The Greatest Salesman in the World


I told my sister upon finishing The Greatest Salesman In The World, that beside her Bible, this is the one book that she should read, if nothing else, ever!

I really loved this book and going by the fact that it sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over 25 languages, shows that I am not the only who thinks that.

First published in 1968, it proves that not all masterpieces need to be of ‘War and Peace’ volume. It is a short book that will take a couple of hours to read through and will be time well spent.

I found this book brilliant, profound in its message and yet simple in its delivery. It is one of those life-changing books that one can take as much or as little from, but cannot claim to be untouched by its message in some way

The book contains the basic principles of life, simple but powerful, this short book, at only 110 pages will change your life if the principles are applied properly.

There is just something about these older books that I love.

The three most powerful points I took from the book were;

  1. What might look like a failure to start with, might just be the first step in being successful

  2. Love conquers everything and is your most powerful tool in becoming truly successful

  3. By living a simple life does not make you poor but wise

Hafid is a master salesman and a trader; a very wealthy man. He lives in an elegant palace equipped with every possible comfort. One day towards the end of his life, he requests a meeting with Erasmus, his trusted servant and friend. He asks Erasmus how much money is in the treasury and tells him to estimate the worth of his property. It is a large sum.

Hafid then directs Erasmus to sell all his possessions in exchange for gold and alludes to his long practice of distributing half his annual profit to the poor. Now, says the salesman, he wishes to divide all his riches with the neediest, keeping only enough to live out his remaining days in peace. He requests that Erasmus turn over each of his emporiums to the person who manages it, together with a reward of 5,000 talents and bequeaths upon him his palace and warehouse.

Though Erasmus can hardly comprehend this, Hafid again orders him to do as he has asked, assuring the servant that on his return he will share with Erasmus a long-kept secret he has imparted to no one except his wife.

When Erasmus arrives back at the palace after distributing Hafid's property, he is led to a room kept boiled for a long as anyone can remember. The only object within the room is an old chest. Hafid unlocks the chest - empty, except for some tattered scrolls. Hafid then speaks: "All the success, happiness, love, peace of mind, and wealth that I have enjoyed is directly traceable to what is contained in these few scrolls. My debt to them, and to the wise one who entrusted them to my care, can never be repaid."

Hafid explains that each of the ten scrolls contains a principle, or law, that together will enable their possessor to accumulate all the wealth he desires. Long ago he was commissioned by the one who gave him the scrolls to share them only with one person and was told he would be given a sign to know who that person was. He petitions Erasmus to stay with him until he receives this sign. The faithful servant agrees to do so.

The story then shifts back in time. Young Hafid, a camel boy travelling with a caravan, beseeched the leader of the caravan, Pathros, to grant him the chance to be a merchant. After some argument, Pathros gave him approval and agreed to allow Hafid to sell a finely woven robe. However, he warned the boy that he would be confronted with temptations and that his handling of these temptations would determine his success, both in life and as a salesman. Pathros then dispatched that would-be merchant to a poor settlement - Bethlehem - to sell the garment.

For three days Hafid worked to peddle the robe, but without success. On the night before he was to rejoin the caravan, Hafid sought out a stable to tend to his donkey. There he discovered a young couple with a shivering newborn baby. Both husband and wife had wrapped their own cloaks around the infant, trying to warm him, but to little avail. Hafid gave the worried parents back their cloaks and wrapped Pathros's fine robe around the beautiful child. The boy then commenced his trek back to the caravan, considering himself a failure and trying to find an excuse, some story to cover up what had done.

When Hafid reached the caravan, Pathros was waiting outside his tent. He had observed a bright star that followed Hafid back to the camp. Something extraordinary had taken place. Hafid, in tears, blurted out the story of the robe; but instead of chiding the boy, Pathros assured Hafid that he had not failed. He would explain everything, said the merchant, once they returned to their headquarters.

There, the dying Pathros summoned the lad to him. He told how he once had rescued a traveller, and how this grateful traveller had insisted that Pathros come to live with him and his family. During this sojourn, the traveller conferred upon Pathros a chest containing ten scrolls, some money and a letter.

For a year Pathros memorized the scrolls, incorporating their wisdom into his life. After leaving the traveller's home, he opened the letter, which instructed him to forever share with the poor half of his wealth, but never to divulge the information in the scrolls, except when he received a sign telling him of the person who would next guard the scrolls. As he watched the star following Hafid home that night, Pathros had come to realize that he was indeed the awaited sign.

Pathros's story ended, whereupon he instructed Hafid to go to Damascus and purchase a small supply of rugs. Hafid was to open the scroll, study it until he fully understood its contents, and begin selling the rugs. He must proceed to study each scroll thoroughly, in the same way, applying the principles one by one as he learned them. Finally, he was not to share with others the knowledge contained in the scrolls, nor show the scrolls to anyone, until he himself was given a sign.

Hafid set out to inquire of the scrolls as he sold the rugs, and was taught the keys to prosperous and triumphant living:

Scroll I: 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 aloud - for thirty consecutive days. This way, the scrolls' wisdom becomes both a part of the active and subconscious mind.

Scroll II: 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." People are born to succeed, not to fail. Defeat will not be considered, and a 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: 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: 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: We are masters of 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: "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 serious or dismal, repeat the word, "This too shall pass, " and all troublesome thoughts will seem lighter. Laughter puts events - successes as well as failures - into perspective. Only with laughter and gratitude can we enjoy the fruits of prosperity.

Scroll VIII: Seek out opportunities and experiences that will multiply in value. A grain of wheat has no 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 a goal, we multiply again by setting another, and by striving to constantly make the next hour better than the present one.

Scroll IX: 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: 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 realise 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.

It is now three years since Hafid has sold all his goods. Together with his wife and Erasmus, he lives a simple life. One day on unkempt traveller comes to see him. It is Paul, a follower of Jesus. Paul relates to Hafid his conversion to Christ, tells about Jesus' life, and declare that Jesus has sent him to find the greatest salesman in the world and ask him to share his miraculous secrets for converting others. At last the man to whom Hafid can confer the sacred instructive scrolls has arrived.

What I took from it...

Below are my Top 10 quotes from the book.

  1. Success is a state of mind. But failure is always described in one way. Failure is man's inability to reach his goals in life, whatever that might be.

  2. I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against this force.

  3. The prices of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning, and it's not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal

  4. I am rare, and there is value in rarity; therefore I am valuable.

  5. I will live this day as if it's my last, and if it is not I shall fall to my knees and give thanks. My last must be my best.

  6. Today I will master my emotions. I will become a master of myself. I will become great.

  7. I will laugh at the world. henceforth I will cultivate the habit of laughter.

  8. Today, I will multiply my value a hundredfold. I will not commit the terrible crime of aiming to low.

  9. Action is the tinder that ignites my dreams, my plans, my goals, into a living force.

  10. Let me become all you planned for me when my seed was planted and selected by you to sprout in the vineyard of this world. Help this humble salesman. Guide me, God.

My Rating

I loved this book; I think I said that already - but I did. It is short enough to complete in a couple of hours, yet it is packed with wise learning points. Even though it is called The Greatest Salesman in the World, the 'sales' factor is only a small part of this overall personal improvement masterpiece.

Probably the most inspiring book I've ever read.

You Can Listen To The Audiobook Here