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Harvey Mackay

Columnist | Outswimming the Sharks
Recent content from Harvey Mackay

How not to be perfect

Two men met on an airplane and began to talk. They asked each other the usual questions, and as it happened, one of the men…

A sure alphabet for achieving your dreams

I often joke that it takes years to become an overnight success. But it starts with a dream. My dream was to own a ­factory.…

A positive attitude can make a big difference at work

My friend Pat Williams, senior executive vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and author of several books including “Go for the Magic,” has a…

Question your way to success

Two leaders whom I respect a great deal and whose work I have studied both stress the importance of asking questions to find answers that…

Customer service must come first

How much would you pay for an egg? Fifty cents? Two dollars? How about $6,000?That’s how much it cost one restaurant in Newport Beach, Calif.,…

Mackay mailbag: Parental wisdom shared by readers

Several weeks ago, I used this column to share lessons I learned from my parents in recognition of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. My intention…

A true Miss American Dream

From all appearances, Gretchen Carlson has lived a charmed life. From being a child violin prodigy to gaining admission to Stanford University to becoming Miss…

Greatest good is achieved through solid teamwork

One day, the body and its parts began to criticize the belly for enjoying a life of idleness and luxury, while they spent all their…

How to take a risk effectively

A few weeks ago, daredevil Nik Wallenda walked untethered atop Orlando’s 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel — as it was spinning. This is the same guy who…

Success is built from a base of self-confidence

A soldier in an ill-equipped revolutionary army lost his rifle, so he went to his group’s leader for a replacement.“What am I going to do?”…

Advice for new grads and old students

A son and his father are walking in the mountains. Suddenly, the boy falls, scrapes his knee and screams.To the son’s surprise, he hears his…

Parental wisdom a recipe for success

As we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I get a little nostalgic thinking about some of the life lessons I learned from these two…

Harvey Mackay: How to lose friends and alienate people

Success isn’t always about dominating the landscape. Sometimes, to be successful, you have to be prepared to give up some counterproductive behaviors that are holding…

Mackay: True leadership spells everything out

U.S. president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower used a simple device to illustrate the art of leadership. Laying an ordinary piece of string on a…

Mackay: Mistakes can be essential in learning how to succeed

In the book “The World According to Mr. Rogers,” the late children’s television star Fred Rogers passed along the following story about the value of…

Mackay: Smart in the streets, profitable on the balance sheets

A man went to a rabbi and asked, “Rabbi, you’re a wise man, how is it that you’re wise?” The rabbi replied, “Study and hard…

Mackay: Laugh your way to the top

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. It makes people happy and links us together. Humor and laughter strengthen our immune ­system and…

Mackay: A positive attitude can be key to success

A mother was ready for a few minutes of relaxation after a long and demanding day. However, her young daughter had other plans for her…

Mackay: Consistency a must for success

Spring training for Major League Baseball players is all about practicing the right concepts and covering all likely scenarios. Once the skills are honed, what…

Mackay: Brainstorming can clear up cloudy thinking

An electric utility in the northwestern United States had problems with ice building up on its power transmission lines during the winter. The company had…

Mackay: The formula to sales success

Everyone is in sales. Why? Because from the time we wake up until our heads hit the pillow at night, we are continually communicating, negotiating,…

Mackay: Knowing how to practice makes the difference

Everyone thinks practice makes perfect. But they’re wrong.Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi said you have to add one word — “Perfect practice makes perfect.” I…

Mackay: Be respectful, not neglectful with employees

One of my favorite old comedians, the late Rodney Dangerfield, was famous for his line, “I get no respect.” Then he would usually add something…

Mackay: Lessons from Washington

As a history major, I am intrigued by the origins of our great country. George Washington is a logical place to start.On Presidents’ Day, we…

Mackay: The power of listening

Two friends were walking down a busy street when one paused and said, “Listen to those crickets chirping.” “What crickets?” said the other person. “I…

Mackay: We have much to learn from 'MacGyver'

Do you remember the TV show “MacGyver”? The titular hero was the epitome of resourcefulness. He would get trapped, usually in a building that contained…

Mackay: Don't let complacency bring you down

Looking back on his extraordinary career of 35 years, NASCAR legend Richard Petty noted that during his first 20 years of racing, he had an…

Harvey Mackay: Failure can be one more step on the road to success

In 1860, a 38-year-old man was working for his father, a leather merchant. He kept books, drove wagons and handled hides for about $66 a…

Mackay: How to address post-holiday stress

A lecturer on stress management raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this?” Answers from the audience ranged from 20 to 500…

Mackay: Making changes doesn't have to be complicated

One of my favorite “Peanuts” cartoons by Charles Schulz has Charlie Brown saying: “I learned something in school today. I signed up for folk guitar,…

Mackay: Laugh your way to success

Life is funny — or at least, I think it should be. Finding humor in everyday things is a gift. Our very serious world can…

Mackay: Winning friends at the office and at home

For Aristotle, friendship ranked among the highest virtues. It was an essential element in a full, virtuous and worthwhile life. For Aristotle, there were three…
Mackay: Lessons from Santa

Mackay: Lessons from Santa

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, or even which holidays you celebrate, chances are you know about Santa Claus. The jolly old elf brings…

Mackay: Getting fired is not the end

What’s one of the hardest tasks in business? It’s not starting a business. It’s not raising money. It’s not even making a profit. According to…

Mackay: Stand out in the place where you work

There’s an old joke about farmers: They’re “outstanding” in their fields. But there is nothing funny about being a standout at work. In fact, it’s…

Mackay: There's always room for gratitude

Think that you have little to be thankful? Haven’t taken time to think about the blessings you have?For starters, you can be grateful that you…

Harvey Mackay: Happiness means helping others

There is a fable about a little girl who was feeling particularly lonely and blue when she happened across a gorgeous butterfly trapped in the…

Mackay: Be accountable if you want to count

The recent political silly season is over — finally — and once again, I was listening for one particular word in the endless ads that…

Mackay: Motivation lets you be your best self

I began a third career as a motivational business speaker about 26 years ago. Frequently, I have the privilege of speaking to a Fortune 1,000…

Mackay: Pressure can be an opportunity to excel

Pressure. The very word strikes fear into many people. Winners thrive on pressure, while losers fear it.What is pressure? My definition of pressure is when…

Mackay: Make a commitment to succeed

If you want to excel at anything in life, you need to be committed. If you only want to be good enough to get by,…

Mackay: Get ahead of your dreams to get ahead in business

I am constantly asked the question, “What does it take to get ahead?” Sure, you have to work hard, but there are a lot of…

Mackay: Don't worry about it

I recently received a cartoon from a friend that showed a psychiatrist having a session with her patient. She says, “You worry too much. ……

Harvey Mackay: Take a vacation from your vocation

Have you ever had one of those days when all you could think was, “Gosh, do I need a vacation.”Of course you have — all…

Mackay: Get results when you complain

The famous Marshall Field once was walking through his Chicago store and heard one of his clerks arguing with a customer.“What are you doing?” he…

Mackay: Persistence pays off

In 1935, Charles Darrow brought a board game to Parker Brothers. The experts at Parker Brothers rejected the game, Monopoly, for “containing 52 fundamental errors.”…

Mackay: Sharing knowledge leads to better decisions

Do you have a tough decision to make? Or are you trying to build consensus among other employees? If so, you might want to follow…

Mackay: Don't let fear of success hold you back

Legend has it that one day a man was walking in the desert when he met Fear and Plague. They said they were on the…

Mackay: Take charge of your time to manage your job better

On his deathbed, Alexander the Great summoned his generals and told them his three ultimate wishes: The best doctors should carry his coffin; the wealth…

Mackay: Inside the coach's playbook

John Calipari is one of the most fascinating basketball coaches you will ever meet. He is calm and animated at the same time. He is…

Mackay: Adversity is the springboard to great achievement

To understand adversity, take two acorns from the same tree, as nearly alike as possible — and plant them in two separate locations. Plant one…

Mackay: The pitfalls of weaving a tangled web

I was fortunate to attend the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament in Arlington, Texas, this month. It’s my favorite sporting event, in part because of…

Mackay: Try a little spring cleaning for mental health

There’s an epidemic sweeping the country, and the cure is just outside the window. Spring fever is infecting folks from coast to coast, following the…

Mackay: Don't get mad, and don't get even, either

Like so many others in business, I have accumulated my share of enemies. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. “Forgive thy enemies” is difficult advice…

Mackay: Legendary tennis coach serves up aces of life lessons

I hate to lose. And that is how Nick Bollettieri became my friend.When I was in my early 20s, I gave up my dreams of…

Mackay: Go the extra mile to find success

A man walking down a narrow, twisting road spotted a guru meditating on the grass.“Excuse me, master,” he called. “Is this the road to success?”The…

Mackay: If you don't have a Plan B, you don't have a plan

You might have heard about the proverb “When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life,…

Mackay: Position yourself for a promising future

The future ain’t what it used to be.Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges of any life — or any business — is adequately preparing…

Mackay: March is Women's History Month

A man and his father are traveling by car. The car stalls at some railroad tracks. A train comes along and hits the car. The…

Mackay: Great stories make great management lessons

President Abraham Lincoln was once criticized for referring to the Confederates in kind terms. A woman asked the president how he could speak generously of…

Mackay: Integrity needs no rules

When Janet looked at her pay stub, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that her company had deposited more than her normal wages into her…

Mackay: You know who, but does who know you?

In my entire career, I have never once heard a successful person say he or she regretted putting time and energy into building their relationships…

Mackay: Exercise your body to exercise your brain

I went for a jog with two good friends the other day. A very long jog. A half-marathon, in fact.Mark Paper, a friend since childhood,…

Mackay: Harvey's short course in class

You have probably heard the phrase “She is a class act.” It’s always a compliment. But exactly what does it mean?Class is easy to recognize…

Mackay: Start your year with creativity

Each January the world celebrates creativity — “a month to remind individuals and organizations around the globe to capitalize on the power of creativity,” says…

Mackay: India's innovation: How to accelerate in reverse

Recently, my fifth trip to India brought me face to face with nonstop contradictions. How could a land, primitive in large areas, elbow its way…

Mackay: Make failure the beginning of greatness

The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures…

Mackay: None of us is as good as all of us

Teamwork might seem like a complicated subject, but to some creatures, it comes naturally as a way to survive and expend the least amount of…

Mackay: Unselfishness has a special place in business

Bill Bradley recently spoke to a group of Minnesota Timberwolves season-ticket holders. The topic wasn’t his stellar career, basketball strategy or memorable wins. Instead, he…

Mackay: Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the 20th anniversary of this column. This year, I also celebrate another important anniversary — 25 years since…

Mackay: Mastering the art of managing

Twenty-five hundred years ago, a new Chinese emperor took the throne of the Middle Kingdom. Because he was only 18, he called upon the court’s…

Mackay: Pushing the envelope

“Pushing the envelope” is a phrase that originated with American test pilots like Chuck Yaeger and John Glenn in the 1940s. It described maximum stress…

Mackay: Celebrating youth service at We Day

The atmosphere was beyond electric: 18,000 cheering teenagers, and it wasn’t for a rock star, a pro athlete or even a school cancellation. This remarkable…

Mackay: Advice for winning entrepreneurs

Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I still have trouble spelling the word, but I didn’t let that stop…

Mackay: Sharpen your sales techniques

In the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles Schulz, the scene is a classroom on the first day of school. The students have been asked to…
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