Excerpt from the last video recording of Og Mandino‘s classic presentation, The Secrets to Success.
Og Mandino was one of the most widely read inspirational and self-help authors in the world. His 14 books of wisdom, inspiration, and love have sold more than 36 million copies worldwide in 18 different languages.
These really are the timeless truths of success, regardless of what year or era we live in. The “secrets” of success will remain the same. Thanks Mr. Mandino. Though you are now gone, your work will have forever changed millions … including me. I have recently dusted off my old copy of “Greatest Salesman…” and I’m working the scrolls. . .
Read on for the whole story . . .truly inspiring . . . .!
A peek at Og Mandino’s list of accomplishments suggests he was a person gifted with initiative, talent, luck and pluck. But before he was a famous inspirational speaker and author with book sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, Mandino spent a fair bit of time as a frustrated, hopelessly alcoholic failure.
As a young World War II veteran baffled by the seemingly simple tasks of earning a living and having a life, Mandino spiraled into despair and poverty. But one day, his life took a dramatic turn for the better because of a chance encounter with the work of legendary success experts W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill, coupled with Mandino’s own willingness to take action.
Born in 1923, Og (short for Augustine) was the child of an Irish mother and an Italian immigrant father who settled in Natick, Mass., when he and his two younger siblings were still small. A voracious reader from early childhood, Og wrote short stories for his mother, who often said her son would grow up to be a great writer. He was editor of his high-school newspaper his senior year and planned to go to the University of Missouri to study journalism. Then, in 1940, just six weeks after he graduated from high school, Og’s mother died suddenly while making him lunch.
Overcome with grief and confusion, Og abandoned his plans to attend the University of Missouri. He joined the Army Air Corps and flew 30 missions over Germany as a bombardier aboard a B-24 Liberator. When he returned home, he spent six months in a Times Square flat, trying to get a start as a writer. When his first efforts to sell his work didn’t pan out, he gave up writing.
If only Og Mandino could have seen this experience made worthwhile in this passage from his greatest work, The Greatest Salesman in the World, published more than 20 years later: “Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold. The height of my goals will not hold me in awe, though I may stumble often before they are reached. If I stumble, I will rise and my falls will not concern me, for all men must stumble often to reach the hearth.”
After giving up his dream of becoming a great writer, Mandino got married, bought a house through the GI Bill and took his first sales job in the insurance business. At a time when most hopeful young veterans were returning from the war to start families and careers, Mandino had already had a taste of bitter failure, and he was in for more.
“Success will not wait. If I delay, she will become betrothed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the man.”
In his autobiography, A Better Way to Live, he describes trying to sell insurance during this period: “The treadmill I soon found myself on was torture. Never was I more than a few paces ahead of several bill collectors, and making the monthly mortgage payments was a major challenge despite my long hours of work. I would go anywhere, at any time, to try to sell a policy, and still there were always more bills than money to pay them.”
Bewildered and exhausted, Mandino began stopping at bars in the evening, reasoning that after each day of disappointment, he deserved a drink. Before long, he was a full-blown alcoholic, and his wife left him, taking their daughter.
For two years, Mandino wandered the highways of the United States, working odd jobs and never staying in one place for very long. He was hopeless, aimless, alcoholic and miserable. His faith in himself slowly drained away, and he found himself contemplating suicide. He pondered a $29 gun in the window of a Cleveland pawnshop, thinking it would be the easy way out of a life that had become unbearable.
But something kept Mandino from taking the next step. Deep down, he still possessed a willingness to live—the “seed of success,” he later wrote in The Greatest Salesman in the World, which would take root and begin a chain of events that would change his life and ultimately the lives of millions.
After continuing past that pawnshop, he kept walking and found himself in a public library. It was snowy outside, and he later recalled how warm it was in the library. He selected several books on self-help, motivation and success. If he wasn’t going to end his life, Mandino knew he had to find a better way to live. So far, he had failed miserably in every attempt at success and happiness.
A Slave to Good Habits
The public library soon became Mandino’s haven. He continued his wanderings, but wherever he went, he visited libraries and pored over hundreds of sales, personal-development, motivation and success books.
Over time, he experienced an awakening, a dramatic shift in his beliefs and behaviors.
The new habit of reading and studying gradually replaced Mandino’s devastating drinking habit. Over time, he experienced an awakening, a dramatic shift in his beliefs and behaviors. Years later, he counted this principle of constructive habits that had saved his own life and sanity as the first and most important axiom in The Greatest Salesman in the World: “I will form good habits and become their slave. And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls it will be done, for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and replace it with one which will bring me closer to success. For it is another of nature’s laws that only a habit can subdue another habit.”
When he first encountered Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude in a New Hampshire library, the book by W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill affected Mandino more deeply than anything he had ever read. “I was so impressed with Stone’s philosophy of success, that one must be prepared to pay a price in order to achieve any worthwhile goals, that I wanted to work for the man,” Mandino later wrote.
Reading on the book jacket that Stone was president of Combined Insurance Company of America, Mandino, then 32, pulled himself together, searched for a subsidiary and applied for a job. Meantime, he had met a woman he described as “having a lot more faith in me than I had in myself,” and when Combined Insurance hired him, he married her.
The Greatest Salesman in the World
Having failed terribly in his first job in insurance sales, he was determined to succeed as he re-entered the field, armed with the principles and techniques he had absorbed from hundreds of books. Within a year, he was promoted to sales manager, was recruiting and training other agents, and breaking sales records.
A pamphlet he wrote about selling in rural areas gained him a new job doing promotional writing, and ultimately, Mandino became editor of Stone’s Success Unlimited, an internal publication. Within 10 years, Mandino turned this small booklet into a national magazine, and his magazine writing attracted the interest of a book publisher. The man who had once been a desperate drunk rummaging through the shelves of a public library went on to become the author of 22 top-selling books.
In Mandino’s most famous book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, a young man named Erasmus, the chief bookkeeper for a wealthy, successful merchant named Hafid, receives from his employer the priceless gift of a wooden chest containing 10 ancient scrolls. Many years before, when he was a poor camel keeper longing for riches and glory, Hafid had received the chest from his own master. Within the scrolls are “all the secrets and principles necessary to become a great success in the art of selling.” This small, simple book reads like a fable or a fairy tale, but its guidelines for successful selling—and living—are infinitely practical and timeless.
The first scroll contains the instructions for “unlocking” the powerful wisdom of the remaining nine: reading each scroll, including the first, three times a day for 30 days each. If undertaken as prescribed, the reader makes it through the scrolls in 10 months’ time. Just as it happened for the author of the scrolls, this practice of steady, disciplined study is designed to impress the wisdom of the scrolls—and the willingness to act upon it—deeply within the student’s heart and mind.
Og Mandino was a man who practiced what he later preached. His own willingness, action and perseverance made him into the greatest salesman in the world, with millions of books sold and lives improved. At the heart of his writings and his life was evident his heartfelt concern for the individual human beings holding his books, his deep empathy for those struggling as he once had. He had found a way up and out of self-pity and failure, and had shared those timeless principles with anyone with the willingness to pull his book from the shelf and put its words into action.