People who read self help books generally don’t like talking about it. Considering how many people could improve their daily lives by changing themselves, it is a bit strange.
The first time I heard someone talk openly about self-help books was Kishore Biyani – at TiE Mumbai in 2010.
Someone in the audience asked him:
“Sir, how were you able to take so many risks?”
“I keep training my mind. If a normal human being has 10 thoughts, usually 6-8 thoughts are negative. I have trained my mind to have 7 positive thoughts out of 10.”
“How did you do that?”
“I read Anthony Robbins’ book The Power Within which talks about using neuro-linguistic programming to train you mind to think positive thoughts. I would recommend the book to all of you”.
A few years earlier, in the final year at NLS, a senior, self-made lawyer came to speak with us and he, without any self-consciousness, advocated reading a lot of self-help books. It produced cringes among all my classmates. I remembered this because it seemed like to me that I was the only one who could relate to him.
When I was in 11th class, I came across an old copy of Civil Services Chronicle. It was a competition preparation magazine and used to have ads by a dude called “Raj Bapna” who used to sell books on “How to read faster”. I got the book, and found it quite useless. But inside the book I found an excerpt of a letter that Aditya Vikram Birla wrote home when he was in the US. The letter had been excerpted from a book called “Business Maharajas”. It intrigued me and I got the book. Now, this book was something else – it opened my eyes to the world of business. Starting with story of Ambani, it covered other people like Ratan Tata, Aditya Vikram Birla, Bharat Shah (before he was arrested, he was a legit story), Khaitan, and RP Goenka. If I hadn’t brought the Raj Bapna crap, I would have never read that book.
The other books, which I have found useful over the years, are the ones by Dale Carnegie and Steven Covey. They force you to introspect – which is generally quite difficult to do unless you are forced.