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Get Your Foot in Your Mouth to Get Your Head in the Door


No one comes up with better titles for business books than Harvey Mackay. The man who brought us "Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" and "Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt" has spent more time on the best-seller list than you've spent huddled under your desk, hiding from the boss.

Not only does Mr. Mackay give a good title, but he also looks good. A "silver fox" kind of fellow, Mackay's photo is on the cover of his most recent book 10 times. So, I guess you could accuse him of either having a big ego or a serious case of multiple personalities, but who am I to quibble? Any author who can come up with "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty" is entitled.

The latest book title to spring from the marvelous Mackay mind is now in my hot little hands, and I don't have to read beyond that highly Harveytized cover to know that from the moment Mackay dipped the quill pen into a jar of Beluga caviar, and scribbled out his latest brain flash on a piece of parchment, he had another winner.

Who among us would not cash our last unemployment check to purchase a copy of "Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door"?

As for the actual content of the 300 pages following that 10-word title, Mackay's latest is focused on how to put a positive spin on that cosmic disaster you call your career. As he writes, "You can have the finest moves in the talent contest, you can boast a trophy speed-dial list on your iPhone, you can possess the single-mindedness of Paul Revere and be as self-assured as Muhammad Ali ... and you still won't nail the job, unless you know how to mold and merchandise your personal pitch."

This may be true, but it's hardly accurate from a historical point of view. As every schoolchild knows, Paul Revere dropped his iPhone between Lexington and Concord, and Muhammad Ali could never pitch, which was why he was dropped by the New York Mets after his first year in the bigs.

To help you gain spin control, Mackay promises to teach you how to "overcome disabling rejection" and "explain the most difficult, disappointing and embarrassing career lapses." Frankly, after a working life made up of rejections, you are probably well-equipped to handle a few more doors slammed in your face without being more emotionally disabled than you already are. However, you could adapt some of the author's ideas in Chapter 35, which is titled "Plugging Holes in Your Resume."

"Leave periods blank that you can't account for rather than bluffing," advises Mackay, and I do believe he's right. Instead of insisting that you were a secret consultant to the archduke of Herzegovina, simply explain that you can't remember what you did between June of 1996 and December of 2007 when you were found wandering through Disneyland in your Speedo. "Companies are largely less interested in what you did," writes Mackay, "and far more concerned if you are likely to do it again."

Another of Mackay's ideas is that you should "be visible." I know you've spent decades learning the secret of invisibility, but Mackay recommends that you show off your accomplishments in press releases and e-mail newsletters. Better than in your Speedo, that's for sure.

Scattered throughout the book are "Mackay's morals," bite-sized tidbits of wisdom, like "a smart cookie converts 'No' into 'Know'" and "Dress like a mess and you won't see success." What any of this means, I have no idea, but if Mackay ever needs a new job, I suggest he apply for work at a fortune cookie factory.

My favorite part of "Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door" is written in mice type on the back cover of the book. "If you do not have a job after six months," Mackay promises," I will refund your purchase price."

I was so excited by the idea of getting money from Harvey Mackay that I immediately quit my job. Then I remembered that it was a review copy that I got for free. But that's OK. After six months, I'm sure Mackay will have written and released a dozen more books, and I can take my foot out of my mouth and start all over again. Until then, can anyone tell me if the archduke of Herzegovina needs a consultant?

Bob Goldman has been an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.


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