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Book Summary: Think and Grow Rich – The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

A great number of us wish for wealth and financial independence – but wishing alone isn’t going to help us achieve our goals. If we want to get rich and realize our dreams, we need to recognize a burning desire within us.

For instance, even after more than 10,000 failed experiments, Thomas Edison could not be shaken from his goal of inventing an electric light source. He was – plain and simple – driven by the desire to make his dream come true. And, after years of hard work, he did just that when he invented the light bulb.

Writer Fannie Hurst had a similar experience: she had to suffer over 36 rejections before a single one of her short stories was published in a newspaper. From then on, her career as a successful novelist and playwright took off. Her burning desire had proven stronger than the frustration she felt about being rejected – and she ultimately met with success.

Book Summary: Think and Grow Rich - The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

So it’s essential for those of us who want to be successful to examine our own personal attitude towards setting our goals and dreams.

How do we feel about our goals and dreams? Are they only castles in the sky? Or is our burning desire strong enough to make them come true one day?


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.


  • 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.

Goal setting and detailed planning are the basis of every achievement.

Every success story begins with people who know what they want to achieve.

So before you begin chasing after any old dream, you should start by defining your own personal goal as precisely as you can. For example, if you want to get rich, you should decide precisely how much money you want to make.

Additionally, you must have a clear understanding of when you want to achieve your goal and what you’re prepared to invest to accomplish it. Because setting a specific goal is pointless if it’s floating in some indeterminate future where you’ll only ever be able to pursue it halfheartedly.

It’s also important to come up with a plan that outlines every step you’ll need to take until the realization of your goal. And once you have a plan, get cracking! Don’t waste another minute.

The following method comes in handy if you want to make sure that your desire for success is anchored deeply enough in your own thoughts and actions. First, write down your goal and your detailed plan for achieving it. Then, read it aloud twice every day: once in the morning after you get up and once every night before going to bed.

Follow these recommendations and it’ll make it a lot easier for you to get rich – or make any other dream come true.

Successful people have an unwavering faith in themselves.

Having an unwavering faith in yourself is a way of making sure that you can – and will – achieve your goals.

You can only achieve success if it’s based on self-confidence and an unwavering faith in yourself: no wealth has ever been acquired, no faraway continents ever discovered, nothing ever invented without this faith as its basis.

One paradigmatic example of the power of faith was Mahatma Gandhi. Even without access to the typical instruments of power – like money or the military – he managed to defy British colonial power and lead his country to freedom. The only backing he had was his unbending belief that he could exercise an influence so great upon his fellow countrymen that they would stand up for their common goals.

Our own faith in ourselves has an enormous influence on our self-image and way of life. It can – in the truest sense of the word – help us move mountains.

By using auto-suggestion, our subconscious can influence our behavior.

Unwavering faith in yourself is not necessarily something you’re born with or that falls from the sky: anybody can develop it, bit by bit, through auto-suggestion.

Auto-suggestion describes a way of influencing yourself by thinking very specific and purposeful thoughts or ideas.

You can use it to convey certain commands or positive goals to your own subconsciousness and, in doing so, to increase your own belief in yourself.

In general, auto-suggestion consists of persuading yourself that: you can reach your goals; your thoughts can be transformed into reality and; you must go your own way with confidence.

The more you use auto-suggestion, the likelier it is that it will help you achieve success. If you impress your desires and goals in your unconsciousness, it will steer all your thoughts and actions towards making them come true.

Knowledge is power – but it doesn’t have to be what you learned in school.

Knowledge can make it a lot easier to achieve your aims in life. All you have to do is take a few basic points into consideration.

First of all, you need to take the “traditional” meaning of knowledge and education – and throw it out the window.

Because being knowledgeable or well-educated isn’t limited to having a high school diploma or university degree. “Uneducated” people can also know a heck of a lot, as Henry Ford clearly demonstrated. Although he didn’t make it to high school, it didn’t stop him from establishing an industrial empire and making millions.

If you want to be successful, you don’t need to stuff your head with too many facts – it is far more important to acquire the right experiences and knowledge, use your own strengths and fully exploit your own potential.

The most important basis is a willingness to continue learning throughout your life. Getting complacent is your worst enemy. Instead, you must always be ready to actively and pointedly expand your own knowledge. There are many different ways to achieve this – by going to university, attending evening courses or acquiring practical experiences.

Equally useful is the ability to know where you can find the knowledge you need, because you don’t need to know everything yourself.

Instead, you need to know who you can ask if you need to know something. It’s usually more practical and productive to be surrounded by a network of experts who share their specialized knowledge than to learn it all yourself.

The workshop of the imagination – where we can turn our dreams into reality.

Each and every success story begins with an idea. And behind each and every idea is the imagination. It is, essentially, the creative workshop of our minds that transforms our dreams into ideas and our ideas into reality.

This imaginative ability has two different forms: the creative imagination and the synthetic imagination.

By using our creative imagination, we are able to come up with completely new things. Ingenious composers, visual artists and writers use this function to create works unlike anything made before.

The synthetic imagination, by contrast, rearranges old ideas into new combinations. The developers at Sony, for example, were using that faculty when they decided to further develop the playback device or dictaphone used by journalists, turning it into a portable music player everybody could use – and so the Walkman was born.

Creative and synthetic imagination can play off one another in a productive way. Take the story of Asa Candler, who formed the global brand Coca-Cola out of a headache medication about 140 years ago. Although it wasn’t Candler himself who came up with the Coca-Cola recipe – he bought it from a pharmacist for $3,000 – he developed the ingenious plans and marketing strategies that turned the product into a huge success.

If you want to keep your imagination from getting sluggish, you need to challenge and encourage it. And you can achieve that by stimulating it, keeping it active and training it like a muscle: the more frequently you use it, the more productive and powerful it will become.

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses increases your chances of professional success.

One important building block for professional success is an awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses – in other words, being self-aware.

Since things like having vague goals, lacking ambition, procrastinating and lacking resolve are common reasons for failure, self-awareness can help to constructively take action against these weaknesses – or at least to balance them out with your strengths.

In order to be able to figure out exactly what your strengths and weaknesses are, it’s advisable to perform a thorough and honest self-analysis. Don’t worry – this doesn’t require going to a psychologist. It’s more than enough if you go through a checklist of questions, which should include: Have I achieved my aim for this year?; Was I always friendly, courteous and cooperative?; Did I make all decisions promptly and firmly?

Then you should compare your subjective self-analysis with somebody else’s objective evaluation of you. This works best when you sit down with a person who knows you really well to openly and honestly discuss your strengths and weaknesses.

Positive emotions are the key to a successful life – and need to be strengthened.

Our subconscious receives and stores sensory stimuli, feelings and thoughts. It saves everything we’ve ever experienced – regardless of whether it was positive or negative.

But saving information alone isn’t all there is to it: our subconscious is also constantly exercising its influence on our actions. It can shape us positively, endowing us with strength and enterprise, but it can also shape us negatively, misleading us into despondency and pessimism.

And so, if we want our subconscious to help us realize our desires and goals, we have to make sure that positive feelings play a leading role in our lives.

We must, therefore, “feed” our subconscious positive things because, if we do, it will act as a helpful and constructive guide. But if we allow ourselves to feel too many negative sensations, such as rage, hate, a desire for revenge or pessimism, the very opposite will occur.

That’s why you’ve taken a huge step when in everyday life you’re able to, for example, avoid contact with doom-saying windbags and pay no heed to their discouraging remarks.

Instead, you should make it a point to increase all positive impulses, such as enthusiasm and love. That’s the only way you’ll end up developing a positive mentality in the long term.

Successful people are remarkable for their determination and steadfastness.

The analysis of over 25,000 life stories of people who failed to achieve professional success shows that a lack of determination is the main reason for their failure.

The analysis of the success stories of multimillionaires revealed, by contrast, that they all had two characteristics in common: they were used to making split-second decisions and, once they made them, they stood firmly behind their decisions.

A certain degree of stubbornness – as long as it does not transform into a deaf obstinacy – can even be advantageous. Henry Ford, in particular, was known to stick to his decisions for a long time. For example, many people advised him to replace his famous – but not terribly beautiful – Model T with a new model. But he held on to the car for a long time and was thus able to continue bringing in sizeable profits with it.

Opinions are cheap: everybody has one and most people want to dispense them. In order to avoid running into the danger of negative influences and straining your own steadfastness, it makes sense to offer others as few opportunities as possible to express their critical opinions.

People who are disheartened in particular should therefore keep their plans and intentions to themselves and not confide in anybody else – except for the members of their hand-picked team or trustworthy outsiders.

Only the persistent will succeed.

Over the course of any project – regardless of its nature – we are all bound to encounter obstacles and difficulties. In such situations, most of us are too quick to give up our plans and let the project die. But there are a few people who, despite all the obstacles, stick to their original plans and give their dreams space to blossom into reality.

Persistence and endurance are key. That means, above all, that we work constantly on the realization of our goals and don’t lose sight of them. However, obstinacy and inveteracy should be avoided at all costs: if, say, there’s a dire need for a price correction, you also have to be willing to implement it.

If you want persistence and endurance to take root in your habits, here are four simple yet crucial rules:

You must have a concrete goal and develop a burning desire to achieve it.

You need a thorough and precise plan to support the implementation of your goals.

You may not allow yourself to be influenced by negative and disheartening opinions.

You need an intimate, trusting relationship to a person or a group that provides you with support and assistance.

Think of these rules as a special exercise program to help you build up your personal endurance and persistence.

Achieving great things requires being smart and surrounding yourself with smart people.

The bigger the goal, the more complex the planning; the more complex the planning, the more difficult the goal’s execution; the more difficult the execution, the more dependent the brains behind the project will be on the creative, intellectual and moral support of others.

This mutual backing works best in the form of a brain trust – a select group of intelligent people.

A brain trust is a union of like-minded people, which, contrary to a network – which is a more casual cooperation between partners – focuses on defining a common goal, developing competencies and having a system of checks and balances.

The most important principle of a brain trust is its synergistic effect: if two or more people who work well with one another combine their skills, talents, specialist knowledge, experiences, relationships and all other resources and use them to accomplish the same shared goal, the results will be more than just a sum of its parts: it’s a surplus with which you can achieve things you could have never achieved alone.


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.

The starting point of all achievement is desire.

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.


The main message of this book is:

Wealth – in whatever form – is seldom the result of luck or coincidence. Far from that, it’s almost always the result of different traits and skills that anyone can learn and acquire.

This book in book summary answers the following questions:

In this summary of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill,How can we find the right goals in life and how do we translate them into action?

  • We can only accomplish our aims in life if we are driven by a burning desire.
  • Goal setting and detailed planning are the basis of every achievement.
  • Successful people have an unwavering faith in themselves.
  • By using auto-suggestion, our subconscious can influence our behavior.

Which skills and knowledge are necessary for achieving success?

  • Knowledge is power – but it doesn’t have to be what you learned in school.
  • The workshop of the imagination – where we can turn our dreams into reality.
  • Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses increases your chances of professional success.
  • Positive emotions are the key to a successful life – and need to be strengthened.

What sort of approach do successful people take when realizing their goals?

  • Successful people are remarkable for their determination and steadfastness.
  • Only the persistent will succeed.
  • Achieving great things requires being smart and surrounding yourself with smart people.

About the author

Napoleon Hill was born in 1883. A former newspaper reporter, he studied law and worked for Andrew Carnegie, whose ideas are reflected in Think and Grow Rich. Hill advised numerous prominent people, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi and Thomas Edison.

Napoleon Hill was born in 1883 in Virginia and died in 1970 after a long and successful career as a lecturer, an author, and as a consultant to business leaders. Think and Grow Rich is the all-time bestseller in its field, having sold 15 million copies worldwide, and sets the standard for today’s motivational thinking.


Personal Development, Psychology, Currency, Economics, Personal Finance, Business, Philosophy, Entrepreneurship,  Success Self-Help, Motivational, Personal Transformation, Inspirational, Labor Law, Memory Improvement, Monetary Policy, Self-Improvement, Self-Esteem, Taoism

Table of Contents

  1. The power of thought
  2. Desire: The starting point of all achievement (The first step to riches)
  3. Faith: Visualising and believing in the attainment of desire (The second step to riches)
  4. Autosuggestion: The medium for influencing the subconscious mind (The third step to riches)
  5. Specialised knowledge: Personal experiences or observations (The fourth step to riches)
  6. Imagination: The workshop of the mind (The fifth step to riches)
  7. Organised planning: The crystallisation of desire into action (The sixth step to riches)
  8. Decision: The mastery of procrastination (The seventh step to riches)
  9. Persistence: The sustained effort necessary to induce faith (The eighth step to riches)
  10. Power of the master mind: The driving force (The ninth step to riches)
  11. The mystery of sex transmutation (The tenth step to riches)
  12. The subconscious mind: The connecting link (The eleventh step to riches)
  13. The brain: A broadcasting and receiving station for thought (The twelfth step to riches)
  14. The sixth sense: The door to the temple of wisdom (The thirteenth step to riches)
  15. How to outwit the six ghosts of fear (Clearing the brain for riches)
  16. The devil’s workshop (The seventh basic evil).


Think and Grow Rich has been called the “Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature.” It was the first book to boldly ask, “What makes a winner?” The man who asked and listened for the answer, Napoleon Hill, is now counted in the top ranks of the world’s winners himself.

The most famous of all teachers of success spent “a fortune and the better part of a lifetime of effort” to produce the “Law of Success” philosophy that forms the basis of his books and that is so powerfully summarized in this one.

In the original Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937, Hill draws on stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate his principles. In the updated version, Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D., a nationally known author, lecturer, and consultant in human resources management and an expert in applying Hill’s thought, deftly interweaves anecdotes of how contemporary millionaires and billionaires, such as Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, Dave Thomas, and Sir John Templeton, achieved their wealth. Outmoded or arcane terminology and examples are faithfully refreshed to preclude any stumbling blocks to a new generation of readers.


“During the past twenty-five years I have been blessed with more good fortune than any individual deserves but I shudder to think where I’d be today, or what I’d be doing if I had not been exposed to Napoleon Hill’s philosophy. It changed my life.” – Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

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In every chapter of this book, mention has been made of the money-making secret which has made fortunes for more than five hundred exceedingly wealthy men whom I have carefully analyzed over a long period of years.

The secret was brought to my attention by Andrew Carnegie, more than a quarter of a century ago. The canny, lovable old Scotsman carelessly tossed it into my mind, when I was but a boy. Then he sat back in his chair, with a merry twinkle in his eyes, and watched carefully to see if I had brains enough to understand the full significance of what he had said to me.

When he saw that I had grasped the idea, he asked if I would be willing to spend twenty years or more, preparing myself to take it to the world, to men and women who, without the secret, might go through life as failures. I said I would, and with Mr. Carnegie’s cooperation, I have kept my promise.

This book contains the secret, after having been put to a practical test by thousands of people, in almost every walk of life. It was Mr. Carnegie’s idea that the magic formula, which gave him a stupendous fortune, ought to be placed within reach of people who do not have time to investigate how men make money, and it was his hope that I might test and demonstrate the soundness of the formula through the experience of men and women in every calling. He believed the formula should be taught in all public schools and colleges, and expressed the opinion that if it were properly taught it would so revolutionize the entire educational system that the time spent in school could be reduced to less than half.

His experience with Charles M. Schwab, and other young men of Mr. Schwab’s type, convinced Mr. Carnegie that much of that which is taught in the schools is of no value whatsoever in connection with the business of earning a living or accumulating riches. He had arrived at this decision, because he had taken into his business one young man after another, many of them with but little schooling, and by coaching them in the use of this formula, developed in them rare leadership. Moreover, his coaching made fortunes for everyone of them who followed his instructions.

In the chapter on Faith, you will read the astounding story of the organization of the giant United States Steel Corporation, as it was conceived and carried out by one of the young men through whom Mr. Carnegie proved that his formula will work for all who are ready for it. This single application of the secret, by that young man— Charles M. Schwab— made him a huge fortune in both money and OPPORTUNITY. Roughly speaking, this particular application of the formula was worth six hundred million dollars.

These facts— and they are facts well known to almost everyone who knew Mr. Carnegie— give you a fair idea of what the reading of this book may bring to you, provided you KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT YOU WANT.

Even before it had undergone twenty years of practical testing, the secret was passed on to more than one hundred thousand men and women who have used it for their personal benefit, as Mr. Carnegie planned that they should. Some have made fortunes with it. Others have used it successfully in creating harmony in their homes.

A clergyman used it so effectively that it brought him an income of upwards of $75,000.00 a year.
Arthur Nash, a Cincinnati tailor, used his near-bankrupt business as a “guinea pig” on which to test the formula. The business came to life and made a fortune for its owners. It is still thriving, although Mr. Nash has gone.

The experiment was so unique that newspapers and magazines, gave it more than a million dollars’ worth of laudatory publicity.

The secret was passed on to Stuart Austin Wier, of Dallas, Texas. He was ready for it—so ready that he gave up his profession and studied law. Did he succeed? That story is told too. I gave the secret to Jennings Randolph, the day he graduated from College, and he has used it so successfully that he is now serving his third term as a Member of Congress, with an excellent opportunity to keep on using it until it carries him to the White House.

While serving as Advertising Manager of the LaSalle Extension University, when it was little more than a name, I had the privilege of seeing J. G. Chapline, President of the University, use the formula so effectively that he has since made the La-Salle one of the great extension schools of the country.

The secret to which I refer has been mentioned no fewer than a hundred times, throughout this book. It has not been directly named, for it seems to work more successfully when it is merely uncovered and left in sight, where THOSE WHO ARE READY, and SEARCHING FOR IT, may pick it up. That is why Mr. Carnegie tossed it to me so quietly, without giving me its specific name.

If you are READY to put it to use, you will recognize this secret at least once in every chapter. I wish I might feel privileged to tell you how you will know if you are ready, but that would deprive you of much of the benefit you will receive when you make the discovery in your own way.

While this book was being written, my own son, who was then finishing the last year of his college work, picked up the manuscript of chapter two, read it, and discovered the secret for himself. He used the information so effectively that he went directly into a responsible position at a beginning salary greater than the average man ever earns. His story has been briefly described in chapter two. When you read it, perhaps you will dismiss any feeling you may have had, at the beginning of the book, that it promised too much. And, too, if you have ever been discouraged, if you have had difficulties to surmount which took the very soul out of you, if you have tried and failed, if you were ever handicapped by illness or physical affliction, this story of my son’s discovery and use of the Carnegie formula may prove to be the oasis in the Desert of Lost Hope, for which you have been searching.

This secret was extensively used by President Woodrow Wilson, during the World War. It was passed on to every soldier who fought in the war, carefully wrapped in the training received before going to the front. President Wilson told me it was a strong factor in raising the funds needed for the war.

Early in the 20th century, Manuel L. Quezon (then Resident Commissioner of the Philippine Islands), was inspired by the secret to gain freedom for his people. He has gained freedom for the Philippines, and is the first President of the free state.

A peculiar thing about this secret is that those who once acquire it and use it, find themselves literally swept on to success, with but little effort, and they never again submit to failure! If you doubt this, study the names of those who have used it, wherever they have been mentioned, check their records for yourself, and be convinced.

There is no such thing as SOMETHING FOR NOTHING!

The secret to which I refer cannot be had without a price, although the price is far less than its value. It cannot be had at any price by those who are not intentionally searching for it. It cannot be given away, it cannot be purchased for money, for the reason that it comes in two parts. One part is already in possession of those who are ready for it.

The secret serves equally well, all who are ready for it. Education has nothing to do with it. Long before I was born, the secret had found its way into the possession of Thomas A. Edison, and he used it so intelligently that he became the world’s leading inventor, although he had but three months of schooling.

The secret was passed on to a business associate of Mr. Edison. He used it so effectively that, although he was then making only $12,000 a year, he accumulated a great fortune, and retired from active business while still a young man. You will find his story at the beginning of the first chapter. It should convince you that riches are not beyond your reach, that you can still be what you wish to be, that money, fame, recognition and happiness can be had by all who are ready and determined to have these blessings.

How do I know these things? You should have the answer before you finish this book. You may find it in the very first chapter, or on the last page.

While I was performing the twenty year task of research, which I had undertaken at Mr. Carnegie’s request, I analyzed hundreds of well known men, many of whom admitted that they had accumulated their vast fortunes through the aid of the Carnegie secret; among these men were:


These names represent but a small fraction of the hundreds of well known Americans whose achievements, financially and otherwise, prove that those who understand and apply the Carnegie secret, reach high stations in life. I have never known anyone who was inspired to use the secret, who did not achieve noteworthy success in his chosen calling. I have never known any person to distinguish himself, or to accumulate riches of any consequence, without possession of the secret. From these two facts I draw the conclusion that the secret is more important, as a part of the knowledge essential for self-determination, than any which one receives through what is popularly known as “education.”

What is EDUCATION, anyway? This has been answered in full detail. As far as schooling is concerned, many of these men had very little. John Wanamaker once told me that what little schooling he had, he acquired in very much the same manner as a modern locomotive takes on water, by “scooping it up as it runs.” Henry Ford never reached high school, let alone college. I am not attempting to minimize the value of schooling, but I am trying to express my earnest belief that those who master and apply the secret will reach high stations, accumulate riches, and bargain with life on their own terms, even if their schooling has been meager.

Somewhere, as you read, the secret to which I refer will jump from the page and stand boldly before you, IF YOU ARE READY FOR IT! When it appears, you will recognize it. Whether you receive the sign in the first or the last chapter, stop for a moment when it presents itself, and raise your glass to toast your epiphany.

Chapter One tells the story of my very dear friend, who has generously acknowledged having seen the mystic sign, and whose business achievements are evidence enough that he turned down a glass. As you read his story, and the others, remember that they deal with the important problems of life, such as all men experience. The problems arising from one’s endeavor to earn a living, to find hope, courage, contentment and peace of mind; to accumulate riches and to enjoy freedom of body and spirit.

Remember, too, as you go through the book, that it deals with facts and not with fiction, its purpose being to convey a great universal truth through which all who are READY may learn, not only WHAT TO DO, BUT ALSO HOW TO DO IT! and receive, as well, THE NEEDED STIMULUS TO MAKE A START.

As a final word of preparation, before you begin the first chapter, may I offer one brief suggestion which may provide a clue by which the Carnegie secret may be recognized? It is this—ALL ACHIEVEMENT, ALL EARNED RICHES, HAVE THEIR BEGINNING IN AN IDEA! If you are ready for the secret, you already possess one half of it, therefore, you will readily recognize the other half the moment it reaches your mind.

Napoleon Hill, 1937