Sharing Your Ideas as a Leader – In or Out of the Shark Tank

Have you ever watched the ABC show "Shark Tank”, where entrepreneurs present their business ideas to a panel of tough businesspeople (aka “sharks”) to earn their financial backing? And have you ever wondered what sharing your ideas in that setting would be like? I got to serve as one of the "sharks" during a recent YPF event inspired by the show. The group YPF teaches entrepreneurship to the teens of the Boys & Girls Club of East Dallas. Four teams of students developed business ideas down to the business case, financial projections, and marketing tactics. Each team pitched their ideas to panel of strong business leaders who fired questions at them and challenged them to think about what else they need to successfully launch their startup. As one of the "sharks" on the panel, I was excited to help these young entrepreneurs learn from my questions and feedback.

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Congratulations to the winning team, Sara Mike and Amber Lopez. Through this experience, all of the teens developed critical leadership skills that they'll use throughout their careers — skills you also need if you want to make a difference by sharing your ideas and creativity:

  • Bringing your idea to life for others.Having a great idea is only the beginning. To get others on board with your idea, you have to help them visualize the idea and the problem that it solves as clearly as you do. Help them understand how your idea would work and the benefits it offers from their perspective. This is a key strategy in influencing others.

  • Tapping into others’ expertise and experience.Chances are pretty high that you alone don't have all the perspective you need to fully develop your idea. Asking a few questions of people with diverse backgrounds can go a long way. How would others be affected if you brought your idea to life? How would they use your idea? What would make it work for them? What would make it a nonstarter? Get some outside perspectives to test and refine what you have developed.

  • Knowing how good is good enough.It's easy to get hung up on trying to perfect the details about your idea before you share it with the world. It may never feel totally "done" to you, but if you take the time to follow the first two tips, it may be "done" enough to take flight.

This week, draw some inspiration from these entrepreneurial teens. Think about how to refine and share your ideas with more impact. What can you do to help others see the benefits of your idea? Whose feedback and perspective could help you fine-tune your idea? Who knows — maybe we’ll see you in the real “Shark Tank” someday!