A graduate of the London School of Economics and the University of Sydney, Tom Butler-Bowdon was working as a political advisor in Australia when, at 25, he read his first personal development book, Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Captivated by that and by titles by the likes of Anthony Robbins and M Scott Peck, he came to the view that this was an underrated field of writing. At 30, he left his first career to write the bestselling 50 Self-Help Classics, the first guide to the personal development literature and winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award (2004).
This book was followed by 50 Success Classics (2004); 50 Spiritual Classics (2005); 50 Psychology Classics (2007); and 50 Prosperity Classics (2008), all published in the US and UK by Nicholas Brealey. With its commentaries on over 250 books in the self-development field, the series has been published in 21 languages and is sold in over 30 countries. Tom has been described by USA Today as “a true scholar of this type of literature.
He then published Never Too Late to Be Great: The Power of Thinking Long and is now editing and writing the introductions to volumes in a new series, Capstone Classics, published by Capstone Publishing Ltd. (A Wiley Imprint). Titles now available include Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Plato’s The Republic, Wallace Wattles’ The Science of Getting Rich, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich.
Here is an excerpt from my second interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
To read my first interview of him, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing your recently published book, Never Too Late to Be Great, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?
Butler-Bowdon: Apart from my parents, all the great writings in the personal development and spiritual traditions, too many to mention.
Morris: The great impact on your professional development? How so?
Butler-Bowdon: Apart from bosses and colleagues, the writings of Peter Drucker in management and Al Ries in marketing.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Butler-Bowdon: Discovering the self-development literature when I was 26.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Butler-Bowdon: Beyond the content of what I learned at university in terms of politics, government and history, just to think more critically and carefully, and being aware of just how much has been written and studied in any given area that you can draw upon.
Morris: Of all the books that you have read, from which have you learned what has proven to be most valuable to you after you read it?
Butler-Bowdon: Miracles to Conversations With God, to the original spiritual texts. Now I practice meditation, so Buddhism provides me with much insight and inspiration.
Morris: Of the five 50 Classics volumes, which was the most difficult to write? Why?
Butler-Bowdon: At the time 50 Spiritual Classics seemed challenging because there seemed to be so much ground to cover, but the discipline required to do it taught me that I could tackle something even more outside my comfort zone, such as 50 Philosophy Classics, which I’m writing now.
Morris: By which criteria did you select the titles? To what extent (if any) were the criteria different from one volume to the next and/or when the selections were made? Please explain.
Butler-Bowdon: Combination of the obvious famous titles in each field, with some interesting newer ones. They had to either be bestsellers or influential, or say something new. Same process for each book.
Morris: Which of the books was the most difficult to classify? Why?
Butler-Bowdon: Perhaps 50 Prosperity Classics, because “prosperity” is not an established field like Psychology or Self-Help.
Morris: What prompted the publication of the new series of classic self-development and prosperity writings that you edited and for which you wrote the Introductions?
Butler-Bowdon: An invitation to do it from the publisher (Wiley Europe). I was happy to do it because it fits in with my larger goal of a more serious or scholarly approach to personal development.
Morris: Were there are head-snapping revelations which reading these “classics”? Please explain.
Butler-Bowdon: As the Tao Te Ching suggests, there is a force or reality behind the apparent, physical universe (call it Tao, God, Mind, implicate order), and it is this which generates everything we see. By attuning ourselves to this force or reality, not what is “apparent.”
Morris: Which of the authors of these series (i.e. Napoleon Hill, Niccolo Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Sun Tzu, and Wallace Wattles) offers the best example of someone who possesses “the power to think long”? Please explain.
Butler-Bowdon: Actually none of them is particularly interested in time; the ‘thinking long’ idea is my creation!
Morris: Frankly, I was previously unaware of Wattles when I began to read the book and thus was especially grateful for your Introduction. For others in that same situation now, why is he significant?
Butler-Bowdon: He offers the metaphysical basis for prosperity that is the basis of The Secret, but wrote about it 100 years before Rhonda Byrne.
Morris: Which additions to the series are now under consideration?
Butler-Bowdon: Have just released new Capstone editions of Plato’s Republic and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.
Morris: Here’s a two-part question. Of all the authors whose works you have read, which would you most like to interview? What would you hope to learn from that person that you do not currently know?
Butler-Bowdon: I have a special liking for the works of Catherine Ponder, the prosperity and abundance writer who helped to pioneer the field. I would be thrilled to meet her and have a long chat with her! As for an interview, I’d like to ask her many of the same questions you are asking me.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
To read my first interview of him, please click here.
Tom cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Homepage: Please click here.
Amazon Page: Please click here.
Huffington Post: Please click here.
Tom Butler-Bowdon’s website: www.Butler-Bowdon.com
Tom’s book Never Too Late To Be Great: http://amzn.to/zwxce4