Robert Herjavec Of ‘Shark Tank’ Started His Television Career With The Sarajevo Olympics
Robert Herjavec is now known as an internet security expert, but back in 1984, he was a recent University of Toronto graduate working for a television station. As Herjavec wrote in Fortune, he was a field producer on the Sarajevo Olympics, because the outfit needed someone fluent in Serbo-Croatian. More than 30 years later, he expressed a measured assessment of his performance in that role.
“I had no idea what I was doing, but I got the job done.”
But at the time, the experience made Herjavec believe he had a future as a film director. While struggling to make a go in the entertainment business, he heard about a then-lucrative opening at a tech company, for which he applied. He eventually became president of the company, a startup called Logiquest. He left to go into business on his own, starting a company called BRAK Systems in 1990. 10 years later, he received an offer to sell it for $30.2 million.
In a separate Fortune article from earlier this summer, it was reported that BRAK was sold to AT&T in 2000 for $100 million. In that interview, Herjavec discussed how the evolution of technology with innovations such as cloud computing has made it easier for entrepreneurs to get started, also leading to greater competition.
“When I started a business, if you got to a certain size, your competitor couldn’t afford to buy servers, big things. Today, the Internet is the great equalizer.”
He spent the next three years as a stay-at-home dad before starting his namesake Herjavec Group in 2003. Before starting on Shark Tank, where he’s been a panelist for all eight seasons of the U.S. version of the program, he was among the investors on Dragon’s Den on the CBC.
Herjavec’s success seemed to come in stages, but his advice to modern-day entrepreneurs is to keep the big picture in mind. Struggle is inevitable, but it is possible to make a significant mark. In an interview with Forbes writer Amanda Brinkman, he cited his own limited outlook in his early years as a regret.
“I wish someone would’ve told me to dream bigger, and that I didn’t need to put limitations on what I could accomplish. It may be due to my upbringing – my father working in a factory, my mother as a receptionist – but it seemed crazy to imagine building a $1 million company, let alone a $100 million company.
“In other words, don’t kid yourself that success comes easy, but don’t put any arbitrary or unnecessary parameters on what you believe you can accomplish through hard work and smart business decisions, either.”
This past July in Fortune Herjavec said it is important to hire people a business believes in, because the team will help create success. While hiring on the basis of technical skill sometimes works, often putting dedicated and enthusiastic people on the job with a “sink or swim” approach may ultimately have better results.
Herjavec, a father of three, got married to his Dancing with the Stars pro partner, Kym Johnson, over the summer. Among the wedding photos published in People was a shot with Shark Tank co-stars Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, and Lori Greiner. Herjavec gushed about finding love again after the end of his first marriage.
“I worried I’d become bitter or an old cat guy. But at the end of the day everybody wants to connect to another human being. When I met Kym, it was just effortless.”
Matching Kym’s white dress, Herjavec wore a white tuxedo for the occasion. Celebrities such as Olivia Newton-John, Carson Kressley, and Dancing with the Stars alum Cheryl Burke were also on hand to join in the festivities.
Shark Tank airs Friday nights on ABC.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]