Brian Tracy vs Zig Ziglar vs Napoleon Hill

Brian Tracy vs Zig Ziglar vs Napoleon Hill

So let’s say you are interested in developing yourself and the idea of reading some of the specialist literature on the topic appeals the big question is;

Who do you read?

It’s a big question and I can’t really answer it for you. What I can do for you however is review three of the most popular authors. It’s less about one vs the other and more about which one is going to be right for you. Although that said I will compare and contrast them a little!


My first introduction to his work was via his sales book Advanced Selling Strategies which I know I mentioned in my sales blog on Wednesday. It’s a great sales book and covers a range of personal development tips – after all if you develop yourself you develop the sales person inside you!

After writing that and a number of other business related books Brian moved more fully into the personal development field. I used to love his material. It was clearly laid out and had lots of ‘golden tips’ and ‘rules’ – such as the ‘rule of attraction’ which pretty much states that whatever you have in your life at the moment you have attracted to yourself. Consequently by aiming to attract better and more positive things into your life your life will improve.

It’s a great principle and a good example of the positive mindset style that Brian has. As one of the first authors to really help me change my life I have a lot of good feelings towards Brian however the more I researched and read in the field of personal development the more I disappointed I became. 

What I discovered with his work was that a lot of it had been said before. Now I realise that self development authors are influenced by other authors in the field but over time I found less and less of Brian’s material to be new and fresh. I kept having the feeling that I had read something like it in the earlier authors – W.Clement Stone or Napoleon Hill for example.

Had I not read so much I would have recommended him almost without reservation although he does also have the habit of saying that ‘this is the most important’ or ‘one of the most important’ rules/principles etc quite a lot; until everything seems to be the most important!

PRO’S Lots of ‘rules’ that you can take out and apply immediately; material clearly outlined

CON’S Not as original as he first seems 

RECOMMENDED WORKS Advanced Selling Strategies (if you are in sales)

BEST WAY TO ENJOY Reading his material


Zig Ziglar speaks at the Get Motivated Seminar...

Ziglar, like Brian Tracy, started out as a sales trainer and moved across to pure personal development. The topics of personal and career development are obviously intertwined and both authors have simply developed their work in a natural way.

Ziglar tells the best stories and the thing I really like about his work is that it’s based on things he’s seen or people he has directly talked to. He speaks about himself and his wife (the red-head) and he speaks from the heart. I know several people who will listen to Zig simply for the entertainment value. He might repeat his stories a few times over his different books and CD’s but you don’t begrudge him that given the quality of the stories.

Where he falls down a little is that his material can cover a wide range of topics and often in a conversation manner. Brian Tracy has a firm structure that he works to whilst Ziglar roams over his topics. When I put a Zig CD on in the car I often don’t know exactly what I’m going to be listening to – other than the broad topic heading and I find it hard to remember on which CD he gives specific advice. Which clearly makes it harder to look up afterwards.

Another challenge that some people have, although not myself personally, is that he has a strong Texan accent and I know some folks in Britain who just can’t get past it. Also his recent work has become very religiously based and, whilst I don’t have an objection to it, I know it can be off-putting to some people. The more personal the work the more you find him referring to religion. His autobiography was particularly strong with religious references. I respect that he feels that way but it won’t work for everyone.

For all that if you were to strand me on a desert island and make me pick an author to listen to I’d pick Zig without a moment hesitation – and if I had to pick only one story it would be his house buying story – although the alligators in the swimming pool story always makes me laugh as well!

PRO’S As entertaining as anyone could possibly be; memorable stories help his points stay with you

CON’S Very religious particularly in his later works; accent bothers some people; not as structured as he could be 

RECOMMENDED WORKS See You At The Top; any of his sales CD’s (if you are in sales)

BEST WAY TO ENJOY Listening to his material


English: American self-help writer Napoleon Hi...

Napoleon Hill is most famous for his book Think and Grow Rich which was the first of his books that I read. It is truly worthy of the accolade of a classic (although not my favourite of his works).

Napoleon had the almost unique advantage when he wrote his work of being hired to travel the world and interview successful people to try to identify what attributes or qualities had helped them become successful. As a result his work is full of references to long dead successful business people – some famous, some less so.

I absolutely love Hill’s work and despite its age I feel most of it is relevant to us nowadays. I do accept that some of his ideas and comments have not aged well and the fact that Hill was writing in the 1930’s does show through in places.

I mentioned above that I find Brian Tracy less original now than I first did and largely that’s down to the writings of Napoleon Hill. For me when I read Brian Tracy it is like reading an updated, rewrite of Hill’s work. Not all of it but enough that it makes me want to put Brian down and pick up Napoleon Hill.

The age of Hill’s work doesn’t bother me and that might indeed be the deciding factor for you. If you want something more up-to-date then Brian Tracy would be a better choice for you. If you can live with some almost naive 1930’s comments about business and technology then I’d recommending going with Hill.

PRO’S Original work and thoroughly researched; well structured and laid out

CON’S The material has aged and some appears out of date 

RECOMMENDED WORKS Napoleon Hill The Golden Rules, Lost Work; Think and Grow Rich

BEST WAY TO ENJOY Reading his material


Reading any self development author is better than reading none. Each author has their strengths and their weaknesses. My recommendation would be hire a couple of books from the library and see who you click with.

I still read, or listen to, all three of the above authors regularly regardless of any of their flaws. They are wise, dedicated individuals who set out to share their knowledge for the betterment of all. I respect that a lot and would encourage all of you to try them out.

Until next time;

Stephen Hart 

Take one management book, some managers and stir well

Take One Management Book, Some Managers and Stir Well

So this week I have blogged about the personal action of career development through individual reading. But what if you run a company or a division and you want to have your managers develop their skills? What are your options?

Well first up you could recommend to them that they read certain books – that might get you somewhere but the only people who will respond positively to that prompting are the people who would have read something themselves anyway!

Next you could make books available in a ‘learning library’ which will work to a limited degree as long as you have a strong advocate for the library who constantly recommends the books to people.

Or you could integrate management literature into your management development process. Or if you don’t have a management development process (although seriously you should!) then you can integrate management reading into your management reporting / meeting processes.

Here’s one way


  1. Select a management book that you have personally read and feel is relevant to your workplace
  2. Order one copy for every manager who is to take part in the exercise – (more is better than less)
  3. Divide the book into sections based on how many separate discussions or sessions you want the exercise to last for (VARIATION – Decide to work systematically one / two / or three chapters at a time)
  4. Hold a management meeting – explain why you think the book will help – sell the concept of professional development and the benefits of learning – set down the deadline of when people must have read the first allotted section by
  5. Advise them to take notes and that the topic and ideas arising from the book will be discussed at the appointed time
  6. Leave managers to simmer and read for the allotted time and then hold the arranged meeting
  7. Discuss the chapter, include everyone and have every make one recommendation based on ideas they have had from reading the book
  8. Set the next reading section and deadline (possibly also set action / review points for the new ideas that have arisen)
  9. Repeat until the book is finished and the manager have absorbed all the knowledge contained within!
  10. RESULT – More full flavoured managers!

This recipe can be repeated with different books to get different results!

Until next time; happy cooking!


Photo by Sheri with thanks – her gallery can be found here – be warned might not be suitable for work time viewing

Three sales tips I learnt from books

Three Sales Tips I Learnt from Books

So I’m promoting the idea this week that it is worth skimming through books written by specialists in your industry and learning from them.

For example I deliver a lot of sales training and whilst I’ve been in sales for something like 15 years I still read a lot of sales books. I take the simple view that I plan to be better and more knowledgeable about sales next year than I am this year. One of the ways I can ensure that happens is by reading, and rereading, both new sales books and some of the timeless classics.

To illustrate the results of my reading let me share with you three of the tips that I have directly learnt from books.


Let me preface this first tip with the fact that I learnt this tip about 11 years ago. And whilst I have development my own sales methodology since then which takes things to a higher level I would have never got to those heights without this advice

The basic sales process is

Now that’s very simplistic model of sales but it’s the first step to understanding consultative selling. That is; selling through asking questions about the prospective client’s situation and then creating a solution to match.

It’s a very powerful method of selling and personally changed my sales approach from ‘here’s what I have’ to ‘what do you need’.

And for that I am ever grateful to Brian Tracy and his book Advanced Selling Strategies where that, and much more advice, can be found.



This was a piece of advice that I didn’t need having become a hardened business professional by the time I came across it but I really wish that someone had told me about it when I started my career! 

Whilst I knew the principle the initials EBS summed it up in a brilliant way that I had never thought of. EBS addresses the fear that new sales people and perhaps all new business professionals feel (whether in sales or not). 

EBS is the fact that every one of us has Equal Business Stature with every other business professional in the world.

There is no reason to be afraid or put on the back foot because someone has a bigger title, office or company than you!

I’ve presented EBS to countless new sales professionals and I can see the relief this principle gives them. The fear of ‘titles’ is a real occurrence in business and EBS is your short hand way to remember that everyone is equal. As a colleague of mine used to say in relation to EBS

‘Everyone has a sock drawer.’

There is also an interesting story relating to the principles of EBS and how it relates to the theme of this blog i.e. learning from sales books. I learnt the principle from a sales book called Selling to VITO by Anthony Parinello.

Now personally at the time I read it this was the only tip that I took from the book. Indeed I passed the book on to someone else and I no longer have a copy.

I just didn’t click with the other information in the book although I know other people have and it is a popular book. Possibly if I read the book again nowadays I might take more from it but I didn’t about six years ago when I read it.

But, and this is the key point, that one principle has been so useful it was worth reading a whole book for.


Let me confess up front that my favourite sales author is Zig Ziglar. (He’s also my favourite living personal development author). Frankly if I look up to anyone in the sales and speaking world then it’s Zig.

I don’t tend to read his books but rather listen to his audio productions. He’s an absolute treat and no one tells sales stories quite like Zig! 

I’d struggle to count the number of separate pieces of sales advice that I have learnt from him so I had to think long and hard about which piece to pass on. I finally settled on a quote which I still remember and helps guide me when I am making my own sales calls.

(As an aside I listen to his CD’s in the car and I can’t remember which one the following quote came from, sorry – Ziglar on Selling is a good as is See You At The Top.)

Here is the quote

“Some you win, some you lose, some get rained out.”

A brilliant quote that states the truth about sales.

Let me break it down as I see it – “Some you win…”

You will win some sales. Absolutely and definitively. This can be a really positive thought first thing in the morning with a cold list stretching ahead of you. If you work hard you will win sales. The more talented and practised you are the more you will win but virtually anyone, with any talent, will win some – have faith!

…some you lose…

You will, as a sales professional, drop the ball or otherwise lose some deals. It’s healthy to accept that, do everything in your power for it not to happen and then be okay with it when it does. Treat every lost sale, where your influence could have won the business but didn’t, as a learning event. Take what you can from the experience and move on. As long as you learn then you have gained something.

…some get rained out

Sometimes for no rhyme or reason the sales process doesn’t work – the client gets sick, decides not to purchase from you or anyone or any number of a million oddball matters outside of your control. What the quote says to me is that’s okay, it happens, be cool and move on to the next one. No stress, no fuss.


The power of books is that one line can change your life. The above three authors have transformed my professional abilities and helped me influence thousands of delegates in turn. Whatever business you are in the benefits of learning from those in your field is enormous.

Until next time; happy reading and good selling!


Motivational Monday #10 A conversation with the finest individuals

A conversation with the finest individuals…

“The read of good books is like a conversation with the finest individuals of the past.”


There are so many great quotes about learning and reading that I struggled to pick a single favourite. For myself reading has always been one of my biggest hobbies and its the only hobby that I’ve been totally consistent with – I can’t remember a time I wasn’t reading!

Nowadays I read a lot of material for work purposes. Whilst I’m experienced in the fields I train in there are far greater minds than I out there and some of them have written great books! I take the view that the moment I assume I know everything is the moment I cease to learn. And I will never cease to learn!

So I happily and regularly read books and other literature on marketing, sales, recruitment, management, social media and all the other areas I get involved in.

There have been, and there are, brilliant people in the world and by reading their work I get to share their considered thoughts and experiences. I believe as a result I can fast track my career and personal life. So for you reading this now I would say today is a great time to either continue that journey (if you are reading books in your field currently) or a great place start it. 

Personally I’m a great fan of the library for two reasons a) it’s free (that has to be a good thing right!) and b) many of these books will only contain one or two ideas that you will want to take and use. Being able to borrow as many as you like and just pull out a few pertinent facts is very effective. Also there is nothing stopping you subsequently buying a particularly book if you find it really useful. The library is a plan with no draw backs in my book!

The theme of the blogs this week is learning – and to that end I will cover the following topics this week:

  •  Tuesday – A step by step guide to sharing your own material via your LinkedIn profile
  • Wednesday – Three sales tips I learnt from books
  • Thursday – A management exercise (with management books)
  • Friday  – Some personal development authors reviewed
I’d like to end with two more book related quotes

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”


“It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.”

Denis Parsons Burkitt

Until next time; happy reading!
Stephen Hart
Photo curtesy of the talented Karolina – more of her work here

Friday Challenge Three – Book Time

This Friday how about an educational challenge that might take you a little longer than a week to do!

The challenge this week is Book Time – and the specifics are that I offer the challenge of picking one of the books listed on my new Recommended Reading page of this blog and reading it! (The link is at the top of the page.)

You could either pick one deliberately through the catagory section or trust to luck, chance or maybe even fate by asking a friend to pick a random number between one and ninety three!

Once you have that number simply see which book is listed against that number in the Complete List section, obtain a copy and read it!

Well after all the nights have gotten darker and colder so how better to spend your time than developing your life with a good book!

Happy reading!

Until next time;


Stephen Hart

Picture from Melissa Banks who’s other work can be found at with thanks

Only Books

Only Books

The story I am about to relate happened about seven years ago and is as clear today as when it happened. It was a bright summer’s day and I was strolling down a high street doing a little window shopping with my fiancée when we saw a woman walking towards us with a young boy, about six year of age, in tow. Because the pavement was narrow at this point, my fiancée and I stepped back and waited for them to pass us. As they passed the boy made a move to go into the shop in whose window we had been looking. The woman, his mother I guess, pulled him back by the arm saying, “You don’t want to go in there. It’s only books.”

And that is the phrase that has echoed in my head these seven years hence. “It’s only books”…now she was right as it was a bookshop the boy had tried to enter so it was indeed only full of books. Books on business, on sales, on poetry, on love, on war, on indeed every topic that has delighted or plagued mankind since the dawn of time. The findings of the greatest thinkers, poets and dreamers recorded for the benefit of all of us so that we might succeed where others have failed, triumph were others have been defeated and maybe laugh when others have cried.

So once the woman and boy had gone up the street my fiancée and I went into the bookstore and what did we come out with? Only books – or an armful of adventure, entertainment, and learning. And that was fine with us.

And seven years after that story took place let me ask you a question; when was the last time you read a book that could help you with your career, your personal life or your financial freedom? When did you last read a book to make you think, to challenge your beliefs or to stretch your mind? When was the last time you took a lesson on business, or sales or life directly from one of the experts in those fields?

Or are they ‘only books’ to you too?

Until next time;


Stephen Hart