Tag Archives: Business

Progress Can Be Counterintuitive


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– Hippocrates

I love the New Year. I appreciate the promise of a fresh start and a brighter future. Many of us have set New Year’s resolutions, and one of the most common resolutions is losing weight by eating right, exercise, or a combination of both.

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Losing weight is not rocket science, but many of us carry around excess insulation even though we know what we should do. We know that we need to consume fewer calories than we burn and we know that not all food is equal (the nutrition in a potato chip or candy bar is far different than the nutrition in broccoli). So we make our resolutions that we will forgo the junk food or we count calories and reduce our calorie intake by 500 calories a day. It may work for a while, but it usually does not work in the long term.

What Works

Over the Christmas break I had some free time to read. I picked up a book entitled How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D.. I don’t want to die, so I thought I’d read the book. The entire title is How not to die: The Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. The book had a 4.8 of 5 stars with nearly 2,500 ratings, so I thought I would see what Dr. Gregor had to say.

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As I read, I found that Dr. Gregor is a vegan; I am clearly not, but one passage really intrigued me. Gregor explained:

Though calorie cutting has been the cornerstone of most weight loss strategies, evidence suggests that the majority of individuals who lose weight by portion control eventually regain it. Starving ourselves almost never works long term. So wouldn’t it be great if instead we could find a way to eat more food to get the same weight loss benefit?

The researchers divided overweight subjects into two groups. The first group was asked to eat five cups a week of lentils, chickpeas, split peas, or navy beans—but not to change their diets in any other way. The second group was asked to simply cut out five hundred calories a day from their diets. Guess who got healthier? The group directed to eat more food. Eating legumes was shown to be just as effective at slimming waistlines and improving blood sugar control as calorie cutting. The legume group also gained additional benefits in the form of improved cholesterol and insulin regulation.[i]

 

Chickpeas Kichererbsen

How it Works

I am not the kind of doctor that should be dispensing medical advice (and for all legal purposes, I AM NOT), but there is a certain beauty in this approach. Rather than counting calories and feeling deprived, simply add a little more good food to the equation. Ideally you would increase the percentage over time which would decrease the percentage of the bad foods you consume.

I found this passage so intriguing for two reasons. First, I experienced this last year. I went on a temporary elimination diet in order to determine if I had any food sensitivities. To do this, I had to not eat any of the major foods that cause reactions: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, and sugar and sugar substitutes for a couple of weeks. When you do this, you are not left with much to eat other than healthy vegetables, and I accidentally lost 12 pounds. I unwittingly did what Dr. Gregor recommended.

Second, I was intrigued because the idea reaches far beyond diet. When I first started studying leadership and management, the goal in my mind was to not make mistakes. That is impracticable; all leaders will make mistakes. But what if the goal for a leader was to be extra-focused on taking care of his people and instilling commitment to the organization. The good (the metaphorical chick peas) would offset the occasional mistakes.

The same holds true for the salesman who makes more calls, the office manager who really gets to know her people, and the contractor who instills a culture of safe and excellent work. Everything improves for those who eat the metaphorical chick peas. Add enough good and the bad is naturally reduced. Progress is counterintuitive.

 

What About You?

What are your metaphorical Chick Peas? How can you squeeze a few more servings of these in to replace the fast-food in your work life?

 

References:

[i] Gregor, M., & Stone, G. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York: Flatiron Books. (pp. 1-8-109).

-Darin Gerdes

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gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

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Business Lessons from the first Republican Primary Debate

As I watched the primary debates with interest, I noticed a few interesting trends. I recognized rules for business that were playing out in politics. Here are my observations:

1. Expectations Color Results.

In last night’s debate, this was true for Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee in different ways. Because Mike Huckabee is old news, having run as far back as 2008, the media didn’t seem to be interested. They expected low performance, but Frank Luntz’s focus group found that a lot of voters who weren’t paying attention to Huckabee before the debate were now interested in Huckabee because of his performance.

For Donald Trump, the pundits attacked him both ways. On the one hand, they would say is too high in the polls; certainly, he will lose his lead to others. On the other hand, they talked about how he lacks political skill and he will be outclassed by the professional politicians.

In fairness, it wasn’t Trump’s best performance. In a “gotcha” moment, he maintained that he would not take a pledge not to run against another candidate if he lost the primary. Nevertheless, Trump had some of the best lines of the debate. For example, when the moderator question on his position on immigration, Trump was masterful:

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.

Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”

I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.

Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?

TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.

(APPLAUSE)

Trump waked away bloodied but unbowed.

Huckabee had a number of great lines, but his best came at the end of the night. The way he set up his closing statement had Trump looking nervous. The room fell silent when Huckabee began his closing statement.

BAIER: Governor Mike Huckabee, closing statement.

HUCKABEE: It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern.

A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.

(LAUGHTER)

2. If You Are Desperate, You Take Chances That Could Hurt You.

Everyone knows that it’s best to negotiate position of strength than from a position of weakness. A number of the candidates came to the debate knowing that they had to prove themselves, but this observation goes out to Rand Paul.

Just before the debate, Bill O’Reilly predicted that Paul would be salivating for an opportunity to take on Trump in order to improve his own position. He did, but Trump got the better of the exchange:

BAIER: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.

You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?

TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.

BAIER: So tonight, you can’t say if another one of these…

PAUL: This is what’s wrong!

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: I mean, this is what’s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already…

BAIER: Dr. Paul.

PAUL: Hey, look, look! He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent…

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: …but I’d say that he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.

TRUMP: Well, I’ve given him plenty of money [Pointing to Rand Paul].

3. When You Get into a Fight, Expect to Get Bloodied.

This goes out to both Rand Paul and Chris Christy. Both candidates had something to prove, and both candidates left the exchange with bloody noses. When Megyn Kelly asked Chris Christie about his comments on Rand Paul, sparks began to fly:

KELLY: Alright, gentlemen, we’re gonna switch topics now and talk a bit about terror and national security.

Governor Christie…. do you really believe you can assign blame to Senator Paul just for opposing the bulk collection of people’s phone records in the event of a terrorist attack?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I do. And I’ll tell you why: because I’m the only person on this stage who’s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who has gone before the federal — the Foreign Intelligence Service court, who has prosecuted and investigated and jailed terrorists in this country after September 11th.

I was appointed U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001, and the world changed enormously the next day, and that happened in my state.

This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks from the Trade Center that day, at her office, having gone through it that morning.

When you actually have to be responsible for doing this, you can do it, and we did it, for seven years in my office, respecting civil liberties and protecting the homeland.

And I will make no apologies, ever, for protecting the lives and the safety of the American people. We have to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer, and then trust those people and oversee them to do it the right way. As president, that is exactly what I’ll do.

PAUL: Megyn, may I respond?

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: May I respond?

KELLY: Go ahead, sir.

PAUL: I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over! John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence, and I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights, and I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: And — and, Megyn? Megyn, that’s a — that, you know, that’s a completely ridiculous answer. “I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from other people.” How are you supposed to know, Megyn?

PAUL: Use the Fourth Amendment!

CHRISTIE: What are you supposed to…

PAUL: Use the Fourth Amendment!

CHRISTIE: …how are you supposed to — no, I’ll tell you how you, look…

PAUL: Get a warrant!

CHRISTIE: Let me tell you something, you go…

PAUL: Get a judge to sign the warrant!

CHRISTIE: When you — you know, senator…

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: Governor Christie, make your point.

CHRISTIE: Listen, senator, you know, when you’re sitting in a subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that.

(APPLAUSE)

When you’re responsible for protecting the lives of the American people, then what you need to do is to make sure…

PAUL: See, here’s the problem. CHRISTIE: …is to make sure that you use the system (ph) the way it’s supposed to work.

PAUL: Here’s the problem, governor. Here’s the problem, governor. You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights.

Every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge. I’m talking about searches without warrants…

CHRISTIE: There is no…

PAUL: …indiscriminately, of all Americans’ records, and that’s what I fought to end.

I don’t trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Go ahead, governor.

CHRISTIE: And you know — you know, Senator Paul? Senator Paul, you know, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th.

Those are the hugs I remember, and those had nothing to do — and those had nothing to do with politics, unlike what you’re doing by cutting speeches on the floor of the Senate, then putting them on the Internet within half an hour to raise money for your campaign…

KELLY: Alright.

Ouch. Neither of these candidates came out smelling like roses (except to those who were already in their respective camps). When you fight, expect to get hit.

4. Sometimes, You Only Have to Prove You are Competent.

Other candidates to a different approach. They didn’t win the debate, but they demonstrated that they were competent, reliable, and plausible candidates. These included Marco Rubio (who is focused on Hillary and the future), Scott Walker (who stood on his record), and Ted Cruz (who masterfully handled the Constitution).

Rubio’s best line: [on immigration]

RUBIO: And let me tell you who never gets talked about in these debates. The people that call my office, who have been waiting for 15 years to come to the United States. And they’ve paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can’t get in. And they’re wondering, maybe they should come illegally.

Ted Cruz’s best line:

CRUZ: I would also note that the scripture tells us, “you shall know them by their fruit.” We see lots of “campaign conservatives.” But if we’re going to win in 2016, we need a consistent conservative, someone who has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.

There are real differences among the candidates on issues like amnesty, like Obamacare, like religious liberty, like life and marriage. And I have been proud to fight and stand for religious liberty, to stand against Planned Parenthood, to defend life for my entire career.

 

Scott Walker’s best line:

BAIER: Governor Walker, as president, what would you do if Russian President Vladimir Putin started a campaign to destabilize NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, mirroring the actions Putin took at the early days of Ukraine?

WALKER: Well first off, for the cyber attack with Russia the other day, it’s sad to think right now, but probably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server than do the members of the United States Congress.

Different approaches, but each showed themselves to be competent.

 5. Know Your Audience(s)

In, It Worked for Me, Colin Powell explained that when you give a speech or press conference, you are speaking to multiple audiences simultaneously.

  • The Reporter asking the question.
  • The American people.
  • Political and military leaders in other countries.
  • The enemy.
  • The troops.

(pp. 129-134).

Let’s translate this to a political scenario. The debate was held in Cleveland, Ohio. John Kasich, the sitting governor of Ohio was one of the candidates. He received a warm welcome in the arena, but he might not have been able to see the cold shoulders he received after making a number of remarks that are out of step with the average Republican primary voter. The first is on expanding Medicaid and the second on gay marriage:

KELLY: Governor Kasich, You chose to expand Medicaid in your state, unlike several other governors on this stage tonight, and it is already over budget by some estimates costing taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion in just the first 18 months.

You defended your Medicaid expansion by invoking God, saying to skeptics that when they arrive in heaven, Saint Peter isn’t going to ask them how small they’ve kept government, but what they have done for the poor.

Why should Republican voters, who generally want to shrink government, believe that you won’t use your Saint Peter rationale to expand every government program?

KASICH: Well, first of all…

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: — first of all, Megyn, you should know that — that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times.

Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what?

To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year…

This was in direct opposition to Jindal’s remark in the earlier debate that we should never expand the growth of government because it creates a culture of dependency (which is why he turned down federal money).

Kasich also completely rolled over on the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. This is a bitter pill for the majority of conservatives (even if it is a trend within the country at large).

KELLY: The subject of gay marriage and religious liberty. Governor Kasich, if you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?

KASICH: Well, look, I’m an old-fashioned person here, and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I’ve also said the court has ruled —

KELLY: How would you — how would you explain it to a child?

KASICH: Wait, Megyn, the court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what?

(APPLAUSE)

*Note: the applause was weak.

6. You Do Not Even have to be Seated at the Adult Table to Move Up.

Seven other candidates attended the 5:00 “Happy Hour” debate; it was also pejoratively known  as “the kids table.” But excellence is excellence and Carly Fiorina shined while accomplished former governors and U.S. Senators reinforced the perception that they are simply boring.

Carly Fiorina got a great press bump by being the “Winner” at the JV debate. She may have helped her cause more than if she had been part of the main debate. Getting noticed is not dependent on luck or position.

7. Even if You are Not a Great Candidate, You Can Still Survive with a Lot of Money.

Donald Trump can campaign all he wants, bombastic as he is, because he can pay to play. Jeb Bush was positively boring last night, but he has millions in the bank. Those who are in danger (like Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham) are those who cannot generate the enthusiasm that translates into campaign donations.

What does all of this have to do with business? Let’s review the lessons:

  1. Expectations Color Results.
  2. If You Are Desperate, You Take Chances That Could Hurt You.
  3. When You Get into a Fight, Expect to Get Bloodied.
  4. Sometimes, You Only Have to Prove You are Competent.
  5. Know Your Audience(s)
  6. You Do Not Even have to be Seated at the Adult Table to Move Up.
  7. Even if You are Not a Great Candidate, You Can Still Survive with a Lot of Money.

Translate these lessons to your business. The principles are the same. What will you do with these business lessons?

-Dr. Gerdes

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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.
Note: Transcript taken directly from Time’s coverage at: http://time.com/3988276/republican-debate-primetime-transcript-full-text/

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On Administrative Professionals Day

Administrative professionals day is the 4th Wednesday in April. Yesterday, to thank the administrators that keep us on track, I took Heather (The Dean’s Executive Assistant), Janie (The Assistant Director of the Graduate School) , and Richard (our Graduate Enrollment Counselor) out to lunch on behalf of the School of Business.

Sometimes leaders treat administrative support as insignificant or interchangeable.  They see themselves as the hero and others are  just “the help.” But these others are the indispensable supports that make them look good.

By way of example, steel an alloy that is comprised of iron and carbon. Sometimes nickel and manganese are added to give it greater tensile strength. The point is that the other elements combine with iron to make it many times stronger than it could be on its own.

Steel - Wikimedia

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Steel#/media/File:Steel_wire_rope.png

Too often we get full of ourselves and think we are the sole reason for our success. We forget about the support that helped us achieve and maintain that success. Perhaps it is because I am the typical absent-minded professor that I am more aware of this phenomenon. I am grateful to the administrators that keep me on track. They improve my work. They are valued colleagues.

As we left for lunch yesterday, I was struck by a metaphor alert. I was taking them to lunch, but Heather held the credit card that would pay for the meal, Janie was driving (since my car has three child seats) and I did not know where we would go to eat. Did I mention that I am grateful for the administrators?

Solomon understood this principle:

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12)

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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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What We Can Learn about Business From Disney.

On Christmas morning we had the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade on in the background as we relaxed at home.

The Magic Kingdom | What We can Learn about Business from Disney | Disney Christmas Parade

Photo Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magic_Kingdom_castle.jpg

Disney is a Comprehensive System

I am always impressed with Disney as a business juggernaut.  I marveled as I watched my kids become more and more excited as each new character was introduced. As I considered what  was happening, I realized how brilliant Disney is for hosting this parade.

1. It is not like Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. It feels the same, but it is a wholly owned Disney production. Macy’s gets to say “Macy’s” repeatedly. Disney puts one Disney product after another out in front of you over the course of the two-hour program.

2. Disney has mastered vertical integration for the human being. They start with a “commercial free” morning on the Disney channel, which is also one large advertisement. Then you grow into the after school segment (remember Hannah Montana when she was a harmless pre-teen?)

As you get older, you have warm fuzzies  when you remember your childhood. When you have your own kids, you think the greatest thing you could do for your kid is take them to Disney for a vacation.

3. This integration was clear through the parade. Disney characters, movies, and resorts for various ages were highlighted. When the parade paused for commercials, Disney movies were front and center.

Disney Packages Advertising as Entertainment

4. Disney sells advertising as  entertainment. We would never have sat and watched a two-hour infomercial about Disney resorts, but because the characters are dancing down the street singing our favorite Christmas songs, we perceive it as a free show. They have graciously provided us this valuable walk down memory lane.

5. My focus group: As I wrote this post, my children  were cheering in the background “Oh, it’s Captian Hook!” and “Anna and Elsa, Anna and Elsa, Anna and Elsa!” (from the movie Frozen). Disney knows what it is doing.

Disney Uses Culture as Much as Systems

6. Everything my three-year-old daughter got for Christmas was in some way related to one of dozen or so Disney princesses. They own mind-share in the princess arena.

7. If you want to learn how Disney does it, I would recommend Lee Cockerell’s Creating Magic.

It is a great book that illuminates why Disney is so good at what it does.

Disney has a strategy, supported by a culture that produces iconic assets.  Every movie adds to their portfolio that make them stronger.

Thanks for taking time to read my musings about an iconic brand on my days off  for Christmas break.

-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.
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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.


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How Flexible Are You?

In business, a key to success is flexibility. Flexibility is necessary in any changing environment.  No where do we find better examples of the shifting sands of change than the battlefield.

41st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron

Photo courtesy of US Taxpayers

Change and Flexibility

Get your MBA Now from Charleston Southern UniversityBusinessmen operate in a turbulent environment. Since the 2008 recession, the speed of change has accelerated. Managers spout slogans like “change or die” or proverbs like “A rolling stone gathers no moss” (Publius Syrus) but rarely do they act on their own advice.

In reality, the more turbulent the environment, the more change and flexibility are necessary.

I read a lot. As I do, I actively think about parallels to business leadership. As I was reading American Heroes in Special OperationsI stumbled over this interesting passage about the 41st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron.

American Heroes in Special Operations[The 41st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron is] always in high demand. That’s because the “rescue warriors” are willing to go where other medevac units won’t to save the lives of Coalition forces and Afghan civilians alike. Red crosses—the universal symbol for medical personnel—are conspicuously absent from their aircraft. That’s because the Geneva Convention expressly forbids medical personnel displaying the symbol from carrying weapons. Not that any of that stops the Taliban—they’ll shoot at any helicopter regardless its markings.

But [they] will shoot back if they are shot at and they happily forego the “protection” of the red cross in exchange for the ability to do so. (p. 274)

Here the military was taking a page from Lao Tzu who wrote: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

If the enemy will not honor the Red Cross  on your sleeve or on your helicopter, perhaps suppressive fire might be more persuasive. At any rate, it is sheer madness to rely on the symbol to protect you.

Change Requires Flexibility

Red Cross

This is the key to flexibility. The red cross logo was supposed to provide an advantage to the combat medic.  But since it was no longer honored, the military let go of an advantage that no longer worked in order to seize a new opportunity that would increase the likelihood of mission success.

How about You?

What advantages do you still cling to that don’t really work? If your business was built on direct mail, the bulk rate mail advantage is a liability if it is more profitable to wage a social media campaign.

Think about how your business landscape has shifted. Is it possible that by holding onto an advantage, you might be limiting success?


Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.


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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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How to Watch TV and increase your Business I.Q.

If you could increase your business I.Q. by sitting in front of the TV, would you do it? What if I told you that as a bonus, it would be entertaining too?

Shark Tank – Friday at 9PM on ABC

Free Education

If you want to get a free business education, watch Shark Tank. Shark tank airs Friday Nights at 9 PM on ABC.

Here is the premise of the show from the Shark Tank Website:

The panel of five Sharks [Venture Capitalists] will hear pitches of the best business and product ideas from some of America’s brightest entrepreneurs, ranging from start-ups from stay-at-home moms and dads, to simple yet brilliant ideas in a wide range of areas including children’s products, music, sports, automotive, and even the nightclub scene….

The entrepreneurs who dare to enter the “Shark Tank” must try to convince the tough, self-made, multi-millionaire/billionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they desperately need to jumpstart their business ideas. But the Sharks have a goal, too. They want a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea.

In exchange for the Sharks’ cash investment, the entrepreneurs give up a percentage of their companies’ equity. When the Sharks hear a great idea, they’re ready to fight each other for a piece of it. Then the once-desperate entrepreneur can rejoice that the Sharks find value in their product, service or business. But if the pitch is poor, the Sharks will tear into the ill-prepared presenters and pass on the idea with a simple “I’m out!”

What Will You Learn?

These businessmen will teach you how capitalism really works.

Sometimes they expose the dark side of business–as when they attempt to buy a business in order to liquidate it. The sharks are looking to maximize profits even though they may destroy the entrepreneur’s dream. It is not personal; it’s just business.

Sometimes they tell an entrepreneur to stop doing what he is doing. This is merciful, as when the business model does not make sense and doing more will only lead the entrepreneur (who already has a second mortgage on his home) into greater debt.

These VCs do not suffer fools gladly and they do not provide false hope.

Get your MBA at Charleston Southern UniversitySometimes they spot a great business. When they do, they fight each other to obtain a stake in the viable business. Pay close attention when they fight  each other for a piece of a winning business because they are exposing the secrets of entrepreneurial success.

By watching the show 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 product
  • What does not work and why

Now, you can watch passively and simply enjoy the show, but I would suggest that you watch with a yellow pad and take notes. Keep a dictionary handy or Google terms you do not understand. If you do this, you will be taught valuable concepts that we teach in our students in our MBA program.

Look for trends. Within the first 5 shows that you watch, you will begin to see certain patterns emerge (e.g. what makes a business attractive to an investor).

Teach Your Children Well 

Want to teach your children real lessons about economics?

Download full seasons and  watch them together. In 12 hours, you will teach your children more about how the economy works than they learn from 12 years in public school.

The show airs Friday at 9 PM on ABC, but you can watch a few back episodes on the Shark Tank Website. You can also download the first 4 seasons from Amazon. Single episodes are $1.99, but when you buy a season, each episode is only a buck.

Here are the links: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4.

What other educational TV shows can you recommend? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.


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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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