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What They Still Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School

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What They Still Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

You have your education; you got your M.B.A. Now, here’s what you really need to know to sell, negotiate and communicate.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


In this book, Mark H. McCormack draws on his experience as the head of a sports management company to provide some tips and techniques for selling, negotiating and managing. He presents a series of how-tos and recommendations, followed by several examples. The result is a well-organized guidebook to achieving success. The book’s easy-to-read, breezy style and McCormack’s personal touches make it an engaging and fun read. However, while the book claims to offer secrets and information that are usually not taught in school, most experienced businesspeople in any of the fields he mentions will be familiar with much of his guidance. It does mirror material that is widely covered in other books on the same topics. Still, McCormack’s book is a classic written in an interesting way, and his opinions and experiences contribute to its appeal. getAbstract recommends it to recent graduates, and others in sales and negotiations who seek some real-life expert advice outside the ivy-covered walls of academia.


Secrets of Successful Selling

Many salespeople will gladly give advice on how selling works. A typical lesson on selling would be: “Know your product. See a lot of people. Ask everyone to buy. Use common sense.” Great tips – but they need some tweaking to fit today’s globalized, competitive economy:

  1. Know your product...and your industry – Your customers will compare prices before they buy, so you should know your competition. Also, just knowing your product won’t suffice; you need to believe in it as well.
  2. See a lot of people...who are likely to buy – Beyond just knowing a lot of people, you should know the right ones.
  3. Ask everyone to the right time – You should ask people to buy, but you shouldn’t be too obtrusive. Give your customers space. Let them think that buying from you was their idea in the first place.
  4. Use common sense. Period. – Beware: Overconfidence can kill common sense. Don’t brag too much about a success.

“Supersalespeople” have a few more tricks of the trade. One is to “knock on old doors.” Realize that existing customers can be ...

About the Author

Mark H. McCormack is the author of the classic What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, published in 1984. He is also the founder and chairman of a sports management company that represents top athletes, including golfers Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.

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