Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Co-Creator…. 
Jack Canfield Reveals Secrets of Self-Worth, Prosperity, & Wealth! 
By Kay Walburger 



Jack Canfield has experienced an amazing phenomenon as co-author of the series of books and other products called “Chicken Soup for the Soul!” You may know Jack Canfield as the founder and co-creator of the New York Times #1 best-selling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, which currently has 38 titles and 79 million copies in print in more than 32 languages. 

The list of awards is an astounding tribute to the power of STORY to impact people’s lives as the slogan proclaims, “101 stories to open the heart and rekindle the spirit”. 

•“Chicken Soup for the Soul is the publishing phenomenon of the decade.” —  TIME magazine 
•#1 New York Times Best Seller, starting 1994 
•New York Times Best Seller list continuously from 1994 - 1998 
•1995 ABBY Award, American Book Sellers Association 
•1995 Irwin Award, Book Publicists of Southern California 
•1995 Bookseller’s Choice Awards 
•1996 Distinguished Author Award, Bradley Communications Publishers/Radio/TV 
•1996 Storytelling World Award, Winner Division 5 Storytelling Anthologies 
•1997 & 1998 Top Authors of the Year, USA TODAY 
•1997 Six of the Top 100 Best-Selling Books of the Year, USA TODAY 
•1997 Two of the Top 10 Best-Selling Books of the Year, USA TODAY - Chicken Soup      for the Teenage Soul & Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul 
•1998 National Arbor Day Foundation “Promise to the Earth” Award for A 4th Course of       Chicken Soup for the Soul 
•1999 Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul, named the #1 Best-selling Sports Book of the Year by USA TODAY 
•1999 Two #1 books on the New York Times best-seller list, Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul and Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul 
•1999 Four additional New York Times bestsellers, A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul (#10), Chicken Soup for the College Soul (#2), Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul (#3), Chicken Soup for the Cat & Dog Lover’s Soul (#5) 1999 Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul wins “Favorite Book of the Year” by Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards 
•1999 Guinness Book of World Records, Biggest Book Signing Event in History, by Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul 
•1999 Guinness Book of World Records, for Most Books on the New York Times best-seller list at one time. 
•1999 Chicken Soup for the Soul series singled out as one of the Top 10 Best-Selling Books of the Year (#3), USA TODAY 

It sounds all too easy and lucky, however the truth is, it usually takes ten to twenty years to become an overnight success. That is as true for Jack as any other celebrity!  Jack’s life would make a wonderful movie as it relates to his search for self-worth. The struggles to get the first ‘Chicken Soup’ book together and get it to market, is a story of a hero’s journey in and of itself. Now, it seems unbelievable that any savvy publisher would have turned it down since so many millions of people love to read it and give it as gifts. The fact is that hundreds of them did just that. The big question is why Jack Canfield and his co-creator Mark Victor Hansen persisted in believing in their book and its purpose and mission in the world against all odds? 

 “I started out as a high school history teacher in the inner city of Chicago, Illinois and noticed that some of my students weren’t doing the work. I knew I was a good teacher because I had done a lot of summer camps and was a natural leader, been head of my Boy Scout Troop and influential in my Fraternity. I began to think it was something related to their not believing in themselves. I became more intrigued with why some students weren’t learning,” recounts Jack. 

“It was about that time I met up with W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill (Author of Think & Grow Rich). The Stone Foundation was doing an educational training program called Achievement Motivation, answering the question “How do you motivate people to achieve more?”  Stones’ genius became evident when he took people who had not graduated from high school and taught them to sell insurance to presidents of companies. Normally they would be intimidated, yet he really knew the secret of how to motivate people. I thought ‘wow,’ I need to know how to motivate my kids to want to achieve more. I started working with Stone to become a better educator. It appealed to me because I love to champion the cause of helping people who feel disadvantaged. In the process I began working in a job core center where kids who had dropped out of school would go to get job skills. All the time I was learning more about motivation.” 

“Next Stone hired me to teach classes using what I had learned from his programs for teachers, boys’ club workers, and anyone who worked with kids, enabling them to use this knowledge to help disadvantage youth. Stone himself had been a poor kid growing up. He was committed to passing on all this good information to the young so they could make something of their life. He gladly spent a lot of money supporting inner city schools and youth facilities that helped youth.” 

“I had begun to apply these principles to my life. These were goal setting, focusing on your strengths, hanging out with successful people who have already achieved what you want to accomplish, clarifying your values, living from your life purpose, and I remember just eating this stuff up. I started going to seminars every weekend to expand my horizons,  spending a large part of my income learning more about ‘Human Potential’, and it was life changing. It was a turning point in my life meeting Stone and getting a ‘Burst’ of all he exposed me to. All his work pointed to ‘believing’ in yourself as the foundation of your personal achievement.” 

“My intellect was curious and I wanted to know why everything we did with Stone worked. I heard there was a graduate program at the University of Massachusetts in Psychological Education. It taught how to educate people about psychological issues rather than being a therapist. I decided this was for me, and while I was there I started Self-Esteem Trainings for teachers in the local school districts. At the Stone Foundation I was exposed to cutting-edge breakthrough thinking as we monitored all the new books and programs coming out. I had been educated by six of the best Self-Esteem trainers on the planet, and now I was being recognized as an expert myself.” 

“My first book called “A Hundred Ways to Enhance Self-Concept in the Classroom” was written with a guy named Harold Wells. We had researched 100 techniques that worked. The success of that book catapulted my prestige in the Self-Esteem arena. Now I was sought out to speak and train teachers who knew that kids need more incentive to learn. This new Self-Esteem Movement was underway and I was an invited to speak at their conferences.” 

“After a few years of conferences Bob Reasoner asked me if I wanted to be a founding board member of the newly forming National Association for Self-Esteem. I said “Yes”, as I was very enthusiastic about this mission. The purpose of the organization is to fully integrate self-esteem into the fabric of American society so that every individual, no matter what their age or background, experiences personal worth and happiness. 

The idea for a National Council (original name) was formulated at the California Self-Esteem Conference in San Jose, February 1986, during a discussion including Don Thomas, former superintendent of Salt Lake City Schools, Jack Canfield, and Robert Reasoner. The charter meeting was held at Antler, North Dakota in August with 18 members attending. Connie Dembrowsky was elected as the first President along with an Executive Board consisting of Charollene Coares, John Dewell, R. Smith Kiliper, Joan Lankowitz, Robert Reasoner, and Don Thomas.

The California Task Force on Self-Esteem 
California lead the way in the research for self-esteem and how it relates to the core of all the problems we face in life. Assemblyman John Vasconcellos had a theory that if people could learn to raise their self-esteem they would become better students, people could get off welfare and all manner of social ills would be greatly reduced. Jack Canfield was one of those chosen to be a part of this significant and exciting research project. John insisted the group of people be a cross section of the population so the diversity of the population was fairly represented in every sector. 

The document they published was a stunning indictment of the ‘un-esteeming’ systems at work in schools and community services. Nevertheless it shed light on the problems that lower self-esteem and offered hope to turn the state’s programs into esteeming programs which empowered the people most in need. Jack remembers when it was first announced, the California Task Force on Self-Esteem was the laughing stock of the USA. Every comedian made jokes regarding California’s crazy ideas. Jack has a Doonesbury cartoon depicting this prestigious event with its own brand of humor, and he and all the members of the Task Force signed it. Jack has it hanging on the wall of his office. As it turned out it was the best publicity they could get because it got people talking about self-esteem and wanting to know more about the subject. Soon about twelve more states formed their own task forces on self-esteem and Jack was invited to speak at all of them. 

Jack’s Personal Mission 
By now, after trying other paths which included Self-Esteem, it was clear to Jack that his mission was to take Self-Esteem training to the people. He also realized the project was too big for him alone so he chose to duplicate his efforts by becoming trainer to the teachers and trainers of both the academic and business community. 

Jack is the founder of Self Esteem Seminars, located in Santa Barbara, California, which trains entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders and employees how to accelerate the achievement of their personal and professional goals. He is also the Founder of The Foundation for Self- Esteem, located in Culver City, California, which provides self-esteem resources and trainings to social workers, welfare recipients and human resource professionals. Jack is President of , a speaking resource service providing incredible inspirational speakers for event planners worldwide! 

Jack Canfield is BEST described as an understanding, compelling, empowering and compassionate coach who has helped hundreds of thousands of people achieve their dreams. He is a skilled trainer in the development of self-esteem and peak performance, personal growth skills, organizational development, management effectiveness, holistic education, counseling skills, and trans-personal psychology. 

What exactly is Self-Esteem?  “High self-esteem is defined as feeling lovable and capable. Seeing why things can work, not why they won’t. It means solving problems instead of placing blame. It means failing, learning and trying again instead of stopping — or worse yet — never trying at all.” 

What will building my Self-Esteem do for me?  “How you feel about yourself affects every aspect of your life. When your self-esteem is high, you are willing to take more risks, you can handle rejection easier, you take better care of yourself and you can achieve higher levels of peak performance. You can also facilitate this growth in others. One former participant said “This training accelerated all aspects of my life.” 

“ Who should attend this kind of training?  “These seminars are recommended for classroom teachers, counselors, school administrators, educational consultants, business consultants, trainers, facilitators, therapists, managers, parents and anybody else who is considering empowering others, building self-esteem and facilitating self-esteem in others. These are the skills they learn to expand: Communication Skills, Overcoming Fear of Rejection, Building Self-Confidence, Decision-Making Skills, Self Acceptance and Self Worth, Leadership Qualities, Principle-Centered Life Techniques, Personal Acknowledgement.” 

Walking Their Talk! 
After each keynote address and workshop presentation, audiences everywhere encouraged Jack Can-field and Mark Victor Hansen to put their best and most illustrative stories into a single book. In 1990, they agreed it was time. So began the “Chicken Soup for the Soul®” phenomenon. But translating what worked on the podium onto the written page proved more challenging than either Canfield or Hansen had anticipated. Finding time in their busy schedules to record these stories on paper was difficult, and editing was an even bigger chore. After three long years, the two had compiled just sixty-eight stories — a far cry from the 101 they believed was the magic number for a successful book. 

So Jack and Mark reached out to other professional speakers, asking them to submit their favorite stories for publication. The formula finally worked, and soon the two were inundated with powerful tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 

Whereas previously they had too few stories, now they had too many. Jack and Mark again turned to their friends and other professionals, invited forty of them to read and rate each story on a scale of one to ten for its ability to clarify, move and inspire. The 101 stories with the highest average scores were compiled into a final manuscript. 

The book still remained untitled. Realizing it needed to be a really good one, both authors began meditating on a winning title for an hour each day. Jack visualized the image of his grandmother’s chicken soup and remembered how she told him it would cure anything. This book would have the same healing powers as that soup, but not for the body — for the soul. Thus, the book’s best-selling title was born, “Chicken Soup for the Soul®”! 

After three long years, Jack and Mark were finally ready to approach publishers with their book. Yet, in the first month alone, thirty-three of New York’s biggest publishing houses turned them down. Jack and Mark heard, “Anthologies don’t sell.” “We don’t think there is a market for this book.” “We just don’t get it.” “The book is too positive.” “It’s not topical enough.” All totaled, they were rejected by 140 publishers. To top it off, their agent said, “I can’t sell this book — I’m giving it back to you guys.” 

In 1992, Jack and Mark attended the American Booksellers’ Association Convention. There, they went from booth to booth talking to editors and sharing their vision of how their book would uplift humanity by helping people open their hearts, rekindle their spirits and give them the courage to pursue their dreams. They left a copy of their manuscript with Peter Vegso, President of Health Communications, Inc. who caught the spirit of the book and soon agreed to publish it. 

The first “Chicken Soup for the Soul®” books were published on June 28, 1993, and had become a Christmas favorite by the end of December. People who bought one book returned to buy five more copies as Christmas gifts. Word of mouth soon led to a groundswell of popularity. To meet the demand, the publisher had to subcontract printing.” 

“By April of 1994, “Chicken Soup for the Soul®” had made some of the bestseller lists, and by September it had hit the bestseller lists of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly and USA Today, as well as all five major lists in Canada.” 

 Now with over 70 million copies sold to date, 38 titles in print in the United States and translations in over 32 languages, Chicken Soup for the Soul® has made international publishing history. One or more titles in the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series have been on the New York Times bestseller list in the “How To/Advice/Miscellaneous” category consistently. At one time or another there have been at least eight Chicken Soup for the Soul® titles simultaneously in the top fifty on the USA Today best-selling books list.” 

A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way To The Bank 
“Sudden wealth had some significant adjustments for me,” remembers Jack. “The first surprise I experienced was moving from our 2,000 sq. ft. home in Santa Monica to our new 6,000 sq. ft. home in Santa Barbara. We moved in our furniture and it seemed to disappear — it didn’t make a dent!’ 

“We were referred to a great interior designer whose taste matched ours. When he gave us an estimate, I went into “sticker shock”! That is when I remembered the book by Maxwell Maltz, “Psycho-Cybernetics”, when he describes plastic surgery that was performed on the outside of a person’s body but since their “self-image” didn’t match the actual new image they didn’t feel the joy in the improvement. My “Self-Image” needed an update. The designer reassured me these oriental antiques and original works of art were an investment and would last for many years. My middle-class childhood roots were showing, so then and there I accepted a new perspective on prosperity. Nevertheless, it took me a full three years to become comfortable with our new wealth. 

“I recall soon after the décor was finished, waking up one morning surrounded in all this splendor and asking my wife, “Are you sure we don’t have to check out by noon?” Our new home, situated on five acres of land, included a private gym, swimming pool, tennis courts, stables and other amenities and it felt like living at a five-star resort. 

“People ask me if I’m rich and I say, “No, I’m very comfortable.” I still have to be responsible with my spending, and yes I can buy more than ever before. It is true Money doesn’t make you happy but it buys off a lot of misery! Money in abundant supply can improve healthcare options; it can allow you to hire someone to take care of those little details that eat up your time and free you up to do more things you love. You can afford more vacations and trips. You are free to study special subjects that interest you.” 

“One thing Mark and I agree on is being good stewards of the wealth we have received. We are responsible for planting more than a million trees in Yosemite National Park. We felt that we were using up so many trees publishing all the Chicken Soup Books that we should plant trees to replace the oxygen and absorb the carbon dioxide. Our publisher also recycles any books returns.”

“Chicken Soup for the Soul® won the prestigious ABBY (American Booksellers’ Book of the Year) Award in 1995 based on the books that booksellers most enjoyed recommending to bookstore customers. We received a cash prize, which our publisher matched and we took the money to buy enough Chicken Soup for the Soul® books and contributed them to every State and Federal Prison in the country. From that we received so many letters from prisoners saying how much the books helped them get a new perspective on life. Many said they stopped blaming other people and realized they needed to take responsibility for their own life. We were so touched by their amazing results that I felt we should do a Chicken Soup for the Soul® book for prisoners. Over two thousand stories from prisoners, guards, chaplains, volunteers, wardens, etc were received. We published Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul® and distributed 70 thousand of these books free of charge to prisoners all across America. We also work with a lot of prison ministries and have donated more than a 100 thousand books of “Christian Family Soul” and let them distribute these books.” 

Both Jack and Mark have taken the responsibility of wealth seriously as they have made huge joint contributions to organizations and charities that help all people on the planet to have a better opportunity in life. A portion of proceeds from their books goes to such charities as the American Red Cross, Literacy Volunteers of America, Habitats for Humanity, the National Arbor Day Foundation, and many others. Their most cherished act is “Soup Kitchens for the Soul,” which places tens of thousands of their uplifting and inspiring books in prisons, halfway houses, battered women’s shelters, rehab centers and inner city schools. 

Thousands of letters come pouring in with heartfelt descriptions of the amazingly wonderful impact these books and stories have had in people’s individual lives. Jack savors the joy of sharing in these hopes and dreams that have been renewed or expanded by reading the magical healing stories of other humans finding hope when it may have seem hopeless! Letters come from teachers, students, prisoners, managers, parents, cancer and other illness survivors, and numerous others. 

“Changing the World One Story at Time™...” 
Chicken Soup for the Soul® Enterprises, Inc. and Health Communications, Inc. have given away in excess of $6.5 million dollars in charitable donations from book proceeds. Each man also has their own charitable foundations, which make consistent contributions to numerous organizations. 

Jack Canfield’s Foundation for Self-Esteem — GOALS Program supports: • Habitat For Humanity: • Heifer Project International • Home Gardening Project • Homeless Education/Liaison    Project of Santa Barbara County • Humanity in Unity • Homes for Change • Institute to End School Violence • Int’l Network for Children and    Families Foundation 

The Last Word On Prosperity 
“I would like everyone who reads this story to see it may take time and effort to achieve your dreams,” declares Jack. “Many people believe I’m just lucky and an overnight success. That is not the reality. I have made a lifelong study of prosperity. It started when I first met W. Clement Stone as he demonstrated his own “Rags to Riches” life and then shared the know-how with others willing to learn. I never stop studying; if you could see my bookshelf here in my office, you would see two long shelves full of books about prosperity and all aspects of managing it, the consciousness to attract it, feeling worthy to receive it, spiritual qualities of money and prosperity, etc. When I was young I had mixed feelings about money — ‘was it good or bad?’  The more I studied the subject, the more I discovered balance in understanding money’s part of prosperity.” 

“Prosperity to me is having an abundance of the things you hold near and dear — your values. For me, that includes loving relationships with my family and friends, lots of nature around me, travel, time to enjoy my journey through life, and staying true to my personal purpose in life. Yes, money in abundance is an important part of the prosperity equation. I am fed by conducting the Self-Esteem workshops where I train the trainers, and they report the personal effectiveness they have achieved from owning their Self-Worth and teaching it to others. The ripple effect is the most important reward of my life. When you believe in yourself you can do amazing things. I agree with Jim Rhon’s saying, “Your Net-Worth will improve when your Self-Worth improves.”” 

For more information, contact Teresa Esparza (800) 237-8336 ext. 41, or e-mail    You may also check out the following websites: or , and 

Portions of the statistics were taken from Jack Canfield’s websites with permission.

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