Thursday, 26 July 2012

Book Review: What they don't teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack

What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School is a book of business wisdom and lessons by entrepreneur and businessman Mark McCormack, founder of IMG – the most successful sports management company in the world. The lessons are short, flow easily and have McCormack’s own experiences sprinkled through so that the reader can see the lessons in action.

What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School Oftentimes people interested in business and finance read autobiographies of successful businesspeople (e.g. Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity) in order to try and extract the underlying reasons for their success and in order to gain insights in how we can improve our business dealings.  The benefit of What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School is that you don’t have to sift through hundreds of pages of someone’s childhood, education and life story in order to find these messages.  Mark McCormack has laid these out for the reader in a simple, easy to read and follow format.

Although this book was written in the mid 1980s its principles are timeless.   If there weren’t constant references to sportspeople of yesteryear the reader would be hard pressed to realise that this book was not printed in the last decade.  I could not find a single tip, or bit of wisdom that was clearly outdated and irrelevant and that alone speaks to the quality of this book.

The book is broken into three main sections:

·         People: Reading people, Creating impressions, Taking the Edge, Getting ahead;

·         Sales and Negotiation : The Problems of Selling, Timing, Silence, Marketability, Negotiation; and

·         Running a Business: Building a business, Staying in business, Getting things done, For Entrepreneurs only


·         Easy to read, simple principles which should stand the reader in good stead in their business career

·         Doesn’t try and appeal to all people.  E.g. many business writers have I have read suggest that everyone should try and be an entrepreneur and it is the best way to get ahead.  McCormack says that 99% of people shouldn’t start their own business and goes through all the wrong reasons to start a business (including the desire to make a lot of money)

·         One of the most appealing things about this book is that McCormack first gained his success in business and then wrote a book in order to share his wisdom with the rest of us.  Too often business authors are known for their books rather than their business acumen.


·         Leaves the reader wanting much more information for almost every topic that he talks about.  The concepts are great but I wish there was more detail.  E.g. In the section on negotiation McCormack says to use emotion to your advantage when the other person displays it first and then does not go on to explain or give an example of how this can be done


·         What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School is a great book for those who are looking to improve the way they do business, interact in the workplace and sell to clients and customers

·         The book is full of lessons, tips, skills and wisdom that everyone can apply (although it is very management orientated). 

·         While I wish there was more information on each of the topics – this is a book that every manager, business person and entrepreneur (or those who hope to be those) should read.

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