You may know Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank, as the Founder of the massive multi-billion-plus dollar “As Seen on TV” industry, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, or you may have seen him at one of the hundreds of keynotes and speaking engagements that he does every year.
I was fortunate to sit down with Harrington to discuss his mindset, strategies, and methods that helped him create his success. And he revealed his biggest eureka moment that ultimately led to the creation and massive success of the infomercial industry and his career as one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Here are some of the gold nuggets I learned from Harrington:
Working your tail off for a business that has a small or limited financial upside may not be the best decision for many entrepreneurs.
In Harrington’s case, at one point early on in his life, he was selling furnaces and things were going well. But he realized that with the installation and maintenance involved in that business, it wasn’t unlimited. For an entrepreneur that wants to build an empire, you need something as close to unlimited as possible.
“I wanted something unlimited, but then I had all the labor problems of the installation and the service after the sale, so I sold that business, and this is when my life changed,” said Harrington.
Harrington found himself sitting in the office of a business broker when he sold that business, and he realized that this is exactly what he wanted to do, start his own brokerage company.
As a broker, he would have the opportunity to go through the books and records of hundreds of businesses instantly. This information—seeing the the ups and downs of these businesses, fed his entrepreneurial curiosity even more.
“Now, I didn’t want to be just a broker. I was doing it to invest in deals, to be able to partner with some of these people,” said Harrington.
And this was the beginning of how he got involved in investing in companies. His success with investing in companies and the infomercial industry ultimately led to him getting the call from Shark Tank.
Harrington goes to 100-plus events a year between trade shows, events and speaking gigs. It’s no surprise that he’s also one of the most connected entrepreneurs on the planet.
When Harrington got started, he was subscribed to a lot of magazines. He’s literally subscribed to all the biggest publications such as Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, amongst hundreds of other subscriptions. But he’s not only reading to read, but he was also (and still is) reading as a scout. And in addition to the publications, he was attending (even in the early days) over 25-plus trade shows per year, looking at new product showcases, et cetera.
“That’s when I ran into a guy that was standing there, demonstrating this knife, and he was cutting through a Coca-Cola can, a hammer head, a muffler, a pair of sneakers with a knife, and I’m watching him, and he was just going crazy with it, and then everyone was buying this thing. This was really the biggest eureka moment of my life when I saw that I could film that and put it on TV,” said Harrington.
And this chain of events is what ultimately led to the creation of the As Seen On TV Infomercial industry. Harrington realized he could buy up dark time on the channels where nothing was being aired, such as Discovery, and programmed them with pitch men selling kitchen gadgets, tools, knives, blenders, choppers, cleaning products, et cetera.
When I first met Harrington, I found him to be one of the friendliest, easiest to approach people. I was somewhat surprised because a lot of ultra-successful entrepreneurs create this barrier where it’s hard to talk to them. I’m not sure if that’s ego or a product of lots of people approaching them and reaching out, but I found Harrington to be quite easily approachable and ego-free.
And my point with this is that you can’t hide inside your castle and quit after your first successful venture (or ever!)
Harrington keeps himself young by meeting other entrepreneurs, in fact, his organization Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) is the world’s largest entrepreneurial organization.
“That’s why I started Entrepreneurs Organization so that I could network with other entrepreneurs,” said Harrington.
And even though he has already had large-scale financial success Harrington still networks relentlessly to this day. I personally met him at a mastermind event, that he may not have needed to go to, but he wanted to go to so that he could keep expanding his network and following. And look, it led to more opportunities for him like this interview.
I asked Harrington where a lot of entrepreneurs fail; he said: “They don’t enthusiastically act upon becoming an entrepreneur, and that’s what I did by exercising the curiosity overload by becoming a business broker, by going to trade shows, and seeking out entrepreneurship at its finest.”
“I can visually imagine myself being an entrepreneur. I ardently desire being an entrepreneur. I sincerely believe I will be an entrepreneur,” Harrington continued.
And almost all of the world’s most successful people agree. It’s a two-step process. You have to visualize it and believe in it (I refer to this as the inevitability of success mindset), then you have to relentless act on it with enthusiasm.