Born in 1883, Napoleon Hill authored perhaps the most influential “self-improvement” book of all time — his 1937 opus Think And Grow Rich, claimed to have been a compilation of wisdom gained from conversations with over 500 millionaires, starting with steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. This was Hill’s best-known work, but he wrote many pieces on the topic of success and its secrets.
Generation after generation of ambitious souls continue to read and discuss Think And Grow Rich. Some of the most successful people in the world cite the book as the foundation of their success. Long after Hill’s death in 1970, Think And Grow Rich retains a near mystical quality, a literary mountain that every seeker of wealth must climb.
Napoleon Hill was not the kind of man you would initially bet on disrupting the very idea of wealth and prosperity. Born in rural poverty in Appalachia to a father who was a moonshiner and an “unofficial dentist,” Hill led a controversial life, and failed at many business ventures before writing one of the most famous books on success of all time.
In 1908, with his marriage in shambles and fresh off of bankruptcy and charges of mail fraud for his business dealings in Florida and Alabama, Napoleon Hill interviewed steel baron Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men of all time and godfather of US infrastructure. A fatherly Carnegie explained to the wide-eyed Hill the secrets of his outsized success … secrets that Hill would later immortalize in Think And Grow Rich.
Think and Grow Rich has often been dubbed the "Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature." Many claim it as the 1st book to directly question, "What makes a winner?" Napoleon Hill asked the question to many successful leaders across different industries. 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. (The updated version discusses how contemporary millionaires and billionaires, such as Bill Gates, Mary Kay Ash, Dave Thomas, and Sir John Templeton, achieved their wealth.)
Some of his achievements have been called into question. He represented himself as “Attorney of Law” despite having dropped out of law school. He claimed to have been visited by spirits. He claimed to have visited the White House to help negotiate the armistice with Germany at the end of WWI (no White House records verify that he was ever there). And there is no great evidence that Hill met with all the success leaders that he interviewed, aside from a photo with Einstein.
Yet, it is undeniable that Hill captured lightning in a bottle with Think And Grow Rich — the spirit of an age that was just adapting to the relatively new idea of social and financial mobility, as well as the relatively new idea of financial abundance. For most of human history, society was organized into rigid castes.
You were born rich. You didn’t grow rich.
But in the wake of rags-to-riches stories of the Carnegies and Rockefellers of the Gilded Age, Hill invited readers to a mindset shift that launched some of the most stratospheric careers in history, from Oprah Winfrey to Daymond John to Lana Del Rey and countless others who swear by Think And Grow Rich.
So maybe a controversial figure like Hill was the perfect vessel for this legendary message — that if you can envision success, truly make it real to you, you can will success into being.
The Law of Success (1925)
Think and Grow Rich (1937)
Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude (1937)
Outwitting the Devil (1938)
The Master-Key To Riches (1945)
Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (1959)
Success Habits (2018)
How to Own Your Own Mind (1941)
The Master Key to Riches (1945)
Master Mind: The Memoirs of Napoleon Hill (2021)
"Tell me how you use your spare time, and how you spend your money, and I will tell you where and what you will be in ten years from now."