Dig your well before you’re thirsty

Dig your well before you’re thirsty

If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.

Although I never met David Rockefeller, he certainly would have fit in this category.  When he passed away in March 2017 at the age of 101, “Bloomberg News” revealed that he had an “electronic Rolodex” of 150,000 people.  “The Wall Street Journal” recently reported it was 200,000.  He was a master networker during his 24 years as the head of Chase Manhattan Bank and 60 years of being involved with the Council on Foreign Relations. 

In my corporate speeches, I often ask the question:  What is one of the most important words in the English language?  I add that if all of us understood this word just a little bit better, we’d be way more successful than we already are.  That word is “Rolodex,” which of course is now referred to as a contact management system.

My father, Jack Mackay, who for 35 years headed of the Associated Press in St. Paul, Minnesota, shared his secret with me when I was 18.  He said, “Harvey, every single person you meet the rest of your life should go in your Rolodex file.  Write a little bit about that person on the bottom or the back of the card.  And now, here’s the key – find a creative way to keep in touch.”

That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.  I now have nearly 20,000 names in my electronic Rolodex file, a far cry from David Rockefeller, but still crucial to my career.  The contacts I’ve made over all these years are why I’ve been writing this nationally syndicated column for the last 24 years.

My Rolodex was instrumental in launching my publishing career.  Let me explain.  In 1988, there were roughly two million “wannabes,” people who wrote manuscripts.  Roughly 200,000 books got published.  Of those only a small percentage were business books.  If you’re a first-time, unknown author like me and you write a business book, you want to get it published.  All the major publishers will print 10,000 hardcover books.  That’s it.  Tom Peters, “In Search of Excellence,” 10,000 copies; Ken Blanchard, “The One-Minute Manager,” 7,500 books.

This is why it was so tough to get started.  There were 5,000 bookstores back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which means an average of only two books per store if they print 10,000 copies. 

I had written a book titled “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.”  I wanted the publisher to print a lot of books so they would promote it and not run out of books.  I scheduled a summit meeting with William Morrow and Company – the CEO, …read more
Source: Harvey Mackay