The cutthroat world of business makes for great TV, as devoted viewers of NBC’s Shark Tank know. On the show, now in its eighth season, entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors, or Sharks, who don’t hesitate to ask tough questions of their would-be business partners.
Part of what makes Shark Tank such compelling Friday-night viewing is that it’s real. The Sharks — Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John and Robert Herjavec — put up their own money to invest in the fledgling businesses. True, the deals sometimes fall apart off camera, and other products flop, but a few runaway successes have also come out of the show. The Scrub Daddy, a reusable smiling sponge Shark Lori Greiner invested in, has done $50 million in sales. Robert Herjavec saw the potential in Tipsy Elves, a line of ugly Christmas sweaters that were later featured in The Night Before, starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Overall, the Sharks have invested more than $87 million in businesses featured on the show.
The Sharks are able to pick winners because they’ve each spent years building successful businesses of their own. “We have lots of cash; we’ve all come from different sectors; we’ve all run businesses,” O’Leary told Entrepreneur in 2012.
Those years of experience also mean the Sharks aren’t afraid to drop some hard truths on starry-eyed contestants. Watching people pitch quirky products is definitely part of the fun of watching Shark Tank, but the free advice on how to run a business, manage your career, and handle your finances almost makes watching TV educational. Though you may not always agree with them, there’s no doubt the Sharks have some provocative things to say about the stuff that makes the world go round. Here are 15 of their insights into money, how it works, and what it can do for you.
1. “Don’t cry about money. It never cries for you!” –– Kevin O’Leary
2. “Follow the green, not the dream.” — Mark Cuban
3. “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid having to work 40 hours a week.” – Lori Greiner
4. “If you don’t educate yourself, you’ll never get out of the starting block because you’ll spend all your money making foolish decisions.” – Daymond John
In 2014, John partnered with Regent University on an online business certificate program. He shared this quote explaining why he thought education was the key to financial success.
5. “Be risky at work. Be safe with your investments.” — Robert Herjavec
6. “The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” — Barbara Corcoran
7. “The road to riches is never straight and narrow. It can be riddled with financial land mines.” — Kevin O’Leary
8. “If you start a business and take out a loan, you’re a moron” – Mark Cuban
9. “If you’re emotional and you’re great at something, the money will follow.” — Robert Herjavec
10. “I knew I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was 18, but by the time I was 22, I was broke and serving shrimp at Red Lobster and I realized maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was.” – Daymond John
John shared this anecdote in an interview with Smart CEO magazine.
11. “I’m not trying to make friends. I’m trying to make money.” – Kevin O’Leary
O’Leary — aka “Mr. Wonderful” — isn’t exactly known for his fuzzy demeanor. He makes no secret that he sees business as a kill-or-be-killed competition, as he explained in an interview with Business Insider.
12. “No loan is free. The costs are in your loan somewhere, maybe rolled into the amount to be refinanced or even coming at a higher interest rate.” – Barbara Corcoran
Before she was a Shark, Corcoran owned the Corcoran Group, one of New York’s biggest real estate companies. In a 2010 article for Today Money, she reminded people that there are always strings attached when you borrow money.
13. “Here’s how I think of my money: As soldiers. I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them.” – Kevin O’Leary
14. “Past success is not always an indicator of future success” – Robert Herjavec
15. “I don’t care what anyone says. Being rich is a good thing.” – Mark Cuban
Cuban shared his provocative take on wealth in a 2011 blog post. He argued that making lots of money was patriotic, since rich people can create jobs that grow the economy and pay taxes that help to “support millions of Americans that are not as fortunate as you.”