Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

I like to find humor in most situations, no matter how dire. Take for example the devastating tornadoes that hit my home city of Minneapolis in the summer of 1987. There was massive damage and people were emotionally distraught. Our local newspaper pictured a man standing by his car, which had been crushed by a fallen tree. He was smiling, waving at people driving by and holding a sign that read, “new-style compact car.”

This guy knew there wasn’t much he could do with the cards he was dealt, so why not have a little fun and show some humor in the situation?

With April being National Humor Month, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to share some humorous stories that have a business message. Really, can’t everyone use a good laugh these days?

Gretchen Alexander refused to allow her blindness to limit her life experiences. She mastered archery, golf, softball, sailing and water skiing, as well as a number of other activities her sighted friends had yet to learn.

Speaking before a group of high-school students about her achievements, one student asked if there was anything she wouldn’t try.

“I have decided to never sky dive,” she answered. “It would scare the heck out of my dog.”

Quick thinking
A minister, a boy scout, and a computer executive were flying to a meeting in a small private plane. About halfway to their destination, the pilot came back and announced that the plane was going to crash and that there were only three parachutes and four people.

The pilot said, “I am going to use one of the parachutes because I have a wife and four small children,” and he jumped.

The computer executive said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and my company needs me,” and he jumped.

The minister turned to the boy scout and, smiling sadly, said, “You are young, and I have lived a good, long life, so you take the last parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.”

The boy scout said, “Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just strapped on my backpack and jumped out of the plane!”

It’s like the two salesmen who fell on hard times and ended up broke in a small town in Montana. They needed money to move on and learned that the town paid $20 each for wolf pelts. They sensed the opportunity. That night they set out with a couple of clubs and some borrowed supplies and made camp in the distant hills. They were no sooner asleep than one was startled by an eerie howl. He crawled outside the tent to find himself surrounded by hundreds of snarling wolves. Back into the tent he crawled and shook his buddy.

“Wake up!” he cried. “Wake up! We’re rich!”

Customer service
A local meat market has three or four clerks waiting on customers. One of them always has a line of customers waiting for him – even if one of the other clerks is available. One day, a visitor asked the always-busy clerk the reason for his popularity.

He said: “The other clerks always put more meat on the scale and then take some away to arrive at what the customer ordered. I always put less on the scale and then add to it. It makes all the difference.”

There is an old saying in Africa that goes like this: Every morning a gazelle gets up and knows that it must out-run the fastest lion or it will get eaten. And every morning, a lion gets up and knows that it must out-run the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. So, whether you are a gazelle or a lion, every morning when you get up, you’d better start running.

In other words, if you can’t win, make the person ahead of you break the record.

Laugh at yourself
I learned this lesson the hard way from my wife, Carol Ann. While I am accustomed to public speaking and make frequent speeches to large audiences, I was preparing to address a very distinguished audience and was a little nervous. I asked her what kind of remarks might be appropriate for the occasion.

“Whatever you do,” Carol Ann said, “don’t try to sound intellectual, sophisticated or charming. Just be yourself.”

And we are still married after 64 years.

Mackay’s Moral: He (or she) who laughs, lasts.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.