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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Let Your Childhood Inform You

Anne has a "feel for the cloth." Many say she started the "little yellow ducky" fad.  A craftsman, George Kartsotis, says that Anne's ideas have been key to his success.

Key Question:


Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child.  Anne told us that while other little girls were playing with dolls, she was playing store.

Q: Why bother with self evaluation if all you want to do is make money?

A: Good question. Running a business is so hard that you will succeed with less stress if you are doing what comes naturally to you. Marc Katz of Katz Deli is a fifth generation kosher butcher. He left the family deli business in New York City to go west. He settled in Austin and started selling cars to save enough money to start his own business. What kind of business did he open? Well what else? He opened a deli in the pattern of his father's.

Jack Maxwell, founder of Maxwell Health Resources, which specializes in recruiting healthcare professionals for hospitals and rehab centers, told us that when evaluating candidates they delve into the person's childhood. He told of his own experience which is why he developed interview questions like, "As a kid, what did you do for fun?" And, "When you were in high school, what activities were you involved in that were not required by the school of your parents?"

In his own case, Jack was excellent in math and science so his parents and teachers counseled him to do a college degree in engineering. He followed this advice, got the degree and began his career in an engineering firm. Once in that work environment he was frustrated and unhappy. It wasn't until a career advisor asked him what he enjoyed doing as a kid and what can he remember doing that he was better at than other kids that he hit on the idea that he is a natural salesman. He told us the story of being in the band and being the top salesman when they did fundraisers to take trips.

Think about it

Does what you do come easy to you? Does it feel natural? Have you ever thought about what you loved doing as a kid? Are you doing that same type of thing now?

Clip from: AMCI with Anne & Michael McGilvray

Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City: This story begins like so many  stories, one person goes out selling. Her name is Anne McGilvray and she sold holiday cards. She became as a manufacturer's rep and grew her business to $2M in annual revenues. She then invited her husband, Michael, to join her.

Anne knows how to pick products that capture our lighter side, spark our imaginations, and make us smile; Michael controls the magic of technology that transformed this Mom-and-Pop shop into a $60M per-year major distribution channel to over 60,000 retail chains.  We discover two very talented people who find and work with creative, talented people. Spend some time with this episode of the show and you'll learn what it takes to have the magic touch.

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AMCI, Inc. (AM)

Anne McGilvray, Owner

2332 Valdina
Dallas, TX 75207

Visit our web site:

Office: 2146384438

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Let Your Childhood Inform You

MICHAEL: I think she's one of those people that you could write a book about, but she could never write a book herself about what she does. She has -- in the retail business, the old merchants back in the '40s and the '50s, the terminology was alway -- a feel of the cloth.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Everyone tells us that Anne knows just what will sell.

GEORGE KARTSOTIS: When I first started the business, I made a great pen and the mechanics of the pen were great, and I was packaging it in a small, felt box that you've seen everywhere. What Anne and Michael did, when we first agreed to do this -- to bring it into the markets in fall of 1990 -- they asked, `Well, what's next?' And I showed them the pen. We were sitting down in a meeting, it was all set to bring it to the markets, I'd just worked so hard in putting this whole project together, I hadn't been thinking about what's next. They not only made me think about what's next, but we package our pens in a handmade oak box. I had been thinking along those lines. And I brought it out of my bag and I said, `This is what's next.' She said, `Well, don't bring it out till you've got that box.' And the box has been an immense improvement into our product in making it a gift. And that's what a rep does for us at a small business, they bring that knowledge that they have of what people buy and why they buy it to a guy like me that has a love of pens.

MICHAEL: She has been asked several times how she got into, you might call, mercantilism versus, being a housewife or a mother. And she's both of those things as well. But she said that one time when she was in kindergarten, they had two little houses. And one was a home setting and one was a retail store. And all the other little girls in her class went over to be mommies in the little house they had set up, and she went over and ran a store.

ANNE: It's your classic rubber ducky, such as that one. You're gonna start seeing this image appear on a lot of things.

HATTIE: Someone told me, `Anne has an ability to pick something ahead of the trend.'

ANNE: And that's a problem.

HATTIE: What do you mean?

ANNE: Because sometimes we bring it in maybe three years, five years ahead of the trend and we give up on it before it hits.

HATTIE: Oh, shoot.

ANNE: Oh, this has happened a lot of times. Trolls.

HATTIE: Trolls?

ANNE: I had a feeling that they were coming back. I really, really did. I just had this feeling. And so we picked up a line. They were wonderful. We couldn't give them away. And five years later, it was the biggest thing ever, you know?

HATTIE: Well, what did you hit on? I mean, you missed that one because you were ahead.

ANNE: Well, now sometimes--and this is very true--sometimes we can actually make a trend happen.

HATTIE: How does that happen? How, how, how?

ANNE: ...because of the number of states that we cover and because of the sheer numbers of our reps, four showrooms. If we focus on it, we make it look important, retailers think it's important.

HATTIE: This would be like a full-court press.

ANNE: Like black and white cows. I swear to goodness, I really think we had something to do with that. Now that was 15 years ago or so.


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