Tag Archives: success

Sharing is caring – Harvey Mackay on career success

MackayBookCover(NOTA:  Este post no es para promover o vender.  Buscando contribuir al maximo a tu desarollo profesional, decidi compartir la entrevista que muy gentilmente me concedio Harvey Mackay – un autor que cinco veces a formado parte de la lista best seller del New York Times.  Gracias a Dan Schawbel, el editor de Personal Branding – una revista en la cual contribuyo bimensualmente y en la cual se publico esta entrevista –  a sido posible publicar este material en mi blog.  Asi que gracias Dan.)

Meet a man who knows and a man who cares about helping people succeed in their careers. Above all, Harvey Mackay is a man who cares.

It makes perfect sense then, that he is the author of five New York Times bestsellers including Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, We Got Fired!…And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us, and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.  His books have sold more than ten million copies around the globe – in over 80 countries – and have been translated into more than 40 languages.

From his home in Minneapolis Harvey spoke to me about his latest book Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrest No One Else Will Tell You.

In a paused and caring voice, he said to me: “when I wake up every day – I say ‘it’s a gift’…I want to be able to help other people…If I meet you, the first thing I want to say to myself – while we’re talking is ‘how can I help you – what can I do to help you – and expect NOTHING in return?’”  

He goes on to say:  “That’s just my life style. And I’m a lucky guy – I’ve got a business, I’ve got a wife, I’ve got kids, I’ve got grandkids.  A long term marriage, I’ve got my health. I’ve got my travel – I even have my airplane.  So therefore what turns me on every day – is having the capacity to help people – and that’s a humongous thrill.”

Harvey is one who has been around the block more than a few times – and has made a career out of learning and sharing his lessons.  It’s evident that he is not in it for himself.  When I asked him where he got inspired to dedicate his life to help others, he explained that it was his father who had a major impact in his working life early on in his career.  His dad said to him that 25% of life should be dedicated to volunteering.  

Following his dad’s advice, he started to work in the non-profit sector, raising money for charities.  As he sums it up – it was fundraising where he learned the most important selling skills – handling rejection, selling, communicating in public and leading.  Until today, these competenticies play a mayor role in his career as a New York Times best-selling author, as one of America’s most popular business speakers among Fortune 500-sized companies and as an entrepreneur – he is chairman of MackayMitchell Envelope Company, a $100 million company he founded at age 26.

It’s no surprise he wants written on his tombstone: ‘He couldn’t sleep fast enough’.  Harvey Mackay is here on Earth to make a difference in people’s life.

That’s what shines through in his writing – and it was easy to sense during our interview.

Aside from being passionate about charity, Harvey believes his education played a major role in his path to success.  He’s a University of Minnesota undergrad, a graduate of Stanford’s Executive program and a Dale Carnegie Training and Toastmasters program graduate as well. 

Regarding his two latter degrees he said – more than once  during the interview – that speaking (well) in public is a very powerful skill to hone, particularly when you’re looking for a job or aiming for a promotion. He said: “Speaking in public helps you develop a good speaking vocabulary and the ability to sell your ideas and yourself.”  In Harvey’s mind, these competencies are not optional, rather required, in today’s work world.  Let that resonate in your head one more time – to succeed at work, be able to sell your ideas and yourself.

I couldn’t resist, so I charged toward his best advice first.   Without hesitation, he said: “without question, here’s the theme ‘practice makes perfect’ is not true.  You have to add one word – ‘PERFECT practice makes perfect.’    There are people out there by the millions who are practicing the wrong concepts.  If they take these kind of books – like the one I wrote…and more than read these concepts, they study them, underwrite them…write post-it notes – and if after using these principles, after six months you don’t have a job, I Harvey Mackay, will personally guarantee your money back. To sum it up, (people) have to practice the right concepts over a long period of time (he stresses long  period of time) not a short period of time.”

Purpose – how important is it in your career – and how do you find it?

“I call that having the Midas Touch – which I talk about in my book. …A goal is a dream with a deadline…Everybody should have the Midas Touch – or the Midas Goal.  In other words, Measurable, Identifiable,  Documented, Attainable and Specific…write down your short term and your long term goals…and then you have to look at them periodically. So it all starts of course from the goals.”

Support – how important is it?

“If you look at all succesful people, you will notice several common denominators.  One is mentors.  You can’t be afraid to look and ask for people…There are more people out there willing to help than people willing to ask.  People out of college are afraid to ask – they’re afraid to get a no, to get rejection – and you can’t do that….You can’t do it all by yourself…”

“The other one is – don’t be a lone ranger…Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. In other words, you have to have the kitchen cabinet…that means find two, three, four friends who care about you – so that when you are on your career track, when you may want to leave, when you don’t know whether to stay with that company, when you don’t know whether to drop off to become an entrepreneur – all these different questions you can kick around with your kitchen cabinet – and with the people mentoring you. And they change.  Mentors and kitchen cabinets change over a life time.  So these are additional arrows in your quiver – that will dramatically increase the probability that you will be sucessful.”

What are the main concepts for success?

“We’re all students for life.”  “Take doctors” , he explained. “Would you go to a doctor who graduated top in her class 20 years ago from a top medical school – yet never again opened up a book to study – or attend a conference to stay on top of  the latest trends in her field?  It’s the same thing in business”, Harvey points out.  We must all stay on top of our computer skills, public speaking skills, otherwise as he says it: “you’ve got problems…you can’t practice those sort of skills enough…those are the ways that you become successful.”

Harvey also advices job candidates to humanize the search.  “Of course it’s important to prepare to win – by researching the company, the industry and more.  However, it’s as important to learn about the interviewer.  It’s simple – people buy from other people, people hire other people.”  As he explains it: “it’s because of chemistry, of likeability, because of people skills (that people hire).  And therefore, when you go in for a job…do everything you can to find out about the interviewer. Know 5 or 10 things about the interviewer that they don’t know you know about them. That will humanize the interviewer, the experience.  Because it’s a person doing the hiring, and so you have to get along with that person – humanize the experience.  Prove to them that you know how important team work is, that you’re not high soprano, that you’re not a  problem – no matter how bright you may be…Also, learn about the invisible web. Know whether the interviewer is a Democrat or a Republican. Know if they play at a country club, what their golf scores are.  Know if they did something of importance in their industry – like writing a paper…And when you get in the interview, look for a common denominator with the interviewer, so that you can get along…that’s a tremendous philosophy to have when ever you’re looking for a job.”

Harvey did not disapoint me – when he greeted me over skype – he pronounced my name just as a spanish speaker would. After cringing for years over mispronunciations – I know that he is following his own advice. He made an effort to connect – to humanize our interview experience.    

And where does authenticity fit into the pecking order of skills needed during a job search? 

“If I were to pick one other word in the entire English language that’s needed to be a success during a life time (aside from authenticity)…it’s T.R.U.S.T.

If you don’t have trust in a relationship…on the job search market. When you join that company, if you can’t trust your employer, if you can’t trust your boss, then you have very little chance to succeed. And right under that comes authenticity because you have to be yourself. You can’t be something that you aren’t.  You can’t fake it.  You have to be authentic. And once that shines through, once that shows through to your peers, to your boss, to anyone else…whatever business you’re in…once that shines through, then the sky is the limit.  Because if there isn’t trust there, if there isn’t authenticity, then you don’t have a chance. So authenticity is critical – of course it’s what we teach all the time – don’t fake it, don’t exagerate…just be yourself during an interview. And sell as hard as you can as long as you’re sincere.”

Networking – where does it fit in?

“…67% of all jobs are found through networking…so you have to be out there in the community. You can volunteer and join groups you love and respect. You can be out there technologically…Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn…”  

On twitter – what makes a good tweet?

“It has to:

  1. Have take home value – ‘teach me something’.
  2. Leave a smile on my face.
  3. Engage me.

If you can tweet every day like that, you’ll be helping  a lot of people.”

Thanks Harvey – for a life enhancing interview.  See you on twitter!

¡Suelta el freno de mano!

Snow_SkiEs un hecho – la indecisión es como el oxigeno. En el trabajo y en nuestra vidas en general, esta en todas partes. Mas que todo porque, tal cual como la hilera de cereales en el supermercado, las opciones simplemente abundan.

Entonces ¿que debemos hacer para no ahogarnos en un mar de opciones – y aprender a tomar decisiones rápidas que pasen la prueba del tiempo? 

  1. Suelta el freno de mano.  Cuando de decisiones se trata – evita a todo costo el parálisis – por sobre análisis.  No te engañes. No tomar una decisión, también es una decisión. Quizás una de las peores.
  2. Las decisiones perfectas son un producto de la imaginación de los indecisos.  En la realidad no existen.  Todo trae un sacrificio.  Identifica y analiza que estas ganando y perdiendo a cambio de tu decisión – y decide cual decisión es de mayor beneficio.
  3. Mírala a los ojos. Reconocer que eres indecisa es el primer paso a ganar la batalla.  Aquí la autocrítica constructiva tiene su lugar.  Negar que algo podría estar mejor, te privara de la oportunidad para mejorar.
  4. Deja marinar. Tal como un buen encurtido necesita tiempo para estar listo – las buenas decisiones toman tiempo para producir resultados.  Confía en el proceso. Abrir el frasco antes de tiempo – es decir retroceder o cambiar de rumbo antes de tiempo – te hará dudar que tomaste la decisión correcta.
  5. Échale cabeza y corazón. Las decisiones que pasan el visto bueno de tu razón y de tus emociones tienen más chance de ser sostenibles. Piensa en la última decisión que tomaste que se sintió bien.  ¿Te acuerdas que resultados produjo?
  6. A las tentaciones – búscales reemplazo.  Posiblemente se presentaran tentaciones en tu camino – que te harán dudar de la posición que escogiste.  Que nublaran tu norte. Cuando esto pase, lee el punto 2.
  7. 8 horas de sueño son mágicas.  No te dejes apresurar por tus colegas – ni tu jefe.  Cuando tengas que tomar una decisión de gran impacto, pide al menos un día para pensarlo.  Aprovecha que mientras duermes tu cerebro esta trabajando en una respuesta – funciona como por arte de magia.

Entonces – ¿que estas esperando para soltar el freno de mano – y alcanzar tus metas?

Free (power) lunch

Courtesy of McKinsey Quarterly

Invest today’s lunch time to demystify success.  Watch and learn from what a select group of female leaders have to say about success in life and at work.

My favorite piece of advice comes from Shelly Lazarus: “You cannot be afraid to be who you are…live your values. Don’t sneak..stand up, do what you need to do and smile…”

Failure – the new success?

Thomas Edison’s 10,000 failed attempts before inventing the light-bulb has been overused for good reason.  In this video, the car manufacturer Honda does a great job at showing how failure is an integral part of anyone’s path to success.  In essence, it’s when you’re not failing, that you’re a failure.  

Why? Because when you push your own limits, walk on the edge and take risks, failure is a possibility. Following that logic, if you never fail, it means that you haven’t pushed yourself far enough or taken enough risks.  Those who have succeeded know that transcending their own glass ceiling and taking risks is part of the package of success.  

Know that for failure to lead to success, you must be open to the lessons that failure leaves. Be diligent about tracking and learning the lessons of your mistakes. That is how you will improve.

I’d LOVE to learn about your own failures.

You either have it or you don’t

A few days ago, while I was at the hair salon, Debbie*, the twentysomething who was washing my hair, offered to give me a scalp massage.  Without even thinking about it I accepted her very generous offer.  Shortly after she started, it became obvious that she was not good at it.  Aside from missing all the pressure points on my head, her hands had no strength and even felt weightless on my scalp. Sure I’m aware that my assessment of her performance is harsh and to some extent ungrateful.

But hear me out before you judge me too harshly. 

It was Debbie’s subpar performance that made me think about what happens when a person chooses a career that requires them to use skills which they do not have a natural talent for.

Taking Debbie’s example, from how she performed a simple activity with her hands, it appears that she doesn’t have a knack for using her hands, yet has chosen a career which depends on her manual abilities.  I’m open to your opinion, but I suspect that her lack of talent in giving scalp massages is strongly linked to her potential (or lack of) as a hair-dresser.  Granted she’s relatively new in the field, and she could certainly learn the trade, but I think that she’ll never get to be a superstar.  And my main concern is that if she continues to do something she’s not great at, she’s incurring an opportunity cost.  So are her employer and her customers.   The tricky part is she’s just so friendly and has such a great attitude that her employer is probably willing to over-look her lack of talent and her customers are willing to put up with a mediocre service because it’s being delivered with a smile.  

The question is will she be much better off (and successful) doing something that comes naturally to her?  For example, I think that she’d be great in sales or customer service.  By observing her, it seemed that she was enjoying herself and was great at speaking with people and booking appointments over the phone.  Down the line, because she has experience working in a salon, she could sell beauty products and eventually manage a sales team.  All activities which use her communication skills more than her hands.

It might be too late for me to tell Debbie all this, but it’s not too late for any of us to learn from her example.  Take time right now, as I did (while getting a lukewarm scalp massage) to think about your own strengths and weaknesses at work. 

List all those skills that you have that you feel you acquired quite effortlessly and that you tend to be better at doing than most.  Then be honest with yourself and list all those things which do not come naturally to you and that it’s taken quite an effort for you to learn. 

Looking at your list of strengths, do you think you’ll be able to get paid for any of your strong skills?  For example I’m told by those who know me that I have exceptional hand-eye coordination and that I’m a great communicator.  I did play college level tennis but I never developed the strength of a pro.  On the other hand, I’ve made a good living in business development by building strong relationships with clients.  As far as my weaknesses go, while I know enough about balance sheets and income statements, I know that accounting is far from a strength of mine.  It took me way too much effort and time to get a passing grade in my accounting courses in business school.  Consequently I’m not going for the CFO position.

Now what should I do about Debbie?  Should I give her a copy of this post and save her some time?

*Name made up to avoid over-using pronouns.

Like the picture? Zio Dave at flickr