Mediaplanet: On “Shark Tank,” what piques your interest in a tech company?

Lori Greiner: I look for a variety of things: Is it something new and different, a game-changer; sales potential (any history?); who are the principles running the company and what is the competition? 

MP: Which traits does an entrepreneur absolutely need to succeed? 

LG: Typically, very successful entrepreneurs have a strong, can-do attitude. They will do whatever it takes to make their business successful. They also have a strong drive and work ethic. They won’t take “no” for an answer. They exhibit fearless behavior. They don’t worry if they will fail; they think only of how they can succeed.

"Tech is the key industry of the future. We need women and diversity in these key organizations so leadership, insight, perspective and opportunity are diverse."

MP: Do you think your success in this industry makes you a role model to women?  

LG: I have found this is true. Many women speak to me through social media, or in person, sharing that I am a role model for women or for their daughters. I take the role seriously, and only hope I can live up to being a good example.

We are all imperfect human beings, and I try hard not to judge others. I believe we should all try being our best selves and if we do that, it’s great. I personally believe that being a good person in life, caring about others, treating others in a decent and respectful manner is important.

I think possessing these traits in life and in business is important. You can be strong, decisive and a leader and still be a decent human being. It actually takes strength, and is not a weakness to be kind and respectful. I also think it’s important to not classify yourself. I have never thought of myself as a woman in business, I think of myself as a person in business. When you command respect, you get it. When you think of yourself as an equal, you are an equal—or better.

MP: What do you think are some of the challenges that female tech entrepreneurs face when first starting out, or advancing their career?

LG: Unfortunately, I think even today often women are not thought of as equals. Newsweek recently has an article that referred to women not being respected or treated as equals in Silicon Valley. I found that sad, and disturbing. Women are amazing and absolutely equal if not better than anyone else, depending on the situation and circumstance. It’s completely the individual and has nothing to do with sex. It’s incredible to me that we would still be even talking about this.  

MP: What tips you would give a young entrepreneur?

LG: Be smart! Educate yourself. Do everything you can to make your business successful. Spend the time and effort required to know everything you can to make this happen. Put in the long, hard hours. Be someone people want to work with. Think how you can beat your competition.

I often think those that win and get ahead are cleverer. They come up with more unique and clever offers and products. Stand above the rest in every way. And, importantly, be confident but never be arrogant or cocky; it’s a turn-off to others.

MP: Why is it important to close the gender gap in tech?

LG: Tech is the key industry of the future. We need women and diversity in these key organizations so leadership, insight, perspective and opportunity are diverse. It is a win-win for development of a better future product and companies’ bottom lines. 

MP: What is the single best piece of career advice you received from another woman?

LG: Actually I think the best advice I ever received was just how my mother thought about life. She had the same attitude I do. Women are equals—if not better. Never think of yourself as a woman in business; think of yourself as a businessperson, equal to any other.

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