Three Of The Most Influential Books I Ever Read

By: Dan Kennedy on: July 26th, 2012 35 Comments

Recently, Bengal’s cornerback, Adam “Pacman” Jones went to the NFL Rookie Symposium to tell players what NOT to do.

Relaying a story on how he blew over $1 Million in one weekend, he gave NFL players a money management lesson that hopefully will have significant influence on them.

It’s helpful when someone can make something so crystal clear that you can avoid mistakes and shortcut success simply by reading or hearing their advice—and then taking it.

It is always my hope that my stories and comments will spark useful and profitable ideas for you, help you make good decisions and add value to your business.

When starting out in business I had virtually no hands-on help. I did not attend college.  I had no mentor to teach me. No shining example to follow. I had, mostly books.

I might add what a wonderful thing a book is.

I came to rely on “print” for both information and motivation. I’m amazed to this day at people who barge into some endeavors without even bothering to find and read the books written about it.


As you gain real life experience, most books turn out to be 90% rehash and you may get only one or two “gems” out of an entire book—but then, how many gems must you find?

It occurred to me that you might like to investigate further some of the sources of information that have influenced me.

So today, I’d like to give you the source of some of the most significant influences on my beliefs about entrepreneurial success that have been time and experienced tested over the past 35 years and have become permanent parts of my approach to doing business.

My first real “coach”, on tape (that’s the thing we used to listen to audio on—before CD’s and iPods for those of you too young to remember) was Earl Nightingale. That lead me to “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill. (Surely I do not need to tell you who Nightgale or Hill are.)

In a way, “Think and Grow Rich” led me to James Tolleson, (called by many “The greatest Dr. Napolean Hill Think & Grow Rich believer of all time”).

That experience led me both into the “success information” business, the speaking business and direct-response advertising.

That’s one of a number of threads. There are others.

Among my sources that will hopefully move you further along and move you closer to accomplishing your goals are:

W. Clement Stone. He built a giant insurance organization and personal fortune out of the depths of the great Depression, rescued and for many years published “Success Magazine”, founded and controlled the Napoleon Hill Foundation and was Napoleon Hill’s last business partner.

Stone’s the real deal: he started from scratch with nothing much more than determination and made himself a billionaire, largely from direct sales.  Stone’s book, “The Success System that Never Fails” is, I think, one of the most interesting and useful how-to-succeed books of all that have been published.

Robert Ringer. His first book: “Winning Through Intimidation” which is based on his exploits as a real estate wheeler-dealer, I believe had more direct, valuable influence on me than any thirty other books I’ve read combined.

This is a street-smart guy telling it like it is. Many people tell me they find the book—or at just its title without reading the book, offensive. When I hear that, I fear for their chances at survival. Success is a bare-knuckles business. Read Ringer.

Conrad Hilton. Founder of one of the world’s largest hotel organizations, if you could only read three books, I’d suggest Stone’s, Ringer’s and Conrad Hilton’s autobiography, “Be My Guest”, found free at the bedside table at Hilton hotels.

That is a method I’ve used my whole career—seeking out information that transformed my business and fortune. That is something I’ve done for others too—provide the missing link and how to’s that helped catapult businesses.

Take a peek inside these sources that helped shape my business and you will find gems to move you forward too. And you won’t have to spend a million dollars to do it.

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Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

35 Responses

  1. Really great post, Dan. Love it! Thanks for sharing these influential books. It took me some time and great discipline to actually sit down, read and deal with the emotional turbulence of reading Robert Ringer! If you’re afraid of confronting reality, of dealing with life as it is, don’t read Ringer. Almost ever chapter showed me up and had my mind screaming, “This is what you’re doing wrong! You gotta correct this!!!” Brutal stuff, but which works. Dan Kennedy, Steven Pressfield (The War of Art), Robert Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, Robert Ringer, Dr Phil – you guys are not for the faint of heart, but your lessons and personal examples work. Thank you!

  2. Dan Murphy says:

    Adam Jones is a cornerback, not a quarterback.

    • Ben M. says:

      Dan, I believe you missed the point here, but thanks for your input.

      Your contribution surely is 1000X more important than the business lessons.

  3. Larry Pelley says:

    Love reading you words above…gives
    me the shivers,to come to realize to
    some extent…I missed out.

    I will now click on the link you
    provided above to see if I can
    recognize the Gems you provided. !!!

  4. Dan,
    You’ve changed my life.
    Thank you

  5. Jay Hobbs says:

    Thanks for the info. A good book leading to good action is a valuable resource. These references also led me to other good books also, but I’m going to find the gems in your recommendations first.

  6. Froy says:

    Hi Dan,
    I am very proud to be part of your list and having the privilege of entering your brilliant mind. I am happy to know I’m on track. I already have Napoleon Hill and Robert Ringer’s book. I’m also on the list of Ringer. :)

    Thanks for sharing with me this iformación, for me is the most valuable thing I received since I’ve been searching the best of the best mentors three years ago.

    You’re simply the best!

    The Mexican renegade who wants to be like you. 😀

    Warmest Regards.

  7. CyberScholar says:

    Thanks. Upon your recommendations, I’ve already read Ringer and Napoleon Hill and found them to be terrific. I just ordered *Be My Guest*…

  8. Gene Riordan says:

    Thanks for providing this foundational information Dan. I have not read Robert Ringer’s book yet, but I will soon on your recommendation. As a business and technology coach, I learn from GKIC and enjoy showing people how to come up to speed on business technology and how to overcome old obstacles so they can really grow their business.

  9. Rich says:

    Hey that’s a really cool list of books to read. I’ve actually read all of them and can say that the Ringer book had the most impact on my business and mindset.

  10. Dan,
    Thanks for your list. I always enjoy hearing what books or people were influential in other successful people’s lives. I haven’t read these three, but will definitely add them to my reading list.

  11. RealAmerican says:

    Dan, your newsletter this month was spot-on talking about how this regime is not about the “distribution” of wealth — but the “destruction” of wealth! And with the destroyer-in-chief continuing to trash talk entrepreneurs, I can only imagine what your next month’s topics will be! Our only defense is to counter that oppression with more success. Thank YOU for giving us the tools to do that.
    From one Real American to another…

  12. I agree that Clement Stone’s book is a great resource. I first encountered it in about 1981. It’s still as useful today as then.

    One thing that bothers me is the idiots in direct marketing who blast you with cleverness before they even attempt to form a relationship. It’s like a guy walking up to a girl on the street and telling her he’ll be by in a few days to pick her up, go select a ring, get a marriage license, and live happily ever after.


    They deserve to get their face slapped. (half-smiley here)

  13. I have only heard of W. Clement Stone’s book, but haven’t read it. They are all on my Amazon list now.

    Thanks, Dan.

  14. Zach says:

    Pacman Jones is a cornerback, not a quarterback.

    Research, dude. I heard good things so I signed up on this site…but it’s making me wonder if good writing and profitable writing are at odds…and what’s with the ‘free’ gift that’s not really free??

  15. speyday says:

    Selling the dream. One hope at a time.
    Gotta admire that.

    Beware of wizards…..BE the wizard.

    “There is more money in selling bullshit about making money selling bullshit— than just selling bullshit.”


  16. Dear Dan,
    Thank you for incredibly intriguing inspiring information.
    And for recommending (these) books. They will be read now.
    More thank you’s and best wishes,

    • Mike Stodola Admin says:

      Marina, let me know what you think when you’ve read one.

  17. surabhi says:

    Dear Dan ,
    Thank u so much for these amazing information about Books .
    i have noted them down n gonna read it ..!!
    Ur Blog is truly informative n Inspiring ..
    Thank u so much ..

  18. Dan C. says:

    Thanks for the great info on GREAT books to read. As for Napoleon Hill, I still have his set of cassett tapes also fron back in the 80’s. I’ve listened to them many times….his info is still GREAT today !!

  19. carlos says:

    I just love it that before I even became interested in copywriting and marketing I had read and reread Think and Grow Rich and Clement Stone… Makes me feel so much part of the same crowd who have walked the same steps I have…specially because I also relyd heavily on researching info on whatever I needed (or at least I believe I need) to get myself from where I’m at to where I want to be…

    So Inspired that I’m walking the same steps successful people have walked…and I am commiting all of my resources to live the life I desire to live…

  20. Just re-listened to the interview you did with Ringer several years ago. His advice is just as relevant today as it was when he first published the book.

  21. Hal Hoadley says:

    Thanks for the post(s) Dan. Find them remindful of what I should be doing in my business. Haven’t read Ringer’s book but it seems that I should. If you actually did an interview with him I would love the listen to that as well. Where may I find that interview?
    I find these post helpful, keep them coming. Along with the newsletters and CD’s how can any business go wrong?
    Hal Hoadley

    P.S. see you in Anaheim, August 14th

  22. Lida says:

    Thanks for sharing the information, Dan! I haven’t read these three and I’m going to order them NOW. I’m also a strong believer in reading, continuous learning and strategic preparation for the action.
    Recently, I was smitten by your book: “No B.S.Wealth Attraction In The New Economy”.
    Thirsty for more info :-)…

  23. Dan, thanks for the insight in to your top book selections.
    The Master Key System by Haanel is amazing as well.
    Best of success in everything.

  24. I do consider all of the ideas you have presented for your post. They’re really convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are very brief for novices. May you please extend them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

    • Mike Stodola Admin says:

      So you want more huh? We have everything you want but it’s not all free. If you’re serious about your business and aren’t a member already get $633.91 of FREE money making marketing tools at or if you are a member and need more direction call your concierge at 800-871-0147 for a complimentary strategy session with one of our business consultants

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  26. Great Article!! I guess it is that time of year when we all have to consider the bad weather! The Storms of last year already have us planning for the storms of this year!

  27. I genuinely enjoy examining on this site, it has got great blog posts. “He who sees the truth, let him proclaim it, without asking who is for it or who is against it.” by Henry George.

  28. Jimmie GO says:

    Wow, those books are powerful. I’ve had personal results with 2 of them. Specifically Think and Grow Rich with the formula. W. Clement Stone taught me to count my sales ratio while prospecting with a winning mindset with conclusive expectations. HIs term ‘inspired dis-satisfaction’ drove me to new heights. Thanks for the reminders on these life changing books.

    Jimmie Go

    P.s. Napoleon * I noticed the typo in some of your other copy.

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  30. Laura G. says:

    Good morning and thank you for sharing more nuggets of wisdom which propelled you upwards on the path of success. I always find your writings pithy and full of tremendous common sense and advice. For this, I thank you. I have run out, well figuratively, and ordered copies of two of the books. And now am researching Earl Nightingale. Last year I read another book you recommended, and found it to be a hugely inspiring and thoughtful book full of step by step guidelines for a mail order business and living in the country. The Lyman P. Wood story. I am sure that I shall find these books a great resource as well. Thank you again.

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