You Don't Know Mac

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Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale has done plenty to annoy Houstonians for the past 20 years, whether it's blasting endless crummy TV commercials, grabbing plenty of free publicity for pseudo-events, producing the Chuck Norris movie Sidekicks or selling more plush power recliners than any man has a right to.

At least he's never written a book.

Until now.

Working with two ghostwriters, Mac has given us the literary epic Always Think Big: How Mattress Mac's Uncompromising Attitude Built the Biggest Single Retail Store in America. It's due out in May from Dearborn Publishing, but advance copies in the form of uncorrected proofs have been sent to the media. (The proofs, by the way, call him Mack. The book cover calls him Mac.)

In it, he talks about the tough years after his Dallas health-club chain declared bankruptcy. He talks about how he Thinks Big in delighting customers. ("Thinking Big adds excitement and zest to life," he reports.) He offers tips such as his "FAST" system, which means Focus, Action, Search, Tenacity.

He doesn't mention how he was sued by the State of Texas in 1978 for selling "discounted" health-club memberships that were actually full-price. He doesn't go into how Houston's Better Business Bureau revoked his membership in 1994 after competitors said his relentless ads criticizing "particle board" furniture were misleading. He raves about his sponsorship of the galleryfurniture. com Bowl, which he backed out of earlier this year. (He does say, "Throughout my life, I have been praised for keeping promises. The accolades I receive for this trait have always amazed me," but his amazement is because he thinks everyone should keep their promises.

Think you know Mac? Here's a quiz:

1. Mac writes that one night, when he was at his lowest ebb after his health-spa chain had gone bankrupt, he turned on the TV. "I sat spellbound. I felt as though _______ was looking through the television set right at me!" Who was on the TV?

a. Cher; b. The chain saw-toting guy from the Hilton Furniture ads; c. Someone trying to explain that TVs show pictures, and that there really wasn't a little man inside looking right at Mac; d. Oral Roberts.

2. In March 2001 Mac sponsored an event and, instead of going himself, gave tickets to his employees. He writes that he missed "the glamour, excitement and large crowds" because he worked in the warehouse that night. "How many CEOs would miss the opportunity to bask in the limelight of the event they sponsored?" he writes. "How many would give their most expensive tickets to their employees so they could take their shift -- in the warehouse?"

What event is he writing about?

a. The beatification ceremony for the proposed St. Mac, patron saint of solid-wood crosses; b. The 1994 Oscars, which he thought of attending in case there was a large write-in vote for Sidekicks; c. Houston Grand Opera's 1987 premiere of Nixon in China; d. Wrestlemania XVII.

3. Match the Important Business Principle (a.-e.) with the relevant phrase (1.-6.):

a. customer delight;

b. delighting the customer;

c. Gallery's effort to delight customers;

d. providing service that delights customers;

e. putting customer delight in the spotlight;

f. increasing customer delight

1. creates buzz;

2. is an ongoing struggle;

3. requires doing everything we do first class;

4. is the essence of professionalism;

5. is done by listening, collecting information and being observant;

6. is free

4. Fill in the blank from the following sentence Mac writes: "You can be the smartest person on earth, but if you _________, your intelligence isn't worth anything."

a. actually purchased tickets to the inaugural galleryfurniture.com Bowl; b. are reading a book by me, Mattress Mac; c. don't own a rocker-recliner; d. don't produce results

5. True or false: Mac's "embarrassing displays of anger no longer happen."

6. Finish this Mac paragraph: "Every school child is taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of exploring and keeping his mouth shut. Guess what! The place where he landed was later named America after Amerigo Vespucci who traveled there a few years after Columbus did. Vespucci talked about the new land and created the story that it was part of a separate continent…The lesson here is _________."

a. Exclamation points can be used in place of question marks; b. The idea that America is a continent separate from Europe is a "story" created by Amerigo Vespucci; c. Keeping your mouth shut is for losers who buy particle-board furniture; d. Advertising coupled with giving back to the community can position your business brand in the minds of customers and prospective customers.

7. Does the book actually include the following sentence: "You can't reach for the stars if you don't envision yourself traveling on a beam of light"?

8. Complete this quote from Mac: "I was a rough and tumble football player, but I have a more sensitive side that most people don't know about. From the time I was a child, I had been fascinated with ___________."

a. myself; b. Oscar Wilde; c. shiny objects; d. furniture

9. Mac writes that his then-girlfriend, now-wife wasn't really surprised when he said he knew someone who might invest money in his furniture store. "I had a lot of friends who were wealthy, although none of them had helped me with my bankruptcy," he writes. "She was a little bitter about that."

Does Mac want us to believe that he wasn't bitter?

10. More from Mac: "I did one of those personality tests where you answer all these weird questions to determine who you are. Well, I found out that I _________."

a. am not what the French call un homme sérieux; b. disagree with the so-called scientific definition of 'borderline psychotic'; c. actually, as it turns out, loooove particle-board furniture; d. have what's called a 'red personality.' I've got to go forward. That's me. I'm driven.

Bonus question! Mac writes, "Personally, I found the display disgusting." To what is he referring?

a. Andres Serrano's controversial sculpture installation "Piss Christ"; b. Liza Minnelli's recent wedding; c. The outpouring of unity and patriotism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks; d. Federal prosecutors high-fiving when they won an antitrust ruling against Microsoft.

Answers: 1. d; 2. d; 3. a-3, b-1, c-5, d-2, e-6, f-4; 4. d; 5. True (according to his book, at any rate); 6. d; 7. Yes; 8. d; 9. Yes, apparently; 10. d; Bonus question: d.

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