Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn was born in Yakima, Washington, to Emanuel and Clara Rohn. The Rohns owned and worked a farm in Caldwell, Idaho, where Jim grew up as an only child.
Rohn started his professional life by working as a stock clerk for Sears. Around this time, a friend invited him to a lecture given by entrepreneur John Earl Shoaff. In 1955, Rohn joined AbundaVita and became a distributor of the company’s product line.
In 1957, Rohn resigned his distributorship with AbundaVita and joined Nutri-Bio. It was at this point that the company’s founders, including Shoaff, started to mentor him. After this mentorship, Rohn built one of the largest organizations in the company. In 1960 when Nutri-Bio expanded into Canada, Shoaff and the other founders selected Rohn as a Vice President for the organization due to his performance.
When Nutri-Bio went out of business in the early 1960s, Rohn was forced to seek other opportunities. He was invited by a friend of the family to come and tell his story to his rotary club. He accepted and, soon, others began asking him to speak at various luncheons and other events. In 1963 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he gave his first public seminar. He then began presenting seminars all over the country, telling his story and teaching his personal development philosophy. In 1966, a friend and fellow ex-Nutri-Bio distributor started a company and hired Rohn to host recruiting and training meetings.
Throughout the 1970s, Rohn conducted a number of seminars for Standard Oil. At the same time, he participated in a personal development business called “Adventures in Achievement”, which featured both live seminars as well as personal development workshops. He presented seminars worldwide for more than 40 years.
Rohn mentored Mark R. Hughes founder of Herbalife International and Tony Robbins in the late 1970s. Others who credit Rohn for his influence on their careers include authors Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup book series), author/lecturer Brian Tracy, motivational speaker Chris Widener, and T. Harv Eker. Widener’s book Twelve Pillars was co-authored with Rohn.
Rohn was the recipient of the 1985 National Speakers Association CPAE Award for excellence in speaking. He is also the author of 17 different written, audio, and video media.