When Robert Herjavec lasted eight out of ten weeks on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, he didn't just upstage his Shark Tank co-star Mark Cuban, who was eliminated during week five in 2007. He also picked up some valuable business lessons.
While dancing and running a business might not sound like they have a lot in common, Herjavec says competing on the reality show took over his life for 75 straight days in the same way that growing a company can monopolize an entrepreneur's life.
The physically grueling competition required a minimum of five hours a day, seven days a week, rehearsing. "In the fourth week I had to take four cortisone shots a day just to walk," Herjavec says.
Here are five business lessons Herjavec took with him from his time on the dance floor.
1. Confidence can be more important than skill. Herjavec was an inexperienced dancer prior to the show, but claims he won over the judges by maintaing a high level of confidence throughout the competition. "People who lack confidence look everywhere and look like they're lost," Herjavec says. "That's the first telltale sign."
2. Always be selling. In any business environment, the ability to sell yourself better than your competitor can often be the difference between making a deal and walking away empty handed. The lesson? Never stop selling. "I lasted because I sold people on the perception that I could dance," Herjavec said.
3. Be passionate about your next venture. One of the reasons Herjavec was a great fit for Dancing With the Stars is that prior to competing on the show, he was a fan who watched it religiously. This made the experience more fun and gave him authentic competitive advantage over some of his celebrity counterparts.
4. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Being a successful business owner and leader can make it hard to take a backseat position, but Herjavec says letting his professional dance partner Kym Johnson direct him was the key to their success. "To be a great leader, you first have to learn to be a great follower," Herjavec says. "When we were on the dance floor, I was definitely following."
5. Success paints a target on your back. Going head-to-head with different competitors every week reinforced Herjavec's deeply-held belief that no matter how successful you are, you will always face bigger, stronger rivals in your career. "I'm a big believer that in business, everyday someone wakes up with the sole intention of kicking your ass," he says.