Au­thor of 1998’s Who Moved My Cheese?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS -

ENCINITAS, Calif. — Dr. Spencer John­son, whose book Who Moved My Cheese? sold 25 mil­lion copies and be­came a busi­ness and self-help phe­nom­e­non, has died.

John­son’s ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant Nancy Casey said Satur­day that he died Mon­day of com­pli­ca­tions from pan­cre­atic can­cer in the San Diego-area city of Encinitas. He was 78. Who Moved My Cheese?

was a slim, 94-page fa­ble on the need to em­brace change that was de­rived from a story John­son had told at par­ties and used in speeches.

Pub­lished in 1998, it fea­tured two mice — Sniff and Scurry — and two tiny hu­mans — Hem and Haw — and was set in a maze. The ti­tle is a quote from one of the hu­mans, who can’t ac­cept that he needs to seek out food in new places, in­stead re­turn­ing to the same place for it re­peat­edly.

Even­tu­ally, Haw learns to leave his place of com­fort in search of cheese.

“Be­fore long, he knew why he felt good,” John­son wrote. “He stopped to write again on the wall: ‘When you stop be­ing afraid, you feel good!’”

The book be­came a cul­tural con­stant in the late 1990s. It ap­peared in the front win­dows of air­port book­stores, was end­lessly quoted in grad­u­a­tion ad­dresses and mo­ti­va­tional sem­i­nars, and was the go-to gift for Fa­ther’s Day. Par­ody ver­sions soon be­gan pop­ping up.

“Spencer built a fa­ble that helps peo­ple deal with change in a re­ally ac­ces­si­ble way,” Ivan Held, pres­i­dent of G.P. Put­nam Sons at Pen­guin Group USA, John­son’s pub­lisher, said in a state­ment.

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