About 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.
TR has been at the forefront of interactive marketing and information technology since 1995 in Silicon Valley and since 2001 in China. Select client credits include work for leading Chinese brands China Mobile, TenCent and Alibaba in addition to his work for leading global brands such as Apple, Gucci, L’Oreal, P&G, Dell, and Citibank just to name a few.
Prior to founding Darwin Marketing (acq. by Dentsu), TR previously held a number of marketing management positions at USWeb/CKS, RedGorilla.com and Bank of America during the mid to late 90s.
Five questions with TR
Q1: What’s one habit that keeps you 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. Proactively manage your communications. I used to get caught up in email (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 24 hours. 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’re 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 learned 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 by 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 in How Brands Grow says that loyalty marketing is not as valuable as awareness, and the data proves it. This was complete counterintuitive and challenged my conventional marketing thinking after 20 years in the industry. Yes, care and serve your customers well—but consistent reach, availability and awareness are 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 are a ton of startups with the same idea but the difference is in execution. If you’re not going to take the flag and lead then keep your opinions to yourself.
Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston (pre founding of Y Combinator)
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.
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