Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Folded at the Dragon's Mercy: An encounter with a dragon from Dragon's Den

Today was an interesting day. For the past few years, both the UK and Canadian Dragon's Den have been a couple of my favourite shows. I had the great opportunity to see a presentation by Robert Herjavec of the Herjavec Group and dragon on the Canadian version of Dragon's Den.

Part of being a great business person is to be able to market yourself well and create your own personal brand, which I feel Mr.Herjavec has done well. He has been smart in how he has not only done business, but also how he has extended himself and his brand out into the public spotlight.
Part of building my own personal brand, which up to this point I feel I have got a good start on through acting and networking, is about taking calculated risks and putting yourself out there. Now insert my epic fail.

I had the rare opportunity of walking into the undergraduate office and having Mr.Herjavec sitting in the waiting room by himself. After my double take and him looking at me up and down (probably wondering why someone was standing there about to pee his pants), I proceeded to go about my business at a loss for words, using the receptionist as my anchor for conversation. 
Afterwards, my fellow Sauderite and friend Jaime pretty much told me she would disown me if I didn't go back in there and introduce myself.

Seriously, where is Bill Murray when you need him. It was Groundhog's day. Deja vu, but not. I walk back in, say some stupid shakey line like "uhh hey! Haha, I guess I'm back again to ask another question!" I ask if there are advisors available knowing the answer already, and as I am about to introduce myself, some over-achieving Sauder student pipes in to ask me if she can answer the questions I have because of course all us Sauderites know the answer to every question. 
The next 15 minutes were the highlight of my life. You know when in a movie there is an awkward moment like in American Pie when his father walks in on Jason Biggs doing you know what, and then suddenly there are a million people walking in and it gets really awkward? Well, this was the moment. And get your minds out of the gutter!
Of course everyone, being so pertinent and wanting to be the one to get the right answer, started joining in to try and answer my question. Both receptionists, a couple Sauderite helpers, a degree check advisor, and the advisor who helped me the week before who made a point of asking me why I needed more help when she already answered my questions the week prior, butted it. Amongst all of this shuffle, I was trying to find an opportunity, hopefully not awkward, where I could introduce myself to Mr.Herjavec. Enter in the person he was waiting for, and Mr.Herjavec - (Me + 6 degree advisors) = no introduction. Sweet deal.
What is it about missed opportunities that make you so disappointed? I felt like a huge wrecking ball had smashed me through the window and sent me hurdling across campus. Needless to say, I was bummed.
But then my strategy side started cranking. Yes, it was a great opportunity, one that few people ever get; who gets five minutes alone to talk business with Mr.Herjavec? But, what would it have accomplished? How would it have affected my future? Probably nothing, and probably none. I would have just been one of many students he was to come across in his visit, one who would have said the same things about him being inspirational, and how impressed I was, and how I wanted to be just like him. My name would be lost in the Sauderite lion's den, one of many names thrown at him while at UBC.
Here comes the strategy. Now, with my amazing, embarrassing story of being so nervous and actually trying twice to introduce myself, and admittance of how I was only trying to meet him and actually already knew the answers to my question at the reception, I could really have a good conversation starter if I saw him again. Was this actually a missed opportunity? I am not one to be faint at heart, nor do I usually back out of such situations, but this one felt different. I have run events for hundreds of people, and worked on movie sets and in much more stressful, nerve racking situations. But this one was different. 
Maybe fate had a different plan for me in my quest of networking and personal branding? Mr.Herjavec commented in his presentation on his ability to never give up and those who are successful are the ones who have the courage to pick themselves back up and try again. He also commented on those who, rather than take business risks by jumping off a cliff, test the water and then make a decision.
In my mind, I just tested the waters, and my life is a testament to picking myself up and trying again. I think that these days, a genuine, interesting story goes a lot further than quick lips. 
At least I have a better conversation starter than "Do you remember me? We met at the undergraduate office at UBC before your presentation?" To which, he mostly would reply NO. 
Now doesn't this, "I chickened out the first time, and then the second time I got bombarded with help for a question I already knew the answer to, so I couldn't introduce myself, but I am going to now!" sound a lot better? 
I think so ;).

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