Back in February when Amy and I heard a BBC interview with billionaire David Murdock, there was something that leapt out at us. In relating how he became one of the richest men in the world — despite starting as a homeless, dyslexic, high school dropout and WWII veteran who slept under a bush in a Detroit park — Murdock credited one particular book for his transformation:

The basic book that I read many years ago was Think and Grow Rich. That’s a great old book, and I’ve given it to a hundred students as I lectured and so forth, because that teaches you the power of positive thinking, and how to use your brain. I think knowledge is power. Go get the knowledge, and do it yourself.

I had read Think and Grow Rich as a youth, but we decided it was time to give it some more study. So we got ourselves a copy of of the book and started reading it together, and doing the daily exercises.

In no time, some small but startling changes began taking place in our business lives — even as subtle but unmistakable signals of reinforcement started popping up regularly.

For example, on the afternoon of March 23, I was listening to a piece on NPR’s All Things Considered, titled “The Unlikely Story Of One Poor Haitian Who Got Rich.” Here’s a quote from the transcript:

JOFFE-WALT: Mathias says he was different because he had a dream, because he thought and grew rich. In fact, as a young man, Mathias read that Depression-era classic “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill.

Mr. PIERRE: And I realized that being rich – it’s more mental than everything.

DAVIDSON: So that book really changed your life?

Mr. PIERRE: That book really changed my life.

Our own exploration of Think and Grow Rich continues.

For those unfamiliar with the book, author Napoleon Hill was a poor young newspaper reporter who, at the age of 25, got a chance to interview industrial tycoon Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie, in turn, assigned Hill to interview over 500 other rich men and women in order to distill their common “how to get rich” principles and publish them for the betterment of anyone wishing to apply the same formula.

Think and Grow Rich was published in 1937, near the end of the Great Depression. Since then, it is said to have sold over 20 million copies, although that number has been disputed. In any case, nearly every book on “the law of success” or “the aw of attraction” since then either quotes Napoleon Hill or paraphrases him.

Interestingly, as is detailed in A Lifetime of Riches: The Biography of Napoleon Hill, Hill himself did not always personally enjoy the success he spent his lifetime evangelizing. His own wealth waxed and waned several times over the course of his life, which ended in 1970.

Nevertheless, Napoleon Hill’s books on growing rich have inspired a great many people over the years.

I got a kick out of finding the videos above on YouTube — 13 parts of a 17-part series with Napoleon Hill himself summarizing his principles of how to become rich. They should play in order for you — or else you can go directly to the YouTube playlist.

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