Advice from a Shark Tank Shark with Kevin Harrington | PoP 545

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How do you introduce the world of business to your child without pushing them too much? What can you do to immediately level up your business? Have you heard of a business funnel?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Kevin Harrington who shares some invaluable business advice.

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Meet Kevin Harrington

Kevin Harrington has been a successful entrepreneur for over 40 years. He’s an original “Shark” on the Emmy-winning TV show, Shark Tank.

He is also the Inventor of the Infomercial, As Seen On TV Pioneer, Co-Founder of the Electronic Retailers Association (ERA), and Co-Founding board member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).

Visit his website. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Email him at

In This Podcast

  • Teaching business to kids
  • How to play bigger and level up
  • 3 action steps

Teaching business to kids

Giving exposure to the kids is good, about the workings of things, if you have the ability to do that with what business you are already in. (Kevin Harrington)

Some entrepreneurs with children want to include them in the business world without forcing them to be a part of it. You can do this by simply exposing them to it, to your business, what you do, how it works, and maybe, how they can be a part of it – if they would like to be.

How to play bigger and level up

  • Look at problems as opportunities.

In terms of COVID, many businesses closed or people were afraid that now because things were changing that their business would shut down also.

However, there is always a small group of people who view problems as opportunities, and by diving into the deep end of being solution-orientated and evaluating all the options, some people were able to take the problem and grow their business exponentially.

The major focus for Kevin in this is customer acquisition:

You need to be ready for this new game of digital and so optimizing your websites for your mobile technologies is important, alongside customer acquisition, and then continuity, and lifetime value. (Kevin Harrington)

  • To increase the size of your business, you need to go after customers and work to increase the lifetime value that the customer has with your business.
  • Explore and try out new things in your business. The big change in your business always starts small, so add a new feature to your service, see how the reaction is, and then you can decide whether or not to boost that service or remove it.

3 action steps

1 – Build a funnel

What a funnel is … think of a tornado funnel, it starts wide at the top and comes down to a point and the point at the bottom is the click of the button for more information or the click to buy … [customers] come in at the top, they get funneled straight down with nothing else to do but focus on what the funnel is all about and that [final click] is the action step at the bottom of the funnel that you want people to take. (Kevin Harrington)

2 – Go run some traffic to it. Get Facebook Ads, run some adverts, and post videos.
3 – Add some testimonial videos and videos to your website about transformations your clients have gone through to your website.

Books by Kevin Harrington

Useful Links:

Meet Joe Sanok

private practice consultant

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[JOE SANOK]: Is managing your practice stressing you out? Try Therapy Notes. It makes notes, billing, scheduling, and tele-health a whole lot easier. Check it out and you will quickly see why it’s the highest rated EHR on Trustpilot with over a thousand verified customer views and an average customer rating of 4.9 out of five stars. You’ll notice the difference from the first day you sign up for a trial. They offer live phone support seven days a week so when you have questions, you can quickly reach out to someone who can help. You are never wasting your time looking for answers. If you’re coming from another EHR, they make the transition really easy. Therapy Notes will import your clients’ demographic data free of charge during your trial so you can get going right away. Use the promo code [JOE] to get three months to try out Therapy Notes, totally free, no strings attached, including their very reliable tele-health platform. Make 2021 best year yet with Therapy Notes. Again, that’s promo code [JOE] at checkout to get three months totally free.
[JOE]: This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 545. Today on the Practice of the Practice podcast we have Kevin Harrington. Kevin has been a successful entrepreneur for over 40 years. He’s an original shark on the Emmy winning TV show Shark Tank. He’s also the inventor of the infomercial As Seen On TV, pioneer and co-founder of the Electronic Retailers Association. Kevin is also an author for the newest book that he has Mentor to Millions. Kevin, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[KEVIN HARRINGTON]: Joe, great to be here. Thanks for having me.
[JOE]: Yes, I am so excited about this new book of yours and just hearing from an original shark and I mean, there’s so many directions that we could go, but I’d love to just start with this book that you just wrote. Why is this book relevant right now? What’s the basic premise of it? And then we can kind of go where the conversation goes after that.
[KEVIN]: Yes. So, I mean, maybe I’ll take 30 seconds, high-level just to talk about how I got to even getting to that book. And you mentioned that, Shark Tank and infomercials and just real quick, I’m a serial entrepreneur. If I go back when I first got my start in my first business, it was more than 40 years ago. Because my father, I joke I had a mentor when I was 11 years old. His name was Charlie. That was my dad. My dad said, “You need to start your own business Kevin.” And so when I was in high school, I had a driveway sealing business in college. I had a heating and air conditioning installation business with 25 employees, six trucks going out every day while I was going to college in the mornings. And so, I built that business while I was in college, back in the seventies, into the equivalent of amount of a $5 million business while I was going to school.
So, and this is all the way back many, many years ago. But so one day I’m sitting, watching my cable TV that I had just ordered. And when cable first came out, they didn’t have hundreds of channels. They had 30 channels because it was brand new back in the early eighties. You had CNN for news and HBO for movies and ESPN for sports. I got to the last channel, channel 30 and nothing was playing. And I called the cable company and said, “Hey, I’m paying for 30 channels. I’ve got 29 of them. I love the 29 channels I’m getting, but there’s nothing on channel 30.” And they said, “Oh, keep tuned in because it’s only an 18-hour a day channel. It’s brand new. It’s called the Discovery Network and they don’t have 24 hours a day because it’s a new channel that doesn’t have a budget for 24 hours.”
So I said, “So what’s going to happen those six hours? They said, “Oh, it’s just dead airspace.” And I’m like, “Dead airspace? Can I put something on there and work with you guys in some kind of a profit split?” They said, “Hey, you got something to put on six hours a day? Bring it down.” So I went in, met with them and that’s when I started figuring, “Hey, I can put products on there.” So this is the beginning of the modern day infomercial. I was doing kitchen products, fitness products, Tony Little, Jack LaLanne and the Juicer, George Foreman, Billy Mays, 50 Cents headphones, Kim Kardashians, Paris Hilton’s lip plumpers. I mean, you name it. We did hundreds and hundreds of products. We went public on the New York stock exchange and we built one from zero to 500 plus million in market value. The stock went from a dollar a share to $20 a share.
So, here I sat with this amazing business and all of that, who calls next? Mark Burnett. And he’s like, “Hey Kevin, we’re doing this new show. It’s a business show. It’s called Shark Tank. Can I meet with you and tell you all about it?” At first I was skeptical because I said Shark Tank doesn’t sound like a business show. Mark Burnett produces Survivor. He does some crazy things to people in that, Joe. What’s he going to do to people on Shark Tank? So anyway, to make a long story short I met with Mark, did the pilot and the first 175 segments of Shark Tank, had a lot of fun, and now I’m in the business of continuing to do products, but I also have been mentoring entrepreneurs.
And that really kind of brings us up to today. My book Mentor to Millions is about a journey I have with one of my mentees and the magical transformation that he has in the process. So we teach you about mentoring, how to get mentors, how to being a good mentor, how to be a good mentee also. So that’s what Mentor to Millions is all about. And I hope a hope that gives you a quick little overview of how it all came to be.
[JOE]: Yes, I definitely want to ask about kind of the, how to around mentors. And I mean, for me personally, the people that have mentored me have helped me level up so quickly, but I want to go back to when you were an 11 year old kid, because I have a nine-year-old daughter and a six-year-old daughter, and my parents worked in the school system. My in-laws worked in the school system. They were hardworking people, but they weren’t business people. And so my wife and I are the first generation of kind of business entrepreneurs, trying to raise smart kids that can do big things in the world. What were some things, or what are some things that you think is effective when you’ve got a nine and a six year old and you want to help them have a business mindset while also not, I don’t want to push them so much that they end up hating business. Because you know, there’s always those parents that maybe push a kid to do football and they never want to do football because dad pushed it too much. Soo what would you recommend with my nine and six year old that I do to help them be attracted towards some business ideas?
[KEVIN]: So, my dad, what he did for me, and I liked some of this, my dad, when I was growing up, younger than 11, my dad was a bartender and one day he said, “Hey, I’ve saved up enough money. I want to be an entrepreneur. I’m going to open up my own bar.” And that is when I was 11. And he brought me in to the bar to help out. It’s funny because people said, “Well, what are you doing? Washing dishes, serving food or washing glasses at the bar?” I said, “Well, yes. I did all of that because my dad owned the place. But then at the end of the day, he’d bring me in and show me the money, show me where the money was coming from.” He said, “Here’s the bar business. Here’s the food business. And here’s the expenses and here’s the suppliers that I deal with.”
And I just, I little did I know, but I just opened up to all of that. I would go with him to pick up supplies and I would work all weekend and I really got into it. So I think giving exposure to the kids is good about the inner workings of things if you have an ability to do that with the business you’re already in. So that can be a very soft approach. It’s not hardcore because for me, I wanted to know more. I wanted, I was looking more at the business side when I was in my teens than I was washing the dishes type of thing. So, now I think one of the things that is so interesting about Shark Tank, I get stopped all the time. Parents with kids, “Hey, meet my 14 year old, meet my nine-year-old. They love Shark Tank and we watch it together.”
Because I mean, I sit on a couple of college board of directors, the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, et cetera. And you know what they want? One of those two asked me for a library of over a hundred different segments of Shark Tank. I brought it all in and then they started teaching it in the schools. So, I mean, I think there’s education, there’s websites, there’s TV shows. Now there’s a lot more shows that have this kind of sharkish kind of behavior that, the West Texas Investors Club and others that you’ll see. But CNBC has a lot of education now in the world of kind of the Shark Tank style shows because they run two hours a night of Shark Tank reruns.
So I think it’s giving some great exposure, but softly, so you can let them ask for it and want to get more information. The educational side, I think is powerful and, and, and then you just open it up to other opportunities that come along. Just one last thing and I’ll throw it back to you, Joe. I do a lot of events. Last year I was on the road 225 days. This year only about 10 because they’re now switched to virtual, but I’m doing virtual events, Shark Tank style, meaning I’m taking pitches all around the world, colleges, universities, high schools, grade schools, corporations, you name it. I mean, we just did a big one with 30,000 people in India and I’ve got one coming up, that’ll be at a university here in the United States. So, there’s great content out all over the place that the kids can tune into also
[JOE]: Such great advice. Now, as I think about myself and a lot of the listeners I think it’s pretty common that we don’t have a ton of business training. We maybe don’t have a ton of business mentors and we often, I think only play within what we can kind of expect amongst ourselves where, “Oh, wow, it’s great. I’m making six figures. Or my practice is doing half a million.” The idea of having a business or a mindset that goes beyond that, I think for a lot of people is really difficult and in my audience. What do we need to do to really start thinking about how we can play much bigger? On your website, I love a lot of the copy that you have around just a hundred X and just getting to this mind-blowing level. What does it take to get there? What kind of mentoring do we need? If you were to give us a bit of a roadmap of, “Joe, if you want to really level up in the next few years, this is what I would recommend you do.” What would that look like?
[KEVIN]: So, I mean, this is the type of thing that I explore with many entrepreneurs as the mentor that I am and just a serial entrepreneur, because I’ve been through so many startups and seen ups and downs across the board. So for example, when COVID first hit many people thought, “Oh, my business is over. How am I going to survive this crisis?” And so, I looked at it the opposite. We’ll talk about it with some of the private practices that are part of our listening audience right now. But when COVID first hit, the bad side was places were closed. Restaurants were closed, concerts aren’t happening, meetings, business, people weren’t going to work, et cetera. That’s the downside.
So now private practice people aren’t going to maybe be able to come meet face to face because of COVID restrictions. So that’s the downside. This is how I looked at COVID. Now all these people that aren’t at work, they’re not at the concerts, they’re not at the restaurants. Where are they? They’re sitting at home? What are they doing? Oh, they’re on their internet. They’re on their computer. Internet usage skyrocketed. And so here I was sitting there in a situation where I had amazing additional viewership and people that were coming to the internet, looking for ideas, looking for help, but the advertisers at the same time had dropped to nothing. So, you had huge additional viewership, no advertisers. Here’s your chance to come in, fill that void in the middle and do exactly what we had to do. So anyway, that was the process that we started.
[JOE]: And so then when I look kind of ahead for myself or for our listeners, we look for these opportunities. What else should we do to really kind of level up or to think differently? Is it building multiple streams of income? Is it looking at what’s already working and expanding? Take us through kind of how we would apply to really 10X, 100X what we’re doing.
[KEVIN]: So, yes, I mean, so I think that the first step that I’m talking about there is, the major focus for me and all the people that I was involved with was customer acquisition. So shoring up all of the e-commerce activities that you can. In fact, many, many companies, I mean I was going on websites when COVID first hit from my mobile phone and it’s like, “Oh, they’re not coming through properly. Oh, they didn’t optimize their websites for mobile” And I’m like this is something, now I don’t know how many people out there are doing these kinds of things, but you need to be ready for this new game of digital. And so optimizing your websites for mobile technologies, it’s important. But also the focus on customer acquisition and then continuity and lifetime value.
And this is one of the biggest challenges that, and I had the problem myself. When I started doing things with Tony Little back in the early days, the fitness guy, right, Tony Little was the Ab Isolator and the Gazelle. Tony has been on many national television commercials. We would sell a $400 Gazelle and that was it. Some people didn’t even use the product that they bought, but that was the lifetime value, a one-time sale. What we said is, “No, we have to focus on a much bigger relationship with that customer. What else does that customer want? Well, maybe they want weight loss products, metabolic, boosters, other things.” So we started focusing. And this is exactly what you need to do to increase the business, the size of your business. To 10X, your company, you need to aggressively go after more customers, aggressively go after a longer lifetime value with that customer, and then, I mean, I can show you that there are products and companies that thought they were doing well, just spending a couple thousand dollars a week, a month, whatever on Facebook.
Well, what if I showed you that you can actually take it, let’s say you had a budget that you were spending $2,000 a month on Facebook. What if I could show you that you could get that up to a hundred thousand dollars a month and still be amazingly profitable. These are the things that people are not focused on. So, and I say, Facebook, there’s Instagram, there’s YouTube, there’s LinkedIn, there’s all these different digital channels that are available to the marketplace. The other thing is, I imagine many business owners that are part of following you, Joe, or have done very well in face to face kind of environments.
Well, hey, that’s great, but with COVID, people are moving towards the virtual experiences. So some of the biggest jumps in stocks when COVID first hit, companies that were doing mobile technologies, doing doctor calls via the internet, et cetera, et cetera. So, I mean, you have to be able to try to look at your business. Look at what does it cost to acquire the customer? What’s the lifetime value of that customer? How can I go put my customer acquisition on a 10X, multiple? And that’s what we’re doing. In fact, just one example. A gentleman, an old friend of mine, I’ve known him for many, many years, Carl Dickler was the gentleman that started Beachbody. Beachbody grew to a billion dollar business. And when COVID first hit, what was Carl doing? He was focused on customer acquisition like you’ve never seen before, spending millions and millions and millions of dollars giving away for free; $8,000 worth of video programs for free.
“Just go to this site, click here, and you get it.” So, this, and by the way, yes, they were for free, but he had a whole program of bringing people through a funnel where they could then become customers where their lifetime values were extended in terms of the value of that customer, because yes, some people want it for free, but others will opt in to upsells and bigger packages, et cetera. So, there’s a lot of things that can be done. And all of the things that I just mentioned really start with a small test. You don’t go just like I said, Carl Dickler was spending millions. His first spend was probably $2,000. Oh, $2000 brought back $10,000. Then he spent $10,000, $10,000 brought back $50,000 and just kept those multiples going until he’s up to a million bringing back X. And that’s why the world that we’re in has great opportunities because things have shifted. People want to do things over the internet. They want to do things in a protected fashion. And I think there’s great opportunities out there for people in private practice right now to do this
[JOE]: Well. I think Kevin, you make a great point of thinking outside of maybe our typical product, because you know, the typical product of doing one-on-one or family counseling, even if it’s telehealth over Zoom or other HIPAA-compliant platforms, that’s not really scalable because it’s based completely on your time. And so the idea of what else is this client dealing with and not just that client, but clients nationwide. So if you’re an expert around depression, sure you can do counseling to help people with depression, but there’s a million other things that you could create that you could partner with people on that when you look at that scalability side that’s where the 10X or a 100X really comes in. And I love how you’re pointing to systems, to processes, to scalability, because I think that’s something that a lot of our listeners don’t even think about.
They just kind of buy themselves a job. And so maybe they’re making more money than they would have in a different job, but it’s still based on them working 20 to 30 to 40 hours a week instead of saying, “Well, what other problems can I address here within my expertise to really expand this business in a way that goes so much farther beyond just typical counseling?” I know we’re getting kind of towards the end of the interview here, but we’d love to hear maybe just like three action steps people could take as they hear you talking, as they’re kind of understanding this way of thinking. What are just a handful of action steps that they could take if they said, “You know what, I love what Kevin is saying here, and I want to take some next steps.”
[KEVIN]: Good. So, I’ll tell you some things that I did and then we’ll bring it back to some of the folks that you’re focused on here in today’s call. As I built this infomercial business and all these products I mentioned, I owned As Seen on TV, As Seen on TV Inc.,, et cetera. And for example, was doing tens of millions of dollars in sales with zero advertising dollars, but five, no six, about six plus years ago, I saw sales starting to drop. What was happening? Amazon was competing. There was other forces in the marketplace. Television viewership was dropping. So, here I was Mr. As Seen on TV, 50% decline in television viewership has occurred in the last eight years. So I own As Seen on TV and all these assets that were diminishing.
What did I do? I sold them all. And what did I focus on? I went to the digital marketplace. Instead of paying big money to go on TV, I focused in the world of digital. I started building funnels. So I’m going to say, I don’t know how many people that are listening right now know what a funnel is. If you know what a funnel is, great, if you’ve ever built a funnel even better, but I’ll bet that most people have not. And what it is, it’s not a website. If you send people to your website, and we’ve tested this, if I put a product on TV and I put my website on TV and they go to that website, there’s eight or 10 different things that you can do generally, when you go to a website. You’ve got information, you’ve got products, you’ve got shopping, you’ve got this, you’ve got that.
Now, we give too many people too many choices at that point. What a funnel is, is a distinct funnel, think of a tornado funnel. What happens? It starts wide at the top and it comes down to a point. The point at the bottom is the Click the Button for More Information or the Click to Buy. So what happens is they come in at the top, they get funneled straight down, they have nothing else to do, but focus on what the funnel is all about. And that is the action step at the bottom of the funnel that you want people to take. So I’m going to tell people, build a funnel, number one, number two, gather some traffic to it, get some Facebook ads, get some Instagram ads, get creative, get some videos also. I’d love to see some testimonial videos, maybe some videos that talk about magical transformation with some of your clients.
And I know not every client is going to want to go on video and talk about the problem they had and now they’re much better, but there’s ways to do this. And there may be a few people that wouldn’t mind sharing some of their success with the folks. So the bottom line is, if I were sitting in the shoes of somebody listening right now, exactly the steps that I just described, build a funnel, get some videos, get some magical transformations, get some testimonials, run some traffic to the funnel, and you’ll see, Oh wait. Oh, look at this. We’re getting customers. We’re getting leads for $6 a lead and now we’re converting them into something at $14 a lead.” Now you start running the analysis of that to see what it costs you to get your customer acquisition. And that’s what it’s all about.
Once you can, and so everything that we just described there, we do, I’m doing for dozens of products and companies a month right now, because this is our new model, is helping companies build their funnels, get ads running to that, and building customer acquisition models. And so if, in this world, if you can set up virtual opportunities, you now might be able to have other people helping provide these services and you grow your business from there.
[JOE]: Oh, so awesome. And I know you’re on a time crunch, so we’ll skip that last question I usually ask because you pretty much just answered it. Where can people find your book and what’s the best way for them to connect with you if they want to connect with you more?
[KEVIN]: Thank you, Joe. My book is on Amazon and all over the place. So, feel free to check it out. It’s called Mentor to Millions. We hit number two on The Wall Street Journal bestseller list, which is very exciting for me.
[JOE]: Congratulations.
[KEVIN]: You know, The Wall Street Journal is based on numbers of books. So we had a very powerful launch. And as I think I mentioned it had been aggressively out in the marketplace you know, putting the word out about the books. So thank you. And in addition to that, if anybody would like to track me down, is a great place to send an email to. That’s something that I will see and be able to respond to. Or is our website. There’s lots of free downloads and things like that, that you can get at the, and that’s a website, not a funnel by the way. Because this is a general interview. There’s no, I’m not selling anything. I’m just sharing and giving some good content here. So I’m just going to send people to my website, which is
[JOE]: Thank you so much, Kevin, for being on the practice of the practice podcast.
[KEVIN]: Great to be here. Thanks for having me, Joe.
[JOE]: What an awesome show. Hey, if you have not yet tried Therapy Notes, you need some help around your notes, your billing, your scheduling, and now tele-health. Tele-health has never been more important than now, and it’s totally integrated within Therapy Notes. So make sure you go over to, use promo code [JOE]. You’re going to get three months for free. They’re giving you three months free, and if you’re in another EHR, they will take all of that data and bring it over securely. Why not try it out? If you’re frustrated with your EHR or you just want something better, you’ve got to check out Use promo code [JOE] at checkout.
Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.