The premise of ‘Think and grow rich’ has relevance regardless of age, gender or nationality. There is a secret to becoming rich, where this is explored through interviews with the leading tycoons of the era. Whilst it was based at a different time, the lessons it teaches are no less relevant today. The backstory was that one of the leading industrialists of the day, a Scotsman called Andrew Carnegie, commissioned a writer (Napoleon Hill) to conduct a series of interviews with the richest, most successful people of that age and, through that, look to tease out the commonalities to their stories. So with that, he spent two decades interviewing over five hundred of the richest, most successful people listening to their journeys to uncover the secret.
With this, he sets out a roadmap that, in principle, anyone can follow if they desire to become wealthy, using case studies to justify each step. Given the number of interviews he did, the book is rich in examples, and although the names are from another era, they are all ones we are familiar with. Ford, Barnes & Edison, Charles Schwab and more. As a result, in each chapter, he outlines key lessons for people to learn and explains each in full, where some of the points are more obvious than others. For example, the importance of ambition, knowledge or planning. However, it is chapter nine that stands out, which examines the importance of persistence. Take the following extract as an example:
“Symptons of Lack of Persistence
Here you will find the real enemies which stand between you and noteworthy achievement. Here you will find not only the symptons indicating weakness of persistence, but also the deeply seated subconscious causes of this weakness. Study the list carefully, and face yourself squarely if you really wish to know who you are, and what you are capable of doing.”
He then lists the key weaknesses that must be mastered by all who accumulate riches, along with the steps you can take to develop persistence. Indeed, what makes the book unique is how the author understands that what prevents us from being successful isn’t necessarily a lack of ideas or vision, but ourselves and our inner demons, where whole segments of the book are dedicated to overcoming these. On that point, with many such books, the key insights are learned early on, but this is one where the best is saved for last, as in the final chapter, he gives us the lessons for overcoming fear, where he starts by defining the types of fears we have and their effect on us before proceeding to outline the philosophy for conquering them.
Factor this book can be tough reading, in part because stylistically it was written for a different generation and era, where because it is written so differently to equivalent books of today, it can be quite jarring. Nonetheless, don’t let that put you off if I list a top ten books for entrepreneurs, business managers and executives to read and re-read again. This would be on it.