Top 30 Most Influential People in Personal Development

April 15, 2015

by Ravi Raman

Our relationship isn’t working. My boss doesn’t appreciate the work I do. Excuse my house; I haven’t cleaned. Platitudes such as these abound, but each issue has a solution – and sometimes several solutions.

Personal growth requires change, but the most important part is the focus on the personal. Do what you can, when you can.

No one area must be changed by all; likewise, no one path to change is embraced by all.

The variety of authors in personal development literature provides options suitable for almost anyone to overcome or adjust almost anything. This variety is well represented in my list, for the authors address growth in relationships, business, spirituality, and other areas.

You can find books from these authors on Amazon. I recommend picking several of them up!

Are you seeking a Christian philosophy for your business? How about a non-denominational, Buddhist-inspired method of increasing life satisfaction? Both are offered here, along with many others. The power is yours to choose where and how you want to grow, for these thirty motivational authors face down almost every life challenge.

Note: the list is not in priority order.

Top 30 Most Influential People in Personal Development

1. Malcolm Gladwell

A long-time staff writer for The New Yorker, Gladwell observes those with exceptional success in their fields and picks apart the factors that contributed to outrageous success. Gladwell seeks to identify the traits and experiences that support development into super-leaders in a number of high-profile professions.

2. Jeffrey Long

Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, co-written with Paul Perry, seeks to fill the gaps between faith and science. Long, a radiation oncologist, gathers evidence from years of medical practice to show that death may not, in fact, be the end of human existence.

3. Paul Perry

Perry co-authored Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences with Dr. Jeffrey Long, but he has written several other volumes about the links between faith and science. In addition to the faith-science divide, Perry has also published works on personal health and cultural understanding.

4. Napoleon Hill

Hill’s authorial quest searches for the answers to financial independence. In books such as Think and Grow Rich and The Law of Success, he analyzes the personality traits and personal habits of the financially successful and discusses methods by which even the average Joe can apply this knowledge.

5. Gavin de Becker

Fear, de Becker claims, exists for a purpose: to keep us safe. Becker is a nationally recognized expert on violent behavior who insists that violence is predictable when one knows what to look for. His groundbreaking volume, The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence explores ways to evaluate situations and events before violence starts.

6. Joseph Grenny

A specialist in business performance, Grenny shares wisdom about leading change and managing conflict with conversation. Grenny’s approach to high-stakes communication gives users the power to create positivity in confrontational business (or personal) situations.

7. Kerry Patterson

Grenny’s co-author for several volumes and former professor at BYU’s Marriott School of Management, Patterson utilizes his experience with research and development, corporate training, and leadership development for his contributions. Patterson’s writings on business performance have been translated into numerous languages.

8. Rhonda Byrne

By basing her work in the wisdom of oral traditions, filmmaker and author Byrne took the world by storm with The Secret. Byrne taps the wisdom of the ages and makes the lessons applicable to personal and professional situations where laws of attraction and powers of positivity collaborate to provide exceptional results.

9. Dan Harris

Harris, a veteran ABC News correspondent and weekend co-anchor for Good Morning America, began his journey to find self-help that works after having a panic attack on the air. Years of trusting his hyper-critical inner voice brought him to prominence and to his nadir. The result of deep soul searching and wide questioning after his breakdown, 10% Happier, recounts Harris’ search for and discovery of meaning in life.

10. Susan Cain

In a world driven by extroverts, Cain identifies the value of introversion in QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain builds the value of introverts by showing that introversion is not a personality of deficiency but one of reflection through which valuable ideas and insights may be obtained.

11. Dale Carnegie

No reflection on personal development authors can be complete without the man whom is perhaps the best-known author in the genre: Dale Carnegie. His seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People, remains a leader in the field after more than half a century. People seeking enduring support in their search for success still turn to Carnegie’s tried and true methods.

12. Melody Beattie

Tales of overcoming childhood trauma in adult life abound, but Beattie’s reflections on and responses to her own dramatic life provide support for all whom search for inner peace and outer placidity. Beginning with Codependent No More, Beattie recounts methods for overcoming codependency and taking control of one’s own life.

13. Robert Greene

Mastery, Greene’s fifth book, shows the title topic as a practice rather than a gift by recounting the ways that known masters, like Temple Grandin, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein, structured their lives. Greene recognizes mastery as passion in practice and shows readers how to identify and live their own passions.

14. Henry Cloud

Cloud’s position as a self-help mainstay began with the first of the Boundaries series in 1992. Since then, Cloud has continued to draw on his expertise in clinical psychology to create his own publishing legacy. The author or co-author of more than twenty books, Cloud offers something for almost everyone seeking a better life.

15. Charles Duhigg

A relative newcomer to personal growth, Duhigg shows the results of repeated actions in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. Duhigg studies people, corporations, and retailers to expose the value of habit and the ways that it is used for positive and negative purposes.

16. Timothy Ferriss

If the time frame is four hours, then Timothy Ferriss is the man to call. The entrepreneur and investor claims those four hours to make your life richer with titles like The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body. Access to Ferriss’ wisdom is not limited to print, for his Four Hour Blog boasts more than one million readers per month.

17. Louise L. Hay

An author, lecturer, and filmmaker, Hay exposes relationships between self-esteem and metaphysics and postulates methods of applying this knowledge to increase life satisfaction. By encouraging personal accountability and contrasting affirmations, Hay seeks to change lives in meaningful and lasting ways.

18. Janet Mills

The ancient wisdom of the Toltecs underlie Mills’ reflections on life, happiness, and relationships. By reaching into the past, Mills, with co-author Miguel Ruiz, simplifies complex issues while exemplifying them in ways that are applicable to modern life.

19. Timber Hawkeye

Hawkeye’s Buddhist-inspired but non-denominational Buddhist Boot Camp resulted from a collection of emails sent to friends and family during his search for spiritual enlightenment. The short vignettes need not be read in order and have an overall message that encourages all to be better today than yesterday.

20. Eckhart Tolle

The first spiritual author with works featured in Oprah’s Book Club, Tolle responds to the plaguing uncertainties of modern life with messages of peace and brotherhood. Tolle provides more than platitudes to guide readers to new areas of personal enlightenment.

21. Miguel Ruiz

Co-author of Janet Mills, Ruiz shares his family’s Toltec oral traditions as a simple yet practical guide to life. Ruiz’s confluence of ancient and modern exposes the basic similarities of all humanity and provides a realistic method of creating a harmonious life.

22. Atul Gawande

Gawande’s authorship delves into the conflicts of massive information and limited communication with a primarily medical backdrop. Within these conflicts, Gawande asserts that the goals of patients, particularly those with chronic or life-threatening issues, revolve around quality of life more than cures.

23. Steven R. Covey

Known by millions, Covey’s Seven Habits series made success accessible to people in numerous stages of and walks of life. Covey makes success less frightening and more friendly by breaking it down into discrete steps and actions that are transferable from classroom to home to office.

24. Brené Brown

Brown’s reflections on shame and worthiness fuel her publications. She encourages readers to be and to accept who they are as professionals, as parents, and as individuals. In addition to prolific publications, Brown is also an active speaker, and her TED talks are some of the most viewed.

25. Gary D. Chapman

A pastor and marriage counselor, Chapman first addressed deep and lasting love for married couples but has since expanded the series to include singles, men, children, and teens. Chapman draws upon his counseling and spiritual backgrounds to develop methods of expressing and recognizing love that are realistic and easy to implement.

26. Marie Kondō

Clear minds come from tidy homes according to Kondō’s Japanese-inspired volume. Her method of decluttering living spaces can inspire even the most offensive clutter-bug to revamp household organization to gain a more reflective and motivational living space.

27. Bob Burg

After rising to prominence with Endless Referrals, Burg collaborated with John David Mann on The Go Giver, a parable with the message that what one gives in business is more powerful than what one gets. In the end, Burg’s message is not that what one receives from others that facilitates success, but what one provides for or gives to others.

28. John David Mann

A serial collaborator, Mann’s name is connected with so many New York Times bestsellers that it takes an Amazon listing to sort through them all. An example of success himself, Mann weaves real-world examples into personal growth literature to show readers that they, too, may attain the goals they envision.

29. Greg Behrendt

A comedian and media consultant, Behrendt brings wit to personal growth literature with He’s Just Not That Into You. A new go-to for smart women struggling to understand the dating scene, the Behrendts take inspiration from an episode of Sex in the City (on which he consulted) to expose the behaviors of a man in love and explain how to enjoy being a single woman.

30. Tony Robbins

How could I not include Tony on this list??? I am sure you know who he is. I’ve been to many Tony Robbins events and they have been transformational in my life. His books will help you get unstuck, build a compelling vision for your future and give you the practical tools to go after it day after day.


  1. Ian Barnes

    How can you not have Tim Han, Amanda Frances,

  2. elvirephx

    Nice list, Ravi, however, I really think Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Bruce Lipton would have added some clout.

  3. SerendipAndMe

    Hi Ravi….cool list. There are some i haven’t heard of yet so i can learn some new ideas for sure. A few seem to be missing that i would count as sure shots…Wayne Dyer and Alan Watts.

  4. SerendipAndMe

    Hi Ravi….cool list. There are some i haven’t heard of yet so i can learn some new ideas for sure. A few seem to be missing that i would count as sure shots…Wayne Dyer and Alan Watts.

  5. LogoTrek

    Ravi, great list! Thanks. I am sure there are many more PD influencers out there, but most of these are the top of my list also.

    • Ravi Raman

      Thanks! Who are your favorites? Just curious…

  6. James Edwin Smith Jr

    Wonder how you came up with this list

    • Ravi Raman

      I primarily used internet searches + my personal opinion. If there is someone missing you think should be on the list, let me know!


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