It’s Shark Week, apparently. This is a thing in America, where everyone watches sharks on the telly and talks about sharks on Twitter. Maybe they also talk about it in person, in their American places, like Walmart. Great whites in Walmart. This proves it is American, because if it were English we would be talking about basking sharks in Boots. Anyway, until Sharkternships exists, we’re going to tangentially relate this to entrepreneurship, jobs, employment and skills we can learn. Because, frankly, we’ve all got a lot to learn from sharks. Maybe you’ll also learn some things about sharks.
1. Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Even pretending to be a shark is better than nothing, frankly. Is that duckling any less scared because he’s being chased by a cat on a hoover? No. The duckling believes himself to be chased by a shark. You are the cat on the Roomba. Everyone else is the duckling. They think you’re a shark. Be the shark.
2. Maintain A Strong Brand
About 450 million years ago, sharks decided to be sharks. We think. They may well be older than that. That is a very, very long time. For context, the very first human-ish things were bumbling about 4.5 million years ago. And they aren’t even very human. Sharks, on the other hand, are pretty recognisably sharks, for all that time. All teeth and scales and tiny eyes. They’ve got- yes- a strong brand. Everything has been frightened of sharks for the last 450,000,000 years. Well done sharks. Good strong branding.
3. Find Your Niche And Stick To It
Four hundred and fifty million years, you say? There’s a successful evolutionary niche filled. Four hundred and fifty million years ago, the proto-sharks saw a niche- for big, toothy, bitey things- and struck. And stuck. As we saw above, the shark brand has been sharky for ages, and it shows. Do we need anything else in that niche? No, because the shark has it sewn up. You be like that shark. You find your niche. You do you, for four hundred and fifty million years, AND COUNTING.
4. Ensure Everyone In Your Organisation Is On Brand
From those who deal in the darkest depths (developers) to those who venture into the shallows to seek out supper (people, if you’re a shark; sales, in business), you need to ensure that everybody in your company gets it, whatever it may be. Sharks get this. All those sharks know that their purpose is to swim about looking for things to eat, and having their eyes on the side of their big blunt heads, and make more sharks to look for more things to eat, and have their eyes on the sides of their heads. The sharks at the bottom have a contribution to that. The sharks at the top have a contribution to that. But they all know the target. They all know what they stand for. Look at that unified branding, right there.
(As an aside, I think this GIF may be from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Which, coincidentally, also has many valuable lessons for businesses. When’s Pirate Week, again?)
5. In The Vast Wastes Of The World, Probably There’s At Least One Tiny Thing Worth Going After
You know that thing about how sharks can smell a drop of blood in an ocean? That has to be you, looking for talent, and for ideas, and for things worth bothering with. The world is full of dreadful things. The world is full of tourists standing on both sides of escalators, and ready meals with insufficiently strong wrapping, and people who clip their nails in public, and murder, and All Bran, and rape. In this sea of misery, you must, sharklike, find the one thing worth bothering with. You must, sharklike, hunt out the one beautiful, perfect idea; the one beautiful, perfect team; the one beautiful, perfect startup. You must do this. You must be a shark, or die.
6. Stasis Is Death
Sharks die if they stop moving. So will you. Well, sort of. Yes, there are sharks that can stay still- whose niche, if you like, remains the same. But for most sharks- and most of us- stasis will be the death knell of our businesses. The shark moves with the sea. You move with the times. It’s basically the same thing. Keep moving. Just keep swimming.
7. The World Is Full Of Opportunity
The world, rather like this feeding frenzy, is full of fish. It’s also, and more relevantly, full of opportunities. Does the shark lie there and wait for the fish to swim to him? No, he does not. He goes out there, grim maw agape, and eats every single opportunity that swims past. Look at all those fish opportunities. Fipportunities.
8. “Move Fast And Break Things”
Yes, look, I know it’s DW and Arthur. It’s relevant, alright? The motto of Facebook is, famously, “move fast and break things”. See left? That’s DW and a shark, moving fast and breaking things, because that’s what sharks do. Take some risks- bring a shark into the sitting room, swim into the shallows- and sometimes you’ll succeed- eating someone! more sharks! business increase!- and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you’ll break the coffee table. So break it. Fix it. Be better.
9. You Are Not Invincible
You may, by this point, be feeling pretty good. You may be feeling pretty unstoppable, to be honest. Check out those gills. Check out these teeth. Check out these prehistoric jaws. And it’s at precisely this moment that you’re at your most vulnerable: yes, your very own Mr. T is going to come out of the water and smack you upside the head. Ain’t nobody got time for that, as the saying goes. So, what can you do to avoid this T-shaped calamity? Well, you can remember that there’s always going to be a Mr. T out there, in all kinds of shapes and sizes. You can stay alert. You can be prepared. You, like most sharks, can make sure that these unexpected punches are swiftly dispatched with your key product: a good, swift, toothy bite.
10. Be Unexpected. Be Unconventional. Be Different.
You know how, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the ocean…it wasn’t? It’s not safe to swim in the pool, either. Even if you’re an Olympian. Because sharks are tricksy. Sharks are wild. Sharks are where you least expect them. Sharks wangle themselves and their munchy business into every arena of life- and as a result, their core business is as strong today as it ever was. Well done, sharks. Hooray sharks.