A lot of people have seen The Secret but don’t really know who this fascinating gentleman with the white hair is or where he came from. For forty years, Bob Proctor has devoted his considerable energies to the task of helping other people realize lives of prosperity, success and personal fulfillment. The author of the perennial best-seller You Were Born Rich, Bob is the direct heir to the great Andrew Carnegie–Napoleon Hill-Earl Nightingale tradition. Soon after encountering Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich and turning his own life around by applying what he read, Bob moved to Chicago to work for Earl Nightingale and Lloyd Conant, rising to the position of Vice President of Nightingale-Conant before venturing out on his own.

As Bob puts it, “I feel extremely fortunate to have come into the lineage of Andrew Carnegie, who shared his information with Napoleon Hill, who shared what he’d learned with Earl Nightingale, who shared it with me. I studied everything Earl studied—I knew I’d struck a vein of solid gold. I found all the books he read and got my own copies.

“In fact,” he adds, “as we’re speaking together on the phone right now, I’m in the middle of a beautiful library surrounded by books. That’s how I work.”

As much as he loves being surrounded by books in his home library, Bob continues to maintain a travel and speaking schedule that would exhaust anyone a third his age. A friend once commented that talking with Bob is “like drinking from a fire hose,” and indeed, the term “dynamo” seems to have been made for him.

I thank him for carving out the time for our talk during the hectic holiday season, amidst his appearances on Larry King and Ellen DeGeneres and his famously jammed travel schedule, and comment that with all the flurry around The Secret, he must be incredibly busy. “It’s been busy,” he admits, and then adds, “a good busy.”

I can’t think of any more succinct or accurate description of Bob Proctor’s life: “a good busy.” — J.D.M.

If we could go in a time machine and to the streets of Toronto in 1960 on the day before a friend handed you a copy of Think and Grow Rich, and we asked you, “Bob, what do you see for your future?” what would you have said?

I really wouldn’t have had much to say at all. Probably, “Oh, more of the same, I guess.”

I was working as a firefighter, and as a high school dropout who’d worked a series of dead-end jobs, this was the best job I’d ever had. I had no set goals and had never given much thought to the future. Like so many others, I was living out a sort of struggle to go from payday to payday, just making ends meet and trying to get by.

It’s really difficult to picture Bob Proctor “just struggling to get by.”

Yes, but that was me—until Ray Stanford put a copy of Napoleon Hill’s book in my hands. That planted the seed that quite literally changed everything in my life from that point on.

This fascinates me, because it so closely parallels [The Secret producer] Rhonda Byrne’s story about being in the deepest despair when her daughter hands her Wallace Wattles’ book. It’s intriguing to hear these stories of people being in the darkest, most hopeless place, suddenly being given such a powerful catalyst. How does that happen?

I don’t think there are any accidents. I believe you attract it.

I think it has a lot to do with the person, situation or event that jars you. We’re attracting things to ourselves all the time that are coming to us for the express purpose of moving us in the right direction. This occurs because we are spiritual beings, and spirit is always striving for expansion and fuller expression.

Unfortunately, I think we miss most of the messages. I know that in my case, after things changed I looked back and could see where different employers, commanding officers in the navy and even my own mother were always trying to reach me.

But they never did.

No, for whatever reasons, it just hadn’t clicked.

And then there was Ray Stanford.

Somehow, Ray put the right combination of words together. I think it was his energy, reaching out to help this young guy who didn’t seem to be going in the right direction. Ray was genuinely interested in helping people. His belief in me was so compelling, I couldn’t ignore it.

I didn’t really believe that I could change. I didn’t believe good things could happen. I didn’t believe in myself at all—but I couldn’t help believing in his belief in me.

What did Ray actually say to you?

He got me to recognize that he was happy, healthy and wealthy. He pointed out that I was the exact opposite: I was unhappy, sick and broke. And then he said, “I must know something you don’t know.”

I was convinced that people in his position—that is, people who were far more successful than I—had something going for them that I didn’t have going for me. But Ray was insistent that I was no different from him, that it was only my results that were different.

This seems very much like what we do in network marketing: our job as a sponsor is to believe in other people, often even before they fully believe in themselves.

I think that’s what the successful people in network marketing are doing. I don’t think that’s what all the people are doing, not by a long shot.

I was talking with a woman in network marketing earlier this morning who said she was desperately trying to get to this new pin level, but was having difficulty with her people.

I told her, “That’s probably your problem—you’re trying to get them to do something for you. If you fall in love with the idea of doing something for them and get genuinely excited about showing them a better life and helping them create it, you won’t have to worry about your volume, it will be there.”

That’s where the really big winners in network marketing are. They’re the Ray Stanfords of the world. But oddly enough, there are not that many of them. People say, “They’re all like that.” Oh no, they aren’t. If they were all like that, they’d all have big organizations and big checks.

I think the people who come into this business and then leave it without experiencing any success are those who never really bought into the dream, and that’s because it was never communicated to them effectively. Just like all the people who tried to help me but never got through to me. Why didn’t they, and why did Ray?

That’s a great question. Why, do you suppose?

I believe it was because that was his conscious purpose. Helping other people was his genuine joy in life, and I happened to be the recipient. And I was far from the only one; he helped a lot of people. That’s just what he did.

I know some people in network marketing who are like this, but not as many as you’d think.

So many people have had their dreams beaten out of them by the time they reach this business. How do we help them get those dreams back? Is it that individual human contact that’s needed as the catalyst?

I believe you have to absolutely fall in love with helping wake people up. You have to work with them until they’re locked in on the right track. If you do that, they’re going to go and do the same thing. In fact, you want to communicate to them that’s what they have to do—they have to do for the next person what you’re doing for them. That’s just the way it works.

When you were on Larry King Live, you said something fascinating: “Most people don’t really know who they are.”

They really don’t. And there’s good reason why they don’t: nobody’s ever really spoken to the question of who they are. They’re conditioned genetically and then environmentally, before they can ever think for themselves, by people who don’t know who they are.

When we get even a glimpse of who we truly are, we are absolutely dazzled—because we’re spiritual beings. “We’re an offshoot,” as James Allen said, “of a deathless soul.” When we grasp that truth, then we realize that all the knowledge and power we need, we already have.

We never have to get anything. What we have to do is bring to the surface what we’ve already got. To do that, you’re going to have to understand who you are. You are not an intellect; you are a spiritual being who has an intellect. In fact, you are a spiritual being who has all the creative faculties God gave you when He created you in His image. That’s why we can create, why we’re able to do what we do.

If my mission is to help people discover this for themselves, to discover who they truly are, how do I go about doing that?

First of all, you have to help them decide what it is they want. They’ve got to really want something, and you’ve got to be able to draw it out of them.

Now, this is not something they think they can do or get, it’s something they want. Most people don’t play along or come up with what they really want, because they can’t see how to get it. They’ve been conditioned from childhood to think you’ve got to know how you’re going to get it, or else, forget it.

A little kid goes to his parents and says, “I want this,” and the first thing the parent says is, “How are you going to get it?”

Which is probably the last thing he should be thinking at this point.

Exactly! How you’re going to get it is irrelevant. If it’s what you really want, you’ll be shown the way in time.

You’re famous for saying, “Tell me what you want and I’ll show you how to get it.”

I got that from Earl Nightingale, back in the early sixties. In 1961, long before I’d gone to Chicago to work for Earl and Lloyd, I got a copy of his Strangest Secret record, and on that recording he said, “If you can tell me what you want, I can show you how to get it.”

“If this man really knows what he’s talking about,” I thought, “he’s really got a hold of something!”

And he did. I can show anyone how to get anything they want. Because everything we get, we get the same way. It’s all by universal Law.

Most people don’t understand what they’re doing when they’re working in harmony with the Law, because most highly successful people cannot articulate precisely why they are successful. That’s why you have heavy-hitters in network marketing who have made it big, but don’t know how to teach it, because they don’t really understand what they’ve done.

You said something else on Larry King that I really enjoyed: “Working is the worst way to make money.” Can you explain what you mean by this?

You were never meant to work to earn money. Work is meant for satisfaction, not for earning money. I’ll quote Napoleon Hill, from the section in his book on “imagination”:

“If you are one of those people who believe that hard work and honesty alone will bring riches, perish the thought. It is not true. Riches, when they come in huge quantities, are never the result of hard work. Riches come, if they come at all, in response to definite demands, based upon the application of definite principles, and not by chance or luck.”

You see, money comes through providing service. The work we do, how we spend our days, is meant to give us our satisfaction. We’re meant to be happy with our lives. And if we’re going to feel fulfilled every day, which we can, then we have to find work that we love doing and dedicate our life to it.

I feel very blessed, because I do what I love doing every single day. As a result, I look forward to getting out of bed every day. In fact, there are many times when I don’t want to go to bed, because I’m enjoying what I’m doing so much!

People have a hard time conceptually unhooking their effort from the reward of money. It’s like a leap out into an unseen space.

We’ve been trained to believe that you go to work to earn money. “I’m going to be a doctor or a lawyer, because doctors and lawyers earn good money.” But I know doctors and lawyers who are broke. And I know people in the garbage business who are earning millions. I know people who are brilliant and have advanced degrees but have no money, and others who are functionally illiterate and are earning millions.

These latter people have found the secret of earning money. The secret of earning money is providing service.

The beautiful thing about network marketing is that it is the most moral form of compensation there is. And it follows the very best income-earning strategy: you’re leveraging yourself and you’re providing great service. You’re waking people up. You’re showing people how to spend their days doing what they love to do, while at the same time earning an excellent income.

Properly executed, network marketing gives people time and money freedom. It gives them liberty, which is their birthright.

What is the biggest way that people miss this in network marketing?

Too often, they never change their conditioning. They believe that simply because they’re in network marketing, it’s going to work. But it’s only going to work if you change your conditioned way of looking at life.

It’s not an external structure, it’s you that works it.

Absolutely. The opportunity is here, but you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.

People come into this because of the income-earning strategy. It’s what’s called an M3 strategy, one where you can multiply your time through the efforts of others.

But so often, people don’t do that. Instead, they immediately start selling product—trading their time for money. They never get over the working part. They think it’s hard work—but it isn’t hard work at all.

What they should do instead is learn how to recruit and train, and how to communicate effectively.

So it’s not necessarily all about selling the product.

No, it’s got nothing to do with selling the product. It has to do with showing people how they can change their lives. I don’t think the products are that different, one company to the next. One’s perhaps a little better than another, but they mostly all carry pretty good products.

It’s all about understanding people’s potential and knowing how to work with people effectively.

The central message of The Secret has been around for years, from James Allen and Wallace Wattles to Napoleon Hill and your work. Yet this is the first time it has so suddenly and so broadly captured so many people’s attention. Is there a reason this has happened now?

I think the world’s ready for it. I think there has been a spiritual transition taking place in the world for the last twenty-five years. When I first started in this business, if you talked to anybody about spirit, they’d throw you out of the company. Today, people’s awareness of the spiritual presence within us is tremendous.

I think the timing was right and the world itself attracted this movie, and Rhonda Byrne was the one it came through.

Carnegie said, “Any idea that is held in the mind, that’s emphasized, that’s either feared or revered, will begin at once to clothe itself through the most convenient and appropriate form available.”

Well, there’s a race mind, a group consciousness of the entire human species, and I think the world consciousness was screaming for an instrument like this. Rhonda was the most convenient and appropriate form available. The message had had an impact on her own life, she was an excellent producer with her own company, so she had the skills, resources and freedom to produce whatever she wanted, the way she wanted. She did the editing herself, so she had her finger on the pulse of it and attracted the right people.

It’s interesting to me that this message has come out right in this time when there’s so much fear, tension and instability in the world.

Yes, it’s no accident! It was supposed to happen.

It’s unthinkable that The Secret would have been produced without your being on it—yet for a while it was looking like that might happen. Rhonda told me about how you came into the project at the last minute, and how remarkably coincidental it was that you happened to be in Aspen on that day.

It really was. But you see, I believe I was supposed to be there. I think you and I are supposed to be on the phone right now. I think everything that happens, happens by Law. We may not understand it. We may even try to rationalize it away. But it’s still the Law. The Law’s always working. It never stops. The Law is the uniform and orderly method of the omnipotent God. It’s God’s modus operandi.