The Path To Success Is Constant Failure – Robert Herjavec In Conversation With Larry King

You might be familiar with the Canadian businessman Robert Herjavec from the CBC television series Dragon’s Den and the ABC’s version of it, Shark Tank. He was interviewed by the renowned American television and radio host Larry King in the summer of 2016 – and since Robert is one of my influencers because I find his philosophy and mindset to be aligned with mine, thought I’d share with you below some of the interview insights, hoping that you’ll find them inspiring and instructive.

Note that I’ve only transcribed the Q&A that I thought were relevant to the subject of this article, but there’s much more to it, including a short description of his book You Don’t Have to Be A Shark and a ‘Get to know you’ fun game – so to get the whole picture, I’d suggest watching the full interview, as well.

  • Larry King: Why did you immigrate to Canada?

Robert Herjavec: My Dad wanted to come to America, but America wouldn’t take us. Canada took us in with open arms. My Dad always thought: “America! One day we go to America!” and we ended up in Canada.

  • LK: Do you think you use your immigrant mentality as a force for your success?

RH: I always have this chip on my shoulder about being an immigrant. I think that once you don’t fit in, you always have this need to fit in. I always feel like I’m working towards something, I always feel this need to work harder, push harder, and do more.

  • LK: Was your goal financial success?

RH: My goal was lack of poverty. I just didn’t want to be poor. I didn’t want to live like we were living.

  • LK: What makes a good pitch?

RH: The person. We make up our mind [about a person] 50 percent of the time in the first 2 minutes. It’s how you stand, the cadence of your voice, how you walk out, all of those things. I want to invest in somebody who’s confident without being arrogant.

RH: It’s for the average person. Well, it’s for a salesman, but I think there’s really great sales books. This is a sales book for the non-sales person. The person who’s afraid to do sales. You know why they’re afraid to do sales, Larry?

LK: They’re afraid to hear NO.

RH: They’re afraid of rejection. They take it extremely personally. They think that someone is saying NO to them. People would rather wallow in mediocrity then get to a point where they hear a YES or a NO. I want to hear a NO. If you’re not going to buy something from me, don’t waste my time.

LK: My friend Herb Cohen who wrote ‘You Can Negotiate Anything‘, which is a great book, said that you’re selling yourself every day and you’re negotiating every day and everything. You’re negotiating with your wife as soon as the day begins.

RH: Right. You’re negotiating for a raise…you know, a Mom is negotiating with her kids to eat more vegetables…‘Sales’ is everything.

  • LK: Do you vote with your heart or with your pocket book?

RH: Both. I vote with my heart to begin with, as I have to be emotionally invested in something. At a certain point in life, you get to do the things you want and you can stop doing the things you have to.

  • LK: What characteristic is most important to succeed in business?

RH: Perseverance – the ability to absorb failure. You’re going to hear NO more than you’re going to hear YES. It’s not your ability to be happy when the sun is shining that determines success, it’s your ability to absorb failure on the days when everybody hates you, it’s raining, people are mean to you, your dog doesn’t even like you…if you can be happy on those days and move forward, you got something.

  • LK: Are you ever scared or do you always feel in control?

RH: I always feel like I’m in control of my own destiny. I feel I can create any situation in life, but am smart enough to know that’s not true – it doesn’t matter, I feel that way.

Social Media Questions

  • LK: What motivates you in business and in life?

RH: Doing better – I just want to be successful.

  • LK: Would you do a deal with someone you think lacks integrity? / Can you develop integrity?

RH: No, because eventually they’ll screw you. / Yeah, you can. I believe in second chances.

  • LK: The path to success is spotted with failure. What do you consider your biggest failure?

RH: The path to success is NOT spotted with failure; the path to success is CONSTANT failure, spotted with SOME success.  You got to let your winnings ride and you got to absorb your failures quickly – you got to get off the floor. I never think of anything as a failure, I think everything you do get you to this point; I think the minute you think of failure, it’s over.  I’ve never thought I was a failure, even in the worst days, I’ve never thought of myself as a failure in anything.

LK: Woody Allen said “The key to success is showing up.

RH: Oh, I believe that. How many people are willing to do that? You know, Howard Schultz when he started Starbucks had to go to 342 banks to get funding. Think about that: I have an idea, I’m gonna sell coffee for $3, give me some money…How many people, after 341 times would get up the next day and show up the 342nd?

  • LK: You grew up poor. What are the pitfalls of becoming rich when you grew up without money?

RH: There are NO pitfalls to being rich. Rich is good. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich – and rich is better than poor. People think that when you become rich, you become a jerk. The people that I’ve met that are wealthy were jerks before they had any money.  Great wealth amplifies who you are. If you’re a jerk and kicked your dog when you had no money, guess what: you’re going to do the same thing [when you get wealthy].

  • LK: Why do people with inherited wealth sometimes have problems?

RH: Ah, inherited wealth is completely different. All the wealth I talk about is earned. When you earn something, when you accomplish or create something from nothing and you make it happen, nobody can ever take that away from you – even if the money goes away. Heired wealth is a whole different game. You didn’t earn that. You lose the sense of accomplishment – and without accomplishment, you have no stamina, and you have no confidence. You can’t fake accomplishment.


If you have found value in this article, don’t just keep it to yourself – take one step further and share it with someone who would benefit from it, as well. Feel free to also leave your comments below, would love to hear your thoughts.

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. ~ Dale Carnegie

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