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Celebrating a Legendary Life

Jim Rohn's legacy was his positive influence--evidenced by more than 1,300 who gathered to celebrate his life.

Sandra Bienkowski

Jim Rohn traveled the world, speaking to more than 6,000 audiences in his lifetime. He wrote and produced more than 25 books and audio and video programs.

Once asked by SUCCESS Publisher Darren Hardy about what he hoped his legacy would be, Rohn responded, “I want it to be said that Jim Rohn made a major contribution to someone, and then to another, then another.…”

The extent of Rohn’s influence was evident in February when more than 1,300 friends, family members and followers gathered to celebrate his life. Rohn, who passed away in December, was a pioneer in the field of personal development. Some of his bestknown works include Challenge to Succeed, The Art of Exceptional Living and The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle.

Many of today’s leaders in personal development credit Rohn for his infl uence on their careers and lives. Hardy fi rst heard him speak at a seminar in 1994. “His words that day touched me, transformed me and gave me the reins to my inner potential,” Hardy told the audience at the Hilton in Anaheim, Calif. “Since that day, Rohn was my personal mentor. I have spent more than 1,000 hours under his instruction.”

Hardy reminded the audience that Rohn’s insights and philosophies remain available to everyone. “Jim leaves behind a treasure chest of all the wisdom he ever shared.”

Harvey Mackay, sales expert and best-selling author, described Rohn’s philosophies as timeless. “You can never listen to his audio programs just once. He influenced 6 million people and showed us that retail is detail—he influenced people one at a time.”

Peak-performance coach and best-selling author Anthony Robbins started his career working with Rohn. “Those of us who have had the privilege of entering into this same profession he defi ned will pass on his work. We wouldn’t be here today if Jim didn’t bring our sparks into focus.”

Robbins recalls a meeting with Rohn. “I was so excited. He said, ‘Young man, today’s your day.’ And I thought, Yes! He said, ‘Tony, we are giving you Los Angeles.’ I said, ‘What? I get to be a sales director in L.A.? Where is my office going to be?’ He said, ‘Where do you want it to be?’ I said ‘Beverly Hills.’ He said, ‘You got it.’ I asked, ‘How many guys do I get?’ He said, ‘How many do you want?’ I said, ‘35,’ the most anyone else had. He said, ‘You got it.’ He asked, ‘When do you want to start?’ And I said, ‘Now.’ I asked, ‘Who do I call to get the check to open up the office?’ And he said, ‘You write it.’ ”

Rohn’s advice exemplifi ed his philosophy and straight talk— “When you know what you want, and you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it,” he said. He believed in personal accountability and unleashing the power in people to bring about the change they desire. “I used to say, ‘I sure hope things will change,’ ” Rohn said. “Then I learned that the only way things are going to change for me is when I change.”

Best-selling author and speaker Brian Tracy characterized Rohn’s teachings as fundamental to achieving the American Dream: “Set some goals. Decide what you want to do and what you want to be. Take responsibility. Stop blaming others. [Rohn’s message] is so empowering. He taught universal wisdoms and timeless truths.”

Several speakers emphasized how Rohn’s unassuming manner belied his powerful message. “Jim Rohn doesn’t leap around the stage,” said Denis Waitley, best-selling author and speaker. “He doesn’t try to be impressive. He knew people who try to be impressive are less impressive.”

Echoing Waitley’s sentiments, sales expert Jim Cathcart said, “Jim Rohn wasn’t fire-and-brimstone; he was walking wisdom. He made an imprint.”

Motivational expert and best-selling author Les Brown said, “Jim had a mission to transform lives. Mission accomplished.”

Brown remembered traveling with Rohn to a speaking engagement. When Brown got up to speak, he noticed Rohn start to take notes. “I said, ‘Jim, don’t take any notes.’ And he asked ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Because, this is all your stuff.’ ”

Many of those at the event—speakers, as well as those in attendance— commented about the impact Rohn had on their lives.

Stuart Johnson, owner of VideoPlus, parent company of Jim Rohn International and SUCCESS magazine, described Rohn as a mentor. “His words had a huge and lasting impression on me, impacting me on every level. He propelled me to new heights.”

Harold Dyck, a longtime friend, said Rohn changed lives in many ways, through grand and small gestures. He recalled him giving an angry-at-the-world waitress a 500 percent tip. Rohn stopped to see her reaction as he left the restaurant. She smiled. And so did he.

Other speakers at the event included motivation expert and author Joseph McClendon; Kyle Wilson, founder and longtime president of Jim Rohn International; motivational speaker and author Chris Widener, who co-wrote the best-seller Twelve Pillars with Rohn; and Vic Conant, president and CEO of personal-development publisher Nightingale-Conant Corp. Rohn’s grandson Nathanael Pangrazio also conducted a string orchestra accompanying tenor Jesús León.

People attending the event, who lined up more than two hours in advance, received blank cards to write their thoughts about Rohn to be shared with his family. Many wrote thanking him for his mentorship, empowerment and encouragement to believe that life circumstances can be changed.

Since Rohn’s death, more than 6,000 people have posted personal reflections and memories on the Memorial Wall at the Jim Rohn Tribute site at JimRohn.com. His Facebook site has continued to grow in popularity, with more than 45,000 fans.

Throughout the event, speakers quoted Rohn and video clips showed him speaking. As the event progressed, audience members spontaneously joined in, finishing his famous quotes in unison. “If you want to have more, you have to become more.” “Go to work on yourself harder than you do on your job.” “Success is something you attract by the person you become.” “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

Hardy pledged to the audience to keep Rohn’s philosophies alive, and he encouraged them to “have his life inspire yours.”

“Jim’s final appeal to you,” Hardy said, “would be, ‘Why not you? If I can do it, so can you. I was a farm boy, raised in obscurity from a small village in Idaho. If I can do this, so can you.’ ”

“Now it’s your turn,” Hardy said. “Go do it. Live an exceptional life and go out and touch someone else.”

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