by Kim Lachance Shandrow
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at www.Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times.
Robert Herjavec lives by his calendar. “If it doesn’t exist on my calendar, it’s not real,” he says. To wrangle his haywire schedule, the Herjavec Group founder and CEO talks with his assistant “at least 20 times a day,” he recently told Entrepreneur on the Culver City, Calif., set of Shark Tank. Some of those times take place in quick spurts between long takes on the hit reality TV show, when the Canadian entrepreneur slides his iPhone seemingly out of nowhere and reads and responds to emails and texts.
(Interesting tidbit: The only Shark Tank star not to whip out a phone on-set is “QVC Queen” Lori Greiner. “I don’t even bring my phone,” she told us between takes. “When I’m here, I’m fully here and that’s it. No exceptions.”)
Herjavec says he has a good excuse to habitually check his phone on set: “I’m very hands on in running my business. I make a point of staying on top of it at all times, wherever I am.”
Staying glued to his phone, even under the bright lights of Sony Pictures sound stage 30, is part of how the multi-millionaire cybersecurity mogul takes control of his schedule and “gets more done,” but it’s not the only way.
“I also do something a lot of people don’t,” he says. “I say ‘no.’ To be as productive as possible, you have to learn to say ‘no’ and to say it often. When you’re an entrepreneur, when you’re leading a business, everybody wants a piece of you. It’s so hard.”
He continues, “The tendency is to say ‘yes’ to everything and then everything suffers, and you’re like, ‘Why did I say ‘yes’ to this?! Eventually you learn the power of ‘no’ and you get better at it as you go.”
Another of Herjavec’s favorite productivity tips: “Plan as much as you can a year in advance and stick to it.” To get a head start, he’s already booking his calendar for next year. In past years, when his three children were younger, at the beginning of every September, he says he sat down with his assistant and the kids’ school counselor to go through “each and every” school holiday and event they had off.
“Because of that, I never missed a swim meet. I never missed a school play. I never missed anything,” he says. “I’d fly from L.A. back to Toronto to be with my kids for one day. That’s the great thing about having your own business—the freedom to control your schedule and to do with it what you want.”
To glean more of Herjavec’s advice, check out Shark Tank on your local ABC station.