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Larry King Live Weekend
Bob Costas Makes 'Fan's Case for Baseball'; Ellen Goodman, Patricia O'Brien Explore Women's Friendships; Harvey Mackay 'Pushes the Envelope'Aired July 22, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
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LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Emmy Award-winning sportscaster Bob Costas makes "A Fan's Case for Baseball," businessman extrordinaire Harvey Mackay clues us in on how to push the envelope all the way to the top, and Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman teams with novelist Patricia O'Brien to explore the power of women's friendships.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It has been an instant best seller since the day it was published. It is "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball." There you see its cover. Its author is the eight-time Emmy award-winning sportscaster for NBC, and soon to be HBO as well, Bob Costas, just completed coverage of the NBA championship series, heads for the Olympics, where he anchors NBC's coverage there.
Before we talk about this terrific book and our old friendship -- have to say that up front as a journalist -- what do you think of Tiger Woods?
BOB COSTAS, AUTHOR, "FAIR BALL: A FAN'S CASE FOR BASEBALL": Golf is, obviously, more in the forefront now, largely because of Tiger Woods, than it has been in America, but it doesn't yet, and probably never will, capture the imagination of America as a whole the way baseball, football and basketball have. Because of that, you might not hear Tiger Woods mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire, whomever you might want to talk about. And also, obviously, it's an individual sport, so there's an apples an oranges thing.
But can you make a cases that Tiger Woods, right now, is a better golfer than Michael Jordan ever was a basketball player, that Tiger Woods is better at his sport right now than Mark McGwire or Ken Griffey are at their sport, with no disrespect intended to them. I mean,you just don't beat more than 100 competitors by 15 strokes. You just don't do it.
KING: You play the game, right?
COSTAS: Badly, very badly.
KING: What is the attraction of all athletes? And you know baseball as well as anyone. Baseball players, all of them play. What is the attraction of the athlete to the game of golf?
COSTAS: Well, I think for some athletes, because they play at night, it's something to do on the road during the day -- play 18 holes, go out there instead of hanging around the hotel; it's a good offseason thing to do.
I think part of the attraction of the game itself, though, just for the average person, is that in a given moment, you can hit a shot that Tiger Woods cannot better. I played, and do play, at Bel Reeve (ph) Country Club in St. Louis, where they played the U.S. Open in '65 and the PGA in '92, so I'm playing on the same course that the top guys play. And one day, out of dozens of days, I hit a tee shot on the 16th hole that landed that far from the pin. If I'm playing Tiger Woods even up that day, unless he aces the hole, the best he can do is tie me, and maybe I beat him on that hole. Now other than a free throw on a basketball court, what is there in sports you or I could do that in that moment is exactly as good as the best person alive can do it, an if that happens one in a hundred in golf, it gives you a tingle.
KING: OK, "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball." You love baseball?
COSTAS: Sure do.
KING: Why did you write this rather critical book with about the sport you maybe love the most?
COSTAS: Oh yes. You know, I've been talking about these issues, sometimes with you, sometimes with other people, for the better part of a decade, but even when you get a sizable forum like this one, you can't lay the whole case out, it's bits and pieces. So I figured I might as well put it all out there, make sure that the argument was properly understood, put the evidence out there, and as the title says, make a case for my point of view on these various issues. And even if it doesn't affect baseball policy ultimately, maybe it will to some extent, but even if it doesn't, at least I got it off my chest.
KING: It's a fan's case, that's the sub title, right?
KING: So do you feel you're representing the guy in the $7 seats?
COSTAS: I thinks there's been confusion about that title. I am a fan. This is one fan. From the feedback I've gotten through the years and since the publication of this book, there seems to be a whole lot of fans who share my ideas or are convinced by my ideas once I express them, so I do speak for some portion of the baseball public, but I'm not presumptuous enough to say that it's a consensus or a majority. This is a fan's, this fan's case.
KING: You have upset owners, as you know.
COSTAS: Yes. KING: What do you make of that? Did you expect that?
COSTAS: Yes. If I did not upset at least some owners -- and I've received a lot of positive comments from many owners, general managers, players.
KING: Of small teams?
COSTAS: Actually, although these were off-the-record conversations, a couple of large general managers, not owners, but general managers have called up and said, you know what, this is what's best for baseball, and even if it wouldn't in the short run help my franchise, I'd sign onto it, because it does makes sense.
But to answer your question, I knew going in that this would rub some people at the Player's Association and some people among baseball's ownership and leadership the wrong way, and if it didn't, what did I do? Why write the book?
KING: Baseball attendance is way up -- I mean, considerably up this year. Home runs are being hit everywhere.
COSTAS: To the point of distortion.
KING: And teams like the White Sox selling out with a new team. What went wrong? Why does the "wrong" apply? What's wrong with baseball?
COSTAS: Well, keep this in mind, although attendance is up, we'll see what attendance is at the end of the year. But in 1993, before the most recent strike, when baseball had two divisions, not three divisions, had no wild card, had no interleague play, had no talk of realignment, radical or otherwise, when it reassembled the baseball of 1963 more than it does the baseball of 2000, at least structurally, baseball broke all attendance records. Now there may have been reasons for some of the changes that have taken place then, but the idea that the public demanded wholesale changes in baseball as it then existed is ridiculous.
The main problem baseball had from the mid-90s on is the damage it did to itself with the work stoppage, and to try and repair that damage by willy-nilly changes -- something this year, something next year, none of it seemingly lie tied together by any kind of comprehensive vision -- I think that's a mistake. And even though attendance may be in good shape right now, the economic disparities between the large markets and the small, which always were there, have exploded from a gap like this to a gap like this, and that's a fundamental problem.
KING: We'll be back with more of Bob Costas. His best-selling book is "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball." We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with Bob Costas, author of "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball." Where did it start to go wrong? Was it the work stoppage" The designated hitter?
COSTAS: Goes back a long ways. Andrew Zimbalist, who is an economist at Smith College, has been used by the Players Association throughout the years to, more or less, support their case. Andrew Zimbalist said the following, that prior from prior to 1994 -- and it's significant that he's a Players Association ally -- prior to 1994, the relationship between payroll size and ability to contend was small. There was some relation, but it wasn't overwhelming.
Since the mid-90s, that connection is direct, and that's the important point to understand. The Players Association, and some people in the press, continue do say, oh, the owners have always said there were economic problems, and the fans have always complained about the large salaries of players.
My complaint is not about the size of players salaries. If there were some way for every player to make $10 million a year and there could still be competitive balance, it'd be fine by me. I have no resentment of the amount of money players make. And it's not a case for the owners. I don't accept any owner cries of poverty. This isn't a case of the owners' bottom line.
But look at it this way, if the Montreal Expos are worth more money now than they were 10 years ago, even though they're a team that's not well off compared to the others, if they actually turn a profit, what does that have to do with competitive balance? If my profit is $50 million a year, but George Steinbrenner's profit is a billion dollars a year, then I still can't compete with him. Even if we're all making a profit, if we start a game of Monopoly, and I get a thousand dollars to start and you get a hundred thousand dollars to start, and if at the end of the game, I have $5,000. I may have improved my bottom line, but no one thinks I can win the game. And that's the difference between sports and any other kind of business. There are two bottom lines, not just whether I finish in the black, but whether or not my team that has a chance to compete.
KING: So it's so not the same as Hilton, Marriott and Sheraton?
COSTAS: Absolutely, it's not.
KING: That's an equal playing field, if I buy the property, and I build a hotel, I put the people in, I charge them out, you can go there or there.
COSTAS: That's right, and sports is a business where the competitors must simultaneously be partners. That's not true of other businesses.
KING: So you have to get now the billions to come down to agree to take less than the billion, right? You have to have an equal...
COSTAS: You have to have comprehensive revenue sharing. The mechanism are hard to explain here. It's all in the books, folks.
KING: By the way, very easy to read in the book. If you're a fan, eve if you're not a fan, I'll tell you, the gist of the economics would be logical to people.
COSTAS: I hope so. You have to have comprehensive revenue sharing, and it's got to be based not on a "Robin Hood" scheme, where the rich just hand it over to the less rich. It's got to be paced on a principle, and the principle is that in any given game, the other team is the half the attraction. The Yankees don't televise intrasquad games, and no one would watch them if they did, so the Yankees should keep half of their local broadcast revenue, and half should go into a Major League pool, but the Expos, and the Royals and the Pirates and all the other small-market teams should also keep half of what they generate, and half should go into a pool, and then each team should take the same amount, one-thirtieth, out. The Yankees would still have a competitive edge, but it would shrink considerably.
Let me use an analogy from another sport. Bill Russell could compete with Wilt Chamberlain on equal or better-than-equal terms, even though Chamberlain was taller and stronger. But suppose that Bill Russell had all the gifts he possessed -- the guile, and technique, and skill and heart -- but instead of being 6'9" or 6'10." he was 6 feet tall, then that gap in size would be too large to overcome with any amount of ingenuity.
The Kansas City Royals never had as much money as the Yankees, but in the '70s and '80s, they were the Yankees' chief competitor for the pennant in the American League, because with guile and a little luck, that gap wasn't so large as to be insurmountable. It is now so large that it is insurmountable. When the last -- since the strike, no team that won the World Series hasn't had one of the five top payrolls in baseball, and no team that has even made the World Series hasn't had one of the 10 top payrolls in baseball. The connection is absolute and undeniable.
KING: Are caps then the ultimate answer?
COSTAS: Ultimately, I don't think you can ask the big-market clubs to sign on to the kind of comprehensive revenue sharing that baseball needs, unless it is coupled with some kind of salary restraint, and the reason for the salary restraint is not to hold players salaries down, this is what they've got to understand, although it might have that secondary effect.
The reason is to enhance competitive balance, which the players should understand should be a working condition and a concern for them, because not all of them can play for the Braves, or the Yankees or the Mets. When half at least are consigned to teams that have no real chance to compete, they have an interest -- or they should realize they have an interest - -in creating a new paradigm for baseball. You need some kind of top payroll that's allowable for a team, and I think you also need a superstar salary cap.
Now it would all have to phased in over time. You're going to ask Kevin Brown, or Manny Ramirez or whomever to give back what they've already signed for. But over time, I think you'd have to phase in some kind of cap based on whatever baseball's total revenues are.
KING: So that we can balance it off, and that a top guy could stay in Oakland?
COSTAS: Right. Oakland would have a chance to attract and keep a top guy.
KING: Bob Costas is the guest. He's the author of "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball."
Back with more after this.
KING: One thing we've to say about this book, Bob, it's takes no prisoners. You're an equal-opportunity attacker. I don't mean the word "attack."
COSTAS: Yes, there are no personal attacks. It's all about...
KING: But the owners and players both come in. Do you honestly think we'll ever see this or some modified form of the Costas case?
COSTAS: You know I've heard continually, Larry, people saying, this makes perfect sense, and therefore, you know that it will never happen. And that may well be true. I hope it has some positive effect, but if it doesn't at least, then at least, as I say, I've got it off my chest, and I'm standing on the deck of the ship yelling "iceberg, iceberg," and it's not my fault if the ship goes down.
KING: You've lost all chances to be commissioner?
COSTAS: I never had or wanted a chance to be commissioner.
KING: Because you were mentioned.
COSTAS: Mentioned, you know, yes, and that's very flattering, but the analogy I've always used is, if somebody's a good political columnist, that doesn't mean you think he or she should be president or senator. So if my ideas about baseball make me a good commentator on the sport, that's fine. And anyone can take these ideas and use them if they want, steal them and say that they're theirs. That's fine.
KING: They gave a lot of power in the NFL to Rozelle, and he changed things.
KING: Does the commissioner -- could Bud Selig put in any of these things tomorrow?
COSTAS: Well, he can't do it unilaterally. See, the big problem is, that the way the negotiations go if in baseball, the Players Association has to sign off on almost anything that would significantly reform the game, and I fear that the Players Association, which over time has been right, both strategically and morally, is so locked into those doctrinaire positions that they think that the only thing that's changed since 1970 are the specific figures, but that bottom line is always the same, that Marvin Miller and Don Fehr's analysis of the situation, 10 years, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, applies now and applies in perpetuity.
But it's very clear that the circumstances in baseball have changed, and that the players have won every important battle they should have won, and they should retain all those rights. But unless they want a baseball that is two or three-tiered, the way this baseball is now, where teams in many markets have no chance to compete, or if they do, they can only catch lightning in a bottle and then that team is going to be broken up again the next year, unless the Players Association thinks that's a good idea for baseball, they're going to have to agree to modify some of their long-held positions.
KING: So it's going take a leader of type to sit them down and say, hey. It's going to take a Marvin Miller, who is progressive.
COSTAS: Right, but Marvin Miller is no longer progressive. Marvin Miller was one of the great progressors in the history of sports. He should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His impact on baseball was profound and beneficial, but whether -- and I have great respect for these people, because they have always been honest. As a group, they've shown much more integrity than the owners have as a group and much more intelligence, but whether they realize it or not, Marvin Miller, who still consults, Don Feer, Gene Orza, they're in danger of being the reactionaries rather than progressors now, because they can't see that their old analysis of the situation need not apply in the year 2000, and that a fresh look is required, and they wouldn't have to sacrifice any essential principle in order to be reasonable about this.
KING: You still love the game?
COSTAS: Oh, yes. Sure. If I didn't, why bother?
KING: And you still go and you can't wait for the World Series, right?
COSTAS: Absolutely. Can't wait for the World Series, but it would be nice if you could at least think about the possibility of the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series now and then, and that's not possible.
KING: Because no one would even think of it?
KING: Yet in football, you could think of Pittsburgh-Kansas City, you could think of any combination.
COSTAS: You could think of the Titans against the Rams.
KING: Right, which happened. So anything is possible in football because of what they've done?
COSTAS: In the NBA, which has an imperfect system, you have teams that are contenders in Indianapolis, in San Antonio, in Salt Lake City, in Sacramento. You couldn't even dream of putting a franchise in those cities. It couldn't survive, let along compete.
KING: What do you think of the realignment proposal, moving some teams around league to league?
COSTAS: Here's an example. If the people who run baseball wanted to take an ad out in the paper that says, we are clueless, they couldn't do a better job than this. Let me get this straight. In a sport whose stability and history and continuity are an enduring strength, we want to, yet again scramble everything up for no discernible reason and come out with one league that has four- divisions and no wild card, another that has two fours and a six with a wild card, one league with a DH and one league without, but we'll mix in interleague play.
We'll have two different pennant race formats, if it even is a pennant race anymore, and two different playoffs formats, and then we'll say to anyone who points out that this doesn't pass a minimal test of common sense and logic, oh, you're just a traditional or a purist, but when it suits their cynical purposes to play up baseball's tradition at the All-Star Game, when Ted Williams comes out, or selling season tickets, showing sepia-toned pictures of dads and sons playing catch in a meadow, then tradition is all. But when it serves their short-term purpose to throw tradition out the window -- oh shut up, you're just a purist. It's an idiot's delight, this stuff.
KING: I want to get a chance to have a quick couple of other things, but we have five minutes left.
COSTAS: There's a chapter in the book called "Radically Simple Realignment."
COSTAS: What you want is the cleanest and simplest solution, and it's this. Take Houston out of the six-team National League Central, move them to the four-team American League West. Now you have three five-team divisions in each league.
KING: That's the Selig proposal.
COSTAS: No it's not. The Selig proposal is four fours, two fours and a six.
KING: With Houston moving.
COSTAS: I guess everybody has to move. I mean, the Selig proposal is as much confusion as possible, pick it out of a hat, I think, with all due respect to Bud, who is a very nice man. But if you move Houston into the West, Texas and Houston are now in the same division. Neither of them wants to be in a so-called Western Division, because there are three Pacific Time Zone teams, then, in the same division with them, but by putting them together, they get a natural rivalry, and it cuts down on some of the travel. Now you've got three five-team divisions that makes sense. You play 18 games against the four teams in your own division, restoring that old feeling of rivalries, and that's what rivalries are based on, not geographic proximity as much as they are competitive history.
Why was Kansas City and the Yankees a big deal in the American League for so long? And Cleveland, which is closer to New York, was not a big deal until the Indians got good again? This idea that geography is all is another mistaken premise. So now you play those 18 games. You play six games against the other 10 teams in your own league who aren't in your gigs -- three home, three away, and then you rotate until they play, the way you should.
Now it's finally dawned on people that under this interleague format, the Yankees are never coming to Cincinnati, Mark McGwire is never going to Fenway Park, but the appeal of interleague play should be that every now and then, you get a chance to see a few games against players you don't ordinarily see in your ballpark. So if you match East against East one year, then Central, then West, play 30 games, three home, three away, against each of the five teams in those division, get 162 games, and then I would eliminate the wild card to restore the pennant race, and give the team that has the best record among the three division winners in the league a first round bye. In effect, they've won the pennant. Then you still have an extra round of playoffs, but it's not gimmicky with the wild card. It's legit.
KING: Something to play for all the way out.
COSTAS: Something to play all the way out. You've realigned, you've got something that's modern, and streamlined and updated, but it retains the contour and the meaning of a classic pennant race.
KING: Marv Albert is going to replace you in basketball.
KING: He joined Turner Sports. You glad to have him back?
COSTAS: Yes, you know, when Dick Ebersol, who runs NBC Sports, asked me to step in for Marv three years ago, I said to him, it may not seem like it right now, but there may come a time when it's appropriate for Marv to come back, and he's the signature voice of basketball. This isn't false modesty. I think especially this past year with Doug Collins, our broadcast were very good, and I was happy with the work that I did, and it makes it easier to leave when you know that you did a good job.
But Marv's -- for all the things that Marv does, the things he's most associated with now an always is basketball. So if he can do it, he should be back where he belongs, and I go to do an HBO show that's like a "Nightline" of sports, at least if turns out the way we hoped for. Once a week, starting in February 2001, and that, baseball and hosting the Olympics, are probably the things that people would most closely associate me with, so everybody winds up just where they should be.
KING: And HBO starts?
COSTAS: February of next year.
KING: What about the Olympics? Excited?
COSTAS: I think Sydney is going to be one of the great locations.
KING: Everything is on tape, right?
COSTAS: Nothing you can do about it, 14-hour difference between Sydney and the U.S. The best way to do it is on tape.
KING: Do you expect lower because of they'll know results?
COSTAS: Yes, it'll be lower, because they'll know results, even more so than they would have in previous Olympics, because now with the Internet and all these other mean of getting results, at least the ones that are real nuts about track and field, or swimming and diving or whatever, if they want to know, they will know, but a lot of people watch the Olympics for different reasons than they watch other sports. They watch it almost like a primetime series. So it's not exactly the same thing as showing a baseball or basketball game where the result is known, because people have a different way of watching the Olympics.
KING: Is it the best gig you have?
COSTAS: Hosting the Olympics? You know, when you're doing the World Series and it gets to the seventh game, you think that is.
KING: Yes, with basketball and everything.
COSTAS: Yes, a big event, a big game is really best thing, but there's something about hosting the Olympics that separates it from everything else.
KING: I know you get very busy, you go early, you prep a lot, and it's hard to talk to you during the Olympics. When it's over and you come back, you come back, you sit down us, review all the things, hopefully no conflicts and no...
COSTAS: You can't be on television anymore and not have some conflicts and some controversy. A sweet soul like myself can occasionally rubs someone the wrong way.
KING: Thanks, Robert.
COSTAS: All right, thank you, Larry.
Congratulations on the baby.
KING: Canon! The new one.
COSTAS: Chance and Cannon -- they're all c's.
COSTAS: Very nice.
KING: The next one is Torpedo.
Anyway, Bob Costas, the book is "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball."
My friend Harvey Mackay got another best seller out, pushing the envelope, all the way to the top. He's next. Don't go away.
KING: He heads one of the largest envelope companies in the country, Mackay Envelope Corporation. He wrote one of the best- selling business books ever written, "Swim with the Sharks." He's Harvey Mackay, and he's the best-selling author and motivational speaker, speaks all over the world. His new book is "Pushing the Envelope" -- there you see the cover -- "All the Way to the Top."
Good play on words, Harvey.
"Pushing the Envelope," how to succeed in a brave new cyberworld.
Is it harder to succeed today with all -- with computers and all the things we can touch and push and going on, is it tougher than 10 years ago?
HARVEY MACKAY, AUTHOR, "PUSHING THE ENVELOPE": No, not necessarily, and for the following reason: We do, Larry, live in a nanosecond society. However, the concepts that I thought were practical 500 years ago are the same concepts to be successful today. Whether you're a dot.commer or not, whether you're not going to attend Harvard because you're going to go for the gold rush in the dot.com world, all of this, you know, instance everything, you still have to hire, you have to fire, you have to motivate, you have to retain. You have to have Bob Costas vision. Those things you have to have to be successful. That won't change, I don't believe, the next 500 years either.
KING: So you could take "Swim with the Sharks" today and apply everything you wrote in that pre-the Internet and apply it?
MACKAY: Well, I just returned from Malaysia and Singapore. I headed for South Africa, went to India four weeks ago and talked to those audiences -- same concepts. Again, yes, they have to be driven a little bit differently, but again, you must -- you know, even Tonto had the Lone Ranger.
I mean, we need something...
KING: Hasn't e-mail changed it, though? Hasn't e-mail...
MACKAY: Well, e-mail, if you're going to commoditize your product, then you've got your back to the wall. Luckily, I'm in the envelope business. We manufacture 23 million envelopes every day, which means you have to sell 23 million envelopes every day. You can't...
KING: An envelope is an envelope.
MACKAY: Yes, but you see, you can't commoditize it because we're in the direct mail. I call that "niche picking." You know, we're talking four-color printing, seven-day delivery, we're talking about perforating, numbering, we're talking about postal regulations, all those things. So if you can commoditize, Larry, your product, then you're in trouble. And then, of course, you have to come into the century for sure.
KING: So tell us what "Pushing the Envelope" does. How does it lay it out?
MACKAY: Well, I think a person's life equals the total sum of his or her experiences. When I have an experience, I just lay out a vignette if I can. If I run a marathon, I like to write about it. If I'm in Cuba, as I four weeks ago, I like to write about it. So we talk about vision, we talk about creativity, talk about negotiations. Of course, we have an expert in negotiations for sure in Herb Cohen. He wrote the only book -- what, I think he's only written one book, right?
KING: Yes, one. The only guy to write one successful book and never follow it up.
MACKAY: One successful -- yes, but that got some experiences in negotiations, too, and so these are the things I write about -- how to get a raise, you know, (OFF-MIKE)
KING: Is it anti-computer or it is use the computer?
MACKAY: No, it's both. It's both. It's coming in to the 21st century, it's time management, of course, But again, I think it's all the principles that worked 500 years ago and again will work into the future.
KING: Are there accidental success? We just -- Bob Costas just described baseball, businessmen who do dumb things. But they had to make something.
MACKAY: Sometimes you can get lucky over a short period of time. But I believe in a long period of time. Sure, we see a lot of business people, you know, that we say, hey, they just got lucky, or they just fell into it.
However, some of them were risk-takers. So you have to salute and applaud those risk-takers. I've always said sometimes it's risky not to take a risk. Or if you walk backwards, Larry, you'll never stub your toe. So some people a little bit more valiant than you think on the surface, but I do believe long term if you don't have the vision, if you don't have the creativity -- a new study three months ago asked a thousand CEOs, what do you have to survive next 10 years. Answer: creativity and innovation.
Only 6 percent of those 81, this 81 percent, did answer creativity and innovation. Six percent of those CEOs said we're doing a good job to it.
So I believe -- best example and I like to talk about this -- Helen Keller, she's totally blind, of course, age 6 months, brilliant author, brilliant lecturer, cum laude graduate Radcliffe College, she's on a college campus. Time for questions an answers. Mean- spirited questioner, tell me Miss Keller, is losing your eyesight the worst thing in the world that can happen to anyone? No, she said, it's losing your vision.
And you see, eyesight, Larry, is what we see right in front of us and vision is down the road. And again, that's what you have to be to be -- you know what my mission statement is? To be in business forever. I mean, I made that up when I was 26.
KING: But you also write that people are going to change careers maybe five times during a working lifetime.
MACKAY: Here's the studies. I call that man bites dog. It's another reason why you have to prepare. Every college graduating senior this June -- these are the studies, all the surveys, 12-14 different job changes in his or her career. And now, get this, three years from now, they're predicting three to five different career changes.
So what does that mean?
MACKAY: That means we're in school all of our life, right? You don't go to school once for a lifetime, we're in school all of our life. It means the people that are studying computers and have their computers and got their PCs. they better know something about marketing. The marketing people better be knowledgeable on computers, better know how to speak on your feet, toast masters.
KING: Who's the book for?
MACKAY: The book is for...
KING: Starting out?
MACKAY: Well, I'll tell you, you always want constant, immediate feedback filtered to you from your readers, right? And so, therefore, I have to read my e-mails, I have to read my mail, of course. It looks like age 18-80, Larry. I mean, again, practice makes perfect -- not true. You have to add one word, "perfect" practice. If you practice the right concepts over a long period of time, whether it be marketing, whether it be computers, whether it be baseball -- doesn't matter what it is -- then we'll rise to the next level.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Harvey Mackay, then Ellen Goodman and Patricia O'Brien.
Harvey's book is "Pushing the Envelope all the Way to the Top."
We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We're back with Harvey Mackay.
One of his big morals, there are only two rules: Rule one: The rules keep changing. Rule two: The only rule that doesn't change is rule one. How do you deal with change?
MACKAY: Well, first of all, any time you're changing habits, Larry, people don't like it. So you have to know that there will be change and then react to that change. And I believe in coaching. I really do. Ever since I was 18 years of age I've had, believe it or not, a ping-pong coach, a skiing coach, basketball camp, golf coach...
KING: So you have a business coach?
MACKAY: I have a business -- I have a speech coach, I have a writing coach.
KING: This book is a coach book?
MACKAY: Well, that's right. And I'm glad you asked that, because I think any viewer out there, whoever buys a self-help book, I say don't read it -- study it. Big difference. You know, pale ink is better than the most retentive memory. You have to take notes, post- its, highlight. You have to pick it up every six months.
I write that knowledge does not become power until it's used. Ideas without action are worthless. So, therefore, you have to take that book -- and self-help books are up about 3 percent this past year, which is healthy -- if you're going to take a self-help book, whatever field of endeavor you're studying, study it. Don't read the book.
And then, No. 2, persistence. And, of course, that's all -- the book is all about persistence.
KING: And one of the arguments against self-help books is, can you effect -- can a self-help book affect personality? For example, someone is not persistent. Can you make them persistent?
MACKAY: I think you can. I think you can make yourself creative. I think you can make anything that you want without question. Now I didn't say this, but someone else did, I don't know who, that our lives basically change in two ways: the books we read and the people we meet.
Stop to analyze it. Let's talk about persistence if I can just for a second because obviously it's my most favorite story in the book -- and we're just coming off the NBA, obviously, and then here was Costas talking about it.
There was a high school basketball coach, they lost eight games in a row, gets his players in the locker room. He hollers out, did Michael Jordan ever quit? They all hollered out, no. Did Muhammad Ali ever quit? No. Did Elmer McAllister ever quit? You could hear a pin drop. All of a sudden, one of the players, coach, we've never heard of him. Who's he? Of course you never heard of him. He quit.
If you hang in there, Larry, with self-help books, if you practice the right concepts over a long period of time -- you're not sitting in that chair, I believe, because you did it all alone. I repeat, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. You had help, didn't you?
KING: Of course.
MACKAY: So you need mentors, you need advisers, you need counselors, you need books, you need programs like this.
KING: You believe also in Branch Rickey's luck is the residue of design? You make your luck?
MACKAY: Over a -- yes, over a long period of time. You know, they've said it over and over, the luckier -- the harder I work, the luckier I get. But that's over a long period of time. All I'm saying is you want to rise to whatever competency you have. If you practice the right things vis-a-vis golf again, vis-a-vis marketing, sales, whatever, and if you practice the right concepts with a deep-down burning desire to achieve your best, that's all you can do. You can't do better.
KING: And you're not defining success as money only, right?
MACKAY: Oh, absolutely not. Hey...
KING: So this can apply to the successful carpenter who just wants to be a carpenter?
MACKAY: Well they write me, people in education, people in the arts...
KING: Teachers who are not going to make $1500,000 a year.
MACKAY: Ministers, rabbis. Oh, no, no, no. Success, of course, is what anyone else wants to define it. My definition of success would be having a predetermined plan and then successfully carrying it out. So, I mean, money, no. I mean, just because you've got money doesn't make you very successful necessarily. It doesn't make you happy, better adjusted than another human being. There's values, and of course we talked about that long term.
KING: You work at it every day, though, don't you. You make this a driving thing. Anybody who knows you knows that Harvey Mackay never stops, from the moment he opens his eyes until the minute he goes to sleep, working at it.
MACKAY: Well, I'm kind of like you. I don't like to go to sleep because I'm afraid I'll miss something. And so...
KING: Yes, you work at it all the time.
MACKAY: Well, I do. Yes, and my father was a journalist, head of the Associated Press in St. Paul for 35 years. He always said, I'll pick you up in seven minutes. We're leaving at 2:13 -- deadlines, time management. I'm 67 and holding. I'd like to think I'm a hundred. I'd like to think that every year, you know, I might live two years because of time management.
KING: And I love the tie.
MACKAY: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
KING: He's a special guy, special books. His latest, "Pursuing the Envelope All the Way to the Top," Harvey Mackay.
When we come back, two special people: Ellen Goodman, the Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Patricia O'Brien, novelist and journalist in her own right. They have co-authored a book already on "The New York Times" best-seller list called "I Know Just What You Mean: The Power of Friendship in Women's Lives."
They're next. Don't go away.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Ellen Goodman and Patricia O'Brien. Ellen is the co-author along with Patricia of "I Know Just What You Mean: The Power of Friendship in Women's Lives." Ellen's associated editor of "The Boston Globe" and a Pulitzer prize- winning playwright. There you see the book. Patricia, the co-author, is a novelist and journalist. They both come to us from our studios in Washington, and we have given this award as to the best title of the year. It's already on "The New York Times" best-seller list.
Ellen, why did you decide to write a book about being friends? I mean, everybody has friends. No one thinks about sitting down and writing a book about it.
ELLEN GOODMAN, CO-AUTHOR, "I KNOW JUST WHAT YOU MEAN": Well maybe they should.
Pat and I have been friends for 25 years since we met as mid- career fellows in journalism at Harvard. We were young, we were broke, we were divorced mothers. And 25 years later, we kind of looked around and said, my god, we've got something really special. A lot of women have really close friendships that don't get credit. We talk to women as wives, we talk to them as daughters, as workers. But this other huge thing in their lives, their friendships, have gone really undervalued.
KING: And, Patricia, I know you don't play easy with words. You use an interesting word in the subtitle. "The 'Power' of Friendship in Women's Lives." What do you mean by power?
PATRICIA O'BRIEN, CO-AUTHOR, "I KNOW JUST WHAT YOU MEAN": Well, we really -- Ellen and I feel that power is used in this context. It can help women change their lives, enrich their lives. Friendship brings with it the kind of friendships that women have, the kind of intimacy that women establish and enjoy, can give them the kind of power they need to make decisions, to take chances, to do things you might otherwise not do if you didn't have a friend in your corner.
KING: Ellen, why did your friendship last? There are a lot of fleeting friendships or acquaintances, very few friendships 25 years. Why yours?
GOODMAN: Well, I think when Pat and I first met we knew that we gave each other something. And I knew that I had met someone who got me. You know, that's kind of a rare thing in life, when you talk to someone and you say, this person understands me. We're really connected here. And that was worth our maintaining it over time and difference and risking it to write a book together.
KING: And another great think about this book, Patricia -- it's a wonderful book -- is you write about other friendships, too. It's not just your friendship. You write about welfare recipients...
O'BRIEN: Yes, we...
KING: ... who are friends, hockey players who are friends.
O'BRIEN: We talked with just an array of incredible women, women from Oprah Winfrey and her friend Gail King to these two welfare mothers, Larry, that you just mentioned who were just extraordinary women. They met each other in an education program, helped each other out of poverty, and they've been lifelong friends.
KING: Is it a -- can you explain it, Ellen? Is it a simpatico? Is it sort of like a romance in a sense that it just works?
GOODMAN: Well, it works. I mean, there often is that instant connection that women will talk about, meeting somebody who, as I said about Pat, you know, gets you. But also, I think there are friendships that develop over time. And as you get older, you realize that this person is there for you. This is a person who shows up in trouble, that we're not just having lunch together or taking a walk, but we are people who at the end of a long life, your friends may be the difference between having a lively life or a lonely one.
KING: Is it different, do you think, Pat, for men?
O'BRIEN: Yes, we think it's -- our image of the difference between women's friendships and men's friendships, we show in an example or think of in this example, you have two women sitting at a kitchen table over cups of coffee talking, talking, talking, leaning towards each other, sharing. The image you have of two male friends, it's two men standing shoulder to shoulder doing something together but not necessarily talking about it.
GOODMAN: We have these two wonderful scenarios that we think of sometimes. And in the first scenario, you know, your husband comes home and you're talking to a friend on the phone. He goes into the kitchen, comes back, you're still talking to her. And he says, my god, what do you have to talk about?
KING: Yes. GOODMAN: And in the second one, your husband's been away for the weekend with his friends fishing or whatever, and he comes back into the house. And you say, well tell me. Tell me the story. What's going on with Dave and the divorce. And he says, it just didn't come up. You know, I mean men and women do bewilder each other in their friendships.
O'BRIEN: And we've been surprise also by how many men have come up to us and their curious, well what did you find out? And the funniest question is, men will say to us. why don't you write a book about men's friendships? And we find ourselves saying, hello? We did it for us, now you do it for you.
KING: Our guests are Ellen Goodman and Patricia O'Brien. This book is now a best-seller. We'll ask about that. "I Know Just What You Mean: The Power of Friendships in Women's Lives."
Back after this.
KING: These two wonderful writers write about seeing each other through children, careers, loves, losses, remarriages, knee injuries, differences of opinions on earth shattering matters as pickles and olives, reasons for their longevity. It's a wonderful book, and they write about other friendships, as we said, as well.
What challenges a friendship most, Ellen? What comes in the way, family?
GOODMAN: Well sometimes, friendships are challenged simply by the time crunch. And that's true right now. But we also looked hard at issues like competition. Pat and I realized when we started to write the book that we had never admitted to or talked about competitive feelings with each other and realized how difficult that is for women who are friends to acknowledge that. So we didn't want to write just a Hallmark card or a Valentine, so we really got into some of the tough stuff like competitive feelings.
KING: All right, in that regard, Pat, who wrote the book?
O'BRIEN: Every page, Larry, of this book went through both our hands. Now you haven't seen anything until you see Ellen's face the first time I changed her copy. But we learned to develop a style that was all our own, except for the parts where we write individually in our own voices.
We really wanted this to be an honest book that talked about friendship. That meant putting ourselves out there and telling our own stories.
KING: Ellen, have you argued?
GOODMAN: Oh, yes.
KING: I mean -- I mean argued where you hung up and didn't talk for a while.
GOODMAN: Oh, no, we don't go hang up. Don't go to bed mad, don't hang up. You don't go to be mad in a marriage, don't hang up on a friend. But we had some moments when we were working together where we would argue. And we remember one day in particular, we were at Radcliffe, which gave us this wonderful room, and we're arguing at full decibal level. And suddenly, we hear from the room next door, you know, and we realized that this room that had been empty had someone in it. And we kept fantasizing about, oh, my god, here comes the item in Liz Smith about the two women writing about friendship and fighting in the other room.
KING: Are you surprise, Pat, at how well it's doing, honestly?
O'BRIEN: No, we aren't in the sense of what we found when we went out on the road, when we saw how women were responding. One of the very best things has been women telling us in city after city that they read our book, put it down, closed the cover and picked up the phone and called a friend. And they were reconnecting.
And when they come up for the signings, they're come up with three, four, five, up to 11 books each. So we had a feeling very early on that what we were trying to say to women was being heard. And we felt very -- nobody knows if they're ever going to make a best- seller list, but we did know we were being heard. And that gave us a great deal of satisfaction.
GOODMAN: And we knew, too, that women felt that we heard them, that we were writing about a subject of great importance to them and that they felt validated by reading our story, which is the narrative of the book, and also reading some of the other stories of women's lives.
KING: Now you -- Pat, you don't live in the same cities, do you?
O'BRIEN: No, you know, we never have, Larry, except for that year where we met. I live in Washington, Ellen lives in Boston. And to write this book, of course, I had to move up to Boston and live with Ellen and her husband for seven months and with Frank's full encouragement, thank goodness. But that was the only way we could do it was to move to one city.
KING: Pat's husband is the famed Frank Mankowitz (ph). And, of course, you being the novelist, Ellen has to be in Boston to turn out the column, so you have to go where she is.
O'BRIEN: That was really important. And also, Radcliffe gave us that wonderful thing, which is a room of our own.
KING: Ellen, do you learn a lot when you write a book about yourself?
GOODMAN: Oh, I learned a lot about myself and I learned a lot about my friend. I thought I knew everything about her. And also, I learned a lot about friendship, because we did put our friendship on the line. Everybody said to us when we started this book, oh, my goodness, are you still going to be friends? And we got nervous.
O'BRIEN: We got so nervous we actually made a pact with each other. We decided that if we ever felt there were too many stresses on us in the writing of the book that we were going to ditch the book to save the friendship.
GOODMAN: We did, however, cash the check.
KING: Why -- it's a word that often gets slighted -- oh, they're just friends. What does "friend" mean to you?
GOODMAN: We have taken the "just" out of friends.
GOODMAN: Because friendship is one of the primary relationships in your life. It doesn't supplant your relationship with your family, but it certainly adds on something that is tremendously rich in life.
KING: And do you find, Pat, that you would say anything to your friend, tell -- would you tell Ellen anything about yourself?
O'BRIEN: Just about. I would say yes. I can't think of anything over 27 years now that I haven't felt that I could trust her with and that I've not felt that I wouldn't be understood, and even if she disagreed with me, that she would find a way of showing me what it was that going on.
KING: May I honestly say I salute you both on a terrific book.
GOODMAN: Thank you.
O'BRIEN: Thank you.
KING: Thank you both very much.
This book is already on "The New York Times" best-seller list and deserving every sale. Ellen Goodman and Patricia O'Brien, co-authors of "I Know What You Mean: The Power of Friendship in Women's Lives."
Earlier, Bob Costas and Harvey Mackay.
Hope you have a great rest of the weekend. See you Monday night. Thanks for joining us. See you Monday and good night.
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