He Won't Give the Shirt Off His Back, but Author Harvey Mackay Has Advice—for Business and Life

updated 04/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Lesson 1: If you want to write a best-selling book, concentrate on the selling. Harvey Mackay, 57, who built a small envelope company into a financial empire in Minneapolis, consulted market researchers and questioned possible buyers before he even sat down in 1986 to write his first business self-help book.

Lesson 2: A cute title is worth a ton of content. Despite being widely criticized as lightweight, Mackay's first collection of advice and aphorisms, Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, sold 2.5 million copies and spent 54 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

Lesson 3: If you score one big success in the market, do a sequel, repeating lessons one and two. Mackay has now written a second book, Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt. It has an even cuter title and ranges beyond the workplace to offer Harvey Mackay's "life lessons." The author gleaned his philosophy from his business experiences—from salesman to CEO—and his homelife with wife Carol Ann and three children in Minneapolis.

Lesson 4: Once the product hits the stores, flog it like crazy. Published two months ago, Naked Man is already No. 1 on the best-seller list, thanks in large part to Mackay, who's keeping a back-breaking promotional schedule and has worked his celebrity contacts hard to round up enticing blurbs. "Beware the Naked Man is center court," says Ivan Lendl. "I liked the book so much, I bought it!" says Victor Kiam. "He is fast, smart, funny—and frighteningly right," writes Gloria Steinem.

Lesson 5: A long title is nice, but keep the thoughts short. Naked Man is crammed with platitudes arranged under easy-to-understand headings—"There's No Such Thing as Customer Tennis," for instance, or "Five Things to Ask for After They Turn You Down for a Raise" (volunteer for more responsibility and longer hours).

Lesson 6: Label your chapter headings Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, etc., as Mackay does.

There's a lesson here somewhere.

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