The Network Marketer’s Bookshelf: Over a Century of Sales & Personal Development Classics

network marketing

Network marketers are weird.

Oh c’mon now, you know it’s true!

Listen, if you felt discontent with the 9-5 grind and thus started to build a future on your own terms, then you already know you’re just a wee bit different than the average Joe, right?

And if you’ve been at this for any length of time, then you’ve probably gotten some strange looks and maybe even a snide remark or two from your friends and family.

After all, you’re behaving “strangely” and getting excited about possibilities they just don’t relate to.

But don’t worry, though, it’s all part of the process.

Network Marketing is a process of growth

To become an network marketer is to become someone new.

It means rejecting the dying—maybe dead—industrialized model of getting a “good” education and working a “safe” career for the dynamic space of directly serving the marketplace…

Where you’re out there creating relationships and leading with value, instead of trading your time for dollars.

Make no mistake, this takes leadership.

It takes leadership to stand apart from the crowd, take responsibility for your success, and practice these market-based principles and values.

And this is what makes personal development vital to your success.

Breaking free from society’s conformist norms and broke mindset means finding the right mentors to train you to think and behave in different, more successful ways.

No one gets to the top without a few mentors.

Luckily you don’t even need to leave your living room to get coaching from the most influential thought leaders of the past century!

So read on to discover the top 26 personal development classics.

1. James Allen – As a Man Thinketh (1903)

This is THE original self-help book, which pioneered the idea that an individual can shape their destiny by focusing his or her thoughts on what he or she wants to achieve.

Specifically, As a Man Thinketh proposes that each individual has full responsibility (and control) over the events in their life.

It laid the foundation for the “think it into reality” and “mind over matter” school of thought wherein all of us can make change happen.

As a Man Thinketh is just as moving today as it was 100 years ago.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
— Proverbs 23:7

2. Wallace Wattles – The Science of Getting Rich (1910)

Wattle proposes that individuals get rich through cooperation, not competition.

The Science of Getting Rich consists of 17 short and simple chapters that explain willpower, skill mastery, and success in a systematic way, giving a robust structure to a book about “invisible” concepts.

And since cooperation and the “Law of Attraction” are both of key importance in network marketing, you already know that this little-known work is stacked with tips and lessons you can use in your work.

Oh, and Rhonda Byrne cited it as a major inspiration for her #1 bestseller, The Secret.

“The desire for riches is simply the capacity for larger life seeking fulfillment; every desire is the effort of an unexpressed possibility to come into action.”
— Wallace Wattles

3. Charles F. Haanel – The Master Key System (1916)

Initially, The Master Key System was a 24-part correspondence course that taught the law of attraction, the importance of truth, creative visualization, and other concepts that have since become ubiquitous.

The book was a bestseller in its time.

Napoleon Hill personally mailed Haanel to thank him in 1919.

Over 100 years later, you’re still likely to glean a few valuable insights from The Master Key System – even if many of the concepts are familiar, thanks to other authors on this list.

(Just be careful to read the chapters one at a time, as the author intended.)

“You cannot entertain weak, harmful, negative thoughts ten hours a day and expect to bring about beautiful, strong and harmonious conditions by ten minutes of strong, positive, creative thought.”
— Charles F. Haanel

4. George S. Clason – The Richest Man in Babylon (1926)

A timeless classic, The Richest Man in Babylon teaches prudent financial management through stories set in ancient Babylon.

Before this book, you mostly either had “money sense” or you didn’t.

After it, anyone who could read gained access to the skills and habits that help achieve (and retain) wealth.

The Richest Man in Babylon was the Rich Dad, Poor Dad of the early 20th century, laying the foundation for authors like Robert Kiyosaki to popularize financial advice.

The tone is entertaining, the stories are interesting, and the main reason the book sold 2+ million copies is because the money tips inside are high-value and universal across all cultures.

“It costs nothing to ask wise advice from a good friend.”
— George S. Clason

5. Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

This book’s sold 16+ million copies for a reason (and not just because Carnegie was a master salesman).

How to Win Friends and Influence People is the comprehensive guide to coming across as friendly, personable, and warm.

The title is a little misleading, as it won’t teach you to make lifelong friends, or make you an “influencer.”

What it does teach is making excellent first impressions and striking up meaningful conversations with strangers, old pals, and potential customers alike.

If you still haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor and do so now!

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
— Dale Carnegie

6. Napoleon Hill – Think and Grow Rich (1937)

Napoleon Hill spent over a decade studying the most successful people of his age and learning from them.

Then he took the knowledge he acquired and wrote the definitive book on becoming wealthy.

This is what makes the book incredibly valuable; it’s a chance to see how scores of self-made millionaires think.

Now, some people dispute the reliability of some of Hill’s claims, but whether Think and Grow Rich is 100% factual or not, it works.

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”
— Napoleon Hill

7. Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning (1946)

Think you’ve got problems?

Meet Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Jew who got deported to Auschwitz under Third Reich rule, where he fought for his sanity and survival.

Looking for some way to cope with his reality, he noticed that prisoners’ longevity and life quality were both influenced by how they assigned meaning and significance to their suffering.

This led to Frankl creating a unique approach to psychotherapy, which ultimately helped him survive Auschwitz.

His approach later influenced speakers like Tony Robbins, Rhonda Byrne, and Maxwell Maltz to write their own defining works.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
— Viktor Frankl

8. Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking (1952)

Peale was one of the first to ground positive thinking, affirmations, and visualization with detailed case histories and practical instructions.

The Power of Positive Thinking contains insights to help break up negative thinking patterns and change them into constructive ones, showing you how to harness (and reinforce) your positivity into whatever it is you want from life.

“The way to happiness: keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love.”
— Norman Vincent Peale

9. Frank Bettger – How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling (1952)

Some folks are born salespeople; others wouldn’t know a sale if it stared them right in the face.

Frank Bettger went from the latter category to the former, and his book provides valuable lessons for anyone who isn’t naturally gifted at marketing.

Unlike most other entries on our list, Bettger’s work gives you a variety of tools to play with; he covers motivation, overcoming fears, closing and a multitude of other important MLM skills.

This makes How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling particularly useful to those who want a systematic approach for going from having nothing to making it big.

“Selling is the easiest job in the world if you work it hard—but the hardest job in the world if you try to work it easy.”
— Frank Bettger

10. David J. Schwartz – The Magic of Thinking Big (1959)

Why do some people, like Mark Zuckerberg and Justin Bieber, achieve incredible success from an early age – while others never do?

Schwartz thought that thinking BIG made the difference.

Yes, visualizing your own success is important – but if you haven’t set ambitious goals, how far are you really going to get?

Unlike many later authors, Schwartz never said that a “positive attitude” was enough to succeed.
He emphasized the importance of hard work, which will appeal to you if you’re reading this post now. :)

“Action cures fear.”
— David J. Schwartz

11. W. Clement Stone & Napoleon Hill – Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (1960)

Another old-but-amazing book on positive thinking.

It’s a little more modern than the ones above, and it also has a strong emphasis on being courageous instead of passively positive.

In that sense, it shows the evolution of Napoleon Hill – even though he’s only a co-author here.

It’s a straightforward, actionable guide to the specific steps you need to take to become successful using a positive mental attitude.

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”
— W. Clement Stone

12. Maxwell Maltz – Psycho-Cybernetics (1960)

Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon and the father of creative visualization.

He pioneered the idea that the self-image and the way we are in the physical world are two distinct things.

First, he used this knowledge to change patients’ self-perceptions without using the surgical knife.

Then he introduced his ideas to the world of psychology and self-help.

Maltz’s scientific approach to visualization then got picked up by folks like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and others.

When we say “visualization” today, we’re really talking about Maltz’s specific brand of it.

Check the book out if you’d like to drink from the “source” of modern positive-thinking knowledge.

“Times will change for the better when you change.”
— Maxwell Maltz

13. Og Mandino – The Greatest Salesman in the World (1968)

Og Mandino is a legendary salesman and author whose books sold over 50 million copies worldwide.

This tiny book (just over 100 pages) contains powerful lessons on achieving success – yet it’s delightfully easy to absorb.

In contrast to many of the pieces above, it’s written in a friendly, comforting tone.

If you’re not a fan of “hypey” motivational talk or too much “woo” in your info diet, this is a prudent choice for you.

Actor Matthew McConaughey credited this book with changing his life.

“Wealth, my son, should never be your goal in life. Your words are eloquent but they are mere words. True wealth is of the heart, not of the purse.”
— Og Mandino

14. Zig Ziglar – See You at the Top (1975)

Perhaps the greatest salesman-speaker that ever lived, Zig Ziglar wrote over 10 books in his lifetime – but this was his first and perhaps most spirited effort.

On these pages, Ziglar’s spirit, positivity and creativity all come alive to inspire and guide you.

How effective is the book?

Let’s just say that folks as diverse as Barbara Bush, Mary Kay Ash, and Jack Kemp have all gone on the record recommending See You at the Top.

It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to get to the top of their game, MLM or otherwise.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
— Zig Ziglar

15. Jim Rohn – The Seasons Of Life (1981)

Jim Rohn was Tony Robbins’ first mentor.

He was also a key spokesman for Herbalife and other top MLM companies in the 80s.

In this book, he uses the 4 seasons as a metaphor for life’s cycles.

Specifically, he explains how you can weather cold winters; sow seeds in life’s autumn; collect a bountiful summer in spring and summer.

The result is an interesting and thoughtful read on concepts we all know to be true on an intuitive level.

“I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter’s tough, but spring’s coming.”
— Jim Rohn

16. Stephen Covey – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)

There’s a reason it’s still the gold standard for personal productivity books 30-odd years after getting published!

If you want to manage your time better, become more efficient in work and ultimately unclutter your life, there’s simply no better book.

Of course, this book isn’t just about getting organized and more effective.

It’s also about positive thinking and being proactive, with chapters like “think win-win” and “be proactive” – which makes it perfect for network marketers in-the-making.

“Start with the end in mind.”
— Stephen Covey

17. Tony Robbins – Unlimited Power (1986)

When this came out, Tony Robbins was a young, 26-year old whippersnapper.

In the 28 years since, he’s used the tools and strategies he first described in this book to achieve superstardom in the field of personal development.

The crazy thing is, these principles are still the meat and potatoes of what Tony teaches today. If you want to get a glimpse at the thought processes of the man who went on to become the personal development guru of his age, definitely check this out.

“You shape your perceptions, or someone shapes them for you. You do what you want to do, or you respond to someone else’s plan for you.”
— Tony Robbins

18. Brian Tracy – The Psychology of Selling (1988)

The Psychology of Selling is unique in that it’s written by a MLM veteran who worked in the field for decades.

Brian Tracy believed, as many of us do, that MLM will be “one of the most respected business methods in the world” – and practiced it himself.

He was also a prolific and well-respected writer who’s written 70+ books, many of them bestsellers.

This particular publication is a collection of his best thoughts on marketing and sales, and the man’s literary pedigree should be recommendation enough for you to read at least a few pages.

“A person who really likes himself or herself has high self-esteem and therefore a positive self-concept. When you really like yourself in a particular role, you perform at your best in that role.”
— Brian Tracy

19. A. L. Williams – All You Can Do Is All You Can Do (1989)

Starting out as a football coach, Williams his career as a multi-millionaire life insurance company owner.

He convincingly argues that most people are operating at less than half of their ability (which is clearly less than all you can do) and he provides a simple six-step plan to help you visualize and achieve your goals.

If you’re looking for a practical guide to succeed while retaining your sanity, make sure to flick through Williams’ oeuvre.

“All you can do is all you can do. But all you can do is enough.”
— A. L. Williams

20. Robert E. Crisp – Raising a Giant: A Book About Network Marketing (1993)

Raising a Giant is a beginner-friendly book that came out just as network marketing was going through a golden age in the early ’90s.

Herbalife, Avon and Oriflame were all at their peak around this time.

Interest in MLM was high – and Crisp’s book gives you front-row seat to the spirit of the times.

Unlike the previous books on the list, this one is written by an MLM insider about how to succeed in this industry.

It’s specifically about connecting with your downline better, so if you want your team to be happy this is an essential read.

“Men and women everywhere are looking for something that will give their lives meaning and prosperity.”
— Robert E. Crisp

21. John Milton Fogg – The Greatest Networker in the World (1997)

Follow the story of a young man who’s about to quit before meeting the “greatest networker in the world” and discovering the secrets of MLM success.

Inspirational, motivating, and replete with nuggets of wisdom, this is the Jonathan Livingston Seagull of network marketing.

Highly recommended.

(Especially if you’re the kind of person that wants a less literal, more fun read).

“To succeed, your expectations of success must exceed your fear of failure.”
— John Milton Fogg

22. Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997)

This is the book that inspired many Americans to start planning their personal finances on a mass scale.

In a nutshell, Kiyosaki explained the same financial lessons that consistently wealthy families pass down through the generations (that the mass public has no clue about).

This was a first, because until then most people didn’t even realize that wealthy people did something differently to manage their estates – let alone that their results could be replicated.

Many people have come out and disputed some of Kiyosaki’s points over the years, but hey, there’s a reason he’s a success and most of his critics are not.

You’re guaranteed to think differently about assets and liabilities once you’ve read it.

“In school, we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk.”
— Robert Kiyosaki

23. Dr. Spencer Johnson – Who Moved My Cheese? (1998)

What appears to be a whimsical story about a mouse trying to find its cheese reward in a labyrinth is actually a deep allegory for the modern business world.

Specifically, the book teaches you the insights that one gains while moving forward in his or her career in a fun, memorable way.

One key takeaway from the book is that the maze teaches you something new every time, even if it feels like you’re wandering in circles.

Another is that the maze, and not the cheese, is the ultimate reward.

So if you want to live a happy, balanced life that’s filled with meaningful work, give this short book a read.

“Life moves on and so should we.”
— Dr. Spencer Johnson

24. Mark and Rene Reid Yarnell – Your First Year in Network Marketing (1998)

Mark and Rene Reid are top MLMers, University of Illinois faculty members, and realists.

They cut through some of the hyperbolic expectations and sales pitches that permeate the network marketing world, giving you the facts about what this industry is like.

A useful read if you want to stay grounded, keep your downline happy and avoid getting sucked into bad organizations and situations.

Your First Year helped dispel the idea that network marketers are all over-the-top and hypey, so if you want to work with B2B or high-end products, you’ll glean a lot from these pages.

“It’s the responsibility of every recruiter to fully prepare prospects for rejection, then provide them with the tools to overcome rejection.”
— Mark and Rene Reid Yarnell

25. Rhonda Byrne – The Secret (2006)

We all know this one, don’t we?

It’s a simplified, “meat and potatoes” version of the concepts you find in Napoleon Hill’s, Maxwell Maltz’s, and Norman Vincent Peale’s works.

The #1 focus here is positive thinking and visualization.

What makes this book special is that it’s an easy, pleasant read – as opposed to the antiquated, sometimes academic style of writing used by some of the authors above.

“There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstance of your life can change!”
— Rhonda Byrne

26. Mike Dillard – Magnetic Sponsoring (2006)

No list would be complete without the book that essentially created the attraction marketing industry (and dozens upon dozens of millionaires to boot).

Mike wrote Magnetic Sponsoring at the age of 26 as a manual for his personal team, but within a few years this spiral-bound pamphlet became an 8-figure business, selling well over 200,000 copies.

We wouldn’t be here today without Magnetic Sponsoring, so if you haven’t given it a read recently, maybe it’s time to revisit this classic!

“The fastest way to get rich is to solve other people’s problems.”
— Mike Dillard

How to put this information into ACTION!

Now you have 26 classics to mine for ideas, insights, and tips from some of the smartest authors, speakers and marketers of the last century.

Here’s what’s especially interesting, though…

Sure, lots of things have changed since the early 1900s—especially in the technological arena.

The fundamental principles of success, however, are timeless.

  • First off, thoughts precede action—so you’ve got to set concrete intentions and maintain a positive mindset to keep yourself motivated.
  • Secondly, once you’ve decided upon your strategy, you must execute with consistent, daily action—success isn’t an event after all, but a product of your habits.
  • And finally, technology will never replace genuine one-on-one relationships.

Period.

At the end of the day…

Network marketing will always be a people-centric industry

But unlike the door-to-door salesmen of years ago…

Today you don’t need to go pound the pavement day after day to find potential customers.

Not only that, but you can achieve network marketing success without rejection, without pushy tactics, and without having to chase leads and prospects down.

How?

By using the unparalleled reach and leverage of the Internet to become the hunted, instead of the hunter, and have prospects knocking down your door or calling you with credit card in hand, ready to join your business.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you’ll want to check our free 10-day online recruiting bootcamp.

You’ll learn how Ferny Ceballos, our Chief Marketing Officer here at Elite Marketing Pro, is able to generate 300-500 leads per day, 30-50 customers per day, and recruit 70-100 serious biz-builders into his business each month!

Sign up right here.

And if I missed any network marketing classics, let me know in the comments below!

 

Sincerely,
Andrew Draughon
Director of Content
Elite Marketing Pro

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Andrew T Draughon

Andrew Draughon is the Director of Content at Elite Marketing Pro. Yet not long ago Andrew was hauling shingles and hanging drywall for paltry wages in the frigid winters of upstate Pennsylvania. Making the decision to never wake up before sunrise in sub-zero weather again, Andrew moved to Florida, discovered his passion for marketing, and has been working via his laptop ever since.

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