Inventor of the Infomercial and The Original Shark on Shark Tank

When I was a kid, I would watch infomercials the way other people watched sports. I loved selling. Well, today’s guest is one of the original creators of the infomercial.

I have been reading his books for years and following him since the 90s. I am so freaking excited to have him on. Kevin Harrington is known as the Inventor of the Infomercial, the Original Shark on Shark Tank, and the As Seen on TV Pioneer.

 

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Kevin Harrington

Kevin Harrington

Mentor to Millions

Kevin Harrington is known as the Inventor of the Infomercial, the Original Shark on Shark Tank, and the As Seen on TV Pioneer.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. I’ve been reading this guy’s books for years. I’ve been following his work from all right. I’m not a sports guy before we started this interview.

Kevin who, who just won? What did they win?

Kevin: Oh my goodness. Okay. So I’m, I’m a, I’m a sports fan, the Tampa lightning, just one game, five of the playoffs

Andrew: Of what, what sport

Kevin: Yeah, hockey. Okay. Sorry.

Andrew: the way your eyes lit up, the way that you got carried away, when you, I don’t know about that. Here’s what I used to watch. Infill frickin Marshall’s infomercials, dude,

Kevin: all right. Thank you. I’m glad

Andrew: many of your

Kevin: I hope you bought something too.

Andrew: I didn’t buy nearly as much as I watched, like I was a kid. Well, I was a kid. I would watch the Ginsu knives where the guy would give me chop wood with the knife.

Kevin: We chop Christmas trees, mufflers, sneakers, big thick pieces of rope, a pipe, you name it. And, and every now and then we use it on food too, you

Andrew: Yeah. Every once in a while, and then you go, and by the way, you can slice bread so thin you can almost see through it. Let me show you what we can do with the tomato. Now let’s go back to how we can cut a piece of paper.

Kevin: You know, this is when I learned that we call them the power demos, right. That I’m like, why are we taking a knife and cutting through mufflers? And it’s like, it’s showing the power of this knife. If it can cut through a muffler, it can certainly cut your roast beef. Right. You know, so I had worked, you know, this is the early days we had a lot of fun.

Andrew: Well, you have an infomercial person, but let me introduce him. This is Kevin Harrington, whose voice you’re hearing he is. I think at this point you might be more well known for being one of the original sharks on shark tank. To me, you will always be the person who wrote the book act now, which I freaking loved years ago.

You’re the guy who brought the Ginsu knives. To our home, the flying lore, Billy Mays, Tony little Jackal lane became these people are celebrities or were made into infomercial celebrities because if you George Foreman foods, I didn’t even, I didn’t even like food. When I was a kid, I was, I was under a hundred pounds for much of my life.

I would watch the food saver infomercials you created. Right? He’s got a brand new book out, mentored a millions. I think this might be in many ways the best book that you’ve written.

Here’s why all I’m seeing is like the hustler attitude. Boom, boom, boom. We’re going to create, create, create, create. Great. And then something takes off. What’s the thing that took off the most for you? Is it the Ginsu knives,

Kevin: Actually the, the, the biggest image just keeps on giving the gift that keeps on giving Tony little.

Yeah. I met him in the late eighties and, um, and he had, we did a, a product called target training cause he had a system you could target any body parts. So if women wanted to get rid of something under their arms or their love handles, you could target those body parts that did 350 million in sales.

Then we did. The AB isolator that did over 400 million. And then we did the gazelle and the gazelle was a billion dollars. And when it ended up rolling out all over the world for years,

All infomercials. Yeah. But it starts on TV, then it goes to retail and then it goes international. So, I mean, we made with Tony little, we were airing Tony little back in the early nineties all over, I mean, in a hundred plus countries.

Cause that’s the other thing that I’m kind of known for in my business. I was one of the. The creators of the infomercial itself back in the early eighties. But then in 1990, I had this big library of shows and I said, well, wait a minute. Don’t movies go to Europe, Asia, Latin America, dubbed in the local language.

Why can’t I do it with infomercials? And I opened an office in London, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in San Paulo, Brazil and Tokyo, 90 91 92. And we went from a hundred million a year. The 500 million a year in sales, because we were running all around the world instead of just in the United States.

Andrew: This thing started when, what your, I guess you were doing, um, franchise sales, right? And then you, that’s how you got into infomercials.

Kevin: I was a serial entrepreneur going way back. So when, when I was 11 years old, my dad, he was a bartender, but he said, Hey, I saved up enough money. We’re opening Harrington’s Irish pub. And. You know, let’s come on to work, you know, so I was working there, but then I said, dad, I want to make real money.

You know, you’re in the restaurant business. He said, you got to start a business. So he mentored me and, you know, I really believe in mentors. And thank you for mentioning my book, mentor to millions, because that is how I ended up learning all the things that I’ve learned at this point. And my father was my

mentor to begin

Andrew: Tell me about, tell me more about your dad. He sounds like a fascinating guy. He got the bar himself, right? And then he wasn’t satisfied with the bar. He saw that the cushions were ripping in my right.

Kevin: Yeah. You read no books. That’s crazy. Yeah. So, so my, my father was, was also a serial entrepreneur. So he’s got this restaurant and bar that he’s running, you know, many hours, I mean, 18 hours a day. And he’s there almost all the time, but he’s also seeing that this. This is getting ripped. So now he starts a vinyl repair business and he and I are running around other restaurants.

And then we were

Andrew: And pitching them and saying, do you have any, do you have any vinyl seats in the, do you have any booths that are being cut? We can, we have this hot air gun, like a vac, like a, like a blow

dryer type of thing.

Kevin: yeah. This thing heated up. And they had the paints that you can match the colors

Andrew: where you, Kevin, as a kid pitching them, is that

Kevin: Oh, yeah, my, I was going door to door, to restaurants and, and with the pack and telling them my kid repair their vinyl. We also had a lamination machine because today you get your driver’s license and social security or in a nice piece of plastic back then it was in a piece of paper.

So I’m installing laminating machines around, uh, the, the different, uh, bars and restaurants. Cause that was another

Andrew: Bar bars would laminate people’s cards.

Kevin: You as a consumer, you put that in and you laminated your own cards. Right? So, you know, and then my dad, one day he told me, he said, Hey, you know, hotels have all these guests, they travel, they’re tired.

I’ve he cut a deal with a company called magic fingers. And we were, we had a contract with holiday Inn to install all the magic fingers into the, in between the box spring in the bed, stick a quarter in it. Boom. It vibrated the bed. And that was huge. I mean, it took off like crazy, all over the, all over the country.

We had certain territories. Um, but so here I am 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 working in all my dad’s deals. And then when I was 15, I started a

Andrew: let’s pause. Let’s pause it there. Why I’m sorry to pause it there. Why did your dad do this? My hunches reading the buckets. Your mom wanted to live in the nice neighborhood. Your dad couldn’t afford it. He got that. Junkiest is junky the wrong word. He got the least expensive house in the nicest neighborhood.

And my sense was you felt a sense of inferiority compared to the other kids who were better off than you. Did he feel that

Kevin: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean, look, I mean, one of my buddies, his father, they lived, I lived on a street that had the upper part, was all new houses and mansions. And so we went to the S but they came down the street to go to the grade school that we went to Cardinal. McKelly a Catholic grade school. And one, one of my buddies turned 16.

He had a brand new tr. A six car. That was probably, uh, at that time. And this was back in the, in the seventies, uh, probably an $8,000 car. Okay. Today is probably a $60,000 car, you know, if they still make them even, I don’t know. But anyway, um, I, my own car too, so I bought an mg when I was 16, paid cash for it.

Cause I had my own business. Okay. I started a drive resealable business. When I was 15 knocking on doors, holding the people out of their house, showing them the cracks in their driveway. And I said, look, it gets cold in Cincinnati. In the winter, the water will freeze triple the size of that crack. If you don’t get some sealant in there, of course I’ll seal it.

And then I’ll blacktop your whole driveway with beautiful. Tar. And, and so I was doing 10 jobs a week at the age of 15. So when I turned 16, I had a little pile of capital in my pocket and I bought a car, paid cash for it. And, and, and my dad, he had six, there were six of us, right. So my mom wanted the kids to go to the best schools.

And so my sisters, they, they were treated royally, but when they got to me the fourth, my dad said, look, Take a look, your sister’s got most of the good stuff. Oh God, you’re smart enough. And you don’t need it. So go hustle and pay for your own. Not only high school, what college. So when I got to college, I had to get a full time business because driveway ceiling was just a summertime business.

It was good made money, but I said, I need something year round. I started a heating and air conditioning company, my senior year going into college, senior year of high school. Summer of on, into college. So my freshman year of college, I started fresh as in school, but with a heating and air conditioning company that I went through every single day after school running leads and selling jobs.

Andrew: One of my problems as an interviewer is. I read the fricking book. And then I want to interject and tell you your own story, because I feel like you miss one of the coolest parts of the story, which is people weren’t paying you to seal their driveway. It’s like, who needs this? Then you got a relative. We said, tell you, what do mine do it for free?

You said, I’m not doing it for free. Do it for costs, fine, do for costs. And then you can use me as a reference. You showed the before and after photos to people and said, do you want this? And once you could visualize it, people could understand why they would want it. And what the difference is.

Kevin: you read my book. That’s great, man.

Andrew: So here’s the thing that I don’t understand.

It’s the early days I’m looking at you, you’re such a classy guy. I’m looking at every part of you before we got, we got started. When you were leaning up, I looked at your freaking biceps, dude,

Kevin: I got to work out every now and then, you know, I wrestled four years in high

Andrew: in. So I’m looking at the details. Here’s the thing that I’m trying to understand, Kevin. You’re a smart guy. Why did you want to go and do heating and air conditioning? This is very blue collar work. I can understand your dad, a world war II veteran. This is what he gets started.

Kevin: Yeah. So this is long before the internet. I mean, and by the way, this is why I did heating and air. I realized that I could get a list from the courthouse of everyone that just bought a new house. And so I then cross-reference had got phone numbers and we’d call them and say, look, congratulations. By the way we knew they had good credit, just bought a house.

It’s a huge purchase. And welcome to the neighborhood. By the way that furnace, it could be a dangerous appliance. Don’t turn it on till we get out there and we’re going to show you how to work it. We’re going to clean it and all of that free of charge, free safety check. And so. Or what the ups shell was.

Once we got there, we would then talk to them about the air conditioning system. This was back in the, in the early seventies. So, so now in Cincinnati, only about 10% of the houses had central air conditioning. So you’re just new house. You love it, but I’m sitting there in your living room and we’re both sweating bullets.

How about, we put a furnace at an eight, the conditioning system in, for 39 bucks a month because we had financing. We were, we, we built that from zero to 1 million in sales, our first year, 25 employees, five trucks going out every day. And, and by the way, that was in the seventies, that the equivalent of that today would be closer to about 5 million a year.

We were cranking.

Andrew: Where did you learn how to do this? Well, you’re, you’re talking about a time before entrepreneur magazine, Forbes magazine was not a thing for kids to read. Obviously the internet wasn’t around what’d you learn how to come up with these marketing ideas.

Kevin: You know it, I will say, um, I, so in between all of this, and if you read the book, I think this is in the book. Okay. But I learned from one of the greatest. One call closed sales people. He was in the safety baby highchair business. And so the baby tender and I, I, this was while I was doing driveway. See, this is when I was in high school.

I was doing driveway ceiling in the summer. But I, I was looking for some income during the rest of the year. So I answered an ad and these guys had it at that time. It was a $300 high chair, which today is at least a thousand bucks. Okay. But it was a safety high chair used in children’s hospital.

Cincinnati, the baby could not fall out of it. Could not tip it. They, it was an amazing product. And I was selling three, four of those a week making about 150 bucks a sale, um, or maybe 120, whatever it was, but night making some nice money as, as a kid in high school. But I learned how to sell and how to close

Andrew: So he got you in the door by saying, at malls, I think enter to win this, this trip. Everybody won the trip. They all got the ticket. It’s hardly any of them use the tickets, but you then went to deliver the prize. They saw that they genuinely won. And now you had your entry and you salted them. If they said, look, I can’t afford this.

I wasn’t in the market to buy. What did you learn about how to close sales from somebody who wasn’t

Kevin: So the key thing in closing sales, because if I handle that objection and there is a way it’s very simple to handle that objection, because we have financing, you can’t afford it. Can you afford. A dollar a day. Can you afford 30 cents a day? Right. We get down to the number of what you can afford and then we close.

But the first thing you have to do is isolate that objection. Okay. Because if I would find myself until I learned how to sell. I would handle that objection and they’d say, Oh great, well, we can’t afford it, but now we want to think about it. And so another objection and I’d answer six objections until they just kept giving me more until I learned how to move them around to be like, okay, so you understand this and this and I would resell it.

And so the only thing that’s really standing in the way is the price you can’t afford it is that, I mean, if you had the money, if you could afford it, You surely would want this. Right. So it’s isolating the objection so that now they said, yeah, if you solve that problem, I’m in. And then can you afford 30 cents a day or, yeah, I can’t.

We’re great.

Andrew: about if their problem is I’m just not ready to buy from a stranger right now, you know, it’s just, I’m not in the head space to do it, which frankly is what comes up a lot with infomercials later on in your career. Someone just sitting there at can’t fall asleep, they’re watching a guy sell nuts.

I’m just not in the head space to buy

Kevin: We give it, we give you money back guaranteed. This company’s been around for 40 years, by the way, have you, you know, children’s hospital, they’ve got 300 of them over there, so don’t worry about who we are because it’s used by the hospital. All

Andrew: So you’re almost saying we’re not deciding now you’re putting it in your house. Now you decide later if you decide you don’t want to buy, we’ll pick it up and take it away.

Kevin: yeah, you got a return policy. Sure. And by the way, with infomercials, everything is by now return any time you want. We, we, we tell them they get 30 or 60 days to return. If somebody sends me something back in six months, What do I do? I refund their money. Cause I don’t want that being the guy that goes to the attorney general and says, these guys don’t re refund their money.

And, and so, uh, in, in 38 years of shipping products to consumers never had any, any, any kind of real issues other than like a lot of returns for defective merchandise or something like that. But no government agencies.

Andrew: Okay. So then you sell the business. You’re looking for something to do. Founder of California, closets comes to you and says, Hey, I’m going to do franchises. Can you help sell franchises? You start talking to people about franchise and for California closets, some of those people say, you know what? I actually am not into carpentry.

I’m not into building this. This is not the right business for me. You say, well, maybe I can offer them a different franchise. You start offering different franchises before, you know, you’re the guy who’s selling people on subway franchises, right. And while you’re selling them on that, you’re discovering all these other business.

Uh, I, the business needs that they have in you’re selling them and making money from there. The thing that I wonder then is from there, you leap into infomercials. Am

Kevin: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So, so, so I’m selling franchises and businesses and making money and having fun. I buy a house, I’m a kid still, I’m only, you know, my, twenties and I forget

Andrew: thing that you bought for yourself? What’s the funniest craziest. I can’t believe I got it for myself thing.

Kevin: Oh,

Andrew: Okay. All right. Is this by the way, the house that you needed a loan for and your wife said

Kevin: no, It was different when I bought some crazy things over the years, but, um, anyway, it’s, uh, it, you know, so, um, they, I buy this house by the way, my first home I bought back back in the, in the seventies, it was a $38,000 house, nothing fancy. Right. Um, but I ordered cable television. And I’m like what’s cable.

It’s like, it’s 30 channels of content. You get 24 hours of sports on ESPN movies, HBO, CNN news, et cetera. I I’m going through all the channels. I never forget. I was so excited because before that, Andrew, I don’t know if you remember. We only had a couple channels, NBC, CBS, ABC, and an independent station. So I get through all the channels.

To channel 30 and I get to channel 30 and there’s nothing there. And so I’m like, I’m trying to find, see if the wiring’s right. I finally called technical support. I’m like, Hey, there’s a problem. I love this cable 29 great channels, but I’m paying for 30. They said, what channel aren’t you getting? I said, channel 30.

They said, Oh, that’s the latest channel? It’s the newest. Company discovery channel. They don’t have a budget for 24 hours. There was a day. They produce 18 hours a day. That’s all we run. Six hours is going to be blank. And I’m like, you’re kidding me. There’s going to be nothing on for six hours. What if I have something to put on there?

They said, come on down and let’s meet. I set up a time, went in and met. And that’s when I said, I’m going to start putting products on this, this, this slot. So we started putting kitchen products and that was the beginning days. This really is the birth of the modern day infomercial

Andrew: But it was, it was first these franchises who would then pitch their, their business is that people could then sign up and get a franchise. What’s the first actual product that you got into.

Kevin: Well, uh, I have to remember, um, cause it, there was so many different things that we were pitching and talking to at one time, but it, it, it was, we, we did Ginsu knives and we did food Shaffer and we did a couple of other, it was in the kitchen category. Um, and, and, and I, and the food saver actually predated the Ginsu, but the Ginsu was, was another one of ours too.

And so, um, and this is interesting because I didn’t own the food saver. I didn’t own the Ginsu. We partnered with the people in the early days, we partnered with the people that had the products. So, because people say, did you invent the food saver? No, I’m not an inventor. I’m a part I’m, I’m a marketing. A player in the business, but what we started doing then was creating our own products that would have, um, that, that we would own and manufacture ourselves instead

Andrew: let’s let’s talk about the kin the Ginsu. Yes. You met a guy who was doing a demo at a food shell. What are you doing at a food show?

Kevin: So, so because I was selling businesses, remember I’m selling pizza parlors, restaurants, delicatessens home and garden stores. I’m I was going to a lot of trade shows cause I exercise. That’s what I call curiosity overload. Right? If, if I’m selling the business, I want to know about the industry I’m at the flower shows the restaurant shows I’m at the Philadelphia home and garden show.

And. Taking in ideas. I walked by this booth with this huge crowd. And this is right after I met with the discovery channel. This guy, I could barely see him, but he’s got the knife in his hand, cutting through a Coca Cola, can a muffler, a pair of sneakers. And it’s, it’s the gift shoo knife. And you get, if you buy today, you’re going to get two from 1995 and then, but wait, there’s more six free steak knives up pairing that.

I saw that in person, this guy, I saw them collect that thousands of dollars and light bulb went off. If I filmed that, take it to discovery, I’ve got programming costs me nothing just to film it. Let’s cut a deal. I went up and told the guy, this he’d been doing this for dozen years. The same pitch, the same product at the Philadelphia home show.

Then did the Iowa state fair and I’m like, Arnold, his name was Otto Morris. I said, I don’t even know. What we’re going to call this, but it’s going to be a long commercial to sell that product and I’m want to film it. And I’m going to take it down to discovery. We shook hands, did the deal. They did hundreds of millions of dollars over the next number of years.

It was just, it was mind blowing what started happening. And this is when the infomercial business took off.

Andrew: By the way, this is what I love about the book mentor to millions. It just follow these stories. It’s like, if anyone has ever met one of these hyper energetic people keeps coming up with ideas who keeps launching stuff all the time. And you’re like, I’m in awe, how do they do it? Any one of these ideas is enough of a story to last for the whole meal.

This is what this book is about. I think your cofounder says that he took his daughter with him to sit and talk to you. She brought books thinking to adults talking. I might get bored. Let me just bring a book to entertain myself. She couldn’t look up, look away from the conversation, open up her book.

It’s like that. That’s why I like this book. All right. So then who does the fulfillment? I heard that fulfillment creation. That whole thing was a big Michigan.

Kevin: I had to learn all that stuff. So, I mean, again, I was a great salesman. I had great pitch. I got discovery channel to do this. I signed with discovery channel eight, a multiyear contract for six hours a day on discovery nationwide. All right. So this was the beginning and, uh, but I’m getting all these orders and I’m hiring fulfillment centers.

They’re boxing. It they’re this they’re that air shipping late. They’re not the returns you’re coming back. They’re not telling us about the returns to people. Aren’t getting their money back. I learned one heck of a lot about operational stuff. And so this is one of the reasons why I say having mentors in your life is so important because I didn’t know anything about fulfillment finance, about operations, about credit card processing.

And we re I mean, I had a girl in my credit card processing deployment that had to issue credits and, and so one person we had to trust to do that one day, my auditors came in and they said, what are you guys selling for a thousand dollars? And I’m like, Nothing. Everything’s like 29, 95, 39 95. I said, well, last month you issued 15, $1,000 credits.

And it seems to be a pattern because it’s going to some of the same people. And the month before she was issuing, she had issued. Tens of thousands of dollars of credits to her friends, relatives. They started 30 bucks and they got it to a hundred bucks. And then the 500, they just kept testing. When are these idiots going to see that we’re stealing from them?

Right? I mean, I’ve been through everything, but I finally figured out. With, because I’m not stupid. Right. I got the right mentors. I got a finance mentor and operations meant that’s what mentor to millions, kind of the reason why I wrote it is because I said I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I didn’t have some really smart people that helped me

Andrew: Give me an example. I feel like your dad was a mentor. You talk about how he would have a stack of magazines. Just keep going

Kevin: Yeah.

Andrew: Looking for ideas

Kevin: Right. So, okay. So, so let me tell you about another mentor. Um, we, we needed capital because I needed inventory. So I got Ginsu goes up. We got 40,000 orders. Well, we didn’t have the inventory. So now I gotta go scramble. Where’s the inventory. Well, you can place an order and we’ll turn it in 90 days.

I’m like, well, 90 days wait, these people, they want the product next week. So, so I had to start over, slowing down the orders until we could catch up on the fulfillment, but they said that, well, look, if you want an order, if you’re going to place an order for 40,000 knife sets, we want to get paid 50% down with order.

Well, 40,000 knife sets at 10 bucks, a piece 400 grand. I needed 200 grand. I didn’t have it. So, um, I’m a young entrepreneur, so I’m I’m my business is, is bubbling ready to explode, but I didn’t have the capital. I go to five banks, no money, no money slammed the door. Don’t ever come back. Literally. I mean, these guys they’re like, why would you think we’d give you money?

You have no, you, you don’t have good credit or any credit and you don’t have any cash. You’ve got no assets. Leave. And so I sought a finance mentor, went through some connections at a, at a chamber of commerce, um, get together. And they said, Hey, you need this guy over here. He just retired. He was a former bank president and I get talking to him.

He says, Kevin, With your, with what you’ve got in the business and, uh, showed him some numbers and stuff. He said, I’ll get you $3 million. It’ll take me 90 days, but I probably will get it from somebody that turns you down already, even. And he said, I’m not going to charge you a dime, but once I get that, you’re going to want to bring me on in some capacity.

And I’m not even going to tell you what it is or if I even want it, I didn’t join you, but let’s see how it goes. But I’m going to give you that. Get you that 3 million bucks. 90 days later, I had 3 million sitting my in my account from a bank that turned me down. And that guy joined my company in a, in a assaulting type capacity mentoring capacity.

But now he was paying him to do what he did. And he brought on legal people, operations people. We grew the business to 500 million. Eventually after that. So it, it, I needed, I needed the strength of having a great team around me, the dream team as I call it.

Andrew: Did I did I remember, right. Did you, at one point then also go bankrupt of one of the

Kevin: Yes. Yeah. So, so this is, you know, there’s all these learning curves. So I had, um, uh, it, prior to this, I had like a dozen products that were running. And, and so, um, all you, you said fulfillment how tough that was. Right. But we also had problems with some of the manufacturers, right. I mean, every now and then we would get a really bad batch of goods and, and we’d find out.

After we would pay for, get them in ship them to the customer and we’d find out 30% of what we shipped was actually broken or defective when they opened the box, because it comes over from China. It’s rattling it, this and that. So, so one day the bank came in and they were processing or credit cards, but now they got, they got nervous.

Cause there was a lot of complaints against this one item, but they didn’t know. Like, well, we got all these complaints on this company. They’d grabbed millions of dollars out of our bank account, which wasn’t extra was coming in and going out, but they had a chance to get it before went out.

Andrew: well.

Kevin: our cashflow.

It was,

Andrew: that?

Kevin: It was our credit card processor. Back in, in 1990. And so, um, so now what we sat down with the bank and they said, I said, why did you do this? They said, you’re getting, we’re getting all these complaints. Well, it was one product that was having the problem. So what would you, I ended up doing was isolating that.

We ended up setting up merchant accounts for every single product so that we could run every product as its own business, which it needed to be. We could P and L it, and actually we had, we were paying royalties and profits in many of these cases. So, um, at the end of the day it was, uh, it was, it was a bank bad experience because the one way we could get our money back from the bank because the bank wouldn’t, they, they were sitting on our millions and they, I sat with a bunch of lawyers.

They said, You can go to court and it might take you 60 or 90 days to bring a head to it, but then you’re out of business or doing immediate filing chapter 11 and, and we’ll come right out of it. I mean, we were in and out of chapter 11 within, within weeks and actually got the money back. Cause the judge ordered it and we were flying high from there on, so we we’d learned a lot.

It was one of the biggest mistakes we made. You don’t put all your products on one merchant account. Cause if one of them goes bad, destroys your whole company.

Andrew: That is still even an issue right now online. I trust Stripe implicitly, but I’ve heard from some people who are in my audience, who’ve had Stripe issues. And so they will go through multiple credit card processing

Kevin: Oh yeah. They’ll they’ll, they’ll cut you they’ll. I mean, we dealt with Stripe and they’re they’re, you know, they’re look, they’re a business. They’re decent people, but they will, they will cut your arm off if they have to.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. And sometimes you just can’t understand why, and frankly, they’ve been more open than others, but, um,

Kevin: We’ve taken a lot of chances. I’ll tell you the problem they’ve had, they got ripped off by a lot of people, so they had to tighten up their controls.

Andrew: So you build this whole thing up. You then decide, well, actually, you know what? Let’s talk about one, one more fun thing. Then we talked about the big house. What’s the funniest thing you’ve had in the house. What’s the thing that was most meaningful.

The thing that was most fun anyway.

Kevin: I I had, so, uh, a, uh, I live in st. Pete Florida, and we got a lot of sports stars here until a baseball star had bought four houses on the Gulf of Mexico, knocked them all down and built one big complex. And so it, we had. We had a, it was a 12,000 square foot home with a 2,500 square foot guest house and a pool house and tennis courts and basketball courts and a game room.

And I mean the game room had a, a, um, uh, a room for one armed bandits was a separate room that, you know, slot machines. Okay. So it was a pretty spectacular place, but he got traded. He bought the, built this house, lived in it about a year and then got traded, uh, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, so he had to, he moved out and the house was empty and I came along and did a nice day.

So aye, aye, aye. I bought it for cents on the dollar, but it, you know, it was way too, too much. For me, even me, I actually filmed a couple of hundred infomercials there, lived there, but I had my company there too. So corporate by and, and it was a movie set really. I mean fact. We shot a lot of movies there.

Spring breakers was one of the movies that was shot there, that the house, and you know what I say, been there, done that. I don’t need that anymore. I’m, I’m a much more conservative the guy now and had a lot of fun doing that for a while, but don’t need it anymore. And I’ve learned, um, you know, learn to do to make things simple in my life is a lot better.

So, um, one day, um, I’m at a conference and again, I love conferences and this person taps me and says, Hey, I’m here. Uh, I worked with Mark Burnett and I’m I’m, I’m just scouting around and your name just keeps coming up. Everywhere I go and I’d love to talk to you. And I’m like, okay, Hey, what, what, what are you?

You know what what’s going on? She said, well, Mark’s got a new show coming out. I can’t tell you anything about it. It’s confidential, but it’s called shark tank. And, um, you’ll, you’ll, you’ll be hearing about it eventually. But I said, shark tank has said, wait a minute. I know what Mark does to those people on survivor.

Pretty crazy stuff. What might he do to me on shark tank? I said, I don’t think I want to be part of that. And she said, no, no, no, it’s a business show. Okay. So, so anyway, she said, look, I’m giving Mark a list of people and, and you’re on the, on, on, on the list. And you’re going to hear from Mark Burnett’s office.

And so. He interviewed a ton of people in our industry. I had an office in LA, so I went and saw him when I was out there. And I did a w I was sitting with Mark and I said, so Mark, and again, I’m a closer, okay. I said, what would it take. Cause I said, what do you think Marcus have? We’ve met you you’ve you’ve got a chance to hang out with me a little bit.

You think I can do it? He said, Kevin, he said, you want me to be honest? And I said, yeah, he said, I don’t know. I have no idea whether you could be a successful shark on the show shark thing. And he told me what it was taking pitches and all that. Right. And I said, well, I said, I’ll tell you what. I think we need to do.

And he said what? I said, why don’t you let me audition right now? Let’s get some cameras. And, um, I’ll perform for you. Get anybody you want get ABC network here, I’ll come back. He said, Kimmy says, you’re ready to go right now. I said, how long will it take you to set up? And he made a call. He’s 45 minutes. I went in the other room, had the cameras.

Role-played me taking pitches from Mark Burnett’s people. And. I did what I did every day. I go to trade shows and take pitches. That’s my life. I go to the house for a show, the hardware show, the fitness show, the beauty show, the golf show. I love to take pitches. And I did it Mark said, but do thumbs up. He said, we’re making final decisions shortly.

And I got a call a few days later and they said, you are the first shark that we’re going with.

Andrew: Did you do anything in that, in that trial period where you were trying to stand out or any of your moves or lines that you knew, this is what gets people’s eyes to light up. No, I’m sorry. When you were in Mark Burnett’s office doing this, uh, role playing for what it would be like if you were on the show, do you have any, any one liners there, anything that you do to get people interested?

Kevin: Well, you did get Pete. When you say people interested. It’s usually the other way around. They’re trying to get me interested cause they’re

Andrew: to get Mark Burnett, to feel like, Oh, this guy’s a real showman. The

Kevin: Oh,

think. That’s the first time I’ve ever had that question, but

I have to think about it. I don’t know if it’s, Hey, maybe it’s in my book.

Kill me. Okay.

Andrew: No, you, you know what, I’m trying to get a sense of what your pitching style is like, what your style of conversation is that, you know, gets people to open up, um, to open up their hearts, to get connected to you because you’re, you’re one of these guys who you have all these infomercials, but you weren’t on the infomercials yourself.

We didn’t get to see you do

Kevin: No, I I’m the guy behind the camera. I mean, I’ll, I’ll say this one of my strengths is finding the, the, the best, uh, the best elements of any person. Right? So like, uh, you know, I, I know that how I’ve operated, but like on shark tank, people would come in and they’re pitching me their, their, their product and I’m, and I’m like, look, don’t take this the wrong way, but.

I’m going to license the product from you. I’m going to pay you huge royalties. And you’re going to make a lot of money when this is successful, but I don’t need you after we shoot the infomercial because I’m going to do all the work I’m going to shoot it. I’m going to buy the media. I’m going to ship the product that you know.

So I think they were impressed with that. Kind of a style is that, look, I’ll put up the money to do it, but I don’t need you because I’ve got the infrastructure. Right. And you’ll see mr. Wonderful. Say that I I’ll buy your business. And the first thing I’m going to do fire you. Right. So it’s,

Andrew: So here’s what you did say in the book, you said. The reason I was wondering, why aren’t you on shark tank? You say in the book look, or I guess your coauthor Mark, Tim says he interviews you and he comes away with this understanding that you weren’t happy with. Just affecting a few people’s lives, who you are investing in.

You want it to be able to help more people. You want it to be a mentor to more people, which is where the name of the book comes from mentor to millions. But couldn’t you do both. I mean, you, you clearly could get a higher and higher profile from being on shark tank. You clearly loved it. One of your books is called, put a shark in your

Kevin: so in, in hindsight you gotta, you know, if I, if I had known the show was going to go 11 seasons, the way it is, my mind might’ve made a, maybe a different decision, but, but you got to understand this. I was going out and filming four times a year and for weeks on end, and then I’d come back from filming and I’ve got five deals that I did now.

I’ve got contracts. When I got lawyers, I got and most of the deals and you can talk to any shark in all the early seasons were terrible. No sharks made any money until about season three or four, and it’s because they didn’t have enough deal flow. So I would come home to my wife. Hey, I spent a half a million on this one deal and she’d be like, what is it?

And she’s like, really a half a million. You’re kidding me. I mean, like, yeah, I’ve made money, but a half a million is a lot of money to me, you know? I mean, it’s it isn’t, you know, Hey, just write the check and no big deal. Right? I mean, all of us from Barbara Cook, the only one that money. Has not been the issue for is Mark Cuban because he’s, he’s got four or 5 billion or so.

Right. Um, the rest of us we’re in the, you know, we had, you know, whether it’s hundreds of millions or tens of millions, you know, a half a million, still a lot money, but I was working all these deals, taking myself away from my core business. My core business went down the tubes while I was doing shark tank because I.

Yeah. I mean, literally I was in the business of products and putting them on TV and producing shows. I was gone 40% of the time. My staff is like, Oh, Kevin’s going to be on TV. He’s the big shot. Right. And people were leaving the company, even though I was on shark tank because it’s crazy when you think about it.

But they wanted me to be there to drive the business. Our company was going

Andrew: How, how

Kevin: investing. Oh, I mean, we didn’t go out of business. We just, we, I mean, at one time I had a $500 million business. Then I had a $400 million business that I had a $300 million business. It was going the wrong way.

Okay. So, um, because it’s, you know, and, and to this day, I look at, I mean, if I had to do all over again, I always say I do exactly the same thing. Okay. Do the number of years in the say I did 175 segments, by the way, Barbara Corcoran calls me and you’ll see her on the mentor to millions book. By the way, Barbara is one of our testimonials here in the mentor to millions book, but she said, Kevin, I ran into her in edit at a show and she said, you’re the smartest shark.

I’m like, What, what do you mean? She said you’re on TV. Is all my reruns still run on CNBC. You don’t have to invest anymore. putting it. Yeah. You know? Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, it, I had a good run. I loved it. And Hey, it’s, that’s why now I have the time to, um, as, as, as I’ve I sold off that, that as seen on TV, I owned that scenic TV, inc.

And that CNN tv.com all during this shark tank time, I ended up saying, you know what? I’m going to sell it. And again, made a lot of money on that. And now I’m just focused on doing the things that I want to do. I’m I’m involved with about nine public companies

Andrew: Public. I also saw you involved in, in, uh, was it Republic, which is a private company to

Kevin: that’s private, I’m involved in about 50 companies, but nine of them are public I’m on the board of nine public

Andrew: And then what’s this thing that you do with Mark Tim, the coauthor of mentor to millions. This

Kevin: Well, Mark is amazing. Mark was mentored by Zig Ziglar. And so was I, and so Zig passed away. Tom Ziglar introduced us. And Chad, you guys are both products coming out of my father’s camp. You should meet and do business. So, uh, that was the, uh, and then Mark and I said, I started mentoring Mark and, you know, in the book, you’ll see that, that the, the, the journey that we take during the mentoring process.

And I think that’s the key message from, from me today to the folks that are out there is you need a mentor in your life. And the mentor to millions book is going to teach you how to go out there and deal with that world. How to get mentors, how to get the best mentors and one more important thing, how to be the best mentee of that.

Cause if you’re not a good mentee, you’re not going to get

Andrew: And now the two of you had a business. We said, look, we’ll partner up. We don’t even know what it’s going to be. We’re going to figure it. And he says to you, how about you go coach people? And so you start coaching people doing one on one calls and helping people.

Kevin: No. What we did was we went to the Ziglar family and we bought all the assets of all of Zig Ziglar’s content for exclusive rights for the digital marketplace.

Andrew: Ziglar by the way. I think everyone knows him, but just in case he is the, um, one of the original motivational speakers who’s

Kevin: this was, this was, this was one of his big sellers secrets of closing the sale. And by the way, you’ll see me. I’m, rereleasing a lot of this. This is in bookstores all over. I put 18 chapters in here from myself. So, so, so I’ve, I’ve created new content. Uh, we, we created a masterclass

Andrew: So if I go and do and do a Zig Ziglar thing online, it’s

Kevin: Yes, we did that. That’s us. Yeah, we own that. And we, we, we did, I shot, we took 30 of the best videos of Zig. I shot 30 videos to tie into zigs teachings. And I showed how I used those teachings and explained, and, and work and showed how it all worked. And that was a masterclass. We did. We’d been doing that for the last four years now.

And that’s Mark and I. Uh, that’s our business. We’ve got a couple other businesses together also.

Andrew: Is it wrong for me to bring up this thing from act now the previous book about where you were about to buy a house and then Amy, your wife comes to you and says, I’m looking at your face to see, am I overstepping or

Kevin: You know what it, it, it, my it’s just crazy stuff. Um, I went to buy a house. I just, I needed to close quickly to get, I got to like save 40% on a house, but they said only if you can close within 10 days, pulled the money out of the company, but I got a mortgage approved and now I pay cash for it. And it was a million dollar house.

Um, this is back in, you know, back in the eighties. So, um, and, and then when I went to, um, get the mortgage, my wife’s a, we don’t need a mortgage. We own the house. And I’m like, no, I need the more I’ve got to put the money back in the company. So she’s like, well, no, it’s, you know, it’s paid for, we’re not going to do that.

So, um, she decided that she wouldn’t. Take a mortgage out, but we had the discussion. I’m going to grab this money out of it company for short term, couple of week loan and the cut, and then we’re going to close on the, on the financing. So when she did that, I said, I don’t want to be married to you anymore.

Literally the Nike, the day she did that, I packed it up and left and we got divorced. I mean, I can’t, I can’t live with somebody. That’s gonna, it’s going to tell me that. I don’t know how to run my business when I’m. Doing amazing things with, with my business and my money. So, um, Hey, I’m running short. I’ve got to, I’ve got to jump, but I know we had great time.

If there’s any chance that I could just tell people what they get when they buy this book, is

Andrew: What? Yeah. I wish that there was even more that you were selling you. Cause the book is so freaking good. I can’t believe we’re just selling people on like a $20 product. It’s that good? There’s no upsell or anything in it.

Kevin: I don’t need any money anymore. Okay. So, but what we do is this, when you, you can preorder this book, it’s, it’s comes out in September a couple of weeks, more than a couple of weeks, but we’re when you buy this book preorder, we give Mark and I have a 30 day mentoring program. We give you absolutely free.

And this is Mark and I are content ourselves with the folks that preorder this book. And I don’t even know what value you could put on that, but Hey, for 20 bucks you get a month of mentoring. You get this book and, um, and. It, this is something special. It’s Kevin mentor.com and that’s where you find out all these details and Kevin mentor.com.

And that’s where you get the free mentoring and it’ll show you how to do it all right

Andrew: So Kevin mentor.com is what we should buy

Kevin: yes, well, it goes through you. You’re going to buy through Amazon or something like that. But Kevin mentor.com is where you sign up for

Andrew: Okay. Alright. And this book is really fricking good. Tim is a girl. When I first started reading this, I said, wait, it’s not in, in Kevin’s voice. It’s it’s Mark Tim writing this Mark is so good at telling your story. It’s so good at and giving the details. I’ve said enough here. I know you gotta run.

Thank you, Kevin so much for being

on here.

Kevin: I really enjoyed this interview. I love the energy. Both of us have and

good stuff, man. Thank you very much for having me today.

Andrew: Thanks. Bye everyone.

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