You Don't Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success

You Don't Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success

by Robert Herjavec


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From bestselling author and Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec comes a business book in which he transcends the business world, helping us all learn the art of persuasion in order to get ahead in our personal and professional lives.

A Wall Street Journal Bestseller!

Many people assume that effective sales ability demands a unique personality and an aggressive attitude. It's not true, and Robert Herjavec is proof. Known as the "Nice Shark" on the ABC's Emmy Award-winning hit show SHARK TANK, Robert Herjavec is loved by viewers, who respond to his affable nature. He has developed an honest and genuine approach to life and selling that has set him apart from his cut-throat colleagues, and rewarded him with a degree of wealth measured in hundreds of millions of dollars.

In You Don't Have to Be a Shark, Robert transcends pure sales technique and teaches "non-business people" what they need to know in order to sell themselves successfully. We are each our own greatest asset, and in order to achieve our goals, we need to be able to communicate with others, position ourselves and even look the part. Robert's philosophy is simple: Great salespeople are made, not born, and no one achieves success in life without knowing how to sell. Entertaining, enlightening and effective, You Don't Have to Be a Shark will reveal the secrets of one of North America's most successful businessmen, who also happens to be one of today's most prominent TV personalities, delivered in a friendly, down-to-earth manner, and filled with anecdotes and observations to support its hard-nosed advice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250130822
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/30/2017
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 224,768
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

ROBERT HERJAVEC is the author of the books, Driven and The Will to Win, which were simultaneous bestsellers on the Globe & Mail list, and enjoyed rave reviews for the quality of their advice and the appeal of their writing style. In addition to his regular spot on Shark Tank, Robert Herjavec is a popular guest on local and network TV news and entertainment shows, where he comments on business-related topics that frequently segue into aspects of his personal life — such as his penchant for racing million-dollar cars at speeds approaching 200 mph.

Read an Excerpt

You Don't Have to Be a Shark

Creating Your Own Success

By Robert Herjavec, John Lawrence Reynolds

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Robert Herjavec
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09224-3


Learning New Steps on a Different Floor

The most common career advice American children hear from their parents is You can be anything you want to be, inevitably followed by, if you try hard enough.

Don't take it literally. Nobody should. Eventually we all encounter limits on our dreams. One of the most popular sayings used on Shark Tank is "A goal without a timeline is just a dream." Some limits are imposed on us by physical qualities. Example: never tell a sumo wrestler he can become a jockey. Others are situational, or as simple as geography; it's difficult to become a world-class skier unless you live near snow. And some are self-imposed, when we don't try hard enough to make our dreams come true.

The path we all follow toward success, no matter how we define it, is never as easy as Just try hard enough. It never was. Things are not and have never been that simple. Yet one of the biggest obstacles we all encounter in this journey is easily defined and, despite all we may believe, something we can all learn to handle.

It's selling. Selling your services or product. Selling your dreams to others. And even selling yourself to yourself, which for some people can be the hardest job of all.

You believe you can be anything you want to be? Good luck. But win or lose at that game, the skill you need more than any other is understanding the basics of selling, and appreciating all the ways you will benefit from it.

All through life.

* * *

No matter what you want to achieve or who you want to become, the ability to sell anything — including yourself — is one of the most rewarding talents to acquire in life. Why? Because it is universal. It is difficult to imagine any aspect of life that would not benefit from knowing and practicing the skills of making a sale.

It's easy to see the importance of sales either when standing behind a retail counter or pitching a billion-dollar sale of aircraft to the Pentagon. But it's more than that. Sales jobs are pervasive in almost every kind of work you can name. You cannot be an effective CEO if you can't sell your company not just to customers and shareholders but to your staff as well — those you currently employ and those you hope to employ. It's also hard to be a great engineer if you can't sell your project to investors for funding. And trust me — it's impossible to make a successful pitch to the Sharks if you can't first sell yourself to us.

Selling is not just an essential part of business; it's also essential in personal relationships, all the way back to teenage years. You need to sell yourself on a date, and sell your parents on the idea of giving you the keys to the car. Eventually you are selling your abilities as an employee when you have your first job interview — and every job interview after that.

So selling is the basis of any relationship, personal and business. Don't believe me? Watch any episode of Shark Tank and think about the sales job that is happening — or too often not happening. When someone who hopes to persuade us to hand them $100,000 can't come up with the information we need on sales figures or market size or competitive situation, it's a deal-breaker in most situations. Many of them get slammed for not being prepared, no matter how promising their idea may be. In other cases, however, we Sharks may actually help them along, suggesting the things we need to know, trying to move toward a deal.

What's the difference? Why do we knock some and encourage others?

The difference is sales ability. The ones whose failings we overlook engaged us immediately in their business concept, and their promise that we will make money from it. The others did not. So we look for ways to work with those who succeed in selling us and to get the others out of the studio ASAP.

Sales are the beginning of everything that business strives to achieve. Not the end — the beginning. This makes it far more critical to a successful career than many people recognize. It's also been suggested that the world consists of "natural-born salespeople" and everyone else — that good sales ability is as genetic as the color of your hair. Which is a bunch of nonsense, and I can prove it.

Much of my success in business is the result of selling gifted people on the idea of investing their future with me and my company, and selling prospective clients on the benefits they will enjoy by giving us their business. Does this mean I was a "natural-born salesman"? No, it does not. I was not a unicorn, either; both are equally fictitious.

I learned to become good at sales. So can you. And the first step is to get over your fear of failure and rejections.

Which brings me to dancing.

* * *

By age fifty, I had achieved many things in life that I could not have dreamed of as a youngster. I had built a number of companies from little more than an idea into major success stories and restructured a Silicon Valley firm to avoid bankruptcy. I was expanding my current technology-based business into a worldwide entity. Along the way I also managed to run marathons, write two bestselling books, become certified as a scuba diver, play in celebrity golf tournaments, and race million-dollar cars around racetracks at speeds approaching two hundred miles an hour, winning my share of first-place trophies.

But I had never danced. Never even gave it a thought.

Oh, I had shuffled around a floor a few times with a partner, but it wasn't really dancing. I didn't know the difference between a cha-cha and a Chihuahua, and the idea of wearing an eye-catching costume while performing a waltz or a tango was as alien to me as singing with the Metropolitan Opera. I could strap myself in a Ferrari and dive off the Great Barrier Reef, but if someone suggested I learn to dance at the professional level on live television in front of fifteen million viewers, I would have waited for the punch line. They couldn't be serious. Me learn to dance? In costume? On live network TV?

Actually, the idea appealed to me. Who wouldn't want to glide across the floor with a partner, making smooth moves to the music and looking great? The truth is, I was deathly afraid. I actually danced with my daughter at her graduation ceremonies, a father-and-daughter dance. I lumbered across the floor trying to look cool and keep from tripping over my feet. When the music ended I could hardly wait to get off the floor and sit with the other fathers who had been as frightened as me at dancing in public.

So when the producers of Dancing with the Stars invited me to participate in season 20 of the show, what did I do? I agreed. Immediately. Actually, I thought they were joking. I figured somewhere along the way they would come to their senses, and I would get the call telling me they had changed their mind. With nothing to lose I said, "Sure, why not?" But the call never came, and when I realized they were serious about it, I grew petrified. Yet, for a number of reasons, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I realized if I could sell the idea of me as a dancer first to myself, then to my professional partner and the judges, and finally to the viewers watching every step I took, it would be in many ways the ultimate sales job. And I needed that kind of achievement at the time.

In fact, like so many things in life, my decision was all about timing.

The invitation arrived while I was dealing with the end of my twenty-four-year marriage. I had been separated for some time, but I was still suffering almost overwhelming pain and a sense of loss. No matter how you portray it, divorce represents failure on the part of two people. Where children are involved, it brings pain, trauma, guilt, and grief.

I wasn't accustomed to this kind of suffering. Hey, I was the immigrant kid who became a wealthy businessman and international TV personality, almost entirely on my own. Sure, I'd had setbacks, but I had always overcome them with a positive attitude and stubborn determination. I didn't just take pride in my success in business; I also reveled in it. Nothing was going to get me down, because there was nothing in my life that I believed I couldn't handle.

Well, I was wrong. The failure of my marriage proved to be more than a setback. I was not prepared for the emotional landslide that overwhelmed me with pain and hopelessness. I grew depressed and felt both lost and powerless. Everything I had done, everything I had achieved in my life, appeared worthless to me. Despite challenges within my marriage, family life had represented all that I had worked for and much that defined me.

Advice began arriving from a number of sources. With it came condolences, suggestions, and warnings. Of all the warnings, one from a friend who had been divorced a few years earlier knocked me deeper into despair. "Robert," he told me when I explained how much I was missing my children, "I haven't talked to my kids in more than two years."

It took me a very long time to deal with that. When I knew I would not be able to handle the reality on my own, I turned to a priest who was also a family friend. He listened to me with understanding and sympathy before saying, "Robert, we heal ourselves when we heal others." I had a long history with religion and God. Born into a Catholic family, I had been an altar boy for many years, but over time I had drifted away from the Church. It wasn't that I no longer believed; it was just that I had lost many of the lessons that were once integral and basic in my life.

I could launch the healing process, I was told, by volunteering to help those in dire need of assistance. Their gratitude would validate my existence as well as their own. It made sense to me. If I could help others, maybe I could also help myself.

"Where," I asked, "could I make this happen?"

The answer was "Seattle."

Two days later I was serving food to homeless people whose only possessions were the clothes on their back and whose dreams were limited to having a safe, comfortable place to sleep at night. We soon found our respective roles: I was the volunteer, and they were the teachers. Soon I had no time to feel sorry for myself and carry the burden of guilt around. I was too busy helping others, but not too busy to hear their stories. At the mission I was told, "Open your heart and listen to the stories of these people because eventually their stories will become part of your story."

I began to listen, and what I heard was both wonderful and incredible. I began to change — to heal — when I stopped seeing the environment around me and saw only the people.

The people I assisted and lived among at the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle taught me about love, about hope, and about understanding the needs of others. They also taught me much about myself. It was a powerful lesson, and I promised someday to tell our story — theirs, about everyone's need for care and compassion; and mine, about the way I was changed and the gratitude I will always owe to them. I'm including the full story later in this book not simply to fulfill that promise, but also to share the wisdom with you. It did not repair me, but it began to heal me. I had done many wonderful and exciting things in my life, but I will never forget the comment of a man who had spent much of his life assisting people in desperate need. "I have never seen anything in life as fascinating," he told me, "as another human being."

* * *

When my journey in Seattle ended, I returned home to plunge back into managing and expanding my business. I was better, but I was in no way fully healed. I wanted to continue the healing by finding ways to restore the satisfaction with my life that I had once enjoyed. In the beginning it was difficult, because I thought I had no new horizons to explore and no new worlds to conquer. I had used that technique in the past whenever my life needed a boost. Need something to do besides work? I'll train to run a marathon. Looking for another world to conquer? I'll sharpen my golf game and aim to win a tournament or two.

This kind of thing usually worked, although it also complicated my life a good deal. When my marriage ended, I took another route. This time I chose to simplify my life in various ways. Among other things, I believed, it would leave me free to focus on rebuilding my relationship with my children. So I abandoned plans to run more marathon races, put my golf clubs in long-term storage, and sold some of my exotic cars. These were big steps for me, but they were easier to achieve than I expected.

I still planned to expand my business, and instead of being easier this proved tougher — not because of something I had done wrong in the past, but because of something I had managed to do very well.

During my absence in Seattle, my company continued to succeed on a day-to-day basis, thanks to the team of exceptional people I had hired over the years. They carried out the duties that once had been mine to deal with alone.

I have to admit that I accepted this particular reality with mixed emotions. Being so selective in choosing members of my management team had paid off handsomely — so handsomely, in fact, that I discovered I was no longer quite as essential to the company as I once believed. This discovery wasn't quite as comfortable as the one that proved I was a pretty good judge of talent when it came to hiring key people. If getting over my personal pain relied on reassuring myself I was both essential and irreplaceable, it apparently wouldn't be to my own company.

I was still running things, and we still had impressive goals to reach as a company. But it was more clear than ever that we would achieve our goals not just by me, Robert Herjavec, charging up the hill alone like Teddy Roosevelt, expecting everyone to follow me, but as a talented, committed team sharing the same objectives in a positive working environment. I was forced to admit that all the goals I had set for the company would be reached by the team working together far more than by me alone.

When it came to dealing with the painful aftereffects of my marriage collapse, I felt like a victim of my own success. I was proud of my team, and proud of myself for selecting and inspiring them over the years. The team's success, however, wasn't going to soothe my wounds nearly as well as I hoped. Something was missing. I needed a personal goal as well as a business objective. I needed an "I can do that!" challenge like the ones I had tackled throughout my life in the past. I needed to measure my determination and willpower in a situation totally alien to me. I needed something to encourage me to stretch my belief in myself. But at my age, where would I find one?

Which is when Dancing with the Stars called.

* * *

I was already familiar with Dancing with the Stars. The show had been a favorite of my mother's, and I remembered her delight when we would sit down to watch it together. Mother died a few years earlier, and I still missed her. Whenever I thought of Dancing with the Stars, I would recall the glow on her face as she watched dancers compete in brief, exotic costumes that probably shocked her — although she never let it on to me — even while she smiled and nodded to the rhythm of the music. It was a favorite show of hers during the years she battled cancer, one of the few things that took her mind off the disease that ended her life. Mother would watch Dancing with the Stars, then turn and say to me, "Do you think you might be on this show one day?" At the time, it seemed as impossible as so many other things in my life.

We watched the show together for different reasons. Mother loved the beauty of the dancing; I savored the tough go-for-broke competition. Twice each year, the show held a series of ten competitions pairing teams of gifted dancing professionals and inexperienced celebrities against each other. The tension was always terrific. Dancing with the Stars aired live, which meant the dancers could count on no retakes, no edits, no second chances. If they fell and landed on their tush, the whole world saw it in the comfort of their living room and had a giggle at their expense. During these competitions the dancers could shimmy, they could sway, they could boogie, and for certain they could stumble. But they couldn't hide.


Excerpted from You Don't Have to Be a Shark by Robert Herjavec, John Lawrence Reynolds. Copyright © 2016 Robert Herjavec. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1. Learning New Steps on a Different Floor

2. Everyone Is Selling Somebody Something

3. Classes in the College of Bad Debts

4. The Art of Legitimate Selling

5. The Chill of Cold Calls

6. The Biggest Myth About Sales and Life

7. Inside the Shark Tank

8. Shark Bites

9. The World Owes You Nothing—Except Opportunity

10. How Do You Know What You’re Good At?

11. The 80/20 Rule and How It Rules Life

12. All the Things About Selling That I Learned from Dancing—and Vice Versa

13. Five Things Every Salesperson Needs to Know

14. Five Things That Everyone in Sales Needs to Do

15. Sometimes the Most Difficult Person to Be Is Yourself

16. The Closing Conundrum: People Want to Buy; They Don’t Want to Be Sold

17. Setting Your Moral Compass

18. The Best Source of Your Job Security . . . Is You

19. Think of a Job Application as an Ad Campaign

20. Learn to Swim with Sharks Without Being One

21. It’s Not the School Prom (but Sometimes It Feels That Way)

22. How to Ask for a Raise

23. If You Can’t See It, You Can’t Reach It

24. Beware of the Bull’s-eye on Your Back

25. The Price of Success

26. The Significance of Socks

27. Keep Moving Forward

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