Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Dean Ernest J. Wilson III hosted an open forum with Robert Herjavec, president and CEO of the Herjavec Group, one of the “sharks” on ABC’s show Shark Tank and author of two books, Driven: How to Succeed in Business and Life and The Will to Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding, Thursday afternoon in the Geoffrey Cowan Forum,
Only 75 seats were available and students began lining up close to two hours before doors opened.
The forum began with a slideshow from Herjavec, where he explained his life story as well as his journey to success. The presentation allowed Herjavec to give advice that he has learned throughout his life while cracking a joke every minute or two after.
Herjavec, the son of a factory worker who escaped from jail to bring his family to the United States, was the first person in his family to attend university. When Herjavec was in college, his goal was not to be rich, he just didn’t want to be poor.
“The number one reason why I am a little bit successful, and everyone else I have met is successful, is that ability to drive through failure, through objection, through all that crap that happens to you,” Herjavec said. “Because I will guarantee you, in life, you will fail far, far, far more than you will succeed.”
After the 35-minute presentation, the floor was opened to questions, which ranged from whether or not every startup needs an investor to succeed to how he keeps his energy so high all the time.
“However busy you think you are, you can do more,” he said.
Herjavec gave three basic rules for giving “the perfect pitch:” get their attention; be very careful about blowing things out of context and know the numbers.
Dean Wilson asked Herjavec the final question.
“Tell us the most useful thing about how to prioritize,” Wilson said.
Herjavec said the first step is to be very careful with the words you choose because no one is ever good enough to lie to his or her subconscious. The skill, however, is about being “the eye of the hurricane.”
“Effectiveness is about understanding the urgent from the truly important,” he said. “The ball has got to keep bouncing because the minute the ball stops bouncing, everything stops.”
Felipe Da Paz, a sophomore majoring in business administration, already has a startup company. Da Paz will be attending a pitch competition tomorrow.
“For me, it was really cool to learn about what [Herjavec] looks at when someone is pitching at him,” he said. “He was talking about getting [the investors’] attention, and I think it is very good to have that clear in your head. You must do something to really grasp their attention.”
Nahal Aghajani, a junior majoring in public relations, was the first person in line to see Herjavec speak.
“[I am] a big fan of the show,” Aghajani said.
She believes that Herjavec is the most knowledgeable and humble of the sharks.
“He told you that the point of a business isn’t about making money,” she said. “He does it for something bigger than himself, and if you are going to start a business, it has to be for something bigger than yourself.”