How Four Failed Businesses Taught T. Harv Eker the Importance of Focus
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with T. Harv Eker, founder of Harv Eker International, which helps others become successful and achieve financial freedom. It was condensed by The Oracles.
What was a defining moment early in your life?
T. Harv Eker: I had four businesses selling novelty hats, jewelry, coupon books, and T-shirts at one point. When they all failed in the same year, I realized the problem wasn’t the business I was in — instead, the problem was me. I didn’t know it at the time, but my attitude, beliefs, habits, and even my character weren’t those of a successful person.
That’s when I started to get heavily involved with personal development. I learned how to succeed in business by studying other successful people. I took hour-long walks listening to audio tapes about success and recorded myself taking notes. Then I would transcribe and study them.
What is one of your proudest moments?
T. Harv Eker: When my book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” hit number-one on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists in its first week. We sold 52,000 copies that week and even beat out “Harry Potter.”
That was a proud moment because it was intentional. Everyone who was involved invested enormous time and energy into making this happen, so seeing it come to fruition was fantastic.
What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?
T. Harv Eker: The biggest core value in our business is empathy. We always put ourselves in our students’ shoes. That’s the best way to understand what’s going on in their lives and their real problems so we can help solve those problems.
What’s your favorite quote?
T. Harv Eker: “Every master was once a disaster.” Everyone who was great at something was once terrible at it. Learn from others who have succeeded in your field and take action on what you learn. It doesn’t matter where you’re starting from — with the right knowledge and actions, you can be the best at pretty much anything.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
T. Harv Eker: Do what you love and don’t scatter your energy. Dedicate 100 percent of your focus and energy to one thing, and become the best in the world at it.
I thought it was a good thing when I was in four businesses at once. I was wrong. I found that out because I ended up broke. When I finally focused, I ended up making a lot of money.
What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?
T. Harv Eker: Abdicating instead of delegating — and there’s an important distinction. To abdicate is to hand over your duties and say, “Here, you do it.” To delegate is to create a process to train, supervise, and continually correct others until they can handle the tasks you give them.
When you’re overwhelmed and in over your head, you want to expedite things by letting go of certain tasks. Doing that too quickly can kill the business.
How do you identify a good business partner?
T. Harv Eker: I live by a principle: How you do anything is how you do everything. The biggest thing I look for in a partner is integrity. Do they do what they say? It’s a red flag if they tell me that they are going to follow up on a certain day and they don’t, even if they say something came up. You can pretty much guarantee something will always “come up” for that person. People are creatures of habit, so watch what they do, not what they say.
What’s your daily routine for success?
T. Harv Eker: I don’t have structured rituals because they have never really worked for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a right-brain person.
But I do write down the three most important things that I want to accomplish each day. Then I have a habit of doing whatever it takes to get them accomplished.
What are you working on right now?
T. Harv Eker: Our newest project is called, “The Good Millionaire: How to Make a Lot of Money by Helping a Lot of People.” We cover the eight-step system that I’ve used to go from zero to multimillionaire while making a positive difference in people’s lives at the same time.
The system emphasizes the principle that the way to make money is to solve problems for people. The way to make a lot of money is to solve problems for a lot of people. It’s going to help our students make money while making a huge impact on the world.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
T. Harv Eker: I want to be known for showing people that you can be kind, generous, loving, and spiritual and still be financially successful.