University of Southern California

Robert Herjavec on Entrepreneurial Success
High-tech Business Leader and "Shark Tank" Star Offers No-nonsense Counsel
May 2, 2014 • by News at Marshall

Robert Herjavec, Founder and CEO of the Herjavec Group, a $125 million managed security company and star of the hit show "Shark Tank," shared advice for business success with members of Marshall's Executive MBA (EMBA) class at USC on April 12. Herjavec spoke to students from the Los Angeles and San Diego EMBA contingents during a section centered on entrepreneurship taught by Steven Mednick, associate director of Marshall’s Center for Global Innovation and assistant professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Herjavec, also author of "Driven: How to Succeed in Business and Life" and "The Will to Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding," recounted his unlikely path. A first-generation immigrant who fled communist Yugoslavia for Canada with his parents when he was 8 years old, Herjavec went on to excel in the high-tech field. He built and sold several IT companies to major players including AT&T and Nokia before founding his current company.

During his talk, Herjavec spoke about his determination to break into the field in a sales position for which he had no formal training. After pledging to work for free for the first six months while he proved himself, Herjavec waited tables after hours to pay his rent and living expenses—part of the hard work necessary to move forward.

"Every dream," he said, “has a price. Everyone wants to do better, but how many are willing to pay the price to do so? How much effort and hard work are you willing to do to get ahead?”

He went on to describe how he joined the cast of "Shark Tank," where he helps budding entrepreneurs, and the attributes that can set contestants apart—even when their business pitches are flawed.

"If people don't know their numbers, then that can be OK if they are nice and make you feel good in their presence," he said. "Never underestimate in life how important it is to be pleasant. Be the source of sunshine for others but don’t underestimate the kindness!"

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.