Practice the Rule of 5

By Jack Canfield

When Mark Victor Hansen and I published the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, we were committed to making it a bestseller. We asked 15 of the best-known, best-selling authors for guidance and advice. We visited with book publishing and marketing gurus who gave us even more information. We bought books with ideas on how to market books. And the result? Thousands of possible promotional strategies and an overwhelming list of action items.

Then one day, Ron Scolastico, a wonderful teacher and guide, told us, “If you would go every day to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp ax, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.” That simple, yet powerful, lesson endures today as the principle we call our “Rule of 5.” Simply stated, the “Rule of 5″ means that, every day, we accomplish five specific tasks to move our major goal toward completion.

With our goal of putting Chicken Soup for the Soul at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, it meant conducting five radio interviews a day, or sending out five review copies to editors who might review the book, or calling five Network Marketing companies to sell books in quantity as a motivational tool for their salespeople.

On other days, it meant sending five free copies to people listed in the Celebrity Address Book—people like Harrison Ford, Barbara Striesand, Paul McCartney, Steven Spielberg and Sidney Poitier. As a result of that one activity, actor Sidney Poitier invited me to meet with him – and later – we learned the producer of the television show “Touched by an Angel” required the entire production team to read Chicken Soup for the Soul to put them in “the right frame of mind.”

We made phone calls to people who could review the book. We wrote press releases, called into talk shows (sometimes at 3:00 AM), gave away copies at our live presentations, and sent books to ministers to use as source material for their sermons. We asked businesses to make bulk purchases for their employees. We got the book into the Post Exchanges on military bases, we asked fellow speakers to sell the book at their talks, we asked seminar companies to put it in their catalogs, and we even bought a directory of catalogs to approach all the appropriate companies to feature Chicken Soup for the Soul.

We visited hospital gift shops and asked them to carry the book. We even convinced gas stations, bakeries and restaurants to sell the book. It was a daunting effort. But by accomplishing five small tasks each day—day in and day out, for more than two years—we were able to accomplish our dream with unwavering determination.

The book eventually sold more than 8 million copies in 39 languages and launched what Time magazine called “the publishing phenomenon of the decade.” The sustained effort of the “Rule of 5″ led to that success…one action at a time, one book at a time, one reader at a time. Slowly, over time, each reader told another reader, and eventually, the book became a huge success.

What success might you achieve over the next 40 years if you accomplished five things every day toward the advancement of your major goal? If you wrote 5 pages a day, that would be a total of 73,000 pages of text-or the equivalent of 243 books. If you saved $5.00 a day (about the cost of two cups of coffee), that would be $73,000, enough for four trips around the world! If you invested $5.00 a day, with compound interest at only 6% a year, you would have amassed a small fortune of $305,357 at the end of that 40 years. If you researched and telephoned five new people a day to help you build your business, and only one of them became involved, in just 5 years you would have enrolled 1825 people! If each of them made a commitment to do the same, the numbers would become astronomical.

What I have learned over the years is that in any business, whether it is publishing or network marketing, slow and steady wins the day. It is a little bit every day over time that produces the long-term results.

Not too long ago I met a man in network marketing whose net worth was over $100 million. When I asked him what his secret of success was, he told me that every day he would talk to at least five people and share the opportunity with them. He said that eventually he personally enrolled 13,000 people into the company. He said 1,300 people took the business seriously, 130 became millionaires, and 13 made him rich beyond his wildest dreams.

The Rule of 5. A simple, yet powerful principle, wouldn’t you agree?

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