The En­tre­pre­neur­ial Jour­ney. Know­ing is half the bat­tle, but get­ting there can be even more chal­leng­ing.

The Suit - - Distinguished Business Award - By Michael Gor­don

Know­ing is half the bat­tle, but get­ting there can be even more chal­leng­ing. That’s a mantra that most en­trepreneurs live by. Their in­tu­itive sense of di­rec­tion, de­sire, pas­sion and the will­ing­ness to learn sep­a­rates them from the av­er­age ex­ec­u­tive. Ev­ery­one knows the daunt­ing task, money spent and hur­dles needed to jump over in or­der to patent an idea. With no men­tors, teach­ers or books on how to cre­ate patents, Lori Greiner, owner of For Your Ease Only, Inc. and one of the stars of the hit ABC show, “Shark Tank,” just fig­ured it out her­self, through trial and er­ror. “It was very ex­cit­ing to lit­er­ally take some­thing from a draw­ing on a piece of pa­per to a vi­able prod­uct that would sell in re­tail stores,” Greiner ex­plains.

Greiner re­al­ized early on in her ca­reer that her ideas for var­i­ous prod­ucts were suc­cess­fully coming out onto the mar­kets – but just not by her. Rather than wast­ing en­ergy fum­ing about it, she re­solved, “This time I’m just go­ing to do it, and I did it.” She says, “With my next idea, I set out about how to make it, how to patent it, ev­ery­thing in which to take a prod­uct from con­cept to cre­ation and to the mar­ket.”

Greiner’s ex­pe­ri­ence was an amaz­ing jour­ney, with a great deal of learn­ing tak­ing place along the way. On cre­at­ing the prod­uct and fig­ur­ing out its di­men­sions, she noted, “In essence, it’s like sculpt­ing what would be the per­fect prod­uct.”

The show has given Greiner the abil­ity to work with an eclec­tic cast all of whom she likes. When asked about Kevin O’Leary, Greiner replied, “Even though peo­ple think he’s “a Meanie”, I do like Kevin O’Leary. He can be very funny and even though he is lin­ear and has a very def­i­nite point of view.” She adds, “He sticks to that point of view, but in­ter­est­ingly I find that if I start to say some­thing that makes sense to him, I can see al­most see his brain work­ing. I can feel him look­ing at me and think­ing ‘hmm, maybe what she is say­ing makes sense, maybe this is a good idea and maybe I should be in­ter­ested in this.’ ”

Born and raised in down­town Chicago, Greiner grew up in a fam­ily where her fa­ther and grand­fa­ther were very en­tre­pre­neur­ial. She was raised to think that you can do any­thing you really want if you put your mind to it. She says, “I see a lot of their per­son­al­i­ties in my­self. I’m really not afraid to take risks.”

That’s what really started her off on the path to success, in­clud­ing the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Once her first prod­uct was cre­ated suc­cess­fully, “I just kept cre­at­ing more prod­ucts and patent­ing more ideas that even­tu­ally made it to re­tail­ers and which also led to my own show on QVC,” Greiner noted. For the past 14 years, she has run her own show on the QVC chan­nel, an on­line shop­ping net­work. She has cre­ated count­less prod­ucts, hold­ing 115 U.S. and in­ter­na­tional patents.

Af­ter a win­ning run with her first prod­uct, Greiner suc­cess­fully brought 350 more prod­ucts to mar­ket. “I was lucky enough in the early days to get into JC Pen­ney af­ter a lot of hard work, and I got into the Home Shop­ping Net­work for a year be­fore I moved to QVC,” she adds.

“Once you are suc­cess­ful at some­thing, peo­ple want more and then you are driven to cre­at­ing more, so it set my mind to think­ing.” She con­tin­ues, “I have to keep cre­at­ing to keep feed­ing the needs of the re­tail­ers.”

In fact her forth­com­ing book will be amaz­ing, be­cause it’s what peo­ple have asked her to do, for over a decade. “Ev­ery­body wants to know how to do what I did, and my book is go­ing to tell them that.” Greiner chuck­les. “It’s go­ing to help peo­ple to learn and have the ‘street smarts’ sort of speak – the know-how and the knowl­edge to take some­thing from noth­ing to a suc­cess­ful, vi­able prod­uct or a busi­ness.” With thou­sands of peo­ple ask­ing her ad­vice, this book will help many peo­ple get from A to Z.

One of Greiner’s great­est suc­cesses has been the cre­ation of a

great deal of prod­ucts that make peo­ple’s lives bet­ter, hap­pier and eas­ier. “On ‘Shark Tank’ I am a role model for young women and men,” she says, adding, “That was some­thing I never ex­pected. It’s so pos­i­tively over­whelm­ing be­cause peo­ple – (even) chil­dren and teenagers on the street – al­ways stop me and say, ‘I want to grow up and be like you one day.’ Greiner humbly says, “I never looked at it as be­ing a role model for women and men, but it’s turn­ing out to be that way. I try hard to be a good one.”

On a re­cent episode, owner Ginelle Mills of CoolWAZOO, who was turned down by the Shark Tank cast be­cause her prod­uct wasn’t vi­able, cre­ated a sad moment as the con­tes­tant got teary- eyed and cried. But Greiner thought that Mills had the per­son­al­ity re­quired to make some­thing work, along with the pas­sion and drive for the prod­uct. “Well, the more I sat back and watched the prod­uct – and also re­mem­ber what you see on tele­vi­sion is about 10 min­utes long and what we see live can be an hour,” she says, “I thought that the prod­uct had merit. I could see peo­ple lik­ing it be­cause it was so multi-func­tional for women and their ba­bies.”

Greiner, be­ing very true to her­self, stepped back in and ac­quired a stake in the com­pany. “The guys will joke and say, ‘oh, if the con­tes­tants cry, Lori will get all soft.’ It’s not that. I al­ways make a de­ci­sion based on what I think is right and what I think will work,” Greiner laughs, “I don’t ever do a deal where I think the prod­uct is bad just to help a per­son – that’s feu­dal.”

She adds, about her fel­low Sharks, “At the end of the day I find them all good peo­ple and I en­joy the ca­ma­raderie that we have.”

Ded­i­cated to help­ing char­i­ties that as­sist oth­ers in ex­treme need, Greiner is in­volved with and do­nates to many char­i­ties in­clud­ing the Sal­va­tion Army and the Amer­i­can Red Cross. She also do­nates to sev­eral chil­dren’s char­i­ties Lori be­lieves her life is blessed and con­tin­ues to ‘pay it for­ward’.

I AM A LOT LIKE MY FA­THER AND I’M REALLY NOT AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS.”

- LORI GREINER

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