How To Pursue Your Dream & Make a Living As An Artist with Derek Hough

Text "GREATNESS" to Lewis at 614-350-3960


Sara Blakely, Kevin Harrington, Daymond John, Matt Higgins, and Barbara Corcoran

Take Your Business to a New Level with the Shark Tank Masters


What makes one business succeed and another fail?

The most important element is the entrepreneur.

If you watch the show Shark Tank, you know that people get investments from sharks just by being a passionate salesperson.

It’s about going all in.

So how can we ensure that what we put our time and money into will be unstoppable? We have to learn from the people who are at the top of their game.

On today’s episode of The School of Greatness, I’ve combined great advice from past conversations with five Shark Tank masters: Barbara Corcoran, Matt Higgins, Daymond John, Sara Blakely, and Kevin Harrington.

“I heard the word “no” for two years.” - Sara Blakely @Spanx  

Shark Tank is a critically acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning reality show on ABC. Now on its 10th season, Shark Tank continues to inspire a nation to dream bigger and has offered more than $100 million in deals to entrepreneurs.

These investors come from some of the top companies in the world. They started from nothing and made their dreams come true.

So get ready to learn how to get your business off the ground and make it a force to be reckoned with on Episode 773.

“Playing small is the best way to ensure that you won’t ever achieve big dreams.” @mhiggins  

Some Questions I Ask:

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The hardest part of getting Spanx off the ground (8:00)
  • How Kevin Harrington’s business model has evolved since Shark Tank (15:00)
  • The big things people taught Daymond John about mastering his skills (25:00)
  • What to do when you go all in but fail (29:00)
  • What to do with the profit you make in your business (30:59)
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis: This is episode number 773 with the shark tank masters. Welcome to the school of greatness my name is Lewis Howes, a former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today now let the class begin.

Theodore Isaac Rubens said “Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.”

Welcome to this special edition with the shark tanks master. Now, if you’re an entrepreneur or if you just like the show shark tank we’ve had a number of the sharks on this podcast on the school of greatness, and they’ve been some of our biggest interviews, some of the most inspiring stories coming from entrepreneurs who had nothing, who’ve been through so many extreme challenges in their life, and yet they went on to become billionaires and famous investors, successful entrepreneurs and they’ve got on shark tank to share their stories and help other young entrepreneurs grow their businesses and brand.

In this interview we’ve got Sarah Blakely who is an American billionaire, a businesswoman and founder of spanx, one of time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world. We’ve got Kevin Harrington who’s an entrepreneur and business executive, he’s the founder of as seen on TV, he’s been on shark tank. And massive keynote speaker we’ve got Daymond John my friend who is best-selling author, inventor, investor, and motivational speaker. We’ve got Matt Higgins who is co-founder and CEO of RSE ventures and private investor firm that focuses on sports and entertainment, media marketing food and lifestyle and technology. And we’ve got Barbara Corcoran who’s an investor, speaker consultant and massive TV personality. Her career began in the 70’s with real estate and just blew up in the NYC real estate industry.

In this episode we talked about what the hardest part of getting a company off the ground for entrepreneur, how to evolve your business model and reinvent. This is something that keeps coming up for me as in the industry of social media and digital marketing and people’s attention span constantly getting smaller and smaller. How we reinvent to build businesses? How to continue to master your skills in sales and marketing and branding? What to do when you go all in and you fail? And what to do with profit when you make it in your business? How do you spend your money so that you grow and protect yourself? A powerful episode, make sure to share with your friends and let me know @lewishowes on Instagram what you think when you’re sharing it out.

Before we dive in a big thank you to our sponsor today lending club. Now, life is crazy there’s never enough time and too many thing to keep track off and it’s hard to juggle all the bills and make sure you pay more than the minimum on your credit cards. I know this because I used to have 3 credit cards that was constantly paying off about 8-9 years ago and was stressed with this high interest rates. With lending club you can consolidate your debt or pay off credit cards with one fixed monthly payment, since 2007 lending club has helped millions of people regain control of their finances with an affordable fixed rate personal loans. So, there’s no trips to bank, no high interest credit cards anymore you just go to tell them about yourself and how much you want to borrow, pick the terms that are right for you and if approve your loan is automatically deposited into your bank account in as little as a few days. And lending club is the number 1 peer to peer lending platform with over 35 billion dollars in loans issued. You can go to right now, check your rates and minutes and borrow up to 40,000 dollars. That’s all loans are made by web bank member FDIC housing lender.

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Again a big thank you to our sponsors and I am so excited with this episode with the one and only shark tank masters.

Did you wake up every morning and say “this is my dream.”

Sarah: No. So, what happened was a lot of people think that spanx started when I cut the feet out my pantyhose, but actually it started long before that. It started when I was selling fax machine door and door and getting my business car ripped up in my face, being escorted out of buildings all day every day, I woke up one day and just thought “I’m in the wrong movie, this is not my life.” And I got a piece of paper and I wrote down what I’m good at and the only thing in the good column was sales and I thought ‘what am I gonna do with that?’ And I ended up writing in my journal I’m going to invent a product and sell it to millions of people that will make them feel good and then I asked the universe for idea and I was very specific, and it took 2 years and I only cut the feet out of my pantyhose one time and I was not gonna squander any idea that the universe gave me because I really asked for it. And then the minute I cut the feet out I started trying to make it, I started looking up manufactures on the internet.

Lewis: How did you find a manufacture that time?

Sarah: A website called and list all the manufacturers and country based on category and that’s when I found out that a lot of hosiery and undergarments are being made in North Carolina.

Lewis: Really? So got local?

Sarah: Yeah. So, I called and called and no one would take my call they either hang up on me or say they weren’t interested. So, I took a week off of work and drove around in person.

Lewis: And just showed up?

Sarah: I just showed up.

Lewis: Sample? Because if they weren’t gonna order something they probably like they’re not gonna do sample for you.

Sarah: Right. I showed up with my lucky red backpack from college always with me.

Lewis: You still have it?

Sarah: Of course. So, anyway I went into the manufacturing plants and they asked me the same 3 questions and you are? And you’re with? And you’re financially backed by? I said Sarah Blakely. So you can imagine how those went, he’s like “Well, have a nice day and good luck.” And about few weeks after I made all those rounds I got a call from a guy from North Carolina who had pity and me and said “Sarah, I have decided to make your crazy idea.”

Lewis: Amazing, so he called you back and you didn’t follow up with this people?

Sarah: I was following up but to no avail.

Lewis: But he was following up and said “We’ll give it a shot?” So what was the next step or was he just making a sample for you?

Sarah: So it just set up to make the garment while I was making it with his manufacturing plant, I was also wanting to patent the idea and I was also trying to come up with the name for the invention. So, I was doing those 3 things simultaneously driving up on the weekends and working in the back of a manufacturing plant that I become very close with.

Lewis: Driving from North Carolina to Florida?

Sarah: From Atlanta I was living in Atlanta at the time. Ted became my buddy and I went to get it patented, but all the patent lawyers want between 3 and 5,000 dollars and I have 5,000 dollars set aside to do this. So, I wrote my own patent and I bought a book called patents and trademarks and I wrote the patent and called one of the patent lawyers that was the nicest to me. He needed to do the legal part and so he did, he actually admitted to me that when I came to him he thought I was sent by [?], which let me put in your words, he thought he was being punk.

Lewis: Of course.

Sarah: Yeah, he thought he was being punk and he thought that his friends were playing a joke. So, anyway he did that then at the same time I am trying to think of the name I had horrible names written on scrap pieces of paper all over the place in my apartment, car and rental cars. You want to hear how bad the runner up name to spanx? Open toad Delilah.

Lewis: No way, I can’t believe that was even an option.

Sarah: It was a runner up like how bad is that.

Lewis: What does spank stand for?

Sarah: It’s all about the butt. At the time, listen now it’s become a household name but when I first invented it I would call people and say “Hi, I am Sarah from spanx” they would hang up.

Lewis: They probably thought it was porn.

Sarah: Yeah, they thought I was pranking them. I had department stores in the country that wouldn’t sell it and my mom sent her whole [?] into the wrong website I first started, I was like”mom it’s super important it’s with an x.” So, anyway I had the word spanx from a man who’s said he was from the porn industry.

Lewis: With an x.

Sarah: So, anyway named it spanx it came to me because I narrowed down my thinking, I knew that Kodak and Coca Cola were the 2 most recognized names in the world at the time and I thought what do they have in common? I like to think about words and phrases a lot. They both have a strong K sound in them and the man that created Kodak likes the k sound so much and put k in the beginning and the end of the word and played with letters in the alphabet. So and I also had a bunch of friends who did stand-up comedy and it’s this weird secret among the comedians that the k sound will make your audience laugh. So, okay I want my product name to have K sound in it for good luck and literally spanx came along my dashboard and my mind and I pull off the side of the road and I wrote it down. I went home that night I typed it on my computer for $150 on my credit card and at the last second a backspace the k and the s and put in on x.

Lewis: So it was an accident?

Sarah: No, I backspace because I stared at it for a while and had done research and made up words and they are easy to trademark. So then I had the name and I had the patent in the works, got my prototype and my patent lawyer “Sarah, I need to know what’s in this garment in order to write the patent.” I said “Okay, no problem we’ll call Ted.” And I’m like “Ted, can you talk to my patent lawyer.” So, we’re all talking and he goes ‘can you tell him what’s in it?’ its 70% nylon and 30% lacquer. So, I’m taking notes and my patent lawyer is taking notes and that night I could not sleep I’m up all night and the next morning I wake up and like “How is there lacquer in this product?”

Lewis: What is lacquer?

Sarah: Like paint or something.

Lewis: Okay, 30% paint?

Sarah: I called Ted and said can you spell lacquer? Lycra. My patent lawyer was laughing.

Lewis: So what is a challenge to get it? Did you get it the first try? The patent.

Sarah: I did.

Lewis: Wow, it usually takes a few turns doesn’t it?

Sarah: I got the patent the first try and I got the trademark names spanx.

Lewis: Amazing. So didn’t seem like there was that many challenges once you submitted it or whatever, you kind of got the things you need in place and was it a lot of challenge after that?

Sarah: That was a really hard part, I heard the word ‘no’ for 2 years, all the manufacturers nobody thought it was a good idea and also when you’re just yourself trying to break into industry like you mentioned the manufacturers it’s not really in their best interest to slow down machine or try to give a girl a couple of grand/chance.

Lewis: Unless you give them a bunch of money for a big order or something.

Sarah: Right.

Lewis: What’s the proven model that everyone needs, whether it’s gonna be a mega hit or maybe it’s not gonna work but it needs either way?

Kevin: My business model coming of shark tank is, people seen you on shark tank and they’re like ‘what do people really want when they go on shark tank?’ They want money but then they, people would come to me off of the show and like email and say “Look, I do want money and I need money but if I could just do a deal with you maybe we can go raise money together.” So, that’s sort of my new model over the last about 4 or 5 years. What I do is I take strategic kind of advisory positions, board positions public companies as well as startups. So, that really have been fun because I’ve got equity and a little company that started at 10 cents a share, is now 3 dollars and 60 cents and you know what could be so bad to get a lot of shares and those kind of deals right? So, I have 10’s of millions of shares of public companies, you know I think Tim Ferriss is kind of doing this kind of stuff. Get in on the ground floor and take a look at little equity and open up roll of and all of that. So, I really love and I’ll bring some capital to the table if it’s needed, but if somebody is like “Hey, I need a million dollars.” I can’t just fund every deal that needs a million dollars because eventually you’ll run out of money.

Lewis: Exactly.

Kevin: You know. I’m married now twice and my new wife we’ve been together 14 years so that’s new because I have a 28 year old son from my marriage and 19 year old boy, but she’s like “You can’t be everything to everybody.” So you kind of have to pick and choose and focus on the winners with the winning people, the winning business. The [?] TV businesses they’re in a middle of disruption because it’s no secret there’s a lot less people watching TV today than there was 5 years ago, in fact it’s 50% less than it was 10 years ago.

Lewis: Because everyone is online.

Kevin: Yeah, they’re online. My 19 year old started college went over got his apartment for him and the furniture is being delivered, the cable guy shows up and I said “What cable package did you get Nick?” and he said “Sorry to tell you dad he’s just putting in internet. I don’t want TV.” And I’m like “How do you think we’re paying for your college education?” You to have at least basic channels, I need to be able to watch some shows when I’m at your place. So, we got him the cable but I mean I was almost, he knew he was gonna offend me by not getting something but he wasn’t telling me till I got there. So, kids don’t watch TV like, I mean I used to in the very beginning I had 5 channels then I got the 30 channel package and that’s how I created this whole infomercial space. One day I’m watching TV and the screen went dark and put bars up and that was discovery channel, it was dark for 6 hours with bars on the screen and I said “Discovery for the first 5 years of its existence was an 18 hour day network” and I bought the 6 hours nationwide from discovery.

Lewis: That’s amazing.

Kevin: Back in the mid 80’s and by the way we paid them a thousand dollars a day for 6 hours and that’s 365,000 dollars a year and that was generating 10’s of millions of dollars in sales.

Lewis: That was a great media buy.

Kevin: That was extremely good media buy and that was the early days. And then when that contract expired that time block went from 365, it was a multi-year contract for 28 million dollars.

Lewis: 3 years for thousand bucks a day?

Kevin: Yeah and it went for 28 million because it was generating 10’s of millions of dollars in sales. So that’s when I said I got to go to Europe, I got to Asia and start picking up all these downtime. So, we went to Europe and Latin America.

Lewis: Just bought it all up?

Kevin: Every place we could sign long term contracts.

Lewis: And how much the media right now?

Kevin: It’s outrageous, I mean discovery what we were buying for a thousand a day they have slots to go for 20,000 dollars for 30 minutes now.

Lewis: Is it worth it to buy this media?

Kevin: It’s becoming very difficult to make money off of it, but our strategy changed.

Lewis: Just like a billboard.

Kevin: Just like a billboard but what we had to do is tie it into Amazon and social media. And so anymore today if you go on TV you’re not gonna make money. You got to go on TV and then have all the other elements around it ready to go and then also pricing protected because what do most people do now, they’ve seen it on TV they actually go online to see if they could find it cheaper and then there’s knock off guys that actually take out. So it’s a cutthroat business and we drive other people sales with TV for sure, and in fact you know like I said when there’s 20 resellers of that of hair growing helmet on Amazon we had to clean them up because why am I gonna go on TV and drive their sales?

Lewis: No.

Kevin: No, can’t afford it. So, it’s a more sophisticated business today.

Lewis: But you’re still active and aggressively buying media on TV?

Kevin: Yes.

Lewis: Even today 30 years later?

Kevin: Absolutely. But we start on social media actually we start on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram or what other social media channels. We call it test before we invest.

Lewis: I want to take a quick moment from this episode of shark tanks masters and talk about bench. Now, life in business needs financial organization, it’s a time of year to really defer to the experts and free yourself up to focus on business and your life, and that’s why bench is the online bookkeeping service for your business. They give you a team of bookkeepers to do your books and simple elegant software to track your financials. This is key you want to have financial freedom and peace of mind and every month your bench bookkeeping team turns your data into tax ready financial statement. Guys this is key you can monitor your business’s financial health, download your financial statements and chat with your bookkeeping team at any time via the bench app. With thousands of entrepreneurs trusting bench to do their books they are America’s largest bookkeeping service for small businesses. Features include accurate bookkeeping done for you by a team of professionals, visual reports can instant snapshot of your business’s financial health, and you get top 10 reports in profits and loss report, 24/7 access to support and bank grade security. You get total peace of mind knowing that your books are on time and tax ready every single month. You save time because entrepreneurs who use bench save an average of 8+ hours each month and there’s less administrative stress. No more dealing with this stuff yourself guys. Bench it’s bookkeeping done for you and right now school of greatness listeners get 20% off their first 6 months of bookkeeping. Go to to get 20% off your first 6 months of bookkeeping.

Daymond: I really kind of mentality said to myself I’ll get to know my daughters when they’re 10 or 15 years old because there is no time now, I have to be in Asia for 6 months at a time, I have to be doing this and that and I question if it was the smartest move to do but I said to myself you know what if I was a sanitation work I would still or nothing wrong with that but if I work a city job I would still overtime I could, because I need to be able to provide for them. And now you know I have my beautiful 2 year old and it’s a different way of life now and going back to this. Now my theory is how much love can I give to this little being because it has change, because now obviously in my life I am in a better place and I have the opportunity to be able to give as much love as I can to her, not that I don’t give as much love to my other daughter because they’re my driving force as well.

Lewis: So do you feel like you have a little more balance now? You’re working just as hard but you feel like you take that time.

Daymond: I do but that’s exactly how the theory for the book came around.

Lewis: Because I don’t see you slowing down really.

Daymond: Right so what was happening was I looked at you know I’m going on 9 years at shark tank, I have hundreds of companies I worked with and or deal with and I am investing in a bunch of them. I have a 2 year old, I have work life balance I want to get home to my lady, I want to do the thing I want to do you know. But how do I do it? And I would go into speak to other people that I respect and I would say “What’s the tricks or techniques you do to have work life balance?” They all told me the same exact thing but in different forms, and I started to notice that I can improve in certain areas. Again, like you and I talking about but there is no one area of success or mastery you go, you can be somebody who’s a master of jujitsu or karate or something like that and you know at 40 years old or 25 years old you’re a certain master, but at 80 years old you don’t have the same muscle retention or the same speed so you got to learn to master the different way. Kind of like when Ali got out of jail and strip him out of his prime, he had to learn the rope and dope to beat George Forman and he had to fight a different way.

Lewis: Not just sit in a puck and grind it all day.

Daymond: You can’t do that. So, I had to start figuring out how to master my grind today because the Daymond John at 48 years old is not the grind that the Daymond John at 28 years old. And I learned all these technique from the book and from asking these people.

Lewis: So what are the big things that people taught you then?

Daymond: So the theory in the book is I study these 15 subjects in there and they have a success from all various ways of life, whether it’s Santa or Tyler the award winning kid or our buddy [?].

Lewis: One of the most inspiring guys ever.

Daymond: I mean he made me feel like an absolute loser right. And they all told me the same thing but they told me in different ways and different formulas and what I found the take away is that everybody is extremely selfish. All successful people are extremely selfish in a very good away. Like Chris Act always says you know and a lot of these people here will not answer any emails the first hour of the day because they believe that you give up all your power if you’re answering everybody else’s problem when you wake up, they’ll send out emails and like Chris Act always says his inbox is his defense and outbox is his offense. They won’t look at Instagram when they first wake up or anything else because they don’t want to hear about how everybody else on the gram is looking beautiful.

Lewis: What would you say to anyone who’s been playing small when they maybe think they’re playing big? They’re listening and watching right now but you know they’re capable for more, what advise do you have?

Matt: I would say take that boulder that you’re chain to instead behind you and throw it in front of you, let it pull you forward. Playing small is the best way to ensure that you won’t ever achieve big dreams, like you have to don’t get comfortable where you are standing right now get uncomfortable right away and press ahead, because you probably know inside yourself that you have more to give this world and it’s gonna haunt you one day when you look back. So, I do think there’s something to be said for spending a little time look around and asses yourself, but quickly move off the dime and press ahead. In fact, my biggest regrets in business have been the times I played small.

Lewis: Really?

Matt: Yeah, it’s true like I don’t regret the misses and because I understand why I did them, I don’t understand why I played small. There’s no great excuse in playing small in retrospect.

Lewis: What do you mean playing small? Is that like I made a small investment where I could have gone bigger?

Matt: Exactly. I think small for me looks like I know I’m right, I’m nervous about optics I’m nervous about being judge for being wrong just in case or I’m insecure. Now, I haven’t made a lot of those but those are the ones that I regret, because and this is my partner’s point when you have winner and you know it those are hard to come by go all in. And the spray and play is nonsense, for me it is a playground who want to hitch all day long and afraid to be wrong. So, I think when you have a winner in your hands it doesn’t matter if anybody else knows you got to press it and that’s my biggest regrets.

Lewis: Now what happens if you press it and go all in big and then you lose and you lose all your money and time and energy?

Matt: Those are painful but what I say is when you dissect it and you put the patient on the table and you started to do your postmortem, you will quickly find out the thing you missed and the thing you missed is usually related to some misalignment in your character or personality, like there was some you were worried about the downside, you were worried about acknowledging that they needed to pivot and didn’t confront the CEO because you didn’t want to offend like. I have not had a situation like that where I was not able to dissect. That’s what’s great about life we’re all playing the same patterns, maybe there are like 7. So, if you spend enough time you could dissect it. So, I’d rather gone all in and be wrong than not go all in on the winners because you don’t get many winners.

Lewis: Big winners you might get small but the big ones how many of those for years are the big winners.

Matt: For one you have to make so many deals to spot a winner.

Lewis: I’m curious you talked about the 1st year you made 40,000 dollars I think you said.

Barbara: 47 I think.

Lewis: 47. If someone is an entrepreneur right now, let’s just say they have their biggest year ever and they have a bunch of cash later on. What should they do with that extra money? How should they reinvest it to continue to grow?

Barbara: 2 things I thought of right away: Number 1 they shouldn’t have that money, if you’re really serious about building a business you put in pedal to the metal. So the idea like I made a mistake that one year I had a profit, I mean I made some good of it of course but you should really have any money coming in over aggressively, targeted towards something that you do well and I think the best place to put the money and I worked with all my entrepreneurs all the time with this, most people want to put the money in on a new idea or a new version. The best place to put the money is what has worked, where you have gotten the sales. That’s where you put your money all it until it stops working and then you move to something else. But people don’t do that, people like the new stuff.

Lewis: Right, showing up and stuff.

Barbara: Whatever has worked for you before keep repeating and I just think the money shouldn’t be there the first place. Do you know my whole life I open offices much bigger than I had any business doing, if the minute I had sales in a company and started seeing that we’re doing well and I start smelling a profit like we might get a profit I was out looking for office space. If I think I needed 18 desks I go out and look for 36, because I found that when you threw the money onto your in advance you find a way to make it work, if you wait till the time is right wait till you have the profit guess what there’s a smarter guy out there that’s already putting and he’s already ahead of you. And such a quick market when you’re competing.

Lewis: So invest it back in the things that worked before for you until it doesn’t work anymore.

Barbara: And more than you think you can handle because human beings are talented especially entrepreneurs are remarkable on making things work when the guns is against their head and they’re under fire, but give them a lot of leeway and have them plot out, it’s really not healthy for a business.

Lewis: It’s that pressure that allows you to have more urgency and can make it happen.

Barbara: Well you’re a football player did you play better in a game or practice?

Lewis: Game. Okay you said there were 2 things.

Barbara: 2 things that I wanted to say was you shouldn’t have the money, it should be spent way in advance and the 2nd thing is spend it on stuff that’s worth before.

Lewis: There you have it my friends I hope you enjoyed this episode with the shark tank masters. If you’re looking to build your business and start your entrepreneur dream or just get a side hustle off the ground then this is the episode for you and if you know someone, if you got a friend who’s a business owner, a coach, a consultant or starting to get a side hustle idea off the ground, send them this episode right now

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I am so excited about this episode and all the interviews we did here in the shark tank masher mashup and we’ve got some big guest coming up guys. Leave us a review the more reviews we get the more people learn about the message of greatness and we can spread this message far and wide. Very excited about everything we are doing as a community and a movement together on the school of greatness and as Theodore Isaac Rubens said “Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” There is no easy path to building your brand and building your business and building financial freedom. There’s no simple, easy path as you saw from all these entrepreneurs on shark tank. They’ve all gone through different challenges and adversities along the way, it’s the afterglow of satisfaction that comes once you take on the difficult task, and it is part of the journey and the ups and downs. Life will be boring if it’s always easy getting to the top. Find fulfillment in the path, find fulfillment in the journey and in those little moments every single day find the little moments of victories that you can celebrate and keep moving forward. As always I love you all so very much and you know what time it is, it’s time to go out there and do something great.

Music Credits:

Music Credit:

Canvai – Sunset

Hubba & Amanu – Moso

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