Napoleon Hill (1883 – 1970) is widely considered to be one of the greatest writers of personal-success literature. His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich (1937), is one of the best-selling books of all time.
At the time of his death in 1970, it had sold 20 million copies. Current sales are over 60 million copies. In 2007, Business Week Magazine ranked it as the sixth best-selling paperback business book (70 years after it was first published).
Hill’s works examined the power of personal beliefs, and the role they play in personal success. “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” is one of his most famous quotes. How achievement actually occurs and providing a formula for success that the average person can understand, are the focal points of his books.
Napoleon Hill was born in a one-room cabin in the Appalachian town of Pound in Southwest Virginia. His mother died when he was ten 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. He later used his earnings as a reporter to enter law school, but eventually had to withdraw for financial reasons.
Andrew Carnegie’s Idea
Hill considered 1908 to be the turning point in his life. As part of a series of articles about famous and successful men, he was given the assignment to interview Andrew Carnegie, who at the time, was one of the most powerful men in the world.
Carnegie told him that the process of success could be outlined in a simple formula that anyone could understand and execute. Carnegie was impressed with Hill and asked him if he was up to the task of interviewing over 500 successful men and women, many of them millionaires, in order to discover and publish this formula for success.
As part of his research, Hill interviewed many of the most famous people of the time, including Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Elmer Gates, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Charles M. Schwab, F.W. Woolworth, William Wrigley Jr., John Wanamaker, William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft and Jennings Randolph.
The Philosophy of Achievement
As a result of Hill’s research, The Philosophy of Achievement was offered as a formula for rags-to-riches success. It was published by Hill and Carnegie in 1925 as a multi-volume study course called The Law of Success. It was later re-released in 1928 in an abridged version under the same title. The Philosophy of Achievement was detailed further and published in home-study courses, including the seventeen-volume “Mental Dynamite” series until 1941.
Hill considered freedom, democracy, capitalism, and harmony to be important contributing elements to The Philosophy of Achievement. He claimed throughout his writings that without these foundations to build upon, successful achievements are not possible.
Hill believed The Philosophy of Achievement was superior to anything else that existed. He claimed it was the reason Americans had enjoyed success for the better part of two centuries. Negative emotions such as fear and selfishness, played no part in his philosophy. Those emotions were the reason people failed.
- The Law of Success (1928)
- The Magic Ladder To Success (1930)
- Think and Grow Rich (1937)
- How to Sell Your Way through Life (1939)
- Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (1960)
- You Can Work Your Own Miracles (1971)
- Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success: The 17 Principles of Personal Achievement
- Grow Rich!: With Peace of Mind
- The Master-Key to Riches
- Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion
- Outwitting the Devil (2011)