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About Napoleon Hill - Author of "Think & Grow Rich!"

Updated on June 25, 2007

Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill, a biography of the author of "Think & Grow Rich"

Napoleon Hill, the renowned author of the best-selling book "Think and Grow Rich", is regarded as a cult figure by any American writer involved in writing books on the subject of success in personal life. Napoleon Hill went through a tumultuous childhood - he was born in a small, one-room shanty in West Virginia in the year 1883. At the tender age of 10, his mother passed away, and by the time he was 13, circumstances had forced him to take up a job as a reporter for local and regional newspapers. When Napoleon turned 25, Lady Luck smiled widely at him - when during the course of a series of interviews on business magnates, he interviewed the distinguished industrial magnate Andrew Carnegie. At that time, Carnegie was a huge name and the media often used to measure his personal fortune as a percentage of the American GDP!

Carnegie had embraced the thought that with a little bit of endeavor even the common man could easily unlock the key to the secret of personal success - he considered that achieving personal success was quite simple and required primarily loads of common sense. During the interview with Napoleon Hill, Carnegie got so impressed by his hard work and commitment that he gave him an assignment - Napoleon was asked to interview 500 America's rich and famous people and find out what was it about their personality that made them successful. Carnegie armed Napoleon with his personal letters of introduction to these rich and famous people. What followed was 20 years of interviewing, but it were these interviews and their analyses that changed the way Napoleon looked at life. Both he and Carnegie referred to the interviews' results as the "Philosophy of Achievement", and both men were of the opinion that even the common man, if he knew what it was about personality that made men successful, could easily find success on his own strength and by tweaking and fine-tuning his personality.

In the year 1928, the critical information from the "Philosophy of Achievement" was distilled into an epic masterpiece entitled "The Law of Success". The book was a huge success and its doctrine was adopted by many home study courses, which included the Mental Dynamite series that was published in the midst of World War II. Napoleon Hill's bestseller, "Think And Grow Rich", was the outcome of putting together the thoughts and ideas from these two personality research works, "The Philosophy of Achievement" and "The Law Of Success".

After the end of World War II, Hill authored a number of books dealing with sales techniques, and personal and professional growth. For almost 10 years, Hill was employed with the Combined Insurance Company of America as a paid instructor and motivational speaker. During the course of his job, Hill worked upon and developed further his theories for another book of his, "Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude". This book was a collaborative effort by Hill and a self-made billionaire, W. Clement Stone, who too was of the opinion that personal success could be achieved by sporting a positive mental attitude.

Hill, who was a prolific writer, went on to author many motivational books that laid emphasis on strategizing and achieving personal goals, how to look ahead and secure a solid future for oneself and on his thirteen principles of success. Hill was also a publisher - his own media house published a few books written by him. In 1960, Hill released the second edition of his book "Think And Grow Rich", which was a reworked and slimmed-down version of the original. Hill was a multifaceted man - a circumstantial entrepreneur who turned into a writer and then to an influential advisor to many American millionaires as well as to Presidents! He breathed his last in 1970, and his last book "You Can Work Your Own Miracles" was published after his death.

Hill, a self-made man, believed in the power of self-confidence and had an unwavering faith in religion. He drove home these qualities throughout his life in every role he played - writer, teacher and advisor. Hill was a religious man and his religious faith made a deep-rooted impact on him: He was of the opinion that only those people who firmly believed that there was a supreme power guiding them would be open to the thoughts and ideas propounded by "Philosophy of Achievement". In fact, Hill very vaguely touched upon this "religion and faith" issue in many of his books, including his bestseller, "Think And Grow Rich". His critics rejected this line of thinking and also dismissed his other belief that "only those who were ready for the "Law of Achievement" would be able to discern it".

Hill's work is mostly about laying down personal targets and goals and about foreseeing success while being rooted in the present. Hill also believed that the positive attitude emanating from a group of positive-thinking individuals would be much greater than the sum of their individual positive attitudes. Hill had reached this conclusion after analyzing all the interviews he had conducted with American millionaires, most of whom were industrial tycoons - every millionaire that Hill interviewed stated that they tasted success only after they saw opportunities and found like-minded people who worked with them and helped them realize their goals. So, the millionaires did not become millionaires merely because they worked hard - they became millionaires only when they hooked up with people who thought on similar lines as they did. Associating with such people gave these millionaires the courage and inspiration to head boldly towards their goals.

Hill also places a lot of emphasis on the role of adversity in the path to glory. According to Hill, it is not possible to achieve greatness easily - you have to work hard at it along with right-minded people and eliminate the adversities that come in the way. Born to a poor family, Hill came up the hard way and fought his way up and that is why he did not have any sympathy for anyone who did not recognize opportunities and work towards grabbing them. He also believed that education and learning were different - he equated learning to "learning from real life", and that if anyone has to learn from life then he has to go out and actually get going, make mistakes and come out trumps. Just like all the business magnates and millionaires that he interviewed did.

Hill's work had an impact on many personal-success and motivational writers such as Zig Zeigler, Dale Carnegie and Harold Robbins. In fact, Hill's body of work has been redeveloped by Bob Proctor and brought out as a DVD entitled "The Secret". This work reformulates Hill's "Law Of Success" as the "Law Of Attraction". Proctor's version of Hill's work has once again caught the imagination of scores of Americans and has led to a renewed interest in Napoleon Hill's original works.

Think & Grow Rich! by Napoleon Hill ...

It can be said that Napoleon Hill is the original architect of the "how to achieve personal success" books in the publishing history of America. Napoleon Hill's success story as a prolific writer began at just 13 years of age, when circumstances forced him to take up a job of a reporter for local weekly newspapers. It was during an interview with the man of steel - Andrew Carnegie - that Lady Luck winked and smiled at Napoleon Hill. Carnegie, impressed with Hill's dedication and thought process, assigned Hill had to interview 500 of America's top business magnates and find out what it was about their personality that made them so successful. It took Hill about 20 years to complete the interviews and what followed is a part of the stuff legends are made of - Hill and Carnegie analyzed the results of the interviews and distilled their core thoughts into two best-selling books, "The Laws Of Success", which came first, followed by "Think And Grow Rich". Hill's book "Think And Grow Rich" was first published in 1937; since then it has never gone out of print. This book is like the Bible for the American "motivational self-help" publishing industry.

"Think And Grow Rich" is truly a unique book in the sense that it provokes the reader to think and motivate himself to seek out what it is about his personality that needs to be tweaked. The book is so powerful that the reader is compelled to question his current existence and line of thought, and then work towards a solution to his current "personality problem". Hill does not describe Carnegie's formula for success in detail - he merely refers to it in every chapter, thereby getting the reader's curiosity. And there is a line of thinking that has gone into this - Hill always believed that the Carnegie formula could not be mastered by just reading it, it had to come from within the reader. If the reader already has the power to generate an idea and possesses a sound spiritual connection, then the solution he is so desperately seeking for will strike him in a flash as he flips through the various chapters of the book and gets inspired by the success stories of the American business magnates. "Think And Grow Rich" is a book based on a rich body of knowledge that will inspire and provoke the reader into getting the right idea and building a path leading straight to success.

"Think And Grow Rich" is a very cleverly written book. Each example is tied to a line of thinking and every chapter spurs the reader on. The book is cleverly crafted into thought-provoking chapter titles such as: Desire (The starting point of all achievements), Faith (Visualization of and belief in attainment of desire), Auto Suggestion (The medium for influencing the subconscious mind), and so on - indeed, these are very powerful words that play on the readers' mind long after he has finished reading the book. However, the medical terminology in the book is now dated, but that is a mere scratch on its surface.

"Think And Grow Rich" teaches you lessons that successful businessmen had learnt from life. It teaches you how to overcome adversity, the importance of planning, the belief and power of oneself, and the importance of not quitting even though the chips are down. Clever axioms such as "Failing to plan is planning to fail", "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve" and "A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits" play on the readers mind and egg him on to at least start believing in himself.

When the reader begins thinking and dissecting these axioms in conjunction with the real life stories and examples of the millionaire industrialists, he begins to compare the personality traits of these successful individuals and draw out the wisdom from the pattern that emerges. The reader, after he is through with the book, will realize that positive thinking is the key to success and that America is a land of opportunities, which one must keep looking for and exploit to one's own advantage.

The book also expounds that wealth alone does not spell success - it has to be accompanied by inner peace, harmony, personal satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment of purpose. Wealth is an incidental byproduct of achievement dropped on the way during the process of "working to grow rich". The book also underlines the fact that if a person lives a hand-to-mouth existence, then it is difficult to lead a satisfying life.

"Think and Grow Rich" teaches the reader the importance of planning and the value of finding a group of like-minded people to help you execute your plans. Napoleon Hill and all the business magnates whom he interviewed were like-minded too - in their opinion, plans could be executed with relative ease and even hard targets could be achieved provided that focused, like-minded enthusiastic people carried out the tasks. In other words, "if someone does not think like you do, when it comes to business, don't be with that person".

The book also underscores the importance of setting goals, making important decisions and executing them even though the outcome may be harsh. It also tells the reader that ultimately he is responsible for his own actions and he must not lay the blame on anyone else if he faces failure. The book then goes on to say that failures are very much a part and parcel of business and no businessman should dwell upon them - in fact, the book says that a person must learn from his mistakes and failures. The book also explains that failures can happen if there is a flaw in the vision, plan or the mission, or if a situation has not been exploited adequately.

Napoleon Hill was a deeply religious Christian, and his religious slant is visible throughout the book. The book says that the path to fortunes is laced with a whole lot of challenges that a man needs to face; and a man will be able to face these challenges only if he has an unwavering faith in God. Examples of such circumstances are: hard work, adversity and relations with workers, partners and family. If a person has firm faith in God, he will do the right things; and if he does the right things in life, he will tread on the right path that would lead him to pinnacle of success provided he has set his goals clearly and has belief in himself.

To sum up, "Think and Grow Rich" is still relevant in today's fast-paced world - a world where man keeps changing technology faster than they change their pants. It provides counseling on how to take a re-look at life and turn it around, how to get a grip on one's life, how to turn adversities into opportunities, and teaches the importance of being spiritual while walking on the road to success. "Think And Grow Rich" is a magnificent motivational book and is sure to prove enduringly useful to its readers.

I have found a web site offering a Free copy of 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill here.


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