Book Review: The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

The big idea:

            It’s a tiny book with some powerful principles on how to create the right philosophy to be successful. It's not just for sales people. The principles this book teaches could be applied by anyone.


            Og Mandino published the Greatest Salesman in the World, in 1968 at the age of 45.  It was his first book.  It was also his most successful book.  In all, Og has sold more than 50 Million copies of his 19 books!

During WWII, Og was a bombardier, flying 30 missions over Germany. After the military, he became an insurance salesman, but he just couldn't get his life together. He became estranged from his wife and young child, developed a drinking problem, and was contemplating suicide, when he went to a library and started reading self-help books.  The one he credits with changing his life is Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and Clement Stone (I've put it on the list to review). He was so moved by the book that he took a job with Clement Stone's sales organization working his way up and breaking sales records.

Fun fact: actor Matthew McConaughey says the book changed his life. He started reading it right before taking exams to go to law school and says that it gave him the courage to pursue acting.

The book is a parable about a young man named Hafid in in Biblical times. Hafid gets his hands on 10 Scrolls that hold the secret to becoming successful. You're supposed to read each scroll 3 times a day, morning, noon and night for a month straight before you move onto the next.  So, in theory, the book should take you 10 months to read.   

Top 3 Takeaways:

  1. "The only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure."
  2. "One step at a time is not too difficult. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. I will persist until I succeed."
  3. "Action, alone, is the tinder which ignites my dreams, my plan, my goals, into a living force. Action is the food and drink which will nourish my success. I will act now."


  • Potential life impact: 8
  • Fun to read: 7
  • Likely to recommend it to others: 9
  • Amazing conversations that it can start: 9
  • Total score: 8.25

When I want to read it with True:

            I cannot wait to read this book with True.  I've already told him about it.  I think it would be best in the 11th grade. That's my current plan.

Final Thought:

            I love this little book. 

            I will say, that in the final two chapters, it takes a hard left turn towards Christianity. And that’s either going to be bonus content for you, or you can ignore it, it doesn't negate any of the books value.  Just know that it's coming, and it will be less jarring.

            It's a book I want to keep close by so that I can review it again and again.

Noteworthy Quotes

  • "I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. "
  • "I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered into this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny. I will persist until I succeed."
  • "Only action determines my value in the market place and to multiply my value I will multiply my actions."
  • "If I become overconfident I will recall my failures. If I overindulge I will think of past hungers. If I feel complacency I will remember my competition. If I enjoy moments of greatness I will remember moments of shame. If I feel all-powerful I will try to stop the wind. If I attain great wealth I will remember one unfed mouth. If I become overly proud I will remember a moment of weakness. If I feel my skill is unmatched I will look at the stars. Today I will be master of my emotions."
  • "My actions are ruled by appetite, passion, prejudice, greed, love, fear, environment, habit, and the worst of these tyrants is habit. Therefore, if I must be a slave to habit let me be a slave to good habits. My bad habits must be destroyed and new furrows prepared for good seed."
  • "As a child I was slave to my impulses; now I am slave to my habits, as are all grown men."
  • "I can accomplish far more than I have, and I will, for why should the miracle that produced me end with my birth? Why can I not extend that miracle to my deeds of today?"
  •  (Note: this quote isn't from the book, but it's an Og quote I had to include). Most of us hide behind our busy work. Most of us spend too much time doing things we think are important because they are disguised as urgent. Most people don't really do what's important for their own success. They always seem to be "too busy" to succeed.
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