Many members of modern society believe you haven't made it until your story gets sucked up and spewed out by the celebrity gossip machine.
Knowing Robert Herjavec, that's not the kind of validation he's looking for—he doesn't need any to begin with. Herjavec is a multimillionaire serial entrepreneur,
TV personality and the president and CEO of network security provider The Herjavec Group, which places 39th on this year's PROFIT 200 ranking of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies—its fi fth time on the list. (Full coverage of the 2012 PROFIT 200 starts on page 27.) Still, there he was in early May, on the massively popular website TMZ.com, starring in a story headlined "Oops, I WRECKED My Ferrari… at 130 MPH" with accompanying dashboard video. It wasn't the kind of foible that typifies the coverage on TMZ and its ilk. Rather, Herjavec, an experienced race-car driver who competes on the Ferrari 458 Challenge circuit, blew a turn and drove head-on into a tire safety wall—although the speedometer in the video had dropped to 50 mph by the time of impact, as cranky online commentators pointed out.
Herjavec's white-knuckle pursuit is what the more entrepreneurial among us would call "living the dream." The Croatian immigrant and former waiter has earned his current lifestyle. Few would hesitate to trade places with him for a while. But other online commentators have derided the entrepreneur for using his wealth to get on the track in the fi rst place.
Such envy-fuelled sniping is as old as commerce itself. What's worrisome is that a growing cohort of the population is more than just envious; it feels entitled to a high standard of living without working for one, paying for one or risking anything to get one. The people who occupied our parks last summer—and even those occupying the streets of Montreal this spring, who have expanded their opposition to a meager hike in post-secondary tuition fees into an obtuse protest against social injustice— equate innovating, job-creating entrepreneurs with Wall Street crooks and corrupt politicians. How you achieved your wealth is irrelevant. Never mind that entrepreneurship's rising tide lifts all boats. It's the disparity that counts.
This is bad news for entrepreneurs. Your companies not only operate in this increasingly anti-business milieu; they employ people who hold the same beliefs.
What can be done to dispel such errant notions? PROFIT will always wave your flag, but it's incumbent upon entrepreneurs to enlighten those who would hold the fruits of your labour against you. Giving back to one's community helps. Publicizing those contributions helps even more. Entrepreneurs also can focus more effort on showing how their business works to the benefit of all of its employees.
It might take a while. Until then, don't stop chasing your dream—and if you've caught it, live it. It's what you deserve.
Ian Portsmouth is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of PROFIT Magazine and PROFITguide.com
More columns by Ian Portsmouth