|Born: February 15, 1888|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died: November 27, 1981 (aged 93)|
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|May 21, 1910, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 13, 1910, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||6|
Life and career
He played Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1910 under the name Frank Betcher. He started out his career playing for Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the Tri-State League. While there, he was demoted. Disappointed, he asked the manager why he was demoted. The manager responded that he lacked enthusiasm. Bettger told the manager: "I'm just trying to hide my nervousness." The manager advised: "Try something else. That's not working." From that moment on, he played with vigorous enthusiasm and worked his way up to the majors with St. Louis, until his baseball career was cut short by an arm injury.
After his brief baseball career, Bettger returned to his native Philadelphia, where he started collecting accounts for a furniture store on a bike. He then started selling life insurance for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania but was not initially successful, and considered quitting after 10 months. During a moment of reflection, he remembered what his baseball manager told him about his lack of enthusiasm. So he made a commitment to himself to start acting enthusiastically in his insurance presentations.
He also met a successful salesman and took his advice to read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. A light went on in his mind when he realized that Franklin's Socratic method of asking "key" questions might work with selling policies. He tried it, it worked, and Bettger began to perfect his technique with great enthusiasm.
Writer and lecturer
After succeeding in life insurance sales and becoming Top Salesman for 20 years with Fidelity Mutual, he met Dale Carnegie. Carnegie encouraged Bettger to write his first best-selling books: How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling and How I Multiplied My Income and Happiness in Selling. How I Raised Myself... was translated into over a dozen languages, including British English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Schwedisch. Bettger also gave a series of lectures to Jaycees organizations nationwide with Dale Carnegie.
Frank Bettger wrote a last book, entitled How I Learned the Secrets of Success in Selling, in 1960. The book focused on his life and lessons he learned during his short baseball career, and reflected how those lessons learned at an early age helped mold him into the success he became.
Bettger held insurance policies that would have benefited his wife after he died, but he lived into his 90s. Consequently, he and his wife outlived their assets. Members of the National Speakers Association contributed to help the couple meet their financial needs. After Frank died, Mrs. Bettger repaid the money from insurance proceeds. The money was then put into a fund dedicated to others in need, thus providing the original funding for the Professional Speakers Benefit Fund (PSBF). The mission of the PSBF is to help other members who may be indigent, face catastrophic health emergencies or losses, or outlive their assets.
In popular culture
In the Mad Men season 6 episode, "A Tale of Two Cities", enthusiastic account man Bob Benson is shown listening to a recording of Bettger's first book and later taking actions that earn him increased responsibilities. The book is also referenced in Whit Stillman's Barcelona as one of the books utilized by one of the main characters, a salesman.
- Bettger, Frank (June 1952). How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Prentice Hall Trade. ISBN 0133994023.
- Bettger, Frank (1966). How I Multiplied My Income and Happiness in Selling. Prentice-Hall, Inc. ASIN B001T8FASY.
- National Speakers Association website Archived 2006-12-17 at the Wayback Machine