Before personal success author, Napoleon Hill, there was Orison Swett Marden.
Financial set-backs, no sweat. Fires burning his hotels to the ground, no sweat. Earning four degrees from well known universities while working full time, no sweat.
Born in 1848, his early years marked by tragedy. His mother died when he was three, his father died when he was seven. He and his sisters were passed from guardian to guardian. Orison eventually working for five different families as a hired boy to earn his way.
It was a discovery in the attic of one of his guardian’s homes when he was a teenager that changed his life. He found a tattered copy of a book entitled “Self-Help” by the fabulously names Scottish author, Samuel Smiles. All right I have to say it, “Smiles everyone, SMILES.”
Orison memorized the book.
From then on, he overcame every obstacle in his path.
By the time he reached his thirties he’d earned degrees in the arts, sciences, medicine and law—both Boston University and Harvard Medical School. He put himself through school working for and eventually owning several hotels and resorts.
By his mid-forties, he changed careers becoming an author. He wrote his first book, a 5,000 page manuscript—his dream book. He lost it when his hotel burned down, nearly loosing his own life. The only thing he possessed—the night shirt he wore to bed.
While the hotel still smoldered, he got himself some new cloths, bought a notebook and re-wrote the book from memory, renaming it, “Pushing to the Front”.
He not only finished he dream book, but a second book, “Architects of Fate”.
Three publishers fought for “Pushing to the Front”, ultimately Houghton, Mifflin, and Company published it in December 1894. It became a run-away best seller and instant classic for personal self-help. It is still in print.
He authored more than 50 books in his lifetime.
By 1897, he founded Success magazine in New York. The magazine grew to 500,000 subscribers.
Eventually the thought of having a family must have crossed his mind. He married Clair Evans in 1905 when he was 55. Then got busy fathering three kids.
In 1912, Success magazine suffered a financial loss and closed.
With the help of a friend and prominent businessman, Fredrick C. Lowrey, Orison revived Success Magazine in 1917. Orison worked for the magazine until a few months before his death in 1924. Success magazine is still in print today, currently produced in Dallas, Texas.
“Very few people ever rise to their greatest possibilities or ever know their entire power unless confronted by some great occasion. We are as much amazed as others are when, in some great emergency, we out-do ourselves. Somehow the power that stands behind us in the silence, in the depths of our natures, comes to our relief, intensifies our faculties a thousandfold and enables us to do things which before we thought impossible.” ~ Orison Swett Marden
Image credit: Project Gutenberg