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One of my favorite books is “Acres of Diamonds,” by Russell Conwell. Although it was first published in 1890, the lessons it covers prove just as true today as when Conwell first presented them more than a century ago.

At its heart is the parable of a wealthy man named Ali Hafed who lived near the Indus River in present-day Iraq. Hafed was “contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because he was contented.”

But all that changed one day when he was told about diamonds and their immense value. Determined to find the diamonds he’d heard about, he sold his farm and left his family to go in search of them. In the end, however, he was unable to find any, and he threw himself into the sea, penniless and exhausted.

Meanwhile, the man who bought his farm discovered a sparkling stone in a stream on the land. The stone turned out to be a diamond; Hafed’s farm was on top of a diamond mine all along.

Here are five lessons from Conwell’s story that will help us unearth the diamonds beneath our feet:

  1. Opportunity is in your backyard. Many of us believe that in order to be successful, we have to do extraordinary things. In reality, you just have to know where to look. Start with where you are and what you have. Find the best in what’s around you and believe in the great opportunities available on your doorstep. We often overlook the real value of something because we’re familiar with it, so we must retrain ourselves to look and think about the familiar in new ways.
  1. Build relationships. A century ago, Americans believed the American Dream no longer existed. Business leaders complained to Conwell that they couldn’t succeed and build wealth in their own town. Conwell asked them about the relationships they’d nurtured and whether they knew who their neighbors were and what they wanted or needed. Everything you need to succeed in business and life comes from who you already know. Relationships are at the heart of success; therefore, you must invest in the relationships closest to you.
  1. Pay attention. Pay close attention to what your customer wants. Many businesses fail because we assume we know what our clients need instead of asking them or observing their needs. Conwell said, “We must know what the world needs first, then invest ourselves to supply that need, and success is almost certain.”
  1. Money is not the root of all evil. When you achieve success, people may make judgments about your character or criticize you, wondering, “Can you be rich and still be a good person?” Of course you can! In fact, according to Conwell, you can do more good with money than without it. When you achieve wealth and success, do some good in the world.
  1. Greatness is found everywhere. According to Conwell, “Greatness consists not in the holding of some future office, but in doing great deeds with little means, and the accomplishment of vast purposes from the private ranks of life.” If you want to achieve greatness, begin with who and where you are.

Buffini_Brian_60x60Brian Buffini was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to San Diego in 1986, where he became the classic American rags to riches story. After becoming one of the nation’s top REALTORS®, he founded Buffini & Company, an organization dedicated to sharing his powerful lead-generation systems with others. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Buffini & Company has trained over 3 million business professionals in 37 countries and currently coaches more than 25,000 business people across North America. Today, Brian’s a New York Times best-selling author and reaches over 1 million listeners a year through his popular “Brian Buffini Show” podcast. For more information, pick up a copy of his latest book “The Emigrant Edge,” or visit

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