Born in 1932 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Jack and Myrtle Mackay, his parent’s dream was to some day own a home of their own. His mother was a schoolteacher, his father worked for the Associated Press, eventually becoming an AP correspondent.
Harvey attended public schools and graduated from Central High School in Saint Paul in 1950. He then went on to the University of Minnesota where he graduated in 1954 as a history major. During his college years, he worked as a salesman at a men’s clothing store. Harvey furthered his education in the executive program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
After graduating from Stanford, Harvey found a job working in the shipping department of an envelope company. He worked his way up to become a salesman, and in 1959, at the age of 26, he left the company and purchased a small failing envelope manufacturing firm, which he named Mackay Envelope Company, building it into a $100 million company with more than 600 employees.
Today, the MackayMitchell Envelope Company is one of the largest envelope manufacturers in the United States, producing about 25 million envelopes a day. As chairman, Harvey attributes his success to his philosophy and company motto: ‘Do what you love, love what you do and deliver more than you promise’.
In addition to the phenomenal growth of his envelope company, Harvey is a nationally known author and syndicated columnist for United Features, appearing in more than four dozen newspapers across the country each week.
Harvey has written several motivational business books, reaching the New York Times best selling list more than once. In total, his four books have sold more than 10 million copies, translated into 37 languages in more than 80 countries. His first number one bestseller was ‘Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive’, followed by ‘Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt’. Both of these books are among the top 15 most inspirational books of all time.
Fortune magazine called Harvey Mackay “Mr. Make Things Happen.” He is a member of Toastmasters International, which named him one of the top five speakers in the world. He also is a member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. He has been a guest lecturer at various universities and business schools, including Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, Cornell, Wharton, and Penn State; in these lectures he has counseled and mentored more than 500 students and young adults.
Currently, Harvey is a board member of the Minnesota Orchestra and a former director of Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
In his own words, Harvey reflects on his work life: “I had a variety of short stints, from setting pins at a bowling alley to delivering newspapers to working at a golf course. In high school, I landed a neat job at a downtown St. Paul men’s clothing store. Peddling pants, socks, underwear, ties, hankies and occasionally a shirt or two may not sound glamorous, but in retrospect, it was a great job. At a young age, I had an opportunity to learn about business, have a boss, show up for work on time, handle money and credit, understand how customers shop and learn a little about the retail clothing industry. My boss, Chris, hammered these principles into me:
* Before you could count to “one-Mississippi,” you greet a customer at the front door with a “million-dollar smile” and say, “Hello … may I help you?”
* Never put more than three ties on the counter. It will only confuse the customer.
* Once you get the customer to try on the pants, consider it a done deal.”