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Success Stories

Chapter and verse on what today's authors think of success.

Success: It's not easy to achieve or define. Maybe that's why so many books in the nonfiction business aisles grapple with this very topic. This month, we spotlight half a dozen works that guide readers through their own journeys to success.

We begin with Stress for Success: The Proven Program for Transforming Stress Into Positive Energy at Work (Times Business, $24.50 cloth) by James E. Loehr. The author's premise is an intriguing one--namely, that stress can actually be good for you. Relying on his background in sports psychology, Loehr urges "corporate athletes" to train themselves so that they can indeed thrive under pressure. "By exposing yourself to stress and training every day . . . your productivity, health and happiness will increase," Loehr maintains. "You will thrive in the chaos of modern corporate life."

But what if you don't think stress is the major obstacle on your road to success? For a sales-oriented approach to maximizing personal potential, check out Brian Tracy's Great Little Book trilogy: Successful Selling, Universal Laws of Success, and Personal Achievement (Career Press, $6.99 each, paper). Given the fact that all these books are compilations of thought-provoking quotes, it's entirely possible to get through the whole set in only one lunch-time break. For optimum value, however, we suggest poring through the books at a more leisurely pace--the better to assimilate words of wisdom by. The wise words you'll encounter include "Set high goals and standards for yourself; resist the temptation of the comfort zone" and "Opportunities usually come dressed in work clothes."

More quotations await you in Celebrating Success: Inspiring Personal Letters on the Meaning of Success (Health Communications, $12.95 paper). As with the Tracy trilogy, the beauty of this book is that it can be consumed in bite-sized portions. Pick it up, put it down, revisit it during spare moments. Compiled by Gerard Smith, Celebrating Success includes letters from an impressive range of notable individuals--from motivational speaker Anthony Robbins to actor John Travolta. Admittedly, some of the letters veer perilously close to the banal (we won't name names). Then again, there are real treats, such as comedienne Paula Poundstone's letter expressing her longing to successfully vacuum her entire house.

Further irreverence is to be found within the pages of Ben & Jerry's Double-Dip: Lead With Your Values and Make Money, Too (Simon & Schuster, $24 cloth). In keeping with their image as counterculture business rebels, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield insert humorous observations and recollections throughout the text of this autobiographical work. The purpose of the book, however, is no laughing matter: Cohen and Greenfield make a compelling argument in favor of equating success with socially responsible business practices.

"For us, having grown up in the '60s, the idea of becoming real businesspeople running a real business had very negative connotations," the pair explain. "We'd always said we didn't want Ben & Jerry's to be a traditional business. Deciding not to sell [the business in the 1980s] sharpened our focus on exactly what kind of business we wanted it to be. Now we could articulate our purpose: to see whether a business could survive while being a force for progressive social change."

No, that isn't everyone's definition of success in the business world. But whether it's profits, personal happiness or social change that you seek (or a combination of all three), you'll have plenty of reading material to occupy you on your journey to success.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Success Stories.

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