Self-help guru Bob Proctor lived to teach others to succeed

A high school dropout who grew up during the Great Depression, Bob Proctor became a New York Times bestselling author, world-renowned success coach and self-help sage.

Through a half-century of teachings, which references the pseudoscientific concept of Law of Attraction – suggesting that positive thinking can shape reality – Bob changed millions of lives, says his brother, Al Proctor. “Bob taught people about who they are, why they behave the way they do, and how to change that conditioning,” he says. “And as good a teacher as he was, he was an even better man.”

Proctor often spoke about how to build wealth, but his son says it was never about money. “Bob saw importance in the wealth of achievement, not in financial wealth,” says Ray Proctor. “Money was simply the easiest yardstick by which to measure achievement. He never demonstrated any desire to hang onto financial wealth. Once his needs were met, he shared his wealth or spent it to further his objective of sharing his teachings around the world. ”

This, he did with ease. “Bob had a knack for being able to take complicated concepts, break them down and explain them in a way everyone could understand,” says Gina Hayden, his personal assistant to him of 35 years.

The middle child of Norman Proctor, a boiler engineer, and his wife Marguerite, Robert Corlett Proctor was born in Owen Sound, Ontario. In 1944, Marguerite moved Bob and his siblings, Helen and Al, to Toronto, where she bought a home on Silver Birch Avenue in the Beach and began working at a munitions plant.

It was the Great Depression and money was tight. “Bob would tell stories of our mom putting cardboard in our shoes so that they’d last despite the holes in the soles,” says Al. When Bob was 12, he told his mother that one of the families down the street couldn’t buy coal to heat their homes. With barely enough money to make ends meet, she placed $10, half of her weekly salary from her, in Bob’s hand from her and told him to give it to her family. That act of generosity impacted Bob so deeply, Al says, it became one of his hallmark traits of him.

Growing up, Bob had a poor self-image, says Al. “He hung around with the wrong crowd, the older boys. He would come home late. He didn’t like school and never did homework.” Following his graduation from Balmy Beach Public School, Bob attended Danforth Tech in 1948 with plans to pursue a trade, but dropped out in Grade 9 after injuring himself with a bandsaw.

Still Bob was curious, ambitious, and had a tremendous work ethic. “He would hang out at the grocery store at the top of Silver Birch Avenue and help patrons with their groceries and they would tip him,” says Bob’s sister, Helen Brindley. He also delivered newspapers, shoveled snow, cut grass, and painted houses.

It was after Bob began working as a firefighter at 24, that family friend Ray Stanford introduced him to Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich.” “The book suggested that if you could find the secret in the book, you could have anything you wanted,” says Bob’s son Brian Proctor. “That intrigued Bob.”

Determined he would do “anything that was moral to make money, Bob thought, ‘Floors need to be cleaned, I’ll clean them,’” says Brian. Bob founded his one-man commercial cleaning company, Janitorial Development, in 1961.

I have found success – a little too much of it. “He became so busy doing it by himself, he passed out on the street,” says Al. “When he awoke, he was surrounded by the ambulance attendants and police. He determined right then and there, if he couldn’t clean all the offices, he wouldn’t clean any.” Applying concepts from Hill’s book, Bob went into management and hired cleaners, motivating them by showing them how they could get what they wanted. “While in Bob’s employ, the workers were receiving what was really Bob’s earliest days in teaching what he’d been learning,” says Al. “He was teaching them about who they were and what they were capable of.”

Over the next few years, his company expanded to include offices in Canada, the US and the UK. He eventually sold it in the mid-1960s to move to Chicago to work as vice president of sales alongside Earl Nightingale, radio host of “Our Changing World” and author of the motivational book “The Strangest Secret.”

With the belief that people can think their way into any result they desire – thus moving beyond perceived limitations – Bob taught that a positive self-image was critical to success, and that through personal development, people could achieve other goals in life. Bob was “a product of the product,” says his wife Linda Proctor, “he was teaching principles that had changed his own life, drastically.”

He also proved to be an engaging speaker. “Whether he was talking to you one on one, or to a room full of 1,000 people, he was talking to you about you,” says his son Ray.

Two events helped Bob reach an even larger audience. In 2006, his work was spotlighted in the documentary feature “The Secret,” in which writer Rhonda Byrne interviewed authors and philosophers about their methods for a happy and successful life. He was also featured in Byrne’s book of the same title, which has sold 30 million copies. In 2013, Bob and Seattle-based attorney Sandy Gallagher launched the Proctor Gallagher Institute, which offers personal-development programs.

For 60 years, Bob – who wrote books including “You Were Born Rich” (1984), “The Art of Living” (2015), “The ABCs of Success” (2018) and “Change Your Paradigm, Change Your Results” ( 2021) – brought his teachings around the world. Through it all, he remained “a regular guy,” says Al. “He liked to watch basketball, football and golf.”

Work took him on the road 150 days a year, but he loved spending time with Linda, whom he married in Toronto in 1983; and his children of him with his first wife of him, Dorothy: Brian (born 1961), Colleen (1964) and Raymond (1966). The grandfather of 11 and great-grandfather of five would gather the extended family at his Thornhill home – where he and Linda lived since 1984. The grandchildren, says Linda, would often drop in and sit in the “summer office” – what Bob called the table by the outdoor pool – to chat.

Not even the pandemic could stop him. He was in the middle of speaking engagements when COVID hit, including one for an audience of 7,000 in London, England. “He was working / teaching two weeks before he passed,” says Hayden, his assistant to him. “He didn’t like the idea of ​​retiring. The word withdraw means to withdraw from – that just was n’t in his personality from him.

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