7 Lessons From You Don’t Have to Be a Shark


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I decided to start reviewing the books that I have read so I can share the lessons learnt with you and also as my notes.

I read books related to personal finances, investing, self-development and anything in between. If you have any book suggestions, do share in the comment section below.

Today, I’ll be reviewing “You Don’t Have To Be A Shark” by Robert Herjavec. Robert Herjavec is, of course, one of the “shark” from the US TV show, “Shark Tank”. 


About The Book…

You Don’t Have to Be A Sharks main ideas are that you don’t have to be aggressive and brash if you want to succeed in business and sales. The business world is often portrayed as this cutthroat world with a lot of backstabbing and taking advantage of the weak. To be honest, I used to think like that too but that is not entirely true, as told by Robert in this book.

As seen in Shark Tank, Robert is a successful businessman, a “nice guy” and loved by the viewers. He has developed an honest and genuine approach to life and selling which set him apart and that made him millions of dollars.

Below are 7 takeaways from You Don’t Have To Be A Shark:


7 Lessons From You Don’t Have To Be A Shark:

A shark lessons


1. The Art of Selling

Selling is an essential part of our lives. From selling a product to customers to selling an idea to colleagues to selling yourself to potential employers, we are constantly involved in selling whether we realised it or not.

Selling is an art which involves building relationships and making connections with your customers. The selling starts as soon as you identify your customer’s wants and needs.

Robert’s first job out of college was as a debt-collector agent. He has to call a list of people, his “clients” who owe a sum of money to third party companies and persuade them to pay their debts. An “Ah-Long” of some sorts, minus the violence.

In his first day, he only managed to collect a small amount of money and was ready to give up. However, that night, Robert think about the basics of the business and what it was really all about: making sales. He is essentially selling to his clients, the idea of paying their debt — even just a portion of it.

And like all selling, Robert started to establish connections with his “clients” and try to understand their circumstances. Eventually, he managed to gain their trust enough by siding with them, turning the story from him vs his clients to him and his client vs the companies.

After 6 months, Robert set a record debt collection in his agency and ready to move on to a new job. Badass!


2. The 80/20 Rule

During his time at the debt collection agency, Robert observed that only 80% of the people in his call list will pay their debts; either in full or partially. Using this information, he narrows down the people which is in the 80% by asking them questions and listening to their reply. This way, he only focuses his time on the 80% and ignores the 20%. This is what Robert called the 80% Rule.

His 80% rule is, of course, is universally known as the 80/20 Rule or The Pareto Principle. The 80/20 Rule stated that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes. We observed this all around us in our daily lives such as some people seems to study less but achieve the highest results.

It is important to identify the 20% which can give 80% of your desired results early on and redirect most of your time and effort there instead of the other 80%. 

W can apply this concept to personal finances. If you are aiming to have more money by the end of the month, stop cutting back on the RM 2 or RM 3 on your lunch. Instead, focus on the 20% which can deliver 80% of your desired results such as increasing your salary or starting a side business.


3. 5 Things Every Salesperson Needs to Know

Almost everyone can learn and apply the basic rules of successful selling.  Good salespeople can establish and maintain relationships according to the situation and the products being sold. Here are 5 things that every salesperson need to know:

  1. Understand what you are selling and why.
  2. Know the differences between features, advantages and benefits.
  3. Learn everything possible about your buyers and their interests.
  4. Discover what your clients may know about you.
  5. Review your sales pitch and visualize your success.


4. People Want to Buy; They Don’t Want to Be Sold

In this age of smartphones and information overload, customers may know as much information about the products as the salesperson. Just merely telling the customers about the specs and design just don’t cut it anymore.

This is where establishing connections with customers helps tremendously. From knowing the customer behaviour, their intentions of buying and preferences make the difference between a good salesperson to a great one. Robert emphasizes in listening by staying silent is often all you need to establish an understanding.

I have always been intrigued by the fact that the two words “silent” and “listen” contain the same letters differently arranged.


5. Robert’s 5 Steps for Successful Job Application

Selling yourself when applying for a job is probably the most important selling that one’s have to do in their lives. Robert’s tips for prospective candidates is to start treating yourself as a product and service instead of just a person because you are. And here’s how you can start to make your application stands out:

  1. Define your target audience. — Tailor your resume to that particular employer.
  2. Create your own USP (Unique Selling Proposition). — Highlights your unique skills and achievements.
  3. What Takeaway do you want to create? — How you brand yourself is important.
  4. Use a call to action — Where to contact you?
  5. Make sure the product lives up to the promise. — Back your claims with measurable achievements.


6. Robert’s 10 Ways to Ask for a Raise

Everyone wants to be rewarded handsomely for their work and believe their worth is so obvious that they shouldn’t have to negotiate for it.

However, the real world isn’t like that and asking for a raise is also selling in disguise. Many people do it poorly and here are Robert’s tips for asking a raise:

  1. Timing is important — Few months before your performance review is ideal.
  2. Do not beg or plead — You are asking for a corporate raise, not sympathy.
  3. Add to your worth with a commitment — Show your plan to grow yourself.
  4. Look for ways to gain leverage — What makes you unique in your current position?
  5. Practice, Perspective and Proactive — Practice your pitch, Understand the company perspective and be proactive.
  6. Be confident. Not cocky or arrogant — Confident is good, arrogant is not.
  7. Bring proof of your performance — Show achievements with measurable results.
  8. Never make it personal — Talk strictly about business, achievements and compensation.
  9. Overcome the gender difference — If you have the ability, gender should make no differences in salary.
  10. If all else fails, change may be good.


7. The Price of a Success

In our busy pursuit of success, we often lose sights of the things that are close to us such as friends and families. We put our goals as the ultimate success where we will finally achieve happiness only to achieve success but losing everything else along the way.

Robert achieved success after success and each time, he sets the bar higher and higher. Robert joins marathons, golf tournaments and raced sports car as a means to provides him with new experiences. But deep down, he knows that is just a way of distracting him from his problems. Eventually, his marriages collapsed and learnt the true price of success.



You Don’t Have To Be A Shark by Robert Herjavec is an easy read and packed with actionable lessons. In between the lessons, we learnt about Robert’s ups and downs in life. The art of selling is an essential part of this book which Robert’s hope that everyone tries to cultivate.

I especially intrigued with Robert’s tips on asking for a raise as they are practical and can be immediately put into practice. Another one is the importance of identifying the main things and put all of your effort and time there — the Pareto Principle.

My favourite quote from the book is: “Eventually everyone is selling something to someone.

As insensitive as it sounds, the quote holds a deep truth which I personally believe. The harsh truth.


ACTIONABLE TIPS: Upgrade your selling skills by starting with yourselves. If you are looking for a job or thinking of changing, start selling yourself through your applications. Update your resume, set up a LinkedIn profile and be comfortable on selling your skills to other people. 

What do you think of You Don’t Have to be a Shark? Do you have a book that you would like to recommend? Do share them in the comment section below. Also, do share this post among your Twitter and Facebook circles!


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Mat is your average Malaysian with the dream of being financially free. Deep down, he knows the journey towards independence is very tough and treacherous, which is why he blogs in Mat Kewangan as a way to keep him motivated and keep the dream alive.
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7 months ago

Nice one! Saved the book to my reading list. I’m looking for some financial books. Any recommendations?

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