Herjavec inspires WLU

Telling his story about becoming one of Canada’s most successful businessmen, television personality and computer mogul Robert Herjavec spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of Wilfrid Laurier University alumni as the keynote speaker at Laurier Development Day on May 6.

“It’s the basic human condition that we want to better our lives,” Herjavec told the crowd. “I’m pretty certain that everyone in this room didn’t wake up and say, ‘I want my life to suck today.’”

To many, Herjavec is one of the venture capitalists on CBC’s hit television show Dragon’s Den, as well as its American counterpart Sharks’ Tank. But Dragons’ Den wasn’t always the hit show that it is today.

“If it wasn’t for CBC, we would have never have come back,” Herjavec said, noting that the first season of the show was a complete failure.

But with a peak of about four million views in its subsequent four seasons, Herjavec was proud to announce that Dragons’ Den was Canada’s most successful show ever.

The majority of the talk, however, was the story of his road to success — something that, according to alumni relations, is what people like to hear on Laurier Development Day.

Teresa Smiley, the alumni relations officer, expressed that Herjavec filled that ticket.

“We have achieved success based on requests by previous attendees that they indicated that they like to hear stories of people who have achieved of certain level of success,” she said.

Herjavec explained to the audience the things he learned throughout his career as a businessman, first by describing the sale of his Internet security company to AT&T. His mini-lessons included the “gut feeling” that everyone should follow and personal branding.

“What I’ve learned is that you got to put yourself out there. Because if you don’t show your abilities, if people don’t know who you are, if people don’t know what you’re capable of, it’s hard to get noticed,” continued Herjavec.

Also, he stated that “change” is the main attribute of the business world, which consequently creates fear among many entrepreneurs. “In the face of fear, do something. I’d rather you do something wrong than do nothing.”

While his talk was humorous and informal, the message he tried to convey was clear: be positive.

Using an example from the James Bond film series, Herjavec asked the audience, “Are you the Dr. No or are you James Bond? There are so many Dr. No’s out there telling you no.”

The Cord asked Herjavec about what advice he has to offer for the young entrepreneurs and business students at Laurier — the faculty his son will join next year.

“I think it is experience, I think it’s knowing the reality of the market. School’s great, and it gives you a great foundation,” Herjavec explained.

“But the real world is a different place. It’s about getting that real world experience.”

Herjavec, while wrapping up filming for the sixth season of Dragons’ Den, mentioned that 30 per cent of the pitches on the show this year were university and college students.

To Herjavec, success means being positive and enjoying your work.

“It’s a cliché, but you got to love what you do,” concluded Herjevac. “And to compete on a world class level, be great at something.”

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