Business writer Mackay to speak in Aspen
December 27, 2010
ASPEN – Best-selling author and business adviser Harvey Mackay will be the guest speaker at Wednesday’s Aspen Business Luncheon at the Hotel Jerome.
Mackay, 78, is a business and career mentor. His six books have sold more than 10 million copies in 80 countries. He has had two No. 1 books on The New York Times’ best-seller list: “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” and “Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.” He writes a nationally syndicated column.
Mackay is founder, chairman and chief executive of Mackay Mitchell Envelope Corp., a company based in Minneapolis, Minn., that employs 500 or so employees. He spends about six weeks a year in Aspen and also has a home in Phoenix.
The Aspen Times caught up with Mackay on Friday afternoon for a brief question-and-answer session after he finished skiing.
Aspen Times: What topics do you plan to address during the business luncheon Wednesday?
Mackay: The title of the speech is “Outsell, out-motivate your competition.” I talk about customers, customer service, negotiations, salesmanship, creativity, hiring, firing. I might spend a minute or two on my new book, “Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You.” As we speak there are 15 million people unemployed (in the United States). More than 6.8 million have been looking for more than seven months. It’s a perpetual job search out there. The things I talk about help people get jobs.
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AT: There are a lot of business authors out there, career gurus, offering good advice. What separates you from the pack?
Mackay: I don’t put myself in the category of a motivational speaker. I’m a businessman. I write about how I run my business and what I’ve seen out there. I respect all those speakers out there, but there’s one marked difference. I’m running a business. I started as an entrepreneur and I’m still running the same business, building employment, building jobs. A lot of speakers out there have not run a business, and they have my utmost respect too. I have a little advantage on the people who have not run a business.
AT: I’ve read passages in some of your books and find your style easy and entertaining. But the advice to me seems like old-fashioned common sense. Is that your approach to solving business- or career-related dilemmas?
Mackay: I like three-letter words. I like short sentences. I like take-home value. If you can’t leave my speech and put forth some of those principles in the workplace then I’ve missed the mark. The approach I have is give it to them quick, give it to them fast. CEOs want fast answers. And every chapter has a moral at the end of it. It’s quick and hopefully witty, gets your attention, and isn’t predictable and has take-home value.
AT: What advice do you have for business owners, managers and salespeople who work hard – they are intelligent, they are personable, they play by the rules – but they always seem to be treading water, running in place, never really achieving the success they desire?
Mackay: Practice makes perfect … is not true. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you play golf, you can practice eight days a week, but if you’ve got a loop in your swing, all you are doing is perfecting an error. You’ve put a ceiling on how good you can become. I’ve had 20 coaches in my life and I still have 10 of them today. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. You can’t do it all by yourself. You have to have help, and you have to make an investment in yourself.
AT: You come from a generation that is markedly different from the generation that’s driving the country today, politically and economically. Have we lost something important in the transition? Was there a better way of doing things before?
Mackay: I don’t think anything’s changed in the last 100 years in the way we do business. The way we get our information … yes, of course. But nothing’s (fundamentally) going to change in the next 100 years. Everything is trust. Everything is relationships. If you don’t have that, you’re not going to make it in the long run.
AT: What’s the best advice you have for someone who’s having trouble finding work in the tight job market?
Mackay: Become a volunteer. Find your passion. Immediately join a nonprofit. You become a better manager. You become a better salesperson. You raise money. You become a better leader. You’re networking. You feel better about yourself. Also, work to become a better speaker. Get a “kitchen cabinet”; bounce ideas off people. I’ve never met a successful hermit.
The cost of the Aspen event is $26, which includes lunch. For information on seating availability or to purchase tickets, call Todd Shaver at (970) 544-1707 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The luncheon starts at 12:45 p.m.