The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America's Greatest Woman Entrepreneur

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"Leaders teach. They motivate. They care. Leaders make sure that the way to success is always broad enough and straight enough for others to follow."
—Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay helped open the door for countless women throughout the world to find success on their own terms and to be their own bosses. The Mary Kay Way is her inspiring "how-to manual." It explains her people-centered business philosophy and how to succeed by staying true to yourself, your values, and your customers.


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"Leaders teach. They motivate. They care. Leaders make sure that the way to success is always broad enough and straight enough for others to follow."
—Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay helped open the door for countless women throughout the world to find success on their own terms and to be their own bosses. The Mary Kay Way is her inspiring "how-to manual." It explains her people-centered business philosophy and how to succeed by staying true to yourself, your values, and your customers.

From The Mary Kay Way:

"Every person is special! I sincerely believe this. Each of us wants to feel good about ourself, but to me, it is just as important to make others feel the same way. Whenever I meet someone, I try to imagine him or her wearing an invisible sign that says: make me feel important! I respond to this sign immediately, and it works wonders.

Some people, however, are so caught up in themselves that they fail to realize that the other person wants to feel important too.

Once I waited in a long reception line, and when I finally got to shake hands with the company's sales manager, he treated me as if I didn't exist. I'm sure he didn't remember the incident; in fact, he probably was never aware of how much he had hurt me. Yet, after all these years, I still remember—so it obviously had a powerful impact on me. I learned an important lesson about people that day, which I have never forgotten: no matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important!"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470379950
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/7/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 414,057
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Kay Ash was the founder and chairman of Mary Kay Inc., one of the world's largest and most successful direct selling organizations. An academic study by Baylor University named her the greatest woman entrepreneur in American history, and the Wharton School of Business deemed her one of the most influential business leaders of modern times. Mary Kay passed away in 2001.

For more information on Mary Kay Ash or Mary Kay Inc., please visit

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Table of Contents

Foreword (Ryan Rogers).

Editor's Preface.


1. Golden Rule Leadership.

The Golden Rule is one of the world's oldest and best-known philosophies, yet it is frequently overlooked in business circles. Mary Kay demonstrates that this  rule is still Powerful in today’s complicated world.

2. You Build with People.

Leaders are dependent upon the performance of their people, and so is a company's success. Good people are a company's most important asset. People are more important than the plan.

3. The Invisible Sign.

Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from his or her neck saying, "MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT!" Never forget this message when working with people.

4. Praise People to Success.

Each of us craves to be recognized. Let people know that you appreciate their performance and they will respond by doing even better. Recognition is the most powerful of all motivating techniques.

5. The Art of Listening.

Good leaders are good listeners. God gave us two ears and only one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. When you listen, the benefit is twofold: You receive necessary information, and you make the other person feel important.

6. Sandwich Every Bit of Criticism between Two Heavy Layers of Praise.

Sometimes it's necessary to let somebody know that you're unhappy with his or her performance. But be certain to direct your criticism at the act, not the person. It is important to criticize effectively—in a positive way so that you don't destroy morale.

7. Be a Follow-Through Person.

Be the kind of person who can always be counted on to do what you say you'll do. Only a small percentage of people possess follow-through ability, and they are held in high esteem by all. It's particularly important for your team members or your employees to know that you possess this rare quality and for them to think of you as a totally reliable person.

8. Enthusiasm… Moves Mountains!

Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm. Leaders are enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is contagious.  Interestingly, the word enthusiasm has a Greek origin meaning “God within.”

9. The Speed of the Leader Is the Speed of the Gang.

You must set the pace for your people. Real leaders aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, and they set examples for others by demonstrating good work habits, displaying positive attitudes, and possessing a team spirit. True leaders establish success patterns that make everyone think success.

10. People Will Support That Which They Help to Create.

An effective leader invites people to participate in new projects that are still in the “thinking” stage. By confiding in associates and seeking their opinions, they generate support at the initial stage of each new venture. It's a fact that people often resist change when they don't participate in the decision-making process. Some of the best leaders “plant the seed” that permits others to propose the idea and take credit for it!

11. An Open-Door Philosophy.

At Mary Kay corporate headquarters, there are no titles on executives' doors, and there is ready access to all management levels. Everyone within the company—from mailroom clerk to chairman of the board—is a human being and is treated accordingly.

12. Help Other People Get What They Want—and You'll Get What You Want.

As the parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14–30) tells us, we are meant to use and increase whatever God has given us. And when we do, we shall be given more.

13. Stick to Your Principles.

Everything is subject to change—except one's principles. Never, absolutely never, compromise your principles.

14. A Matter of Pride.

Everyone within an organization should have a sense of pride in his or her work. They should also feel proud to be associated with the company. It's a manager's job to instill this feeling and to promote this attitude among his or her people.

15. You Can't Rest on Your Laurels.

Nothing wilts faster than a laurel rested upon. Every person should have a lifetime self-improvement program. In today's fast-paced world you can't stand still. You either go forward or backward.

16. Be a Risk-Taker.

You must encourage people to take risks; let them know that “nobody wins ‘em all.” If you come down on them too hard for losing, they'll stop sticking their necks out.

17. Work and Enjoy It.

It's okay to have fun while you work; good managers encourage a sense of humor. In fact, the more enjoyment people derive from their work, the better they will produce.

18. Nothing Happens Until Somebody Sells Something!

Every organization has something to “sell,” and every person in the company must realize that nothing happens until somebody sells something. And accordingly, they should be fully supportive of the selling effort.

19. Never Hide behind Policy or Pomposity.

Never say, “That's against company policy” unless you have a good explanation to back up the policy. It infuriates people. It's as if you were saying, “We do it this way because it's the way we've always done it.” By the same token, pomposity can also be a transparent cover-up for incompetence.

20. Be a Problem-Solver.

The best leaders recognize when a real problem exists and know how to take action to solve it.  You must develop the ability to know the difference between a real problem and an imaginary one.

21. Less Stress.

Stress stifles productivity. Leaders strive to create a stress-free working atmosphere for their workers by using both physical and psychological approaches.

22. Develop People from Within.

The best-run companies develop their own managers from within—rarely do they seek outsiders. In fact, it's a sign of weakness when a company goes outside too often for management personnel. The morale of the company is likely to suffer; people may begin to feel threatened and think, “No matter how well I perform, an outsider will probably get the position I want.”

23. Live by the Golden Rule On and Off the Job.

Don't be a hypocrite—live every day of the week as if it were Sunday. There's no place for two sets of moral codes. Conduct yourself in business with the same scruples you would want your children to observe in their lives.

Afterword. Leaders Creating Leaders.

What do independent sales force leaders who've been the most successful following Mary Kay's principles have to say about them today? Nearly 25 years after she originally put them down on paper, Mary Kay's thoughts and ideas are as timeless as ever according to the 500 women worldwide at the top of the independent sales force. They are her living legacy.


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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2008

    A reviewer

    When you read The Mary Kay Way, you'll understand why Mary Kay Ash has been acclaimed as America's Greatest Woman Entrepreneur of all times. She founded an incredible business, starting in 1961 by investing her lifetime savaings of only a few thousand dollars and building it into an giant international multi-billion corporation. The company's philosophy is based on the Golden Rule--Mary Kay never deviated from this age-old bibical principle of treating others as you would want to be treated yourself. Throughout her career, she always practiced this principle, and most importantly, she instilled her values in others, who, in turn, build their careers always thinking in the best interests of others--their customers and the people who they recruit and train to be successful. Mary Kay Ash passed away in 2001, but her legacy lives on. Thousands and thousands of women are following in her footsteps, building successful companies of their own under the Mary Kay Company umbrella--they are spreading the philosophy and wisdom of this remarkable woman around the world. As a consequence, the company that she founded serves as one of America's greatest goodwill ambassadors and promotors of the free enterprise system. This is one of the most inspiring books ever written. I recommend buying extra copies that you'll want to give to your co-workers and family members.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Redtears story chapter 5.

    Redpaw woke from a jutting pain in her side. Smallpaw stood over her. "Wake up. Littlecrastal said we might train together." Redpaw leaped up. "Yay!" She said. Flowerheart padded in. "Well you to got up early today I must say even for a kittypet you have some warriir." Smallpaw looked beside Flowerheart where a sivery white she-cat stood. "Good morning Littkecrastal. Can Redpaw train whith us?" Littlecrystal shook her head. "Sorry but Flowerheart said she would show her around camp." A badger colored tom hobbled towatd her"Hellow wippersnapper." A redish tom padded beside the badger cat. "I am hawkclaw," said the redish tom. "And this is Badgerclaw, the winner of the sleeping contest." Moonstar limped out of a hallow tree whith a hole just big anof for a cat to slip in. "Hello-" her words where cut off from a screech in the bramble den. "Tigerlily!" Moonstar cried. Then a young cat whith black stripes on her back ran out to mewing kits in her jaws. "A fox!" She cried in fear and agony. "It has hawkkit!" Hawkclaw let out a cry and rushed into the bramble den. Moonstar screeched: "FOX! FOX!" Lots of cats came rushing from a den made of brambles vines and ivy. "Atack IvyClan!" A young she yowled. A lagre creature stubblled out of the den. "Thats a cat!" Exclaimed Redpaw. "Moonstar dragged her to the aprentice den. "You have no training. It would be safer for you here." Said Moonstar. Then she rushed out to fight the large cat. A kitten scammbled in. "Mommy!" He cryed. Redpaw picked him up. "You can't find your mother now." She gently said. "The fox hase fled!" A cat howled. Flowerheart limped in. The vine den is where warriors sleep and share toghs. The stone den is the elder den. And the bramble en is the..... nursery." She limped out. Redpaw carried the kit into the clearing. "Hawkkit!" The cat with black stripes on her back called. "I thought that fox took you away!" "Tigerlily!" Hawkkit cryed and burried his nose in his mothers fur. By butterflykit. Should I write more?

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 29, 2010

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