The Surprising Secret Behind a Shark Tank Star's $5 Billion in Sales
Long before he became famous for inventing the TV infomercial, the "As Seen on TV" brand and appearing on "Shark Tank," Kevin Harrington was a high school entrepreneur looking for some inspiration.
At first, every single person he approached told him to go away.
"They were nice about it, but they basically told me to get off their property," recalls Kevin Harrington of his early days, going door-to-door as teenage entrepreneur living in Cincinnati, Ohio. "I remember as a high school senior, knocking on twenty straight doors in a neighborhood, and every single person telling me they weren't interested."
It was 1975, and Harrington was a budding entrepreneur in search of motivation and reassurance as he tried to get a driveway sealing business off the ground.
"It was a transformational time for me as a young person," he told me on a recent episode of the Nemo Radio Podcast. "And when I first came across Zig Ziglar, it was a motivational moment. I still remember it."
Harrington went on to a career that includes inventing the TV infomercial, creating the "As Seen on TV" brand and starring in the original season of ABC's hit show "Shark Tank," generating more than $5 billion in sales along the way.
The (Sales) World According to Zig
"Stop Selling. Start Helping."
The man behind that famous phrase, Zig Ziglar (1926-2012), reached more than 250 million people worldwide with his sales training talks, bestselling books and unforgettable, homespun wisdom on the art of dealing with people.
In fact, many of today's biggest names in Business, Finance, Marketing and Self-Improvement (including the likes of Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey and others) credit Zig for their success.
Harrington was no exception.
"When I first got involved with Zig's philosophy, I shifted from being a salesman to becoming a problem-solver," he says. "That mentality, that shift I made was everything.
"Instead of just trying to close a sale one time, it became about trying to start a lifetime relationship with a new customer."
Having started his own driveway sealing company in high school, Harrington realized that if he explained to homeowners a simple problem his service would solve (preventing bothersome cracks in the driveway from expanding due to ice and water buildup during the cold winter months), a sale became much easier.
How To Get Everything You Want
Later on in his career, he adopted another one of Zig Ziglar's core teachings: You can have everything you want in life ... if you help enough other people get what they want.
"Even later in my career, someone might come to me wanting to do a deal, and even if it wasn't right for me, or if they didn't need me yet, I'd tell them that," Harrington says. "I'd give them free advice or help - maybe connecting them with an attorney I knew for the patent process, or explaining how they could raise money in a certain fashion.
"A few years later, they'd come back with a new product, and because I'd helped them and treated them fairly, guess who they wanted to do a deal with? Things always seemed to come back to me that way."
An Ongoing Legacy
Although he passed away in 2012, Zig Ziglar's family has been active in continuing to share and spread his training and techniques well into the digital age.
Harrington, in fact, agreed to help the family with a new online training program derived from one of Zig Ziglar's most popular books - Secrets of Closing The Sale.
"You have to realize, Zig Ziglar left behind thousands and thousands of hours of amazing content," Harrington says. "From speaking to tens of thousands of people live, to previously unaired video seminars or speeches he gave, we've got some incredible content to draw on, and it's been amazing going through it all."
For Harrington, who went from sealing driveways to starring on "Shark Tank," he's thrilled to introduce a new generation of digital entrepreneurs to Zig Ziglar.
"Zig's way of connecting with people, his philosophy and his approach to selling are timeless," Harrington says. "Some things never go out of style."