Are you a fan of CBC’s Dragon’s Den or ABC’s Shark Tank? If so, have you ever wondered how the panellists got there? In his semi-autobiographical book, Driven: How to Succeed in Business and in Life, Robert Herjavec tells of his journey from his arrival in Canada as a 7 year old Yugoslavian immigrant in the company of his parents, to the helm of a multi-million dollar, international hi-tech company and a star of the very popular Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank weekly TV shows.
Organized into 50 work and life principles that Robert attributes to his success, Driven is a “how to manual” offering nuts and bolts instructions on everything from making a successful pitch on the Dragon’s Den to “10 steps to prepare for opportunity”. The principles are illustrated throughout the book by personal anecdotes about his business experiences and the people he has met along the way.
Everyone’s Selling Something
"Selling isn’t always about convincing the other person to hand over money in exchange for a product or service."
I’m sure most people “in business” have heard the saying “nothing happens until somebody sells something.” (page 192) Most people would also assume that this statement applies to the salespeople in the organization who head out the door or pick up the telephone everyday to try to sell the company’s products or services. Herjavec believes that “to one degree or another, our sales ability is related to our overall success in life”.
In his experience, too many people refuse to acknowledge the role that selling plays in their lives. He quotes Robin Williams from his role in the movie Cadillac Man: “the closest you can get to another person without sleeping with them is to sell them something.”
Robert believes that, at its core, selling consists of relating to another person and persuading that person to go somewhere he or she perhaps did not plan to go.
"Nothing of any consequence was ever achieved without enormous passion and total dedication, not to the goal of making money but to the objective of becoming nothing less than the best."
Robert believes that those who lack the necessary passion, or never search for it deep enough in their souls, risk wasting their potential. He also believes in what he calls “the gold at the end of the rainbow: when you become great at something you love, the money always follows.”
It’s this passion that drives the Wayne Gretzkys, the Serena and Venus Williams and the Robert Herjavecs of the world to make the personal sacrifices required to be the best. Wayne Gretzky was not driven by the prospect of a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract but rather, by the passion to become the most successful hockey player of his generation. Passion implies sacrifice. Robert “cannot imagine accomplishing anything of value in this world without making some kind of sacrifice. Anyone who is driven to succeed recognizes this fact.”
"...the most influential quality of great business leaders has less to do with leading an organization than with inspiring it."
In Chapter 21, which he calls “When necessary, burn the ships” Robert suggests that traditional leadership is based on a concept of shared passion. Leading conjures a vision of dragging people along as though a rope were tied around their necks. It is far more efficient to inspire people to the same level of passion you have for the mission at hand. One way to achieve this is by making the people you depend upon feel important. Put this principle into action by asking questions about them, their work and their family. Understand their reality and help them see how pursuing your passion will help them individually. “People respond in a positive manner to those who express interest in their lives, and someone who achieves that kind of response can serve as an inspiration.”
Herjavec’s principles are as valuable in the living room as they are in the boardroom. Throughout the book he repeats four distinct themes which he describes as the different qualities needed to succeed; the ability to identify a business opportunity, the vision to shape it into a profitable venture, the passion to accept the risk involve in pursuing it and the talent to communicate both the vision and the passion to others. This is a rare combination. With them, there is still no guarantee of success. “Without them, however, there is no possibility.”