Best-Selling Self-Help Author Dr. Spencer Johnson Dies

Author of “Who Moved My Cheese?” and self-help phenomenon died Monday

Spencer Johnson’s executive assistant Nancy Casey stated that Dr. Johnson died Monday due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Johnson was the author of “Who Moved My Cheese?”, a 94-page story about how to embrace change derived from a motivational story he used to tell at parties and during speeches.

Dr. Johnson was originally a medical doctor but turned to writing children’s stories, his first hit story being “The One Minute Manager” in 1982 which he co-authored.

The book, published in 1998, has sold over 25 million copies. The story features two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two humans, shrunk down to mouse-size (Hem and Haw) in a maze.

Haw, one of the humans, refuses to go out in search of cheese elsewhere in the maze, instead returning to the last place food was previously located at.

Over the course of the story, Haw manages to search in new places for food. Dr. Johnson wrote, “When you stop being afraid, you feel good!”

The story that made Johnson’s career and impacted people all over the world

The president of Johnson’s publisher, Ivan Held, said of the story: “Spencer built a fable that helps people deal with change in a really accessible way.”

Upon publication, the book blew up. Quotes from “Who Moved My Cheese?” were used during speeches, at parties, and at motivational seminars.

“The One Minute Manager” was equally popular, initially self-published but eventually circulating at conventions. Dr. Johnson co-wrote it with Ken Blanchard.

The book offers three simple techniques to be an effective leader, offering one-minute goals, praise, and reprimands.

When the book was picked up by a publisher, it went on to sell 15 million copies. To this day, Blanchard continues to make a career off the book, updating it and writing spin-offs.