Long Before The Secret and The Alchemist there was Og

In a trend of finally going back and reading books that many consider some of the “greatest” or “most inspirational” books they’ve ever read, it was time for me to read The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino.  It has been on my to-do list for nearly two decades but I never got around to giving it a go despite the relative shortness of the book.

Well, it is a lot of what I expected. Yes, it is inspirational. It reads like a series of Stuart Smalley self-talks wrapped up in a fairy tale.  The setting for the delivery of the information to the reader is a bit hokey and definitely dated, but it holds up. Mandino’s wrapping of his 10 scrolls (keys to success) around a biblical story seems forced, but he has the sales over the years to prove it works.

It reads like it is the wisdom of the ages passed down from generation to generation and that serves to help lend it credibility. Just as Paulo Coehlo’s tale in The Alchemist later implies wisdom from long ago, Mandino writes a book in 1968 that implies it is made up of much older truths.

The book also reads like it was developed as an indoctrination exercise for a new sales staff. It is full of repetitive mantras seemingly designed to brainwash an inexperienced salesman into being a good one. It gave me the feel of the rah-rah, you-can-do-it training sessions of multi-level-marketing (MLM) companies. I can imagine that a large portion of the sales of this perennially popular book are MLM leaders buying to encourage their down-line.

Criticisms aside, this is a book that is worth reading. Take it for what it is worth though… if it changes your life – great. If not, then you have lost nothing in reading it.

by Chris Doelle