October 1993 was the beginning of one of my favorite ventures: my weekly column. Twenty years of sharing stories and advice have passed quickly and have taught me many lessons about the nature of business.
Did I have a long-term plan in mind when I started writing? Only to provide the most helpful information available. As I research topics, I learn plenty myself. I've offered both successful and embarrassing stories from my personal experiences. I have drawn inspiration from readers who challenge me, and I am always delighted to hear that a particular column had a positive impact on a reader's career or life. Newspapers all around the country carry my column every week, plus 50,000 people subscribe to it for free on my website, www.harveymackay.com.
My favorite part of each column, as often echoed by readers, is Mackay's Moral, which sums it up in a memorable lesson.
I'm celebrating this milestone by highlighting 20 of the most important morals that have run with these 1,000-plus columns:
• People become successful the minute they decide to be. A goal is a dream with a deadline.
• People don't plan to fail; they fail to plan. It's easier to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.
• Practice makes perfect … not true. You have to add one word: Perfect practice makes perfect. Amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.
• They don't pay off on effort … they pay off on results. A lot of people work very hard but never seem to make any headway. Always keep an eye on the finish line.
• Knowledge does not become power until it is used. There are plenty of people who know it all but have never bothered to do any of it. Ideas without action are worthless.
• I know that you don't know … but you don't know that you don't know. Ignorance is not the problem — it's not knowing we are ignorant that causes difficulty.
• Your day usually goes the way the corners of your mouth turn. The most powerful single thing you can do to influence others is to smile at them.
• Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it, you can never get it back.
• The single biggest tool in any negotiation is the ability to get up and walk away from the table without a deal. Smile and say "no" until your tongue bleeds.
• You don't have to know everything as long as you know people who do. If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I've met over my lifetime, I'd say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.
• It's never right to do what's wrong, and it's never wrong to do what's right. You cannot do business without trust.
• Some people go around all of their life asking, "What should I buy? What should I sell?" Those are the wrong questions. Timing is everything. Start asking, "When should I buy? When should I sell?"
• When a person with money meets a person with experience, here is what happens: The person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with the experience.
• You will never get ahead of anyone as long as you are trying to get even with them. Helping someone up won't pull you down.
• The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
• The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm.
• There will always be a place in the world for anyone who says, "I'll take care of it," and then does it. Remember the 10 most powerful two-letter words in the English language: If it is to be, it is up to me.
• Failure is no more fatal than success is permanent. You don't quit trying when you lose; you lose when you quit trying.
• People don't care how much you know about them once they realize how much you care about them. Caring is contagious — help spread it around!
• We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start. And this seems like the perfect place to finish.
Mackay's Bonus Moral: Gratitude should be a continuous attitude. Thank you, readers!
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.