Jack has received numerous awards not only for his writings, but also for his continued efforts in helping many people achieve their dreams by motivating them. He is one of the most popular figures who promote the “Law of Attraction,” where people can call forth into their life what they keep on declaring. He is also often featured in many inspirational programs, often providing tips on how to enhance a person’s life by changing what he thinks and says.
Jack Canfield was born in 1944 in Fort Worth, Texas—the son of Elmer Canfield, a day trader, and Ellen Canfield, a homemaker. Jack has three other siblings: a sister named Kimberly and two brothers, Rick and Taylor.
A Book Junkie
He spent his childhood under a post-war world, during the time when the United States established itself as the most powerful nation in the world. Jack had a fairly normal childhood, just like any kid of his age. The laid back nature of the neighbourhood Jack lived in enabled him to learn a lot of hobbies, such as tennis, skiing, running, billiards, guitar and reading. Jack took reading seriously. In fact, when he was a child, he would always try to read a book each day. He developed the attitude and belief that the more books you read, the more likely one of them will have the answers that you need.
Upon reaching high school, Jack and his family transferred to Wheeling, West Virginia and he studied at the Linsly Military Institute. It was during this time that his skills on people started to emerge. He was a charismatic and flamboyant person, and loved to do presentations. He graduated from High School in 1962.
Soon after his graduation, Jack enrolled at Harvard University to study Chinese History. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1966 with excellent marks and pursued education by attending the University of Massachusetts. During his time in the University, Jack met a fellow student named Judith Ohlbaum and fell in love with her. In 1971, he married Judith and soon after had their first child.
Jack’s time in the University of Massachusetts enabled him to learn a great deal of information about coaching people. He exhibited great talent in speaking, often giving speeches and presentations about various life topics.
Completing Masters in Psychological Education
In 1973, Jack Canfield received his masters in psychological education degree and went on to teaching, where he established himself as one of the most skilled professors in the area of motivating and inspiring students. When he first started his career, Jack found himself working under an employer who was willing to pay for any seminars that Jack would take. Jack never wasted time taking this opportunity and took 38 weekend workshops for the next weeks that followed.
In 1976, after five years of marriage, Jack and Judith’s relationship ended in a divorce due to “differences” between the two. They had four kids. Although the divorce brought great disappointment and distress to Jack, it did not weigh him down to depression. In the months following his divorce, Jack took jobs as a psychotherapist at a local psychiatric clinic. He also worked part-time as a workshop facilitator for several companies that his friends owned.
Compiling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” with Mark Victor Hansen
Through his work as a psychotherapist, Jack encountered many people and heard numerous stories, which would later on inspire him to write his first book. In one incident, he met Georgia Lee Noble and fell in love with her. They married in September 1978, and soon after Georgia bore Jack their only child who they named Christopher. In that same year, Jack was named as the most Outstanding Young Man of America by the U.S. Jaycees for Jack’s work in psychotherapy and giving motivational speeches in schools and other facilities.
Years ago, while doing a presentation at a company, Jack met Mark Victor Hansen, a well-known local author. Jack and Mark developed a friendly relationship and shared inspirational stories with each other. During Jack’s second marriage, they met each other once again in 1990, with Jack proposing to compile all of his encouraging short stories into a single book, which would be later known as the “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
Jack’s inspiration for creating the “Soul” series started when he was doing a lecture at a parent’s seminar. After his speech, a woman approached him and asked if the story he told during the lecture was included in any book. When Jack responded that the story he told wasn’t included in any book, the woman answered two words that would thrust Jack into an entirely new career: “You should.”
The woman told how she found the story very inspiring, and that it was exactly what her daughter needed to know. This sort of encounter was repeated throughout the following weeks that Jack gave motivational speeches to various locations, prompting him to think about getting all of the stories into one book. After three years, Jack and Mark were able to compile around 68 stories.
In an interview done with Jack Canfield many years later, he recalled how they were immediately denied the first time they tried to get the book published. This occurred numerous times with many publishers, who weren’t that interested in publishing a book that contained “nothing more than a bunch of odd stories.” Although disappointed in their initial efforts, Jack did not allow the rejections to keep him from getting the book published. After getting numerous petitions in getting the book published and presenting these petitions to several more publishers, Jack finally got a deal to publish the very first “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
Upon the release of Jack’s first book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” which he wrote in collaboration with his close friend, Mark Victor Hansen, it immediately became a bestselling hit throughout the nation. Comprised of 68 inspiring and motivating short stories, this book soon became a hit and after its release, Jack began receiving hundreds of mails daily, thanking him for all the inspiring stories that helped them get through the tough times they’re in.
This inspired Jack to continue collecting and publishing more inspirational stories and soon after gave birth to a series of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” that addressed all kinds of people—children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, employees, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, etc…
The “Law of Probability” and the “Law of Attraction”
In interviews done with Jack regarding the success of the Soul series, he would always point out that one of the essential factors in the success of his books was his belief in the “Law of Probability,” where the more things you try out, the better your chances of getting the answers you need. This has been a part of Jack’s philosophy since his childhood days that he applied to almost every area of his life.
Another factor that helped him was his belief in what he calls the “Law of Attraction,” where he states that you will draw what you keep on saying. This has enabled him to keep himself encouraged in spite of the disappointments and difficulties that he has faced throughout his entire career.
The success of his “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series further thrust Jack in the spotlight. He began receiving invitations to speak to more locations and also began to appear in numerous television programs, such as “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” and the “NBC Nightly News.” He also began involving himself in numerous speaking engagements that enabled him to establish a motivational career that spanned the country.
Despite all the successes that Jack has accomplished, he still encountered some major disappointments in life. In 1999, after over 11 years of marriage, Jack Canfield and Georgia Lee Noble divorced. In spite of this devastating incident, Jack never gave up on believing that good things were still in store for him.
Founding the “Self Esteem Seminars”
He kept on providing motivational seminars and speeches, albeit during the divorce it was less frequent, believing that the best way to help himself was by giving help to others. A year after the divorce, Jack met Inga Marie Mahoney. After several dates, the two developed a romantic relationship and in 2001, decided to marry.
Jack became further active in improving the lives of people through his self-help principles in the 2000s. He founded the “Self Esteem Seminars” in Santa Barbara and the “Foundation for Self Esteem” in California, programs which were designed to assist people in achieving their goals in life by providing them step-by-step procedures and principles that will simplify their quest. He also established the Canfield Training Group to train others to become efficient speakers and motivators, in order to reach more people and to help more lives.
Founding the Transformational Leadership Council and Writing “The Success Principles”
In 2004, Jack, along with many of his friends who worked in the area of teaching and motivating, founded the Transformational Leadership Council, a closed membership group that comprises of the best self-help and motivational speakers in the United States.
In 2005, Jack wrote and published “The Success Principles,” which contains 64 principles that he believes would help people achieve their dreams and become more successful. The book, just like Jack’s Soul series became a bestseller and immediately sold out after just a few weeks in the market.
The following year, Jack was featured in Rhonda Byrne’s book, “The Secret,” and the film of the same name it was based from, where he discussed his insights regarding the law of attraction and shared tips for achieving a successful professional career and personal life. The amazing success of Jack’s “Success Principles” also spawned a series of books that were directed towards different types of people.
Throughout his 30 years plus career, Jack has encountered numerous people, enabling him to learn more about life’s principles. Despite his success as an author and motivational speaker, Jack continued his career as a psychological therapist and a trainer, working with people from various backgrounds, such as businessmen, employees, students, single parents, welfare recipients, inner-city youth, and even prisoners.
Through his experiences in dealing with different people, Jack has become a leading authority in the area of personal development and self-esteem.
Companies, Organizations and Schools Spoken At
- Virgin Records
- Sony Pictures
- Merrill Lynch
- Hartford Insurance
- Glaxo Smith-Kline
- Federal Express
- Young President’s Association
- Chief Executives Organization
- General Electric
- U.S. Department of the Navy
- Children’s Miracle Work
- University of Wisconsin
- New York University
- Stanford University
- United States Department of Defense
A complete list can be found here: JackCanfield.com
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Transformational Leadership Council
- Canfield Training Group
- Jack Canfield’s Foundation for Self-Esteem
- Habitat for Humanity
- Heifer Project International
- Home Gardening Project
- Homeless Education/Liaison
- Project of Santa Barbara County
- Humanity in Unity
- Homes for Change
- Institute to End Violence
- International Network for Children and Families Foundation
- National Speakers Association
- Association for Humanistic Psychology
Awards and Achievements
- 1978: Named as an Outstanding Young Man of America
- 1995: Won the Southern California Book Publicist of the Year
- 1995: Received the American Booksellers Book of the Year Award for his book Chicken Soup for the Soul: One Hundred and One Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit
- 1995: Received the Storytelling World Award for Tellable Adult Stories
- 1996: Received the Body, Mind, and Soul Book Award
- 1996: Received the Storytelling World Award for Tellable Adult Stories
- 1998: Awarded the University of Massachusetts Chancellor’s Medal
- 1998: Received the Promise of the Earth Award
- 1999: Received the Distinguished Author Award
- 1999: Received the Motivator of the Year Award
- 1999: Received the Oprah’s Angel Network Award
- Holds the Guinness Book World Record for having seven books simultaneously on the New York Times Bestseller List
- Holds the Guinness Book World Record for largest book-signing
- Inducted into the National Speakers Association’s Speakers Hall of Fame
- 1981: Honorary Doctorate in Human Behavior from the University of Santa Monica
- 2003: Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Parker Chiropractic College
- 2003: Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from St. Ambrose University