American entrepreneur and business executive Kevin Harrington, the original shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, has been a big fish for decades.
The bestselling author of Put A Shark In Your Tank has heard more than 50,000 pitches on every product from a toilet-training system for cats to a “cougar” energy drink, a “Wake ‘n’ Bacon” bedside grill, and an erotic lip balm.
As the pioneer of the infomercial industry and master of the pitch, the mega-investor has launched more than 500 winning products resulting in cumulative total sales of over $4 billion, with twenty of them racking up sales of over $100 million each.
Told by his dad at age 15 to “hatch some extra income streams,” the fledgling mogul came up with one cash-generating venture after another, demonstrating an innate flair for sales and marketing.
By age 18, he was running his own company that sold heating and cooling systems, and soon had a staff of 25, with $1 million in annual revenues.
A pivotal moment occurred as Harrington was watching late-night TV in 1984, when the sudden appearance of static color test bars on the screen after the regular programming ended triggered a thought that would change everything.
Why not buy that dead air space at a low cost and advertise products on it? Driven by what he later called his Eureka moment, he began scouting trade shows and devouring mail order catalogues, hunting for million-dollar products that could be sold on cable TV.
Soon after, he was in the studio producing dozens of 30-minute infomercials. And the rest was history.
Not to mention his celebrity brands which have included Jack LaLanne, Tony Little, Cee Lo Green, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, 50 Cent, Frankie Avalon, Paula Abdul, Montel Williams, Hulk Hogan, George Foreman, and Kris and Bruce Jenner.
A few years back, Kevin and I worked on a book project together, and I saw instantly the traits he shares with all the entrepreneurial greats:
He’s laser-focused, energetic, resilient, and never ceases to pivot in new directions, intuitively sensing a need in the market.
One of the secrets of success, he believes, is CURIOSITY OVERLOAD—the drive to be ambitiously inquisitive.
“I always say that one secret to developing any business or brand is leaving your zip code, i.e. getting OUT of your office and into the marketplace.
“You’ve got to EXPOSE yourself to new trends and information, to people you’ve never met, and to business opportunities you couldn’t possibly imagine.
“So like an archaeologist, I’m always out there–excavating, doing fieldwork, and digging for the right knowledge, contacts, and product ideas or strategies to advance my business.”
“If you dropped me down in the middle of a big city with no money, no business, no nothing—and told me that within 48 hours I’d be dead unless I got a deal, I’d have one within those two days.
“I would have identified business opportunities, acquired partners and advisors to support me, raised capital and negotiated deals, and got it done, similar to what people do on Celebrity Apprentice.
“That’s just me. In short, my motto is that opportunity is literally everywhere!”