The main decision Robert Herjavec available wasn’t ditching the 9-to-5 and entering business for himself. It wasn’t adapting to a complete new language and life-style after moving to Canada from communist Yugoslavia. And it wasn’t selling his first company to AT&T for millions in cash.
It had been rejecting the “virus” he calls mediocrity, refusing to be average in its many easy-to-fall-into forms.
“The world doesn’t reward mediocrity,” Herjavec recently told Entrepreneur from the Culver City, Calif., group of Shark Tank. “You’ve surely got to be great at something. There is nothing ever ‘good enough.’ It’s either excellent or inferior.”
Mediocrity or Greatness? This is the Question.
The sapphire-eyed 52-year-old tech mogul decided in early stages that just being “sufficient” could not be sufficient for him. Teased and take down at school due to his thick Serbo-Croat accent and “very uncool” foreign clothes, as a boy Herjavec watched his father trek two miles to and from his job sweeping floors in a factory, to save on bus fare. He also saw his mother get hornswoggled out of $500 — seven weeks’ salary, the family’s entire savings — by a slick traveling vacuum salesman. That was your day he vowed never to to let his family live so near to the edge again. (He still owns that darn vacuum, incidentally.)
Despite growing up mostly under the poverty line, Herjavec used his struggles as an “off the boat” immigrant as motivation to go up above his circumstances, eventually completely to the most notable of his unlikely career in cybersecurity. (His Internet security firm, the Herjavec Group, is currently among the largest & most profitable it companies in Canada.)
Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec on WHY IS an excellent Boss
On the way, amid adversity, Herjavec could have easily settled for mediocrity. He might have been complacent with scraping by selling newspapers or waiting tables or working as a collections agent, which he did and which beat making $76 weekly cleaning floorboards in a factory. But he didn’t want to merely survive. He wished to thrive.
At 14, Herjavec says he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. He knew he wished to start his own business 1 day, so he asked his dad who he should speak to for advice. His father pointed him to the most senior employee in the factory that he worked for. It wasn’t the answer the ambitious future millionaire wanted. “To my parents, he was the most successful person they knew because he was the guy who wasn’t likely to get fired or let go.”
Without early contact with a mentor who wasn’t a lot more than just sufficient — somebody who didn’t need to worry about making rent or any bill, someone who’d really managed to get and big — Herjavec scoured books for the wisdom he previously no mentor to carefully turn to for. He devoured biographies about exceptionally successful people. “That’s when I learned that nobody cares about average. Greatness is what matters. If you want to reach your goals and make lots of money or be famous, or whatever it really is that you define as success, do a very important factor and do it much better than everyone else. Do whatever needs doing to be great.”
Robert Herjavec: Success Isn’t Measured on Days When sunlight Shines
In the event that you don’t, he says you’ll never realize your full potential. You may never flourish in turning your dreams into reality.
“Find your talent, be great at it and apply it to the very best of your ability. When you do, not merely are you considering successful, you’ll get yourself a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment that no sum of money can purchase.”
For more advice on excelling running a business and in life from Herjavec, listen in to the Shark Tank Season Seven premiere, airing Friday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on your own local ABC station.
Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec: RUNNING A BUSINESS, REME