Nowadays when people think entrepreneurship, one of the first things that comes to mind is ABC’s popular show “Shark Tank” where entrepreneurs meet “sharks” or investors to pitch their ideas and ask for money.
On February 6th, eager students crowded into a room in the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California to hear Robert Herjavec speak at an event by the Annenberg Dean Ernest Wilson III. Herjavec, a shark on the show, is the CEO of Herjavec Group, an author of two books, and now a Hollywood star.
The students were hungry to see the world famous entrepreneur; people began lining up two hours before the event and continued filing in after the room was overfilled. People even resorted to sitting on trash bins if they couldn’t find a seat.
Dean Wilson III began the event by asking Herjavec, “You embody the classic American success story, but you’re Canadian!” Herjavec laughed and stated he got that question a lot. “Every human wants to do better, no matter where you are from.”
He then began his presentation, filled with advice, jokes, and energy. He began by inspiring the students in the room: “I love students. Students are like Energizer bunnies. They just believe. It’s great! But to be successful, you need that ability to drive through failure. I guarantee you will fail far, far, far more than you will succeed. I failed in more companies and lost more deals than I will ever win.”
Herjavec continued to talk briefly about his childhood. His family had escaped to Canada from Yugoslavia and he was the first in his family to go to college. He described how he began taking jobs and making some money. “I just didn’t want to be poor,” he said. As he became more affluent he realized, “Money doesn’t keep you warm at night. I have to do something with my life.”
The shark kept a humorous tone throughout the presentation. He spoke about his interesting and energetic attitude. “The worst thing you can be in television is boring. People don’t like to deal with boring people. People also don’t like to deal with people who always say no. Every successful person I have met loves what they do and is interesting in their own way.”
Herjavec kept the crowd laughing and smiling throughout his presentation. He ended on a serious and inspirational note. “The biggest lies you’ll ever tell in life are the lies you tell yourself. It’s okay to think that you’re Brad Pitt, but you have to see reality. I gotta go where I want to go from where I’ve started. If someone is starting from a different point from you, it doesn’t matter because life is long.”
The last portion of Herjavec’s visit was a question and answer session with the students. In it, he covered a variety of topics and gave several pieces of advice, including the idea that people can always do more. He advised everyone to “get [my] attention” and “know the numbers” when pitching. Finally, he pointed out, “Three years from now, something that is worth one billion dollars isn’t what’s hot now, it’s something that’s being built by some kid in a college dorm room at this very moment.”
Dean Wilson III ended with the final question. He asked, “Students are always balancing different activities. Can you tell us something about prioritizing?”
The investor smiled. Herjavec spoke about choosing to do the activities that advance goals. “The ball has got to keep bouncing because the minute it, everything stops.” Herjavec always runs a tight schedule, but knows which things he has to do in case things change. He concluded by advising the audience to avoid using the words “stressed”, “busy”, “overwhelmed”, and other negative words. “When you start saying it, your brain begins to believe it,” he finished.
The Trojan community was very excited to have Robert Herjavec on campus and is even more excited to see all the new entrepreneurs he’s inspired!