Harvey Mackay and John Alexander - Fredrickson Learning January 26 2017 event names 3

John Alexander, a training director at Travelers, agreed to tell us “his personal Harvey Mackay story, ” and explain to us why he’s excited to hear Harvey speak at our Jan. 26th event: Essential Business Skills from a Minnesota Icon. “Excited” might be an understatement. John was actually the one who approached us at Fredrickson with this opportunity — the chance for learning leaders to glean business skills from one of the most respected and published business authors in the United States. In fact, two of Harvey Mackay’s business books made the New York Times list of top fifteen business books of all time: Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware The Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.

We are thrilled to offer this event to our community, and thrilled John agreed to share his Harvey Mackay story with us.

What’s your favorite Harvey Mackay story?
Of all the great stories Harvey has told, whether in his book, speeches, or in his weekly columns, my favorite would be where I experienced firsthand his writing come to life. I was in my junior year at the University of Minnesota and just finished reading Swim with the Sharks. As with all who read the book, I found it life-transforming: I immediately applied the principles to my life. It was a perfect catalyst to start my career. I purchased several copies, gifting them to some friends, and my mother, so they could benefit from Harvey’s lessons as well.

Fast forward a few months, and my mother, who worked for the airlines, was working a flight to Aspen, Colorado. On the flight, she struck up a conversation with a passenger and somehow they got on the topic of books. My mother was recommending this book, Swim with the Sharks, to the passenger. As it turned out, the passenger worked for Harvey Mackay! They had a good laugh about it, as my mother shared how she was given Harvey’s book as a gift from me…her ever-loving son.

I remember my mom calling me that night to tell me about it, and I thought it was serendipitous. Unbeknownst to me, my mother left out an important detail while relaying the story to her ever-loving son. Harvey’s team member was flying to Aspen to help prepare for an upcoming speech he was set to deliver the next day. The passenger asked my mom if she would like a personally signed copy of the book to give to me. My mother said yes.

A few weeks later, a large box arrived for me from Mackay Envelope Company. I immediately recognized the company and wondered what could be inside. Upon opening, inside awaited personally signed copies of Harvey’s books, Swim with the Sharks, Dig Your Well Before You‘re Thirsty, Beware of the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt, and Sharkproof. In addition there was also a “Sharks” necktie and a few lapel pins. How cool is that?!

I was thrilled as could be (several fist pumps may have been involved) and, as a college kid at the time, I felt so grateful for Harvey’s team to relay the story, and for Harvey to take the time to personally sign the books. I called my mother right away to tell her about the box, and the nice note signed to her. We both were in awe about the experience. After that, I was a fan for life! Harvey has a great saying, “The little things in life mean a lot…. Not true, the little things in life mean everything!”

Why are you excited for this presentation/event?
Harvey is not just a great speaker, he has fruit on the trees, meaning he has lived the principles that he shares on stage and in his writings. Harvey’s business acumen is second to none, and for a CEO to impart his wisdom through spellbinding storytelling…it will impact all who are present. As with each Fredrickson Roundtable event, I walk away with new knowledge and insight. Harvey’s talk will catapult our business knowledge for 2017 and beyond.

What are some examples of Harvey’s advice that have been relevant to your work life – especially as a learning leader?
Harvey writes a lot about the fact that we are all in sales, regardless of our title. Harvey created the Mackay 66 Customer Profile, which emphasizes the idea of getting to know one’s customers as human beings. For the past 15-years, I have used these principles, daily jotting down takeaways from conversations. In turn, this has helped forge strong business relationships. As learning leaders, we’re selling our ideas, our learning strategies, and our vision — no matter if that is to our learners or to the C-Suites at our companies.


Check out our Harvey Mackay event page if you want to attend on January 26th! 

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