In a grim employment market, a local author of business books provides tips for job hunters — and a money-back guarantee
By MORDECAI SPECKTOR
Harvey Mackay, a St. Paul native, has written a book crammed full of specific suggestions for job seekers. In the midst of the ongoing jobless economic recovery, the renowned author of best-selling business books addresses a pressing concern for many in Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You (Portfolio).
Mackay stopped by the Jewish World offices recently, as part of his promotional tour for his new book. “A 30-city tour,” he says, “eight cities down and 22 to go.” The author of Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, and other bestsellers, travels in a private jet.
Lean, upbeat and energetic, the 77-year-old founder and chairman of MackayMitchell Envelope Company, a $100 million business that he started at the age of 26, is on a self-described mission to help people every day.
“There are a lot of people hurting out there,” explains Mackay. “A lot of your readers are hurting… a lot of people have sons and daughters who are hurting; a lot of people know someone who’s hurting. And this book, cover to cover, can dramatically change their life.”
And if for some reason the book doesn’t do the job of getting a reader a job (the original title was supposed to be Getting a Job Is a Job), Mackay offers a money-back guarantee. But he advises, on the back of the dust cover: “Remember, you can’t simply read this book! You have to study it, underline it, highlight it, and take notes. If you do not have a job after six months, I will refund your purchase price.” The refund details are on the last page of the book.
He’s not especially worried about a flood of letters requesting refunds. He says that Swim with the Sharks sold five million copies; “18 people asked for their money back, seven of them were my best friends — I guess they wanted to keep me humble.”
Keeping Harvey Mackay humble — there’s a job.
The high-flying businessman and author says he travels 150 days a year. His column and speaking gigs have him jetting around the world. Toastmasters International named him one of the top five speakers in the world. He says that he will be a guest again on Larry King’s CNN show soon (“Harvey Mackay hits the bull’s-eye. An important book for important times in our lives. The Shark Man at his very best,” King blurbs on the back cover of Use Your Head.) Mackay says he also is scheduled to appear on Fox and Friends, the Fox News program.
“My books are distributed in 80 countries, translated into 40 different languages, and I’ve 10 million of them out all over the world,” notes Mackay.
Although the world will forever think that he’s Irish, Mackay allows, he drops a hint about his religion in each of his books and, about once a year, in his weekly syndicated newspaper column, which runs in 52 cities (including the Star Tribune). “I mention that I’m Jewish, in a nice way, so that everybody out there knows I’m Jewish,” he comments.
Mackay was raised by Jack and Myrtle Mackay, who lived at 2123 Bayard Ave., in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood. Mackay’s mother, who was born in Virginia, Minn., died of breast cancer at the age of 49. His late father was the Associated Press correspondent in St. Paul for 35 years.
Mackay mentions that the paternal family name was Makiesky, but the fact of anti-Semitism prompted his father to change it to something less Jewish-sounding for career purposes. Jack Mackay was a president of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and, according to his son, among the founders of the St. Paul JCC.
Harvey Mackay attended the University of Minnesota and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Executive Program. He has run in 10 marathons, is a former No. 1 ranked senior tennis player in Minnesota, and is especially proud of his golf game. Mackay and his wife, Carol Ann, who have been married for 49 years, have three children and nine grandchildren. They have a winter home in Phoenix.
Mackay mentions, during his hour-long visit at the AJW offices, that he is planning on taking his entire family, 19 people, to Africa this winter for a 10-day vacation.
He also plans to visit Israel sometime in the next 12 months. He will travel with his “very, very close friend,” someone with connections to top Israeli government leaders. He doesn’t want to mention his friend’s name. “He’s going to take me to the prime minister, and he’s going to take me all over Israel,” says Mackay. “It’s a high level trip, and the only reason that I’m going is just to become more knowledgeable, and be a spokesman for the Jewish community, and have the best, firsthand information.”
In the meantime, Mackay is promoting Use Your Head, which stresses, among many things, that successful job seekers practice for job interviews. Mackay suggests that a job applicant get some friends together and videotape a mock job interview.
A candidate for an executive job might have to make his or her way through a perilous business lunch, and Mackay advises in the book that ordering “can be one of the most hazardous minefields” for a job candidate. “If you can, order something user-friendly,” Mackay writes. “Given a choice, skinless, boneless chicken breast — easily cut and mounted on a fork — with mashed potatoes and green beans is not tricky stuff. Beware of dishes swimming in sauce.”
All of these nuggets of job-seeking wisdom are crucial, according to Mackay, who says that a college graduate these days will change jobs 10 to 14 times by the age of 38. “And the average college graduate will have three to five career changes,” adds Mackay.
“What does that equal?” he asks rhetorically. “That equals a society of a perpetual job search. And that’s why this,” says Mackay, thumping a copy of Use Your Head, “is a runaway best seller, flying off the shelves.”
Since 1912 the AJW has served as an important news resource for the Jewish community. The Jewish World unites the main Jewish communities in St. Paul and Minneapolis, as well as those in Duluth, Rochester and smaller cities, and bridges the divides between the various Jewish religious streams.