Og Mandino: ACT NOW – 10 Timeless Secrets To Get Everything You Want In Life

Matthew McConaughey

A peek at Og Mandino’s list of accomplishments suggests he was a person gifted with initiative, talent, luck and pluck. But before he was a famous inspirational speaker and author with book sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, Mandino spent a fair bit of time as a frustrated, hopelessly alcoholic failure.


Augustine "Og" Mandino II (December 12, 1923 – September 3, 1996[1]) was an American author. He wrote the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over 25 languages. He was the president of Success Unlimited magazine until 1976 and was inducted into the National Speakers Association's Hall of Fame.

A peek at Og Mandino’s list of accomplishments suggests he was a person gifted with initiative, talent, luck and pluck. But before he was a famous inspirational speaker and author with book sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, Mandino spent a fair bit of time as a frustrated, hopelessly alcoholic failure.

As a young World War II veteran baffled by the seemingly simple tasks of earning a living and having a life, Mandino spiraled into despair and poverty. But one day, his life took a dramatic turn for the better because of a chance encounter with the work of legendary success experts W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill, coupled with Mandino’s own willingness to take action.

Born in 1923, Og (short for Augustine) was the child of an Irish mother and an Italian immigrant father who settled in Natick, Mass., when he and his two younger siblings were still small. A voracious reader from early childhood, Og wrote short stories for his mother, who often said her son would grow up to be a great writer. He was editor of his high-school newspaper his senior year and planned to go to the University of Missouri to study journalism. Then, in 1940, just six weeks after he graduated from high school, Og’s mother died suddenly while making him lunch.

Overcome with grief and confusion, Og abandoned his plans to attend the University of Missouri. He joined the Army Air Corps and flew 30 missions over Germany as a bombardier aboard a B-24 Liberator. When he returned home, he spent six months in a Times Square flat, trying to get a start as a writer. When his first efforts to sell his work didn’t pan out, he gave up writing.

If only Og Mandino could have seen this experience made worthwhile in this passage from his greatest work, The Greatest Salesman in the World, published more than 20 years later:

“Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold. The height of my goals will not hold me in awe, though I may stumble often before they are reached. If I stumble, I will rise and my falls will not concern me, for all men must stumble often to reach the hearth.”

Downward Spiral

After giving up his dream of becoming a great writer, Mandino got married, bought a house through the GI Bill and took his first sales job in the insurance business. At a time when most hopeful young veterans were returning from the war to start families and careers, Mandino had already had a taste of bitter failure, and he was in for more.

“Success will not wait. If I delay, she will become betrothed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the man.”

In his autobiography, A Better Way to Live, he describes trying to sell insurance during this period: “The treadmill I soon found myself on was torture. Never was I more than a few paces ahead of several bill collectors, and making the monthly mortgage payments was a major challenge despite my long hours of work. I would go anywhere, at any time, to try to sell a policy, and still there were always more bills than money to pay them.”

Bewildered and exhausted, Mandino began stopping at bars in the evening, reasoning that after each day of disappointment, he deserved a drink. Before long, he was a full-blown alcoholic, and his wife left him, taking their daughter.

For two years, Mandino wandered the highways of the United States, working odd jobs and never staying in one place for very long. He was hopeless, aimless, alcoholic and miserable. His faith in himself slowly drained away, and he found himself contemplating suicide. He pondered a $29 gun in the window of a Cleveland pawnshop, thinking it would be the easy way out of a life that had become unbearable.

But something kept Mandino from taking the next step. Deep down, he still possessed a willingness to live—the “seed of success,” he later wrote in The Greatest Salesman in the World, which would take root and begin a chain of events that would change his life and ultimately the lives of millions.

After continuing past that pawnshop, he kept walking and found himself in a public library. It was snowy outside, and he later recalled how warm it was in the library. He selected several books on self-help, motivation and success. If he wasn’t going to end his life, Mandino knew he had to find a better way to live. So far, he had failed miserably in every attempt at success and happiness.

A Slave to Good Habits

The public library soon became Mandino’s haven. He continued his wanderings, but wherever he went, he visited libraries and pored over hundreds of sales, personal development, motivation and success books. Over time, he experienced an awakening, a dramatic shift in his beliefs and behaviors. The new habit of reading and studying gradually replaced Mandino’s devastating drinking habit. Years later, he counted this principle of constructive habits that had saved his own life and sanity as the first and most important axiom in The Greatest Salesman in the World:

“I will form good habits and become their slave. And how will I accomplish this difficult feat? Through these scrolls it will be done, for each scroll contains a principle which will drive a bad habit from my life and replace it with one which will bring me closer to success. For it is another of nature’s laws that only a habit can subdue another habit.”

When he first encountered Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude in a New Hampshire library, the book by W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill affected Mandino more deeply than anything he had ever read. “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,” Mandino later wrote.

Reading on the book jacket that Stone was president of Combined Insurance Company of America, Mandino, then 32, pulled himself together, searched for a subsidiary and applied for a job. Meantime, he had met a woman he described as “having a lot more faith in me than I had in myself,” and when Combined Insurance hired him, he married her.

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Having failed terribly in his first job in insurance sales, he was determined to succeed as he re-entered the field, armed with the principles and techniques he had absorbed from hundreds of books. Within a year, he was promoted to sales manager, was recruiting and training other agents, and breaking sales records. A pamphlet he wrote about selling in rural areas gained him a new job doing promotional writing, and ultimately, Mandino became editor of Stone’s Success Unlimited, an internal publication. Within 10 years, Mandino turned this small booklet into a national magazine, and his magazine writing attracted the interest of a book publisher.

The man who had once been a desperate drunk rummaging through the shelves of a public library went on to become the author of 22 top-selling books.

In Mandino’s most famous book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, a young man named Erasmus, the chief bookkeeper for a wealthy, successful merchant named Hafid, receives from his employer the priceless gift of a wooden chest containing 10 ancient scrolls. Many years before, when he was a poor camel keeper longing for riches and glory, Hafid had received the chest from his own master. Within the scrolls are “all the secrets and principles necessary to become a great success in the art of selling.” This small, simple book reads like a fable or a fairy tale, but its guidelines for successful selling—and living—are infinitely practical and timeless.

The first scroll contains the instructions for “unlocking” the powerful wisdom of the remaining nine: reading each scroll, including the first, three times a day for 30 days each. If undertaken as prescribed, the reader makes it through the scrolls in 10 months’ time. Just as it happened for the author of the scrolls, this practice of steady, disciplined study is designed to impress the wisdom of the scrolls—and the willingness to act upon it—deeply within the student’s heart and mind.

Og Mandino was a man who practiced what he later preached. His own willingness, action and perseverance made him into the greatest salesman in the world, with millions of books sold and lives improved. At the heart of his writings and his life was evident his heartfelt concern for the individual human beings holding his books, his deep empathy for those struggling as he once had. He had found a way up and out of self-pity and failure, and had shared those timeless principles with anyone with the willingness to pull his book from the shelf and put its words into action.


60 Second Summary: The Greatest Salesman In The World

In his best-selling book The Greatest Salesman In The World, Og Mandino passes on his advice in the form of a parable. In this parable, there was a rich man called Pathros who was a trader and known as the greatest salesman in the world. He had a camel boy called Hafid whom he also adopted as his son. Hafid met a beautiful girl called Lisha and to marry her he asked Pathros to allow him to become a salesman.

Pathros gives Hafid a robe to go sell. On his endeavors, Hafid meets a couple in a cave with a newborn baby and out of compassion he gives them the robe. Hafid goes home empty-handed. However on his return from Bethlehem, even though he is empty-handed, Pathros sees a shining star on Hafid and decides he is the next one to be given the ten scrolls that contained the principles to become the best salesman in the world.

The scrolls come with instructions that Hafid must follow. Each scroll should be read three times a day (morning, noon and in the evening) for thirty days. This was so that the principles in each scroll would become internalized and ingrained in every salt of his being. At night the scroll was to be read out, but in the morning and noon, it was to be read silently.

Also, the scrolls had to be read in order from I to X, with the next one only being read after the thirty days were over. Hafid was also to give 50% of his earnings to the poor after learning from the scrolls a condition he agreed to.

Here are the ten scrolls that were given to Hafid and the messages in them:

The Scroll Marked I

I will form new habits and become their slave.

To succeed as a salesman, you need to inculcate the habits that will take you far. You cannot act on impulse. You only act on habits as a salesman, and this is what the first scroll was to teach Hafid.

It is in this scroll that the rules for reading the scrolls are written. He was to read the scrolls three times daily and for thirty days.

The Scroll Marked II

I will greet this day with love.

The love that you give out to the universe will always come back to you. This is the greatest success in all ventures. When you greet the day with love, you will speak words that will inspire others.

You will make your enemies your friends and will treat everyone you come across with love. When you do this that love will come back to you and people will want to buy from you.

The Scroll Marked III

I will persist until I succeed.

Persistence will bring you success. You cannot become the greatest salesman in the world if you give up. The prizes will be at the end, and therefore you have to persist and keep trying. Keep charging at life and overcoming the challenges so you can get success.

The Scroll Marked IV

I am nature’s greatest miracle.

You are unique, and no other person that has come before or will come after can be exactly like you. You, therefore, can achieve what others have accomplished in your own uniqueness. No one can talk, walk or think like you. When you understand that you are unique, you will use your strengths to become the greatest salesman there is.

The Scroll Marked V

I will live this day as if it is my last.

When you see each day as the last, then every moment becomes precious to you. You will not waste precious time thinking of the misfortunes of yesterday, the failures, the defeats, and the heartaches.

Instead, you will focus on doing what you love to the very best at that particular instance. Live in the present moment and do your best then.

The Scroll Marked VI

Today I will be a master of my emotions.

Unless you have the right mood, your day will not be a success. You have to understand that nature is always in a constant state of change and so are your emotions. You will be happy sometimes and other times melancholy.

Sometimes you will be happy and other times sad. Master your emotions so that they do not affect your work and you will see success.

The Scroll Marked VII

I will laugh at the world.

Do not take life so seriously. Only man has the gift to laugh of all the creatures in the universe. Enjoy that gift because it will lighten your burdens and make you more appealing. Learn how to laugh and smile and be happy with other people.

The Scroll Marked VIII

Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold.

As a salesman, you have to grow and multiply. To grow, therefore, you must set goals for the day, week, month and year. Consider what your best performance is in achieving your goals and multiply that a hundred or a thousand fold and you will grow beyond your imagination.

The Scroll Marked IX

I will act now.

My dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible without action. You have to work to achieve everything that you have set out to achieve. Avoid procrastination and fear to act.

The Scroll Marked X

As a salesman you need to pray. You need to believe in a power mightier than you that will help you achieve your dream of becoming the greatest salesman in the world. This scroll contains the salesman prayer.

The Salesman’s Prayer

Never will I pray for the material things of the world. I am not calling to a servant to bring me food. I am not ordering an innkeeper to provide me with room. Never will I seek delivery of gold, love, good health, petty victories, fame, success or happiness. Only for guidance will I pray, that I may be shown the way to acquire these things, and my prayer will always be answered.

I will pray for guidance, and I will pray as a salesman, in this manner:

Oh creator of all things, help me. For this day I go out into the world naked and alone, and without your hand to guide me I will wander far from the path which leads me to success and happiness.
I ask not for gold or garments or even opportunities equal to my ability; instead, guide me so that I may acquire ability equal to my opportunities.
You have taught the lion and the eagle how to hunt and prosper with teeth and claw. Teach me how to hunt with words and prosper with love so that I may be a lion among men and an eagle in the market place.
Help me to remain humble through obstacles and failures; yet hide not from mine eyes the prize that will come with victory.
Assign me tasks to which others have failed; yet guide me to pluck the seeds of success from their failures. Confront me with fears that will temper my spirit; yet endow me with courage to laugh at my misgivings.
Spare me sufficient days to reach my goals; yet help me live this day as if it were my last. Bathe me in good habits that the bad ones may drown; yet grant me compassion for the weaknesses in others. Suffer me to know that all things shall pass; yet help me to count my blessings of today.
Expose me to hate
so it be not a stranger; yet fill my cup with love to turn strangers into friends. But all these things be only if thy will. I am a small and lonely grape clutching the vine yet thou hast made me different from all others.
Verily, there must be a special place for me. Guide me. Help me. Show me the way Lord. Let me become all you planned for me when my seed was planted and selected by you to sprout in the vineyard of the world.
Help this humble salesman…..Guide me, God.
– More From
Og Mandino
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