Swim with the Sharks by Harvey Mackay

January 2011

Swim with the Sharks
by Harvey Mackay

Swim with the Sharks by Harvey MackaySummary

This is a great book, whether you’re an MBA or just someone trying to get an advantage in everyday life. Harvey Mackay’s lessons are to be treasured – he was way ahead of the curve in the mid-1980s. It may be hard to appreciate this today because some of the advice isn’t fresh any more: we all have phones in our cars and we all use answering machines to screen calls and we all take notes on the run on little portable recorders. Well, many of us do, at any rate. Hardly revolutionary advice any more, but that’s only because we listened to Harvey in the first place.

Some of the chapters contain gold that will always be valuable, however. One of my favourites involves the phrase “Dusseldorf passes”. I won’t spoil it for the unread, but I will say the lesson from that chapter is one everyone should take with them through life. It will save you a lot of money and regret.

And the Mackay hiring process. So thorough it seems to border on the absurd, but the more I work at various companies, the more I wish all businesses were as picky about acquiring workers. Harvey shows you that even “lowly” positions such as the receptionist or secretary are among your company’s most critical, for 99% of your customers will get their first impression of your company – and in some cases the only impression of your company – through this crucial individual. Yet many companies get some 18-year-old part-timer to answer the phones and file valuable company documents – and they’re proud of this cost-cutting manoeuvre! They consider this smart management. Harvey explains why this is actually a very dumb move.

He also shows you how to get “impossible” tickets to the big game and how to get a reservation at virtually any hotel, even ones that are “completely booked”. And no, these are not devious ways. They’re just common sense, actually.

Whether you’re an ambitious manager at a Fortune 500 company or an owner of a small businesses on the corner, this book has nuggets.

Previous books of the month