When Stone was three years old his father died, leaving his family impoverished due to his gambling debts. Stone’s mother began working as a dressmaker, and at the age of six Stone started hawking newspapers on Chicago’s rough South Side. By the age of 13 Stone had his own newspaper stand.
Later on, when his mother started an insurance agency, Stone went to work for her as an insurance salesman. He was 16 at the time.
Stone devoured the Horatio Alger stories from a young age. These were rags to riches stories of poor boys who overcame adversity and made it big. By following the principles taught by Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich”, and by modeling the boys from the Alger stories, Stone became a multimillionaire.
Almost since the very start of his career as an insurance salesman, Stone began putting together a system which would help him to succeed. Here are 32 bits of wisdom from Stone’s success system:
1. “Selling is merely persuading another person to accept your service, your product, or your idea. In this sense, everyone is a salesman.”
2. “Reduce to a formula, preferably in writing, the principles you learn from your successful experiences and your failures, in whatever activities you may be interested in.”
3. “Success is achieved by those who try.”
4. “Learn the value of establishing the right habits.”
5. Continuously use the self-starter “Do it now!”
6. “Emotions are not immediately subject to reason, but they are subject to action. When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion—action will.”
7. “Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.”
8. “I wanted to say the right thing, in the right way, to get the right reaction. And this took practice.”
9. Develop know-how. Know-how is “the particular techniques and skills that consistently get results for you. Know-how is the proper application of knowledge. Know-how is doing something the right way, with skill and effectiveness, and with minimum expenditure of time and effort.” You acquire know-how by doing.
10. “Knowledge is learned and know-how is acquired through experience.” Determine what you need to know, find a way to acquire that knowledge, and then apply that knowledge through action until you’ve developed know-how.
11. “I learned from experience what to say and how to say it—what to do and how to do it—to sell in tremendous volume.”
12. “Like a scientist, I learned from trial and error—trial and success.”
13. “Avoid situations, acquaintances, and associates who tend to hold you back.”
14. “There is more to success than reading self-help books and extracting the philosophy contained in them, and that is action. The true value of a self-help book is not what the writer puts into the book, but what you, the reader, take out of the book and put into your life.”
15. “Check your habits of thought and action, for these have brought you to where you are now.”
16. Ask yourself: “Are you on the right course to get from where you are now to where you really want to be?”
17. “A Positive Mental Attitude is the right mental attitude. What is the right mental attitude? It is most often comprised of the ‘plus’ characteristics symbolized by such words as faith, integrity, hope, optimism, courage, initiative, generosity, tolerance, tact, kindliness and good common sense. A person with positive mental attitude aims for high goals and constantly strives to achieve them.”
18. “When you do something, put your heart into it. Give it everything you’ve got—then relax! Concentrated attention and effort, then relaxing, became a habit with me. ”
19. “I knew what I was looking for. I wanted to develop a system that never fails. Therefore, I tried to recognize the principles involved in each selling experience, good or bad. I set out to use those that were helpful and eliminate those that were harmful.”
20. “Select the right thoughts, engage in the proper activity, and choose the proper environment.”
21. To develop go-power, the inner urge that drives you to success, every night for ten days repeat at least 50 times: “What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
22. People succeed because they start for a specific destination and keep going until they reach it.
23. “It takes more energy to overcome inertia in getting started from a standstill than to continue the momentum of a moving body when it is once in motion.”
24. “One way to make a fortune is to sell a necessity that is low in cost and repeats. The fortune is made in the repeat business.”
25. “The first step is to know exactly what your problem, goal or desire is. If you’re not clear about this, then write it down, and then rewrite it until the words express precisely what you are after.”
26. “Every disadvantage has an equivalent advantage, if you’ll take the trouble to find it.”
27. Ask yourself: “Are the things around you helping you toward success, or are they holding you back?”
28. “The reason why you don’t do the right thing when you should is because you haven’t established the right habits.”
29. “Wealth is created through the positive mental attitude, education, labor, knowledge, know-how, and moral character of people, under a government that guarantees freedom of private enterprise and respects and protects the life and property rights of each individual.”
30. “Intelligence is the power of meeting any situation, specially a novel situation, successfully by proper behavior adjustments.” Do you adapt yourself satisfactorily to your environment? Can you learn to adjust better to persons, places, situations, and things?
31. “Intelligence depends upon knowledge, but it is using knowledge rather than merely having it.”
32. “Constantly strive to make the world a better place for yourself and for others.”
Live your best life by following the 32 bits of wisdom from William Clement Stone set forth above.