Double Book review: How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie AND Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill.
I decided to start my reading for the year not with the new and shiny books from 2020 but with these two stalwarts which are considered foundational books on leadership, people, and self-management. Both published in 1937, I chose to read these two books together both because they were published at the same time and because they have been highly recommended to me over the years and I had run out of excuses not to read them.
I loved “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. I enjoyed Dale Carnegie’s style of writing which, although understandably antiquated, is engaging and easy to read. Lately, I have been reading a lot around negotiation, people management, and leadership and the principle of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes when dealing with people is a central theme in those books as it is in Dale Carnegie’s bestseller.
Like most books, some of it resonated with me and some of it did not. One also has to consider the fact that this book was published 84 years ago and that a lot has changed since then. However, as a book on how to manage a team, develop business relationships and deal with underperforming but teachable employees, it is as relevant today as it was in 1937.
I was less enthused by Napoleon Hill’s work. Whilst this book is considered one of the most influential books of all time, I found it hard to relate to. It deals in part with matters under the law of attraction banner and in part not. There are 13 “steps to riches” extolled in the book and there are some very interesting and helpful exercises to do in the book. These exercises will be part of my self-development work this year but the overall philosophy was difficult for me to relate to. The books does what it sets out to do. It gives you Napoleon Hill’s methodology to become rich and defines success in terms of wealth which is not the only measure of success for us in today’s world.
That does not mean that it is not a good book, nor does it mean that one should skip it but overall I think this book has been surpassed by more recent authors who deal with successful mindsets.
All in all, I would recommend reading both of these books both for what they have to offer and as starter texts for those starting new businesses. I will no doubt read both of the books again for what they are – they strike me as the kind of books that get better the more they are read.