Avoid Insulting People Behind Their Back (video)
Back in April, I wrote about my experience at Tech Day. One of the speakers that got on stage to present his company made a critical error: he called Mark Cuban a punk.
Basically, this particular guy, named Kash, had appeared months earlier on the TV show Shark Tank.
(If you don’t know what Shark Tank is, it’s a show where entrepreneurs pitch a group of investors (“sharks”) to try to get capital for their business. The most famous shark on the show is Mark Cuban.)
Kash had not gotten a deal, to his obvious disappointment. Here is his appearance on the show:
Obviously things got heated between him and Mark Cuban (and this is the edited version).
At his presentation during Tech Day, he did pretty well. He was enthusiastic about his business and kept things concise and clear.
But as an off-hand comment, while mentioning his appearance on Shark Tank, he said “…and Mark Cuban was a punk.” It was a joke, but with an edge.
I think this was a mistake. By putting down someone in front of the audience, he took away from his own respectability. Especially someone as well-known as Mark Cuban, and who is basically a popular celebrity in entrepreneur circles.
Even though it was just an off-hand joke, occupying less than a second of his time on stage, Kash undercut his authority.
Studies have shown that when we talk badly about others, it makes our audience feel more negatively about ourselves.
Whether or not you think Kash’s presentation on Shark Tank was good (it wasn’t), you must recognize that criticizing a powerful and popular person behind their back, after a public confrontation like this, does you absolutely zero favors.
If anything, just let it go, learn your lesson, and move forward in a positive way.