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Eric Harrison: “Life is best lived with a well-rounded relationship”

Life is best lived with a well-rounded relationship with all of the roles that you possess in your life. Being successful in one or two areas of your life at the sacrifice of others will only lead to guilt and regrets in the long run. I was blessed with the opportunity to reinvent myself. I wish […]

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Life is best lived with a well-rounded relationship with all of the roles that you possess in your life. Being successful in one or two areas of your life at the sacrifice of others will only lead to guilt and regrets in the long run.

I was blessed with the opportunity to reinvent myself. I wish I would have discovered this lesson much earlier in life when my children were still young. I have made peace with myself and am dedicated to those relationships as well as all of the other areas of my life. Unfortunately, for many years, however, I sacrificed many if not most of my roles for the sake of running my business. The encouragement I would leave your readers with is that it is never too late to start and it’s always too early to give up, so get clear on where you are now and where you want to be and then begin building habits and steps to bridge that gap every day.


Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in the second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Harrison

For over 33 years, Eric worked in, managed, and owned his family’s women’s wholesale shoe business. In 2019 he made the decision to leave the only career he had ever known to venture out on his own. What started out as a curiosity and checking something off of his bucket list, turned into a calling that Eric would have never discovered had he not made the first bold move to leave his lifelong career behind.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a very normal, white-collar suburb of Dallas. My parents had moved back to Texas from the midwest when I was 10 years old. I have never left. My parents started our company right after we moved back and so I saw how hard they worked to build our business. While they built the business and traveled quite a bit I was very fortunate to have all four of my grandparents play a significant role in shaping me into the man I am today. The values, manners, and gratitude for all that I had are lessons I learned early and I still carry with me today.

Of course, as a native Texan, I have a great deal of pride in my family and all that we were and have been able to accomplish. I eventually earned an MBA but the business lessons I learned from my father, whom my mother always claims did all of his work in college and my mother who had only high school education, taught me more about the day-to-day running of a business than I could ever learn in a classroom. Their hard work and dedication allowed me the opportunity to work for myself my entire career and built a company where my brother still runs and maintains the family heritage which has existed for well over forty years.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have a lot of them, but at the top of my list has to be Zig Ziglar’s quote, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

My mom and dad didn’t know it, but I caught this habit from them as I saw how they built their business and treated their friends, customers, and employees. Similarly, I have worked very hard to build a network of contacts and people I can itry to nfluence and give more than I get. When you put other people first, they will not hesitate to do anything they can for you.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

The value I put on other people. I am an emotional guy. When I left my business I shed a lot of tears. Most of them were due to the words, actions, and sentiments that other people shared with me. I have never been afraid to tell people that I love them. Because I do.

I am a passionate person. I am insanely competitive, especially with myself. I love to win and I hate to lose. As an avid sports fan, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. My family has seen the best and worst of me attending or watching sporting events. That passion, when applied correctly, inspires other people to believe in you and believe in themselves.

I am dependable. If I commit to something, it will get done, no matter what it takes. I like to joke that I am a recovering perfectionist but I just learned and taught myself over the years to give everything I’ve got, especially if other people are depending on me. Sometimes my passion causes me to overcommit, but I still will never fail to deliver.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

Well, as I have alluded to, I grew up in my family’s business. I began working with my dad at a very early age. I was a born salesman, as my first job was delivering papers and selling subscriptions for a community newspaper in my neighborhood when I was ten years old. Watching my dad, who was, is, and ever will be the best salesman I have ever known, I got the bug to sell shoes.

I worked in our warehouse packing and shipping shoes to customers after school all throughout high school and almost any time I had a break from college. There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to work in the family business. I went to college to mature a little bit and to major in college and intramural sports and having a good time — I’m only partially kidding. I graduated college on a Saturday and was in the office the next Monday and never left, at least not until September 2019 after 33+ years.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

Let me be clear, that this is a present-tense situation. Truly, I made the decision to leave with no thought or idea what I was going to do next. I have been on about a year and a half journey of self-discovery at this point, and I continue to reinvent myself.

My only intention when I left my first chapter career was to write and publish a book. It was more of a “bucket list” item for me, and a tribute to my father, whom I lost in 2017. I was committed to marketing and speaking in support of the book because I had made the decision to donate 100% of the royalties I earned on it to charity, which I am still doing. Unfortunately, a month after I released the book the world was shut down by Covid.

After that I pivoted and continued writing a weekly blog post, posting weekly videos to a YouTube channel, and became a licensed Ziglar Personal Development Coach. I also just a couple of weeks ago started a room on the Clubhouse App to serve people.

The bottom line is, I am still trying to use my gifts and talents to serve other people. And I love that I am able to do it in a variety of ways now.

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

As I mentioned, my father passed away in the summer of 2017. Six months later my wife nearly died from a tragic injury. Thankfully, after months of rehab, she is now, as I like to say, “A walking miracle.”

To experience the death of one of the most significant people in my life and to nearly lose the most significant person in my life shook me to my core and I began to evaluate my life and life in general. I loved my company, I loved the people I worked alongside every day, and I loved the people we served but I also ultimately decided that none of us is promised tomorrow and that spending time being married to my wife versus being married to my business was where my heart was.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

I overcame a ton of fear and limiting beliefs. I always knew I enjoyed writing and was good at it and I also knew I loved inspiring other people and helping them reach their goals. What I discovered is that there are a lot of people in the same situation I was in with my business. They have achieved a great deal of success professionally but buried inside them is a desire to accomplish great things in many other areas of their life and to leave a legacy when they are gone.

I like to use the term Balanced Success. People do not have to sacrifice themselves either as parents or spouses, as well as physically, mentally, spiritually, and every other way in order to run a successful business. They can learn to “ have it all” if they are willing to adjust their mindset, habits, and behaviors in order to achieve balanced success.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

Well, first of all, when I first self-published my book, it achieved “Best-seller” status on Amazon which was incredibly gratifying for me. The message of the book is even more relevant today than when I initially wrote it, so it is on my plate to “re-launch” the book and properly market and promote it in 2021.

I am thankful in a way that things happened the way they did in March 2020, because with that I have had the time to work on developing my network and to develop relevant content that makes an impact on other people. I am blessed to get amazing feedback from people on how what I am putting out is impacting them.

Finally, I am so enjoying coaching business owners and leaders who are where I was for so many years. With the space to take a 30,000-foot view of where I was, I am able to relate to current owners who are stuck working IN their business to learn to work ON their business and to create the space they need to be effective in every other area of their lives.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh boy, the danger in sharing one particular person is leaving out a multitude of others who deserve to be mentioned. There were the people who coached and mentored me to write, edit and publish my book. Mentors who have coached me along the path as I discovered where I needed to go and who I needed to serve. And hundreds of people I met through my association with Chandler Bolt, and Self-Publishing School, and Tom Ziglar and the entire Ziglar family. They have encouraged me and given me the confidence in myself that I needed to do all that I am endeavoring to do today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I have related the story many times, but it bears repeating as often as I can. I feel incredibly blessed to have become part of the Ziglar family and to be licensed to coach material from Tom’s book Choose to Win. At the end of last year, I also became licensed to coach from Zig Ziglar’s iconic book, See You at the Top. When I was in high school, I was part of a co-op program where we went to class to learn “market skills” and then we had the afternoons off to go to a job to apply those lessons.

I took the course so that I could go to work at my family’s business in the afternoons five days a week. The course I took in school was based on Zig Ziglar’s book See You at the Top. I feel like my life has come completely full circle and I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I never imagined when I started that this is where I would end up, but I could not be more grateful for the lessons I have learned and where I am at this point in my journey.

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

The better question is, did I ever not struggle with believing in myself? Listen, I believe whether you are a great athlete, speaker, thought leader, or anything else, we all have to overcome fear and self-doubt. The way to overcome it may sound simple, but it’s not easy. You just have to show up every day and take action. You do it scared until you begin to gain confidence in your abilities. You’re going to make mistakes, but mistakes won’t kill you, and if you use them as a teaching tool you will begin to get better. It just takes showing up and taking action.

In my own work, I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

Well, the fortunate thing for me is mine was pretty well built in before I started based on my network I had going in. So I started with what I had and then built upon it as I went along. I sought out and even hired a couple of people along the way to help me with things that I didn’t know how to do or didn’t do well. It has taught me to focus on the things I do well and to rely on others in areas where I need help.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

Well, writing my book was pretty simple for me but the rest of the process was grueling. The editing process for me was very arduous and since I self-published I also had to learn new digital marketing skills, the ins, and outs of how to publish a book on Amazon, and how to launch successfully. I made a ton of mistakes, I learned even more, and ultimately, I gained confidence in myself that I can do hard things and things I don’t understand. And now I get to be a resource to other people to help encourage and coach them through the process. Doing anything that I’ve never donw before is always a motivator for me.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

First, find and hire people smarter than yourself. My parents successfully ran our company based on an authoritarian culture where essentially any decision of consequence had to be run through them.

I tried to exist in this system for many years running our business. I always thought I had to have all of the answers and know exactly what to do and when to do it. It was well into my run as a leader in our business before I assembled a management team to help me critically think through ideas and strategies to more effectively run our business.

Learn how to ask good questions and listen for the answers. Too many people are much too engaged in themselves and telling other people what they think versus learning what other people and what they can learn from them. We don’t always have to agree to get along.

Sure, in sales I learned about negotiation, but life is a negotiation too. We can always learn new things, engage with people from different backgrounds and schools of thought. Maybe it makes us more fortified in our own views but maybe it also challenges us to consider new ideas. The best way to do this is to engage other people with great questions and to learn to listen to their answers. The only thing better than a good question is a clarification question after they have given you their initial answer.

The next one is similar, but it is a quote I have reflected on many many times since I first heard t. It is from Jeffrey Gitomer, one of my favorite authors and sales gurus. He says, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.”

When I grew up in sales it was all about getting to the close. What steps, what actions, and what words are you using to get people to buy what you’re selling? When you flip that around and find out what motivates people, what problems you can help them solve, and how to make their lives better or easier they will be happy to buy from you. What is true in sales is true in life. If you put other people and their needs first, you will be rewarded greatly.

Fourth, know who your audience is. Whether you are a world-renowned iconic brand or a start-up company that no one has ever heard of, you have to intimately know who you are creating your product or service for. If you try to be all things to all people, you are destined to fail.

This has become even more important in my new venture. The more I “niche down” my audience the better I can serve the people who become my raving fans. It is true that there are riches in the niches.

Finally, and as I have suggested throughout this interview, find balance. Life is best lived with a well-rounded relationship with all of the roles that you possess in your life. Being successful in one or two areas of your life at the sacrifice of others will only lead to guilt and regrets in the long run.

I was blessed with the opportunity to reinvent myself. I wish I would have discovered this lesson much earlier in life when my children were still young. I have made peace with myself and am dedicated to those relationships as well as all of the other areas of my life. Unfortunately, for many years, however, I sacrificed many if not most of my roles for the sake of running my business. The encouragement I would leave your readers with is that it is never too late to start and it’s always too early to give up, so get clear on where you are now and where you want to be and then begin building habits and steps to bridge that gap every day.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The movement I hopefully started with my book, and that I aspire to promulgate daily is the subtitle to my book: Mountain moving ideas to change your life by changing the lives of others.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

The first person that comes to mind from business, which is where I go first, is Warren Buffet. I admire his commitment to his principles in building, running, and investing in businesses. Not necessarily that I agree with all of them, but it’s his commitment I admire because it allows him to say no to many things in order to say yes to the things he really believes in. I also admire his philanthropy and commitment to donate most of his fortune to charity.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Everything that I produce and offer is available on or linked to my website, www.Eric-Harrison.com.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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