldfarb pitched a product called “Myself Belts.” The problem the sharks found was the product had years of flat growth. When the sharks asked why, she responded the economy was the issue, stores stopped buying inventory, boutique stores closed, and so she focused her efforts online.
Four sharks chomped on her response! One shark said a good product survives a bad economy and continues to thrive. And two others said she didn’t have what it took to weather the storm. One commented that Talia was too strategic and not able to get dirty and deal with the everyday problems of starting up a business. Another shark, Lori said: “No matter what it takes, every morning you wake up with: this isn’t working, but I’m going to do this. I don’t care what obstacles are in my way, it’s not who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me. I don’t see that in you, I’m out.”
Why did the sharks FEED on her response? The sharks want ownership. The sharks want to hear solutions. The sharks want to know that the entrepreneur can pivot when challenges arise.
What was confusing to me was that Talia did pivot and focus her efforts online when the economy tumbled. And despite the issues in the economy she maintained her sales year after year. Only one out of the five sharks picked up on the fact that she did pivot. The one shark, Daymond John, waited patiently for the others to finish before digging into the numbers and ultimately making her an offer. He said, “I have no idea what these guys are talking about.”
Why did only one out of five sharks pick up on the fact that she did pivot? It was her tone, her words, and the story she was telling. Some part of me knew that she was a smart, savvy, hard-working mom who just wasn’t telling her story in the BEST light. With a shift in body language, a confident stance, and a quick story about pivoting, her story would have been about empowerment versus circumstance.
Here is perhaps a different and better story to tell the sharks: “During (this year to this year) there was a decrease in retail orders across the entire sector and industry, so I pivoted and focused my strategy online to continue business and had maintained sales of $x. I now see an opportunity to bring in a strategic partner (a shark) based on current industry trends.”
Notice there is not a reference about the economy. Rather, the conversation is about how the person pivoted due to the market and why that person wants to pivot again based on market growth.
How you tell your story is YOUR CHOICE … Choose Wisely
Things happen to us, and yet we hear that it is all about how we respond. So when you tell a story in a job interview or in networking, what part of the story are you focused on telling?
Option 1 – The “Circumstance Story”: This story is about what happened. It is sharing what happened, the environment, and the context. It is sharing why “it” happened. Why we missed something critical on a project, why we were let go from a job, why we made a poor choice, why we took a wrong turn. What I know for sure is that to show YOUR BEST YOU, your BEST story is not about the whys.
Option 2 – The “Empowerment Story”: This story is all about how you empowered yourself to pivot and take action. This is all about how we pivoted in context of challenging circumstances. In a networking discussion or job interview, your “empowerment” story will answer these questions:
- How fast can you shift?
- How reflective can you be when things aren’t working?
- How smooth can you pivot and try something new?
Your BEST story is about what YOU did in context of challenging circumstances. In your next networking or interview pitch, how will you frame your story?
Choose your “Empowerment Story” and show your BEST YOU.
Kara Smith is a talent development / HR leader and is the founder of the Soul of Work project: www.soulofwork.org, a think tank and not for profit learning lab. The mission & intention of the Soul of Work project is to bring best practices, tools, and practical insights from thought leaders to help professionals get hired, build more sustainable economic fulfillment in both work & life, and do their best work. As part of this mission, the Soul of Work project is dedicated to actively fundraise and donate to aligned non-profit organizations. Learn more here: www.soulofwork.org/giving. Kara is a working mother who believes we do our BEST work when we align work with our life.