Highlights with Jordan Harbinger:
Social skills now versus past generations = building relationships. In a post-modern world, we are allowed to focus on and value networking, relationships, and rapport more than we used to.
Social/Emotional Intelligence goes far beyond technical ability: These are non-remedial skills that you use to excel in business relationships or in personal relationships.
“Soft skills,” or social skills and emotional intelligence, are important in all aspects and time-frames of your business.
Here’s the truth: we tend to stay away from things we aren’t good at. Is there such thing as “not liking people”? or is it because feeling socially awkward is uncomfortable?
What is going on that is making people move away from you physically or metaphorically, or what is making people drawn towards you? It isn’t about a firm handshake, remembering all the right things, etc.
The key isn’t to layer onto your personality but rather take away the insecurities and other hang-ups that you have, because that’s when you can be more authentic.
Starting point of social skills training:
- Getting rid of the ego
How to redirect conversation:
- Deflect, defer, and disclose
Creating and maintaining better relationships:
- Systemize a way to connect one person of your network with another person in your network. Integrate a mindset into your life to routinely keep in contact and maintain your network.
Don’t forget to tune in to the Art of Charm podcast and learn more!
Kevin Miller: Well, Kevin, just thrilled to have you on the show, eager to dive in to your story. I got to start off with I was looking at your Facebook page and you had a meme there about inventing the infomercial, which you actually did, though at face value, I think it’s like Al Gore invented the Internet. Except with you, we know it’s legit. That’s a pretty heady thing to have as a claim to your name. Has that steered a significant part of your success journey?
Kevin H: Well, yeah, thanks, Kevin. I think I’ve been now 32 years in the infomercial business, the “as seen on TV” business. What’s funny is we call it the infomercial business today, but when I started back in the ’80s, we didn’t even … that term had not even been used at that stage because nobody knew what these 30-minute-long commercials were. It was very exciting for me as a young entrepreneur back then to be able to be in on the ground floor of something that actually, at the time, I didn’t realize was going to become a global industry.
It was just sort of, “Hey, there was some downtime on my Discovery channel, in my local market, six hours a day.” Discovery turned out to be an 18-hour-a-day channel, and I thought, “What can I put on that six hours a day that’s not being utilized by the cable company and by Discovery?” and I just started filling in products and putting on content that sold different things. Make a long story short, that was the growth and the beginning then of the infomercial industry.
It’s now become a global industry. It’s just super-exciting to be part of something that has become a global industry, virtually, in 100-plus countries around the world.
Mark: You know, I remember, Kevin, from your story that you actually took the infomercial concept globally. You’re the one who took it into some of these global markets. I’m sure you had to name it something different in every market you went into.
Kevin H: When we went to England, we were saying … At that time, it was in the ’90s and they were saying, “What is this infomercial thing you’re talking about?” I said, “Think of it this way. It’s like sellivision.” I said, “It’s not television. It’s a show but we’re selling. It’s sellivision.” Our company in England was called Sellivision, and that’s when we were getting pressed about we were launching in England. They said, “Hey, this company from the United States is doing something called Sellivision because it’s like television but it sells.”
Yeah, because we had to explain it to these other countries as we went around the world.
Kevin Miller: Ziglar, I mean the heart of this show is inspiration, motivation, which Zig says, “It’s the fuel that drives success.” You’ve accomplished a dramatic amount. You’re currently involved in what looks like a world of activity, ventures, and endeavors. What drives Kevin Harrington?
Kevin H: What drives me is being able to connect with entrepreneurs on a day-to-day basis because when I was a young entrepreneur, I was on an island all to myself. I was fortunate. My father was entrepreneurial but he was in the restaurant business. I started at a young age working for him and learning some of the internal workings entrepreneurially when I was a kid. When I got into the business that I’m in now, we were learning things the hard way because we were using from phone centers to customer service centers, to fulfillment centers, to global distribution.
We were dubbing into foreign languages. There wasn’t a guide book for all of these things at that particular time. In all honesty, we were making many, many mistakes. Now, as an entrepreneur after 30-some years of doing this, I say to myself, I see young entrepreneurs coming into the world of entrepreneurship. I say, “There are so many things that I’ve learned, and learned, in many cases, the hard way, and now I utilize mentors in my life and this is something I believe is very powerful.” I believe I have the requirement of me as an entrepreneur now is to help other entrepreneurs become as successful as possible, because I’ve learned some of the things that they’re going to be going through and I just want to share these things with the new entrepreneurs that are coming out in the world.
Kevin Miller: Well, with that, I mean I’m even looking at all you’re doing right now to help entrepreneurs. Obviously, you’ve got a wealth of business strategy know-how. You’ve got a lot out there about raising money, which I want to ask you about, because we’ve got a lot of listeners who are immensely interested in that. When I look at your social media and your website and everything you’re doing, it’s significantly … I mean it’s Ziglar, it’s personal development, and so is that because that is your heart or you just realized the necessary personal development skills needed for business success was a means to an end?
Kevin H: Yeah. I think absolutely. I believe that oftentimes, entrepreneurs, they focus too much sometimes on just the bottom line or ringing the cash registers, so to speak, making the sale. That, obviously, is important. An entrepreneur has to understand to be successful, ultimately, their business, you’ve got to have income flow and less that’s going out on the expense side. That is important, but I believe personal development and achieving the right kind of mental state for yourself, for your people, empowering people, creating win-win relationships with employees, with partners along the way, this was one of the foundations that I built my business on when we were dealing with product suppliers, with posts, with talent, with demonstrators, with the pitch guys who we found in the industry.
We knew that this was a business that had great potential across the board. It was important to develop long-term relationships. I think that these are the foundations that Zig Ziglar has created and things that I believed in tremendously from the beginning of starting my businesses. I believe that at the end of the day, personal development and building upon a strong foundation with people, loving what they do, believing they’ve got a great empowerment of their own inside the relationship with us because we didn’t …
Yes, we had employees, but employees, you can tell them what to do but partners, they’re not going to come back if you don’t treat them fairly the first time around. I think having great relationships and developing these for long-term structures was vital to the success of my business.
Kevin Miller: Well, you are a business titan, a celebrity, inventor of the infomercial, one of the original sharks on ABC Shark Tank. But you said this, “I’ve been an entrepreneur,” this is a quote that I grabbed about you. “I’ve been an entrepreneur more than 40 years, but when you think about all of my business success, the key to all that success is sales, and Zig Ziglar is the master of sales. I simply would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Mr. Ziglar.”
That’s a huge statement and I want to know, and I know Mark has been privy to some of your story, but just about this influence that Zig had on your life.
Kevin H: Yes, absolutely. I think I could go back and maybe start. I think when I was nine years old I was selling newspapers on the street corner. I think we were selling them for a dime and I got two cents a paper or something like that. My father was a restaurateur and he said, “Kevin, you seem to really love getting out there and meeting people, selling on the street corner.” He had restaurants, so at 11 I started working in his restaurants.
What was funny is I would see my father out front and he was out meeting all the customers and taking care of them, making them happy. The police officers and the neighborhood were always in our restaurants. That gave everybody a comfort level. It was always understood that relationships and creating these long-term relationships with your customers, with the community, was important.
Then I started along the way. My father wanted me to be in business for myself. I started a driveway sealing company and then I was knocking on doors selling driveway sealings. At the end of the day, yes, I’ve built a business that is for more than 40 years as a salesperson and an entrepreneur knocking on doors, but it all boiled down to really closing the sale was what it took from the very beginning because when I was … I talked about the driveway sealing. I was knocking on doors and the first time around, I go to a neighborhood and meet with 20 people and they would all look at me and say, “No, thanks. I’m not interested.” Once I learned how to close the sale and then come back at it, I could get 18 of the 20 to say yes.
I think I understood and believed that at the end of the day, I was a salesman at heart and it started at nine years old selling papers through the driveway sealing business into then I wanted to do something year-round. Then I started a heating and air conditioning company because I could do cooling in the summer and heating in the winter, and that was getting a list of people that just bought a new home and selling them on the idea of getting a more energy-efficient furnace or adding some air conditioning at the time.
That ended up leading then to the infomercial industry, but even along the way, there were a few other sales jobs that I had in between. When I was 15, I was also … and then turned 16 from the driveway sealing, I was actually selling safety highchair baby equipment, this company called BabeeTenda, so in-home sales. I loved this as a young person, a young entrepreneur from the driveway sealing to BabeeTenda. Then I was selling rustproofing for new cars, and then I started the heating and air conditioning, which was getting a new homeowner list.
Over those early days of me as a product of my father’s vision of, “Kevin, I want you to come into my business, be part of this entrepreneurial endeavor, the restaurant industry,” which at the end of the day, being a restaurateur, he was a salesperson, too, of making sure people in the community and customers loved to be there and come back and sold on his relationship with the customer.
I mean, ultimately, for me this is where it all started in those early formative years going back to nine years old on the street corner through the development of various sales jobs, in-home sales, selling of myself in the driveway sealing and heating and air conditioning businesses, and starting my own businesses. That was the foundation of learning these techniques.
It was funny, because I remember when I was graduating from high school, going into college, I was a sponge for knowledge. My father, he would work 80 hours a week and he would have newspapers and Wall Street Journals and New York Times sitting by his chair when he would try to get some rest, and the restaurant news and things like that. He empowered me to be also someone in, I call it a “curiosity overload,” seeking lots of information and detail of what was happening out in the world.
I started reading from papers to books. That’s when I stumbled upon Zig Ziglar in that transition into my freshman year of college, because this was when I really started feeling a little bit more worldly about myself as an entrepreneur.
I mentioned all the sales jobs I had. I went from driveway sealing as a summer business to now being a heating and air conditioning company, which I had 25 employees, six trucks that were going out every day. I now was a provider for 25 people, and I felt at this point there was a transition for me to become more, thinking about really the long-term, my life ahead of me, and this is when I remember being introduced to Zig Ziglar and his techniques and ideas, See You at the Top.
It was unbelievable how, at that particular moment, I realized that Zig Ziglar was one of the thought leaders that I wanted to be following now for the rest of my life. This was in that transition in the mid-’70s when I was graduating from high school going into college. I remember those days very vividly, and it was the foundation for what I’ve done today.
Mark: I have the advantage here, Kevin, of having spent a couple of days with you and really unpacking your story, and what I love is that I can’t help but feel like we’re having a little bit of a Paul Harvey moment. For those of you that remember him, where he would basically tell the end of the story and then come back and tell the beginning of the story. So many people know where you’re at today. They’ve seen your public profile. They saw you on Shark Tank. The infomercial is obviously the infomercial today.
So few people, I think, actually know where you started. I think I remember you telling me that your dad paid you a dollar an hour to work in his restaurant. I’ve got to tell you, selling safety highchairs in the ’70s, I think you said they were like 200 bucks a piece, which would be like selling a high chair today for $1,000.
I mean, you had to sharpen your sales skills to the highest degree, as a teenager, to sell a $200 safety highchair to a family. That’s the part of your story that I love so much is that, not just the humble beginnings, but the fact that you are constantly searching and learning, and ultimately becoming a guy who really developed the reputation of not just a salesperson, because there are lots of people who can sell, but I think the difference is those that can close. You really learned how to close. You had mentors, you had living mentors, you had people, you’re reading books like Mr. Ziglar.
If you would maybe even share, because I know where this goes next, it goes to the infomercial business came after the heating and air and the franchise business, and really, it was some inspiration from Secrets of Closing the Sale that helped you grow a $5 billion infomercial business. Do you remember any of those secrets or the … I know you’ve shared with me, but, wait, there’s more, but what are a couple of your favorite closes that you remember? Because there are a lot of people that are selling … we’re all in the sales business, so do you happen to remember a couple of your favorite closes from those days?
Kevin H: Well, yes. Here I was as I was transitioning, you mentioned all the way back. In fact, actually, I forgot to even mention the franchising days because, after I was in the heating and air business, I sold the business and then I searched, looking to get into something. I started a business brokerage and franchising business. That was helping other people find their dreams. Because I had been through a couple of businesses and I decided there are so many great opportunities out there, let me have a business that gives me exposure to great opportunities and then allow other people to see some of the things that I was seeing. That was accumulating a number of franchises to sell was part of that structure.
Yes, I remember when I’d be sitting with somebody and they were buying a business or they were buying a heating and air conditioning system. Even then, when we got into infomercials, it was important that we would make sure that we gave them an analysis because when someone’s going to buy, let’s say a heating and air conditioning system, this might be, at that time, a $2,000 or $3,000 purchase. In today’s world, that might be $6,000, $8,000, or $10,000, right? Because this was back in the ’70s and ’80s.
We would talk about the Ben Franklin Close, for example. When Ben Franklin had to make a decision, he would take a piece of paper and draw a line across the top and one down the middle and he would have the reasons why you should do this and the reasons on one side, and the reasons why you shouldn’t on the other side.
The Ben Franklin Close was one that I just love because, of course, as the salesman that I was, I could find dozens of reasons why they should be purchasing that air conditioning and heating system. It was energy efficient and it was going to be very cool in that hot, 95-degree summer weather. Also, we had an analysis that they paid for the air conditioning maybe without … If they didn’t buy it, they sometimes paid for it because they would get out of the house. It was so hot. They would drive to the mall and spend money on things that they didn’t have budgeted. Stay in the air conditioned home and you won’t be spending all that money at the mall with the kids.
I think at the end of the day I love this kind of mental state that you could put people in, because when I got done listing a dozen or 18 or 20 different reasons why they should be doing this, and now let’s talk about maybe a few reasons why not. Then they were usually not able to come up with very many, because I had answered so many of the potential objections. Then I think if they did, so now we’re using the Ben Franklin Close, but then if they did have something, and a lot of times it revolved around money, possibly. Okay. Well, great. Yes, you’ve got all the great reasons why, but you forgot, Kevin, what about the money that I need that I don’t have necessarily in the bank?
Now, as I would then have 18 reasons why they need to buy and one reason why they maybe can’t, now we could isolate that objection and then focus on — if we can isolate the objection and then overcome that one and make sure that that is the only thing standing in the way of the sale, we can now close the sale. I think there are two techniques used there between the Ben Franklin Close and isolating the objection close, so that you could move them into seeing how they could do it, and that, obviously, involved some kind of a financing plan.
In those early days, I remember, we represented various … I think it was Associates Finance … in one of the local banks. We had their paperwork. We were authorized to take the credit information right in the home. We were able to sell a multi-thousand dollar system for $50, $60, $80 a month or something. By the time even in the BabeeTenda world, a $200 sale, we could get them two years of financing at $9 a month or something. It was an amazing way that if somebody really wanted something, we found a way to make sure that they could do it.
Yeah, there are the closing techniques. When I got into really understanding that if I was going to go out on 10 sales in a week, on 10 appointments rather, a poor salesman would come back with three sales, a good salesman would come back with six, and a great salesman could come back with eight closes. The difference between three and eight was a big difference on the bottom line, the commission structure, the growth of the business. Utilizing Zig Ziglar’s sales closing techniques was so powerful.
The beauty of this, Mark, was that here I was the entrepreneur, and I was actually still in college when I started heating and air conditioning, for example. I was able to empower my people that were working for me because I had to duplicate myself as … and this was Zig Ziglar’s strength was he … yes, he was a motivational expert and a sales closing guru, but it was following his techniques, learning how to do it from people like Zig, that that was the difference between success and failure. It was me being able to show my salespeople how to utilize Zig Ziglar’s techniques also. That was the turning point for me as an entrepreneur. We could just utilize his success patterns. He was the teacher. That was where things turned for me, was being able to show his success, Zig Ziglar’s success as a salesperson, and let my salespeople learn from Zig Ziglar.
Mark: Yeah. A couple of things. One, the “But wait, there’s more.” I want that t-shirt, and I actually thought I want that as a prophecy on my life. I’m going to make that my signature from here on, I think. “But wait, there’s more.” Who doesn’t want that? You’re the Ben Franklin. I have not thought about that in a while, as a kid who grew up on Zig Ziglar. That’s any decision that I had for my life for purchasing whatever. That was it, the pros and cons list that I was instructed to follow. Thanks for bringing that memory back.
Question on sales: in your organizations, as you just talked about, as you’re imparting your skills, what you’ve learned two-folds on the aspect of sales, regardless of somebody being in a specific sales role. Now, of course, Zig would say, “We’re all in sales,” but in your organizations, is that something that you put a high priority on in everybody’s training across the board, sales skills?
Kevin H: Yes, yes. Sales, at the end of the day, we were a sales organization at every level. I’ll never forget when we would hire a receptionist, because we have a lot of people coming to see us on a daily basis. We wanted a very happy, smiling person that represented us very well. There are so many times when I get to companies…I travel across country and get off the airplane, get in the taxi. It’s an eight-hour process to get somewhere. You walk into their office and you get somebody that doesn’t even want to greet you sitting there, and it’s like, we started right at the front desk, right?
Our receptionist had to have that smile and “Can I get you some coffee?” and “What can I do for you?” and “How was your trip?” We had scripting in place for that person. Here we are an organization. Let’s talk about moving now into this “as seen on TV” infomercial world.
It was vital that our infomercials were selling vehicles because we would put out shows, and when you’ve got 30 minutes to capture the sale, every single word became important. We learned that an infomercial is exactly a 30-minute sales pitch, and so we had to follow systems and techniques and processes and then even to this point, and this was something that was a breakthrough for us because …it was always one of the challenges of our world. We always gave at the end of the message, the 30 minutes, and obviously, we love the “but wait, there’s more” for sure, Kevin, that was a good one, but we also said a 30-day money-back guarantee. Because this now was empowering the relationship which was a Zig Ziglar power statement, having that long-term relationship: we want you to be happy. If you’re not happy, for whatever reason, you could just pick up the phone and return the product and we’re going to give you your money back.
Now, when we offered that, again, you’ve got to remember this was not an in-home situation, so there was no actual bonding that we could create there, but we tried to do it through the infomercial, and now this was the technique that we used. When people did want to return the product, we asked them to call us for a return authorization called the RA. Now we had a chance to talk to them because, again, we wanted to establish this long-term relationship with these customers, See You at the Top, Zig Ziglar style.
Yes, we’re going to give you a 30-day money back guarantee, but we want you to call us first to get that return authorization. Now we have a chance to connect with the customer and find out what was it that you didn’t like about the product, and by the way, we at one point …this was called customer service, right? Or customer-to-service department started out as an expense inside the company where, okay, people want to return. Do you want them just to get the, “Okay, thank you for calling. Here’s your return authorization,” or do we want to set up a bonding experience with the customer?
By the way, not only did we reduce the returns so we could take a product that was at 10% returns without any kind of bonding with the customer. now talk to those folks and find out maybe they weren’t using it right. Maybe they never even opened the box. Like, “Hey, I got it. I just had buyer’s remorse. I didn’t even try.”
“Well, look. You got to do one thing for me. Try that product first because you’re going to love it! And now, if, after you try it, you really don’t want to keep it, then you can call me back for that return authorization and I’ll be right here to take your call.”
Now, we could take those returns from 10% down to 6% and actually create upselling events where once we got the customer to understand, well, wait a minute, somebody that wanted to lose weight, for example, let’s say we’re selling a weight-loss product, but you ordered the basic supply and you want to return it. “Well, let me talk to you about that,” and get to know what their goals are or they want to lose 30 pounds.
Sometimes we could turn it around and actually double the order at that point and ship them out some more products. We created an upsell event and actually, at times, we could become a profitable side of the business, because if you looked at the business at a flat 10% return, and now you’ve reduced the returns from 10% to 6% and you’ve sold product, you’re actually creating a profit center inside the company instead of an expense item inside the company. Our customer service people were salespeople.
Mark: I love it.
Kevin Miller: Yeah, I’m curious with…as you look at sales with its infomercial or another format, the points of making a sale are not going to change through the span of time for the most part, but I am curious with you having been involved at such a deep level for so long, has the content evolved? Has the story of the product, or the way it is delivered, evolved in a response to the changing marketplace in any significant way, or is it pretty much just the same?
Kevin H: You know, I would say this, that the content is pretty similar actually, and I think that when you look at it, what’s happened is it sometimes shifts around how it gets done. I mean, in the old days — and let me go back to the early days of infomercials — there were 30-minute shows. Now, we still run 30-minute shows, but there, because of the attention span maybe being a little less today, we still create these selling pods inside 30 minutes, but we actually have three 10-minute pods. It’s still the same content; we just organized it a little bit differently.
The bottom line structure of Zig Ziglar’s closing techniques has remained the same. It’s just sometimes how it gets organized and how it gets presented. For example, Zig Ziglar’s foundation is building the relationship with the customer, and I think that … and this goes back to Zig as a salesperson when he was selling back in the ’50s and the ’60s and the ’70s, and so now here we are, it’s 2017, and what is so important — authenticity — to these millennials. Why is authenticity important? Because they don’t want this hard close pitch that they think you’re just trying to get over on them, right?
It’s so important today with these videos that we create. Now, when we go viral with things, you can’t just give people a hard pitch and expect sales to be made so fast. You have to create that relationship and that authentic bonding kind of situation. More so today, the authenticity is so vital to be real, to connect with the customer, to have that long-term relationship, and it’s again going all the way back to all of these fundamental techniques that Zig Ziglar created back in the day, that the Secrets of Closing the Sale, they’ve listed, and the demonstration of those throughout Zig’s life. It’s now coming full-circle to being able — we’ve utilized them in infomercials, we’ve utilized them now in the latest digital techniques of the things that we do today: advertising on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and social media and utilizing social media influence.
That is one of the reasons why I’m so excited about what Zig Ziglar has brought to the world for all of us now, is that the content is still needed and is still there. It’s just sometimes how it gets structured and the ultimate message, the delivery method, that we’re using.
Mark: Yeah, I love that, because when we were unpacking your whole system on infomercials, my whole world in the recent years has been digital marketing and, to some extent, I assume that digital marketing just evolved as digital delivery came around only to figure out that really, what you were doing decades ago in infomercials has really inspired and is very, very similar to what’s happening in digital marketing today. It’s just the delivery means is different.
You have to take into consideration that someone’s watching it on their phone and not a TV, and so the delivery means has changed but, men, when you were talking about the early days of infomercials (and I apply that to digital marketing), it is unbelievably similar in terms of strategy, in terms of what you’re actually taking the customer through. Yes, it evolves a little bit based on the evolve preferences of who you’re marketing to, but man, there’s a lot of similarity between where you were at in infomercials — which was creating that relationship through a TV. Now, we’re doing it through the Internet and through phones, but so similar.
Kevin H: Absolutely.
Kevin Miller: I’m curious: you mentioned a couple of things. One, having to organize differently because of a shorter attention span in the populace, which makes sense. But the other thing that you said on authenticity, I’m curious about your take on that, how it’s affecting the marketplace and thus, from that, our business models, our sales efforts. I mean, right now, here in podcasting, we’re seeing it go through the roof and seeing this massive influx of advertisers through the podcasting arena, and I’m hearing that some of them are leaving some of the other arenas and coming over here, and my take on that, I keep talking about the Paul Harvey effect. I actually just typed it in to see did I coin that or not? I’m going to claim it because I can’t find it anywhere.
But the Paul Harvey effect of looking for somebody to trust, and so they’re clambering to somebody. I mean, Tim Ferriss right now has become one of the biggest trust agents in podcasting, and I think even a bigger scope, because people are coming to him, paying him whatever they can to get him just to speak and endorse their product. Is that something that you’re seeing because of this information age, this digital age, we’re so inundated, so overwhelmed with so much information, so many pitches, that we’re now going to an individual who we trust to tell us what product is legitimate? It’s kind of the consumer reports aspect.
Kevin H: Absolutely. I mean exactly. I think when I think of the way that people are selling today, I know so many influencers and that they basically are connecting with people that are following them and saying this is what I use today. They’re going to their medicine cabinet, holding something out and saying, “Let me show you how I can achieve a certain effect.” Like, if a girl was selling makeup and so, I mean Kylie Jenner, for example. She’s 20 years old and she goes and grabs a product that she uses and this is how I do it and this what I use. That authentic appeal to her fans, she’s created a $400 million beauty business just here in the last 18 months by just sharing with her friends and her fans how she achieves these looks and demonstrates it right there live on the Internet.
It’s not even on TV, it’s not in a retail store, there’s no store involved. It’s her connecting authentically with people that are following her in a direct basis and a real basis that these young social medial influencers are using today, and as you mentioned, Kevin, podcasters, obviously. You’re connecting with people that want to listen to you as a thought leader and a Tim Ferriss, etc.
I mean, it’s funny, because I think Tim Ferriss had a little box he was sending out on a … it was either monthly or quarterly, and I can’t remember what he called it, but I subscribed to it and every three months, I think, I would get Tim’s picks. He would send me a … I remember getting a … it was a protein bar made out of some kind of crazy ants that were crushed up or something. I don’t know if you ever got that one or not, but it was very high protein or something, and actually tastes pretty good.
This is the authenticity in the marketplace today, and we can all take it right back to Zig Ziglar, who really pioneered this whole way of selling, because there was no one more authentic than Zig Ziglar in connecting with his customers in the long run. I mean, that was the beginning of it all, in my opinion.
Kevin Miller: Yeah, absolutely. Folks, I want everybody listening just to hear some of the things that Kevin talked about there. He mentioned the word influencers, thought leaders, which again is back to the heart of sales. I just want to impress that on everyone.
I want to shift a little bit, you are incredibly well-known as one of the original sharks on Shark Tank. We have a significant …the demographic of our Ziglar audience and really, even that the business and personal development podcasting audience, is people who are involved in their own businesses, involved in side hustles as Chris Guillebeau just led us through a couple of days ago. They’re in business, a lot of ideas, a lot of small business endeavor,s and money is such a big issue, which you guys hit on so hard in Shark Tank.
I want to ask again, looking at the climate of business today, do you see … because of the ability to have an idea to put it online, and they hit a global audience, in essence, is there more call for people to be looking for investment money, whether that comes from loans, friends and family, angels, VC, whatever? Is there more need for that because the ability to scale up so quickly is bigger?
Kevin H: Yes, absolutely. I think this is how I would frame the view of that, Kevin. When I think back when I was growing up, I’m one of six kids, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I’ve older brothers and sisters. My one sister married a lawyer. My other sister married a doctor. My brother grew up in a corporate world. They work for Gillette. It was a corporate environment. They work for a company for many, many years. My brother worked for Gillette for 20 years and let’s get the corporate watch. Again, the other went through college and my sisters were teachers, and it was college, it was corporate, and then I came along and I was the entrepreneur.
That was very cool for me, but I think today, when you look at families, some of these teenagers are starting out with — you mentioned the word side hustle in a recent podcast you had not too long ago. I think what I’m seeing, because I’m working with entrepreneurs at all levels, I’m involved with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. It’s called CEO, and it’s a nonprofit organization that mentors college students that want to be entrepreneurs. It’s on 270 campuses around the world, and I’m one of the mentors inside the CEO, and all these college kids they, yes, they’re in school, but they don’t want to go to work for a corporation, necessarily. They want their own business. They’ve got some tech idea. They want to build an app, they want to do this, they want to do that, they want to control their own destiny.
I think what’s happening is, I call it the gig economy, and gig meaning hey, it’s a weekend gig. How come Uber is successful? Because hey, you’ve got your own car, you can get a weekend gig and make some money this weekend. You don’t need to go work for a bank and spend the next 10 years of your life working on an hourly basis. You can get a weekend gig and do something in this “gig economy.” I think they said by the year 2020, 50% of the millennials are going to be in this gig economy.
This is, to me, very powerful, because one of the mistakes that I made — and when I talk about entrepreneurship, and I speak all over the world on a weekly basis I’m travelling somewhere, I talk about my ups and my downs. One of the mistakes that I made as I was building one of my businesses back in the ’90s is I wanted to control everything. I wanted to have my own customer service center, my own fulfillment center, my own media company, my own production company, and I’ve 500 employees before I knew what hit me, and now in a little bit of a slowdown the overheads were crippling me.
We now had converted to outsourcing everything. We’re now more of a virtual company, because we can utilize gig services for customer service, for fulfillment, for this, for that. I believe that the world is just taking off. In fact, TaskRabbit just got acquired by, I believe, Ikea, and Ikea is a big furniture company and company with retail locations, TaskRabbit is people that want to just do some local tasks and do things on this gig basis. They need people to help them install this, and put the screws into the furniture that they sell. The world of this gig kind of opportunities and people starting their own businesses, what do they need generally when they’re doing this? They need capital.
Yes, this is one of the reasons why shows like Shark Tank have been amazingly successful, because people have an idea. They don’t want to go working for that bank 9:00 to 5:00. They want to be in this entrepreneurial world and make …you call it a side hustle or the guy that you had on. I call it a spare-time opportunity also, and I think this is the wave of the future and why people are coming out looking for not just capital, but they’re looking for mentorship, and they’re looking for …
I say why do people go on Shark Tank? They go on Shark Tank, yes, they want money, but they want those sharks to join their team, become part of the dream team, to open up their Rolodex and help them go through the process of getting their idea not just funded, but helping it become more successful by empowering those ideas and entrepreneurs with connections and Rolodex opportunities.
Kevin Miller: On that, you mentioned the idea — and we have, obviously, if you’ve got a small business and you’re making some money and you need some money, there’s things, I mean, you can look at the collateral, you can look at the revenue and projections from there. But back to just the idea, folks. I was reading about Casper, the mattress company that just made such a big hit recently, and these guys had a great idea, but to launch it, which they can do on a massive way because of the online world, they have to have inventory of mattresses.
I mean, there’s money so they could really …I think they had a few prototypes and that was it. They couldn’t do anything without some money. They went…I think they got nos from 20 different investors, finally found a guy who gave them a million three in seed money, and then boom, there’s the rest of the story.
Back to the people who just have an idea and feel fairly impotent to prove everything because they’re not in business yet, and they need money. Where would you steer them in regards to loans, friends and family, angels, venture capital, where would you steer them?
Kevin H: That’s a great question, and I love the Casper story, and, by the way, the Casper took it even one step further. Target just invested, I think, I don’t know if it was 60 million or something, into Casper because they’re a retailer, and what’s happening is as Amazon, which is a direct-to-the-consumer company, is hurting the retailers, the retailers are understanding they need to be partnering with some of these people with ideas.
I think, where do people with ideas get funding? Number one, you always start with people that are very close to you, and some people don’t like to ask their relatives for money, but it’s a good place to start just to get some of that initial seed capital. Some people are afraid to ask people that are too close to them, but as long as you explain that there’s a little bit of risk involved that oh, don’t make any big wild promises that I need 25,000 and you’re going to get back a million dollars or something.
Hey, I need $25,000 and it’s a little bit risky. I think there’s a way to approach people that are close to you so that — and maybe you approach them also asking for some advice. Folks, and some — you’re not going to approach somebody for 25,000 if that’s all they have in their life. You’re not asking someone for their life savings to take that risk, you’re looking …
I had an uncle that was worth tens of millions of dollars and he was very, very successful on Wall Street and, at one point in my relationship with him, I had approached him to invest in one of my ideas and $80,000 for him …he was throwing those kind of deals out to other people that he didn’t know. Would he like to have his nephew taken care of and he actually got his money back plus the returns.
The bottom line is, start close, then you can go to crowdfunding opportunities. You can go to Kickstarter, you can go to … there’s something now called Reg A+, which is an equity crowdfunding. You can go to investment bankers, you can go other angels. I own a company called Angel Investors Network, and we have thousands of investors as part of our company that invests in people’s ideas. This is something that I’ve set up so that we can empower many people with ideas. You start with relatives and friends and angels, and then you got to start going down the line. Also, how about suppliers that might be in your world that you might be utilizing?
At one time here I was in this as-seen-on-TV industry. I needed phone centers to take my calls, fulfillment centers to ship my products, banks to process my orders. All of these service suppliers, right? Guess what? I raised $2 million getting a media company that I said, “I’ll give you the exclusive rights to my media for the next three years. I need a half a million dollar upfront advance against something.”
We got advances from the various people we were doing business with, phone centers, fulfillment centers, media companies, etc. Then they got my business, they got their money back, they made a lot off me supplying me services, and it was a win-win. They helped me grow so they could take more phone calls and more media and more everything. When you’re starting out, you’re also … I’ll meet an inventor and he says, “I’ve had this idea for two years, but I have no money, so I haven’t been able to do anything.” Why not go to a lawyer who will put the patent work together for a percentage of the future? You can go to someone to do the graphics and the engineering that might take a little piece of the deal. You can get someone that makes the molds for a little piece of the deal, partner in that deal.
I have assembled a Rolodex of entrepreneurial service providers from lawyers to manufacturers. You don’t have to always … Casper, they made a couple prototypes, but guess what, there’s a company called Carpenter right here in the United States that makes memory foam mattresses. Maybe they would invest in some idea because they’re going to get a piece of the company. You just have to get creative and start, and you think about all of the people that maybe could benefit from your business and from your idea. Start approaching some of those people and including other money kinds of people that are in the business of helping raise money and that ultimately becomes like an investment banker type.
I will say this. In today’s world, because we’ve got the idea economy now, there’s many, many, many sources, so many more today than when I was a young entrepreneur. I mean, when I was a young entrepreneur I had to go to the banks and try to get money. There weren’t all kinds of other opportunities. We didn’t have crowdfunding and the same kind of mentality. I think, at the end of the day, because companies like Casper have started with an idea, got that million bucks after 20 nos and got that million three and then built a multi-hundred-million-dollar business, those stories are what propel the rest of the marketplace to be open to giving some money for new ideas coming along. It’s a great environment right now out there in the entrepreneurial world.
Kevin Miller: Man, thank you. That’s a huge value to our listeners because such a hot topic. Here, as we wind down here, I got a couple of personal questions. You are known for your successes in selling a dramatic amount of products. I’m going to ask you about a couple non-successes. Name a product that you were involved with, had a lot of confidence in, that didn’t make it, it flopped, and why.
Kevin H: It’s a great question, Kevin, because when I … I’ve done over 500 products out of the marketplace, but I’ll say that more of them have failed than have succeeded. When I showed the video of the… I call it [inaudible 01:06:24] reel of my successes, I said, when I get in front of a crowd, I say, “You just watch all my successes, but for every one of those that work, there’s many more that didn’t work.” I’m the first one to share some of those failures.
We got involved with celebrities early on and started using various kinds of …tou know what I mean? I was involved with Kris Jenner back in the ’90s and we started doing fitness products and things like that, and we had success, but we’d hit one and then three or four would fail. Same thing with Tony Little, but one day …Chubby Checker was one of the most, he created the song “The Twist,” and the movement of The Twist, and he was a very famous guy and has been successful his whole life, so he created a fitness product that was a …his idea was if I can use music to help you lose weight, lets you have some fun while you lose weight.
He created a product called the Twist-A-Sizer, and it was a fitness machine that you twisted and exercised to music that he created. It actually was very cumbersome, bulky, expensive. It was a $500 machine that he created and had these little phonographs, things that you slid on down below your feet, and you had a twisting motion with your arms. Hard to describe here just through audio, but visually it was a bulky, clunky kind of a thing, but I got caught up in his celebrity and so I invested in the Twist-A-Sizer. We actually lost a half a million dollars engineering it, manufacturing it. We went from prototype all the way through and I always say, I said, “If someone named Chubby walks in your office to sell something that’s fitness-oriented, next time I’m going to say no.”
Kevin Miller: That’s awesome. All right, I love that story, so we got to follow that one up because I know the listeners are going to love this, and I know they’re going to love that story. The last question here on the personal basis is, was there ever a product that you passed on that later became a big success and you regretted, or you’re just like, missed that one?
Kevin H: Yeah, so it’s a great story. We were pioneers in the fitness world way back, and Tony Little is a great friend of mine, and when I met Tony in 1989, he was a personal trainer and a bodybuilder and we did his first infomercial. Became very successful, it was called Target Training. Then we did his next infomercial called the Ab Isolator, and then we got involved in many of these things including the Gazelle, and it built a great business with Tony Little over the years.
One day, one of the guys that was working inside my company, very entrepreneurial young person, he created an idea that he said, “Look, I want to start my own business.” We empower many entrepreneurs in our environment. Think about it this way: somebody like Tony Little comes in and all of my employees were seeing him make millions of dollars. I mean literally tens of millions of dollars in royalties.
Now, if you’re an entrepreneurial thinker and you’re seeing somebody with an idea make tens of millions of dollars, what do you do? You come up with your own ideas. Carl Daikeler said, “You know what, Tony Little is one way to go, and he had some energy and he was a great salesman and presenter on TV,” but Carl Daikeler came up with an idea called … he said, “I want to help women,” and it wasn’t just going to be women, but when you think about it, the term Beachbody is female-oriented.
He said, “I want to help women achieve their beachbody, a body that they would love to go out and hang out on the beach with.” Carl created Beachbody, and Carl had worked for me, ran a division in our company called Quantum Satellite Programing. My company at that time was called Quantum, and we’re putting out satellite distribution of many of our infomercials out to TV stations all around the country. Carl said, “Kevin, I’m going to be on my own. I’m going to start my own company.”
We empower people because, as an entrepreneur, I actually realized that you can’t keep an entrepreneur down. What am I going to say to Carl? “No, you have to stay working for me at $60,000 a year. I don’t want you to go make millions.” Good luck, go for it, but I was offered a piece of Beachbody when it was first starting and I declined it because I was involved with Tony Little. What was interesting in the early days is, we sometimes would think something might be a conflict because, oh, well, we’re already in this fitness world. Well, what I didn’t realize is that there’s plenty of room for many more fitness people besides Tony Little, right? There’s dozens of them out there.
I wished Carl good luck and he went off and created an unbelievable billion-dollar business now that’s now called Beachbody. Carl was an unbelievable entrepreneur that I didn’t realize when he was an employee that he had such vision, but there is an unbelievable company, Beachbody, the P90X. They own the Beachbody multilevel marketing company, direct selling company, and he’s created an unbelievable company, a billion-dollar brand.
Kevin Miller: That’s a great story, that’s a hard one to miss out on. All right, well, we could keep going but we we’ve got another show to do with you here. I want to wrap this one up. I found this on your blog and, I don’t know, weeks back, months back, and I want to land right here. The title of it was the Main Question Every Entrepreneur Must Answer at Some Point During the Journey of Success. The Answer: What Do You Want Your Legacy to Be? Legacy huge Ziglar-focused, Tom Ziglar talks a lot on that, so I’ll wrap by asking you, Kevin Harrington, what do you want your legacy to be?
Kevin H: Well, I want my legacy to be that I was the guy that not only was…obviously, I’ve had some great success over the years on my own business. Starting as the door-to-door salesman back in the day, and then built my infomercial business and my as-seen-on-TV business into a global success. That’s all well and good and I was able to learn how to build my own business, but my legacy is that I’m going to be helping others build their businesses. That’s really what my focus is, as I think I mentioned earlier. I’m involved with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization.
It’s a nonprofit organization where we help others build their businesses, their ideas, take it to the next step, and I think when I look at Zig Ziglar and all the things that I learned from him, I think one of the most powerful beliefs that he had that I love, and it’s probably my number one with Zig, is you can get what you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.
I think that, ultimately, is the next stage of my life. I’ve spent the first 30 years of my life trying to figure out what I wanted to do, because I went through all these different businesses, and from driveway sealing to heating and air conditioning, and then towards the tail end of that 30 years I got in to infomercials. That was the first 30 years of my life, And then the next 30 years of my life I spent building those businesses and creating billions of dollars in sales. Now, I want to spend the next 30 years of my life helping others and empowering others to build their businesses, and taking their ideas to the next level, because I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve had my ups, I’ve had my downs, and now if I can just share that with the new entrepreneurs that are coming out, that’s what I want to leave with the world, is I want to be the entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur to help other entrepreneurs take their ideas to the fullest and greatest potential possible by helping them learn from the ups and the downs that I’ve had in my life.
Kevin Miller: I want to point out something real quick before we wrap here, because the show that people will hear in a couple of days, we’re going to talk about your healthy habits. Don’t answer, don’t comment to this yet, but on the health side of it, you just said you want to devote the next 30 years of your life. You’re 60. That’s taking you to 90; that’s going to take some physical horsepower there. Folks, you’ve got that to listen to in the next show. We’ll see what Kevin Harrington does in his life. The healthy habits are going to help him be thriving at 90 years old to do what he wants to do. What a great message you’ve given us today!
Mark: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Kevin. Thanks for taking time out to be here to talk to our audience, and I’m going to be the spoiler here and say that Kevin has been pretty clear about his legacy and what he wants to do with this legacy, and part of making the next 30 years a reality of helping entrepreneurs is that Kevin has actually raised his hand to get involved and really extend and even join the legacies of Zig Ziglar and Kevin Harrington, and there’s going to be a whole lot more coming out about that, but if you’re listening and you enjoyed Kevin’s story and you saw the similarities of direct selling and door-to-door selling like Mr. Ziglar and the focus on relationships, I think you’ll find it no surprise why Kevin Harrington and Zig Ziglar’s name needs to be mentioned a whole lot more in a whole lot more conversations and a whole lot more legacy built around that. Stay tuned for more of that as well, as this all unfolds.
Kevin Miller: Kevin, thanks so much for being with us.
Kevin H: My pleasure, I loved it. Loved every bit of it, it’s fantastic. Thanks for having me.
Kevin Miller: All right, awesome! And we put intros and outros and do all that kind of stuff.
Kevin H: Okay, great.
Mark: And, Kevin, that was spot on, man. You killed it, you rocked it.
Kevin H: Fantastic. Thank you. Thank you.
Mark: What I loved most about this is that you haven’t told these stories a lot and they’re great.
Kevin H: What’s funny is, like, I didn’t rehearse anything either. It just hits me so …
Mark: Yeah, but that’s the authenticity. You’re literally doubling your own content for your speaking side of the world with your own content. It’s letting that all come out and I think a lot of times people ask you or say we want you to speak about this and you’re kind and gracious, but man, you start cutting loose more of this Paul Harvey side of the rest of the story, it’s good stuff, man.
Kevin H: It’s funny, because it makes me dive deep back into these little nuggets that I haven’t explored because you get so used to you always do what you always do kind of thing, and so I enjoy having to think deep and pull some of these nuggets out from the old days. It’s fun.
Mark: Kevin Miller, you’re going to take away the next segment, but can we use that quote at the end of the first one? Will that suffice for the third one?
Kevin Miller: Yeah, if that’s good with you, Kevin. Yeah, we’ll just grab the quote that you gave…
Kevin H: Which quote is that?
Mark: The quote you gave as you wrap up on legacy, of helping other people get what they want to get what you want. We can actually isolate that and use that for the third show, if you’re good with that.
Kevin H: Okay, sure. Yeah.
Mark: All right. So, Kevin, take it away, and this is much shorter, but this is, again, feel free to get as personal as you want on this work for me, but this was really something I’ve struggled with and this is the habit.
Kevin H: It’s what? Is it 8:47? Somebody may be coming to my room at 9:00 because I had a 9:00 o’clock meeting scheduled.
Mark: I think we can wrap this up. We can knock this out.
Kevin H: Okay.
Kevin Miller: The flavor here is, again, looking at these seven aspects, the Ziglar Wheel of Life, and it’s given people that behind-the-scenes view of you didn’t just fall out of the sky and were super human. It’s because you have made these investments in each of these places that [inaudible 01:19:46] success.
Kevin H: Okay, good.
Kevin Miller: Again, there’ll be intro and outro, so we’ll just dive in.
This is part 2, the Habits interview with Kevin Harrington, and we’ll dive in.
All right Kevin, so looking at the Ziglar Wheel of Life and the seven areas of success that Zig outlined for us, I want to run through and ask you about your health habits; daily, weekly, monthly, whatever they may be in each of these areas, and we’ll dive in first on the physical side. What do you do, as we talked about in the last show and you talked about the next 30 years of your life, that’s going to take you to the age of 90? If you’re going strong then, what are you doing for your physical well-being?
Kevin H: It’s great that I have the goal to be 90. The good news is, I have a little bit of a belief that that can be a reality. My father lived till he was 93 years old, so I believe I’ve got the fundamental genes. I’ll start with that … is that I think I was born into a family — I’m one of six kids — we all have sort of a young mind, I believe. My father, at the age of 90, was still driving and alert. Literally 24 hours before he passed, he was giving me a hassle about one of my new commercials that he was saying, “That call to action came in a little bit too late in that last commercial that I saw you do.” At the age of 93 years old, he was still mentoring me with his thoughts and, as his son, giving me some advice. Within about a day or so he passed away of old age.
I believe I have the ability to get there; I believe that I’m going to do it. It all starts for me, fundamentally, with being a healthy person. I’m 60 years old. Over the years I’ve been very athletic. In school I played baseball and football and basketball and all the sports. When I got to high school I was in wrestling; I wrestled 98 and a 105, 112, 119. I’m still an old wrestler at heart. It’s funny; when I meet other wrestlers, they understand the bonding when you become a wrestler, from eating right to always making ways to … I’m the same weight today at the age of 60 that I was when I graduated high school.
I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I eat right. I eat a lot of protein. I work out on a … I’m not a gym rat. I say to myself, first of all, I travel a lot so I can’t be in the gym an hour a day. I have friends that are in the gym an hour a day and, God bless ’em, that’s their way of life and they love it. I’m in a hotel room half the time, as I travel around the world, and I have a little ritual of a 15-minute workout that I do from jumping jacks to push-ups to things that I can do without … I don’t have room to carry barbells or any kind of fitness equipment with me, and I don’t like going to gyms in hotels.
I have my own system that I use to get my heart pumping and my blood flowing. I eat well. I carry protein bars with me, because I want to make sure if I don’t have a chance for a great meal, I can grab some good protein. I actually love staying fit, and this then gives me a good mental attitude throughout the day, so being healthy is very, very important to me.
Mark: That’s awesome, and I don’t think it comes as much of a surprise, given your background and all of the people that you’ve been involved with in that space. One of the other spokes on the wheel, Kevin, is family and relationships. I know your son works with you, and so that gives you some extra bonus in the family time, but what habits do you have around family and relationships?
Kevin H: I’m one of six kids. We all grew up in the same house, and it was a small house, so I shared my room with my brother, my older brother. The three brothers, we’re nine years apart, each of us, which is kind of interesting. We go from 70, my oldest sister. I’m 60 and my brother 50, so we have a 20-year span, but we all communicate regularly. We’re very close. We have a very tight family. I have a great family. I have two boys. My wife and my boys, we’re very, a very tight family. I worked for my father when I was 11 years old for a number of years, and then he was in the restaurant business.
When he retired out of the restaurant business, I had a business brokerage company and he said, “Kevin,” he said, “you’re selling laundromats, pizza parlors, and restaurants. I know the restaurant business and I know a lot of restaurant owners. Why don’t I help you out?” He actually joined my company and became part of the selling of businesses under the umbrella of Kevin Harrington Enterprises back in the day. I worked for my father, my father ended up working for me. I wasn’t like the guy that runs around and says, “Oh, my father works for me,” kind of person. Actually, some people actually thought I was still working for my father in some cases, right?
I was there when my mother passed; now when my father passed. Our family is very, very close. I actually…now, as a practice, as the head of my own family with two kids, two boys, one is 19 and one is 29, I actually, unfortunately, as a busy entrepreneur I have to schedule the family time. It gets down to a calendar situation that I have to make sure that I’ve got …I’ve been on the road right now for a week, but I’ve got calendar time with my wife when I come home and she’s expecting that when I do have that calendar time there’s not going to be a cellphone involved, okay? I’ll actually hand it over to her during my family time with my wife.
Then we’re scheduling up all of our next times for the holidays. We’ve got a two-week window where we’re going to have a lot of family time, and then we book all of our … unfortunately, obviously, we’ve got a calendar for different vacations and things that you’ve got to do.
It’s important that, as a family unit, that we schedule and have all of these moments that we have together, and I think it’s vital. For me, it becomes part of making sure that if I get it on the calendar, then it’s scheduled, and that is my time for my family uninterrupted.
Mark: That’s excellent. I hear, yeah, you’re intentional, and then in that time you honor, and I love the handing over the phone. It’s incredible.
The next one on here is just the mental aspect, staying mentally strong. I know this is something you’ve done over a lifetime, but even today are there still consistent habits or routines or exercises that you do to maintain your mental health?
Kevin H: Sure, yeah. I believe mental health also starts by feeling good physically. You wake up. Some people wake up and don’t feel good in the morning. They’re tired, they’re lethargic. I believe you got to get a jump-start to the day, and so I keep myself very abreast of all the things that are happening out in the world. I get five newspapers delivered to my home. If I’m traveling, I’m going into the dot com subscriptions online, the digital versions of Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, etc., and then catch up on the things, when I do get home, that are the local versions of what I need. I believe in keeping a mental focus on what’s happening not just in the world, but then on your business.
I get tons of catalogs delivered to the house, and trade journals, and all the industries that I’m involved with. I’m involved in the housewares industry, the hardware industry, the toy industry, golf, fishing, beauty, etc., so I get trade journals, catalogs. This mental side of what I’m doing is keeping myself informed on all the things that are happening in all the different industries, and so there’s an energy that flows to me by doing this.
When I’m on a five-hour flight, I’m not just sleeping or catching up on sleep or whatever, I’m actually reading and even to the point of … just last night, the end of the night, I went to see one of the top-selling items from Amazon this week. I am constantly powering myself with information, curiosity, and keeping my mental processes flowing very aggressively in terms of staying up to speed on what’s out there. There’s a little side of me that doesn’t want to miss out on the next greatest idea or things, so I kind of like that too, to always want to be on my toes.
Kevin Miller: I think we can do an entire show on your mental side of your life because, as Zig Ziglar would say, you can change who you are and where you are by changing one thing, what you put in your mind. I think a lot of your success is a product of what you put into your mind. I hope everybody heard that and listened to that, because it’s powerful.
The next spoke is one that I think people naturally assume is not an issue for you anymore, and that’s financial, but I think you probably had some healthy habits along the way that allowed you to be in the financial position you’re in today.
Kevin H: Yeah. Financial is … My mother came from a family of finance experts. Her father was one of the original presidents of Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fifth Third Bank started in Cincinnati with one bank and now, Fifth Third is a bank all across America, certainly on the East Coast, and they’re in Cincinnati, Ohio, and they’re in Florida, and I don’t know how many other states. My grandfather was one of the original heads of Fifth Third Bank, so she was very financial.
My father was very entrepreneurial but she wanted to live in the right neighborhood, and so they had the cheapest house in the great neighborhood. I grew up around some very successful families, and a lot of the things in life that they wanted were given to some of my friends. I was very motivated financially, because my friends were given cars when they were 16, but I had to earn my own car when I was 16, and so on. My other friends would have a great vacation and lavish this and that, and I had to pay my own way through high school and through college.
Financially, it was important. I was one of six kids also. My father was a restaurateur, and he was successful, but six kids is a lot to put through all levels of schooling in college, and so by the time he got down to me, and I was a boy, I was paying my own way, my own cars, my own insurance, my own apartments, my own schooling, my own books, and so I started very financially-oriented.
From the age of literally 16 on, I paid for everything that it took to live. In fact, I moved out of the house when I was in high school and had my own apartment in my senior year of high school going into college, because I had businesses that I was running.
To me it was important that I was responsible for my own cost of being on the planet, and so I started at a young age with that responsibility, and as I built businesses, I now became responsible for many other families and people and employees. When I had a business of 500 employees, I was responsible for those 500 employees also. I always took that responsibility very powerfully. When you build a business and you hire people, and they leave another job, you’re now responsible for them to also be successful.
The good news is, as I got in on the ground floor of some great industries, I started being successful financially in the early days. One of the amazing things that I did is, I love getting involved with public companies because my first company, Quantum, that ended up in merging in with a public company, I got stuck in that public company for my company. Now, that company stock, we were a dollar a share on the New York Stock Exchange and it went from a dollar a share to $20 a share. That was my first experience with making millions of dollars and being very, very successful.
Actually, tens of millions of dollars because I had millions of shares of stock, and the stock was at a dollar a share. It’s a nice little amount of money, but as it went to tens of dollars, it became a much bigger asset.
Financially, I was fortunate to be able to, by learning you need to take care of yourself and have your own responsibilities, and that came, I think, very much so from my mother’s side of being a finance person, and then my father’s side of showing me how to grow businesses. It was a great one-plus-one-equals-three or five or seven for me to be able to have my own responsibilities for finance, and then learn how to really be very successful out in the marketplace. Being a success financially was, fortunately, something that came to me back when I was about 30 years old when we first started really taking off in this world of the infomercial industry.
Kevin Miller: That’s amazing. Well, next one is spiritual. This is an area that can often be left behind with all the other urgent tangible things in life. What’s in your spiritual spoke?
Kevin H: Spiritually, my mother was a very powerful force in my life. I mentioned her background already. I was raised in the Catholic world, and I went to Cardinal Pacelli Grade School which was a Catholic school in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was an altar boy from the sixth grade on, and my mother instilled in me the God-fearing aspects of my life to this day. In fact, graduating from grade school, I went into an all-boys Catholic high school. Priests were our teachers, and so I was brought up in a very kind of strict Catholic environment, and I paid my dues and my respects and believe that it was important to make sure that you took care of your friends and your neighbors and had a very close-knit feeling to the Church and being a part of my mother’s umbrella.
My mother, on her passing, she lived quite a life. She went to church six days a week and in her final days, I can’t say that I was quite there with her every day, but I was still, to her dying days and since, with her all the way. I believe that making sure that you take care of your fellowman is the most important thing in building your businesses and having a long-term relationship with them.
Kevin Miller: Hey, Kevin, the next spoke is career. Our first show that we did with you, we got to learn a lot about you and staying on top of your career and the industries that you built. I’d love to know, does this new 30-year legacy plan you have of your new passion to focus on helping others with their career, what kind of habits have you put in place that make that happen?
Now, I’ve witnessed first-hand seeing you do this. I think you’re doing it very naturally but have you ever thought about some of the habits you got that are built around helping other entrepreneurs to be the entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur?
Kevin H: Yeah. Great question. When I talked about family, I talked about making sure that I schedule my family time. I also schedule my time to give back to the entrepreneurial community.
On a weekly basis, as I coach my team around me from my son and my assistant who schedules my time, I say that I have an allocation of each week that has to be delegated to the various things that I do. I delegate a certain amount of time to the product side of the business, which is still…I’m always going to be on this as-seen-on-TV world developing products, and that’s 20% of my time, and then I devote 20% of my time to the businesses that I’m running currently, that I’m involved with a couple of dozen businesses.
I’ve got an allocation of products and then businesses that I’m involved with, and 20% of my time has to go to my family, and then another 20% of my time has to go to developing new business opportunities, and then the other 20% of my time that has to go to helping others build their businesses, and sort of my charitable time, giving back to the world, this entrepreneur’s entrepreneur kind of thing.
Upcoming, in October we’ve got events happening in Tampa, Florida, where I’ll be coaching and mentoring the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, and then they have their annual conference. There’s about a three- or four-day window there where I won’t be getting paid any money. I will be donating my time, donating my mentorship, and working with entrepreneurs, and I do this on a weekly basis. It’s not just the collegiate entrepreneurs. I’m also one of the co-founders of the Entrepreneurs Organization, and I co-founded the Electronic Retailing Association.
These are all nonprofit organizations that I designate and devote a part of my time to. It’s not necessarily so much a day because these things happen sometimes weekly or monthly or quarterly in terms of obligations, but it’s important for me as part of my being the entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur to be able to delegate a certain amount of my time to get back. I think that is part of my scheduling. My assistant will say “Hey look, you got this thing coming up that’s going to take two or three days here for the Collegiate Entrepreneur, do you really have the time for them?” I’m like, “Yes, I do have the time for it because we just have to take other things that may have had to happen around that time and move them to some other time because this is part of me doing what I need to do to execute my lifetime strategy.”
Kevin Miller: Got it. Last one here is personal. In this one, we’re usually looking for … there is all the things that you do to be at top performance, but this is another area like that, but it’s more just about you, about Kevin Harrington to be the fullest, best Kevin Harrington that you can be, even joys and hobbies, the things that you do for you. What are those?
Kevin H: Yeah. I always love to talk about the things that I like. Golf is one of my hobbies, okay? When you talk about personal, it’s funny, because people laugh because to be a really good golfer you really have to focus on it. I consider myself a hack when it comes to golfing, but I’m actually getting a little better. As I get out there, I try to get out at least a couple of times a month, but I do enjoy golf. It’s one of those things it’s very … people say, “With all the things you’ve got going on, how do you get on the golf course for four hours?” I said, “Well, first of all, it’s four hours away from everything, right? It’s hanging out with the buddies, it’s out in the golf course.” By the way, the hotter it is, the better. I don’t mind 95 degrees in the middle of summer in August in St. Pete, Florida. It is like a steam shower out in the golf course in the daylight, but it’s sweating. There’s just something about it. It’s like going on a hike or climbing the mountain or whatever.
The beauty of golf is in an 18-hole round you might have five or six kinds of great holes that keep you coming back. Yeah, you might have a few bad ones also, but that’s the same thing in business. You show the works and you do a couple of the don’ts. I’m sort of the one-out-of-three kind of guy in the golf course. I love golf and I love bowling and I love concerts and I love going to baseball games. Thursday night football, I love tuning in to the NFL Season, and I’ve been a season ticket holder to the greatest baseball for eight years running. I go to baseball games, football games, basketball, etc.
I’m a very competitive guy. My personal side … I’ll say this. My wife, she can’t believe how every morning when I wake up she says I shoot out of bed and she said it’s like, “you got a rocket up your butt.” She is like, “How do you do that?” I’m like … I wake up happy, I wake up ready to hit the ground running and ready to tackle the day because I know, number one, I’ve got great businesses and great friends and great family that I’m involved with on a day-to-day basis, so I already know going into the day I’m blessed. But I also know that I’m going to meet new opportunities and see new deals and new things that are going to be so inspiring and creating new power situations going down the line.
The excitement of my day is understanding the new things that are coming and then I love … then also at the same time, like, here it is. I’ve been on the road about a week, but I’m coming home. I’ve got a football game-watching party at my house, and I’ve got golf scheduled on one day, actually a second day for the weekend, and my wife and I are going to the movies, and so at the end of the day, the important thing for me is making sure I’ve got all of the things that are scheduled across the board. It’s just kind of I know I’m going to have a great weekend of just a little bit of R&R, kicking back a little bit, yup, I’d still be overseeing a lot of the things I’m involved with, but it is a little bit of a recharge that is necessary because I’ve had a couple week run. I was doing international stuff around the world, but this little couple of week recharge, a couple of days recharge rather, is going to be a very powerful thing so that I’ll be ready to jump back in. I’ve got about a five-day downtime that will be good to get back in the groove business-wise from there. It’s just a lot of fun having.
I think a very positive mental attitude is what it ends up being at the end of the day. It’s just keeping very focused on being happy, joyous, and looking forward to making, kind of helping other people empower themselves also.
Kevin Miller: Well, Kevin, I got to say Zig Ziglar used to say all the time, we all need a checkup from the neck up. We didn’t tell you in advance … I want to be public about this, we did not tell you in advance the seven areas of the Ziglar Wheel of Life. Now, you may have seen them before, and his stuff, but probably not recall them right off the bat. We were putting you on the spot on all seven of these. Not a surprise to me at all, nor do I think it’s probably a surprise to any of the listeners, that you have healthy habits, that you have habits that really fuel your success in those seven areas, because, really, it’s our habits that really propel us forward when we’re on this journey to success.
We don’t wake up accidentally someday and find success. We develop winning habits, successful habits, and that’s why Mr. Ziglar used to talk about that. Kevin, thank you so much for, again, your time. Thank you for … honestly, today, just pulling back the curtain, letting us have a peek inside of Kevin Harrington’s life, so that we can appreciate what really makes you who you are. I’ve got to tell you something; the more time I spend with you, the more excited I am to see these next 30 years, because something tells me you’re just hitting a new gear.
Kevin. H: Yeah. I agree. That’s what it feels like for me. I look at my life and it doesn’t even feel like I’ve been here 60 years already, but I definitely am looking forward to the next 30 years. I think it’s important that as you live your life, you do a lot of things for yourself along the way. At a point, you realize that it’s time to help doing things for other people in the future, and that really is going to be the next 30, so I’m looking forward to it.
I appreciate all the kind comments. Thank you. Thanks for the kind words. It has been a real pleasure to be here with both of you, Mark, Kevin. Thank you for having me.
Mark: Kevin, thank you. Thanks for blessing us and blessing this audience. We will do this again.
Kevin H: Sure.
Kevin Miller: Man, I hope you’re enjoying this Kevin. I mean, you’re killing it. You really are.
Kevin H: I love it, yeah. I think that it’s fun to have … I’m reaching back and enjoying, finding some of these little pockets over the years. I don’t –
Kevin Miller: There’s no pockets, you’ve got books. I’m writing down ideas here of books that you’re going to write.
Kevin H: Okay.
Kevin Miller: I’m not saying book, I’m saying books with an S. You’ve got books inside of you on some of these topics, books.
Kevin H: Thank you. Yeah, that’s good.
Kevin Miller: That’s going to be a lot fun to pull that out and to help you tell the story because… and the best part is that it’s just your life. You’re just going back and really doing the deeper dive, but there’s great content in here.
Kevin H: Thank you, guys. Thank you, Mark. It’s great to hang out with you. I’m looking at the time, it’s almost two hours, but it felt like 10 minutes, really.
Mark: That’s the way it’s supposed to feel when it’s [inaudible 01:48:28].
Kevin H: Yeah, it went fast. That was good. Let’s do it again.
Mark: Yeah, all right. Well, you have an awesome time with your conference and when you get back we’ll catch up on some other stuff, all right?
Kevin H: Okay, Kevin looks forward to meeting you and thank you.
Kevin Miller: Yes. [crosstalk 01:48:41]
Kevin H: Thank you. Two thumbs up for two good guys, okay?
Mark: All right. Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin H: All right. See you later. Take care. Bye-bye.
Kevin Miller: That was good.
Mark: Man, I’m telling you man, this new format is fun.
Kevin Miller: Yes. Yeah, it is and I did one with Michelle yesterday. Same things, good chemistry and easy to roll with, yeah, that’s good. Hey, I got a question, give me a quick rundown if you can of what you’re doing with him on See You at the Top, of the endeavor?
Mark: Not See You at the Top, the first product is Secrets of Closing the Sale. We are literally taking the content of Secrets of Closing the Sale and creating a master class that will be taught by Kevin Harrington.
Kevin Miller: Online?
Mark: Yes. An online master class taught by Kevin Harrington on the content of Secrets of Closing the Sale. We can’t say the book Secrets of Closing the Sale, or we’d have to pay the royalty, but Zig created the content of Secrets of Closing the Sale before he even had the book, so it’s inspired by the content. It’s Zig’s content brought to life through Kevin’s life. That’s the beauty is it’s not just somebody standing up there teaching Zig’s content. Kevin has all the examples of how he lived it.
I mean he put it in action. He made it happen. He made it a reality. He’s got his own stories about the closes and everything. It’s going to be powerful and it’s going to be … and then you leverage his national media presence. I mean he can get on talk shows, he can get on national media. I mean, this is going to raise the bar. The Ziglar show will catch a wave just from this launch.
Kevin Miller: Is it mainly just him, or are you involving any other personalities?
Mark: It’s him right now. I mean, it’s him. Michelle, we’re involving Michelle to do some intros and outros to have a woman’s voice. We could have gone out and gotten a large personality to match him, but we really felt like we just wanted him to be the, the personality, and that Michelle will do a good job of representing a woman’s voice, but she will do intros and outros to some of the modules, but really its him at the stage.
We’re going to get a lot of testimonials from other people about how Secrets of Closing the Sale impacted their life, but he is the only personality that’s going to be teaching.
Kevin Miller: Okay. What’s the launch date? The intent …
Mark: Launch date is January 15th. That’s why the timing of the national launch is set the way it is. That January 11, 12, 13 we launch at a VIP level in Nashville, and then we turn around and start pushing out the content through digital launch means mid-January, and then we wrap up that launch about February 1st.
Even though I think we’ll do a lot of sales, really, it will be the lifting of the Ziglar brand in a major way through this partnership and association.
Kevin Miller: Awesome. Okay, cool. Okay, well-
Mark: That’s why I threw the little teaser out there without any details just to plant a seed that more is coming and just to make people think when they start seeing us talking about it more.
Kevin Miller: Okay. Okay, Friday I’ve got Greg [McCullen 01:52:16] but I’m doing that with Tom, it looks like.
Mark: Yup. All right, my friend, good stuff.
Kevin Miller: Yeah. Awesome. All right, [inaudible 01:52:22].
Mark: Take care.
Kevin Miller: All right. See you.