Get All Access for $5/mo

How This 'Shark Tank' Star Overcame a Life of Poverty by Making Radical Decisions Matt Higgins shares his true rags-to-riches story in his new book, 'Burn the Boats.'

By Julie 'Juju' Christopher Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jessica Brooks | Getty Images

Watching Matt Higgins as a guest Shark on the set of Shark Tank, it's tough to imagine that he was ever poor or uneducated. I was astonished to learn about his experience as a teen scraping gum off the bottoms of tables at his local McDonald's. During our Mystical Mavericks interview, Higgins was surprisingly transparent and vulnerable. During our conversation, it was an emotional moment when he revealed what inspired him to do the work that most would avoid.

Today, Higgins is co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures, author of Burn the Boats: Toss Plan B Overboard and Unleash Your Full Potential, an Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School, and will soon star in a new unscripted business series produced by Mark Burnett – in addition to a career full of achievements and accolades, ranging from Shark Tank to executive leadership roles with two different NFL teams. Higgins shared it was the challenges of childhood that motivated him to transcend poverty and suffering.

Related: The Man Behind the Viral Horse Drawing Meme Talks Advertising

From abject poverty to on-air pitching

"I want to rewind from Shark Tank for those who don't know me or my story," Matt began, speaking about the challenges his childhood presented. "It's not so different than many others who suffered quietly or secretly as a kid."

Higgins helped his single, home-bound mother care for four boys by selling flowers on street corners and handbags at flea markets. It was the painful experiences that his mother endured that honed Higgins' resolve to help her escape from a life of struggle and sacrifice. At the young age of sixteen, Higgins made the radical decision to drop out of high school to get his GED and enroll in college early, eventually earning his Juris Doctorate from Fordham Law at night while working full-time.

Related: 4 Tips for Managing a Business During Challenging Times

My point in sharing Higgins' struggle is not to make it sound glorious, but instead to remind each of you that the cavalry is not coming. We need to take action, even if that means you have to make radical decisions and "burn the boats" of your past.

Related: Have Better Financial Health by Using Your Calendar

Key to making the right radical decisions

Radical decisions are often required for entrepreneurship and I believe exposure to resilience breeds the determination and guts to make them. Rock bottom often becomes the foundation on which we build our biggest dreams.

As a result of his childhood challenges, Higgins discovered the secret to making the right radical decisions at an early age by listening to his intuition. "We're directed to seek wisdom on the shelves of bookstores or on the internet," recalls Higgins of harnessing his potential. "We're not given the tools to cultivate our own self-awareness. I would attribute the genesis of all success to 'pattern recognition' or intuition — a combination of what's in your soul and what you experience."

As we discussed self-awareness and intuition, I asked Matt if he mediates.

He smiled. "I think meditation is the single greatest gift you could give yourself."

The ability to tap into something deeper is what the Oprahs and Tony Robbins of the world often push. Others call it luck, which Mark Cuban expanded upon during a past interview. The luck we get along the way is the universe conspiring with our dreams, using our awareness to make big things happen. As I like to call it, "Go Within to Win!"

When I asked Higgins about what he's currently excited about in his ecosystem of entrepreneurship, he shared his enthusiasm for his first book, Burn the Boats, which is now available for purchase on Amazon and other bookstores. Higgins said the book offers a blueprint for a life where 'Plan B' is never an option - instead, advocating to always move forward with visionary defiance, bold self-confidence, unwavering commitment, and rigorous honesty.

To enjoy the full interview with Matt Higgins, please visit Mystical Mavericks.

Julie 'Juju' Christopher

CEO of Biztuition

Julie Christopher, known as Juju, is the founder and creator of Biztuition. Juju is a professional ‘EnterTrainer’ (speaker/music artist and composer/self-realization guide) and award-winning author. She is a world-renowned expert on business intuition.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

She Had Less Than $800 When She Started a Side Hustle — Then This Personal Advice From Tony Robbins Helped Her Make $45 Million

Cathryn Lavery built planner and conversation card deck company BestSelf Co. without any formal business education.

Business News

How Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang Transformed a Graphics Card Company Into an AI Giant: 'One of the Most Remarkable Business Pivots in History'

Here's how Nvidia pivoted its business to explore an emerging technology a decade in advance.

Business News

Want to Start a Business? Skip the MBA, Says Bestselling Author

Entrepreneur Josh Kaufman says that the average person with an idea can go from working a job to earning $10,000 a month running their own business — no MBA required.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.