The Greatest Salesman in the World (1968) by Og Mandino is a book that will change your life for the better. It did for Matthew McConaughey. Before he became a well-known actor, Matthew was going to become a lawyer. Instead he became lost in reading The Greatest Salesman in the World and it changed his life ever-after. Perhaps losing ourselves is what we need.
“The book’s a kind of philosophy on life,” Matthew told one magazine. “I started reading it right before I was due to take my exams for law school and I got so engrossed in it that I was almost late for my exam! But it was well worth it because that book changed my outlook on life and gave me the courage I needed to chase my dream of applying to film school.”
Oscar-winning actor, Matthew McConaughey
And this book has also changed my life as well. The Greatest Salesman in the World tells the story of Hafid who has earned such incredible wealth through trading throughout all of ancient Europe and the Middle East that he turns to his most trusted friend, Erasmus, and asks,
“Old friend, how much wealth is there now accumulated in our treasury?”
And Erasmus replies, “I have not studied the numbers recently but I would estimate there is in excess of seven million gold talents” (p 3).
“I do not understand, sire. This has been our most profitable year. Every emporium reports an increase in sales over the previous season. Even the Roman legions are now our customers for did you not sell the Procurator in Jerusalem two hundred Arabian stallions within the fortnight? Forgive my boldness for seldom have I questioned your orders but this command I cannot comprehend…” (p 4).
And Hafid goes on to tell Erasmus the story of how the boy-Hafid was given ancient scrolls and sworn to secrecy and later rose to such heights of success where men who chase such desires often fall into madness.
“All but one of these scrolls contain a principle, a law, or a fundamental truth written in a unique style to help the reader understand its meaning. To become a master in the art of sales one must learn and practice the secret of each scroll. When one masters these principles one has the power to accumulate all the wealth he desires” (p 12).
And Hafid, the greatest salesman in the world, continues,
“It is, indeed, a simple task provided one is willing to pay the price in time and concentration until each principle becomes a part of one’s personality; until each principle becomes a habit” (p 13).
But there is much more to this story than principles and codes and precepts of conduct. As a boy, Hafid stumbles to bed one cold night into a stable in Bethlehem after a few days of failed attempts to prove himself worthy as a salesman by selling an expensive robe given to him by his master, Pathros.
“Hafid closed his eyes and sighed. Then he walked swiftly toward the small family, knelt on the straw beside the infant, and gently removed first the father’s tattered cloak and then the mother’s from the manger. He handed each back to its owner. Both were too shocked at Hafid’s boldness to react. Then Hafid opened his precious red robe and wrapped it gently around the sleeping child” (p 31).
Hafid returns to his master, Pathros, without having sold the robe, but rather having given it away for free, and the boy considers himself a failure. But the words from Pathros will provide a clue to the business of sales and to the true nature of living:
“Hafid, so far as material wealth is concerned, there is only one difference between myself and the lowliest beggar outside of Herod’s palace. The beggar thinks only of his next meal and I think only of the meal that will be my last. No, my son, do no aspire for wealth and labor not only to be rich. Strive instead for happiness, to be loved and to love, and most important, to acquire peace of mind and serenity” (p 20).
And so we begin with the Scroll Marked I:
“Today I begin a new life…Failure no longer will be my payment for struggle. Just as nature made no provision for my body to tolerate pain neither has it made any provision for my life to suffer failure. Failure, like pain, is alien to my life. In the past I accepted it as I accepted pain. Now I reject it and I am prepared for wisdom and principles which will guide me out of the shadows into the sunlight of wealth, position, and happiness far beyond my most extravagant dreams until even the golden apples in the Garden of Hesperides will seem no more than my just reward…
“Good habits are the key to all success… I will form good habits and become their slave” (p 51-54).
The Scroll Marked II:
“I will greet this day with love in my heart…
“Is it not so that birds, the wind, the sea and all nature speaks with the music of praise for their creator? Cannot I speak with the same music to his children? Henceforth will I remember this secret and it will change my life. I will greet this day with love in my heart…
“Henceforth I will love all mankind. From this moment all hate is left from my veins for I have not time to hate, only time to love. From this moment I take the first step required to become man among men…I will greet this day with love, and I will succeed” (p 58-62).
The Scroll Marked III:
“I will persist until I succeed…
“I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered unto this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny…I will persist until I succeed” (p 63-64).
The Scroll Marked IV:
“I am nature’s greatest miracle…
“I am nature’s greatest miracle. I am not on this earth by chance. I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply all my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy” (p 69-70).
The Scroll Marked V:
“I will live this day as if it is my last…
“I will live this day as if it is my last. This day is all I have and these hours are now my eternity. I greet this sunrise with cries of joy as a prisoner who is reprieved from death…
“I will live this day as if it is my last. I will avoid with fury the killers of time. Procrastination I will destroy with action; doubt I will bury under faith; fear I will dismember with confidence. Where there are idle mouths I will listen not; where there are idle hands I will linger not; where there are idle bodies I will visit not. Henceforth I know that to court idleness is to steal food, clothing, and warmth from those I love. I am not a thief. I am a man of love and today is my last chance to prove my love and my greatness. I will live this day as if it is my last” (p 73-76).
And what of Hafid? Of Erasmus? Of the robe Hafid gave to the infant in the manger?
Well, I’ve got my copy but you will just have to read The Greatest Salesman in the World to learn those secrets for yourself.
But I must warn you: this book will change your life. Are you ready for such change?
CG FEWSTON is an American novelist who is a member of AWP, a member of Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world.
CG FEWSTON has travelled across continents and visited such places as Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei and Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and Guilin and Shenzhen and Beijing in China. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
CG FEWSTON earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists like Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014).
Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments Literary–Arts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Tendril Literary Magazine, Prachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”
You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…
Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…
Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…
Praise for A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN:
“Fewston delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”
“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”
CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —
10 years to the day of the publication
of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)
“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary
is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,
as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.
Ending and beginning again,
like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,
like the four seasons.”
found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5