It’s true, when I was 16 years old I (like many others I have now found out since then) read my first book about business. I was drawn to it in a small, old fashioned book shop that’s no longer in business. At the time I didn’t really know any entrepreneurs or people that ran their own business and I had no mentor to point me in the right direction. The book simply "spoke" to me and I grabbed it and bought it.

Weird stuff. Especially as at the time I was a quiet, shy sort of a guy but in my heart I had a burning ambition – I just didn’t realise it yet!

The books name was "How to Win Friends and Influence People" – You must have heard of it I am sure but I hadn’t at the time and I would say that ‘personal development’ was not the juggernaut it is today.

It changed my life (for the better) – it gave me confidence in general and more importantly it lit a small flame to start my own business that grew and grew until I did just that two years later at 18 years old.

So what you may say, plenty of people have done that! Well it was quite a shift for me, my father only ever worked for 2 companies his whole life and I was expected to go into a life long job myself in biotechnology or something similar – certainly not to waste my ‘brains’ on cleaning offices and cars!!

The book made me change me outlook on life completely – it made me ‘think’ that I could do anything I put my mind to doing and it also gave the courage to get over my shyness at key moments in my life.

It was the start of life long reading habit (before that I couldn’t be bothered with reading and we had very few books in my house as a kid) – even to this day 20+ years later I still go and get a few books on a topic if I want to learn something new.

Also, I have adopted the strength to face all my fears ‘head-on’ since then – when i felt anxious about public speaking I got a few books and tapes and learnt until I was pretty good at it, the same for selling, marketing, finance, hr, technology, programming, manufacturing, teaching, training and on and on.

I became curious about other people and looked for the ‘good’ in them and I feared nothing and no-one. I strived for my goals and I achieved them all.

I am trying to illustrate the power of the written word along with a great (if a little dated) book. Also, I want to reiterate the power of personal development as a whole. Today many run down the idea of personal development and it’s many offspring.

Personal development is just like this book – you should read and learn and then apply the principles that you believe in to your life.

You must take action on the one’s you believe in and you must apply your own moral standards and integrity to anything you learn from others.

For my part I have read this book many times and bought a few copies as well as the tapes, now CDs, it’s time for a refresher for me and i urge you to listen to them if you haven’t already.

How to Win Friends and Influence People: Unabridged by Dale Carnegie and Andrew Macmillan

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