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Summary: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Key Takeaways

  • Introduction: Do you want to learn the secrets of success and wealth from the most successful people in history? If so, you need to read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, the classic self-help book that has changed the lives of millions of people.
  • To find out more about the 13 principles of success and how to apply them to your own life, read the full summary and review of Think and Grow Rich below.

Written in the midst of the Great Depression, Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” is one of the most successful and influential self-help books of all time. According to Hill, your mind is the only thing that stands between you and the riches you desire. In this book summary, you’ll learn how to orient your mind toward the attainment of your goals, so you can think and grow rich.

Control your thoughts; control your life.


  • Need inspiration to stop moping and do something with your life
  • Enjoy learning about the popular psychology of yesteryear
  • Are really into visualization and magnetism


Napoleon Hill, author of this 1930s classic, will remind you of an older, wiser, slightly wacky uncle who advises you about careers, life and love. This book is a wonderful collection of tips – many based on the ideas of Hill’s mentor Andrew Carnegie – that range from the practical (how to prepare a résumé) to surprisingly New Age-like mystical talk about the infinite powers of the universe. Of course, like an old uncle, Hill can get long-winded and repetitive at times, but since he packs so much wisdom into his slender book, you will want to re-read it over and over, repetitions and all. His classic compendium will interest anyone who is dangling from the career ladder and wondering how to prosper.

Book Summary: Think and Grow Rich


  • Your thoughts are a secret wealth generator.
  • Desire, hopes and strategies increase wealth.
  • Develop faith in your ability to succeed by telling yourself that you will triumph.
  • You don’t need higher education to earn higher degrees of knowledge and wealth.
  • Create vivid mental portraits of your success. Imagination is the “workshop of the mind.”
  • To maximize your abilities, work with a great team. Make it your “master mind.”
  • Don’t let short-term failure seduce you. Success often lurks in the shadows.
  • Remain committed to your goals and your mission statement
  • Nothing beats a mix of passion and discipline.
  • You can mold and tap into your mind’s deepest chambers.


The human mind often gets in the way of human success. Too many people fill their minds with self-defeating beliefs and give up at the first sign of challenge or defeat. But you needn’t operate this way. By channeling your desire, your emotions, and your knowledge toward the attainment of wealth, you can think and grow rich.

Keep in mind these key aspects of growing rich:

  1. Desire: All great achievements start with a burning, intense desire.
  2. Faith: To make plans toward your wealth, you must have faith in yourself.
  3. Auto-suggestion: By repeating affirmations, you can increase your faith in yourself.
  4. Specialized knowledge: To succeed wildly, you need to have more specialized knowledge than anyone in your field.
  5. Imagination: Imagination is what turns your desire into plans.
  6. Power: Power is organized effort — a group of people working harmoniously toward one goal.
  7. Decision: The most successful people make quick decisions based on predetermined values.
  8. Emotion: Emotions — especially sexual emotion — create the energy you need to carry your plans through to completion.

Desire: The Starting Point of All Achievement

The essential ingredient to success is an intense, burning desire to succeed. You can create money consciousness by practicing the following six steps:

  1. Choose the exact amount of money you wish to possess.
  2. Decide what you’re going to give in return for that amount of money.
  3. Set the exact date at which you will possess that amount.
  4. Design a detailed plan for how you’re going to acquire your wealth.
  5. Write out that plan.
  6. Read that plan aloud to yourself twice daily. As you read, visualize yourself with that money and see yourself already in possession of it. By doing so, you’ll orient your brain toward your success.

On the way to riches, you must be open-minded to new ideas and never let anyone discourage you from your path. Perhaps your dream is far-fetched; so was Thomas Edison’s when he foresaw a world that ran on electricity. Fuel your own desire, set yourself on your path, and prepare yourself to receive the wealth you desire.

Faith: Visualization of, and Belief in, Attainment of Desire

It’s possible to induce a feeling of faith even if you don’t naturally possess it. The key is repeating affirmations to yourself. As you repeat affirming thoughts to yourself, you’ll begin to believe them, even if you believe they’re unmerited or unrealistic at first. These affirmations will affect your subconsciousness, which in turn will guide your actions toward wealth.

There are five insights to increase your faith in yourself:

  1. You have the ability to achieve your purpose and can demand of yourself that you take action toward it.
  2. Your thoughts become actions. Therefore, it is crucial that you spend 30 minutes each day focusing on thoughts that lead to your goals.
  3. Any thought that you consistently repeat to yourself will eventually be realized.
  4. You must know and write down your exact aim in life and never stop trying to achieve it.
  5. Any goal you set for yourself must be right and just, or it won’t be sustainable in the long term.

Repeat these insights to yourself aloud, daily.

If you doubt yourself at all, remember that even Abraham Lincoln failed repeatedly for the first four decades of his life. Only through persistent effort did he reach the legal and political success he achieved in his forties.

Auto-Suggestion: The Medium for Influencing the Subconscious Mind

Auto-suggestion is self-communication, the repetition of affirmations that will lead you to adopt a wealth-oriented mindset. Whatever negative thoughts you possess in your head right now, you possess because you repeated them to yourself so consistently that you adopted them as your beliefs. Likewise, you can repeat new thoughts to yourself until you believe them, too. Remember, you have control over your own mind.

The key to auto-suggestion is to intentionally mix these new thoughts with emotion through visualization. To revisit Abraham Lincoln: Part of what led to his success late in life was his love for Mary Todd, who would one day become his wife. His love for her motivated him to adopt new ways of thinking and new strategies for success. Without a strong emotion tied to your new thoughts, you won’t be as motivated to act upon them.

Specialized Knowledge: Personal Experience or Observation

The organization and application of your knowledge will be key to your success. Many people have knowledge but don’t organize it into a plan they can execute. Your desire on its own isn’t enough — this is why, earlier, you were asked to describe the exact price you would pay for wealth and design a plan by which you would acquire it.

Specifically, you need specialized knowledge of a product, service, or profession. In fact, you need much more specialized knowledge than anyone else in your field. Take Warren Buffett as an example. Early in his career, investors were consistently impressed with how much more he knew about their businesses than anyone else would have bothered to learn. His deep well of specialized knowledge was what gained their confidence.

Knowledge in itself isn’t power; well-organized, highly specialized knowledge is power. Whether you gain specialization through your experience, a school, a network, a library, or training courses, you must acquire as much specialized knowledge as possible in your field.

Imagination: The Workshop of the Mind

A human being’s limits and freedoms are determined by one thing alone: their imagination.

There are two kinds of imagination: synthetic and creative. Synthetic imagination consists of arranging preexisting concepts and applying them in new ways to new fields or new problems. Creative imagination, on the other hand, produces entirely new ideas. Creative imagination is automatic and involuntary and is most productive when the rest of the brain is energetic. This is where hunches and inspiration arise.

You’ll need your imagination running at full capacity to create your plans. By writing out your plan, you will have created something entirely new — something that didn’t exist before. In the end, your imagination will turn your desire into physical action.

Organized Planning: The Crystallization of Desire into Action

There are four steps to take to bring your plan into concrete reality:

  1. Decide what benefits you can offer people who want to help you succeed in return for their help.
  2. Surround yourself with a large number of capable and intelligent people who want to help you carry out your plan. This is your “Master Mind” group.
  3. Meet with your Master Mind group at least twice a week until you have perfected your plan.
  4. Maintain good relationships with these people at all costs; one soured relationship can lead to failure.

Decision: The Mastery of Procrastination

The most successful people in the world are in the habit of making decisions quickly and changing them slowly — if they ever change them at all. To make quick decisions, you need to have a set of personal principles in place on which you can rely in any situation. Do not let anyone else’s opinions sway you from this set of principles; it will only delay your decision-making, not improve it. These principles are the antidote to procrastination.

Persistence: The Sustained Effort Necessary to Induce Faith

The foundation of persistence is willpower. Most people give up on their goals as soon as they face opposition or obstacles, but persistence and willpower are what separate the most successful people from others. Howard Schultz, the longtime CEO of Starbucks, was rejected by hundreds of investors before he raised enough money to expand the business. Persistence and willpower built his empire.

To build your persistence, cut yourself off from all discouraging influences in your life and surround yourself with those who encourage and have faith in you. Your Master Mind group is crucial to building your persistence.

Power of the Master Mind: The Driving Force

Power is organized effort. When you can coordinate others toward your own goals, you have true power. Organized effort is what turns your desire into monetary wealth. You’ll organize your efforts through your Master Mind group.

The Master Mind group has two features: one economic and one psychic.

  • The economic benefit of a Master Mind group is that it provides you with more knowledge and energy with which to accelerate your plans toward completion.
  • The psychic benefit of the Master Mind group is that, by combining the energies of many minds, a sort of third mind arises that embodies the whole group.

For just one example of this phenomenon, consider the Second Continental Congress, who, by working together to draft the Declaration of Independence, created an entirely new entity: the United States of America.

The Mystery of Sex: Transmutation

You’ve learned that thoughts must be mixed with emotion to be effective. The most powerful emotion is sex. There is no more potent energy in the world. Sex is so deeply ingrained in the human psyche because, without it, the human race would not exist. Sex creates a wellspring of energy that you can transmute into organized effort toward your wealth — if it’s used correctly.

Most people spend their early lives wasting their sexual emotion on the act of intercourse itself. It’s not until their forties or fifties that they truly achieve anything great because they’ve thrown away too much of their effort on sexual congress. While the appetite for the sex act declines, the amount of sexual energy does not — it’s merely channeled toward greater purposes. If you’re young, use your sexual energy to bring your mind to a higher state of vibration. It is the true road to genius.

The Brain: A Broadcasting and Receiving Station for Thought

The way in which the “third mind” is created in the Master Mind group is by vibration. Thought vibrations at a very high rate — like that caused by the emotion of sex — are carried from one brain to another. The brain, then, acts like a broadcasting device.

Not only does your brain transmit a broadcast to others, but your brain also becomes more open to others’ thoughts and ideas, fueling your creative imagination. This is where the power of auto-suggestion multiplies. When you’ve filled your mind with affirming beliefs, you can broadcast your ideas to others while better using the creative imagination to make your plans.


Your thoughts are a secret wealth generator.

When author Napoleon Hill “was but a boy,” his mentor, Andrew Carnegie, the legendary corporate leader, shared his secret wealth-generating formula with him and challenged him to create a book that would explain this secret approach.

During Hill’s 20-year journey to fulfill that challenge, he studied the habits and philosophies of hundreds of corporate stars. This honor roll includes Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, F. W. Woolworth and many other household names who built large fortunes based on Carnegie’s wisdom. It begins with this simple idea: Your thoughts are real objects! With passion and purpose, your thoughts can evolve into wealth.

“One comes, finally, to believe whatever one repeats to one’s self, whether the statement be true or false…Every man is what he is because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind.”

Edwin C. Barnes demonstrates this principle. Barnes – an impoverished “nobody” – passionately wanted to launch a partnership with Thomas Edison, the great inventor. Barnes did not know Edison and could barely afford transportation to Edison’s office. At their initial encounter, Edison said Barnes looked like an “ordinary tramp.” But behind that rundown appearance, Edison detected a spark of promise and determination that prompted him to offer Barnes a low-paying job. Barnes seized this unexpected opportunity. Naysayers had rejected the “Edison Dictating Machine,” but Barnes had faith in it. He used it as a vehicle to launch his successful partnership with Edison. Barnes created material success from abstract thoughts, based on faith, determination and persistence.

Desire, hopes and strategies increase wealth.

If your goal is to become rich, don’t just wish for your dreams to come true. Desire is “the starting point of all achievement,” but to bring it to fruition, commit yourself to executing a plan to attain your objective. To create wealth from desire, follow this six-step plan:

  1. Take a mental snapshot of the amount of money you seek. Name a number.
  2. Name your price. What are you willing to do for the money?
  3. Create a deadline. Fix a date by which you will achieve your goals.
  4. Start a task sheet with a definite strategy. Start now.
  5. Write a brief mission statement.
  6. Make a declaration: Twice a day, read your mission statement aloud.

Dreams are not just thin air. Edison had far-fetched dreams of inventing an electrical lamp. He created thousands of failed prototypes before succeeding. While others stayed on the ground, the Wright brothers envisioned a flying machine.

“I believe in the power of desire backed by faith, because I have seen this power lift men from lowly beginnings to places of power and wealth.”

Other dreamers have overcome major obstacles. Beethoven composed music despite his deafness; Milton, the writer, was blind. Author Helen Keller was blind and deaf. But lit by the fire of desire, they worked on their goals and achieved epic greatness.

Develop faith in your ability to succeed by telling yourself that you will triumph.

Faith is the “visualization of and belief in the attainment of desire.” With the right tools, you can fill the fertile field of your mind with success or failure. Recite your mission statement daily to prepare your mind for success. This process, called “autosuggestion,” sows the seeds of mental success. It works because your mind will believe almost anything (true or not) that you tell yourself repeatedly. Dangerous thoughts also can take root in the mind-field. Doubt, fear and negative emotions can blight your success and uproot the fruits of your labor.

“Faith is the starting point of all accumulation of riches.”

Autosuggestion is a dose of self-talk delivered to your subconscious mind via your five senses, the roadways from your conscious mind to your unconsciousness. Be warned that this conduit does not work if you operate on automatic pilot. Feel the message. Jumping from printed words to passionate feelings is not easy. Make the leap by focusing on a fixed item. Close your eyes. Create a mental snapshot of the money you want to earn. View it daily.

To visualize your goals, use the six steps above in tandem with this three-stage program:

  1. Retreat to a quiet location with freedom from distractions – Find a peaceful environment for daily renewal, review and recitation of your goals. Create mindful pictures of monetary success, possessions and achievement. Visualize your date with success. Be specific: On July 4, 2011, I will celebrate my financial independence.
  2. Take a daily double dose of faith – Apply this program every morning and evening. Don’t stop until you achieve your financial goal.
  3. Look at your mission statement twice daily – Seeing is believing. Read your mission statement first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

You don’t need higher education to earn higher degrees of knowledge and wealth.

Knowledge is just numbers, facts and insights. But through organization and planning, facts can assume great power. Harness that power to create wealth. So-called “formal knowledge” is not the last word in education. Many wealthy people spent little time in traditional classrooms, but had rich experiences. Edison went to school for only three months. Yet, through specialization, organization and networking, he gained the power of a well-educated mind.

“It takes more than a college degree to make one a person of education.”

Specialization is organized knowledge applied to a specific purpose. Gain this practical know-how from apprenticeships, night schools and other targeted training programs.

Create vivid mental portraits of your success. Imagination is the “workshop of the mind.”

Imagination operates on two playing fields. “Synthetic imagination” arranges existing ideas, concepts and strategies into novel formats. “Creative imagination” bridges the definitive mind of man and the borderless universe of “infinite intelligence,” the land of gut feelings and hunches. The top performers in business, music, art and literature operate in the domain of creative imagination, fueled by desire and faith. Your imagination is a muscle. Work it, develop it and create a written plan to convert airy dreams into concrete wealth. Constantly review your plan. Repetition works.

“Dreams are not born of indifference, laziness or lack of ambition.”

For a perfect demonstration of the fiscal power of the imagination, heed the legend of the “Enchanted Kettle.” Many decades ago, a country doctor drove his horse-drawn carriage to a small town. While in town, he debated the merits of his plain kettle with a young sales clerk. After a 60-minute discussion, the visionary young man gave the doctor his entire nest egg, $500, to buy the kettle and a secret formula the doctor wrote on a piece of paper. With that formula, a plan and imagination, sales clerk Asa Candler created Coca-Cola.

To maximize your abilities, work with a great team. Make it your “master mind.”

To develop your success, you need the right team. Do not skip this stage. Take these steps:

  • Surround yourself with “master mind” allies. Cultivate a support team. Employ your talents and resources to help them and invite them to assist you.
  • Fine-tune your plan with regular support group meetings.
  • Establish harmony with each member of the group.

The mind has many layers. When a group works together, the energy of their combined individual thoughts, ideas and plans becomes a powerful driving force. Consider the humble battery. A single electric battery has power, but the electricity of several batteries easily overshadows its force. Multiply your brainpower by tapping into the infinite wisdom of the group mind, a master mind far greater than the mental powers of each individual.

Don’t let short-term failure seduce you. Success often lurks in the shadows.

Don’t accept failure. If your initial plan fails, adopt a new strategy and persist. Identify attractive opportunities. Study the field, the company and the individuals involved. Inventory your talents and skills. Write a detailed strategy for achieving the right job. Target the appropriate channels and people. Make your résumé concise, thoughtful, relevant and neat. Know your marketplace value.

“Success requires no explanation. Failure permits no alibis.”

Nurture success by avoiding the symptoms of failed leadership, which include: failure to structure details; inability to perform humble tasks; insecurity; absence of imagination; lack of discipline and trust; over-reliance on force and authority; selfishness; and insistence on titles and honor.

Remain committed to your goals and your mission.

Procrastination, a top cause of failure, is your enemy. Successful leaders make quick, meaningful decisions. Being decisive gives you “mastery over procrastination.” Consider the advice and insights of your support group. Avoid anyone who undercuts your drive. Dodge the trap of public opinion by revealing your plans only to your small circle of advisers. When you indiscriminately broadcast your strategies, ideas and goals, you lessen your chances of success. Keep quiet; keep the faith.

Sadly, many people surrender their dreams at the first hint of difficulty or failure. Don’t be a magnet for poverty. Avoid a “poor consciousness” in which negative feelings become self-fulfilling. End the cycle of poverty by creating and believing in a “wealth consciousness.” Everyone falls into doubt, disbelief and depression, but you can liberate yourself via perseverance, “the sustained effort necessary to induce faith.” Keep moving even if you must go slower. No one climbs great mountains without sliding off a few trails.

Nothing beats a mix of passion and discipline.

Sexual desire, when properly applied, is a powerful stimulant for success, wealth and creativity. You need passion to succeed in art, science or commerce. This passion enhances your sensitivity to the “infinite wisdom of the universe,” and the tiny whispers of insight from your gut. History is filled with people who were pushed to greatness by lust or love. Napoleon Bonaparte’s great campaigns were largely due to the inspiration of Josephine, his first wife. Sexual energy fueled William Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson. But most men do not succeed before age 40 because it takes at least four decades to understand and harness the creative force of sexual energy. Through discipline, planning and willpower, sexual energy transcends the body, and generates success and creativity.

You can mold and tap into your mind’s deepest chambers.

Your subconscious is a “connecting link” that operates outside of your controlled thoughts. Use autosuggestion and planning to employ your subconscious mind. Repeat affirmations. Stay in the moment. Shun negative thoughts. Cultivate faith, desire, sex, love, energy, hope and romance. Avoid jealousy, fear, greed, revenge, anger and hatred. Remember the power of prayer.

Your brain is a unique “broadcasting and receiving station for thought,” like a radio station that transmits and receives signals. Learn to listen to the “intangible forces” in your life. These forces – gravity, electricity, thunder and other elements – surround you. Use faith to stimulate your mind and reach your goals. Believe in the power of thought and belief.

“Life is a checkerboard and the player opposite you is time. If you hesitate before moving, or neglect to move promptly, your men will be wiped off the board by time. You are playing against a partner who will not tolerate indecision.”

The sixth sense, “the door to the temple of wisdom,” is the direct connection between your subconscious mind and the infinite light of the universe. This link represents the home of your creative imagination, intuition and premonitions. Use this force to bring you wealth, success and creativity. Constantly repeat and review your goals; let the universe deliver insight to your subconscious mind.

Don’t be hampered by the “six basic fears”: fear of being poor, fear of reproach, fear of becoming sick, fear of being unloved, fear of getting old and fear of dying. Avoid fretting, dwelling on destructive thoughts and don’t let negativity sway you. The power of your thoughts gives you mastery and can give you money, as well.


Your mind is the only thing that stands between you and the riches you desire. Insofar as you have control over the information you repeat to yourself, the beliefs that you choose, and the values upon which you base decisions, you have the power to actualize your desires into monetary gain. Remember these key elements of growing rich:

  1. Desire: All great achievements start with a burning, intense desire.
  2. Faith: To make plans toward your wealth, you must have faith in yourself.
  3. Auto-suggestion: By repeating affirmations, you can increase your faith in yourself.
  4. Specialized knowledge: To succeed wildly, you need to have more specialized knowledge than anyone in your field.
  5. Imagination: Imagination is what turns your desire into plans.
  6. Power: Power is organized effort — a group of people working harmoniously toward one goal.
  7. Decision: The most successful people make quick decisions based on predetermined values.
  8. Emotion: Emotions — especially sexual emotion — create the energy you need to carry your plans through to completion.

About the author

Napoleon Hill was one of the first American self-help authors. Think and Grow Rich is one of the bestselling self-help books of all time. He also wrote The Law of Success and Outwitting the Devil.


Self-help, Personal development, Success, Wealth, Motivation, Psychology, Business, Entrepreneurship, Philosophy, Spirituality


Think and Grow Rich is a classic self-help book by Napoleon Hill, first published in 1937. The book reveals the secrets of success that Hill learned from interviewing over 500 of the most affluent men and women of his time. The book is based on the premise that thoughts are things, and that by aligning your thoughts with your desires, you can attract riches and achieve your goals.

The book outlines 13 principles of success that anyone can apply to their life. These principles are:

  • Desire: The starting point of all achievement. You must have a burning desire for your goal and a definite plan to attain it.
  • Faith: The second step to riches. You must have complete faith in yourself and your ability to achieve your goal.
  • Auto-suggestion: The medium for influencing the subconscious mind. You must use positive affirmations and visualization to program your mind for success.
  • Specialized knowledge: The fourth step to riches. You must acquire the knowledge and skills that are necessary for your chosen field of endeavor.
  • Imagination: The workshop of the mind. You must use your imagination to create new ideas and solutions for your problems.
  • Organized planning: The crystallization of desire into action. You must have a clear and detailed plan of action and execute it with persistence and determination.
  • Decision: The mastery of procrastination. You must be decisive and act on your decisions without delay or doubt.
  • Persistence: The sustained effort necessary to induce faith. You must overcome any obstacles or difficulties that may arise and keep moving forward until you succeed.
  • The power of the master mind: The driving force. You must form a group of like-minded people who can support you and cooperate with you in achieving your goal.
  • The mystery of sex transmutation: The tenth step to riches. You must channel your sexual energy into creative and productive activities that will enhance your performance and charisma.
  • The subconscious mind: The connecting link. You must use your subconscious mind to access your intuition, inspiration, and infinite intelligence.
  • The brain: A broadcasting and receiving station for thought. You must use your brain to send and receive thoughts and vibrations that are in harmony with your goal.
  • The sixth sense: The door to the temple of wisdom. You must develop your sixth sense, which is the faculty of creative imagination, to receive guidance and insight from your higher self.

Think and Grow Rich is a timeless and practical guide for anyone who wants to achieve success and wealth in any field of endeavor. The book is not only about money, but also about personal development, happiness, and fulfillment. The book is full of inspiring stories, examples, and exercises that will help you apply the principles to your own life.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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