Jim Rohn has helped people all over the world build a better life for themselves, both professionally and personally. In his “How to Have Your Best Year Ever!” seminar he outlines how anyone can make the changes in their life in order to achieve greatness.

Jim has been an inspirational figure for many and we have transcribed his words so that all can read and enjoy them.

In this introduction, Jim discusses his journey and what listeners can expect to learn from this seminar.

5 Major Pieces of the Life Puzzle – Introduction

00:00:18: Did you hear what the cow said to the farmer on a cold winter morning?

Thanks for the warm hand.

Anyway, it’s gonna get better. So don’t panic, we’ll start small. Nice to see all of you.

How many of you have never seen me before, this your first time?

Oh, wow, most of you okay. I keep thinking for sure I’m more famous than that. But you know, that is the truth.

I’m delighted to be here and looking forward to it for a long time.

And it’s nice to be back. You know, I was here not too long ago, it’s nice to be invited back. It says something
when you’re invited back, doesn’t say everything, says something.

Maybe it says let’s give him one more chance, right? See if he can get it right this time.

But I’m delighted to have all of you here, we’re going to spend the day together.

I feel two major responsibilities. And I’m sure you can guess what those are.

Number one is to make sure you get your money’s worth. Right, when you shell out your cash, especially these days,
you want to make sure you get full value for the money you spend.

And I know the tab for the seminar was not that much. Pretty modest fee to get in, for most of you your tips for
the week, right?

So it wasn’t that much.

But I want you to be able to say when you walk out of here today, “It was worth my money.”

But my biggest responsibility is to make sure you get your time’s worth. And the reason I say that is because
time is more valuable than money.

In fact, you might start your notes with that, time is more valuable than money. You can get more
money, but unfortunately, you can’t get more time.

If somebody asks you to spend your money, that’s pretty easy, right?

We live in America, we’re wealthy.

So the money’s not the problem.

But what if somebody asks you to spend a day? Right, you got to think that over carefully.

And I know you did. I wouldn’t waste one of my days, not for anybody, not for anything.

Once I understood how valuable they were. I don’t waste any. But to make an investment like today of your money and
your time, I appreciate that.

Today is going to be costly for me. It’s going to cost me one of my days to be here, and some money, of course, but
you know, I don’t need the money.

I take the money, but I don’t… I don’t need the money.

But guess what I do need the time. So I’m here not to just joke with you. I’m here not to just tell some funny
stories and give a performance and walk away.

I’m here to give you some value. And I want to make it worth your time.

I’m going to invest today, you’re going to invest today. Let’s get the most out of it and see what we can walk away
with today.

The Mentorship of Mr J. Earl Shoaff

00:03:03: Anyway, for you that have not seen me before. Just very briefly, let me just tell you my story. I grew up in Idaho,
farm country, southwest corner of Idaho.

In fact, my father still lives on the old homestead where I grew up. He’ll be 89, his next birthday. Still hasn’t
retired. I’m proud of my dad. He’s never been ill. He’s really something.

I’m trying to get him to retire this year. 88. I’m telling my father, what a good year to retire when you’re 88.
And he says, “Hey, talk to me in 10 years, I might be ready.”

But anyway, I went to high school, I graduated.

I went to college one year, halfway through my second year of college, I decided I was smart enough, so I quit. One
of my major mistakes, I should have stayed in school.

But I thought, heck, you know I’m smart enough to get a job. That’s what life’s all about. Right?

Get a job, pay your bills, work hard, stay out of trouble. Keep your fingers crossed, hope for the best. And I
figured I was at least prepared to do that.

So I quit college, and went to work. A little while later, got married, got my little family going. And I’m out
there doing what I thought was the best I could.

But, about age 25, I’m starting to struggle, I’ve purchased a little more than I can conveniently pay for on time.

And the creditors are starting to call saying, “Hey, you told us the check was in the mail. What’s the deal?” And
I’m getting embarrassed by that.

I’m also embarrassed—big mouth me—with all the fancy promises I made to get married. I’m way behind on those

And I’m getting discouraged wondering what to do. And I thought well, maybe I should go back to school. Right, one
year of college, pretty short on an application.

But, you know, tough to go back to school, right? Especially when you’ve got your family going, time to stay is
when you’re there. So I just discounted that I thought, well, if I, you know, had my own business, that would be the
way to go.

But you know, I’m short on money. Too much month at the end of the money, if you’ve ever been there, that’s where I
was at 25. So I had to discount that.

And I’m discouraged, wondering, where do I go from here?

And then the miracle happened for me, good fortune came my way.

And who can explain good fortune? I don’t know. Remarkable things that happen to you at a particular time.

Sometimes it’s just unexplainable, how those things happen.

One of my friends says, “Well, hey, things don’t just happen.”

Things happen just. Another good note for your notes. Things don’t just happen. Things
happen just
, and maybe that’s it. I don’t know.

I’m an amateur on life, I guess, like most of us are. Trying to figure it out how to make it valuable.

But I was ready. And my good fortune was, at age 25, I met a very wealthy man.

His name was Mr. Shoaff, Mr. J. Earl Shoaff. A friend of mine had gone to work for him.

And he started telling me about this man.

He said, “You’ve got to meet this man I’ve gotten to work for. He’s wealthy, but he’s easy to talk to. And he’s got a
unique philosophy of life.”

And the more he kept talking about this, man, I thought, well, I’ve got to meet this man.

So sure enough, shortly after that, I had a chance to meet this remarkable wealthy man. And I was impressed. He was
wealthy. And sure enough, he was easy to talk to.

I was so intrigued within a few minutes, I said to myself, if I could be like him, farm boy from Idaho, if I could
be like him, I’d give anything.

And then I thought, if I could just get around somebody like him.

And if he would teach me what to do, I would be willing to learn.

I’m coachable.

And that was my good fortune.

A few months later, this wealthy man that I met, Mr. Shoaff, took a liking to me, hired me, gave me a job, I went to
work for him. And I spent the next five years in his employ.

And then, unfortunately, he died at the end of that period, at age 49. His last five years, but the first five
years of my new life, I got to spend with this remarkable man.

And my dream came true. He coached me, he taught me.

He taught me the books to read. He taught me the disciplines, he taught me the changes to make in my language and

And the things he shared with me during that five years literally changed my life—turned my life around. Changed
my income, changed my bank account, changed my future, changed everything.

I’ve never been the same since that unique experience.

And I wish he was still alive today. Mr. Shoaff. I’m sure if he was alive today—especially after this seminar,

Idaho farm boy makes it to Dallas-Fort Worth, full house standing room only.

Pretty awesome.

I’m sure if he was alive, I’d be calling him today saying you won’t believe what’s happening to me.

I’ve had a chance now to share with other people what you shared with me.

But anyway, how I got here.

From Rural Idaho to the World

00:08:09: Thirty plus years ago, I was living in Beverly Hills, California. And one day a friend of mine—businessman
friend—said Jim, “Would you…I’d like to have you come and share your story with my service club that I belong
to, the Rotary Club.”

He said, “I know your story. Idaho farm boy makes it to Beverly Hills.”

But he said, “I think my club members would love to hear your story,” said, “if I arranged one of our breakfast
meetings, would you come tell your story? Just share a few thoughts.”

I said okay.

So I agreed to go give this breakfast talk. And guess what, they liked it.

And my telephone rang. I got another call and another call saying, “We heard you’ve given your story and shared
some ideas. Would you come talk to our club?”

“Talk to our club.”

First thing I know, I’m starting to devote a piece of my business time to giving these talks.

And then one day a businessman who’d heard my talk, I think two or three times, approached me and said, “Would
you come and share that story and some thoughts with my management and salespeople?”

He said, “I got this little company going.” And he said, “If you’d come tell your story to my organization,” he
said “I’d be happy to pay you.”

And I thought, wow, wouldn’t that be something?

So I agreed to go do it. And I got paid.

Little did I know another fortune was waiting for me to translate my ideas into talks and speeches and

Now I’ve written some books. It’s on cassette tape. Now I get to travel around the world.

Last year I was in Japan, Israel, Spain, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Canada. Now
Dallas-Fort Worth.

Idaho farm boy gets to travel around the world and share his story. And here I am today.

Anyway, it’s almost too much for me to comprehend from where I started, raised in obscurity. In a little, small
farm community, and now to be here today is pretty awesome for me.

So anyway, that’s just a little bit about my story. My story is probably more intriguing for me than it is for
you. But I wanted to hear it again, so I thought I would just bore you with it.

Anyway, I don’t ask you to be impressed today. I’m the one that’s impressed from where I came from, to have a

But that’s the American dream, right?, come true. Chance to start from scratch.

Start from obscurity. Start with pennies, start with nothing, and have a chance to transform your life. Change
your life, set your goals, and see what you can accomplish.

So anyway, that’s how I got here.

And I’m just delighted this day has arrived.

And I truly want to make it valuable for you.

Let’s go to work. Here’s what I hope you’ll find out of this seminar today, for your notes.

What You’ll Learn With This Seminar

00:10:56: Here’s what I hope you’ll find.

Number one: Sincerity.

Above all else today, I hope you’ll find me sincere. Best place for people to start to communicate is sincerity on
both sides.

I’m sure you’re sincere, or you wouldn’t be here today.

Right? To spend this kind of monies, to spend this kind of time. Roll up your sleeves today, go to work, like I am,
and get this message. You’ve got to be sincere, so I assume you’re sincere.

Now I want you to see me as sincere. But I’ve got a good note for you to make: Sincerity is not a test of

Important note to make: Sincerity is not a test of truth.

We must not make the mistake of saying he must be right. He’s so sincere.

That would be a mistake. And here’s why it’s possible to be sincerely wrong.

So we don’t mistake sincerity for truth. Right? Sincerity is only a test of sincerity, truth has to yet be tested
by truth. Okay, but hopefully you will find me sincere and truthful.

Next, a combination of things I hope you’ll find here today: Ideas plus inspiration. Ideas plus

Ideas, business ideas, and social ideas, and personal ideas. We all need ideas. Right?

How to have a good day ideas, how to have a good year ideas, how to have your best year ever ideas, good health
ideas, personal relationship ideas, how to deal with your family ideas, sales and management ideas, financial
freedom for the future ideas. We all need good ideas.

So today, I hope you gather up by notes, and by what you can remember, a lot of ideas.

I want to share as many with you as I possibly can. And the time constraints we have, today is going to go very

I used to think a day like this was a long day. Found out it’s a pretty short day, but I’m going to go as fast as I
can to share with you as many ideas as I possibly can. And here’s why: Ideas can be life changing.

Ideas can be life changing.

And sometimes all you need is just one more in a series of good ideas.

It’s like dialing the numbers into the lock, right?, you’ve got five or six numbers dialed into the lock, the lock
will come open.

But you don’t need five or six more numbers.

Maybe you just need one more.

And maybe a seminar like this could do it, the sermon could do it. The lyric from the song could do it. The
dialogue for the movie could do it. Conversation with a friend might do it, that one last piece you need. Number,
dial it into the lock, that’s it, the lock comes open.

There’s the door for you to walk through.

And maybe this seminar today could furnish that for you, one more idea.

I know you’ve come with a lot already. Sometimes we get the impression, I used to have that, that I only had this
much going for me and I needed this much. Usually not true.

And I’m sure, not true of this audience, where I find you today, as well dressed as you look today. You know, as
fine as you are sitting here today.

It isn’t that, you know you’ve got this much going for you and you need this much.

I would assume you’ve got this much going for you and maybe all you need is just a few more thoughts—ideas—to
furnish you some ways and means to turn your life into the dream you want it to be.

So ideas, the seminar is going to be loaded with ideas.

I want you to take good notes.

But here’s what else I hope you’ll find here today, and that is inspiration.

And who knows the mystery of inspiration, why some people are inspired and some are not?

You were inspired to get here, some were not, who knows the mystery of that. I don’t know.

How come you made it, and the rest of them didn’t make it. We don’t know what that mystery is.

Some people will turn it down. Some people say, “It’s going to take too much time.” Some people are too busy,

A lot of different excuses why some are inspired to take advantage of something that comes to town. Others pass it

We don’t know the mystery to that.

Here’s what I call it: Mysteries of the mind.

And I just leave it at that.

Some things I don’t try to figure out, I take the simple approach now. Right?

Some people do, and some people don’t.

I mean, that’s about as profound as my philosophy is. Some buy, and some don’t buy. Some go for it, and some don’t.
Some change, and some don’t.

And if you’ve been around for a while, you can usually work out the numbers, right?

Out of 10, you know, three do, seven don’t.

Whatever business you’re involved in, pretty soon you got this ratio going. The ones that do and the ones that
don’t, and you say, “Well, why don’t the ones that don’t? How come they don’t?”

We don’t know.

I just leave it as a mystery. I used to try to understand all that. I just take the simple approach.

The guy says, “This happens to me, this happened to me, this goes wrong for me. And all this stuff goes wrong for
me. How come all this stuff happens to me?”

I say, “I don’t know. Beats me.”

The best I’ve been able to figure out is, those kinds of things always happen to people like you.

That’s the best I got. I don’t know. I’m an amateur on this stuff. What do I know?

So just take the simple approach, right? That’s how it is.

Who knows.

Interesting story says the day the Christian church was started—now I’m an amateur on the Bible—but the best
account I can remember, is the day the Christian church was started a magnificent sermon was preached, a great

And if you’re a student of all, at all, of good communication, it was one of the classic presentations of all
times: The sermon, first day Christian Church was started.

And it said the sermon, this presentation was given to a multitude, meaning a lot of people.

But it was interesting, as the account gives us the record, it says, when the sermon was finished, there was a
variety of reaction to the same sermon.

Isn’t that fascinating?

I find it fascinating.

It said some that heard this presentation were perplexed.

And I read the presentation, sounded pretty straightforward to me.

Why would somebody be perplexed with a good, sincere, straightforward presentation?

Best answer I’ve got: They are the perplexed.

I mean, you know, what other explanation is there?

It doesn’t matter who’s preaching.

It said, “Some that heard this presentation, mocked and laughed.”

Made fun of the presentation? I thought, hey, this looks pretty sincere to me.

If you give a sincere, honest presentation, why would somebody mock and laugh?

Easy explanation. They are the mockers and the laughers, what else would you expect them to do? Right?

I used to try to straighten all that out. I would say, well, they shouldn’t do that anymore.

I don’t do that anymore.

I’ve got peace of mind. Now I sleep like a baby. I don’t try to straighten all this stuff out.

I used to be so naive. I used to say, a liar shouldn’t lie. See? How naive can you be? Of course, they’re supposed
to lie. That’s why we call them liars. They lie.

So, I don’t straighten this stuff out anymore.

Anyway, it said some that heard this magnificent presentation, didn’t know what was going on. And they’re usually
easy to spot. They’re usually saying, “What’s going on?” Right?

I mean, they don’t know what’s going on.

But interesting, right?

A variety of reaction to the same sincere, honest presentation.

Now it also says, in wrapping it up, some that heard the presentation believed. And I think that’s who the speaker
was looking for: The believers.


Now, it said the number of believers was about 3,000.

So pretty good first day, 3,000. I’ve had some first days, but I never had 3,000.

But anyway, 3,000 were believers. And that the Speaker was looking for the believers out of this multitude.

And that’s about as close as we can come to understanding this mystery. Some believe and some mock, and some laugh,
and some are perplexed, some don’t know what’s going on.

And you just have to leave it that way. Why? Because that’s the way it’s going to be.

The way to be brilliant is to find out how it’s going to be and then say, “Here’s how it should be.” I mean, that’s
how you’d become brilliant.

So anyway, who knows the mystery, I call it mysteries of the mind. We don’t understand, but I don’t try to change
it anymore.

On this particular story, as far as we know, they didn’t have classes after the presentation to try to de-perplex
the perplexed. Meaning, as far as we know, they left them for plexed. They left the mockers mocking, they left the
laughers laughing.

I mean, they didn’t come back and try to straighten all this out.

You say, “Well, how can you build a church.”

Well, make another presentation, you’ll get some believers and some mockers and some laughs at first, and some who
don’t know what’s going on.

So that’s about the best we can do.

So, but I’m glad I’ve got the believers here today. You believed enough to shell out your cash and part with your
time, and some of your effort and energy, and I appreciate that.

So hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration here today.

All right, to get the most out of today, couple more notes.

Be Thankful, Listen, and Take Good Notes

00:19:59: Number one: Be thankful.

That’s a good way to capture the most of a day like this.

Be thankful for what you already have.

That shouldn’t be any problem in America.

Being thankful.

Everything we need is available in America, everybody wants to come here. Right?

The last time I was here, that little presentation I gave, everybody wants to come here: America.

People haven’t plotted and schemed the last 40 years, “If I could just get to Poland, everything would be

No, everybody wants to come to America, why? Everything’s available here.

All the books you need, all the sermons you need, all the churches you need, all the schools you need, all the
instruction you need, all the inspiration you need, all the capital you need, all the markets you need, all the
challenge you need, all the information you need, all the seminars you need.

Everything’s available here.

This is America.

So number one: Let’s be thankful for what we already have.

Thanksgiving does this, opens up the doors, opens up the windows, opens up the channels.

Thanksgiving for what you already have.

I did a seminar one weekend up at the ranch up at Clear Lake.

Got a lodge up there.

Nice setting, high valley, high serenity ranch, for the weekend. Friday evening. Saturday, Sunday. People drove
in from around California.

I got there late Friday afternoon. Everybody pretty well had already gotten there. I couldn’t believe the
parking lot.

Continentals, and El Dorados, and Mercedes, and Cadillacs, an unbelievable Ferrari, one Rolls Royce.


I walked in, good looking crowd— about like this—sitting there ready for the weekend seminar.

My opening remarks were, “Ladies and gentlemen, I think the rest of the world would find it strange that we
have all come here this weekend to try to figure out how to do better.”

I think the rest of the world would say, “I don’t understand.”

Guy in his Rolls Royce saying, “I’ve got to get to the seminar, find out how to get another one of these Rolls


Anyway, let’s be thankful.

Here’s what locks up the doors and the channels to receive more: Cynicism.

That locks you away. That prevents you from learning more. Being a cynic about the past and the future.

A cynic about the marketplace, cynical about the people, cynical about the institution, cynical about the
setup, cynical about yourself, cynical about your chances.

See that locks away all the chance for stuff to flow your way.

So good advice, I think today to start off, be thankful.

Here’s number two: Listen well.

And that’s going to be a challenge today, I understand that.

Seems like most of, you know our life, is still going on outside these four walls, right?

Most of our life seems like it’s all, you know, continuing out there. Family and business, associates, market,
and economy, and whatever else is happening in the midst of your life.

And to sort of, you know, pull your attention from what’s going on out there, and put it in here for just a few
hours, I know it’s a challenge.

But do the best you can, listen well.

Here’s the last one: Take good notes.

Be a good student today, take some good notes.

I’ve not come to entertain you. As you can tell by my opening joke, right?

I would not make it in Las Vegas.

So we don’t have a dog and pony show today, no entertainment.

But I do have some ideas.

Take some good notes.

Somebody showed me the other day notes that they took about 21 years ago, attending one of my seminars out in
Los Angeles. He said, “I still use these notes I took 21 years ago, to help me in my business, relationship with
my family.”

So I’d like to have these notes that you take today become that valuable for you. Then, it would be worth me
making the investment to come and spend a portion of my life, my time, my energy here.

And I want this investment I’m making here today to pay off.

And one of the ways that can pay off for me, is for you to take good notes. And then go away and use whatever
makes sense.

Because what I feast on, coming back around is the stories.

Out of this audience today, sure enough, six weeks from now, six months from now, six years from now, somebody
is gonna, by phone, by letter, by personal contact, walk up to me and say, “The things you shared that day got
me thinking, and I started making some changes. And let me tell you what’s happened to my business. Let me tell
you what’s happened to my sales career. Let me tell you what’s happened to my relationship with my family.”

See, that’ll make it worth it for me.

Not the money. The return, something you can’t buy with money.

If somebody says, “Thank you for touching my life, and taking the time to make the investment.”

And that’s what I’m all about.

So if you’ll become a good student today.

And here’s the last note: Don’t be a follower. Be a student.

You’ll be happy to know that today we haven’t come seeking disciples.

We’ve got no movement for you to join.

I’m just here to share some of my experiences, good ideas, as best I can.

But I think that’s good advice.

Don’t be a follower, be a student. Right?

Take advice, but not orders. Take information. But don’t let somebody, you know, order your life.

Make sure what you do is the product of your own conclusion.

Excellent note to make.

Make sure what you do is the product of your own conclusion. Not to do what someone else says.

Take what someone else says, process it, think about it, ponder it.

If it makes you wonder, if it makes you think, then it’s valuable.

Then when you go take action, make sure that the action is not what somebody told you to do. Make sure the
action is the product of your own conclusion.

If you’ll follow just a little bit of those simple guidelines. I’m telling you the learning process can be
speedy, swift, powerful, your learning curve can go up and then applying it to your business, your life, your
family, conversations, equities of all kinds.

You’ll find some progress like I did that first five years, when I met a teacher willing to share with me.

Turn my life around. Progress I couldn’t believe happened for me.

Okay, let’s get started.

I want to review. I was here last time and we talked about the five major pieces to the life puzzle.

And I just want to review those because it lays such a good foundation for all the rest that I want to share
with you today, we got a lot of subjects to cover. So we’re going to go rather swiftly.


Put on your mental track shoes here and run with me today.

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