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The Carnegie Secret

Many of you have been hearing about The Secret, a popular video and book by Rhonda Byrne that has been receiving much press lately. However, the secret she "reveals" is Andrew Carnegie's secret, which was published in the early 1900's by Napoleon Hill. Carnegie was one of the world's wealthiest men, and he believed that achievement of financial success could be reduced to a simple formula, which could be duplicated by the average person.

In the preface to his book, Hill says, "The secret was brought to my attention by Andrew Carnegie, more than a quarter of a century ago. The canny, lovable old Scotsman carelessly tossed it into my mind, when I was but a boy. Then he sat back in his chair, with a merry twinkle in his eyes, and watched carefully to see if I had brains enough to understand the full significance of what he had said to me. When he saw that I had grasped the idea, he asked if I would be willing to spend twenty years or more, preparing myself to take it to the world, to men and women who, without the secret, might go through life as failures."

In 1908, Carnegie commissioned (at no pay) Napoleon Hill, then a journalist, to interview more than 500 high and wealthy achievers to find out the common threads of their success. Hill eventually became a Carnegie collaborator, and their work was published after Carnegie's death in Hill's book The Law of Success (1928) and Think and Grow Rich (1937). Think and Grow Rich has not been out of print since it was first published and has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

The "Carnegie Secret" is a concept that Hill studied extensively. Carnegie told Hill that the formula for success was so powerful that if learning how to apply it was taught to students, the time they needed to spend in formal schooling could be cut in half. This formula, Carnegie repeated, was used by all the leading businessmen and inventors of the late 19th and early 20th century. Carnegie asked Hill to go out and confirm the application of the formula by the 500 richest Americans (and others).

Some People Interviewed for the Book

  • Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company
  • William Wrigley, Wrigley Chewing Gum
  • George Eastman, Eastman Kodak
  • Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
  • Wilbur Wright, The Wright Brothers
  • William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State
  • Charles M. Schwab, Charles Schwab Financial Services
  • King Gillette, The Gillette Company
  • John D. Rockefeller, The first billionaire
  • Thomas A. Edison, Inventor
  • Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States
  • William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States
  • Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor

In the preface to Think and Grow Rich, Hill says, "These names represent but a small fraction of the hundreds of well known Americans whose achievements, financially and otherwise, prove that those who understand and apply the Carnegie secret, reach high stations in life. I have never known anyone who was inspired to use the secret, who did not achieve noteworthy success in his chosen calling. I have never known any person to distinguish himself, or to accumulate riches of any consequence, without possession of the secret. From these two facts I draw the conclusion that the secret is more important, as a part of the knowledge essential for self-determination, than any which one receives through what is popularly known as 'education.' What is EDUCATION, anyway? This has been answered in full detail."

Hill describes the secret in every chapter but never states it plainly, believing its use is only available to those who possess a "readiness" for the secret: a disposition Hill states as essential to the concept itself.

Tributes from Great American Leaders

"Certainly I will supply you with the information you request. This I consider to be not only a duty, but it is a pleasure as well. You are laboring in behalf of the people who have neither the time nor the inclination to ferret out the causes of failure and success."
-Theodore Roosevelt
, 26th President of the United States

"It would be helpful if every politician in the country would assimilate and apply the 17 principles upon which your lessons are based. It contains some very fine material which every leader in every walk of life should understand."
-William Taft, 27th President of the United States

"Whatever success I may have attained I owe, entirely, to the application of your 17 fundamental principles...I believe I have the honor of being your first student."
-William Wrigley, Wrigley Chewing Gum

"May I not congratulate you on your persistence. Any man who devotes that much time...must of necessity make discoveries of great value to others. I am deeply impressed by your interpretation of the 'Master Mind' principles which you have so clearly described."
-Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States

"Napoleon Hill has produced what I believe to be the first practical philosophy of achievement. Its major distinguishing feature is the simplicity in which it has been presented."
-David Star Jordan, Stanford University President

Get the Book

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill


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