Og Mandino

The Greatest Salesman in the World
The Carpet Merchant. Francesco Ballesio (1860-1923). Oil on canvas. 46.3 x 102.3cm.
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First of all, we would like you to read the story of the author of the bestselling book “The Greatest Salesman in the World” from his own writing about himself:

“Hello. . . This is Og Mandino.

Some memories of my long-ago childhood are still very vivid, especially when I think of that special little red-headed Irish lady who was my loving mother. She had a special dream for her son. “Someday,” she would tell me, again and again, “someday you will be a writer. . . not just a writer but a great writer! “

Well. . . I bought her dream. Most kids resent having their parents plan their future but I liked the idea. A famous writer. Yes! Mother had me reading grown-up books from the library long before I entered the first grade and I was always writing short stories for her approval.

In my senior year of high school I was editor of the school paper and our plans were that in the fall I would attend the University of Missouri because we believed that they had the best journalism school in the country.

And, then. . . six weeks after I graduated from high school, my mother dropped dead in our kitchen while she was making lunch for me.

I had a terrible time trying to deal with her passing. Instead of going on to college in the fall of 1940, I went to work in a paper factory and, in 1942, I joined the Army Air Corps. In 1943 I received my officer’s commission and my silver wings as a bombardier. I was an “officer and a gentleman” two weeks before I could legally vote. I flew thirty bombing missions over Germany in a B-24 Liberator. Jimmy Stewart also flew in the same heavy bombardment group. . . the 445th. Nice man.

I returned to the United States, after the war had ended, and discovered quickly that there wasn’t much of an employment market for bombardiers with only a high school education. After many months of unemployment checks and painful searching, I finally secured a job selling life insurance and married the lady I had been dating before I went to war.

The following ten years were a living hell. . . for me, for her, and even for the lovely daughter we had been blessed with. It seemed that no matter how many hours of the day and night I worked, struggling to sell insurance, we drifted deeper and deeper into debt and I began to do what so many frustrated individuals still do today, to hide from their problems.

On the way home, after a long day of sales calls and canvassing for business, I would stop at a barroom for a drink. After all, I deserved it, didn’t I, following such a tough day? Well, soon one drink became two, two became four, four became six and finally my wife and daughter, when they could no longer endure my behavior, left me.

The following two years are no more than a hazy memory. I traveled the country in my old Ford, doing any kind of odd jobs in order to earn enough for another bottle of cheap wine and I spent countless drunken nights in gutters, a sorry wretch of a human being, in a living hell.

Then, one cold wintry morning in Cleveland, one I shall never forget, I almost took my life. I had passed the window of a dingy pawn shop and paused when I saw, inside on a shelf, a small handgun. Attached to its barrel was a yellow tag. . . $29. I reached into my pocket and removed three ten dollar bills. . . all I had in the world and I thought. . . “There’s the answer to all my problems. I’ll buy that gun, get a couple of bullets and take them back to that dingy room where I’m staying. Then I’ll put the bullets in the gun, put the gun to my head. . . and pull the trigger. . . and I’ll never have to face that miserable failure in the mirror again.”

I don’t know what happened next. I joke about it now and say that I was such a spineless individual at that time that I couldn’t even muster enough courage to do away with myself. In any event, I didn’t buy that gun. As the snow was falling I turned away from the pawn shop and commenced walking until I eventually found myself inside a public library. It was so warm after the outside chills of November.

I began wandering among the thousands of books until I found myself standing in front of the shelves containing scores of volumes on self-help, success, and motivation. I selected several of them, went to a nearby table and commenced reading, searching for some answers. Where had I gone wrong? Could I make it with just a high school education? Was there any hope for me? What about my drinking problem? Was it too late for me? Was I doomed now to a life of frustration, failure, and tears?

That library visit was the first of many library visits I began making as I wandered across the country, searching for Og Mandino. I must have read hundreds of books dealing with success and gradually my drinking subsided. Then, in a library in Concord, New Hampshire, I discovered W. Clement Stone’s great classic, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. . . and my life has never been the same since then.

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. His book jacket indicated that he was president of Combined Insurance Company of America and I searched until I found a subsidiary of that company in Boston and applied for a salesman’s job. At about that same time, I met a lovely lady who had a lot more faith in me than I had in myself and when Mr. Stone’s insurance company hired this thirty-two year old loser, I married the lady. Bette and I have now been together for forty years.

Within a year I was promoted to sales manager in the wide-open, and cold, territory of Northern Maine. I hired several young potato farmers, taught them how to sell, applying Stone’s philosophy of a positive mental attitude, and we were soon breaking company records.

Then I took a week off from work and rented a typewriter. You see, the dream of writing had never really faded from my heart. I wrote a sales manual on how one sells insurance in the rural areas, typed it as neatly as I could and sent it to Combined Insurance’s home office in Chicago. . . just praying that someone there would recognize the great talent they had buried in Northern Maine.

Well, someone did!  The next thing I knew, Bette and I and our new young son, Dana, were moving to Chicago, with all our possessions tied to the roof of our car and I was assigned to the sales promotion department, writing company bulletins. At last I was finally writing!

Mr. Stone also published a small book titled Success Unlimited which was circulated to all his employees and shareholders. I had been working at the home office for several months and had become a friend of Mr. Stone’s when the editor of his magazine retired. I boldly applied for the position, although I knew nothing about magazine editing, and he not only gave me the job but also entrusted me with a mission.

I was to convert his publication from a house organ to a national magazine and I had a blank check from him to take all the steps that were necessary to accomplish our goal. In the following ten years our magazine staff grew from two to sixty-two and we attained a paid circulation of close to a quarter of a million!

Several months after I became the magazine’s editor I realized that I needed one more article to fill the next issue that was going to press in just a few days. . . and there was nothing suitable in our files. Well, I’m a golf nut and so I went home and worked all night, writing a piece about Ben Hogan and his terrible automobile accident when they told him he would never walk again. The great man not only walked again, he won the National Open again!

I ran the article in Success Unlimited and then fate took over. A letter arrived on my desk from a New York publisher. . . the kind of letter all writers dream about receiving. He had enjoyed the Hogan article and believed I had much talent and if I ever decided to write a book his company would be interested in considering it for publication.

Eighteen months later we published a tiny book entitled The Greatest Salesman in the World. Of course, since no one had ever heard of Og Mandino, the first printing was rather small, 5,000 as I remember. But here’s where fate stepped in again. Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway Corp., was addressing an Amway Convention and he told his people that there was a new book just published that he believed would help all, of them, The Greatest Salesman In the World, written by a man with a funny name, he said, Og Mandino.

Rich DeVos’s testimonial triggered an unbelievable number of book sales and many reprintings. When total sales reached 350,000 copies within a couple of years, Bantam Books purchased the paperback rights. . . for more money than I believed there was in the entire world. The book’s sales have never abated. Even now, thirty years after initial publication, it still continues to sell more than 100,000 copies each month in paperback!

For many years now, I have received approximately 80 to 120 letters each week from grateful readers thanking me for The Greatest Salesman in the World and relating examples of how the book saved or changed the writer’s life. Most amazing to me is how many of these letters are lovingly sent by individuals we would categorize as celebrities in the world of business, entertainment, and sports. I respond to all of them, of course, but I respect their privacy too much to divulge their names, ever.

What a lucky man I am!”



Augustine Mandino (later nicknamed “Og”) was born on December 12, 1923 in Italy and came to the United States shortly thereafter. He grew up in Nantick, Massachusetts under the watchful eye of his mother who encouraged his passion for writing. He was the oldest of three children. He had a younger brother named Silvio and a sister named Jacquintine.

Og married his second wife, Bette, on December 9, 1957. Og said in describing Bette that “she had a lot more faith in me than I had in myself.” About ten years later Mandino’s first book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, was published and it steadily grew in popularity. Mandino followed this work with 18 other books and turned his passion into a speaking career. His speeches were always light-hearted with an emphasis on humor as much as spirituality and action. He retired at the age of 52. Og Mandino died on September 3, 1996. Bette Mandino has partnered with Dave Blanchard, CEO of The Og Group, to continue Og’s mission of healing torn bodies and torn minds.

Mandino was six feet tall with brown eyes and brown hair. He liked pasta in marinara sauce and spicy and hot foods. His wife, Bette, used to carry a jar of red pepper at all times inside her purse for Mandino. Because Mandino’s favorite color was green, he therefore always tried to autograph his books in green ink. He liked to travel to Bermuda.

Mandino was a golf enthusiast, and also loved track-and-field events. He usually read when not writing. He adored his family, and liked playing baseball and reading for his children. Every weekend, Mandino and his family had automobile races in the basement of their home.

Because Mandino was color-blind, it was necessary for his wife, Bette, to write down the color of each pair of pants on the zipper area and mark his ties with numbers, before leaving for any speaking engagements and book tours. Bette also had to put a stack of cards inside Mandino’s suitcase to help him identify which pair of pants would match with his ties.

Og Mandino was a “sales guru” and the author of the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World. The 128-page book is a classic guide to a philosophy of salesmanship, telling the story of Hafid, a poor camel boy who achieves a life of abundance. Og Mandino remains one of the most inspirational and best-selling authors today. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages. He was the president of Success Unlimited magazine until 1976. He had been inducted into the National Speakers Association’s Hall Of Fame. His works were inspired by the Bible and influenced by Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone and Emmet Fox.

The Greatest Salesman in the World

The Greatest Salesman in the World contains the time-tested wisdom of the ancients distilled into ten simple scrolls  which, if followed for the prescribed ten months, will, as Og says, “seep into my other mind, that mysterious source which never sleeps, which creates my dreams, and often makes me act in ways I do not comprehend. As the words of these scrolls are consumed by my mysterious mind I will begin to awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before. My vigor will increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome every fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed it possible to be in this world of strife and sorrow.” (Scroll I) Mandino’s main motto was to “do it now”. In Scroll IX, the phrase “I will act” now is written 18 times. Although Mandino’s philosophical messages have Christian undertones, they are actually encouragements through repetitive actions that build good habits.

Scroll I: Today I begin a new life – Commitment

Everyday a person is reborn – he can forget the failures of the past. Habits are the difference between success and failure. Therefore in order to achieve success, it is necessary to form good habits and become their slave. This first scroll teaches the best way to learn the meaning of the others. Each successive scroll will contain a principle enabling the reader to replace a bad habit with a good one. Each scroll must be read three times a day – the last time a loud – for thirty consecutive days. This way, the scrolls’ wisdom becomes both a part of the active and subconscious mind.

Scroll II: I will greet this day with love in my heart – Love

Love can be the salesman’s greatest weapon, for even if people reject many particulars concerning the salesman’s wares, love will soften them. Love can be developed by always looking for the best in people. Each time we meet someone we should state silently, “I Love You.” But in order to love others, we must love ourselves, treat ourselves with respect, and not be satisfied with anything but our finest efforts.

Scroll III: I will persist until I succeed – Persistence

“I will persist until I succeed.” People are born to succeed, not to fail. Defeat will not be considered, and word such as quit, cannot, unable, and impossible are not part of the growing disciple’s vocabulary. Every failure moves a man closer to success. When the day ends and the salesman wants to quit, he must force himself to make one more sale; to end the day with success.

Scroll IV: I am nature’s greatest miracle – Miracle

People are nature’s greatest miracle. Each person is different in appearance as well as ability, and we should capitalize on, rather than despise, these differences. We must concentrate on the task at hand, not allowing ourselves to be preoccupied with problems of home while in the marketplace, or of the marketplace while we are at home. We each have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind with which to think. This is everything we need to thrive.

Scroll V: I will live this day as if it is my last – Time

Live each day as if it were your last. Dwelling on the failures or misfortunes of the past is useless, for we cannot change them. Nor should we think about tomorrow. The present hours and minutes, pass too quickly and are gone forever, and so, they must be traded only for things of value. We should always treat our family and our friends as if today were our last day together.

Scroll VI: Today I will be master of my emotions – Emotion

We are masters over our emotions. Although we daily pass through different moods, each of us has the power to control them; to “create our own weather.” If we bring joy and enthusiasm and brightness to all that we do, others will react in a similar manner. “Strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts.” No matter how we feel when we arise in the morning, we can sing or laugh and make ourselves feel better. No matter what other people do or how they react, we can decide to be positive and understanding.

Scroll VII: I will laugh at the world – Laughter

“…Cultivate the habit of laughter.” Man is the only creature who can laugh, and the best thing to laugh at is ourselves. Whenever things seem to serious or dismal, repeat the word, “This too shall pass, ” and all troublesome thoughts will seem lighter. Laughers puts events – successes as well as failures – into perspective. Only with laughter and gratitude can we enjoy the fruits of prosperity.

Scroll VIII: Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold – Value

Seek out opportunities and experiences that will multiply in value. A grain of wheat has not choice as to what it will become – whether it will be ground into bread or planted in the earth to multiply – but each human being has a choice – to grow or to perish. In order to “multiply in value,” we must set goals, short-term as well as long-term. We must not worry if we experience initial failure in reaching our goals; we compete only with ourselves. Upon reaching goal, we multiply again by setting another, and by striving to constantly make the next hour better than the present one.

Scroll IX: I will act now, I will act now, I will act now – Action

Our dream and plans are of no value without action. Procrastination comes from fear, and we overcome fear only through action. It is better to act now and risk failure, than to refrain from action and certainly flounder. Fireflies give light only when they fly. Through doing, we become like them, giving off light amid the darkness. Only action gives life significance. If success is offered now, we must act now.

Scroll X: I will pray for guidance – Guidance

Almost everyone, in a moment of terror or anguish, will turn to God for help. But a true believer will pray for guidance, not only for help. He calls on God not for material things, but for the knowledge to understand the way to acquire what is needed. Nevertheless, we must realize that sometimes we will not be given the sort of guidance we ask for – this, too, is an answer to prayer. Pray for ability equal to the opportunity, for good habits, for love, to use words well, to humbly forge through all obstacles, to reach worthwhile goals.

Good luck on your way to success!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Og_Mandino
  • www.OgMandino.com.
  • Og Mandino The Greatest Salesman in the World, Bantam Books, N.Y., 1968.
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