Share Guide magazine





An Interview with Mark Victor Hansen
On Achieving A Successful and  Meaningful Life

By Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublisher

In the area of human potential, no one is better known and more respected than Mark Victor Hansen. For over 25 years, he has focused solely on helping people and organizations, from all walks of life, reshape their personal vision of what’s possible. His powerful messages of possibility, opportunity, and action have helped create powerful change in thousands of organizations, and millions of individuals worldwide. He is the author of many bestselling books, including the Chicken Soup for the Soul
series and The Power of Focus, both coauthored with Jack Canfield, and The One Minute Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth, coauthored with Mark Allen.

Hansen photo

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The Share Guide
: What do you think is the biggest thing that holds people back from achieving their goals?

Mark Victor Hansen: First of all, you’ve got to have a purpose that you are passionate about. If you don’t have a purpose, then your purpose is to get a purpose.  If you do not have goals, then your goal is to set a goal. I have talked to a quarter of a million people at various seminars. I teach the 101 Goals Challenge.  I tell everyone they have to set 101 goals, and I give them 20 minutes to do it. The minute you write down your goals, something happens--your mind gets clear, and you become enlightened. This is because the light of it enthuses you and gets your 18 billion brain cells working. This is Self-Act-ualization--meaning that you take some action to get a result that gives you enlightenment. The 101 Goals Challenge lets you come from abundance. And you create massive value for others, which means you are into service. “The greatest amongst you is the servant of all, master, and teacher.” Somebody that is self-actualized and is enlightened is going to leave a legacy. For instance, Gandhi left a legacy of independence for the whole country of India.

The Share Guide: I think of Self-Actualization as achieving goals,  finding your inner passion, working it out, and fulfilling your dreams.
Mark Victor Hansen:  That’s right. And the minute you find out what your passion is, you have got to have a mentor to take you to real enlightenment. When I first decided that I wanted to be a speaker I was still in my 20’s, I looked around for somebody who was good at speaking. I found a 26-year-old kid, who is still my best friend and mentor. Now I am 55. I don't know anyone that really made it without mentors.
The Share Guide: Tell us the value of mentors, and how you go about choosing and connecting with them.

Mark Victor Hansen: Everyone needs a great and inspiring teacher. Back in graduate school, my physiology teacher told me to go hear this guy who was the chairman of the design department, Dr. Buckminster Fuller. He was amazing! I was 21 at the time, and Bucky was 71. I applied for a job with him, and I ended up working with him and traveling all over the world for the next 7 years. My writing partner, Bob Allen, has Dr. Stephen Covey as his mentor. All the greats have great mentors. So you have to look around and say “Who do I want as my mentor?” Then you need to try and get close to that person. Ask them, “What can I do for you?” And then you get to learn everything from them. If that means carrying their luggage, then you carry their luggage!

The Share Guide: I know that one of Jack Canfield’s mentors is W. Clement Stone, who was mentored amongst others by Napoleon Hill. That is like going back to our parents’ or our grandparents’ generation. I think it is great passing this torch of knowledge--now we are doing it for our own generation.

Mark Victor Hansen: Correct. First of all, let’s talk about Clem Stone. He reads the book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, which helped us get out of the depression. Then he meets Hill in the 1950’s at a Kiwanis Club meeting and takes him out of retirement. Stone says, “Look, I need you.” By working with Hill, his company went from $3 million a year to $160 million in one year.

The Share Guide: Yes, I believe you’re talking about Stone’s insurance company.

Mark Victor Hansen: Right. It is called Combined Insurance. Today it is one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. Clem Stone just died recently at 100 years old. He was quite a guy. He mentored Jack, and a little with me.

The Share Guide: That’s great. You could compare mentors to the gurus from the East. You take this perennial wisdom and you re-express it in your own style and then bring it forth to the public.

Mark: Let me talk about that in relation to self-actualization. In India, guru means “self-realized being.”  To be self-actualized means divine self-mastery--you literally learn how to tell your thinking mind how to think and your feeling mind how to feel, so you pre-ordain your destiny. If all life is imaginal, meaning imagination creates your reality (which I believe), then you want to have an imagination that is under your control. It doesn’t matter whether it’s W. Clement Stone building this gigantic insurance company and being one of the most extraordinary philanthropists of all times, or Jack and I seeing that we could go from selling zero to 82 million books. Because of us, 168 people are employed at the publishing company, and Jack and I get to mentor a lot of other authors to go on to doing greater things than they ever thought they could do.

The Share Guide:  Right. So if you want to be an enlightened millionaire as opposed to endarkened millionaire, you need to do things that are good for everybody, not just for yourself.

Mark: That’s exactly what enlightenment is about. Before enlightenment, Buddha says, “I chop wood and carry water.” After enlightenment,  he says “I chop wood and carry water, but I do it knowingly.” Everybody should be in the best job in the world for them, and be used at their highest and best potential, which is what enlightenment is.

The Share Guide:  After reading many books such as yours, I see success or self-actualization as being very much a matter of correcting daily habits, and creating a sound plan.

Mark: Your habits make or break you, a little bit at a time. Your habit owns you unless you re-evaluate it out of a state of enlightenment. For example, every cigarette costs you 14 minutes of your life. That's an endarkened habit. An enlightened habit, however, would be to exercise five days a week.

The Share Guide: I loved your book, The Power of Focus. It talks about focusing your energy like a magnifying glass. I think this is very important.

Mark: The way I teach it in seminars is I compare it to the David and Goliath story. Goliath is the problem you have currently in front of you. David needed only one slingshot and felled his problem. Then he got to go onto other problems. The point is that each one of us needs to focus that magnifying glass of attention on one specific thing, solve it, then go to the next thing. The guy with the most focus on the planet is Bill Gates. When I was with one of his executives on an airplane the other day, he said that Bill Gates has 1600 separate projects that he’s doing. They are all planned out, with someone chosen to run each and every one of them. He uses the most brain power. Most people have only one job and they hate it. Well, they are never going to get self-actualized. Unless you are doing what you love, I don’t think you can be self-actualized.

The Share Guide: Many of us become exhausted by our daily commitments and therefore we mentally give up on working to achieve a higher level. How do we get past this feeling of being in a rut, overwhelmed with the current responsibilities in daily life?

Mark:  I think clarity is power. You need to know your purpose, and what it is you want to accomplish, and why. If the “why” is great enough, the “how” is easy. What I want to do is change the world and make it positive, and feed 100% of humanity, and as a result, I’ve got strategies on all that stuff to accomplish it. If you are hanging around exciting people, you get to have exciting results, and an exciting life that is tuned in and turned on. Your energy level goes way up. That doesn’t mean I don’t need to rest. I teach that to be enlightened, people need to take their time off, so that when they are working, they are working on purpose--and they are getting things done.

The Share Guide: I really like your motto, “Believe it and achieve it.” If people have general and vague dreams, they will always be unfulfilled.

Mark: That’s right. If I am not specific I won’t get it done. I want to create 6,000 speakers that are enlightened to change the world. Well, to do that I need to train 60,000 people, because only 10% of them will be focused.

The Share Guide: You’ve written that confidence is a habit that can be practiced and honed. Some people say “Fake it until you make it.”

Mark: Confidence comes from your mentor. You borrow it until you can handle it for yourself. In other words, when I wasn’t sure of my speaking ability, my mentor went through it with me step by step. We met once a week and he told me the areas I needed help with. That led me to sales training and learning good work habits. I just kept doing it until I got really good at it. Pretty soon you are ready to go to the next thing. Self-actualized means you have a whole list of things you want to do. When you accomplish a goal, that gives you more confidence, because you know you are moving forward. Everybody you talk to, you can say “How is this person going to help me grow?” Suddenly you are going to start meeting the right people because your subconscious attracts them. This allows you to do stuff that you never thought you could do.

The Share Guide: A lot of my own goals are clear in my mind, but they’re not written down. They are in the “some day” category.

Mark: What if you brought them into today? You just decide THIS IS IT, and you write them down like I asked you to do.  You are self-actualized the minute they are written down. Next you prioritize these goals. It can have infinite applicability. With our book The One Minute Millionaire, we want to create a million millionaires this decade, so that they all have 10% to give away to their favorite charities.

The Share Guide: You’ve written that if you really want to go forward, rather than just dream about it, you’ve got to make certain commitments. One commitment you recommended was five hours a week of learning. So you have to re-arrange your time. It’s not going to happen without a lot of effort.

Mark: Well, the price tag is too high to go through your life and not have what you want.

The Share Guide:  I think part of the problem is that people give up their goals because they are depressed and they get caught up in inertia.

Mark: That’s right, and they hang around other people who aren’t goal achievers. If you want to be self-actualized, you need to get together with other people that are self-actualizing.

The Share Guide:  You recommend focusing on doing the things you do extremely well, and delegating the rest. What if you can't afford to hire help?

Mark: Then you get volunteers. You can always get somebody to help you. If you are really passionate, you can always start with nothing and build it into something. Here’s a great example. George Washington Carver got all of his students to help him take 2000 acres of dried out land and reinvigorate it. He set up crop rotations, and grew peanuts to put nitrogen back into the soil. When he ended up with a bumper crop of peanuts, he created 362 inventions in one month to use the peanuts, including peanut butter. It’s because he was totally self-actualized. And every one of us can do that. Nobody can become self-actualized without self-actualizing all those around him or her.

The Share Guide:  Many of us are guilty of working too long, too many hours, not rewarding ourselves. You talk about creating optimum balance. I guess that means remembering to take time off.

Mark: By now I take essentially one week off a month. But if you only have one break in a year, then make sure you take one real vacation. If you look at sucessful guys like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone, and George Eastman, they all worked 10 weeks, then took ten days off in Florida. That isn’t the right model for everybody. It’s whatever works for you. When you allow yourself free time, you will come back with breakthrough ideas, because you are rejuvenating yourself. You are in a breakthrough state. The problem with most people is they never really work when they are working. They are not focused. If you say “I am going to get it done in two weeks,” then it will take two weeks.

The Share Guide: Many people have been conditioned to believe they don’t deserve happiness. Isn’t one of the main steps to success believing that you’re worthy?

Mark:  Yes, everybody’s got to believe that they’re worthy. You can get that from your mentor. We often don’t get that from our parents, because our parents don’t know how to have deep self-worth.

The Share Guide: Regarding mentors, do you also need somebody in your local town?

Mark:  Yes, you have to have somebody local--face to face, not just long distance sources of inspiration.

To learn more about Mark Victor Hansen's books, workshops and trainings, please visit his website at


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