4th-Quarter Game Changers

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Are life’s record smashing performances reserved for those sprightly early decades? Not for seasoned vets who know how to strew the seasoning.

  • Colonel Harland Sanders began franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 65, using $105 of his first Social Security check.
  • TV journalism maven Barbara Walters was 68 in 1997 when she cocreated The View and sold ABC on the idea. She and Joy Behar (now 68) are the only cohosts still with the show since its inception, which was lauded as “wildly different” from the get-go for its creative slant.
  • Management guru Peter Drucker wrote more than half of the 39 books to his credit when he was past the age of 65. And he was churning out riveting, fresh ideas into his 90s.
  • Angela Lansbury, 85 in 2011, wowed Broadway crowds two years earlier as the clairvoyant Madame Arcati in a revival of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. Therewith Dame Angela carted off her fifth Tony in an illustrious career.
  • Roy Neuberger–investor, art collector and philanthropist–made an old-fashioned killing off the 1987 market crash. He was 107 when he died on Christmas Eve in 2010. In his autobiography, So Far, So Good: The First 94 Years, Neuberger wrote: “I am not as good a walker as I used to be. When I was 80, I could walk very long distances…Three times a week [at age 94] I work out with a personal trainer…In 45 minutes I do 42 exercises…It costs $45, so it’s a dollar a minute–well worth it.”

Each embraced the make-it-happen mind-set of the never sidelined former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Formidable “Little Nell,” as her pals knew her, served on the National Advisory Committee to the Peace Corps in her 70s and even pitched Good Luck margarine on TV, donating the proceeds to charity. “I could not, at any age,” she summed up her life, “be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on.”

Most of us learn to be our very best only after years of hard-tested effort. Mark Twin nailed it when he said: “The first half of my life I went to school, the second half of my life I got an education.”

No one can beat an experienced and determined mind, able and willing to apply new lessons.

Mackay’s Moral: It’s no accident they’re called your golden years. 

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Courage–What Sets You Apart From The Crowd

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In his final broadcast as anchor of the CBS Evening News a few years ago Dan Rather paid homage to people around the world who daily struggle with danger, sickness, death, disease, poverty and other challenges. Rather concluded his broadcast with the same memorable ending he used 24 years earlier when he took over from Walter Cronkite. He often used to end his broadcasts this way–he’d look at the camera and say one word: “Courage.”

That sign-off intrigued me. Courage is regarded as a major human virtue. Courage is bravery, valor, standing up to danger, guts and nerve all rolled into one. I’m not a soldier, a policeman, a doctor or a relief worker. I’m a businessman. What does courage have to do with running a business?

Plenty. I admit that most folks’ daily lives are not filled with such dramatic challenges. We all face situations that require us to reach down deep within ourselves to do what is right and brave and occasionally difficult. Courage can involve making decisions that are unpopular or time-consuming or even expensive.

It’s easy to be ordinary. Courage is what sets you apart from the crowd…especially when the crowd checks out. 

In one of my all-time favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion is looking for, of course, courage. When he finally meets the Wizard, he has some questions (and answers):

What makes a King out of a slave? Courage

What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? Courage.

What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage.

What makes the Sphinx the Seventh Wonder? Courage.

What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage.

What makes the Hottentot so hot? Courage.

What puts the ape in apre-ricot? Courage.

Whatta they got that I ain’t got? Courage.

And you know what comes next: The Wizard awards the Cowardly Lion the Medal of Courage so he would always be brave. That’s something we could all use.

Mackay’s Moral: Courage is ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 
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Celebrate The Child In You

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Kids get excited about life. They see everything with fresh eyes, knowing they will find something new and different every time they look. Adults, on the other hand, look for what they know and expect.

Imagine what we’re missing!

We’ve forgotten the enthusiasm, the sense of surprise at experiencing new things, the fascination with solving puzzles. All are traits radiated by a great salesperson.

My friend the late Jim Rohn was a master speaker and motivator. He encouraged folks to “practice being like a child.” Jim sais there are four ways to be more like a child, no matter how old you are.

  • Become Curious. “Learn to be curious like a child. Kids can ask a million questions. You think they’re through. They’ve got another million… Kids use their curiosity to learn. Have you ever noticed that while adults are stepping on ants, children are studying them? A child’s curiosity is what helps them to reach, learn and grow,” he said.
  • Get so excited you hate to go to bed at night. Reawaken that can’t-wait-to-get-up-in-the-morning feeling–the feeling that you’re so excited that you’re about to explode.
  • Believe. Faith is childish, Jim maintained. “Adults too often have a tendency to be overly skeptical. Some adults even have a tendency to be cynical.”
  • Trust. “Have you heard the term ‘sleep like a baby’? That’s it,” Jim said.

The “trust” inventory may be the shortest supply chain in today’s business world.

Study successful salespeople, as I have for decades, and you will be constantly amazed at the youthful energy that keeps them hopping. Energy, imagination and credible sense of innocence–all boost a salesperson’s likability and trustworthiness.

“Curiosity, excitement, faith and trust,” Jim Rohn said. “What a powerful combination to bring back into our lives.”

Mackay’s Moral: Grow up and think like a kid again.

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Passion: The Prime Mover

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I recently came across a terrific description of a salesperson…

and it’s from the 1940s. Aside from the sexist language, a sign of those times, I think it’s still right on.

During a convention of Chrysler sales managers in Los Angeles–back when Chrysler was an auto superpower–Harry G. Moock, a company vice president, issued this description of a salesman:

“He has the curiosity of a cat, the tenacity of a bulldog, the friendship of a little child, the diplomacy of a wayward husband, the patience of a self-sacrificing wife, the passion of a Sinatra fan, the assurance of a Harvard man, the good humor of a comedian, the simplicity of a jackass, and the tireless energy of a bill collector.”

What can I say…? I’ve always been a Sinatra fan.

A salesperson without passion is just an order taker.

If you’re in sales, you can have a great product, a tremendous territory and a fabulous marketing campaign, but if you don’t have passion, it’s hard to make a sale. When you have a passion, you speak with conviction, act with authority and present with zeal. When you are excited and passionate about a product–or anything for that matter–people notice. They want in on the action. They want to know what can be so good.

There is no substitute for passion.

If you don’t have an intense, burning desire for what you’re doing, there’s no way you’ll be able to endure the long, hard hours it takes to become successful. 



Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter for more tips on business, sales, leadership, networking, negotiating and life.

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He Who Burns Bridges Better Be A Damn Good Swimmer

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Real-estate operators are legendary for slow-pay practices, but I know one who hangs them all out to dry. This gentleman–we’ll call him “Bob”–was the son of a milkman. He made a fortune in the trucking business and wound up owning major-league sports franchises on both coasts. To give you an idea of how nimble he was, after he bought his first sports franchise in the Midwest, he also bought– quietly and cheaply–an obscure FM radio station on the West Coast. In a big surprise move, he then shifted the franchise to the Coast and scheduled the game broadcasts exclusively on his new station. Moving not only revived the failing franchise, it also multiplied the value of the station. One move. Two profits.

Bob also owned a chain of hotels. A large, sophisticated New York insurance company held the mortgage on his flagship hotel. One Friday, the insurance company n question, exasperated over years of delayed payments or no payments, sent their man to see Bob. The intrepid rep marched into Bob’s office, threw down a sheaf of legal papers, and announced that as of Monday, the insurance company would take over and operate the hotel.

“That’s fine,” said Bob, “but where will you park the guest’ cars?”

“Why, in the parking lot behind the hotel,” said the insurance company’s man.

“No,” said he, “you won’t be parking them there. I own that parking lot. The minute you take over the hotel, an eight-foot chain-link fence goes around that lot, and in case you haven’t noticed, there isn’t another adequate parking facility you can use within a three-block radius.”

The New York insurance company decided it could live with Bob’s payment practices.
Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter to hear more about some of my real world experiences and the lessons they’ve taught me.

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The Mike Litman Show

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I had the pleasure and opportunity to talk with Mike Litman on his radio show about my new book The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World. This whole launch process has been a great opportunity to meet and talk to so many impressive and amazing people.  Mike has been working since 1997 to develop a platform where he could positively influence as many people as possible. He is a success by any standard and he has plenty to offer the world.  You can listen to the interview below or Click Here for the post on Mike’s website.

Mike Litman Show by HarveyMackay

Learn more about my new book, The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World

Click here to help me spread the word about my new book.

If you already bought my new book, make sure you download or request the hard copy of my new Network Builder for FREE Here.

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Better Humble Than Stumble

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In the history of the world, there has never been a city that juices itself more on ego then Tinseltown. That said, I remain a huge movie buff and religiously watch the Academy Awards telecast. I’m even more interested because my son, David, is a film director and producer in Hollywood.

The curious thing? For the very cream of the entertainment profession, genuine humility flows in their blood. Stars with staying power understand exactly how reliant they are on the support of others.

Two of the most memorable lines during the 2008 Oscar ceremonies came from the year’s Best Actor and Best Actress, Sean Penn and Kate Winslet.

“I want to be ver clear,” Sean Penn admitted, ” I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me.” While few would refer to Penn as humble, that had to be the understatement of the year! Kate Winslet was disarmingly honest: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t made a version of this speech before. I was probably eight years old staring into the bathroom mirror, and this would have been a shampoo bottle,” she said as she held up her Oscar.

Danny Boyle, who won Best Director for Slumdog Millionaire, went onstage and started jumping up and down. The movie was originally slated to be released only on DVD, and he said he promised his kids that if he ever won an Oscar, he would accept it in the joyous spirit of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Never forget that winning moments are also made of keeping promises to the people who’ve helped get you there.

I’ve been speaking to business groups for decades now, but I remember the first time my wife, Carol Ann, heard me give a speech. I knew she would be my harshest critic, so I practiced a great deal. I delivered what I thought was a great speech. Many people came up to me afterward and complimented me. In the car on the way home, I turned to Carol Ann and asked, “Sweetheart, how many great speakers do you think there are in the world today?”

She smiled and replied, “One fewer than you think, dear.”

Mackay’s Moral: The sound carries farther when others blow your horn.

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Stay Sharp by Predicting the Future

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Play this game with yourself: Predict the outcome of events that interest you.

The stock market


Athletic events



There are three rules to the game.  One, you have to write your predictions down (otherwise, you’ll cheat, you devil).  Two, you also have to write down the reasons for your predictions.  Three, when you lose, you have to force yourself to analyze why you lost, why your reasons didn’t hold up.

If your ego needs an occasional cold shower, this little exercise will provide you with a lifetime supply.  It will also force you to reexamine and adjust your reasoning without having to pay any penalty for being wrong.  You’ll find that the more you do this, the more accurate you’ll become.  And if you find you have a real talent for it, then, but not until then, you should back that talent with cash.

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Being Your Best With Things At Their Worst

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If at first you don’t succeed…you’re doing about average.  Rebounding from rejection is an essential skill to acquire, especially in job hunting  Here are three tips for beating rejection:

Ten setbacks are the going price for any worthwhile win. If you look at the major league baseball standings at the end of any season, you’ll find that, out of thirty teams, only eight make the playoffs, and only one of those ends up winning the World Series.  Are those annual standings the end of the world for the twenty-nine losers?  Hardly.

Analyze every failure, but never wallow in one. President Harry Truman once said, “As soon as I realize I’ve made one damned fool mistake, I rush out and make another one.”  Failure is a condition all of us experience.  It’s our reaction to our failures that distinguishes winners from losers.

What makes a great racehorse as compared to a cheap claimer is not just speed, it;s heart.  A claimer usually makes just one run.  Once the horse is passed, that’s it, the animal quits and the race is over.  But stakes horses, the best of the breed, are different.  Even if they fall behind, they’ll come back and try to regain the lead.  There’s no quit in them.  Like National Football League (NFL) coaching legend Vince Lombardi’s teams, they never lose, they just run out of time.  Defeats are temporary.  Heart and class are permanent.

Don’t rationalize away the hurt. You didn’t get the job?  Turned down for a raise?  Denied admission to the college of your choice?  Don’t kid yourself and try to cover up the hurt with “Gee, I didn’t really want it anyway.”  Of course you wanted it. “I suppose I didn’t deserve it.”  Of course you did. Self-delusion and self-hatred aren’t the answer.  Don’t let your worth be defined by others.  Point your head in the right direction and get back in the game.

It’s not a permanent condition; it’s a short-term setback.  You have a goal.  The particular job or raise or school may have been a stepping-stone tot hat goal, but that’s all it was.  There’s more than one way to cross a river.  Now you’re going to have to rethink the path, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon the goal.

You can find more tips and advice in my new paperback “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door.”

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