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The Top Twelve Recommended Books

For Tom James Retail Sales Professionals

By Jim McEachern

Charles E. “Tremendous” Jones wrote, “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things, the people you meet and…the books you read.”  I will say that I owe much to the people I’ve met and maybe even more to the books I’ve read.  The following list of books have been beyond measurable value to me.

  1. Goals!  How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy

·        This is a relatively new book, so I had been studying the art of “goal-setting” for forty years before this book was written.  I do believe this book is by far the best, most practical and most valuable I’ve ever studied relating to setting goals.  Furthermore, I believe that setting and pursuing worthwhile predetermined goals is the #1 factor in achieving success.  Going through the exercises at the end of each chapter will be the key determining factor in determining the value of this book.  By going through those exercises you will multiply the benefits of the book by a hundred or maybe a thousand.

  1. How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger

·        This is a classic.  This book is inspirational and very practical.  This book played a major role in my understanding of basic principles that if applied guarantee success in selling.  Most likely I would not have made it past the early discouragements that all people in sales are bound to experience without this book.  This book is worth at least a hundred times its weight in gold.  I recommend it be read at least annually for several years and reviewed periodically for an entire career.

  1. How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

·        I put this #3 because it is the greatest book ever written for people who want to develop their understanding and their skills in human relations.  Human relationship skills are essential in family, friendship, sales and leadership success.  The principles found in this book are easy to understand and easy to implement…if the desire to excel in human relationships is in place.  This book has been worth $1,000,000 to me, so it has been an awesome bargain.  I have read it numerous times and I keep handy for review at all times.

  1. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

·        This is the legend of Hafid, a camel boy of two thousand years ago and his burning desire to improve his lowly position in life, as told to his apprentice Erasmus.  Hafid relates the story of how he became known as the Greatest Salesman in the World.  His success lies in the wisdom of ten leather scrolls passed down to him from his master, Pathros.  Hafid applied their secrets of success to become the Greatest Salesman in the World.  You will long remember the timeless words of the ten scrolls in Og’s most popular work and learn to apply them in your life to find great success!

To succeed in sales we must be able to handle disappointments.  Og Mandino provided lessons that enabled me to learn to minimize the effects of disappointment and maximize my courage and determination to succeed.

  1. Secrets of Closing Sales-Sixth Edition by Charles B. Roth and Roy Alexander

·        After studying and applying a few of the ideas found in the first edition of this book, my sales per presentation doubled.  This book has the best and most valuable information I’ve ever seen in developing an understanding of the art of selling.  I would also value this book at $1,000,000 over a lifetime.  This book will be most valuable to those people who want to earn $100,000 soon and those who want to earn $250,000 or more in sales within the next few years.  This is primarily a “how to” book.  On pages 128-130 are the Seven Secret Closing Keys.  Early in my Tom James career I wrote two closes of each of the seven types so I would be able to use any of fourteen different closes based upon the situation.  After I had written each close I memorized and practiced those closes.

Closing sales is often equated with “hard sell.”  I do not advocate the “hard sale” approach to selling.  I do advocate making it easy for prospects/clients to buy by using the right close, in the right way, at the right time.  This book will enable you to understand how to do that.

  1. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

·        Money is very important and the lack of money is a major negative issue for people of any age, however, most receive very little education about money from their parents nor while going through school.  The first time I ever saw this book was in the fall of 1966, which would had been about the time I reached my thirty-first birthday.  At the time I had a net worth of $700.  By the end of 1969 I was convinced that I was on my way to becoming a millionaire.  This confidence came as a result of:

A.  Studying the book The Richest Man in Babylon

B.  Learning the power of compound growth or the rule of 72

C.  Deciding that I would apply all “seven cures for a lean purse” beginning


This book will not help you learn to sell but will enable you to learn how to grow wealth from your income.

  1. The Common Denominator of Success by Albert E. N. Gray

·        This little booklet was originally a speech by Albert Gray.  It takes only a few minutes to read.  The great value of the ideas in this booklet shows how to harness the power of your mind, the power of your emotion and the power of will.  With our minds we think.  With our emotions we feel.  And, with our will we choose.  When our minds, our emotions and our wills are aimed toward the same goal we have an extraordinary ability to achieve.  I’ve read the Common Denominator of Success dozens of times and always been inspired to think, to feel and to act.

  1. As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

·        Stephen R. Covey says that “all things are created twice.  There is the mental (thinking) or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.”

Earl Nightingale (and dozens of other thinkers) says, “we become what we think about most of the time.”  He also says, “as we think, we become.”

James Allen’s book, As A Man Thinketh, offers the best understanding I’ve ever read on the link between:

A.     Thought & Character

B.     Thought & Our Circumstances

C.     Thought & Health

D.     Thought & Achievement

E.      Thought & Our Serenity

In addition, he had a fabulous chapter on linking thought to purpose.

Any serious study of this little book will surely give the reader a clear sense of the benefits of taking time to think.

All great achievements are first created in our minds.  When thought is linked to purpose and the will to achieve we are able to multiply our successes.

This book deserves to be read over and over throughout our lives, so that we maintain our gratitude for such a wonderful ability.  Nightingale describes our minds as our “idea factory!”

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

·        The book, unlike many I am recommending, requires greater effort to read, but also stands upon research done by Covey.  In the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book Covey writes…

Interdependence is a higher value than independence.

This work is a synergistic product of many minds.  It began in the middle seventies as I was reviewing 200 years of success literature as part of a doctoral program.  I am grateful for the inspiration and wisdom of many thinkers and for the trans-generational sources and roots of this wisdom.

I am also grateful for many students, friends, and colleagues at Brigham Young University and the Covey Leadership Center and for thousands of adults, parents, youth, executives, teachers, and other clients who have tested this material and have given feedback and encouragement.  The material and arrangement has slowly evolved and has imbued those who have been sincerely and deeply immersed in it with the conviction that the Seven Habits represent a holistic, integrated approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness, and that, more than in the individual habits themselves, the real key lies in the relationship among them and in how they are sequenced.

My own experience verifies that interdependence is a higher value than independence.  Most great enterprises originated in the mind of one individual, but they became great through the interdependence of many people with a great variety of temperaments, interests, abilities and skills.

Covey is a highly paid speaker and consultant; however, he is always available to me for a few dollars (the cost of his books).

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

·        Viktor E. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who lived and worked in Vienna, Austria prior to WWII.  Early in WWII, Frankl was arrested and sent to a Nazi concentration camp.  Everything Frankl had, including his family, was taken from him…except as Frankl discovered…one thing.  The one thing Frankl discovered that he had retained was his ability to choose his own attitudes.

Here is an example of the types of things Frankl wrote that caught my attention.

I would like to quote Albert Einstein:  “The man who regards his life as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life.”  Indeed, survival is dependent on direction.  However, survival cannot be the supreme value.  Unless life points to something beyond itself, survival is pointless and meaningless.  It is not even possible.  This is the very lesson I learned in three years spent in Auschwitz and Dachau, and in the meantime it has been confirmed by psychiatrists in prisoner-of-war camps:  Only those who were oriented toward the future, toward a goal in the future, toward a meaning to fulfill in the future, were likely to survive.

And I think that this is not only true of the survival of individuals but also holds for the survival of mankind.  For there is hope for mankind’s survival only as long as people will arrive at the awareness of common denominators in axiological terms—that is to say, common denominators in what they feel makes their lives worth living.  It is thus obvious that the subject boils down to an axiological issue:  Will there be values and meanings that can be shared by people—and peoples?  Values and meanings they might have in common?

Over time I determined my highest priorities were God, family and Tom James Company people.  Furthermore, I determined that I could live my purpose in life by living this motto…

“Do all the good I can for all the people I can by all the means I can for as long as I can!”

I owe to Viktor Frankl an enormous debt of gratitude for enabling me to see that my survival and a meaningful life depended upon establishing meaningful goals that related clearly my priorities and my values.

Another conclusion I came to was this:  “if Viktor Frankl maintained the freedom to choose his own attitudes in a Nazi concentration camp, I can and will choose my attitudes in the circumstances of my life.”

  1. The Essence of Success by Earl Nightingale

·        My introduction to Earl Nightingale came when I received a recording of his entitled, “The Strangest Secret.”  Earl Nightingale was a great writer and an equally great story teller.  The Essence of Success contains twenty-five chapters with each chapter containing several two or three page stories.

If I was limited to a single book that would enable me to learn what I want to be and do in order to achieve success it might be this book.  Among the chapters are the following:

Succeeding in Life with Goal-Setting

Participating in Your Personal Evolution

The Art of Relationships

Strengthening Your Interpersonal Skills

Learning to Cultivate Your Creativity

For people who prefer very short stories, this is a great book.  Even though the stories are short they are inspirational and practical.

  1. Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer

·        This book contains bite-sized nuggets that are easy to understand and easy to apply.  By studying this book you will learn the following:

A.  12.5 principles of Sales Greatness

B.  What it takes to become a sales success (18.5 great ideas)

C.  6.5 principles of giving value and being valuable

D.  Before people buy your products and service, they must believe in you

This is a book that you will want to learn from daily.

It has been my experience that anything you read will be soon forgotten unless you apply the ideas promptly and review the ideas often.

For every idea you learn, figure out how you will apply it.

The Top Recommended Books

for Tom James Retail Leaders

by Jim McEachern

The mindset for leadership may be different than the mindset needed for sales.  However, the skills are very much the same.  The first man who taught me sales and leadership was Mr. Fred Landers.  The second is Mr. Spencer Hays.  When I began to observe their actions and analyze their successes I began to realize that their primary approach to leadership was as salesmen.

The skills that Mr. Landers used and Mr. Hays has always used were selling skills.  In both men I saw the ability to effectively sell whether it was selling a product, or selling opportunity, or selling me on principles.

After I became the man in charge of the first Tom James office in Atlanta, I tried giving orders.  It did not work.  Whatever successes I’ve experienced as a leader, has been the result of my recognition that to be an effective leader I needed to use my selling skills.  You may wonder what a leader sells.

Here is the answer!

Sell opportunity…picnics, rainbows, horizons, homes, automobiles, freedom from debt, money in the bank, education for the children.  Sell people on goals, plans of action, a detailed schedule, a desire for the things they want, confidence in themselves and their abilities and on developing a dogged determination to achieve their goals.

Sell principles and ideas.  Sell people on giving up bad habits and giving up self-destructive behavior.  Sell people on becoming, on doing and on having.

For twenty-five years I sold people in our company on helping build Tom James Company to $100,000,000 (from $165,000) annual sales.  If the books I’m recommending had been available to me in 1967 we would have reached $100,000,000 much quicker because of the availability of the great ideas in the books.  However, if I had not had the goal, it wouldn’t matter whether or not the ideas were available.

When my children were little it was pretty easy to get them to do what I told them to do, but that didn’t last long.  I learned I had to sell my children.

Selling is not about persuading other people to act in your best interest.  Selling is about finding out what people want and helping them get what they want.

It is my contention that anyone who can build a clientele can also build a big team/organization because building a team/organization requires utilizing the same skills but with a different mindset.

Having Mr. Landers and Mr. Hays as role models was enormously beneficial to me.  It is possible that without the examples of Mr. Landers and Mr. Hays I might not have ever experienced any leadership success.  However, to develop a real understanding of selling skills and leadership skills required study, thought and application.  From April 1965 through August 1967 I regularly saw Mr. Hays apply the principles found in the book How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  By studying the book, by creating application plans and by carrying out the application plans, I actually developed understanding of the principles and the skills to use the principles.

It is my conviction whatever success I’ve experienced as a leader can be attributed to:

  1. Observing other leaders (good & bad)
  2. Studying good books
  3. Creating plans of application for using the ideas and principles found in the books.
  4. Carrying out the plans
  1. Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey

·        Ineffective people try to manage their time around priorities, says Stephen R. Covey, whereas effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships according to principles—natural laws and governing values that are universally valid.  Leadership is the ability to apply these principles to problems, resulting in quality, productivity, profitability, and win-win relationships.

In this guidebook to personal fulfillment and professional success through “principle-centered leadership,” the author of the best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People invites readers to center their lives and leadership around timeless principles.  He shows how no person or organization can be content to stay where they are—how the goals of excellence and total quality express an innate human need for progress in personal, interpersonal, and organizational life.

Drawing on twenty-five years of teaching and consulting, Covey writes about the key to managing expectations, the six conditions of effectiveness, and the patterns of organizational excellence.  He explains how nothing fails like success, how to understand people’s potential rather than just their behavior, and how to “manage from the left, lead from the right.”  With the integrity, sensitivity, and insights that made The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a nationwide best-seller, Principle-Centered Leadership demonstrates how lifelong learning can empower relationships at work and at home.

This book will “help you resolve many (leadership) dilemmas” and therefore…

A.     Enable you to be more effective and

B.     Reduce any frustrations you may face as a leader

C.     Earn a much bigger income

  1. 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make and How You Can Avoid Them by W. Steven Brown

If you know what mistakes you will likely make and if you learn how to avoid those mistakes you will be more effective and will face far less frustration.

In 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make and How You Can Avoid Them, W. Steven Brown shares a baker’s dozen of the most common errors and unconscious pitfalls of managerial methods that can be fatal to a career or even to a company’s success.  He accompanies each Fatal Error with swift, effective action ideas that work.  Among the errors you can recognize and remedy are:

·        Never admitting that you are accountable

·        Failing to develop  your people

·        Condoning incompetence

·        Failing to train your people

·        Failing to set standards

As a professional consultant to both large and small corporations, Mr. Brown shows managers how to improve the quality of their people’s performance by fostering an awareness of each individual’s essential contribution to the company’s profit.

Here he reveals the rationale behind many of the Fatal Errors, their devastating results, and helps you develop a specific evasive action plan, tailored to encouraging each individual on your team, that will enable you to avoid the Errors.  His practical, action-oriented remedies are amply illustrated with examples and anecdotes that prove their effectiveness.

  1. Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan

A person of Influence…

The ability to do all of these things makes growing a team possible.

The lack of these abilities makes growing a team a near impossibility.

This book makes it easy to understand and apply the power of each idea.

  1. Good to Great by Jim Collins

This book was not published until I was 66 years old.  If it had been available earlier I believe we would have grown much faster because of the opportunity to learn how to become a Level 5 Leader.

The Level 5 Hierarchy looks like this…

·        Level 5 - Executive

Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

·        Level 4 - Effective Leader

Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards.

·        Level 3 – Competent Manager

Organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of pre-determined objectives.

·        Level 2 – Contributing Team Member

Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.

·        Level 1 – Highly Capable Individual

Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills and good work habits.

“Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.  It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest.  Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”

It is contrary to human nature to put the institution above self, but selfishness creates barriers that make it impossible to positively influence others.  Enlightened self-interest does not allow you to put your own interest ahead of the organization or the people you lead.  The Law of Reciprocity protects you when you put the organization and your people ahead of yourself.