Learn From Leaders with TR Harrington

TR is a global multilingual executive, serial entrepreneur and MBA adjunct professor with over 25 years of experience in marketing, adtech, product and business development. Currently, he is the Program Director of MOX – Mobile Only Accelerator

Mr. Harrington has been at the forefront of interactive marketing and information technology since 1995 in Silicon Valley and since 2001 in China. Prior to founding (2005-) Darwin Marketing, a Shanghai-based Search, Social and ECOM digital marketing company, Mr. Harrington previously held a number of marketing management positions at USWeb/CKS, RedGorilla.com and Bank of America during the mid to late nineties. Darwin Marketing was acquired by iProspect in 2016.

His expertise has been sought by or featured in Harvard Business Review (China), Fortune Magazine, Reuters, Associated Press, SES, SMX, AdTech and numerous private equity/hedge funds. TR holds an MBA from the Darden School at University of Virginia, a BA from Boston College and is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Business at CEIBS, China’s leading business school.

TR’s recommendations for you

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days | Jessica Livingston

Find the book

Provides short chapter interviews with Internet 1.0 founders of PayPal, Hotmail, etc. The lessons learned from the 1.0 are still valuable to the 2.0+ internet founders and many of these covered became famous angel investors, serial entrepreneurs and mentors to 2.0 companies. It is an easy read in that each chapter is only a few pages on a different founder and company so you can read a chapter even between meetings.

Five Questions with TR

Q1: One habit that helps you keep focused and productive

Focus, Focus, Focus!  Peter Drucker said it best in the Effective Executive – every knowledge worker needs uninterrupted blocks of time to think and organize their thoughts into clear, concise communications. Pro-actively manage your communications. I used to get caught up in emails (and later WeChat) trying to respond to every message as close to real-time as possible and this made it impossible to ‘work’ except very early in the morning or very late at night. Later I let my team know I would check my messages every day at 11am / 2pm / 5pm and I would spend no more than 30min to respond. If it is urgent and important, call me. If it is important but not urgent, I will respond in 24hrs. If it is not important, please save my inbox ;).

Q2: One piece of advice for entrepreneurs in your industry

The bias for fast action is often a vanity metric for hustle. Go slow and get feedback to make sure you are moving in the right direction. Too many startups try to go fast too quickly and end up running… in the wrong direction!

Q3: One of the most important lessons you learnt from your career

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask multiple people so you gather more perspectives and do not be satisfied or overly influenced with the first or last answer (particularly if it was the one you were expecting).

Q4: Something you’ve changed your mind about in your career

Byron Sharp – How Brands Grow – Loyalty marketing is not as valuable as Awareness and the data proves it. This was complete counterintuitive and challenged my conventional marketing thinking after 20yrs in the industry!!  Yes – care and serve your customers well – but consistent reach, availability and awareness is more highly correlated with larger brands than those that are obsessed with CRM and Loyalty marketing.

Q5: One trait that you would like to see in people you work with

If you have a strong opinion, be prepared to lead the change yourself. Nobody cares about the ideas you just throw out there. There is a ton of startups with the same idea but the difference is execution. If you’re not going to take the flag and lead then keep your opinions to yourself.

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