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Who Was Napoleon Hill? – Life, Work & Quotes

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Friday, April 12, 2024

Napoleon Hill wrote the best-selling self-help book of all time, Think and Grow Rich! But who was Napoleon Hill? What were Napoleon Hill’s most famous quotes? Find out in this blogpost.

If you wish for more success in your life, then you can’t ignore the name Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill’s 1937 book Think and Grow Rich is regarded as the best-selling self-help book of all time. And it remains as influential for readers today as when it sold out its first print run during the dark years of the Great Depression.

But who was Napoleon Hill?

Why was Think of Grow Rich so successful?

And what are the important lessons you can learn from him?

This blogpost will help you understand who Napoleon Hill was and explain what he called the ‘secret of success’. It is a secret that has helped thousands of readers become wealthy, successful and make a lasting impact on the world.

If you’ve never heard of this secret before, then you could be about to change your life.

By the way, if you join the Secrets of Success Community today, you can get access to over 30+ hours of exclusive audiobook recordings from Napoleon Hill. Try it out for free here!

From ‘Mountain Reporter’ to Interviewing the Richest Man in the World

Napoleon Hill was born into relative poverty in 1883 in rural Virginia. Napoleon’s mother died when he was 9 years old and his father struggled to take care of the single-parent family.

Napoleon became unruly. He was said to carry a six-shooter on his hip and terrorize the neighbors.

It wasn’t until Napoleon’s father remarried that his step-mother, Martha, started tutoring him and preparing him for a better path in life.

Martha suggested Napoleon use his overactive imagination to become a writer. She promised to buy him a typewriter if he gave up the six-shooter. She said: “If you become as good with a typewriter as you are with that gun, you may become rich and famous and known throughout the world.”

Napoleon agreed to the deal and his step-mother’s words came true.

At 15, young Napoleon Hill landed a position as a ‘mountain reporter’ for a group of rural newspapers. He was a creative and imaginative writer, just as his step-mother predicted.

And it was through writing that Napoleon Hill began setting in motion the events that would shape his future. He got a job working as a writer for Bob Taylor’s Magazine, which offered advice on achieving power and wealth.

It was through this role that, in 1908, Napoleon bagged an interview with the richest man in America: the 73-year-old steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

It was the moment that lay the foundation for Napoleon Hill’s entire future.

Andrew Carnegie issued a challenge to Napoleon Hill: Commit for the next 20 years to document and record a philosophy of success which could be easily understood by as many people as possible.

And it so happened that 20 years later, Napoleon Hill published his first book on his philosophy of success and finally had his first taste of real riches himself.

Finding Riches and Ruin in the Space of 12 Months

After the end of the First World War, Napoleon Hill began to take Carnegie’s challenge seriously.

He moved to Chicago and later New York where he launched his own magazines dedicated to success. His writings contained a blend of biblical psalms, teachings from the New Thought movement and lessons on success.

The publications gave Napoleon Hill an income as well as a platform to pursue his passions. Before long, he was dubbed “America’s resident philosopher-laureate of success and ethics.”

Throughout this time Napoleon Hill continued to seek out and interview rich and wealthy Americans, in order to learn their secrets to success. He would go on to study at least 45 of these people including Henry Ford, Edwin C. Barnes, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Elmer R. Gates, Luther Burbank, F.W. Woolworth, John D. Rockefeller, Frank A. Vanderlip, Charles M. Schwab, Theodore Roosevelt and more.

But it wasn’t until 1928 – a full 20 years after Andrew Carnegie’s challenge – that Napoleon Hill finally committed his philosophy of success to a book.

It was an eight-volume work called The Law of Success.

The book offered the collective wisdom of the most successful people of the past 50 years. It covered everything Hill had been studying for. And the book was a commercial success.

By early 1929, he was earning about $2,500 per month (around $35,000 today) from the book royalties. He bought a Rolls-Royce and, with other investors, a mansion in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The ultimate vision was to turn the property into the world’s first university-sized ‘Success School’.

But it wasn’t to be.

Before the end of the year the Great Depression had struck. The royalties dried up. The mansion was foreclosed and Napoleon Hill had to find his way back to success through the most difficult economic period of the 20th century.

Writing the Greatest Self-Help Book of All Time: Think and Grow Rich!

Napoleon Hill went straight back to writing his next book: The Magic Ladder to Success.

It taught the exact steps anyone can take to recognize their goals, make plans to work towards them and achieve success in their lives. The book was organized into 16 ‘rungs’ that a person can work on in turn to better their circumstances.

But readers weren’t ready for it just a year into the Great Depression.

Napoleon Hill changed his focus to give lectures around the country. He was convinced that his philosophy of success could help ordinary Americans pick themselves up out of destitution and find riches – even during the difficult time the country was going through.

It wasn’t until 1937 that Napoleon Hill tried to talk Andrew Pelton – the publisher of his first book, The Law of Success – into taking a chance on another book.

Peloton wasn’t convinced.

He didn’t believe there was a market for self-help prosperity books. Most of the readers had little money for food, let alone a hardcover book promising riches by using only their thoughts.

But Pelton eventually agreed to publish Think and Grow Rich! And it became an instant hit.

Think and Grow Rich! Sold out its first print run in three weeks. By the end of the Depression, it had sold 1 million copies and had made Napoleon Hill a fortune of over $1 million (around $22 million today).

Today, the book has reportedly sold more than 70 million copies. Is the joint-first best-selling self-help book of all time along with Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist.

By the way, if you join the Secrets of Success Community today, you can get access to a free copy of Think and Grow Rich as well as over 30+ hours of audiobook recordings from Napoleon Hill. Try it out for free here!

The Full List of Napoleon Hill’s 11 Books

The Law of Success (1928)

The first book written by Napoleon Hill. It is an eight-volume series presenting a complete ‘Science of Success’ philosophy based upon interviews and research on over 500 successful people in all walks of life. It was a commercial success and is the second most-important work in the Napoleon Hill canon after Think and Grow Rich.

The Magic Ladder to Success (1930)

This second book from Napoleon Hill was published during the early years of the Great Depression. It covers the 17 ‘rungs’ of Hill’s success philosophy. The book is a step-by-step pathway for anyone looking to reach greater success in their life.

Think and Grow Rich (1937)

The best-selling self-help book of all time. Think and Grow Rich! is the distillation of Napoleon Hill’s success philosophy: that anyone is capable of achieving their goals by improving their mindset. The book was as much a hit during the Great Depression as it is today, and is mentioned by thousands of successful people as one of their core inspirational texts.

Outwitting the Devil (1938, published 2011)

Napoleon Hill wrote Outwitting the Devil in 1938, but it was never published during his lifetime. The book was considered too controversial. The book looks at the greatest obstacles we face in reaching personal goals: fear, procrastination, anger and jealousy.

How to Sell Your Way Through Life (1939)

The 5th book written by Napoleon Hill focuses on salesmanship. It covers Napoleon Hill’s years prior to Think and Grow Rich, and is based on the lives of hundreds of salespeople and how they went from nothing to leading positions in their fields.

The Master-Key to Riches (1945)

This 6th book shares in detail the ‘formula’ for self-improvement. It is based on Andrew Carnegie’s secret of success, and applies it to many areas of life: health, overcoming obstacles, love, romance, fame, youthfulness and riches.

How to Raise Your Own Salary (1953)

The 7th book by Napoleon Hill is written as a dialog between Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill. It is directed towards helping readers make life reward them for their personal efforts.

Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (1959)

This work was written by Napoleon Hill and his co-author, the millionaire CEO W. Clement Stone. It contrasts a positive mental attitude with a mental negative attitude, and demonstrates how mindset is the single most important factor in success or failure. Hill promoted this 8th book internationally through speaking tours as far as Puerto Rico, Australia and New Zealand.

Grow Rich!: With Peace of Mind (1967)

The 9th work by Napoleon Hill shows a more spiritual side to the success philosophy. In this book, Hill reveals how you can use the same techniques from Think and Grow Rich! to achieve inner peace in life.

Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion (1970)

In this book, Napoleon Hill returns to his success formula and this time turns his attention to the art of persuasion. This 10th work offers advice on how to boost your communication, influence and goal achievement in life.

You Can Work Your Own Miracles (1971)

The 11th and last book by Napoleon Hill. In this book, Hill empowers readers to create a life of success, happiness and fulfillment through practical application of his success philosophy. He covers different topics from his canon and demonstrates how you can apply these to create ‘miracles’ in your own life.

25 Powerful Quotes From Napoleon Hill

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
— Think And Grow Rich!

"The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat."
​​—Think and Grow Rich!

"Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them."
—Think and Grow Rich!

"Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass."
—Think and Grow Rich!

"A quitter never wins and a winner never quits."
​​—Think and Grow Rich!

"Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought."
​​—Think and Grow Rich!

"More gold had been mined from the mind of men than the earth itself."
—Think and Grow Rich!

"Do not wait. The time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along."
​​—Think and Grow Rich!

"You have absolute control over but one thing, and that is your thoughts."
—Think and Grow Rich!

"Indecision and procrastination are twin brothers. Where one is found, the other may usually be found also."
​​—Think and Grow Rich!

"No man has a chance to enjoy permanent success until he begins to look in a mirror for the real cause of all his mistakes"
—The Law of Success

"Far from being a disadvantage, struggle is a decided advantage, because it develops those qualities which would forever lie dormant without it."
​​—The Law of Success

"But take note: Never express, through words or acts, something that does not harmonize with your beliefs—or you will lose the ability to influence others. I do not believe that I can afford to deceive anyone about anything; but I know that I cannot afford to deceive myself. To do so would destroy the power of my pen. It is only when I write with the fire of enthusiasm that my writing impresses others. It is only when I speak from a heart that is bursting with belief in my message that I can move my audience to accept it."
​​—The Law of Success

"Instead of "quitting" the job because there were obstacles to master and difficulties to be overcome, you should have faced the facts and then you would have known that life, itself, is just one long series of mastery of difficulties and obstacles."
—The Law of Success

"All you are or ever shall become is the result of the use to which you put your mind."
​​—The Law of Success

"Render more service than that which you are paid and you will soon be paid for more than you render."
​​—The Law of Success

"Study those whom you know to be failures (you’ll find them all around you) and observe that, without a single exception, they lack the firmness of decision, even in matters of the smallest importance."
​​—The Magic Ladder to Success

"To succeed, you must have faith in your own ability to do whatever you make up your mind to do. Also, you must cultivate the habit of faith in those who are associated with you, whether they are in a position of authority over you, or you over them."
​​—The Magic Ladder to Success

"The man who has a definite aim in mind, and a definite plan for attaining it, has already gone nine-tenths of the way toward success."
​​—The Magic Ladder to Success

"Drifting, without aim or purpose, is the first cause of failure. Without a plan for life, concentrated effort, and persistent activity, you will have no means of controlling your own destiny."
​—Outwitting the Devil

"The fear of criticism robs a person of their initiative, destroys their power of imagination, limits their individuality, takes away their self-reliance, and does them damage in a hundred other ways."
​—Outwitting the Devil

"The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success."
​—Outwitting the Devil

"Turn on the full powers of your will and take complete control of your own mind. It is your own mind! It was given to you as a servant to carry out your desires. And no one may enter it or influence it in the slightest degree without your consent and cooperation. What a profound fact this is!"
​​—The Master-Key to Riches

"You become what you think about."
​—Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

"Is money good? Many negative-minded persons say, “Money is the root of all evil.” But the Bible says: Love of money is the root of all evil. And there is a big difference between the two even though one little word makes the difference."
​—Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude

Want to Learn More About Napoleon Hill?

Then you’re in the right place.

Inside my Secrets of Success Community, you can get a free copy of Think and Grow Rich! Just by becoming a member.

You will also access over 30+ hours of exclusive audiobook recordings from Napoleon Hill… and authors like Charles F. Haanel, Elsie Lincoln Benedict, and other legends of the “new thought” movement. Try it out for free!

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