Calling all inventors and entrepreneurs: Have you ever wondered what happens on the set Shark Tank, the critically acclaimed and multi-Emmy ® Award-winning ABC reality show that has reinvigorated entrepreneurship in America? Lucky for YOU, I’ve documented my journey to Los Angeles where Season Nine of Shark Tank was filmed and I share how the innovative magic happens below.
(Image: Lisa Ascolese)
Here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of the iconic, innovative souls and superstar “Sharks” who, over the years, have helped shape and mold what entrepreneurship is to date.
As most of you know, I reside in the NYC area, and so naturally, I chose to fly out of EWR Newark, New Jersey into Los Angeles, California LAX. For the line of work I do, flying is a daily practice. When you are an entrepreneur, always have a bag packed and be ready to take the next flight out whenever to wherever. Here’s the thing, you need to go where opportunities arise. And most of the time, opportunities don’t stay around forever. Act fast and always be prepared to move.
As I settled down in my seat, I reached for my journal. Fun fact! You will never find The Inventress in flight without these three staples: pencil, journal, and a bottle of sparkling water. I do most of my creative brainstorming on planes or during long car rides. I choose to journal in pencil for many reasons but most predominantly because the direction of my thoughts change continuously. I am always searching for the next innovative idea. Before I knew it, we arrived in beautiful, L.A.—one of my favorite cities in the entire world! My flights always seem to zip by so quickly because I tend to sink into a writers coma… (Ha!) And now, the real fun begins…
I took an Uber (shout out to an ingenious company) to my hotel. And because I arrived late at night, once I checked in, I completely checked out and it was time to catch some zzz’s. Jet lag will do that to you, my friends.
The following morning I woke up from my slumber at approximately 5 AM. Regardless of the West Coast time difference, my body knows not to sleep past that mark. Although I followed my typical morning routine; journal, yoga, juice, emails, etc., my routine added in some additions that I must say, I wasn’t too inconvenienced by. In fact, I was elated to add them to the list. Following my delicious organic green juice and a few thousand client emails (just kidding… it was only a few hundred), I began to prepare for my big day as a consultant on the set of Shark Tank. I got busy preparing topics of discussion, questions, background information and fun facts. I couldn’t wait to arrive and collaborate with like-minded individuals who share the same passions as me! I am inspired by people who live their purpose… because I live mine.
And we’re off! A beautiful stretch limo arrived to my hotel at 8 am sharp to bring me to Culver City aka my Shark Tank family.
For those of you who aren’t too familiar with the television industry, it takes a village of hardworking, passionate, and focused individuals to make a production (of any size) come to fruition. Excuses and exhaustion do not exist… especially on Hollywood sets. And here’s why; Shark Tank films for approximately 10-12 hours a day. There is very limited time to capture all that needs capturing and so, each minute must be valued at its highest level. Also meaning, everyone must perform at their best all day, every day.
Upon settling into to my designated area, I am greeted by one of the most highly respected businessmen in the entire world, Mark Cuban! Mark is extremely kind, patient and humble. And although this was day seven of filming 10-12 hour days, he had no complaints and was standing strong. Our conversation was short, yet riveting. Time was not on our side as it was time to film and business is business. One thing Mark shared with me I find worth mentioning is his passion behind building schools across the country. To him, education is priceless and he will do what it takes to ensure children have an opportunity to indulge in creativity and arts.
I then witnessed an amazing product pitch…. top secret information! You’ll have to tune into Season Nine to experience this innovation.
We were all given a small break and it was at that time I was introduced to a full of smiles, Robert Herjavec. Robert is the jokester of the group. Always looking for a laugh, very pleasant and adds a fresh perspective into the mix. I was elated to connect with him and share our similarities. We both share a strong creative vision.
Next up, I reconnected with Daymond John and I was thrilled! It had been a minute since I had last seen Daymond and so getting ready for the day, I was excited to reconnect with a man whose work ethic and creativity I admire so much. Daymond has always been extremely focused and driven. In that moment, he was also very serious. You could tell he was there to get the job done and I cannot tell you how much I admire his outlook when it comes to the workplace. Fun fact! I will share this with you… the minute his beautiful daughter, Minka arrived on set, his entire demeanor changed! That little girl lights up his entire world and gives him life. It was a beautiful sight to see… oh, the joy of being a parent!
Time flies when you’re having fun… it was officially time for lunch. The cuisine was delicious and I had the honor of enjoying it while mingling with some of the Sharks. It was here I connected with Season Nine guest Shark, Bethenny Frankel and my QVC neighbor, Lori Greiner. Both Bethenny and Lori are fabulous, powerful women who lift others up, two hands at a time! This was my first time meeting Bethenny and her aura is wonderful. She is a very classy lady and extremely intelligent. As for Lori, it was also a delight reconnecting with her. Although we both run circles at The Q, it’s a nice treat seeing your colleagues outside of your typical workspace. And I must note, Lori’s outfit was stunning. She has a new clothing line launching soon and I highly recommend you check it out!
Other notes worth mentioning…
The entire Sony/ABC team deserves to be recognized for treating everyone on that set like family. For me personally, it was one of the most sincere welcomes I have ever experienced. The team’s hospitality and warmth is something I will never forget and admire deeply. And mind you, every single team member held these spectacular standards. It did not matter if you were an executive producer, intern, or an assistant, everyone was kind, everyone was caring and everyone was hard at work because they loved their job. I cannot explain how important it is to love what you do. Being passionate keeps you going… makes you feel alive… it invigorates your soul! Find something that lights up your world and I promise you, YOU will NEVER work a day in your life.
And in the blink of an eye, the filming of Shark Tank Season Nine wrapped! What now? I take you behind-the-scenes to the after party…. and trust me, you don’t want to miss this!
There was no time for me to change. So ladies and gentlemen, always be prepared to spice your outfit up or down. In this industry, time is never on your side. Fortunately, I was already dressed to the nines (my mother always said it was better to be over-dressed than under-dressed). But of course, The Inventress always travels with accessories to give her outfit that extra splash of fun. I can’t help it… I’m innovative!
The after-party vibe was super edgy, sexy, and cool. Between the karaoke, Shark Tank-themed cocktails, and old school music, we all had a blast! A weight was lifted off of everyone’s shoulders now that the season had officially ended filming. This was a celebration…. Mark Cuban changed out of his suit and switched to sweats! It was nice to be able to let your hair down in a judgment-free zone. The entire cast and crew was invited! No one was left out and everyone celebrated together as one big, happy family. Barbara Corcoran was missed deeply as she was rehearsing with her Dancing with the Stars partner, Keo. Not to worry, we will catch up with her toward the end of this blog!
Following the party, it was time for bed. I got into my limo and as I was driven back to my hotel, I thanked God for the life that I currently have. Not many people get the opportunity to live their dreams, meet their passions, and surround themselves with others who truly want to see them succeed. I, in that moment, reminded myself how truly blessed I am and why it is so important for me to help others get to that same space. I strongly believe in lifting each other up, two hands at a time!
Upon entering my hotel room, I had the biggest smile on my face. I was so grateful for that wonderful night, with wonderful people I now consider family. Within five minutes I was out for the count… tomorrow would be the most exciting, yet most labor intensive day of the trip as I would be working my magic on the red carpet.
Once again, I woke up at 5 AM to begin my day. By now, you probably have my routine memorized… journal, yoga, juice, emails, etc., and once again my routine added in some additions. This time, I was studying the media deck Sony, ABC, and Black Enterprise magazine supplied me with. The deck consisted of headshots of every single Shark and guest Shark, their respective bios and facts. It was my job to memorize each page to the best of my ability and also come up with unique questions to ask everyone at the red carpet premiere. I studied the pages for hours and organized my questions all while continuing to run my for-profit-business, Inventing A-to-Z; my nonprofit business, The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs; and balancing my family from L.A.
And now, it was time to get this show on the road…
The press event took place at the gorgeous, Paley Center in Beverly Hills, California. My driver picked me up early to ensure I took my place on the red carpet with time to spare. Beverly Hills is a fabulous sight to see. The views are spectacular, the environment is innovative and rich. I gathered myself together and got out of the limo. God is good my friends… I ended up sharing an elevator ride with one of my childhood idols, Alfonso Ribeiro! I adored Fresh Prince of Bel Air.… what a wonderful trip down memory lane! Alfonso and I enjoyed a beautiful chat. He is so very warm, loving and overall a super cool guy. I knew he was going to be the Shark Tank Premiere Panel Moderator following the red carpet, but it was so nice to share this intimate moment with him.
As we both stepped off the elevator, we went in different directions. Alfonso went inside the building to prep for his moderating position, while I took my place on the carpet to interview the stars. The atmosphere was chaotic. Press was everywhere you turned. It was a unique experience to be behind-the-scenes as an interviewer, as I am typically in front of the camera for these types of events. That said, I wouldn’t change it for the world! I was honored to have been granted this experience through my dear friend Brandon Andrews, top talent scout for Shark Tank and my Black Enterprise magazine family whom I also adore.
For those of you who are not in the entertainment industry, here is another fun fact you will find interesting. As I settled into my spot on the carpet, I was surrounded by every single major media network you could imagine… E!, Extra, etc…. it was fascinating! Press people mean business. It is all a competition, and what I mean by that is, just because you have a designated space on the carpet, does not guarantee you an interview with every star because, once again, time is not on your side. And so, each reporter must go to battle to ensure their network gets the coverage they are looking to achieve by interviewing the stars they admire most. I am always up for a challenge. When I put my mind to something, nothing and no one will stop me and so, I was 100% positive I was going to do whatever it took to get Black Enterprise and my fan base the coverage they deserved!
The talent starts to arrive and everyone looks dapper, super elegant, and chic! Not to mention, the rooftop where the premiere was taking place overlooked the iconic Hollywood sign. Simply priceless!
My first interview was with Mark Cuban. I was thrilled to connect with him after all the fun the entire cast had the previous night. Mark shared that fans will be blown away by Season Nine. He is still so honored and humbled to be a part of something so special and that to me is commendable. Fame certainly hasn’t gone to his head… he does this because he loves it, not because he has to. He is truly blessed.
My next interview was with Bethenny Frankel. She is such a doll! She placed emphasis on taking nothing for granted in life… she is extremely proud to be a guest Shark this season and has many surprises in store for the viewers! And I must also mention, she was gracious and dressed beautifully!
Next up, Daymond John. Daymond is very comfortable in front of a camera. You could tell he was excited to launch the new season and hear everyone’s thoughts. He is a very cool, honest entrepreneur. I also had the opportunity to present him with a Humanitarian Award on behalf of my nonprofit organization, The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs or “AOWIE.” He was completely blown away and humbled. We as an AOWIE family, are thrilled to honor him!
And finally… it was about time! I had the opportunity to connect with Barbara Corcoran. She had been missing during the majority of filming as she was also juggling a cast role on Dancing with the Stars. She is funny as hell and sweet as pie! She stood out in a beautifully detailed and tailored bright orange suit. We bonded over innovative thoughts and had some real girl talk! I love that woman with all my heart!
Rohan Oza… such a fun, silly down-to-earth businessman! One of his biggest projects to date is the beverage drink, Bai, which he collaborates with Justin Timberlake on. The minute he started talking about Bai during our interview… I naturally had to start singing his own commercial to him! And guess what? He LOVED it! Listen guys… sometimes you have to put yourself out there. Never be afraid to be true to yourself! When you’re genuine, you are able to build connections with others in a more organic way.
And… Mr. Kevin O’ Leary….
Kevin is misunderstood. And I hate to blow his cover but…. he is absolutely wonderful!!! He is extremely personable. Kevin took his time on the carpet by giving each network an extremely generous amount of his time. He even started asking ME questions during our interview!
I also had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Lopez and her beau (and guest Shark) Alex Rodriguez. Both are very pleasant, creative, and charming!
Following the red carpet… there was a special panel discussion hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro inside of the building with all of the Sharks and Guest Sharks for Season Nine. The panel was very interesting and the commentary from others was brilliant!
The entire cast acts like one big family. Everyone is super playful, have a great sense of humor, and push each other to be the best version of themselves. A common theme most touched on was how they started and how they now use their platforms for good.
For me, Alex Rodriguez stood out of the crowd. He shared that when he was young, he loved sports and knew that one day he wanted to get into the field. However, he was fearful that if that happened, he would go broke after hearing horror stories. And so, he started investing his money at a young age and continues to do so on a much larger scale present day.
Daymond also shared some very inspiring, insightful words of wisdom. He spoke about how you don’t need to have a famous last name and a truckload of money to make a difference in this world or build an empire. He placed emphasis on having a hustle mentality and pursuing only things you are passionate about. He is very humble and inspired many.
As I was leaving, I bumped into Barbara Corcoran’s brother and his beautiful wife. Both are so genuine and full of life. Her brother, Ed, is an ingenious graphic artist and has his own company. But something about him was different. Instead of talking about himself and his own business (which is extremely successful and worth mentioning) he instead, spent the majority of our conversation highlighting his sister. Explaining how proud he was of her and how lucky he was to be a part of her life. That is true love. That is family values. That is, precisely how we should aspire to act. Instead of being so self-driven, take time to lift others up and recognize their success. He is a special man, and Barbara, you are a very lucky sister. I am a big believer in speaking things into existence, and so publicly, I’d like to take a moment to formally invite Ms. Barbara Corcoran to be a speaker at The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs “AOWIE” Conference on August 18, 2018, in the NYC area.
Before my Los Angeles trip came to a close, I knew it was imperative for me to capture all of my emotions via journal in that moment. And so, instead of taking my limo back to my hotel, I decided to walk the streets of Rodeo Drive, journal in one hand, pencil in the other. I walked, I wrote, I walked, I wrote… until finally it was time to go back to my hotel, pack up my belongings and head back to NYC.
I am so looking forward to future collaborations with all of the magnificent people I met during my stay in LA. For anyone reading this, I want you to realize that you too, can be a part of something this special! YOU are no different than I am. In fact, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Please realize this is 38 years’ worth of me grinding to get to this place. My success wasn’t created overnight… Passion, hard work, perseverance, dedication, and inspiration got me to this space and I am here to help you get to this space as well. Never…. and I mean never be afraid to ask for help, seek guidance, or find a mentor. Find a way to turn “no” into “yes.” And always grab the opportunities God places in front of you with all of your might and run as fast as you can. And when you get to your place of achievement, always bring someone with you. I always say it, but it is true! There is so much room at the top… let’s share it together and lift each other up, two hands at a time!
And before I end, I must thank many people who deserve to be credited. Please realize, I am not the only one involved with making this entire experience come to fruition. I have my own village (quite literally).
Brandon Andrews, thank you for your innovative mind, huge heart and beautiful friendship.
Clay Newbill, Mark Burnett, Yun Lingner and Phil Gurin; thank you for your kindness, ingenious wit, passion and hard work. (Television Producers)
And finally, Daymond John, thank you for publicly accepting your AOWIE Achievement Award and now being an honorary member of our organization, The Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs.
Until next time my friends….