Robert Herjavec, an investor on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning hit TV show Shark Tank, is the founder and CEO of global cybersecurity operations leader, Herjavec Group. He is a best-selling author, appeared on Dancing With the Stars (where he met and married his dance partner) and has just teamed up with La Quinta by Wyndham for a new national survey on business travel questions. I caught up with him in New York City:
Do you travel with a carry-on, or do you travel with a suitcase?
Rule number one for me is never check in luggage.
You travel more than 100 days a year for business. What are the three things you can’t travel without?
WiFi (although I don’t bring my own WiFi obviously), coffee, and noise-cancelling headphones.
How do you pack your suitcase?
I think from the bottom up. Socks shoes; I try to coordinate outfits for each day, and I never go anywhere without running shoes. In our survey, we found that 23% of people say the best way to prepare for a big meeting is to exercise. For me, the best form of anything is exercise. I try to work out every day.
Why did you team up with La Quinta on this survey?
I like people that are business oriented. That’s one thing I loved about this survey and I love La Quinta because they know business. When I’m traveling, it’s all about business.
If your flight’s delayed, what do you do?
Log on. If there’s WiFi, I can work and tune out the world. Give me noise-canceling headphones, iTunes, and a computer with WiFi and I’m good to go anywhere. I always bring a hard-cover book because I can only work for so long and then I’ve got to log off for a couple of hours. Reading is a real pleasure for me.
How do you deal with unexpected time delays?
I hate unexpected time delays. I hate surprise parties. I like the perception that I’m always in control of the universe and my time. I know I really have no control in life, but I love the perception of it. I’m all about planning.
When you arrive, do you spend your time preparing for a meeting or going to sleep?
First thing I do is unpack. One of the most interesting things that we found in the survey is that 54% of people said the biggest hassle they face when preparing to travel for business is packing and unpacking. I agree with that. I have a system: the very first thing I do, no matter how tired I am, is take my suitcase and flip it upside down. I take out the things to hang, put my vanity kit in the bathroom, log on, get my emails, and then exercise.
What are some of the challenges business travelers face?
I think it’s finding a routine that they can stick to. We found that 59% of people would never stay at a hotel where they could not earn rewards points. I think that a loyalty program is really important to people.
Do more people stay up to prepare for a meeting or do more choose to get sleep?
I’m all about work, so I’ll stay up.
Let’s say you wake up at 3AM panicked because you didn’t prepare properly for an 8am meeting. What are you going to do?
I don’t usually panic, and I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t prepared for something. Part of the survey stated that 51% of executives stay up later than 2AM. I stay up really late because I want to be prepared.
The survey says that 64% of people said it would be harder to go without high-speed WiFi than clean underwear. What’s your preference?
Oh, absolutely WiFi.
34% of business travelers say drinking coffee or tea is one of the most important ways to prepare for work while traveling. What do you think is the most important way to prepare?
Well I don’t understand what the other 76% are doing, because how can people exist without coffee? I wake up, I have a coffee, I go work out and get ready for the day.
79% of business travelers stock up on food from the breakfast bar to eat later in the day, do you do that?
Oh my God, I absolutely do that. I love staying at a place that has a breakfast buffet and I take a banana or something for later. When we started filming Shark Tank 11 years ago, I was maybe 25 pounds heavier. One of the tricks I learned is if you want to lose weight, eat more. I snack healthily all the time. In my carry-on there’s always a banana, apple or peanuts.
More than 35% of business travelers have had their stomachs grumble during a presentation, have you?
Oh yeah. I try to look at the other person, so I pretend it’s them. The hardest thing for me is eating well because it’s so tempting to eat quickly. The chairman of Coke once said to me, “Never eat alone. You’re already on the road so take out a customer or fellow employee for dinner. Maximize that time.” I really try to do that.
While on the road, what’s most important for feeling prepared?
Scheduling. I expect things are going to go wrong, but if I have that level of planning it allows me to take in unexpected emergencies throughout the day.
The survey says that 30% of travelers think finding pet care is more stressful than finding child care, which is 23%.
Well, it’s obvious those people that say that about child care don’t have twins. Because I can’t find anybody to look after my twins but everybody will look after my dog. I’m kind of the opposite on that stat.
What’s the most stressful thing about being on the road?
Just being away from your family. It’s hard. I used to believe that traveling was awful and really hard; and it is hard, but I received a great tip: every mile on the road is one step closer to my goals. So even though it’s hard, I still get excited. I say, “I’m going on the road and I get to see my customers.” The other thing I try to say, “I get to,” as opposed to, “I have to.” You’re traveling. You have a job. You’re advancing your career. You’re getting to know your co-workers. This is good.
Do you take vacations or you’re already doing too much traveling?
I take vacations. I think people that don’t are making a mistake. Business travel is really critical, but you’ve got to wind down. If you want to run hard, you’ve got to take a break.
Do you have any tips that would help business travelers?
Know your partner. Know where you’re staying. I don’t like surprises. When I travel, I like things to be where they are. I like to go to a gym that’s open 24 hours. I like to be able to get coffee, and I want to know that ahead of time. It always amazes me that people are trying to pick where they’re going to stay instead of picking a program and always staying at those locations. In our survey, 59% of people want to be part of a loyalty program, and there’s a consistency to that.
You’re an entrepreneur. What do you think is the most important characteristic of being an entrepreneur?
I think it’s unbridled, furious optimism in the face of interminable odds and comfort with disarray. Somebody said the definition of entrepreneur is someone who jumps out of an airplane and builds a parachute on the way down.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from the other sharks on Shark Tank?
Full credit to Mark Cuban who once said to me, “Always expect it to work out.” What I used to think was, “I think it’s going to work out, but in case it doesn’t, here’s our backup plan.” For Mark, there is no backup plan. It’s going to work out.
What is leadership to you?
Leadership is inspiration. People don’t want to be managed; they want to be led. When I started out, I didn’t know a lot about accounting or software or coding. I’ve learned all that, but I’ve always had a dream and a vision and wanted people to come along with me. If you can share your passion with others and get them to come along, you can do great things in life.
Originally posted on forbes.com