Timeline of Success Manuals


Shepherd Mead was blatantly satirizing Horatio Alger’s “rags to riches” mentality–the American notion that luck and pluck can help any determined young man work his way from the mailroom the the boardroom. Mead had plenty of material to pull from when he wrote How to Succeed; ever since Benjamin Franklin, arguably America’s first iconic success story, wrote The Way to Wealth in 1758, authors and businessmen have written how-to guides for anxious young workers. The following timeline lists some of America’s classic success manuals, books that define what it means to succeed, and how, in their expert opinions, to do so.

1758: The Way to Wealth, by Benjamin Franklin

“God helps them that help themselves.”

1894, Pushing to the Front, by Orison Swett Marden

“As the sculptor thinks only of the angel imprisoned in the marble block, so Nature cares only for the man or woman shut up in the human being… Nature will chip and pound us remorselessly to bring out our possibilities. Genius darts, flutters and tires; but perseverance wears and wins.”

1922: My Life and Work, by Henry Ford

“Good will is one of the few really important assets of life. A determined man can win almost anything that he goes after, but unless, in his getting, he gains good will he has not profited much.”

1937: Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

“We live in a world of over-abundance and everything the heart could desire, with nothing standing between us and our desires, excepting lack of a definite purpose.”

1940The Secret Door to Success, by Florence Scovel Shinn

“Your big opportunity and big success usually slide in, when you least expect it. You have to let go long enough for the great law of attraction vto operate. You never saw a worried and anxious magnet. It stands up straight and hasn’t a care in the world, because it knows needles can’t  help jumping to it. The things we rightly desire come to pass when we have taken the clutch off.”

1959The Magic of thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz

“Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success. Remember this, too! Big ideas and big plans are often easier—certainly no more difficult–—than small ideas and small plans.”

1951: How to Be Rich, by John Paul Getty

“To be truly rich, regardless of his fortune or lack of it, a man must live by his own values. If those values are not personally meaningful, then no amount of money gained can hide the emptiness of life without them.”

1982: The Official Guide to Success, by Tom Hopkins

“Winners almost always do what they think is the most productive thing possible at every given moment; losers never do. When you look at what winners and losers actually do moment by moment, the difference between these two divisions of the human race really is that
small. But the results of those small differences keep adding to each other at every given moment until they reach a critical size.”

1989The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Covey

“What we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. We all know it. There are people we trust absolutely because we know their character. Whether they’re eloquent or not, whether they have the human relations techniques or not, we trust
them, and we work successfully with them.”

2000: The Millionaire Mind, by Thomas J. Stanley

“They live in lovely homes located in fine neighborhoods. Balance is their approach to life. They are financially independent, yet they enjoy life—they are not ‘all work, no play’ type of people.”

2003: The Luck Factor, by Richard Wiseman

“People are not born lucky. Instead, lucky people are, without realizing it, using four basic principles to create good fortune in their lives. Understand the principles and you understand luck itself.”


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