Robert Herjavec: ‘The World Doesn’t Reward Mediocrity.’

Robert Herjavec

Robert Herjavec: ‘The World Doesn’t Reward Mediocrity.’

The most important decision Robert Herjavec ever made wasn’t ditching the 9-to-5 and going into business for himself.

It wasn’t adapting to a whole new language and way of life after moving to Canada from communist Yugoslavia. And it wasn’t selling his first company to AT&T for millions in cash.

It was rejecting the “virus” he calls mediocrity, refusing to be average in its many easy-to-fall-into forms.

“The world doesn’t reward mediocrity,” Herjavec recently told Entrepreneur from the Culver City, Calif., set of Shark Tank.

“You’ve got to be great at something. Nothing is ever ‘good enough.’ It’s either excellent or inferior.”

The sapphire-eyed 52-year-old tech mogul decided early on that just being “good enough” would never be good enough for him.

Teased and beat up at school because of his thick Serbo-Croat accent and “very uncool” foreign clothes, as a young boy Herjavec watched his father trek two miles to and from his job sweeping floors in a factory, just to save on bus fare.

He also saw his mother get hornswoggled out of $500 — seven weeks’ salary, the family’s entire savings — by a slick traveling vacuum salesman.

That was the day he vowed to never to let his family live so close to the edge again. (He still owns that darn vacuum, by the way.)

Despite growing up mostly beneath the poverty line, Herjavec used his struggles as an “off the boat” immigrant as motivation to rise above his circumstances, eventually all the way to the top of his unlikely career in cybersecurity.

(His Internet security firm, the Herjavec Group, is now one of the largest and most profitable information technology companies in Canada.)

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