Harvey Mackay: Career Advice From the Masters

I get a weekly email from Harvey Mackay. I thought I would share this one that I found in my inbox (it’s from January):

Napoleon Hill, one of my favorite authors, devoted twenty years of his life to study what made people successful. His mentor, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, helped Hill by giving him introductions to some of the most successful people in business, including Henry Ford, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Schwab, George Eastman, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Clarence Darrow and many others.

What Hill discovered is that all these individuals realized the importance of surrounding themselves with people smarter than themselves.

I couldn’t agree more. All of us together are a lot smarter than any one of us. Which leads to some of the best career advice I can give you: Networking is a skill you must develop.

If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. A network replaces the weakness of the individual with the strength of your network. You don’t have to know everything as long as you know the people who do.

A network can enrich your life. It can help you help others. A network improves your job security. If you build a network, you will have a bridge to wherever you want to go. So if you are ever up the proverbial creek, if you have a network, you always have a paddle.

Just remember, the more you exercise your networking muscles, the stronger they get and the easier networking becomes.

What other career advice can you benefit from?

You can’t forget the most important five-letter word in business – TRUST. How about integrity, reputation and treating everyone with respect? I might add that you have to continue your education, because you should be in school all your life. I’ve written extensively about all these topics, and will continue to hammer them home because they are the difference between a job and a successful career.

And because I follow my own advice and continually study the brilliant thoughts of others, I thought I’d share words of wisdom from some of the world’s most successful people:

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.: “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Michael Dell, founder of Dell Inc.: “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people, or find a different room.”

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels: “Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”

Carlos Slim Helu, telecommunications magnate who is considered the world’s richest person: “I don’t want to live thinking about how I’ll be remembered.”

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway: “I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook: “If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems.”

Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines: “Most people see taking risks as opening themselves up to unnecessary,

Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. The amount of time people waste dwelling on failures rather than putting that energy into another project, always amazes me. … A setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”

Mackay’s Moral: They say a word to the wise is sufficient, but I say a word from the wise is a gift!

Harvey Mackay is one of my favorite authors. You can check out Harvey Mackay’s Amazon page*. My favorite book of his is Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty: The Only Networking Book You’ll Ever Need*.

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Salary.com’s 8 Most Overpaid and Underpaid Jobs

I’m not sure how Salary.com can call a job overpaid or underpaid. I thought these issues were based on supply and demand. Anyhow, their list:

8. Overpaid: Research veterinarian (Median Salary: $95,521)
Underpaid: Pest controller (Median Salary: $27,959)

7. Overpaid: Hotel manager (Median Salary: $95,698)
Underpaid: Police officer (Median Salary: $50,193)

6. Overpaid: Financial associate (Median Salary: $108,732)
Underpaid: Security guard (Median Salary: $28,695)

5. Overpaid: Meteorologist (Median Salary: $90,715)
Underpaid: Lineman (Median Salary: $58,024)

4. Overpaid: Actor (Median Salary: $50,733)
Underpaid: Public school teacher (Median Salary: $50,506)

3. Overpaid: Set designer (Median Salary: $45,824)
Underpaid: Army private (Median Salary: $17,848)

2. Overpaid: CEO (Median Salary: $729,379)
Underpaid: Nurse (Median Salary: $66,095)

1. Overpaid: Pilot (Commercial Airline) (Median Salary: $117,407)
Underpaid: EMT (Median Salary: $30,287)

They conclude with this:

It’s true that many dirty, demanding jobs seem to draw lower salaries. But as long as the supply and demand balance remains the same for these jobs — as long as there are plenty of people willing to do them — don’t expect salaries to skyrocket. Some people choose their careers based solely on money, never realizing that when you focus on doing what you love, contributing to society, and being proud of what you do, you are rich regardless.

So, if supply and demand is a factor, how can they say a job is overpaid or underpaid?

Timely: What’s the Value of a College Degree?

Thanks to Liz Weston (@LizWeston for linking to this on Twitter: What’s the value of college degree?

In light of the post I put up yesterday, this is a timely article. I love this point (bold mine):

Anthony Carnevale, the center’s director, explains why students need to pay attention to their earnings potential when picking a major.

Think about it…

If you become a petroleum engineer, you’ll earn $90,000 out of college. If you become social worker, you will make $35,000. The differences are huge.

This was the point I was trying to make yesterday. You have to look at your life as a business and perform some sort of due diligence and cost/benefit analysis when picking a major and a school. It makes no sense to go to a private school, accumulate $100,000 in student loan debt in order to become a teacher making $35,000 a year, and then complain to the rest of us about how hard it is to pay off your loans.

Granted, not everyone is engineering material. Not everyone is teacher material either. Go to school to become whatever it is you want to become. Just be sure and understand the costs/benefits of your desired degree.

Greg Smith: Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

Anyone seen this yet? Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Smith’s problem with Goldman Sachs?

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.

Tell me one commission-based company (or any company for that matter) that isn’t that way?

This is a very critical piece. Give it a read if you have a couple of minutes.

Should he have written it?

I hope this guy never wants to work in banking again.

UPDATE:. I thought this snippet from a WSJ piece was interesting…

 Given the vagueness of the allegations, even Goldman’s pledge to “examine” them sounds silly. (Imagine the scene: “Hi, I am Goldman’s chief inspector. Did you call your clients ‘muppets’?”)

Instead of “examining” unprovable accusations, Goldman and other banks should ditch the “clients- first” mantra they constantly recite and state clearly what they are about.

Rather than extolling Goldman’s “client-driven” culture, as they did in their response to Mr Smith last week, Mr Blankfein and his No. 2 Gary Cohn should have seized the opportunity to explain how the business of finance really works.

Banks aren’t charities—they should have said—and they don’t just seek to make money for customers. They also have shareholders, employees and executives who want to get paid.

Financial bosses try to do everything legally possible to satisfy all their constituencies, but conflicts are inevitable. Customers and the public should be aware of that.

BusinessWeek: Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say

Ten Things Only Bad Managers Say:

If you don’t want this job, I’ll find someone who does.

I don’t pay you to think.

I won’t have you on eBay/ESPN/Facebook/etc. while you’re on the clock.

I’ll take it under advisement.

Who gave you permission to do that?

Drop everything and DO THIS NOW!

Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions.

Sounds like a personal problem to me.

I have some feedback for you … and everyone here feels the same way.

In these times, you’re lucky to have a job at all.

I agree with most of these except for the eBay/ESPN/Facebook example. I think people should work when at work and do those other things at home or during off hours. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. The rest of her examples are pretty much no-brainers.

WSJ: Generation Jobless

This morning’s WSJ contained the first article in a series this week on the unemloyment situation for young people. This morning’s article focused on young men between the ages of 25 and 34. The article profiled two young men. Neither of them had a college education (and one has a criminal record). I don’t envy these young men’s situations.

On a recent afternoon, he sat in his parents’ kitchen, combing online classified ads. But construction work remains scarce and other positions available for which he’s qualified don’t pay more than he makes at the factory.

This is what happens in a downturn/recession. Those most at risk are those who have little to offer employers.

My advice:

1. Realize that this is temporary (though it may last a while).

2. Come up with a plan. Maybe get another low-paying job. Go to school. Start a business. Accept anything but the feeling of helplessness.

And please…ditch the PS3 and XBox and PICK UP A BOOK!

WSJ Report: Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need

From the main article in today’s WSJ “The Journal Report:”

To get America’s job engine revving again, companies need to stop pinning so much of the blame on our nation’s education system. They need to drop the idea of finding perfect candidates and look for people who could do the job with a bit of training and practice.

There are plenty of ways to get workers up to speed without investing too much time and money, such as putting new employees on extended probationary periods and relying more on internal hires, who know the ropes better than outsiders would.

It’s the author’s opinion that companies could fill positions if they brought back job training. In other words, they’re being too picky. Perhaps. However, I’m thinking that with unemployment as high as it is, wouldn’t there be a glut of qualified employees? I have heard other reasons why companies aren’t hiring (like uncertainty in taxes, healthcare law, and the economy in general).

The article then goes on to suggest that companies should work with education providers, bring back the apprenticeship, and promote from within. Pretty standard stuff.

I will say one thing more that’s related to this topic. My wife works for a chemical company. She went to a recruiting event at a local university. She was talking with one of the students and she (my wife) as the student why she was getting a chemical engineering degree. The student told her it was because she was going for another degree but found out that those who were employed in that field had to work a lot of hours and she she figured chemical engineers wouldn’t have to work as much. Wrong answer. I have a feeling this student will be in for a rude awakening IF she gets a job. Maybe she should read Larry Winget’s It’s Called Work for a Reason!: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault*.

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