The SUCCESS 25: 2014’s Personal Development Leaders

UPDATED: September 19, 2019
PUBLISHED: December 9, 2014

Success isn’t solely about reaching a financial or professional pinnacle. Success also involves cultivating solid relationships, striving to achieve health and well-being, giving back to others and generally leading a life of purpose. Success isn’t an endpoint—it’s a lifelong process.

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”29571″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”480″,”style”:”width: 150px; height: 197px; float: left; margin: 5px;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”366″}}]]The individuals you’ll read about below comprise the first-ever SUCCESS 25 list, which appeared in the January 2015 issue of SUCCESS. (In addition, find our list of all-time personal development legends on exclusively.) They’ve helped millions around the world in reaching their personal and professional goals, and attaining their own unique versions of success.

But how did we choose the SUCCESS 25?

After coming up with a list of hundreds of people who have made significant contributions to the personal growth of others, we narrowed down the list to about 85, focusing primarily on their activities in 2014. Then, we dug deeper into the following areas:

• Sales of books, CDs, DVDs produced in 2014
• Articles and columns published in 2014; numbers of readers
• Views of YouTube videos, TED Talks, podcasts; other online activity
• 2014 sales of books, CDs and DVDs published in prior years
• Social media reach
• TV programs, speeches, other events; numbers of viewers or attendees
• Awards, commendations in 2014

Ultimately, we chose the final names based on the numbers of people their work positively influenced in the last year.

And now, without further ado, here is your 2014 SUCCESS 25:

Martha Beck

Best-selling author and columnist Martha Beck, Ph.D., draws on Harvard degrees in East Asian studies and sociology to coach individuals in finding their purpose in life and to train other coaches in her method.

Beck is the best-selling author of Finding Your Own North Star, Steering by Starlight and Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, and she has been a columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, since its inception. The president of Martha Beck Inc. reaches audiences through speaking events, telecast seminars and retreat workshops, including those in Africa and at her California ranch.

Ken Blanchard

The chief spiritual officer of  The Ken Blanchard Companies, which he formed with wife Margie in 1979 and which continues to be a family affair, Ken Blanchard is best known for co-authoring the 1982 management classic The One Minute Manager.

Selling more than 13 million copies, it’s in the Fast Company Leadership Hall of Fame, among the most influential business books of all time. Since then, he has co-authored more than 60 books, published in 27 languages, more than 30 of which are best-sellers.

Blanchard got his start in leadership as assistant dean at Ohio University and went on to become an in-demand consultant and popular speaker on management and leadership, particularly for his theory of servant leadership.

Find more from Ken Blanchard in the SUCCESS Store.

Les Brown

Les Brown is a testament to sheer perseverance and the indomitable nature of the human spirit. Declared “educable mentally retarded” as a child in Miami, Brown shattered that misconception by going on to become a disc jockey and broadcast station manager, a political commentator and a state representative elected to multiple terms in Ohio.

Winner of the National Speakers Association Council of Peers Award of Excellence and Toastmasters International’s Golden Gavel Award, Brown was also named one of Toastmasters’ top five speakers. He spreads his signature message, “It’s possible,” through motivational speaking engagements around the world as well as Master Trainer workshops. He is the author of Its Not Over Until You Win, Up Thoughts for Down Times and Fight For Your Dreams, as well as the best-selling audio series Choosing Your Future.

Find more from Les Brown in the SUCCESS Store.

Brendon Burchard

A near-fatal car accident at age 19 changed the trajectory of Brendon Burchard’s life. He became committed to helping others “find their charge” as a motivational speaker, high-performance trainer and author of such New York Times best-selling titles as The Motivation ManifestoLife's Golden Ticket, The Millionaire Messenger and The Charge.

The 37-year-old has mastered the realms of online marketing and social media, with the most-watched self-help series on YouTube, more than 2 million likes on his Facebook fan page and 12 consecutive online promotions that surpassed $1 million in sales in less than seven days each.

Burchard is also the founder of Experts Academy, offering marketing training for authors, speakers and coaches, and High Performance Academy, a personal-development program for achievers.

Jack Canfield

Perhaps best known as the co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series (with more than 123 million books sold), Jack Canfield has shared his skills as a success coach through international speaking engagements and corporate training with the likes of Virgin Records, Sony Pictures and Merrill Lynch.

The Harvard graduate outlined his methodologies for peak performance in such best-sellers as The Power of Focus, The Aladdin Factor and Dare to Win. In fact, Canfield holds the Guinness World Record for having seven books simultaneously on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Canfield is also the founder of The Canfield Training Group, The Foundation for Self-Esteem and the Transformational Leadership Council.

Find more from Jack Canfield in the SUCCESS Store.

Deepak Chopra

With training in internal medicine and endocrinology, Deepak Chopra, M.D., began studying transcendental meditation and Ayurvedic medicine in the 1980s, soon becoming a pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine.

He has since authored more than 75 books, both in the fiction and nonfiction genres, including 21 New York Times best-sellers. Some of his best-known titles include The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, The Book of Secrets and Super Brain.

Chopra is also an in-demand keynote speaker around the world and leads popular meditation retreats. In 1999, TIME named him to its list of 20th-century heroes and icons. He is the founder of The Chopra Foundation as well as co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California.

Henry Cloud

Henry Cloud, Ph.D., channels his experience as both a clinical psychologist and a successful businessman to offer leadership consulting and performance coaching to the likes of Fortune 500 companies and their executives.

Cloud is the author or co-author of more than 20 books, with sales of more than 11 million copies total. His Boundaries series—which discusses setting healthy boundaries with co-workers, loved ones and ourselves—has sold more than 4 million copies; other critically acclaimed titles include Necessary Endings and Integrity.

Cloud, a popular keynote speaker, is co-host of the radio show New Life Live, heard in more than 150 markets with an estimated 2 million weekly listeners, and he contributes frequently to CNN, Fox News, ABC News and more.

Wayne Dyer

Overcoming a childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes, Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., has been inspiring audiences for decades with his message of personal growth and self-discovery.

After earning his doctorate in educational counseling, Dyer published his first popular title, Your Erroneous Zones, in 1976, which has sold 35 million copies and spent 64 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List. That launched his career as an author and speaker, and Dyer eventually shifted from a clinical perspective to a more spiritual one.

He has written 41 books, many of which have been featured as Public Broadcasting Service specials, including, The Power of Intention, Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling and Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life. Worldwide sales of Dyer’s products have surpassed $250 million.

Tim Ferriss

Dubbed “this generation’s self-help guru” by The New Yorker, Tim Ferriss first garnered national acclaim through his 2007 book The 4-Hour Workweek, which he promoted through aggressive online marketing to reach the New York Times Best Seller List (where it spent seven years and reached No. 1). He followed up that title with the best-sellers The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.

Ferriss has been an angel investor in such tech startups as Twitter, Facebook, Uber and Evernote. The 37-year-old has a hugely popular blog, podcast and Twitter account, where he discusses his theories on accelerated learning, ideal lifestyle design and more.

A frequent speaker at such organizations as Google, MIT, Harvard Business School and the CIA, Ferriss was the first American to hold a Guinness World Record for the most consecutive tango spins in a minute.

Seth Godin

Through his writing and speaking Seth Godin gained prominence as a marketing guru and iconoclast, and in recent years has transitioned to topics focused on leadership.

With degrees in computer science, philosophy and business, Godin founded the online startup Yoyodyne in the 1990s and later sold it to Yahoo! (where he became vice president of direct marketing). Godin also created the community website Squidoo, recently acquired by HubPages.

Godin is the author of 17 books, including the best-sellers Linchpin, Tribes and The Dip. His blog has repeatedly been named one of the most popular in the world, and he’s a frequent speaker at companies like Disney, Google, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as on the TED Talk circuit. The originator of such phrases as “permission marketing,” “ideavirus” and “purple cow,” Godin was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Find more from Seth Godin in the SUCCESS Store.

Steve Harvey

Not many celebrities cross over from comedian and entertainer to relationship guru and self-help expert, but Steve Harvey has done just that.

A cast member in The Original Kings of Comedy, Harvey has connected with audiences on a more emotional, personal level through his radio show, The Steve Harvey Morning Show, as well as his daytime TV talk show, The Steve Harvey Show.

Drawing on this interaction, as well as his own personal struggles and triumphs, Harvey penned the best-seller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, followed by Straight Talk, No Chaser and Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success.

Harvey also hosts the annual Neighborhood Awards, an expo and award ceremony recognizing people and businesses that make a positive impact in their neighborhoods, and founded The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, a mentoring organization.

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington has firmly established herself as one of the most influential women in the world, thanks in large part to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Huffington Post, which consistently ranks among the top news sites with 115 million monthly readers in the U.S. alone.

In recent years, between her books on historical figures and politics, the writer has opened up to audiences through such personal-development works as On Becoming Fearless…in Love, Work, and Life and The Fourth Instinct: The Call of the Soul. In 2014, her 14th book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. In it, the mother of two reflects on her personal struggles with time management and stress that led to physical collapse and a true wake-up call.

T.D. Jakes

Though his first calling was the pulpit, T.D. Jakes, now dubbed “America’s Best Preacher” by TIME, has become a prolific author with works focused on spiritual as well as personal-development themes.

In addition to his most recent, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, Jakes’ books include Let It Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven and Woman Thou Art Loosed!, among many others.

The senior pastor of The Potter’s House, a global humanitarian organization and 30,000-member church in Dallas, Jakes’ e-church streams live each Sunday and taps into a global audience of about 5 million on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and his biannual festival, MegaFest, draws an average of 100,000 people. Jakes has advised the last three U.S. presidents, and he gave the sermon at a private service for President-elect Barack Obama on the morning of his inauguration in 2009.

Jakes, winner of two NAACP Image Awards and named as one of Ebony’s “Power100,” is also founder of the T.D. Jakes School of Leadership. He is a frequent commentator on cable news and often contributes to ESSENCE, The Washington Post and more.

Robert Kiyosaki

Robert Kiyosaki is best known for the hugely popular Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, which started with 1997’s Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!, the best-selling personal finance book of all time with more than 28 million copies sold. Often defying traditional financial wisdom, the series currently comprises 26 titles.

Having seen his share of ups and downs as an entrepreneur, including being homeless after going bankrupt, Kiyosaki dedicated himself to financial literacy through his company Cashflow Technologies Inc. The investor, motivational speaker and former Marine also has a weekly radio show and a popular blog.

Find more from Robert Kiyosaki in the SUCCESS Store.

John C. Maxwell

Voted the top leadership professional six years in a row on, John C. Maxwell is a coach, speaker, pastor and best-selling author. He has written more than 70 books and has sold more than 24 million copies in 50 languages, including the 1-million-plus sellers The 21 Irrefutable Laws of LeadershipDeveloping the Leader Within You and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.

Maxwell regularly speaks to and works with heads of state, Fortune 500 companies and groups such as the NFL and the United Nations. He is the founder of The John Maxwell Company; The John Maxwell Team; and co-founded EQUIP, a nonprofit that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 189 countries.

Find more from John C. Maxwell in the SUCCESS Store.

Suze Orman

Once a waitress making $400 a month, Suze Orman has become one of America’s most popular financial experts, beloved for her energetic personality, straightforward tips and empowering message. She is the author of nine consecutive New York Times best-sellers and has been a contributing editor to O, The Oprah Magazine since it started. She has also produced a large library of financial CDs and kits.

The Suze Orman Show on CNBC just started its 14th year, and she has starred on the QVC Financial Essentials show for 19 years, garnering more than $100 million in sales. The motivational speaker is a two-time Emmy Award winner and was named one of Forbes’ “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in 2010.

Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen is senior pastor of America’s largest Protestant church, Lakewood Church, reaching audiences of millions worldwide with his message of hope, positivity and personal growth.

Popular on media ranging from TV and radio to podcasts (with 48 million viewers a week) and Twitter (with 3 million followers), Osteen has penned six No. 1 New York Times best-sellers translated into 23 languages, including Your Best Life Now, Become a Better You and It's Your Time.

Since 2004, his Night of Hope events, with wife Victoria, have sold out major venues—such as Madison Square Garden (seven times)—across the United States, and he has preached in Europe, Africa and Australia.

Mehmet Oz

Known simply as Dr. Oz to millions, Mehmet Oz, M.D., is a widely popular health expert, television personality and author. The heart surgeon received medical and master’s in business degreesfrom the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Wharton Business School, and is vice-chair, professor of surgery and a practicing heart surgeon at Columbia University.

First featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oz struck a chord with audiences for cutting through medical jargon and presenting practical lifestyle advice. The Dr. Oz Show premiered in 2009, going on to win five Emmys.

Oz, a longtime columnist for SUCCESS, has authored more than 400 articles, book chapters and medical books, including co-authoring seven New York Times best-sellers, such as YOU: The Owner's Manual, YOU: Being Beautiful and YOU: Staying Young.

Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey broadcasts his personal financial-management advice to 8 million listeners weekly on more than 500 radio stations as host of The Dave Ramsey Show. He’s also the author of five New York Times best-sellers that have sold more than 8 million copies combined, with The Total Money Makeover selling more than 5 million alone.

Ramsey, who has been open about his own past financial struggles, grew hisfinancial counseling business, The Lampo Group, from a home-based operation to a multimillion-dollar venture employing more than 400 in 20 years.

Through his online and in-person Financial Peace University, Ramsey has reached more than 2 million families.

Tony Robbins

A renowned speaker, coach and author on the psychology of peak performance, Tony Robbins has reached more than 50 million people in more than 100 countries with his books, multimedia products, and public speaking and other live events, according to his website.

In late 2014, Robbins released Money: Master the Game; 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, a tome of more than 600 pages intended to demystify finances and investing. The book comes more than 20 years after his last best-seller, Awaken the Giant Within, published in 1991. His first best-seller was Unlimited Power, published in 1986. He has also produced numerous audio programs, including Personal Power, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, according to his website.

In addition to his seminars, Robbins regularly speaks to groups as diverse as the British Parliament, the World Economic Forum and Harvard Business School. His 2006 TED Talk has been viewed more than 13 million times, making it the eighth most popular TED Talk. Robbins has also made numerous television appearances, launched his own TV show and co-hosted Oprah’s Lifeclass on the OWN Network.

He has advised or consulted an array of political and humanitarian leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher, as well as three U.S. presidents and members of Congress.

Robin Roberts

An Alabama native, Robin Roberts became a college basketball superstar before hosting ESPN’s Sportscenter in the 1990s and appearing as a reporter on Good Morning America. The Emmy Award winner now serves as co-anchor of the show, a position she assumed in 2005.

Roberts discussed her life’s journey and lessons learned along the way in 2007’s From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By and 2008’s From the Heart, Eight Rules to Live By, the latter published about a year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Five years after beating cancer, Roberts was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder thought to be caused by chemotherapy, and she underwent a bone marrow transplant. That struggle inspired the 2014 New York Times best-seller Everybody's Got Something, a memoir brimming with Roberts’ trademark optimism and homespun maxims.

Sheryl Sandberg

The Facebook COO, who held previous roles with Google and the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, released her first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, in 2013. The blockbuster spent 63 weeks on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction List and inspired the Lean In movement—comprising free lectures, small group meetings and community resources—through its message of female empowerment and gender equality in the workplace.

In 2014, Sandberg and Lean In launched the Ban Bossy campaign, and provides ongoing support for women in pursuing their ambitions. She also followed up her 2013 blockbuster with Lean In for Graduates in 2014.

Sandberg, who was the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board, has committed to The Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least 50 percent of her net worth to charity.

Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma quit his job as a litigation attorney to become an author and leadership consultant, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has published 15 books in more than 90 languages with more than 12 million copies sold, including best-sellers The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Leader Who Had No Title. The latter, which posits that anyone can show leadership, no matter his or her position, drives his work at Sharma Leadership International Inc., a global consultancy that trains organizations (including Starbucks, Nike and Coca-Cola), in developing employees to lead without titles.

The motivational speaker, who earned the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International in 2011, has presented the Lead Without a Title program 22 times across the globe. He is founder of the Robin Sharma Foundation for Children, teaching leadership skills to underprivileged children, and co-founder of, an online support group for veterans.

Brian Tracy

For the past 40 years, Brian Tracy has shared his expertise in sales, leadership, goal setting and success strategy with millions internationally. The author, speaker and personal development trainer has addressed more than 5 million people in talks and seminars, and consulted for more than 1,000 companies.

Tracy is the best-selling author of more than 65 books, including the time management classic Eat That Frog!, and he has created more than 1,000 audio and video programs, including the best-selling The Psychology of Achievement.

Tracy is chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in training individuals and organizations. Formerly, Tracy was COO of a multimillion-dollar development company.

Find more from Brian Tracy in the SUCCESS Store.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey has been a champion of personal growth for roughly two decades, using her multimedia platform as “Queen of All Media” to share a message of self-empowerment with millions.

After overcoming a childhood of poverty and abuse, she climbed the media ranks and established The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated program of its kind in history. In the mid-’90s, Winfrey began to focus on more spiritual and self-help subjects, introducing the world to many of the experts on this list and providing educational resources.

Over the years, Winfrey has raised—and personally donated—millions of dollars to charity, earning recognition as one of the greatest philanthropists of all time by BusinessWeek. In 2013, she earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Winfrey continues to lead The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, as well as the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In 2014, she embarked on the Oprah: The Life You Want Weekend tour around the United States.

We asked each leading expert to share their best advice. Check out 25 life lessons from the SUCCESS 25.

Chelsea Greenwood has been contributing to print and online publications as an editor and writer for more than 10 years. A University of Florida graduate, she is the editor of a lifestyle magazine in South Florida.