If you reach way (way) back to your childhood summers, you might remember the swimming pool game, "Sharks & Minnows.”  If you can’t remember, don’t worry – it’s basically a tag-style game of predator and prey.  The predator has the power to tag, and it comes down to survival of the fittest minnows who cross the pool unscathed.

This symbolic reference to the real world wasn’t so obvious for me as a kid, but I’m laughing at the irony as I write this now.

I work in a competitive climate. Who doesn’t? My situation is not unique, but I’ll give you a little clip. City Paper Company is part of the $23 billion industry called The Advertising Specialties Institute (ASI). With nearly 24,000 suppliers and distributors, the competition amongst us is fierce. Only the strong survive.

Whether you work in my industry, or do something completely different, you likely feel some competition around you.

So how do we keep our heads above water?

Ask a shark.

Kevin O’Leary, a.k.a. “Mr. Wonderful,” is a successful entrepreneur and TV personality on ABC’s Shark Tank. I had the privilege of listening to Mr. Wonderful share his shark-style business advice at a recent event hosted by ASI. He spoke to the standing-room-only crowd about his lessons learned as an entrepreneur.

Although his keynote was directed toward entrepreneurs, his advice is universal for any working professional.

According to O’Leary, an entrepreneur (or any working professional) must be able to:

Articulate your messages clearly and concisely. You should be able to pitch a sale, ask for a promotion, or present a new idea in 90 seconds or less.  The attention span of your listener will dwindle after that.
Execute your plan. Whether you are pitching a business plan, a team-building activity, or a new ad campaign, you should have an execution plan. Not only should you be able to properly communicate that plan, but you should also be willing and able to put it into action.
Know your stuff. You should feel comfortable with the information involved in your role, i.e. numbers, financials, competition, etc. Know that information confidently, and be able to share and discuss it.
Forget about the fear of failure. You waste time building up the fear. You can’t waste time contemplating going down, or you will. Spend that time and mental energy on achieving your goal.
Manage your time. Prioritize your time and be honest with yourself on what is important right now versus If you’re easily distracted, focus myopically on what’s currently important. Purposely give yourself tunnel vision until the task at hand it complete.
Set achievable goals. When you achieve your goals, it enhances your confidence and the culture of your company. Being part of a winning team creates a culture of success with less turnover and higher returns.

These six tricks will help you stand out among your competition and thrive in your industry whatever it may be.