top of page
  • Writer's pictureLiz W.

Review of The ONE Thing By Gary Keller

Intro to the Review

We have all had that experience of enthusiastically starting a new book only to realize partway through that it's not what we were expecting. The purpose of the following review is not to judge whether the book is "good" or "bad." The goal is to help you decide whether or not it is a good book for you.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Does it seem like the content covered in this book aligns with what I was expecting to find?

  • Is the main problem addressed in this book similar to my own goal of what I would like to learn from it?

  • Is the style and format written in a way that will not hinder my ability to get the most value from this book?

  • Am I the intended audience for this book?

If after reading the review you can answer yes to all these questions, this book is the right fit for you. If not, well, there are plenty more books out there just waiting for you to read them.

The ONE Thing

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Gary Keller

240 Pages - 2013 Ⓒ Bard Press

“It is not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do. It is that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.”

Author Background

Gary Keller is the founder and chairman of the board for Keller Williams Realty. He is one of the most influential leaders in the real estate industry. His other books focus on the real estate industry and they include: The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, and SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times.

You can find his professional bio on the Keller Williams website here.

You can find a podcast for The ONE Thing on Apple Podcasts and elsewhere.

There are many official corresponding resources that go with this book here.

What Problem Does This Book Attempt To Address?

The main divide separating those who are successful from those who are not is their strategy for attaining success. The goal of this book is to teach the reader a superior strategy. In The ONE Thing, Keller makes the argument that when you prioritize your tasks correctly, you are choosing the ONE Thing that will set you on the path to success each day. The book covers the what, why and how of the ONE Thing method.


  • Concept explanation: Clear, cumulative

  • Related stories: Average

  • Data references and studies: A few

  • Charts and graphics: Many

  • Practical application: Strong

This book is organized into three parts The first section is focused on the things we do every day that we may not realize are hurting our chances of becoming successful. Each chapter discusses one “lie” of success and includes what it is, why it is a lie, and what the better alternative is. The second section explains what the ONE Thing method is, how it works, why it works, and how to do it. The third section is about making the most of the ONE Thing method. It discusses purpose, meaning, and commitment, among other things.

The content progression is fantastic. It starts by setting up why the reader should care – the reasons you aren’t achieving the success you want now. Then it provides a solution – the ONE Thing method. Last, it sets the reader up for success by connecting on a human level, not seeing a person simply as a productivity machine that can accurately recreate a new method, if you would only type in the right code. A large portion of the book is spent developing meaning, establishing a purpose, giving advice on how to deal with setbacks, and addressing other road blocks someone may experience when first adjusting to the ONE Thing method. You can tell the author really cares about helping people be successful when switch to using this productivity strategy.

One shortcoming of this book is that there are a lot sentences that sound profound on first glance, but feel very shallow and showy. The first time I read this book I got the impression that there wasn’t much there and that it was filled with sentences just to make the audience feel good as a substitute for substance. But then I read it again. The substance is there. The value is there. Don’t let yourself get distracted. If you are a Kindle user, glance through the popular highlights and you will see this happens to the majority of people. There is nothing inherently wrong with adding sentences that give a sense of gravitas to your readers. But when used too frequently, it primes the casual reader to skim past everything else. If you decide to read the book, be aware of this and catch yourself if you start jumping past the real substance.

The other content factors support the main purpose of the book well. There are many hand-drawn graphics and charts that correspond with both concepts and practical application. This gives the book a truly unique feel. The stories in the book are mainly about people who created large impactful change or made big discoveries. There are not many “everyday hero” stories, aside from some experiences the author shares from his own life. There are references where necessary but it is not the focus of the book. All in all, everything feels like it fits with the tone, topic, and purpose of the book.

Writing Style & Presentation

  • Tone: Upbeat

  • Organization: Excellent

  • Flow: Average

The tone of this book is definitely upbeat and positive. You will almost certainly feel good after reading it. This is an optimistic book about how anyone can be successful given the right tools, and that tone permeates throughout. The organization is excellent. The placement of each of the three parts was very well thought out and is a strength of this book. The flow is perfectly adequate. You won’t notice it, which is a good thing. Going with many shorter chapters, and keeping it confined to one topic per chapter makes the information digestible and easy to remember.

Bringing It all Together

One thing done really well: The hand-drawn illustrations and graphics really give a unique touch to the book. They are a helpful and enjoyable addition to the text.

One thing that could be better: Using fewer showy sentences would help to keep readers from being distracted away from value information.

One main thing I took away from this book was: Success is achieved by taking the right action today. Asking the right questions will lead you to the right ONE action to send you on the path to success.

Overall Recommendation

Who I would recommend this book for: People who are struggling with overwhelm and feeling like there is not enough time in the day.

Who I wouldn’t recommend this book for: Students may find it more difficult to adapt this method to a schedule that requires juggling many equally important priorities (i.e. multiple classes) at once. Though I’m sure with some creativity you could figure it out.


Enhance Your Reading by Using a Workbook

If you have decided this book is a good fit for you, I have created a workbook to help you get the most value from reading it. Here is a small sample of the material contained in the workbook.

Your workbook will include:

  • Pre-reading questions

  • Chapter discussion questions with space for writing answers

  • Space to write your own summary for each chapter

  • Vocabulary words with space to write definitions and add words

  • Key terms with space to write definitions and add words

  • Chapter reflection questions

  • Final reflection questions

  • A condensed list of all discussion questions and vocabulary for reference

  • Reflection pages for writing thoughts and ideas

Discussion Question Preview

Below you will find a small sample of the discussion questions provided for every chapter of this book.

Key Terms Preview

  • Benchmark

  • Channel interference

  • Counterbalance

Vocabulary List Preview

Beget: (v.) To cause to exist or occur; produce.

Pervasive: (adj.) To be present throughout; permeate:

Surpass: (v.) To pass or exceed in degree or quality

... download the workbook for the full lists!

Where to Find the Workbook

All available workbooks can be found on Amazon and are free to Kindle Unlimited members.

You can find this particular workbook by clicking here.

Your Feedback is Appreciated!

Are you a student? A teacher? A manager? A parent? Why did you decide to use a workbook and did it help you get more from the book you were reading? Please share your experience so I can continue to make these workbooks a valuable resource to you and others.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Sign up for the monthly newsletter for updates on new releases

If you like this post, please share it with someone you think would enjoy it too!!


bottom of page