Shark Tank talk roils the waters in Morristown

Crowd learns free seats are gone for talk by Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec at MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Pamela Babcock
Crowd learns free seats are gone for talk by Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec at MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Pamela Babcock
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They don’t call it Shark Tank for nothing.

A free talk featuring Robert Herjavec, a star of ABC’s show for aspiring entrepreneurs, left schools of angry fans circling outside the Mayo Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, unable to get inside the over-booked 1,300-seat theater in Morristown.

Frank Beatrice of Bayonne and John Corea Jr. of Hoboken ask MPAC CEO Allison Larena for help after being shut out from motivational talk, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Frank Beatrice of Bayonne and John Corea Jr. of Hoboken ask MPAC CEO Allison Larena for help after being shut out from motivational talk, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“This guy is a disgrace,” fumed Maria, a Millburn businesswoman who asked that her last name be withheld. She registered online but was turned away at the door. 

“They solicit you and hound you and beg you to come…I took off from work for this.”

The two-and-a-half-hour event was organized by Response, a Utah-based company promoting financial education services.

Herjavec, a Croatian immigrant with a rags-to-riches story, was hired to speak for about 45 minutes to conclude a morning presentation about entrepreneurship and the stock market.

Video by Pamela Babcock, Aug. 14, 2018:

MPAC rented out the venue — as it does to various groups about 25 or 30 times a year–but was not involved in ticketing, said MPAC President Allison Larena. 

Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame speaks at MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Shiftan Shagabaev.
Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame speaks at MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Shiftan Shagabaev.

“We’re going to look to see how we can tweak this system,” Larena said. “We entrusted a reputable promoter to give out the correct amount of tickets, and we worked with these  types of agents in the past, and we’ve never had an issue until today.”

“It’s pretty frustrating. We drove around looking for parking for 20 minutes… they called me to confirm I was coming,” said Frank Beatrice, a software engineer from Bayonne who brought his friend, John Corea Jr. of Hoboken.

Initially, they were turned away. But Larena interceded and they were directed to the theater’s Starlight Room, where an overflow audience watched a video stream of the motivational talks.

Video by Pamela Babcock, Aug. 14, 2018:

Devan Egan of Response said “tens of thousands” of mailers went out advertising the seminar. People who responded to the invitations by registering online were informed that seating was limited and first-come, first-served, he said.

Reed Glick, left, and Devan Egan, promoters of overbooked motivational talk, outside MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Reed Glick, left, and Devan Egan, promoters of overbooked motivational talk, outside MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Be early. We communicate all those things. On rare occasions, like today, you run into a scenario where more people show up than we anticipated,” said Egan, asserting “we’ve done this hundreds and hundreds of times” without problems.

Anyone unable to get in after paying for a $10 “VIP package” would receive a refund via Eventbrite, Egan said. Response also will extend invitations to three similar events in the metropolitan area, he said.

Shiftan Shagabaev, an aspiring life coach and hedge fund manager, traveled from Brooklyn. After finally finding parking, he was told the theater was full.

“I never give up,” he said.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEEED...It tool two tries, but Shiftan Shagabaev of Brooklyn got into Robert Herjavec talk in Morristown, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEEED…It tool two tries, but Shiftan Shagabaev of Brooklyn got into Robert Herjavec talk in Morristown, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

After grabbing breakfast at SmartWorld Coffee, he returned to MPAC. This time he managed to get in–just in time for Herjavec’s talk. As the story goes, Herjavec’s family fled what was then Communist Yugoslavia to Canada in 1970 with one suitcase and $20.

The difference between successful and unsuccessful people, according to Herjavec, is how long they worry about their problems. For him, he told the crowd, that’s about five minutes.

Other takeaways for Shagabaev from the millionaire’s pitch?

“Being happy and not complaining–because no one cares,” he recounted.

Packed house waits to hear Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec speak at MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Packed house waits to hear Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec speak at MPAC, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Overflow crowd watches entrepreneurial talks in MPAC's Starlight Room, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Overflow crowd watches entrepreneurial talks in MPAC’s Starlight Room, Aug. 14, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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