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Tips From The Top: One On One With Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington

I spoke to Kevin Harrington, founder of As Seen On TV and one of the original sharks on ABC's hit television show Shark Tank, about his best business tips

Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Kevin: In today’s competitive world, companies cannot operate the way they have in the past because of the advancements in technology and the digital marketplace. Learning how to pivot from the decline of the TV industry to the new digital age is key.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Kevin: Be open to change and adaptation. The world is always moving, and if you don’t keep an open mind, you will be left behind.

A leader needs to be someone with tremendous vision and passion. Someone with unwavering strength and compassion. Someone with the ability to delegate tasks efficiently and effectively to their dream team. Someone that is not afraid to have powerful people at their side. Someone that is willing to invest in the resources of the team around them.

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to an audience of entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Kevin: Have curiosity overload… this will keep you updated and informed of the latest trends… allowing you to capitalize on new opportunities

Always look for the opportunity… you do not need to invent something new or grand… there is opportunity everywhere if you know how to leverage your resources and the people around you… Keep your eyes open

Follow the eyeballs… look to where the mass attention is turning to! Today it is shifting from TV to digital media… what comes next??? Follow the eyes

Adam: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Kevin: I was immensely influenced by Zig Ziglar, one of the world’s most influential motivators, sales authors and selling gurus, at age 17 when a sales coach gave me Ziglar’s book, See You at the Top (1975). One of the principles from the book that impacted me most was: “People who fail reaching their dream, fail not from lack of ability – but from lack of commitment.” But the best piece of advice I received was from Ziglar’s lesson: “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Ziglar’s insights and lessons impacted my success and entrepreneurial drive. 

Adam: How do you pay it forward?

Kevin: I am a co-founding board member of the EO (Entrepreneurs Organization), which has grown to 45 countries and thousands of members, generating over $500 billion of member sales. In 1990, I co-founded the global direct to consumer organization and trade show, the Electronic Retailers Association (ERA). Today ERA is the exclusive trade association to represent a global $350-billion direct-to-consumer market place, encompassing 450 different companies in 45 countries. I am also in several non-profits such as Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO), which allows me to access over 240 college campuses worldwide and give back to young entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship as a field of study at colleges and universities across the U.S. and around the world has become a leading subject at the undergraduate and graduate level. According to the 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) U.S. Report, younger adults (18-24 years old) are more likely to start a business, and college graduates or those pursuing higher education are particularly more inclined to pursue entrepreneurship. With this increased attention, it is more important than ever to give students the opportunities to network not only with their student peers, but with fellow entrepreneurs in the business world to promote entrepreneurship at all levels and in all environments.

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