That Odd Acne Ad In Kevin O’Leary’s Podcast Is Reason Enough to Listen

Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary and Barbara Corcoran

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a Kevin O’Leary fan. At one time or another, I’ll call him my favourite shark (although that title tends to rotate equally between five of the core six). I’ll put up with his blowhardedness, because I think much of it is a rouse, and his attention-seeking, because as long as he seeks attention, I’ve got content I enjoy consuming — whether that’s a new episode of Shark Tank or, very recently, the Mr. Wonderful podcast

But that doesn’t excuse the quite strange, and giggle-inducing, product placement in Episode 2, “I love to go to bed richer than when I woke up (with Barbara Corcoran).” There’s the obvious and properly identified ad at the beginning for the podcast’s sponsor, a clothing company, and then there’s this odd segment where, seemingly out of nowhere, Kevin and Barbara are talking about acne. 

(Part of O’Leary’s apparent podcast schtick is talking about a variety of issues. In Episode 1, he and his former CBC co-host Amanda Lang were debating whether kids should have nannies, and whether a liberal arts degree had any worth. Note to Mr. Wonderful: yes, it does).

But O’Leary telling a “caller” that there was medication to fight acne that takes about a year to do the job and that he should talk to his doctor about it — and Corcoran jumping in to say that a specific acne medication would help — was just, well, weird.

It was a weird spot in an otherwise enjoyable podcast. Corcoran tells a great story about suing Donald Trump — after some prodding from O’Leary, to whom she said more than once she didn’t want to talk about her dealings with Trump, lest the conversation drift into politics — saying yes, he owed her money, but he was going through a tough period and that happens in business. She was lucky to be having a good year, and therefore could afford the lawyer’s fees to actually sue. Then she tells this nice little tidbit about sending him flowers after she received each monthly payment, flowers that Trump promptly and consistently sent back.

(Barbara Corcoran’s own podcast, by the way, has useful tips like not overusing exclamation points in emails, but that’s the only episode I’ve listened to so far.)

I only ended up listening to that episode of Mr. Wonderful’s podcast because I went to iTunes, looking for a different podcast: Ram Dass. That, of course, has 137 episodes because — as far as I can tell, starting from the beginning — it’s not a podcast in the modern sense. Its first few chapters are lectures, more than 50 years old now, but still with a deep resonance for those of us “inclined that way,” — whatever way that is — which makes it a podcast with purpose. A podcast with a message, compared to just a new way to monetize content. I had the experience more than once of streaming the old lectures through Ram Dass’ Love, Serve, Remember Foundation and falling into peaceful sleep, with pleasant Ram Dass-infused dreams, and wanted to download the library. Call me crazy, but I hope I don’t have O’Leary and Corcoran-infused dreams, where the two are talking about acne medication. 

Of course, the Ram Dass podcast has a sponsor too, a place in California called 1440. But Ram Dass doesn’t stop mid-lecture in 1967 to say, “India: when psychedelics fail to give you enlightenment, head east to find a guru.” Or, “Let’s take a coffee break. You know who makes the best coffee to help you achieve enlightenment? Sanka.”

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Once you have drunk from the water of unconditional love, no other well can satisfy your thirst. The pangs of separation may become so intense that seeking the affection of the Beloved becomes an obsession. When we were with Maharaji, we were intoxicated with his form, the colors of his blanket, the buttery softness of his skin, his tapering, almost simian fingers, the long eyelashes that so often hid his eyes, the red toenail on his big toe. As with any lover we, too, became fascinated and enamored of every detail, although these cues triggered spiritual bliss instead of physical desire. 🌊 In their way intoxication and addiction are analogies for devotion. Once you experience unconditional love, you really get hooked. The attraction is to that intimacy between the lover and the Beloved. 🌊 You are so drawn into the songs, stories, images and constant remembrance of the Beloved that you may hold on to the form and not want to go on to the next stage. You are always thinking about it and tuning your being to stay in that intimate loving relationship with this person you love. 🌊 But the Beloved is not a person in the usual sense, and the form is just a costume for the play, the lila. Ultimately, this form is the one that takes you beyond form. What the Beloved, your guru, reveals to you is your own soul. Even so you may choose like Hanuman, to remain in a kind of duality to serve and remain immersed in the ocean of devotion. 🌊 The devotional path isn’t necessarily a straight line to enlightenment. There’s a lot of back and forth, negotiations if you will, between the ego and the soul. You look around at all the aspects of suffering, and you watch your heart close in judgment. Then you practice opening it again and loving this too, as a manifestation of the Beloved, another way the Beloved is taking form. Again your love grows vast. In Bhakti, as you contemplate, emulate, and take on the qualities of the Beloved, your heart keeps expanding until you see the whole universe as the Beloved, even the suffering. 🌊 continued in comments 🌊 πŸ“Έ:: Love Serve Remember vinyl boxset insert circa 1970

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Yes, I know. Product placement started way, way, back in the early days of television where the stars would smoke as part of the plot to plug the cigarettes. My favourite current sitcom, Superstorehad an entire episode that revolved around Target. But those made sense, unlike a property developer and venture capitalist giving out advice on acne medication.

But you know, if you want something weird in your business podcast, check it out. It is fun. More ideas, and ads, to fill our conscious space. 

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Oat Meals on ‘Shark Tank’: Two Investors Trying to Replicate Past Success

I personally love when Barbara Corcoran and Lori Greiner are on Shark Tank together, because the women are so different. As if it didn’t need to be said, but sometimes it helps if it’s shown, that simply putting a female face on a panel isn’t enough to ensure diversity.

Episode 7 of Season 10 put this on display (spoiler alert!) brilliantly when the woman behind Oat Meals, Sam Stephens, pitched her business to the sharks. But what was she pitching, exactly? She ran a small brick-and-mortar eatery in New York City that sold various sweet and savoury dishes, all with oats as a base ingredient. She was profitable, but not wildly so.

At one point, she said she wanted to expand into more locations. When asked, she said she was also interested in selling a line of branded oat products in grocery stores — as she said, bringing oats to the rice and pasta section instead of letting it languish in the breakfast section. 

Those of us who watch Shark Tank regularly already have the roll call of past entrepreneurs who have made highly-touted deals with each of the investors, and can therefore predict who’s most likely to jump on a pitch. With Oat Meals, I kept thinking of “Bagel Stuffins,” aka Bantam Bagels, who also had a small NYC shop, and whose deal with Lori Greiner also allowed them to segue into the prepackaged food market. 

(Fans of Beyond the Tank might recall the proprietors’ reluctance to give up the name “Bantam Bagels,” and how hard Greiner seemed to push to get them to adopt a brand that she felt better expressed what the product was, hence “Bagel Stuffins.”)

As if on queue, Lori said she would get a new line of Oat Meals goods into Starbucks, as she had with Bantam Bagels. Barbara, however, made the incredibly strong pitch back to the entrepreneur that Stephens needed to focus on having food carts — getting out of that 380 sq. ft. of space. 

Again, the roll call: Corcoran mentioned her beloved Cousins Maine Lobster, but could also have discussed Tom+Chee (although some research indicates maybe that one doesn’t have a happy ending, so maybe the choice to leave it out of the discussion was deliberate). 

Corcoran asked for 50 percent, Greiner 33 1/3 percent. A couple of the “out” sharks indicated Barbara’s deal was more sound (in their opinion), but Stephens went for Greiner, leading to a bit of a heated discussion after the entrepreneur had walked off the set. 

(Those moments, by the way, are always the best. In this one, Cuban’s already checking his phone, indicating they assumed the segment was over). 

Corcoran cleverly said oatmeal doesn’t freeze well. Kevin O’Leary said Lori made a dumb deal. Daymond John noted that Barbara wanted half the company, while Lori wanted less.

But apart from the disparate views of how to grow the company, the pitch was notable because of the revelation, so starkly demonstrated, of what the sharks often do: offer to do again what they have already done for someone else. In one sense, it’s like showing off your resume in order to convince the entrepreneur to choose you. In another sense, it’s nothing more than saying, “I have this template. At first glance, it looks like you might fit that template. So let me invest and we’ll give it a shot.”

Really, if you are a wealthy investor faced with a novice entrepreneur — like many of the pitches on Shark Tank — it’s irresponsible for the investor to offer to do anything else other than what they know how to do. Cuban has said he doesn’t like to be “dumb money,” and all the sharks seem to have some version of that philosophy. It’s up to the entrepreneur as to whether they want to use that particular template, or not.