August 9, 2020

Book notes from the Mackay MBA of selling in the real world by Harvey Mackay

Harvey Mackay, the best selling author of Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive, provides his thoughts and lessons for those interested in a Mackay MBA. What is a Mackay MBA you might ask?

It covers:

  • Lessons you need to learn about yourself
  • Creativity
  • Persistence
  • How to overcome challenges
  • Networking
  • Time management
  • Excellence

In short, it’s Harvey Mackay’s field manual to what he believes a MBA would consist of if you learned from him. And Harvey does not disappoint.

Here is what I learned from Harvey Mackay:

No matter where you go to work, you are not an employee – you are a business with one employee: you. Nobody owes you a career. You own it as a sole proprietor.

Great advice for anyone looking to ‘build’ a career with a company. Just because you have a coach, a mentor, or your supervisor has taken a liking to you does not mean your career is set. You must continually work hard at learning, adapt and continually transition between jobs and industries so that you can grow, advance and learn new skills. I guarantee that if you think of yourself as a business of one, you would think about your career a lot differently (and get enormous benefits along the way).

Role models

Do you have a role model in life? Someone that you look up to, aspire to become, maybe even serve as inspiration for how you live your life? What happens when you get to the point where you become equal to or better than your role model? It is time to find a new one.

What better way to measure yourself, to feel good about yourself and achieve, than trying to be like the people you admire?

The trick to becoming super talented

Perfect practice makes perfect. Being determined. Getting expert coaching.

Desire isn’t enough to be successful

“You must have the will to prepare. Preparation means yearning, learning, reading, listening, organizing and expanding your thinking. It involves rigorous training of your mind and body to achieve success.”

Just because you want to be successful does not mean you will be successful. It is one part of it. The other part of it is working ridiculously hard at improving yourself.

Value is added as things are formed and developed

A simple bar of iron maybe sells for $5. If it is made into a horseshoe, it can be sold for $50. If you make the bar into needles, you could sell it for $500. If you make the bar into springs for a swiss watch, it could be worth half a million dollars. You start with the same raw material, but the value grew as the material was formed and developed.

It is the same with people.

Four good questions to ask the people you manage

When someone you manage or reports to you presents you with a problem. Ask them these four questions:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are all possible solutions to the problem?
  4. Which solution do you suggest?

If they are smart, they will take the same framework and apply it to whenever they encounter a problem in the future. Does that mean you are passing the buck? Not at all. You are helping them understand how to make decisions.

It is easier to stay motivated than to get motivated again

How do you start something? Anything? You start off small. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t start off trying to run several times a week. You start off as small as possible. It is the same when you are trying to find the motivation to do something you may not want to do. Maybe you don’t want to exercise. That is completely fine. Put on your work out gear, and give yourself permission to only do 5 minutes of exercise and then stop. You will likely find that once you get going, you will want to do more than 5 minutes. The very action of the exercise becomes your motivation. Don’t wait for the motivation to hit, it will never come. Take action, and then you will find that you are motivated.

Getting a call returned

Perhaps more applicable for sales-related calls, but I found Harvey’s suggestions to be quite creative. Here are a few things he suggests:

  • Discover your target’s favourite charity and pledge a $100 contribution if they return your call
  • If an industry conference or convention is taking place somewhere, find the name of the hottest restaurant in town, book tentative reservations in advance and send a note suggesting you meet there during the conference or convention
  • Study a new product line introduced by a competitor and send a brief report to your target identifying unexpected opportunities for this person’s company

If you can’t switch jobs, switch attitudes

Are you in a job that does not light a fire under your belly? Or a job that you think is just a stepping stone to a better one? If your answer is yes to the above questions, your attitude is likely not the best when it comes to your job. Sure, you might be able to fake it, but the difference between a job you are passionate about and a job you just feel ‘meh’ about is night and day. However, just because you cannot switch jobs does not mean you cannot switch attitudes. Find the silver lining. Find out what you are really good at and focus on doing that extremely well.


Before you leave, let me ask you a few questions:

  • Are you trying to find good books to read to improve your life?
  • Do you regularly say to your friends that you don’t have the time or energy to read?
  • Interested in detailed book notes that cover the lessons and takeaways you can incorporate right away into your life?

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