236 From “Chicken Soup for the Soul” to “The Success Principles” – Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield's Story – You will hear:

  • Jack Canfield Shares His Biggest Struggle and How He Overcame
  • Talking about FORGIVENESS
  • What’s the #1 Thing That took Jack Canfield to Success?
  • From “Chicken Soup” to “Success Principles” – Jack Canfield's Journey
  • Jack Canfield's Advice for Kids and Adults
  • “If you are still angry at others, they are still controlling you” – Jack Canfield 

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Get Jack's Book “The Success Principles

jack Canfield "The Success Principles" BookFull Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch, your daily dose of fresh ideas, inspiring stories, and practical solutions to build a business and life that you love. If you are a daily listener, welcome back to the show and thank you for tuning in, and thank you for joining in the before and the after show online conversations. And if you are new here, here is what you can expect: Unique insights and actionable information from self-made successes who share their trials, tribulations, and come from behind victories. And Pei, are you ready for today's guest?

[00:41] Pei: Are you kidding?

[00:43] Joel: Oh my gosh. This man has devoted more than 40 years of his life to the study and to the practice of success, and hands down, he is the go-to guy. He's invested in countless seminars, wrote thousands of books, and has interviewed successful people from all fields and from all walks of life. He is a husband, he's a father, he's a syndicated newspaper columnist, and he is the leading authority on self-esteem, and he holds not one, but two world's records. Here you go, one for the longest book signing and one for having seven books on the New York Times Bestseller's list, all on the same day. He is the creator of the beloved “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, and today, he is celebrating with you and us, the 10th anniversary of his incredible book, “The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be”. Of course, I am talking about the incredible, Jack Canfield. Jack, welcome. Welcome to ReLaunch.

[01:51] Jack Canfield: Well, thanks Joel, thanks Pei, that's quite an introduction.

[laughter] [01:55] Joel: Well, was I accurate, did I get everything right? ‘Cause I was rehearsing for…

[01:59] Jack Canfield: No, you did, you did, I'm smiling. My self-esteem went up two points over here. [chuckle] [02:04] Pei: Well, before we go into the show, I'm curious. How long was that longest book signing?

[02:10] Jack Canfield: Well, it wasn't really the longest book signing, it was the largest book signing.

[02:13] Joel: Largest, okay.

[02:14] Pei: Okay.

[02:15] Jack Canfield: No problem. And I did once sign book for seven hours, from 5 o'clock 'til midnight. But I'm sure someone's done it longer than that. But what we did was we had the “Chicken Soup For the Soul” books, and we had every single co-author of every book we ever did all on one day signing Chicken Soup books in over 100 book stores, and we sold and designed literally tens of thousands of books. That was fun, it was fun to be in the…

[02:40] Pei: That was a party by itself.

[02:42] Joel: Yeah, that is… It's a chicken soup party is what that is. Alright. So Jack, this show is all about the relaunch and while many of us have experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our lives, I generally ask our guests to zero in on the relaunch that has had the most significance or that has been the most transformational for them. Then I just kind of unfold the story from there, and we'll do that here in just a few minutes with you, if that's okay. But before we jump into that, Jack, if it's okay with you, I wanna tell you in person. I didn't know if I was gonna have the opportunity to do this but I wanna tell you just how much your guidance and your coaching has meant to me personally, can I do that?

[03:24] Jack Canfield: Oh please.

[03:25] Joel: You know Jack, without you, I would not be a best selling author. And not only did I hit number one on Amazon as a Bestseller but I also hit it in all three categories on the same day in the same hour. And the way I did that, Jack, is I followed… Pei, you remember this, word for word.

[03:46] Pei: Yeah, when Steve Harrison interviewed Jack Canfield on that program with Bob, “Bestseller Blueprint”.

[03:53] Joel: “Bestseller Blueprint”. And Jack, I followed that to a T. I studied your forms, I studied your template, I studied the language and the way you framed everything with your supporters, your launch team people and it was phenomenal for us. So this is a pleasure for me to be able to thank you in person because your plan made that happen, thank you.

[04:21] Jack Canfield: Well, you're very welcome, I'm so excited to hear that, good for you guys.

[04:24] Joel: Yeah. We were thrilled at the way that unfolded. Okay, a lot to cover today, Jack. “The Success Principles”, of course we're gonna talk about that. You've got a breakthrough success live event coming up in Vegas before too long, just a few days, so we're gonna talk about that. So let's go ahead and jump right into today's show. Of all the things that you've accomplished so far in your life, Jack, personally and professionally, what would you say that you are the most proud of to date?

[04:56] Jack Canfield: Well, other than my children, I would say the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series which now has 500 million copies in print in 47 languages around the world, it's actually being used in China to teach English in the schools, where they have Chinese on one page and English on the other because the stories are so compelling the students will actually read 'em. And the number of lives that have been changed through those books and the number of stories that I received of the transformations that have occurred, it's phenomenal. I don't know how you even calculate a half a billion lives that have been changed. And probably more because when I was in India, they told me every book over there is read by at least 10 people because they pass the books around 'cause they can't afford that many books. So it's exciting to know that you could sit in a room and write and collect stories, and then put 'em out into a book and it would literally show up in… It's in India, it's in Tamil, it's in Hindi as well as English, it's in Farsi in Iran. It just blows my own mind.

[05:58] Pei: Wow, I'm so touched when you mentioned they translated and used in schools in China, 'cause that's where I came from, wow, that's awesome to hear.

[06:09] Joel: Yeah, wow, that is a great story, thank you for sharing with us, Jack. Jumping right into the listener questions, we've got a ton, we'll start right here, Karen Putts in Chicago. Now Karen, a quick side story about Karen, she's one of our biggest fans, but she actually is deaf, she can't hear, and because of her and so other people could enjoy our shows as well, we made that decision to have all of our shows transcribed.

[06:39] Pei: Transcribed, mm-hmm.

[06:40] Joel: And we'll start the questions with her. She asks this, and it's actually a perfect ReLaunch question, she says, “What was Jack's most challenging season of life?” So, what do you think on that one?

[06:54] Jack Canfield: Well, I'd have to say it was my divorce. I, about… Oh God, it's about 20 years ago now, I got divorced. And I had a child who was six years old, I had a woman that I'd been living with for 20 years, or married to, and it was very painful to come to the conclusion that I was no longer in love, and that I was actually miserable. And to… We were coming right up on our 20th anniversary, and instead of having champagne, we had to go down to the beach and talk about the fact that I wanted to leave. And… Excuse me, I'm getting over a cold. But anyway, so what happened was, I would say, creating… Having contributed to the pain that she experienced, the pain that I think my son suffered, I had to move out of my house for a while. And here I am, the success guy, and so you have to go out there and say, “Yeah, I used to run couples workshops with my ex-wife”, it's kind of embarrassing. And basically because of the divorce settlement, she ended up getting a really good lawyer, and I was trying to mediate and be the nice guy, and a result, I ended up losing all my money, I got to keep my business.

[08:02] Jack Canfield: Which I said, “She got all the money, I got to keep my job.” But it was valued at that amount, but I couldn't sell it at the time. So, I was kind of angry, and a little bit bitter, and I teach love and forgiveness and all of that, so it took me probably about, I don't know, three to six months to move through that and get over it, and forgive her and forgive the lawyers, and get to the place where I was at peace with it. But I was wearing shirts, two and three days in a row, I was eating a lot less expensive food than I ever did before, I was really on almost a starvation diet there. But what came out of that, it was really good, it forced me to re-brand myself, 'cause we were getting to the place where I wanted to sell “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, it just wasn't… The stories weren't inspiring me anymore, it had lost its juice, and that's when I created “The Success Principles” and re-branded myself as a success coach. And that changed my life in a very positive way, 'cause I knew I had to find some way to rebuild the wealth that I had before I got divorced, and I've been able to do that through this. So, even though it was painful, and I was upset a lot in the beginning, I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

[09:12] Joel: What did you learn, or relearn about yourself during that process?

[09:17] Pei: I was gonna ask about the same question?

[09:19] Joel: Yeah, of course, right? We always do that, go ahead.

[09:22] Jack Canfield: Well, I relearned that it's easier to say forgive and forget than it is to do it.

[09:27] Joel: Okay.

[09:27] Jack Canfield: I think it takes work. And fortunately, I did the work and I got through it, I think I learned about judgments that I still had that I was not aware of, I thought that was useful. I learned that I can come back from anything, 'cause here I was worth $20 million and all of a sudden I was worth nothing, and so that was a shock. And I think that it was good for me too, it forced me to realize the money was not what was making me happy, it's the quality of our relationships in life that make you happy, so that was a good lesson as well. And I think… I realized I had more friends than I thought I did, people really came out of the woodwork and supported me, both financially and with engagements, and emotional support, and just being friends. And I think I was taking all those friendships for granted, and not really investing the time I should, so friends have become really the highest priority in my life right now.

[10:23] Joel: Go ahead, Pei.

[10:23] Pei: Wow, that's amazing, one of my friends recently went through a divorce and the other day… This is a year later, 'cause last year when I saw her, she was very depressed, and when I saw her again this past weekend and she said, “It turned out to be almost one of the best things in my life, because I wouldn't have met all these wonderful people I do enjoy having in my life right now.” Jack, what would you say the best practice that worked for you, as far as forgiveness?

[10:59] Jack Canfield: Well, I remember reading a passage by a guy named L. S. Barksdale, who was a self-esteem expert. He came at it from the engineering point of view, rather than a spiritual or psychological point of view, he was trying to understand what self-esteem was. But one of the things he said was, “Everybody is always doing the best they can with the limited awareness, skills, knowledge and tools they have to meet some basic need.” And so, I realized my wife wasn't a bad person, neither was the other lawyer, they were just doing the best they could with their skills, knowledge, awareness and so forth, which in some areas was limited, to assure themselves that they would have a living and be safe in the future and so forth. So, when I got off the idea that there was evil intention, and just realized these were people that were afraid, it's much easier to forgive somebody who's scared than somebody you think is bad, so that was important. And the other thing I read from, I think it was Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, was that when you're angry or resentful to towards somebody, they're still controlling you.

[12:03] Jack Canfield: I think it was just the other day I was watching Oprah's Soulful Sunday, and someone said, I think it was Jack Kornfield, he's a meditation teacher who often gets confused with me 'cause our names are so similar, said that he was talking to a person that was an ex-Holocaust survivor that had been at Auschwitz, and there were two of them, and one said he had forgiven the Nazis and the other one said he hadn't, and the one who had forgiven said, “Well then you're still a prisoner of the Nazis because they still have control over you. You're still angry, they're controlling your energy, your life your emotions.” So forgiveness is really giving for yourself, not for the other person. It doesn't mean you condone their behavior, it doesn't mean you wish them indifferent, but you realize, “As long as I'm angry at you”, it's kind of like, I think someone said, “It's like swallowing poison and hoping the other person will die,” and it doesn't work that way.

[12:55] Joel: Absolutely. Great point there. Thank you for pointing that out.

[12:59] Pei: Absolutely.

[13:02] Joel: You know, Jack, when you were on that relaunch incline again, can you talk a little bit about the personal resistance or were there some? Some of those limitations, that “yeah, but” kinda thing. Did you run into those?

[13:18] Jack Canfield: Well, the main thing that happened for me after I got through my six months of being upset, was I realized I needed to relaunch my career.

[13:28] Joel: Right.

[13:32] Jack Canfield: And so I wrote “The Success Principles” book, it took me about 16 months to do it. I interviewed 75 of the most successful people in North America to make sure the principles I was writing about weren't just mine, but they, everyone who was successful would, there was a pattern, and found that to be true, and then I released the book and I went on a five-month speaking tour, I only came home I think three or four weekends out of five months, and I think my lesson for myself and for other people is there was a phenomenon called “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and all phenomenon have a beginning, a middle and an end. Now there's still “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books out there, but nothing like in the beginning, and so when I relaunched “The Success Principles” I realized I had to go out and really recreate a new brand, and I wanted to do it quickly, so I think a lot of people look at people that are successful whether it's in our business, like John Gray who wrote “Men Are from Mars” or Don Miguel Ruiz who wrote “The Four Agreements”, and we see they sold millions of books or Tony Robbins, someone like that we think, “Boy, they've always been successful, they're special,” but no, I worked, I did radio interviews and I was on the road doing seminars for five months almost every single day.

[14:43] Jack Canfield: Up at the morning to do morning shows, go out and do television during the day, and then I would go do a seminar at night, and get on a plane. I can remember finishing a seminar at 10 o'clock in Atlanta then taking a red eye to New York to be on the Today Show the next morning getting a three hours of sleep, and I did that for five months, but as a result of that the book hit the New York Times Bestseller list, it started to get in all the bookstores in the front of the store, and it launched my new career and now I make $30,000 to $60,000 a day running “Success Principles” seminars all over the world, so if I do it overseas, it's $60,000 and if I do it in America, it's $30,000, and then I put on my “Breakthrough to Success” seminar, and we might get 300 people paying a couple of thousand dollars, make $600,000 in a week, so it's that be willing to pay the price.

[15:33] Jack Canfield: One of my principles is be willing to pay the price, and a lot of people aren't willing to suck it up and do the hard work, and I don't know anyone who has been super… I was watching American Idol the other night, Keith Urban who is one of the judges, country singer, I love him, he said to this person, he said, “Talent's not enough,” he said, “You have to really want it and you have to be willing to work your ass off.” He said, “I worked my ass off to get where I am,” and I think that's true. Affirmation, visualization, positive thinking, all of that's important, but when the opportunities are presented you have to jump on 'em and actually do the work.

[16:10] Pei: You know I think that actually answered our first question from a listener, Bellevue, Washington State.

[16:17] Joel: Who, Patricia?

[16:18] Pei: Yeah, she asked about the main principles, and I think…

[16:23] Joel: Like I did or like Jack just said, “Work your ass off,” or Keith Urban said that or somebody said that.

[laughter] [16:29] Jack Canfield: Yeah, Keith Urban said it, I just quoted him.

[16:34] Joel: Absolutely. Connie in Long Beach and Benita in Alberta have pretty much a very, very similar question. They talk about the “Success Principles” being a phenomenal book, and they want to understand a little bit about the updates that… Like the digital update that you talked about with Erin Hardy, and some of the other revisions that you've included in this latest.

[17:01] Jack Canfield: Well they're three new sections in the book. There's a chapter on leadership called, “Lead So People Will Wanna Follow.” There's a chapter I actually had a guest writer for this, Ivan Misner who created BNI, Business Network International, its an organization with 6,500 international chapters, and he's a self-made man as well, and he wrote a chapter on how to be a more effective networker, and then I have three chapters on success in a digital age, 'cause when I wrote the first book 10 years ago, people, Facebook and YouTube and all those were not as prominent as they are now, so having a YouTube channel, having a social media presence, branding yourself online, being able to use crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to move your projects forward, not getting overwhelmed by the digital technology because you can get sucked into it and literally be distracted by it, so we really talk about all of that. I also interviewed Tim Ferris who wrote “The 4 Hour Work Week.”

[17:59] Joel: Yes.

[17:59] Jack Canfield: Tim's actually a mentee of mine, I helped him. Much like your blueprint for… Bestseller blueprint, I coached him through his media launch for his book, “The 4 Hour Workweek,” so basically…

[18:12] Joel: And that worked out good. [chuckle] [18:14] Jack Canfield: I think it worked out pretty well for Tim, he's selling more books than I am right now, so… But he's a genius, I love Tim. But the point being that there's these new chapters, but the most exciting part of the new book is we've replaced a lot of the old stories, every principle has a story of somebody who applied that principle in their life and how it affected their success, so proving the principle worked. But in the first book, it was people like Donald Trump and people you know that were really famous, but now in this book, we've replaced a lot of those stories with every day people, average people, who read the first book, applied those principles and now as a result of that, has an extraordinary life. People like Miriam Laundry who's a housewife who literally decided she wanted to write a children's book and have it be a Bestseller and win a Guinness Book World Record for having a 100,000 kids, all be read that book on the same moment on the same day, and she pulled that off using the principles in the book.

[19:10] Jack Canfield: Doug Whittle, a builder from Camp Blues, Canada, who read the book and as a result of it, one year, doubled his income, the next year doubled it again, he was already making good money as a builder in Canada, when he started applying the principles. Sean Gallagher was just a normal businessman in Ireland, read the book, got so inspired, he ran for President of Ireland. He would've won except for a scandal, the day before the election they released a scandal to the press which was not true but he couldn't refute it fast enough, and so the old politicians, they outsmarted him, but he came in second out of nine candidates for presidency in Canada.

[19:46] Jack Canfield: Alvin Slew was imprisoned in China for two years for fraud, and it was really set up, it was his boss who committed the fraud but he got scapegoated. His wife was able to get one book in to him while he was in prison in China, it was “The Success Principles”, he read that book, every day for two years, it's what got him to survive those miserable conditions and he came out and started two successful restaurants and a real estate investment company and a high tech firm and he's now a millionaire after a couple of years because of the principles in the book. I could go on story after story, but every story in the book now, well not every but most of them are these kind of stories and it makes it so much more believable that this book could change your life, and it made it so much more exciting for me to know this book had changed that many lives. So to me, you can hear I'm excited about it, thrilled about it.

[20:36] Joel: Absolutely. Well, Pei's got a copy of “The Success Principles” in her hand right now, it's one of our favorite books and again, congratulations, 10-year anniversary. Five minutes left, we're respecting your time. I'm gonna kinda run through these questions lightning round style, if you will.

[20:56] Jack Canfield: Sure, I'll do sound bite answers, here we go.

[20:58] Joel: Okay, fantastic. Main principle you wish, I'm sorry, let me start over again. One piece of advice you wish all high school seniors understood? That is from Debbie in Missouri.

[21:10] Jack Canfield: Basically trust your dreams, don't let anyone tell you what you should be or shouldn't be. Follow your heart, whether that means going to college or becoming a musician or starting a business, you have everything you need to do anything you want, you're gonna have to learn some new things, learn new skills, partner up with other people, but you can do anything you want starting right now.

[21:31] Joel: Fantastic, love it. Okay, Lisa in Oregon: Best advice for booking paid speaking gigs that do not rely on back of the room sales? Lisa.

[21:43] Jack Canfield: You have to have content that actually gives people value so that people will wanna pay for you to come speak it, or people will wanna pay to hire you to be a speaker, but it was either come to your seminar or… And so it's basically, for me what I had to do in the beginning was call up lots of people and say, “Do you hire speakers?” And then I had to find out what their needs were, then I had to convince them that what I was gonna speak about would meet their needs. So it's really dialing for dollars, it's a human interaction. Too many people rely on the internet and print material, and it's really a person to person kind of business.

[22:21] Joel: Okay, gotcha. Todd Uterstaedt: Publishing industry changes and now compared to 10 years ago. If you had to do “Success Principles” again, what would you do differently?

[22:36] Jack Canfield: Well I did do “Success Principles” again, it came out last week.

[22:40] Joel: I know.

[22:40] Jack Canfield: So basically, a lot more internet, a lot more podcasts, like what you guys are doing.

[22:46] Joel: Yes, sir.

[22:47] Jack Canfield: I think that's really the wave of the future. More video, we did a lot of videos, we put it all over the place in Facebook and on our website and a lot of bloggers are putting out these videos as well. Affiliate marketing is critical these days, you're up against 600,000 new books being published every year, so you've gotta find a way to do something exciting, do something different, do something new, don't be afraid to be controversial or unique and fun.

[23:14] Joel: Okay, and I think that kinda dovetails into this question, what you would recommend for an aspiring author to get closer to publishing, either by themselves or with a traditional publisher?

[23:28] Jack Canfield: Well, I think you have to write from your heart, write something that you care about, make sure you've done enough research so you know what you're talking about, write conversationally, so like you're having dinner with somebody, you're just talking to them. I think write, write, write, write, write, get a lot of feedback, with “Chicken Soup”, every story was read by 40 people, graded on a scale of one to 10, 10 being given goosebumps, one being, “Are you kidding me?” And we never published a story that didn't have an average from 40 people of over nine. So a lot of stories got rejected. So you want as many people as possible to read what you're writing and give you feedback. “This made sense, this wasn't clear. Can you clarify that? You said that before.” Have them ask questions, bleed all over it, that's the best way to get better.

[24:07] Joel: Peer feedback. Love that. Okay, very good. Two minutes left, here we go. Talk about this live event that you have coming up in Vegas, “The Success Breakthrough”. I'm excited about this for you.

[24:22] Jack Canfield: Yeah twice a year we do “Breakthrough to Success”. It's a five-day training. It's five days of exercises and experiential workshop, where you don't just read about it, you actually experience exercises that embody, that implant these principles inside of you. So you've actually experienced the power of it. You believe in it. You know what to do. You leave with a game plan, a support group, a mastermind partner and an accountability partner. You get usually about 200 people. You leave with probably 20 friends from 20 countries you can visit for the rest of your life. It's magical, what happens. Think of it as a spiritual car wash. You come out a lot different than when you came in, and it's amazingly powerful. I teach the whole thing myself and it really is a breakthrough to success. It's also we're starting a train the trainer program that same week. People that are in the train the trainer go through that. It's their first thing. So you can go to jackcanfield.com find out all about it. It's a powerful training.

[25:22] Joel: Fantastic. Last question, Jack what did you get from reading “The Success Principles” for this last time for this new edition?

[25:31] Jack Canfield: Well I think what it reminded me of when I read it again to edit it again, was some of the principles that I had forgotten about. There are 64 principles in the first book, I think maybe 25 are critical. The first 25 in the books, you have to do them in the order that they're suggested. There's a sequence to success. And then there were some in the back that I hadn't really looked at for while and I thought, “Hey, I need to start doing that again.” And so, I'm probably employing more of my own principles now than I was three or four months ago. What I would like to say also, if you do want to get a copy of this book, go to thesuccessprinciplesbook.com and there, it will take you to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You'll buy the book. You'll submit back the receipt you get from us digitally, and we will send you a download of the first two chapters.

[26:14] Jack Canfield: So you can start reading it before you even receive it in the mail. You'll get a download of an audio training and a video training, and a poster which is a daily action guide for what we call “the daily disciplines of success.” So it's about $100 worth of free material if you go to thesuccessprinciplesbook.com versus just going straight to Amazon.

[26:33] Joel: Perfect, and we'll share all that information in our broadcast show notes and in the blog article that accompanies this episode. Jack Canfield, this has been a pleasure and thank you so much for your time. Again, congratulations on the overwhelming success of the book. It's already hit number one on Amazon, and we're looking for more incredible things to come out of that book and to come out of you and your training organization. Thank you so much, Jack.

[27:03] Jack Canfield: Well, thank you, Joel, thank you, Pei. It's been my pleasure.

[27:06] Joel: It's been a pleasure too. Bye-bye, have a good day.

[27:08] Pei: Bye. Thank you.

[27:09] Jack Canfield: Bye guys.

Follow Jack on Twitter, Facebook, and visit The Success Principles site.

Joel Boggess

Motivational Speaker | Podcast Host | Bestselling Author. I help entrepreneurs focus, build confidence, and drive success with interactive keynotes, workshops, and executive coaching. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.


  1. Lisa Manyon on February 11, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Wonderful show Pei and Joel,

    Jack has been an inspiration for many years. I was honored to speak at the California Women’s Conference where he was also speaking. It was wonderful to meet him and share how his work has shaped my life.

    Write on!~

    Lisa Manyon

  2. Jane Carroll on February 9, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Great show…I was so inspired that I ran out and bought the book. Can’t wait to start reading it! Joel and Pei always do such a great job!

  3. Erica on February 9, 2015 at 7:10 am

    I truly enjoyed this interview with Jack Canfield! I got so many golden nuggets and takeaways from hearing Jack’s story. The one thing that really spoke to me is that, no matter who you are, you will always face struggles and obstacles that you will have to overcome in order to achieve the success you desire. This was also a great reminder that you have to work hard to achieve your dreams – they’re not just going to show up on your front door. Great stuff! Thank you!

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