Shark Tank star and Canadian entrepreneur, Robert Herjavec knows a thing or two about feeling like the odd man out. Today, Herjavec is the founder and CEO of Canadian-based information technology company The Herjavec Group, but the Croatian born immigrant is a self-described ‘guy off the boat.’ “My dad escaped from jail in a communist country and grabbed my mom and me and we came to Halifax when I was 8 years old. We landed with literally one suitcase. My mom remembered she knew somebody in Toronto, we took a train there, and lived in their basement for 18 months. It all started from there,” he told Business News Daily.
His immigrant values have played a huge role in contributing to his success, and we collate some of the advice he shares with other entrepreneurs on how to win in life and business.
People care about the value you add
“Remember that people at their core really don’t care about your background. They don’t care about your color. They don’t really care about your religion or your sex. They just care how much value you’re going to add. That’s what I love about America. If you can be good at one thing, people will reward you for that.”
It’s not about being the smartest, gifted or most creative guy. It’s about being the most driven
“I’ve never been the smartest guy, the most gifted or most creative. But I’ve always been the most driven. I’m always there earlier and willing to stay up all night to get the job done.” And if he stumbles, he adds that he is the first one to pick himself up and keep going forward.
“[Being an immigrant] makes you a very complex and difficult adult in some ways. My wife often says to me ‘Why do you always want to do more? Why are you so driven?’ I think that chip on your shoulder never really goes away, no matter how much you have and how famous you become or how many accolades you get. You never forget being that weird-looking dumpy kid who got beat up at school. Maybe it’s insecurity or fear or just the need to prove yourself over and over again. I think a lot of immigrants feel that pressure.”
Embrace your life, its pain, its sorrow, its adversity
“Success is not measured on the days when the sun shines. Success is measured on the dark, stormy, cloudy days. And if you can’t absorb failure, you’re never gonna meet success.”
Learn from the mistakes of others and execute better
“The first mentor I had was Warren Avis, the guy who started Avis rental car. I worked for him. But along the way, I’m pretty good at taking value from people’s opinions and discarding stuff that I don’t think is relevant to me. So I have no ego when it comes to good ideas; I will steal anybody’s idea. And that is not plagiarism but that is business. It’s building on someone else’s idea and executing better.”
It is okay to say ‘no’ sometimes
“I also do something a lot of people don’t. I say ‘no’. To be as productive as possible, you have to learn to say ‘no’ and to say it often. When you’re an entrepreneur, when you’re leading a business, everybody wants a piece of you. It’s so hard.
“The tendency is to say ‘yes’ to everything and then everything suffers, and you’re like, ‘Why did I say ‘yes’ to this?! Eventually you learn the power of ‘no’ and you get better at it as you go.”
Love what you do
“The best advice I would give to somebody is, don’t ever start a business that you are not incredibly and deeply passionate about. It is hell, and you will spend more hours with your business than you will with your family and friends. You will have horrible days that will make you want to quit and question everything you have ever learned. Along that journey, if you don’t absolutely love what you do there is no way you will survive.
“The biggest mistake I see people do is they start a business to make money. The problem with that is on those cold days, money doesn’t keep you warm at night. For me, it is impossible to expend the effort required to start a great business because you want to make more money.”
And because momma is always right…
He remembers his mother’s advice to him many years ago, whenever he is tempted to be mean to one of the contestants on Shark Tank “Nobody in this world is better than you and you are no better than anyone else.”
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