Know your numbers and have a business plan. Make sure your numbers make sense to the listener. My numbers made sense to me, but they did not portray how successful my business was. The way I presented the numbers hurt my presentation.
As a part of my series about the ‘5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Lori Lite, the founder of Stress Free Kids. Lori is the author of twelve books and has titles published with Simon & Schuster and Scholastic. Lori’s entrepreneurial and networking skills propelled her into an opportunity of a lifetime as one of the first contestants on Shark Tank. Lori has been awarded numerous accolades to include being ranked as a Top 5% Social Media Influencer and Top 100 Parenting Experts to follow on Twitter. Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm is a gold medal Mom’s Choice award winner. Lori has worked with notable media outlets such as CBS News, The New York Times, CNN Living, Family Circle, WebMD, Thrive Global, Real Simple, and Parenting Magazine. Lori is also the Manager of Marketing and Communications for Actualize Consulting, a financial services consulting firm.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about how you grew up?
I grew up in a small neighborhood located on the ocean in Brooklyn, NY. My summers were filled with swimming, pretending to be shipwrecked, and many hours looking for crabs. Some of my best memories are of my brothers transporting me across the canal on a small raft so that I could meet up with my friends.
Can you share with us the story of the “aha moment” that gave you the idea to start your company?
My “aha moment” came when my husband Rick Lite suggested that I write down the story he heard me sharing with my children. I was using diaphragmatic breathing exercises to help reduce stress, and I wondered if the same breathing technique could help my children fall asleep. I created a story with a boy showing a bear how to slow down and focus on breathing. Rick said, “You need to write that story down. It could help thousands of parents and children.” I sat down that very night and wrote my first story.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
After much resistance, I embraced Twitter as part of my Stress Free Kids spokesperson and marketing strategies. To my surprise, I fell in love with the platform and the people I met. Incredible opportunities came my way via Twitter. Thanks to Twitter, Scholastic Inc. approached me to write an original story for them. I am still fascinated by the power of social media.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting?
When I first started using Twitter, I joined a few chats that used specific chat group hashtags. I thought that since they were generous enough to include me in their group, I would return the favor. I started adding #sharktank onto the tweets. The leader of the group was angered by this and sent me a few harsh private messages. I was confused and upset that my actions were misinterpreted. Once I started to understand Twitter etiquette, I realized how funny the whole situation was.
Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
I learned that much is lost in translation when it comes to tweeting, texting, and emails.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on a Stress Free Kids Seal of Approval offering aimed at helping authors gain exposure and credibility. A book that carries our seal will tell parents and educators that they can be confident with their purchase and know that the book has a message that is intended to help children. Rick and I have met so many dedicated and talented authors through my husband’s publishing and marketing business. The seal of approval is another avenue where we can share our experience and success with others.
Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now move to the main part of our interview. Many of us have no idea about the backend process of how to apply and get accepted to be on the Shark Tank. Can you tell us the story about how you applied and got accepted. What “hoops” did you have to go through to get there? How did it feel to be accepted?
I received an email from a friend about an anonymous posting on Facebook looking for mom entrepreneurs for a new television show. The Facebook post gave an email address for casting. I thought about it for five days, and then I decided to send them an email.
I received an email response that same day with a few additional questions and releases attached for me to sign. Next, I fielded a phone call from casting, where they asked me to tell them about my business. I realized that this was an audition of sorts, and I gave them my passionate elevator pitch. I treated this and every subsequent phone call I received as though it was my once in a lifetime opportunity to convince the listener.
Next, I was asked to create and send them a 5-minute video. ABC provided the questions I needed to answer in the video.
The next step was going to California, where I had yet another hoop to jump through. I had to pitch to a group of about 12 people to see if I would get through to filming day. I made the cut. I remember not putting makeup on for the pitch and talking about it to someone I ran into in the elevator on the way to the meeting. I realized later that I was talking to Clay Newbill, one of the producers. I knew that my segment could be cut right up to airtime. The reality of feeling accepted hit me the night I saw Stress Free Kids on the air. It was an exhilarating moment.
I’m sure the actual presentation was pretty nerve wracking. What did you do to calm and steel yourself to do such a great job on the show?
I prepared and studied my pitch until I could recite it in my sleep. I wanted to make sure that if I was interrupted, I could continue without getting flustered. While I was waiting to walk onto the set of Shark Tank, I employed all of the techniques I teach children in my books. I used positive statements, just like my dolphin in Affirmation Weaver. I applied the same visualization techniques I write about in Bubble Riding and A Boy and a Turtle. I focused on diaphragmatic breathing, like the characters in Sea Otter Cove. It was an opportunity for me to show my audience that the techniques work. My favorite moment was when the sharks asked me to read from Angry Octopus. The sharks followed the story along and said ahhhh…. to release stress. That ahhh… moment helped me to calm down the most.
So what was the outcome of your Shark Tank pitch. Were you pleased with the outcome?
I am pleased with the outcome. It was an experience of a lifetime, and it is an honor to be part of the Shark Tank alumni community. I was offered three deals on the air and I accepted Barbara Corcoran’s offer. Ultimately, we did not activate the deal we struck, but the exposure was tremendous.
What are your “5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank”?
1. Know your numbers and have a business plan. Make sure your numbers make sense to the listener. My numbers made sense to me, but they did not portray how successful my business was. The way I presented the numbers hurt my presentation.
2. Surround yourself with positive people that believe in you. As an entrepreneur, you need a ton of energy and enthusiasm to take your idea and turn it into a business. Positivity helps keep your energized.
3. Outsource and hire people to help you grow. Now I know that I can’t be the expert in all areas of my business. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be willing to admit it.
4. Be prepared. Passion will get you in the door, but passion needs to be backed up with detailed information.
5. Exposure adds credibility. After I was on Shark Tank, I was suddenly a sought-after parenting expert. Put content out there to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive and avoid burnout? Encourage and support your people to have balance. There needs to be time on and time off. Introduce your team to stress management techniques.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I dream of a world where all children are safe, loved, and stress free.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This quote is empowering. It tells me that what I do is different from everyone else. I am inspired to keep writing and building. “Sing the song that only you can sing, write the book that only you can write, build the product that only you can build… live the life that only you can live.” — Naval Ravikant
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to connect with Marcus Lemonis. He is a brilliant businessman and a compassionate human. Marcus cares deeply about helping entrepreneurs and humanity. His branding expertise is unsurpassed. Marcus would love what Stress Free Kids is doing for children, and he could help my business reach a new level.