If you could only read 10 books for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Today, I took a stab at answering this tough question. I thought it’s a great one because the limitation it places on you really forces you to cut the fat.
Obviously, this list will differ if your goals are different. I tried to answer the question by targeting books that will make you wiser, happier, richer, healthier, and more fulfilled when you die. Therefore, these books are not the best for solving niche goals, like becoming a top athlete, famous musician, or self-actualized individual.
As far as why you should listen to me, I’ve gone through hundreds of books and have a much more thorough knowledge of the self-help book universe than 99% of people alive.
There were plenty of books I wanted to add to this list that unfortunately didn’t make the cut. But if you’re strapped for time, this list will do you good. Click play on the player below to listen to my podcast episode and which books I chose:
I was watching a speech by the billionaire David Rubenstein, the founder of the largest private equity firm in the world. He said something really profound and useful that I would like to share.
He said that you cannot succeed in business by just copying other people because you will just be an echo or reflection. You have to stand out by doing something completely differently. Now, I’m not saying that you should never copy. Other successful people, like the founder of Costco, Sam Walton, and Steve Jobs, have emphasized the importance of copying when it’s a no-brainer better way of doing things. I am saying that there is a lot of value in coming up with new ideas and doing what’s been done before in a different, better way.
That’s why I want to talk about how to be more creative and imaginative. I have compiled some of the best advice out there from the world’s most successful creative people.
Are you sick of people’s opinions on what brings you happiness?
I used to be quite unhappy and confused on how to fix this. I talked to everyone from relatives to religious people and consumed everything I could find online about the topic.
But I just wasn’t sure if it was the truth or false theories. I wanted rigorous, tested research that I could trust. And that’s when I turned to science and books. Fortunately, I found the answer to my questions…
A year ago, I stumbled on an article on how to be mentally strong that got a ton of comments and shares. It confused me. Why do all these people care about this?
I didn’t care about mental toughness. I wanted money and happiness. And I didn’t see how mental toughness would help me with that unless I wanted to change my goals to becoming a Navy SEAL. But everything’s changed since then.
Now, I understand how important mental toughness is to your peak performance.
Today, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know on a critical skill you may be overlooking. I’ll share with you why mental toughness matters and how to improve it. And if you’re wondering why you should trust me, it’s because all my advice comes from people you can trust: the world’s top performers.
If you prefer listening to audio, listen to the podcast version of this article, where I give not-mentioned secret tips:
You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher below to get access to all my podcast episodes. Please leave a review on iTunes if you like it.
What is Mental Toughness?
Mental toughness is the strength of mind to keep pushing through when your body and other psychological factors tells you to quit.
The scientific definition is:
“Mental toughness is defined as an unshakeable perseverance and conviction towards some goal despite pressure or adversity.”
Based on a study of ten international performers, classified mental toughness as something that can be measured by the following dimensions:
Pain and Hardships
Desire and Motivation
Dealing with Pressure and Anxiety
Here are some examples of mental toughness in action:
When you are broke and homeless, it feels like there is no hope, especially when you have tried hard for years to improve your situation and failed. This was Sylvester Stallone’s situation before he made it as an actor. There was significant psychological pressure telling him to give up, but he didn’t.
Another example would be when you’re competing at the Olympics. A slight difference of who can push further a bit further can decide who takes the Gold or Silver medal. At a crucial point like this, you have physical factors (your body screaming at you to quit) and mental factors (screaming crowds distracting you and your body screaming at you through your nerves) that are competing against your mental strength.
Or let’s say your parents and siblings all died from illnesses or unexpected accidents. You need to be strong to stay positive and keep moving on.
Sylvester Stallone defines it the best. Here’s a clip from the film “Rocky Balboa:
This video made an impression on my beyond anything else. I almost cried after seeing it for the first time. This was because I was really in a bad place at the time in almost every area of my life, and it was like he was speaking right to me.
It explains mental toughness fairly well and gives a great tip on improving it. It’s not about how great you are, it’s about how many times you can get back up after life beats you down.
Imagine being able to push a little bit farther each time when you’re at the gym and on the last rep. Imagine being able to work harder than your coworkers and get more done. Imagine having that extra push in that make-or-break moment that could define your future and crown you as a champion.
What would that mean to you? How much more money would you make? How much longer would you live? How much better would you look?
Mental toughness lets you down that. It gives you the self-discipline to keep pushing when you want to quit.
As I hinted, it’s incredibly important in the realms of sports and other competition, when you need to push to the next level when your body wants to be lazy or tells you to quit. But don’t just take my word for it.
Here’s what some top athletes have to say about it:
Arnold needs no introduction. But here’s a quick bio anyways: He won Mr. Olympia seven times. He went onto become a real estate millionaire. Then, he became the highest paid actor in the world and governor of California.
Arnold has stated in interviews that there will always be people in competitions who have just as good a body as you. What puts you over the top is your mind.
Michael Jordan: Mental Toughness Matters More Than Genetic Talent
Michael is widely regarded as the best basketball player of all time. According to the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Michael said:
“The mental toughness and the heart are a lot stronger than some of the physical advantages you might have. I’ve always said that and I’ve always believed that.”
She is widely regarded as the best female soccer player to play the game. She is often asked, “What the most important thing for a soccer player to have? Mia always responds with no hesitation, “mental toughness.” She went on to say:
“It is one of the most difficult aspects of soccer and the one I struggle with every game and every practice.”
Rich Froning (from his book First: What It Takes To Win )
Who is Rich? He is widely regarded as the best Crossfitter of all time in the decade or so of the sport’s existence. He won back-to-back three years in a row and came in 2nd place the first time he competed, a feat no one has come close to. He’s also won numerous times with his team, Crossfit Mayhem, for the Team division.
According to his book First: What It Takes To Win, mental toughness is a key to success in Crossfit because it helps you push farther. He says roughly 80% of Crossfit success is mental, and only 20% is physical. When you think about it, it makes sense. A large part of any physical activity is about mentally tolerating pain in your brain; it’s internal, not external.
Rich has trained a lot of different people. He found the difference between the people who succeed and those who give upon the sport doesn’t have to do with genetic talent. It’s about their mental strength.
Here’s what science has to say about it:
Being Mentally Strong Improves Physical Endurance
This seems like common sense, but it’s important to verify any assumption with rigorous science. A 2005 study by Lee found a significant correlation between mental strength and endurance.
We will start with what science has to say about improving your mental toughness, and then go to what the world’s best have to give as advice.
What Science Has To Say
According to the books The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor and Social by Matthew Lieberman, studies show that having strong friendships increases your resilience to negative events.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When you lose your job or have an unexpected illness, your friends are a great support network to catch you, keep you going, and get you back on your feet.
A 2007 study by Jones examined eight athletes who were world champions or Olympic medalists and found that there were four dimensions that made up mental toughness:
attitude and mindset
These could be areas worth looking to improve.
A similar study was done on 33 elite athletes and coaches, including 25 who were Olympic athletes or world champions. They found twelve dimensions: elf-efficacy, potential, mental self concept, task familiarity, value, personal bests, goal commitment, perseverance, task focus, positivity, stress minimization, and positive comparisons.
Dr. Rob Bell is a sports psychologist and has worked with professional athletes, like PGA golfers, to improve their mental toughness. I couldn’t help but be a little skeptical about this guy because he didn’t mention any results of his clients; maybe he’s just a good salesman. Having said that, he does have a scientific background and he does mention some really good stories from top athletes in this video guide on mental toughness:
In the video, he lays out an acronym for improving mental toughness: No Fear. It stands for:
Never Give Up
Obstacles Into Opportunities
rE-focus (refocus when you lose track)
Attitude (e.g. being excited rather than nervous)
Respond, don’t react
According to his book:
If he had to answer the question, he thinks it comes down to your upbringing and practicing pushing your comfort zone. There have been moments during the Crossfit Games where he thought, “I don’t feel like doing this. I want to quit. Why am I doing it?”
And that’s when his upbringing kicked in. His parents made him do a lot of chores, including meaningless tasks like pulling nails off a board, to instill in him a strong work ethic. His work ethic kicked in automatically when he wanted to give up.
As far as practicing pushing your comfort zone, make sure you remember that you can’t rely on your genetic gifts. He has observed many successful athletes rely on their talents to get them through high school. But when they hit college, they fail because they meet people who have the same genetic skill and highlyhoned high mental toughness from practice.
Therefore, always push yourself farther than you can go — even when you can get away with not doing so. Otherwise, it might bite you in the butt later in life.
Rich Froning’s Secrets to Mental Toughness: Practice, Have A Higher Purpose, and Have Fun
According to Rich’s video:
The elite Crossfitter’s ability to dig deep and push through comes from genes and practice. So don’t make the excuse that you just don’t have the genetics. For Rich, he uses a higher purpose (rather than his own selfish reasons) to push through when he wants to give up. His higher purpose is promoting his faith, Christianity.
He also said that not putting too much pressure in yourself and finding a way to have fun also helps push through.
Advice from Navy Seal Commander Mark Divine
Mark Divine is the founder of SealFit and a retired Navy Seal commander. He had trained thousands of Navy SEAL 20x their performance. See the video below for a quick tip:
Too long? Didn’t have time to watch the whole thing? Here’s the summary:
The body is an amazing thing. You can actually get stronger mentally, physically, and emotionally over time.
You can do a lot more than you think you can before you get exhausted.
Mark gives the example of going through the SEAL’s “hell week.” It’s a week of non-stop training with no sleep and considered the hardest military training for any special ops. Half way through the week, half the people had given up. But mark felt better in every way; he felt more alert and he felt like his muscles were growing.
Ramit Sethi, the entrepreneur interviewing him, responds by saying how one time, he was doing a workout and thought he couldn’t finish it because it was too heavy. His trainer put on more weight and he ended up finishing. In that moment, he realized he could do much more than he thought he could.
Now, did Mark actually get more alert and muscular in just half a week of training with no sleep? Probably not. I have studied the science of sleep and muscle recovery, and experiments show the opposite. Your focus drops when you need more sleep. And you don’t gain muscle that fast even if you get enough protein and rest.
But that’s not the point. Even Mark admits it was probably his mind playing tricks on him. The point is that you can push much farther than your body tells you it can.
In the book Willpower Instinct, the author cites a study that discovered that your brain sends signals of exhaustion far before your body actually gets exhausted as a fail-safe. Now, it’s there for a reason: to act as a prevention tool for complete exhaustion and danger.
However, your body doesn’t know it lives in the modern world. It’s still wired for Savannah times where there were real physical threats. Nowadays, there are safe environments to protect you from any downsides if you get exhausted and the benefits of pushing past exhaustion (in competition or to build muscle) are huge.
What I Learned From the Book, “The Ultimate Guide to Mental Toughness”
I read a great book on the subject called Ultimate Guide to Mental Toughness: How to Raise Your Motivation, Focus and Confidence Like Pushing a Button by Daniel Teitelbaum. Daniel used to work as a salesman. He used Napoleon Hill’s visualization techniques to become one of the top salesman for his company. Then, he transitioned to coaching everyone from Olympians to office workers to improve their performance, confidence, motivation, and wealth through live workshops.
He reveals his secrets in this book and expands upon Hill’s techniques with his own improved versions. I was recommended the book by a friend, and at first, I was skeptical. But once I finished it, I was much more convinced because some of the techniques are backed up by experiments.
The main thing I loved about the book were all the techniques around using classical conditioning. This is a classic, psychological discovery. Psychologists found that a dog would drool after a bell sound after sounding the bell before feeding the dog numerous times. Eventually, the dog would drool even if no food was given after the bell sounded. Later on, they found that they could use anything to do this; it didn’t have to be a bell.
Using classical conditioning, Dan’s techniques tied various triggers to ordinary events to get you motivated to accomplish your goals whenever you wanted. These included:
Listing out and identifying the goals that give you the biggest emotions.
Visualizing in detail the day before you achieve your goal.
Visualizing in detail 15 minutes before you achieve your goal.
Visualizing in detail the day after you achieve your goal.
Visualizing in detail the moment you achieved your goals (who was there, what’s happening around you, how you feel, what you’re holding and wearing, etc.).
Screaming a sentence that summarizes you achieving your biggest goal as load as you can fifteen times in a row.
Beating your chest with your hand while doing the visualization exercise. Then, slowly condensing the movement so that you can get the same emotional trigger by just tapping your finger or toe.
Playing a song that really energizes you while you’re visualizing so that you can eventually play the song to trigger the emotions without having to do the visualization exercise.
You don’t have to do all of these techniques. He has so many for different situations and personalities. And a number of these are not science-backed. Having said that, if all else fails, this is something you can test. It couldn’t hurt.
How To Summon Any Emotion or State You Want Instantly
What’s interesting is that I read the book The Art of Learning, and the author, Josh Waitzkin, stumbled across a very similar triggering method on his own. For some context, Josh was a chess prodigy who became a teen world champion and basis for one of the most famous chess movies, Searching for Bobby Fischer. He went on to become the world champion of the competitive martial arts, Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands, all by his early thirties.
Josh uses a similar “condensing” technique for triggering other emotions, like calmness. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t have to be for energizing emotions, like Dan has done. In his book he gives a great example.
A man always gets too nervous before presentations at works and blows it. He comes to Josh for help. Josh tells him to identify the moment when he is most calm. It was playing ball with his son.
He then asked him to conduct an hour-long routine each time before he played ball with his son. It happened to a number of random things, like stretching, listening to music, and washing the dishes. Gradually and slowly, Josh told him to condense the routine so it got shorter and shorter.
Eventually, the routine was less than five minutes. Then, Josh told him to perform this routine before the presentation, and he felt calm. Was it magic? No. He had simply conditioned a set of random activities to the feeling of calmness, so he could summon it on command.
Tim Ferriss is an entrepreneur and host of a self help podcast with over 100 million downloads titled The Tim Ferriss Show. Thanks to his hard work, large blog, and network as a Silicon Valley tech investor, he has been able to interview many of the world’s top athletes and game changers. He’s learned a lot about mental toughness from them:
I have been a super fan of both of these billionaires for a few years now. I have consumed almost everything out there about them. One thing most people don’t know about them is that they’ve been through tough times as well and they keep going.
Charlie saw his own child get ill and pass away. Warren has lost loved ones and has been hurt by people he’s loved.
But Charlie describes it best in the document Becoming Warren Buffett. He said, “Warren soldiers on.” They keep pushing forward, like a soldier.
Now, no need to pity them, as they’ve both generally had incredibly awesome lives for the most part. But if you have want to change your negative attitude and outlook, there’s nowhere better than the book Poor Charlie’s Almanack.
Charlie Munger’s philosophy on dealing with life, which you can find in that book and in free interviews online, is the best I’ve come across in dealing with life. Hundreds of thousands of Tim Ferriss fans love to harp on his teachings of stoicism (If you’re not familiar, I’d describe it as minimalism for happiness). But Charlie’s stuff is better.
He explains in such logical terms why you should avoid all self-pity and jealousy because it only hurts yourself and prevents you from progressing. He talks about how to effectively deal with the dread of aging and dying. And he talks about why and how you should come to accept and move on from unexpected bad events that life hands you — and to even do it in a positive way.
One of Charlie’s biggest inspirations is Ben Franklin, so I suggest reading Ben’s autobiography too if you want to dive even deeper.
Did I miss any valuable advice from a top athlete or scientist? Let me know in the comments below. I’d be eager to learn more.
Most people aren’t as plugged into the personal development space as I am. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to create a comprehensive list of all the top active personal development influencers across the web. The list covers the most impactful leaders for all content platforms, including social, podcasts, and blogging.
As a note, these are modern leaders that are currently active, who have a face and have the largest influence on a raving fanbase.
Evan has one of the top Youtube channels to help people achieve success. Evan is most well known for his “_______’s Top 10 Rules of Success”, which are video montages of a successful people giving success advice. He covers successful people of every domain and skillset, including entrepreneurs, talk show hosts, actors, athletes, world peace leaders, marketers, motivational speakers, philosophers, and martial artists. Here’s an example of one of his videos:
Evan has over half a million YouTube subscribers and posts numerous videos on a daily basis.
There are two qualities I like most about Evan’s videos. First, he spends a lot of time to create curated content in a form I appreciate most: video interviews of top achievers. Second, some of his videos are really well curated and obviously require a lot of digging to find each clip. The video below is the best example I could find. He made a montage of dozens of billionaires and other successful people talking about why you should follow your passion.
I was flabbergasted after watching this. His team probably had to manually watch and dig through a hundred hours of lectures to find the one moment when they talk about the topic.
Joel Brown of Addicted2Success.com
Joel started his site addicted2success.com on the side while working a full-time office job. At first, the ads on the site barely paid for lunch. Slowly but surely, his site became one of the most visited self development sites in the world. He was even offered $1 million for it, which he declined.
Joel runs a podcast with the same name. He has many high-hitting guests on his podcast, including millionaire entrepreneurs and meditation gurus. Joel’s content has a flavor of general self-development advice, covering everything from habits to vision boards. There is an entrepreneurial flair to this content, as most of the role models and podcast guests are successful businessmen (Steve Jobs, Grant Cardone, etc.), though he does occasionally add in other big figures, like Gandhi.
Andrew Ferebee of Knowledge for Men
Andrew started with humble beginnings. He was completely broke and emotionally affected from a breakup with his girlfriend. The podcast he ran on the side, Knowledge For Men, saved him from homelessness. He grew a large audience and leveraged that into a business to help men become the best, masculine versions of themselves.
His podcast is one of the top podcasts in the world for this market. Every episode, he interviews an expert in the men’s dating or self improvement industry. Andrew’s flavor of personal development has a clear focus on a dating, relationships, and returning to your masculine, ancestral self.
James Clear of Jamesclear.com
James Clear runs a high traffic self development blog that gets over 1 million visits per month at jamesclear.com. His articles have a focus on habit and behavior change with scientific evidence. Therefore, he covers topics like dealing with procrastination, habit formation, breaking bad habits, focus, and creativity. He is well known for his writing ability. He often adds scientific and historical evidence in the footnotes of his articles.
Jaime runs an audio and video podcast called Eventual Millionaire where she interviews millionaires. She has already interviewed over a hundred millionaires and is still going strong. You can learn a lot about how to make money from these interviews, but that is not all you will learn. The millionaires interviewed often talk about other tips, like productivity, mindsets, goal-setting, happiness, purpose, fulfillment, and setting up automated systems.
Jaime started from scratch with no connections to any millionaires. Over time, she grew great networking skills and created a rolodex network of influencers and entrepreneurs. She’s often mentioned by other top influencers.
One thing you should know is that her podcast had a clear entrepreneurial focus. The advice is geared towards other entrepreneurs. This is the one of the only unfortunate things about her content, since not all of us want to become millionaires by starting a business. However, it seems like that’s how a majority of her guests made their money.
In terms of brand exposure and traffic, Todd Herman is not well known. However, behind the scenes, he is a superstar. Todd works directly with many top influencers and entrepreneurs on the web, including Kimra Luna, Pat Flynn, Ryan Lee, Amy Porterfield, and Jeff Walker. He is well known to the audience of these influencers since he coaches them as well.
Todd started his journey as a mentor to the well known motivational speaker Jim Rohn. From there, he started and grew his coaching program for athletes. He has helped Olympians and billionaires reach higher levels of mental toughness and performance.
Todd has a podcast called the Grit ‘N’ Hustle Show where he brings on successful people to interview. You can find more content from him on his blog http://toddherman.me/blog/. Todd’s current focus is on helping entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs improve their goal-achieving ability, productivity and mindsets. He has a flagship program called the 90 Day Year.
Jordan and AJ Harbinger of the Art of Charm
Jordan is a cofounder to one of the oldest personal development podcasts in existence, The Art of Charm. This podcast is over a decade old and still running strong. It’s now one of the top podcasts of all time in iTunes. It gets over a million downloads a month. It started out as a dating and pick-up artist podcast, which slowly morphed into a comprehensive men’s improvement podcast. The flavor of Art of Charm development is all-encompassing, though there is a focus on men’s networking, communication, body language, and dating skills.
Their network of contacts in Silicon Valley has allowed them to get some high-hitting guests, from top entrepreneurs to scientists. You can get advice from everything from how to build a network to how to improve your emotional intelligence to how to get matches on Tinder.
Pay special attention to advice they give on networking, social skills, and emotional intelligence because that is their specialty and what they leveraged to achieve their success.
Other than James Clear, Mark is one of the only top self help bloggers who writes longer form, personal articles. He has one of the world’s top read blogs at Markmanson.net which gets at least a million readers a month. Mark started out blogging about dating advice as a pick up artist. He soon transitioned to general men’s dating, and then, to self development in general.
He calls his material “life advice that doesn’t suck” and has positioned himself as the “anti-B.S.” self development guy. His flavor of topics focuses on:
Not caring what other people think.
Mid to long-term relationships.
Life skills and knowing yourself.
Lately, Mark has lately been expanding outside of these topics and writing on what he pleases, which often includes politics. He also offers a subscription service for his premium articles and authored a book called The Subtle Art to Not Giving A Fuck, after the success of his blog post with the same name.
Charisma on Command
Ben and Charlie started Charisma on Command as a blog. They were self-help junkies and gravitated towards social skills topics, like making friends and confidence. Over time, they experimented with different types of content, like LinkedIn articles and YouTube.
YouTube worked really well for them. They skyrocketed to over 800,000 subscribers in a very short time. Today, Charisma on Command focuses on helping men become more charismatic and magnetic to help their relationships. They post consistently on their own blog and their YouTube channel.
Mike Dillard of Self Made Man
Mike walked into work one day and told his boss he wanted to quit to start his company. Although his boss doubted him, he became a wealthy entrepreneur. Mike runs a podcast called The Self Made Man, which interviews some of the world’s top CEOs. His mission is to empower men who can change the world. The podcast is business-focused, but any man can benefit from the general lessons of mindset, happiness, and goal-setting that are also discussed. I like how the show often dives into Mike’s personal life, mistakes, and struggles because you learn how money does not guarantee happiness and what healthy mindsets you should have to stay resilient no matter where you are in life. You can find more at http://selfmademan.com/.
Menstrua is a Youtube channel run by Shwetabh Gangwar. It boasts over 400,000 subscribers. The channel covers a variety of higher-level self help topics, specifically around living the best life possible, social skills, dating, doing well in school, choosing the right job, and motivation. Here’s one of his videos:
James runs a personal development podcast that focuses on more broader range topics including health, wealth, love, and happiness.
Thanks to his background in sports reporting and interviewing celebrities, he has gotten interviewees including doctors, retirement experts, relationship coaches, nutritionists, fitness experts, New York Times best selling authors, and millionaires.
Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Ramit is the best-selling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and a blog of the same name. He built a multi-million dollar business of his blog. Ramit’s blog started out as a personal finance passion project. It has evolved into a blog and business to help people in their 20s to 40s with earning more and becoming successful CEO’s.
Ramit’s flavor of personal development blog posts are hyper focused on getting raises, freelancing on the side, automating budgets, networking, and starting online businesses. The techniques he teaches has an undertone of “mastering your psychology.” He has a distinct, outspoken style to his writing.
There are a lot of animated self-help book summary YouTube channels out there. But the biggest has to Fight Mediocrity (also sometimes known as Phuck Mediocrity). What he does is simple: He creates animated book summaries of top self-development books that last around 5 minutes long. And he will inject his own review of the book at the end (and sometimes sprinkled throughout the summary).
There is a definite focus on quality over quantity. Unlike most other YouTube channels, he will not upload a new video for 1 to 4 weeks. Here is one of his videos to give you an idea:
He covers a lot of the most well known self help books, so they get a lot of popularity on YouTube. There are a few up-and-coming YouTube channels that do something very similar, like Obtain Eudamonia (same thing, more colors).
Practical Psychology is very similar to Fight Mediocrity except his animated videos focus on scientific studies rather than book summaries, though he does the occasional book summary as well.
Mimi and Alex Ikonn
Mimi and Alex were self-help junkies even before they became 7-figure entrepreneurs. Back when they were broke, they practiced visualization. After they got married, they started a hair extension to solve a need of their own. By effectively using YouTube and Instagram, they grew their following to millions of fans. In the process, they effectively marketed their business, Luxy Hair.
Unlike many other CEO’s who claim to have 7-figure businesses, Mimi and Alex actually pocket 7 figures after all expenses are paid. They both have personal YouTube channels where they release vlogs and occasional personal development advice themed around self-love, starting a business, earning money, visualization, and social media marketing.
Marc and Angel of Marc and Angel Hack Life
Marc and Angel are a couple. They run the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. They have a large audience of 130,000 email subscribers and over a million monthly readers. They have been blogging for many years and are well known in their space. Their topics cover a broader range of self development. Their articles are more generalized and list-based, with a focus on improving happiness, relationships, motivation, and dealing with overwhelm.
You will like them if you prefer “listicles” and a conversational tone. They tend to bounce around many general self help topics and give advice from the heart, like Zen Habits, rather than focus on data or scientific evidence.
I would prefer if they gave more evidence for most of their posts rather than just give me 10 tips on how to be happier. I get skeptical when they do that since it could just be their opinion on what makes you happy. Nonetheless, they have achieved quite a large blog following.
James run his blog Jamesaltucher.com and his podcast The James Altucher Show. Both are wildly popular. His blog attracted hundreds of thousands of readers a month and his podcast attracts millions of listeners a month, rivaling the audience of a lower quality HBO TV Show.
James’s writing is unique. Every article pulls you in with shocking, and sometimes offensive, curiosity. He reveals embarrassing and evoking stories and feelings from his past. And occasionally, he gives you some advice. The topics he writes about can range quite a bit, but often, the advice is a small tip based on daily life, like how to persuade better.
His podcast has a format where he brings a successful guest on to be interviewed. His guests range from successful entrepreneurs to authors to spiritual teachers (kind of like Addicted 2 Success). What makes it unique is that James sometimes spends weeks preparing for his guests. He reads all of his guests’ books at least once.
John Lee Dumas and Kate Erickson of Entrepreneur on Fire
John, and his wife Kate, erupted onto the podcast scene a few years ago with a new style of podcast: a daily interview series of top entrepreneurs. With thousands of episodes already releasaed, they forged one of the largest beginning entrepreneur tribes online. Their podcast is a great free resource for you to learn from wealthy, happy CEO’s.
Their personal development content has a focus on male 9-to-5 employees who want to start a business. While there is a lot of business strategies, Entrepreneur on Fire also has a lot of general self help advice as well, including goal-setting journals like The Freedom Journal and advice on building habits.
Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.net
Top blogging experts like Pat Flynn and Corbett Barr have claimed zenhabits.net as the most popular personal blog of all time. Still run by just one person, Zen Habits attracts over two million readers a month.
If you start reading the blog, you will quickly realize it has a focus on minimalism, simplicity, meditation, and building good habits. His articles (and entire site) has a minimal design and only features text — no images, social media, or graphics. Similarly, his writing style follows this theme.
I personally would prefer if he gave more evidence for some of his advice. But pay particular attention to his advice on writing, blogging, simplicity, minimalism, or meditation. He has quite a lot of experience and success in those areas, as you can tell by the popularity of his site.
Andrew Warner of Mixergy
Andrew is a successful entrepreneur who sold his company for millions of dollars after the Dot Com Bubble of 2000. After getting tired of retirement, he returned to the scene with his interview site Mixergy.com.
Thanks to his network, he has interviewed over 1,000 entrepreneurs, ranging from startup founders to CEOs of billion dollar companies like AirBnB. Andrew offers some of his interviews as free videos or audio podcast episodes; he sells some of the as premium content for a monthly fee. He has covered interviews on nearly every topic related to entrepreneurship, from copywriting to scaling a business.
Although his content has a clear entrepreneurial focus, there is plenty to learn about general self-improvement, earning more, mindset, habits, productivity, or goal-setting.
Brendon has a large presence on YouTube, his Facebook page, and his blog Brendon.com. He runs a multi-million dollar training company and the site Growth.com as well. Brendon covers a wide range of general personal development principles, including leadership, peak performance, goal-setting, meditation, staying positive, and productivity.
If you want to learn from him, his YouTube should be your first stop. He gets tens of thousands of views for each of his weekly videos. The next stop would be his Facebook page, which has millions of fans. He posts tons of Quote cards and other inspirational content on there frequently.
Leo has one of the largest personal development presences on YouTube. Leo’s flavor of content has a meditation and spiritual-focus, though he keeps it objective enough so that you can learn from him even if you are not religious.
Leo draws from the large amount of books he has read and the science he has learned to back up his points. Here’s one of his videos:
Most of Leo’s content has an undertone of “becoming the best actualized, higher level spiritual version of yourself.” There is a clear focus on moving towards enlightenment.
Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and 10x Talk
Dan has coached coaches of successful entrepreneurs through his program Strategic Coach. He runs a podcast called 10x Talk. Although his target audience are ambitious entrepreneurs, many of his podcast episodes focus on habit practices, techniques, and mindsets that are beneficial to everyone. He has very specific strategies with coined names from his program that he teaches you to help you feel more fulfilled, happy, and defeat procrastination.
Michael Hyatt is a well known player in the online space. He runs a podcast and blog at michaelhyatt.com and calls himself, “Your Virtual Mentor.” Michael has authored best-selling books like Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want and Platform University: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
There is a definite focus on helping people stop drifting through life, discover their passion, and turn it into an online business by building an audience. If that is not for you, he also touches on how to shift your mindset for success, productivity, and leadership.
Tony got his start apprenticing under an old self development and motivation legend, Jim Rohn. Starting out as a broke janitor, Tony rose through the ranks. Decades later, he runs a billion dollar set of training companies. Tony started out in the infomercial business but has sinced transitioned to in-person live events for thousands of people.
He is still mainly an offline guy. He is well known for his book Awaken the Giant Within and live events Unleash the Power Within and Date with Destiny. He is the most well known self development man to the mainstream market.Top celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Maria Menounous, and Usher have attended his events. Tony’s content is focused on general personal development principles, such as unleashing your full potential, discovering motivation, rekindling relationships, improving your energy levels, and becoming wealthy.
Steve is known as one of the first personal development blogs to ever be created on the Internet. He is still around to this day. His articles focus on a more general, non-spiritual, daily-life style form of personal development. Steve blogs at stevepavlina.com.
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings
Maria started her blog for fun. Originally, only her friends read it. Over time, it grew to be one of the largest personal blogs in the world. Brain Pickings is borderline not personal development. I would not recommend it for a beginner.
The topics Maria writes about are often philosophical, esoteric, and intended to make you think. Occasionally, she will profile a recognizable successful person. But usually, she just picks interesting people. Her topics are all over the place. They include storytelling, history, love, powerlessness, courage, crisis, self-pity, and creativity.
Her articles usually are not “How to” or intended to specifically teach you a specific way of doing something. The beautiful images she chooses for her articles make them really stand out.
Marie worked as a bartender, fitness instructor, and for NASDAQ, but never felt fully fulfilled. She started a fitness event-based business online, which grew into a seven figure business. She chose to shut down the business completely because she still didn’t feel passionate enough about it. Her next venture, a life coaching business, slowly grew into a multi-million dollar business that teaches beginners how to succeed in life and start their own online businesses.
Marie is one of the longest enduring influencers on the web. She started making weekly Youtube videos in 2011 and has never stopped. As she’s gotten better, her production technology has increased.
She calls her content, Marie TV, and she releases a blog version and a version on her Youtube channel every week. The topics she talks about focus on general self-development tips that her female-dominated audience struggle with, which are usually psychological shifts. These shifts include dealing with imposter syndrome, feeling overwhelmed, getting over perfectionism, why you should embrace gratitude, and adopting an abundance mindset.
She often interviews top experts (scientists, speakers, authors, and entrepreneurs) on Marie TV.
You will not get any technical tactics on starting a business for her content because she is more focused on overarching beginner strategies. She has two taglines, which she says in every episode of her videos. These are, “The place to be to create a business and life you love.” and “The world needs that special gift that only you have.”
Tim is the undisputed heavyweight. His name and his 4-Hour Work Week brand is the most well known in the self development and tech entrepreneur communities. Tim’s book The Four Hour Work Week launched him into the scene from nowhere. Its focus is on optimizing your life and business to get the most return in the least time possible. An interesting fact is that Tim’s book was not an instant success. It was turned down by a dozen publishers and it required a lot of smart networking to spread the word.
Tim is known as the “human guinea pig.” He tests weird techniques, supplements, pills, and drugs to optimize his sleep, performance, energy, and fitness so his audience knows what’s best. Tim’s style of personal development content is more focused on lifestyle design, outsourcing a business, medicines, and weird techniques.
Tim’s podcast is one of the most downloaded of all time, hitting over 100 million downloads. His podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, started as a fun experiment to document the conversations he was having with top performers, thanks to his connections as a tech investor. Over time, his guests have gotten increasingly interesting, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Foxx. His podcast is focused on deconstructing the performance of high achievers so you can optimize your life. Each episode is usually a long form (one hour) interview or question-and-answer session.
Brian Tracy is a motivation, sales, and self help legend. He is spoke of on the same line as other legends like Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, and Jim Rohn. Brian started as a high school dropout working odd jobs. In his early 30’s, he discovered self development and sales, which transformed his life. In the next couple decades, he became a top salesperson and motivational speaker in the nation.
Brian creates content every week on his Youtube channel, Facebook page, and blog http://www.briantracy.com/blog/. The content is high quality, high production, and actionable. It may be too high production and cookie-cutter for some people though. Brian is a great person to follow because he has decades of actual experience negotiating, selling, and improving productivity in business to back up what he says. His content focuses on time management, earning more money, improving as a salesperson, public speaking, and running a business.
Brian is most well known for his “Eat That Frog” productivity concept, which pushes you to finish the task you dread the most first.
Gary burst onto the Internet scene a few years ago and has become one of the most followed social media influencers with the most engagement. He mainly gives entrepreneurial-themed advice and his main topic of interest is emerging social media platforms. Topics cover everything from staying motivated, productivity, growing a business, and growing a following.
He primarily operates on YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat. But his team creates offshoots of his content on Instagram, Tumblr, podcasts, and every other social media or blogging platform.
Lewis Howes of The School of Greatness
Lewis has been in the online business space for several years. He became a millionaire by teaching other entrepreneurs how to sell more products by leveraging webinars. Lewis started his podcast The School of Greatnessearly on to help listeners become the best at what they do. It’s now grown to be one of the top self-help podcasts in iTunes. Although his business is for entrepreneurs, his podcast, and the book with the same name, covers topics that can help anyone succeed.
The show interviews everyone from successful entrepreneurs to billionaires to Youtube stars to scientists to coaches. There are also episodes with just Lewis talking on his own on self improvement concepts.
Topics you will hear about in the show include earning more, motivation, generosity, self-belief, taking time for yourself, burning out, mental shifts, persistence, and standing out. There is a focus on more psychological and “internal game” topics.
Pay attention to Lewis’s advice on networking and digital marketing because that is his specialty.
Will’s Personal Development Blog
This is me. I’m an up and coming blogger, podcaster, and YouTube on personal development. My unique spin is that I filter all my advice through two filters: is it science-backed and/or is it coming from someone who has achieved massive success in the field? A lot of the content nowadays isn’t backed up with evidence. For more info on what I have to offer, check out my About page.
As you can see, personal development comes in many flavors. Differing interests, personalities, and delivery create different content. Choose who you think will help you and suits you best.
Did I miss anyone? If you know of a huge personal development influencer that is not mentioned, leave a comment to let me know.