The Ten Books That Have Greatly Influenced Me – Book Review
Let’s take a few steps back in time before we embark on a new year. In 1978 I entered the field of direct selling. Back then I was selling vacuum cleaners by appointment and I needed help. My self confidence wasn’t great and I stuttered so badly that I could barely state my own name when asked. I’d picked an interesting career. But I was determined to do well. My sales manager recommended subscribing to a regular program of book and tapes.
I took his advice, bought a cassette player and have attended automobile university ever since. Since that time my library has grown to over 1200 books. Volumes have been read and reread. You see, we can all use help. No one succeeds alone. Time spent with great people and with books and cassette programs is time well spent. Reading and listening causes you to align your thinking with theirs. This is fellowship with the eternal. Choose wisely. It’s not just about motivation. It’s about education. I’m convinced that the best motivation is ongoing education. Now, there’s a New Year’s resolution… a commitment to lifelong learning.
Consider this truth: All achievement has it’s beginning in an idea. If we had to wait until we stumbled upon certain success secrets we might never find them. When you stop learning you stop living. All leaders are readers. Here are ten books, in the order I’ve read them over the past 22 years (apart from the Bible and Captain Marvel), that have greatly influenced me. It is my hope you’ll allow them to influence you.
1. See You at the Top: 25th Anniversary Edition, by Zig Ziglar, Pelican Publishing, 1974, 312 pages.
Do you want health, wealth, peace, time, security, friends, growth and happiness? You can have them if you will build your life on a solid foundation of honesty, character, faith, loyalty, integrity and love. You can begin your journey to the top when you have a solid foundation. The elevator to the top is out of order, so, you’ll have to take the stairs. It won’t do to stare up the steps. You’ll have to step up the stairs. I recommend everything written by Zig Ziglar.
Principle: “You can get everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.”
2. Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, Fawcett Crest, 1960, 254 pages.
The author was inspired by steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie’s, magical formula for success. Learn this secret: We have the power to control our thoughts. We become what we think about. We unconsciously move in the direction of our dominant thoughts. Hill outlines thirteen steps toward riches. More of the things money can buy and more of the things money can’t buy. The riches you’ll attain are measured beyond money.
Principle: Harness the power of your marvelous mind.
3. The Magic of Thinking Big, Dr. David J. Schwartz, Simon and Schuster, 1959, 192 pages.
In the words of Disraeli, “life is too short to be little.” So think big, dream big, believe big and you’ll become big. More recently, it was Donald Trump who said, “ as long as you’re going to think anyway – you might as well think BIG!”
Principle: “You need not have great intellect or talent to be a giant among men, but you do need the habit of thinking and acting in a manner which brings success – success is determined not so much by the size of one’s brain as it is by the size of one’s thinking.”
4. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, by Frank Bettger, Simon and Schuster, 1947, 192 pages.
Dale Carnegie called this book, “ the most helpful and inspiring book on salesmanship that I have ever read.” Professional baseball player turned salesman, Bettger, was at first a total failure at selling life insurance. Here are practical proven ideas that lifted him out of failure and despair and can lift you, too. This book is a gem and belongs on every professional salespersons shelf.
Principle: “Failures mean nothing at all if success comes eventually. Keep going!”
5. Secrets of Successful Insurance Sales: How to Master the “Value Added” Approach to Consultative Sales (P M a Book Series), by Jack Kinder and Garry Kinder, PMA Communications Inc., 1988, 250 pages.
In their book the authors help you take seven steps to successful insurance and investment sales. The steps are, the power of purpose, preparation, positioning, persuasiveness, professionalism, progress checks and persistence. These combine to give you the necessary edge of confidence. The confidence that comes through competence. I recommend this book and the cassette series by the same name available from Nightingale Conant.
Principle: “Achievement is dependent on mental attitudes, and that by building up knowledge and pride in insurance work you can skyrocket.”
6. The Winning Attitude Your Key To Personal Success , by John C. Maxwell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993, 224 pages.
Are you sick and tired of coping with feeling defeated? Do you have an habitual bad attitude? Maxwell begins with the consideration of your attitude and describes the construction, the crashing and the changing of your attitude. Attitude indicates performance. Every airplane has an attitude indicator prominently displayed in the midst of the instrument cluster. The attitude of the plane is the position of the aircraft relative to the horizon. A nose up attitude means the plane is rising and a nose down attitude means the plane may be diving. The airplane’s attitude indicates its performance. It’s necessary to change the attitude to change the performance. Today’s instructors teach ‘attitude flying.’ Do people have ‘attitude indicators?’
Principle: “You can develop a winning attitude of mind to overcome obstacles.”
7. The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, Pocket Books, 1996, 258 pages.
Within these pages are the “surprising secrets of America’s wealthy.” Here are some of those secrets. The affluent believe that financial independence is more important than displaying status. Their parents didn’t support them as adults and their own children are self sufficient. They are first generation rich. They didn’t inherit their wealth. They are generally business owners or professionals. They chose the right profession. They target market. A large percentage are sales professionals. They are willing to spend inordinate sums of money on legal and financial advice.
Principle: “Wealth is not the same as income. Wealth is what you accumulate. Follow a lifestyle conducive to the accumulation of money by living below your income and allocating time and treasure efficiently.”
8. Zero Resistance Selling, posthumously by Maxwell Maltz, Prentice Hall Press, 1998, 208 pages.
A powerful self improvement program. Most resistance is created in your own mind. Whether it be sales resistance by the prospect or resistance to our ideas by others. The single most important secret is the picture you hold of yourself in your mind. We refer to this as the self image. It is impossible to consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. Your ‘inside’ controls your ‘outside.’ Discover how to change the picture and change your life.
Principle: You’ll never rise above the level of your self image – the way you see yourself.
9. Values-Based Selling : The Art of Building High-Trust Client Relationships, Bill Bachrach, Aim High Publishing, 1996, 374 pages.
Subtitled, “The Art of Building High Trust Client Relationships for Financial Advisors, Insurance Agents, and Investment Reps,” this book presents a road map for success in financial services. You will learn how to: Work only with the best clients. Lay the foundation for your professional relationship within minutes. Develop trust by building a financial plan focused on what’s important to them. Get good referrals from your best clients. Be brilliant on the phone. Target market. Attain the lifestyle of a financial professional.
Principle: “Understand the client’s answer to this question, “What’s important about money to you?”
10. Getting Clients, Keeping Clients : The Essential Guide for Tomorrow’s Financial Adviser (A Marketplace Book) , by Dan Richards, Transcontinental Printers, 1998, 381 pages.
Three elements will enable you to take your business to the level of a professional practice.
1. Effective prospecting and marketing to get clients.
2. Retaining clients by customizing recognition and building relationships.
3. Running an efficient practice by leveraging your time and maximizing your time spent on major outcome activities.
You will find scripts, letters and templates to assist you with getting clients and keeping clients in the new millennium.
Principle: Develop a system for getting and keeping clients.
There you have them, ten books that have greatly influenced me over the past 22 years. Please, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t consider myself to have apprehended. Success is a journey not a destination. As a lifelong reader, may I offer a suggestion? When it comes to the reading of books make it much not many. Many will be the acquaintances, fewer will be your friends, still fewer may become lovers.