They're all rich, they're all powerful, but most importantly, they're all self-made success stories. Over the past few months, we've been taking the Dragons back-----back to where it all began for each of them. And for Robert Herjavec, his roots couldn't stretch farther from his Bridle Path mansion. Think tiny farm, muddy ducks, rusted tractor, and hot soup in a warm kitchen.
Our Senior Producer, Lisa Gabriele is with him now, and over the next week will be posting on our blog about their trip to Zbjeg, a small hamlet on the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia.
Taking Robert home seemed to be both draining and liberating for him. Draining in that as successful as he is, there's always a part of him that carries guilt for his abundant life: the once-poor part, the part of him that never saw a life beyond a hayloft in a Croatian hamlet. Here I'm told rich people are suspect. They're scorned. It's assumed they came by their wealth unscrupulously. That's the perception here, in a post-Communist country still uneasy with the blessings and burdens of capitalism.
So, to them, Robert's a bit of an enigma: a Croatian, raised in poverty, who left to make it big in Canada, and did it legitimately. He had no contacts, no family connection, no inside scoop, no leg up. And it's a bit astonishing to them. Maybe even galling. And while Robert says his story illustrates that if he can do it, anyone can, I'm not so sure of that. Robert's got qualities that a lot of wanna-be success stories seem to lack---and we see them every week in the Den. Robert lacks self-pity. He doesn't hold on to old baggage. He lets go of things and ideas that don't work. He does it quickly, and he doesn't look back.
More themes we'll explore in our Dragons' Den special. But one thing's for certain, you can visit, but you can never really go home again.
A heartfelt thanks to our fabulously talented Croatian TV crew...the one-man band, Domagoj Lozina, seen on the right.
Posted on Dec 11, 2009 2:18:26 PM