Going All Out

AM-138-0111Independence Day seems to have a great variety of meanings.

For me, as a kid, it was a magical evening of fireworks with mom, dad and little brothers.  As years passed, it became fun with friends, then special family time with my own kids.

As entrepreneur, you might, as I do, see it as celebration of the courage and personal sacrifice often required to achieve anything worthwhile, exemplified by the American Revolution.

If you watch “Shark Tank” on television, you may very well see it that way.

Often I’m astonished at how naive and unprepared, or just plain arrogant and greedy some of the entrepreneurs are who show up to bait the sharks.  

But I’ll admit, on occasion I get choked up, even to point of tears, when someone who’s gone through phenomenal hardship pulls off a life-changing deal with one or more of the sharks.

Case in point, in the most recent season a young lady from Arkansas (sorry I don’t recall the name) who started off her presentation by greeting the sharks with a “Hey y’all” in perfectly genuine Arkansas twang, got knocked down by four of the five sharks in rapid succession.

She’s sunk her life savings and her parents have taken out a second mortgage on their home to get the business started. But now, sharks her last desperate hope, she’s out of capital, can’t find anyone to help her, has no sales to date, and no clue how to market her idea, a convertible ladies’ shoe.

The remaining shark, clothing mogul Daymond John, looks like he’s about to bow out, just like the others.

Then, something interesting happens.  

He proposes an idea he admits “is gonna’ stink”.  In exchange for his relatively small investment, he wants a 70% stake in her company.  All the other sharks groan.  But as he explains, he’s going to have to do all the work.  

She thinks about it, and then says, “Well I guess a small part of something big is better than a big part of nothing.”  And takes the deal.  

Smart cookie, I’m thinking.  This is where I get choked up… She’s gonna’ make it!

Then, the genius of Daymond’s offer hits me like a thunderbolt.

Here’s why. Would you agree?

1. He waited until all the other sharks bowed out, leaving him as her last hope.  Anything other than a no is for her a win

2. His clothing empire may just find a place for her product.  If any of the sharks could make it work, it’s Daymond. In any event, he acquires a dedicated, hard working partner for his new venture

3. She gets to work with an experienced industry insider who, even if this product gets no traction can provide awesome mentorship.

4. Daymond looks like a hero on national television.  

5. And – this one goes right to the heart – Daymond is obviously struck by the parallels of her start with his, when his mom mortgaged the house and they filled it with sewing machines, risking everything to launch the wildly successful “Fubu” brand.

So, I celebrate that spirit, laying it all on the line, going all out, to win.  As the signers of the Declaration of Independence and every self-declared “American Citizen” did 237 years ago. As you and I are doing today.

Continue the Revolution!
Mike Connolly
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”
 — Christopher Reeve (1952-2004);
Actor, Producer, Director, And Writer; Best Known For His Role As Superman