'Shark Tank' Advice: Be Nice, Cultivate Optimism And Get Your Head Out Of The Clouds

Sarah Field

Mark Cuban is charismatic, smart, and rich -- and if you want to be like him, he's got some advice: Be nice. In a post last week on his personal blog, Cuban offered tips for business success, and the last is a blunt appeal for basic courtesy:

"People hate dealing with people who are jerks. It's always easier to be nice than to be a jerk. Don't be a jerk."

Given the diversity of personalities on Shark Tank, it's almost predictable that the sharks would have slightly different opinions on what makes a successful entrepreneur -- or what turns a start-up from a fledgling entity into a full-blown reputable company. Cuban's additional tips -- know how to sell, know your customer, know technology, re-imagine how things should be done, and ask if your solution is the path of least resistance for your user -- are all positive, actionable steps designed to help a businessperson move forward.

Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban's fellow Shark Tank judge and a similar tenacious but encouraging personality, had similar thoughts in an Entrepreneur piece published in April. Successful entrepreneurs, according to Corcoran, are optimistic about their business even when faced with negativity:

"You have to see everything as half-full even though everyone is saying you have nothing in your glass. You almost need to have a low IQ."

Logic can thwart the entrepreneur, according to Corcoran, and prevent people from moving forward. Leaping first, faking confidence when necessary, and confronting fears are her broad-based words of advice that could apply to a Shark Tank appearance, an everyday business owner, or someone trying to achieve goals in any industry.

But some Shark Tank judges are a bit less encouraging. Cuban and Corcoran's colleague, Kevin O'Leary, had a bit of a different take when he spoke with Fast Company last month. His tips for start-up success were to keep targets conservative and reachable, be willing to fire people, and keep the ultimate goal -- money -- in mind:

"I don't invest to make friends. I invest to make money. If you want a friend, buy a dog. I want the people that work with me to become wealthy and successful. I'm not a kumbaya guy. I don't need group hugs, I need performance."

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, O'Leary also told Fast Company he is at a point now where he does not have to do anything he doesn't want to, and that is the ultimate goal. Although his advice -- on Shark Tank and elsewhere -- is sometimes considered blunt and harsh, it may have positive intentions:

"[To be a successful venture capitalist] you need to have gone through the utter terror of getting started. I try to get my entrepreneurs to not make the mistakes that I've made in the past."

Business deals executed on television might not always end with a successful partnership, but advice from the Shark Tank leaves much food for thought for ambitious business owners.

[Image: Shark Tank/ABC]