We review the best small business and investing books
Pushing The Envelope All The Way To The Top
by Harvey Mackay
Pushing The Envelope is probably Harvey Mackay's best book since he wrote Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. And, maybe Pushing The Envelope is better. Mackay shares his wisdom about how to build a business from the standpoint of a professional envelope maker, one of the world's best salesmen, and probably the leading business self-help writer.
Mackay knows his envelopes and much else. He talks about setting resolutions, but realizes most people never keep them. He points out that to succeed you must work hard and stick to your goals until you reach them, like an postage stamp sticks to an envelope. "Initiative is important. Finishative is vital," Mackay writes.
Mackay tells you not to take yourself too seriously, and that it is probably good to let the other fellow think he is smarter than you. But Pushing The Envelope is far more than a collection of positive thinking aphorisms (yes, there are a lot of those also). Mackay discusses his views about managing people and selling, both of which are crucial to most company's success. And, both areas where Harvey Mackay is a world class expert.
Mackay teaches you how to cultivate your sales force. He gives insight on making intelligent hires, and points out that recognizing talent is the most valuable talent of an entrepreneur.
Mackay shares his views on getting rid of employees and points out that it is the people who you should fire, but who you don't, that cause you problems. Not that Harvey fires many people himself. Many of his happy envelope makers have worked for him for decades or longer.
And, as Mackay points out, making envelopes isn't a business you would consider naturally fun or sexy. And, some of Mackay's people who left to work for the competition were rehired when they learned that the generous offers made to them by Harvey's competitors were deceptions. More money, better tasting glue on the flaps, and who knows whatever else was offered.
Harvey understands the importance of forgiveness and helping other people reach their personal and life goals. Without an aphorism, Harvey cares about people and about his employees. He understands the importance of people. And, that computers can't replace them. This is not to say that old Harvey is as flat as one of his envelopes due to being walked over by chums. As Mackay says, "every dog can get in one bite." After that and I'd bet the pooch is in trouble.
Pushing The Envelope also briefly discusses why people pay more for some products. Value-added. He really shows you how to successfully charge more for your product by focusing on service. Mackay says this is what smaller companies who can't swing lower per unit costs can offer.
Pushing The Envelope All The Way To The Top should be read by all business people, even those who cringe at the thought of reading one more Harvey Mackay aphorism! By Chapter 82 (yes, Chapter 82, he writes bite-sized chapters) Harvey runs out of business wisdom and goes off on a tangent telling you about how to properly tip waiters and waitresses and the tennis pro at your vacation resort. Ah, Thanks, Harvey.
Just when you are questioning if the book will end without a bang, Mackay falls back to his natural ability in closing a deal to write a chapter about how we all appreciate a good and true compliment. But, I'll save the ending for your own reading. We'll leave you with our favorite Mackay aphorism, "While on the ladder of success, don't step back to admire your work."