We Got Fired!

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We Got Fired!

by Harvey Mackay

Ballantine Books © 2004, 347 pages, $23.95 (ISBN 0-345-47186-5).

It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Them

Business guru and bestselling author Harvey Mackay, knows firsthand what it is like to be fired — he got the ax from his first real job as a men’s clothing salesperson while he was in high school. But being fired didn’t stop him from founding a $100 million company, Mackay Envelope Corp., when he was 26. It also did not stop many other successful people from reaching even higher levels in their careers. To highlight the possibilities every fired person has after one of the most devastating and embarrassing moments of his or her life, Mackay has gathered the stories of dozens of other successful people who turned their lives around and rose to the tops of their professions, including Larry King, Michael Bloomberg, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Torre.

Mackay presents many of these stories of successful fired people in the words of those who personally experienced the news of their sad demise, and allows them to explain how they were able to pull themselves up to even greater heights in their careers after the shocking blow of dismissal. Included among his subjects are business professionals who were fired from low-level positions and re-emerged as corporate executives, those who left the ranks of the obscure to become celebrities, and minor-league athletes and artists who overcame rough setbacks and became the best in their fields.

Mackay’s Morals

While presenting the worst moments in people’s lives and describing the steps they took to emerge triumphant, Mackay ends each chapter with a moral that others in similar predicaments can use to improve their situations and make the most from the hands they’ve been dealt. These “Mackay’s Morals” include:

• After describing five things fired people can do to improve their chances of getting a better job, including going to trade conventions, getting involved in industry associations, and doing community work, he writes, “They can’t hire you if they don’t know who you are.”

• Susan Clark-Johnson went from being fired from her job for the University of New York for expressing her opinion to becoming the publisher and CEO of the Arizona Republic. Mackay’s Moral: “You can be ready for the challenge before you’re ready for the job, but always be prepared. It’s easy to tumble from a tightrope.”

• After advising those who were fired not to write poison-pen letters to former employers, he sums up his point with, “He who burns bridges better be a darn good swimmer.”

Down and Up

Along with personal stories from successful people who suffered early setbacks and went on to wealth and fame, We Got Fired! also contains several chapters that focus on specific strategies those who could not be held back used to overcome adversity, as well as four chapters called “Down and Up” that list a number of people in a particular field who were crushed but prevailed again. For example, Down and Up #3 includes these tidbits of encouragement:

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lack of ideas.

Jeffrey Katzenberg was fired as studio chief by Walt Disney Co. in 1994 and created Dreamworks, one of the most adventuresome cinema studios.

Mark Cuban was fired from a job in a computer store because he yearned to sell and work on computers rather than sweep the floor of the store. Today he is an Internet billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

Filled with tips and strategies from those who faced adversity and benefited from the jolt, We Got Fired! describes how people such as Staples founder Tom Stemberg, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, and Academy Award-winner Robert Redford refused to let an obstacle like being fired keep them from success. ~

Why We Like ThIS Book

We Got Fired! overflows with an exciting array of personalities and experiences while presenting valuable insights into the process of career setback and recovery. Filled with Harvey Mackay’s exuberance and enthusiasm for life, as well as his impressive interviewing skills, We Got Fired! is an encouraging page turner that offers entertaining stories and crucial lessons about work and life. ~

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