This is the first of my mini-reviews, my plan is for every book I read to do a quick summary of it, what I liked, disliked and some good quotes. If you like this let me know and I’ll keep doing them!


Title — What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School

By — Mark H. McCormack


A collection of advice and anecdotes from Mark’s business adventures. As a sports agent business owner (and has now branched out), he summarises a number of things he’s learned and in particular the areas you wouldn’t learn from an MBA (so don’t expect graphs, business case studies…etc). In a little more detail:

People: They’re all different, understanding them and finding their motivations are key.

Sales: Listen more than you speak, you can turn things around and hold your ground.

Building a business: Start small, there is luck but work hard and being an entrepreneur isn’t for most people

Things I liked

He would often link a piece of advice from something from his own personal experiences. I’ve found often in these non-fiction business advice books that people love to give very long examples that often don’t even seem to relate to the advice they are supposed to back up. But that isn’t the case here. They are normally 1–4 short paragraphs, that are a joy to read and help re-enforce his arguments.

As it is a collection of advice, it isn’t like a book with one central message, which means it doesn’t go over points again & again and allows you to skip sections/areas that aren’t relevant to you. I hope to revisit certain parts in the future for this reason.

Things I didn’t like

There are a few cases when it is obviously written in 1984. All pronouns are male and there is a section about Men’s egos vs. Women’s egos. He does reference this a little, but I believe if it was written today an editor would have made a number of changes here (or hopefully he would do it naturally… one can hope).

Although I said I loved the not staying on points — that has the disadvantage of not coming away from this book with points stuck in my head. I feel I need to re-read it to really get the benefit out of it.

I had a hard copy, so can’t refer as easily back to it.

Favourite Quotes

Alas due to a lack of Kindle this is a little hard, but here are a few I quickly picked out from the end (I’ll do better in the future):

“Tiny stakes keep a 2-ton elephant at bay because they worked when they were babies”

“Don’t clutter up your mind with too many details”

“A no is often better for everyone”

“1:1s should be 45 minutes because the important stuff happens at 30”

At a dog food company event, the CEO said “If we have the best Sales, Marketing and Operations… Why are we selling less than everyone else” — to which one person answered, “Because the dogs hate it”.

Who is this good for?

I think this book is great for people in Middle-Management roles, entrepreneurs that are past Product-Market fit and growing & also Sales people looking to get to the next run of the ladder.

Overall I’d give this a 7/10, and look forward to reading parts of it again in the future.

Amazon Link

Thanks for reading, let me know if there are additional sections you’d like for these reviews!

Charles Douglas-Osborn

CEO — Haystack & Merlin Guides



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