Ironically nicknamed Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O'Leary is generally known as the harshest critic on ABC's hit show, "Shark Tank."
He's quick to the point, wastes no time in sparing the feelings of contestants and even coined the phrase, "You're dead to me," presumably to ensure that he's had the last, stinging word when an entrepreneur turns down one of his offers.
It's unsurprising, then, to see that he is just as direct and blunt off the set of reality TV as he is on it, particularly when he has the chance to offer advice to Millennials that have dreams of achieving the same wealth he has.
While his obsessive desire to acquire more riches and how to go about it are far too cynical for this writer's taste, his views on public speaking are dead on.
"Even though it makes you sick to do it or you’re nervous — I’m always nervous when I present to people — you have to get over it because communication skills are probably the most important thing you can have if you’re a business leader or an entrepreneur," O'Leary said to a group of business students in 2012. "You have to be able to get up in front of a room, explain your idea and vision and how you're going to make money for shareholders in 90 seconds."
O'Leary's comments were made during a seminar he provided for business students in 2012. During the speaking session, which he posted on his personal YouTube channel with the title "What It Takes To Get Rich," the Shark shared his ideas on the keys to succeeding in business.
Amongst those ideas, he also highlighted the ability to hire talent that compensates for personal failures. None of his points, however, were stressed more than the ability not only to project ideas, but to project them in ways that the audience can easily comprehend.
"You have to be able to communicate your vision and articulate in a way that everybody can understand," he said. "If you can’t do that you better start practicing in front of a mirror, you better get some professional coaching. It really, really matters, a lot. In fact, in business schools, as far as I'm concerned, it's the no. 1 attribute you should have when you leave."
Many might have good ideas and good potential within themselves, but those virtues are rendered worthless if not paired with the ability to help others see it.
So important is communication that O'Leary, who sold The Learning Company to Mattel for $3.5 billion in 1999, says it is the first thing investors look for in entrepreneurs.
"I don't care if you're good at finance, or in operations or marketing. What I care about if I'm an investor is can you people, cam you communicate to them," O'Leary said. "Are you able to explain to me your vision and to your employees? When people work for you -- if you're gonna be successful a entrepreneur, you're gonna have employees -- they have to go to war with you everyday. They have to go to battle. You have to lead them into battle."
And while "communication" is the word that the celebrity investor focused on during his speech, much of what O'Leary spoke about comes down to confidence. It's that sense of self-belief that can make people sound right when they're not, which is exactly what O'Leary says is crucial to success.
"They have to trust you even when you're wrong. Even when you doubt your own decision, they can't that see that weakness in you," he said. "You have to stand up and say 'here's what we're gonna do today, tomorrow, next month, next year, here's the plan and here's why it's gonna work.' And they have to believe you. Those are communication skills, you have to have them. Absolutely important, I can't say enough about that."
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