“Be passionate, be proactive, never say die and never make excuses” is Bill Rancic’s advice to any aspiring entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur, motivational speaker, humanitarian and real estate developer, Rancic was the winner of the first season of Donald Trump’s reality television show, The Apprentice. Subsequent to being told “You’re Hired!” in 2004, Rancic chose to manage the construction of the Trump Tower Chicago in his native Chicago, Illinois.
He renewed his contract with the Trump Organisation beyond the agreement period of one year until 2007. Rancic’s popularity has grown after starring in and co-producing the top-rated reality show, Giuliana and Bill with his wife and E! News anchor, Giuliana. Rancic shares with The Leaderonomics Show how his entrepreneurial journey began at a tender age and how business has always been in his blood.
It all started when Rancic was ten and living at his grandmother’s house for the weekend. She taught him the art of making pancakes, so taking advantage of this newfound skill, Rancic invited his grandmother’s neighbours over for pancakes. To his surprise, after the meal, he discovered that each woman had left US$5 for him under their plates.
“I took the money, kept my mouth shut,” grins Rancic, recalling the memory.
Encouraged by this successful collection and excited at the prospects of earning more pocket money, he asked to be taken to his grandmother’s house the following weekend. This continued for the next five weekends. “My parents couldn’t understand what I was doing there until they found the stack of money in my drawer. They became rather alarmed and put the business to an end immediately. “I had to fess up that I was running a makeshift restaurant out of my grandmother’s house,” he laughs.
Even as a young man, Rancic worked his way through college by having a boat wash and wax business. “Although I did not make millions of dollars from this, it was one of the most important things I did from an entrepreneur’s standpoint,” shares Rancic, as it provided him a platform to befriend entrepreneurs while taking care of those expensive boats.
“I developed the mindset of ‘Why not me?’. After I met these guys, I thought that he or she is no different from me. I gained a tremendous amount of confidence by really understanding who these people were who owned these businesses,” Rancic elaborates.
Reflecting on the apprentice
Describing the inaugural season of The Apprentice as a real battle of mental and physical toughness, Rancic shares that the candidates were operating on two to three hours of sleep with no days off. “We were literally feeling our way in the dark as no one knew what was in store for us,” he reveals.
Winning The Apprentice helped him gain a tremendous amount of confidence and taught him to be an individual in a team. “Although it is important to be a team player, you also ought to be an individual to allow your ideas to stand out and to separate yourself from the pack. “I learnt the need for agility and to change the game-plan along the way to suit each challenge.”
The reality series also taught him the importance of managing risk, converting risk into success and delivering results. Rancic attributes his win to his ability to set goals and strategise to achieve those goals. An ardent believer of the “marathon strategy”, he reveals that he sat back and surveyed the area in order to ascertain when to strike. Along the way, he set little goals and milestones to achieve.
“You must know when to run and when to break away from the pack,” he stresses.
“It’s never OK not to try”
Besides Donald Trump, whom he describes as a “great guy, smart man and a hard worker”, Rancic models his behaviour after his parents, who were school teachers who worked their way up the ranks to be administrators.
“It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to have setbacks. But it’s never ok not to try,” were the words of wisdom given by his parents.
“A lot of people are raising kids to be perfect, to obtain perfect grades and to be the best in sports,” says Rancic, “However, when they become adults they are unable to handle failures – which is a real disservice to the kids.”
The award-winning personality recalls one memorable failure he experienced when he first went into in real estate investment.
Rancic had utilised his entire savings to purchase a building to be converted into an apartment block. When it was 70% renovated, the building was destroyed in an arson.
Unfortunately, the insurance purchased from his college friend did not provide proper coverage, landing him in serious trouble. As a result of dealing with this stressful incident, Rancic’s weight plummeted.
He eventually figured out a way to make things work out by coming up with a plan to minimise losses.
The whole experience taught him valuable lessons on how to deal with crisis.
Lead like an orchestra conductor
According to Rancic, running a business is akin to being a conductor in an orchestra.
“A conductor is not an expert in every instrument, but has expert musicians in each musical instrument that play these instruments with absolute perfection and know how to make them work together harmoniously,” says Rancic.
Rancic adds, “A lot of people allow their egos to interfere – they think they know everything there is to know and no one can tell them what or how to do it. This limits their potential growth. A conductor, on the other hand, is an innovator and has unlimited potential.”
It is also important for leaders to occasionally pause and look from the outside in. “Many a times, leaders think that they are leading the right way, which is the way they want to lead in their minds, but it may not necessarily be the right strategy.”
Key takeaway points on success
Rancic offers the following words of advice for the young and ambitious:
> Reverse engineer your life
“Draw up a road map on where you want to be in life. Ask yourself – When I am 50, would I be proud of what I have accomplished today? Is what I am doing today going to get me to my destination in 20 to 30 years?”
> Be passionate
“You got to do something you love, a job where you do not wake up only to press the snooze button 10 times,” says Rancic. “I enjoy being in the water, I love boats and I love the business of being on TV. These are things which I am passionate about and get me out of the bed excited every day.”
> Be proactive, not reactive
This involves anticipating problems in advance. “You will never be ahead of others if you wait for problems to arise before thinking of the solution,” explains Rancic.
> Never quit mindset
You should never give up – be it in school, business or in your faith. Keep fighting and persevere to achieve success.
> Never make excuses
When things go wrong, don’t make excuses and blame everyone else except yourself. People who point the finger at others will not attain the level of success they could until they start accepting responsibility, says Rancic. Rancic opines that for the younger generation going through a hiring process, the ability to learn and to put in effort into the job is more important than having work experience.
“Go in to do the job, work hard, do all you can and be the best you can,” he advises.
Acknowledging being a father as a big promotion in his life, he admits that his work life has since slowed down and his priorities have shifted. The long and arduous journey Rancic and his wife went through in getting pregnant has made him cherish every single moment with his family. Rancic and Guiliana, who married in 2007, had their son, Edward Duke, via a gestational carrier after undergoing two failed IVF treatments.
When asked what he sees himself doing in 20 years, Rancic envisions himself taking his son to university “doing all the things that dads do” and spending more time with his wife. Passionate about children’s causes, he hopes to do more work in this area, and to have more children of his own.