File:The Greatest Salesman in the World book cover.jpg

I just finished reading an interesting book, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. Its Chinese translation was marketed in the name “Scrolls of Wealth” in China and was very popular.

I didn’t realize it was published just 40 years ago in 1968, a best-seller since then, until I read some critics about the book. The story of the book was set in biblical time in Arabic world. It’s about a poor camel boy, Hafid, who eventually became the greatest salesman in his time with unmatchable wealth. However, I can see the story is just a “make-up”, like all the stories in the TV advertisements. Essentially, the author would like to sell his “manuals for salesman”, which he developed for his insurance company while working in rural New Hampshire, as he disclosed in the preface of the book.

The author is indeed a very good salesman for his ideas. The story is catching, persuasive, full of drama, even having a mysterious link to the Bible. Obviously, he followed his own advices to sell, capturing people’s interests, making connections through familiarity (Bible story), demonstrating success stories happened with other ordinary people, and making the items for sale seems scarce and rare thus valuable. Another interesting way he did his selling is to command the reader to read each principle (a chapter or scroll in the book) three times a day for a month. That’s almost like a religious practice. I have to agree it’s the best way to build the principles into habits.

Setting aside the sales pitches, I feel the principles promoted by the author are indeed valuable. It reminded me of two books I love, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936 and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey, published in 1989. It focuses more on principles for living as The Seven Habits than the social techniques as Win Friends. Its ideas of achieving success through building good habits based on good principles make the Seven Habits book not as innovative as I thought.

However, I felt the book has two problems. First, some of the 10 principles for success, elaborated as 10 secret ancient scrolls, are vague. They cover a group of ideas instead of one. For example, “I will live this day as if it is my last”. This idea is powerful but not concise. To describe the principle, the author mentioned other ideas like “appreciation”, “don’t waste time to regret”, “get things done today” and more. Those can hardly be described as one principle. Instead, The Seven Habits are much more precise and fundamental.

Secondly, the author keeps luring the readers to follow the principles by the promises of getting rich and abundant. He keeps appeals to the greedy for material wealth and fame. But, in many places in the book, even the author himself contradicts his own idea of material-oriented life goals. People who don’t value wealth and fame probably will feel as frustrated as I did. Again, the Seven Habits did a better job. It didn’t set the goals for you. You can pick your own life goals and it just helps you to achieve that goal. It doesn’t alienate or exclude any groups of readers.

But, after all, I still feel this is a good book with a lot of thought-provoking ideas. Its way of story-telling and its poem-like writings are enjoyable. Despite the name, the principles it promotes can be used not only to salesman but to all of us who would like to live a rich and successful life, regardless the meaning of success. After all, success in modern world requires us to interact with other people. And in many occasions, that demands selling either tangible things like products or intangible things like ideas, services, or our experience and skill sets.

Some of my notes taken from the book about the 10 principles:

  1. Beginning of a new life
  • You can change your life by changing your thoughts
  • Change requires commitment.
  • We are the slaves of our habit. So build good habits.
  • Read loud the principle three times a day. Every roll per month.
  1. I will greet the day with my love.
  • Love everything, sun, rain, animals, all the people, etc.
  • Open other people’s heart with love.
  1. I will persist until I succeed
  2. I am the nature’s greatest miracle.
  • I am unique. There is only one exactly like me in the world and in all time.
  • Product and salesman are unique.
  • Rare is valuable.
  • Self-confidence.
  1. I will live this day as if it is my last.
  • Appreciation.
  • No regret. Don’t waste time regret yesterday.
  • Finish things today don’t wait for tomorrow.
  1. Today I will be master of my emotion.
  • Emotion changes constantly.
  • Good and bad moods will circle around
  • Productivity is based on mood.
  • One’s own feeling influence customers.
  • Control the emotion by counter action. Laugh when you feel sorry.
  • Force the action to control the thought.
  • Forget people’s bad treatment because their mood will change.
  1. I will laugh at the world.
  • Smile is the most human thing.
  • Maintaining good mood helps living long life.
  • Don’t take myself too seriously.
  • Face the world positively.
  1. Today I will multiply my value 100 fold.
  • Shooting high by set a impossibly high goal.
  1. I will act now.
  • Only action can turn dream into reality.
  • Don’t fear failure.
  1. Cry/Pray for help.
  • Never for material things.
  • Pray for guidance.
  • Show me the way
  • Knowledge is the most valuable wealth.