Napoleon Hill

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Napoleon Hill
headshot of young man clad in white shirt, jacket and tie
Portrait Napoleon Hill, 1904
Born (1883-10-26)October 26, 1883
Pound, Virginia
Died November 8, 1970(1970-11-08) (aged 87)
South Carolina
Occupation Author, Journalist, Salesman, Lecturer
Citizenship American
Period 1928–1970
Genre Non-fiction, Self-help
Subject personal development, how-to, self-help, motivational, sales, finance, investment
Literary movement Self-help, Law of attraction (New Thought), New Thought
Notable works Think and Grow Rich
The Law of Success
Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude
Outwitting the Devil

Signature signature of Napoleon Hill

Literature portal

Napoleon Hill (October 26, 1883 – November 8, 1970) was an American author in the area of the new thought movement who was one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature.[1] His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich (1937), is one of the best-selling books of all time (at the time of Hill's death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold 20 million copies).[2] Hill's works examined the power of personal beliefs, and the role they play in personal success.[3][4] Most of his books described principles to achieve 'success'.

Life and works

Napoleon Hill was born in a one-room cabin near the Appalachian town of Pound, in Southwest Virginia.[5] Hill's mother died when he was nine years old, and his father remarried two years later. At the age of 13, Hill began writing as a "mountain reporter" for small-town newspapers in the area of Wise County, Virginia. He later used his earnings as a reporter to enter law school, but soon he had to withdraw for financial reasons.[6]

Influence of Andrew Carnegie

sitting portrait of distinguished-looking man with white hair and beard in suit and bowtie from 1913 period
Andrew Carnegie

Napoleon Hill considered the turning point in his life to have occurred in the year 1908 with his assignment, as part of a series of articles about famous and successful men, to interview the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. According to Hill's latter books, at the time of his meeting, Carnegie was one of the most powerful men in the world. Hill discovered that Carnegie believed that the process of success could be outlined in a simple formula that anyone would be able to understand and achieve. Impressed with Hill, Carnegie asked him if he was up to the task of putting together this information, to interview or analyze over 500 successful men and women, many of them millionaires, in order to discover and publish this formula for success.[7]

As part of his research, Hill wrote that he interviewed many of the most successful people of the time in the United States. In the acknowledgments section of his 1928 multi-volume work The Law of Success,[8] Hill listed 45 of those studied by him during the previous twenty years, "the majority of these men at close range, in person", like the three to whom the book set was dedicated, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Edwin C. Barnes, an associate of Thomas Edison. Carnegie had given Hill a letter of introduction to Ford,[9] who introduced Hill to Alexander Graham Bell, Elmer R. Gates, Thomas Edison, and Luther Burbank.[10] According to the publishers, Ralston University Press (Meriden, Conn.), endorsements for the publishing of The Law of Success were sent by a number of them, including William H. Taft, Cyrus H. K. Curtis, Thomas Edison, Luther Burbank, E.M. Statler, Edward W. Bok, and John D. Rockefeller.[9][10] The list in the acknowledgments also includes, among those of them personally interviewed by Hill,[10] Rufus A. Ayers, John Burroughs, Harvey Samuel Firestone, Elbert H. Gary, James J. Hill, George Safford Parker, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles M. Schwab, Frank A. Vanderlip, John Wanamaker, F. W. Woolworth, Daniel Thew Wright, and William Wrigley, Jr. Hill was also an advisor to two presidents of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[9][11]

Spiritual experiences

Napoleon Hill openly described his experiences with spirits that visited him, in Chapter 12 of his book, Grow Rich! With Peace of Mind (1967). He referred to them as unseen friends, unseen watchers, strange beings, and the Great School of Masters that had been watching him and maintain a school of wisdom. Hill states that the "Master" spoke to him audibly and revealed secrets and knowledge to him. Hill further relates that the Masters "can disembody themselves and travel instantly to any place they choose in order to acquire essential knowledge, or to give knowledge directly, by voice, to anyone else." Grow Rich! With Peace of Mind was heavily influenced by Hill's spiritual experiences; Hill refers to the "Master" by saying, "Much of what he said already has been presented to you in the chapters of this book or will follow in other chapters.."[12]

The Philosophy of Achievement

head shot of a man with head tilted and rested on the back of his right hand while reading a book
Napoleon Hill holding his book Think and Grow Rich

As a result of Hill's studies via Carnegie's introductions, the Philosophy of Achievement was offered as a formula for rags-to-riches success by Hill and Carnegie, published initially in 1928 as the multi-volume study course The Law of Success.[8] For this first edition, Hill had rewritten his previous 1925 manuscript,[9] also recently released in 2011.[13][14] The Achievement formula was detailed further and published in home-study courses, including the seventeen-volume "Mental Dynamite" series until 1941.

Hill later called his personal success teachings "The Philosophy of Achievement", and he considered freedom, democracy, capitalism, and harmony to be important contributing elements to this philosophy. Hill claimed throughout his writings that without these foundations upon which to build, successful personal achievements were not possible. He contrasted his philosophy with others' and thought that the Achievement Philosophy was superior. He felt that it was responsible for the success Americans enjoyed for the better part of two centuries. Negative emotions such as fear, selfishness, etc., had no part to play in his philosophy. Hill considered those emotions to be the source of failure for unsuccessful people.[15]

The secret of achievement was tantalizingly offered to readers of Think and Grow Rich, but Hill felt readers would benefit most if they discovered it for themselves. Although most readers feel that he never explicitly identified this secret, he offers these words about 20 pages into the book: If you truly desire money so keenly that your desire is an obsession, you will have no difficulty in convincing yourself that you will acquire it. The object is to want money, and to be so determined to have it that you convince yourself that you will have it. . . You may as well know, right here, that you can never have riches in great quantities unless you work yourself into a white heat of desire for money, and actually believe you will possess it. However, Napoleon Hill also states at the introduction that the secret that the 'canny, lovable old Scotsman carelessly tossed it into my mind' (Andrew Carnegie) was also the same secret that Manuel L. Quezon (then Resident Commissioner of the Philippine Islands) was inspired by to 'gain freedom for his people, and went on to lead them as its first president.' And although a burning desire for money is mentioned throughout the book, it would be both presumptuous and folly to presume it is this which is the secret that Hill refers to, especially since the 'secret' is far more effective if realized by the reader when they are ready for it. Napoleon Hill resolves the secret at the end of his book The Law of Success: it is The Golden Rule. Only by working harmoniously in co-operation with other individuals or groups of individuals and thus creating value and benefit for them will one create sustainable achievement for oneself.

He presented the idea of a "Definite Major Purpose" as a challenge to his readers in order to make them ask themselves, "In what do I truly believe?" According to Hill, 98% of people had few or no firm beliefs, and this alone put true success firmly out of their reach.[16]

On the most prominent stories told by Hill is about his own son, Blair. He tells how his son was an inspiration to him, because although Blair was born without ears, without any normal hearing organs at all, even though his doctor told Hill that his son would neither be able to hear nor speak, Blair grew up to be able to hear and speak almost normally. Hill tells how his son, in his last year of college, picked up the manuscript of chapter two of Think and Grow Rich, discovered Hill's secret for himself and went on to be an inspiration for hundreds and thousands of people who could not hear or speak.[17]

From 1952 to 1962, Hill taught his Philosophy of Personal Achievement – Lectures on "Science of Success" in association with W. Clement Stone.[18] In 1960, Hill and Stone co-authored the book, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude. Norman Vincent Peale stated "These two men [Hill and Stone] have the rare gift of inspiring and helping people...In fact, I owe them both a personal debt of gratitude for the helpful guidance I have received from their writings."[19]

Think and Grow Rich remains the top seller of Napoleon Hill's books – a perennial best-seller after 70 years (Business Week Magazine's Best-Seller List ranked Think and Grow Rich as the sixth best-selling paperback business book 70 years after it was first published).[20] Think and Grow Rich is listed in John C. Maxwell's A Lifetime "Must Read" Books List.[21]

Hill's numerous books have sold millions of copies, showing that the secret of achievement is still highly sought-after by many today. Hill dealt with many controversial subjects through his writings including racism, slavery, oppression, failure, revolution, war and poverty. Persevering and then succeeding in spite of these obstacles using the Philosophy of Achievement, Hill stated, was the responsibility of every human.[16]

Today's philosophy-of-success teachers still use the research formulas taught by Hill to expand their students' knowledge of personal development.[21]

Notable quotes

"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another." — Napoleon Hill[22]

"You can be anything you want to be, if only you believe with sufficient conviction and act in accordance with your faith; for whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve."


  • The Law of Success (1928)
  • The Magic Ladder To Success (1930)
  • Think and Grow Rich (1937)
  • Outwitting the Devil (1938)
  • How to Sell Your Way through Life (1939)
  • The Master-Key to Riches (1945)
  • How to Raise Your Own Salary (1953)
  • Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (with W.. Clement Stone )(1959)
  • Grow Rich!: With Peace of Mind (1967)
  • Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion (1970)
  • You Can Work Your Own Miracles (1971)

See also


  1. Briley, Richard Gaylord, 1995, The Seven Spiritual Secrets of Success, p. 151, Thomas Nelson Publishers, ISBN 0-7852-8083-9
  2. AP, November 10, 1970, 'Grow Rich' Author Dies
  3. Chang, Larry (2006). Wisdom for the Soul. Gnosophia Publishers. p. 514. ISBN 978-0-9773391-0-5. Retrieved 2014-09-10. 
  4. Hill, Napoleon (1937). Think and Grow Rich. Chicago, Illinois: Combined Registry Company. ISBN 1-60506-930-2. There is a similar quote regarding Thomas Edison on page 230. 
  5. About Napoleon Hill, The Napoleon Hill Foundation.
  6. Michael J. Ritt A Lifetime of Riches, p. 23, Dutton Book, 1995 ISBN 978-0-525-94146-0
  7. Hill, Napoleon (1937). Think and Grow Rich. Chicago, Illinois: Combined Registry Company. p. 8. ISBN 1-60506-930-2. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hill, Napoleon (1928). The Law of Success. Ralston University Press. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Ritt, Michael J.; Landers, Kirk (1995). A Lifetime of Riches: The Biography of Napoleon Hill. Dutton Book. ISBN 0525941460. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Hill, Napoleon (2010) [1939]. How to Sell Your Way Through Life. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0470541180. 
  11. Dennis Kimbro, Napoleon Hill (1992). Think and Grow Rich: a Black Choice. p. 6. Random House, Inc. ISBN 978-0-449-21998-0.
  12. Hill, Napoleon (1937). Think and Grow Rich. Chicago, Illinois: Combined Registry Company. ISBN 1-60506-930-2. 
  13. Hill, Napoleon (2011) [1925]. The Law of Success from the 1925 Manuscript Lessons. Vieux Publishing. ISBN 0578084910. 
  14. Napoleon Hill Foundation: About the "1925 Edition" of Law of Success
  15. Kearns, Brad (2008). How Tiger Does It. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-0-07-154564-8. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Hill, Napoleon (1937). Think and Grow Rich. Chicago, Illinois: Combined Registry Company. p. viii. ISBN 1-60506-930-2. 
  17. Hill, Napoleon (1937). Think and Grow Rich. Chicago, Illinois: Combined Registry Company. pp. 11, 52–63. ISBN 1-60506-930-2. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  18. Napoleon Hill Timeline – Napoleon Hill Foundation.
  19. Hill, Napoleon, Stone, W. Clement, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude [Back Cover] Pocket Books (1991) ISBN 0-671-74322-8
  20. The Business Week Best-Seller List, Business Week magazine, January 15, 2007
  21. 21.0 21.1 Maxwell, John A Lifetime "Must Read" Books List, March 2008
  22. Napoleon Hill's Keys to Success: The 17 Principles of Personal Achievement (1997)

External links