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How Lori Greiner could've come out of the Shark Tank fight on top

Dropping a case study with my quick thoughts here.

Here's the context:

A young, black entrepreneur developed a product that helps students with the high costs of college.

His mobile app is user-friendly and matches students with hundreds of relevant scholarships near-instantly.

Some of the best parts about him and his presentation:

  • He's unafraid to take a social jab at the sharks: subtly sub-communicating that maybe he doesn't need them and doesn't care what others think of him. (He named one of the scholarships "Mr. Wonderful's Stingy Scholarship" and when O'Leary pointed it out, he didn't back down, but rather kept it as a light "not a big deal" joke.)
  • He won $1.3M in scholarships and used it to promote the business: a sign of someone who worked hard in school, kept their grades up, and combined that work ethic and achievement with an entrepreneurial spirit to form a genius marketing effort.
  • His life story is relatable to the sharks and most others: a single mom, low-income, two siblings, and had to work hard for everything he has. Despite his acceptable GPA, he wasn't able to even apply to some of his dream schools due to the application fees alone.

Plus, of course, the business is profitable (he brought in over $90k in one year) and any shark who invests in his business would have the "social/societal approval" of a minority-owned business in their portfolio which they're helping carry to the top. (A good look if they were ever to share it/if anyone sees the episode, but that's assuming the sharks care about something like that. Still, it wouldn't hurt their PR.)

Now, we can get into the meat of the case study.

Mistake 1: Accepting the Group's Disempowering Frames

Lori: "Do you want to know something, Christopher? I'm going to do something I've never done before (social credit inflating: "I'm making an exception for you"). I haven't heard a whole lot (frames the information she's received as minimal), but I'm going to make you an offer right now."

Cuban: (leans back in his seat in disapproval and looks to Lori)

Christopher: Awesome.

Cuban: Let me just ask some real questions, OK (interjects, trying to buy more time by framing the information they've received so far as surface-level/inadequate)?

Lori: (rejects Cuban's request by ignoring it) My offer right now is the $40k for 15%. I believe in you. I believe in what you're doing is good. I think that we will make it together. So, I hope you just say "yes".

Christopher: (assertive "no" technique: reject + validate feelings) I would love to hear other offers, Lori. And, I really appreciate that. I...that really means a lot to me. Scholly is very important to me..."

Lori: (refuses to give the other sharks a chance) I'm offering exactly what you asked for.

Christopher: (agree + redirect frame control technique) Yes. I would love...

Lori: I'm not even going to ask you, "How do we monetize this?" (frames herself as someone who believes in him and his mission most of all, yet also frames herself as making an important decision without all of the necessary facts/information). But, I want you to say "yes" (strategic "but" negates her previous sentence. Now it seems that if he doesn't say "yes" now, he'll be hit later with difficult questions, and if his answers aren't adequate enough, he may risk losing an investment opportunity from any of the sharks and regret not having taken Lori's deal when he had the chance).

Daymond: I want to be part of this (mentions how he relates to Christopher's story on a personal level)...so I'll offer you the same thing. $40k for 15%...

Lori: (interjects before Daymond can top her offer) Christopher. Look at me. I believe in what you're doing.

Christopher: (tries to interject)

Lori: I don't care about how we're going to monetize it. I just want you to take my hand and say, "Deal." And, we will make it work. But, I'd like you to do it right now.

Christopher: (stays silent and looks to other sharks, giving them an oportunity to use the silence to propose their offers)

O'Leary: Wow, that's pretty aggressive.

[Back and forth conversation]

Herjavec: (asks a fairly important question regarding the business's ability to sustain its success long-term)

Cuban: (continues from the opening Herjavec created)

[Cuban and Herjavec begin asking the difficult questions Lori correctly pointed out he would get asked]

Lori: (interrupts Herjavec, capitalizing on the opportunity to be the investor who "saves Christopher from the risk of losing an opportunity due to all these questions") You walked in here with a thought. And, Daymond and I both are not even asking you.

Herjavec: Well, let him answer it. Let him answer. I want to know what he says to that.

(...)

Lori: Hang on, I'm not minimizing him (negative sentence structure).

O'Leary: Do you want a charity donation or do you want to build a business? Which is it (frames Lori's offer as a "pity handout" and other potential offers as "serious business deals")?

Lori: That's ridiculous (tries to reject O'Leary's frame).

Christopher: I want someone that really believes in what we're doing (positive/high-quality frame: this isn't about the money, it's about the mission. And, I'm happy to walk away if you care about the money more than the mission).

[Daymond and Lori both express that they believe in the mission.]

Herjavec: How could you believe in it when you haven't even asked about the entire business and how it works ("change the meaning" frame control technique: you're not saying you believe in the mission, you're saying you believe in the business + sets frame that you need more information to wisely believe in the business)?

Daymond: (buys into Herjavec's frame and justifies his investment) Because, you know what? We'll figure it out, we'll take affordable next steps forward, we will call the other Roberts and Cubans in the world to give us advice if we need it.

[Lori and Daymond agree to invest together as partners.]

Lori: You have to make a decision now (principle of urgency + implied principle of scarcity).

Christopher: I'm gonna take your deal.

Some of the mistakes here:

  • "I haven't heard a whole lot...[and] I'm not even going to ask you, "How do we monetize this?": Lori frames herself as making an important decision without all of the necessary facts/information which creates the opening for the other sharks to frame her offer as "charity".
  • "Hang on, I'm not minimizing him": negative sentence structure leads to lower processing fluency. Therefore, the brain's immediate interpretation can be that minimizing Christopher is exactly what she's doing.
  • "Because you know what? We'll figure it out, we'll take affordable next steps forward...": Daymond buys into Herjavec's frame that a wise investor must believe in the business before believing in its mission. Lori doesn't reject that disempowering frame, but instead nods her head in agreement as she allows Daymond to speak for her. Unfortunately, Daymond's justifying also causes the "your offer is charity" frame to stick further.

What She Could've Done Differently:

Lori could've instead left out the "I haven't heard a whole lot." And, instead of saying, "Hang on, I'm not minimizing him," say, "Hang on, I believe in his mission and the work he's doing" (which is exactly what Christopher wanted to hear).

On the back and forth part, here were some of Lori's other options.

E.g.

Herjavec: How could you believe in it when you haven't even asked about the entire business and how it works ("change the meaning" frame control technique: you're not saying you believe in the mission, you're saying you believe in the business + sets frame that you need more information to wisely believe in the business)?

Lori: Well, maybe that's where there's some confusion. You're saying you don't believe in the business yet. And, that's OK. Right now, I'm saying I believe in the mission. And, I like to make the world a better place with my investments, so that's what I'm focused on right now (changes frame to "I don't care about an ROI right now, I'm the type of investor who cares about making a difference" and implies "maybe you're still asking questions because you're more concerned about profits than impact").

E.g.

Herjavec: How could you believe in it when you haven't even asked about the entire business and how it works?

Daymond: (buys into Herjavec's frame and justifies his investment) Because, you know what? We'll figure it out, we'll take affordable next steps forward, we will call the other Roberts and Cubans in the world to give us advice if we need it.

Lori: (looking at Christopher) Well, I have people in my network who are very successful in this area (implies "I don't need to figure anything out, I have access to connections who have already been there, done that and can take you to the next level) and (looks to Herjavec) simply because the information you've received isn't enough for you doesn't mean it's not enough for us. We're different people, who made it different ways, so it only makes sense we'd have different approaches to investing sometimes. (Looks back at Christopher) Christopher...

Mistake 2: Reacting Rather Than Responding

It's not easy to keep your cool when someone is attacking your credibility as an investor on Shark Tank.

When billionaire investors undermine your investing strategy because you seemingly gave an offer too soon (which can lead to less negotiating = less entertainment/ratings for the show), one might almost feel an obligation to defend themself. Not only to protect your reputation, but to stay a part of the cast.

Still, you have to resist the urge and do your best to respond from a place of professional social suave.

E.g.

Herjavec: You know, when I had nothing. And, I couldn't rub two pennies together. You know what I really hated? I hated when people wanted to give me a break because they felt bad for me.

Lori: (agree) Yeah, I feel the same way.

E.g.

Herjavec: You don't know how the backend engine works...

Daymond: (agree) Yeah, and if you needed to know, then it's unfortunate you didn't get the chance (implies "I didn't need that info."). But, I have a different philosophy when it comes to investing and a part of my strategy is investing in the leader (reframes away from the business and toward the head of the business).

E.g.

Herjavec: Lori, that is such crap.

Lori: (frame surfacing) Robert, how could you say something like that?

E.g.

Herjavec: We are not the charity tank.

Lori: I agree.

E.g.

Herjavec: Really? How does that work? How are you gonna grow that business? What's the execution plan?

Lori: (frame surfacing) Why are you asking that, Robert?

E.g.

O'Leary: He wasn't allowed to talk because you had to force $40k down his throat like a goose for pâté.

Lori: (take the "professional assertive" route) Kevin, I don't appreciate being spoken to that way. I respect your investing decisions and you don't have to agree with mine, but I ask that you respect them.

E.g.

Cuban: If you truly try to help the guy, what I want to do is ask him questions.

Lori: Asking questions is for when you need answers. And, personally, I got all the answers I needed to make my decision.

Once Herjavec leaves, her frame control seems to further solidify that her offer was an act of charity (even if that wasn't the case):

Feel free to let me know what you guys think below.

Lucio Buffalmano and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoBel

Yeah, she didn't come out of it looking good at all.

Many of your notes are solid.

She also needed to address a lot of basics, including mindsets.
It seemed like she was trying hard to be a power player, ended up annoying several on the show + looked like a terrible investor.

Ali Scarlett has reacted to this post.
Ali Scarlett
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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