Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

One of my favorite sayings is “Little things mean a lot. Not true. Little things mean everything.”

It is the little things that separate mediocrity and excellence, a little account and a big account.

Years ago, I was calling on the number two envelope user in the Twin Cities. The buyer wouldn’t see me for about a year before I was able to schedule an appointment. He never bought from me, but I got to know him and built my Mackay 66 Customer Profile on him. I stopped in one day, but he wasn’t in the office. His gatekeeper told me that his 11-year-old son was hit by a car while riding his bicycle and was in the hospital. I knew from the Mackay 66 that the kid played hockey, and his father was the coach. I went to our professional hockey team and had some of the players sign a goalie stick and shipped it to the hospital with a note. This little gesture made the boy mighty happy. Plus, it resulted in $10 million in envelope business over the years, and they are still one of our largest accounts.

All those small actions you take stringed together can, in the end, make an immense contribution to you reaching your goals and your dreams.

I was speaking to a real-estate company and doing my research. I called one realtor who told me that he had a client who was big into Disney collectibles. The realtor was in a store and found a “Pirates of the Caribbean” coffee table book on sale for a mere $5, so he bought it and delivered it. He received 20 transactions from this person, their family and friends.

You can’t put a price on doing the little things. It’s the little things in life that – all summed together – become bigger and more important than the big things and events.

When someone calls you on the telephone you should always greet them with animation, elation and tell them how happy you are to hear from them.

I am convinced that U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton would never have been president if it were not for their short notes. They both were fanatical note senders their entire political lives.

I met President Bush in the airport, and he sent me a thank-you note the next day as a total stranger. Do you think I may have given him a contribution afterward?

Red Buttons was a top comedian in the 1950s and ’60s. He told this story about how all his friends thought he had a phenomenal memory with holiday cards. He explained his strategy: Any time he met someone new, he would fill out a holiday card that night, make notes about their kids or some other salient point, and wait until the holidays to mail it to WOW every new friend.

Motivational author Glenn Van Ekeren told me a story about how one night he was channel surfing and landed on the Discovery Channel show “Dirty Jobs.” In one episode, host Mike Rowe was trying to duplicate the work of an industrial painter whose job was to paint the inside of the Mackinac Bridge towers in Northern Michigan. His unnoticed job is done to ensure the steel of the magnificent, suspended structure won’t rust from the inside out, compromising the integrity of the bridge. Most of the 12,000 people who cross the Straits of Mackinac each day aren’t even aware that this “little thing” means everything to their safety.

Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

You would be amazed at what can happen when you find out what turns every human being on and off. For example, people always ask me how I got to be such good friends with Muhammad Ali. Muhammad was mesmerized with magic, so before I interviewed him for a chapter in my book “We Got Fired! … And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us,” I hired a magician to teach me tricks that I could not only show the Champ but teach him how to master the tricks. This expanded his bag of tricks significantly. Jackpot of jackpots! Instead of a one-hour interview, he kept me at his home for 10 hours.

The so-called little things are not a small part of a happy life. They mean a lot even if they may not always look important.

Mackay’s Moral: The one who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

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.