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The Untold Story of Napoleon Hill, the Greatest Self-Help Scammer of All Time

Hill was a charlatan

Napoleon Hill was said to be an advisor to two presidents: Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In fact, there’s no evidence whatsoever outside of Hill’s own writings that Hill met President Wilson or President Roosevelt, let alone acted as a trusted advisor to both.

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The Untold Story of Napoleon Hill, the Greatest Self-Help Scammer of All Time

The Untold Story of Napoleon Hill, the Greatest Self-Help Scammer of All Time

https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-untold-story-of-napoleon-hill-the-greatest-self-he-1789385645

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Key Ideas

Napoleon Hill...

... is the most famous con man you’ve probably never heard of. 

Born into poverty in rural Virginia at the end of the 19th century, Hill went on to write one of the most successful self-help books of the 20th century: Think and Grow Rich.

Hill was a charlatan

Napoleon Hill was said to be an advisor to two presidents: Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In fact, there’s no evidence whatsoever outside of Hill’s own writings that Hill met President Wilson or President Roosevelt, let alone acted as a trusted advisor to both.

Hill and Carnegie

Napoleon Hill’s most infamous claim was that he met and interviewed at length the industrialist Andrew Carnegie in 1908.

Andrew Carnegie's biographer David Nasaw found no evidence of any sort that Carnegie and Hill ever met.

Serial swindler

Napoleon Hill tried his hand at a number of businesses. But at every turn, there was some kind of shady dealing that would cause his business ventures to crumble.

Promoters of Hill claim that it was all a matter of bad luck, and Hill's naivety. However, there are only so many times that a man can be arrested for the sale of unlicensed stock, altering checks, and outright theft, before you have to question the official history.

The college masquerade

Napoleon Hill starts the Automobile College of Washington as president in 1909. He promised 6 weeks of training to be sufficient to become an expert in assembling cars.

Hill’s college was actually a way to get free labor for building cars. 

George Washington Institute

In September of 1915, Napoleon Hill started his unaccredited George Washington Institute, to teach the “principles of success” and self-confidence.

Some students of the George Washington Institute would accuse Hill’s school of fraud, and it too had a very short life.

Hill's Golden Rule magazine

Napoleon Hill started Hill’s Golden Rule magazine, but its primary purpose seemed to be less about inspiring businessmen and more about helping companies swindle investors.

The Federal Trade Commission charged Hill on October 1919 with using his magazine for fraudulent advertising. The charges state, “numerous false and misleading statements, known by the respondents to be false and misleading, and published by them for the purpose of furthering their plans and purposes.”

Fame by association

Napoleon Hill learned early on that an easy and cost-effective way to get your name in the press was to present people with awards for their demonstration of the Golden Rule.

His award-giving tactic would later let him gain access to some of the famous people he so dearly wanted to meet.

Intra-Wall Correspondence School

The charity would provide educational materials for prisoners in Ohio so that they could lead productive lives once they left prison. 

Roughly $1,000 were also collected by Napoleon Hill through various sources, to be devoted to giving men in prison a chance, but the prison warden for the Ohio Penitentiary where Hill was supposed to be sending this money, told the local newspaper that they never saw a dime.

Hill and Thomas Edison

The photo of Napoleon Hill standing awkwardly with Thomas Edison is the only photo of Hill with any of the famous businessmen (let alone Presidents) he claimed to have interviewed over the course of his decades-long career in studying the secrets of success. 

The real story behind the photo: Hill figured on how he could have a picture made with Thomas A. Edison, so he could give him a medal. He sent a press agent over to announce that “Mr. Hill, one of the leading magazine writers, wished to attend the Edison Convention of Dealers.” Of course, he was welcome. He asked Mr. Edison to pose with him, a request he could hardly refuse.

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Napoleon Hill's Golden Rule

Only by working harmoniously in co-operation with other individuals or groups of individuals and thus creating value and benefit for them will one create sustainable achievement for oneself...

Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill
If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” 
How to manifest an unconditional Desire
  • Occupy your surroundings with desire superstars.
  • Substitute the roots of pessimistic energy with affirmative and optimistic energy. 
  • Take action upon well-researched and thought-out knowledge.
  • Put yourself in positive places, and surround yourself with good people.
  • Burn those bridges, such that you commit and leave yourself without any other choice but to push on.
  • Use mediums such as positive music, videos, and images to reinforce your desires.
Think and Grow Rich

... is the most successful personal development book ever written. It was first published in 1937 and has since sold over 70 million copies. 

This tremendously successful book was...

Fundamental Principles From Think and Grow Rich
  • Everything which is tangible began as a thought: Anything that you create in your mind and trust that it is possible, you can achieve.
  • Win or quit, pick a side. Winners do not quit and quitters do not win.
  • Our minds receive ideas from the universe. The universe feeds us with ideas constantly.
  • If you have a burning desire for something, you can achieve it.
  • Failures don't mean that you have failed.
  • Have faith - an absolute certainty with no fear, that you will succeed.
  • Implementing your idea is the most important step of achieving your dreams.

"People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved."Anne Sullivan

"I think I have learned that the best way to lift one's self up is to help someone else." - Booker T. Washington

"I think I have learned that the best way to lift one's self up is to help someone else." - Booker T. Washington

"The greatest sign of a success for a teacher is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist." - Maria Montessori

"The greatest sign of a success for a teacher is to be able to say, "The children are now working as if I did not exist." - Maria Montessori

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Ontology
Ontology

This is a branch of philosophy that deals with the questions of being and identity.

Ontological psychologists and social scientists start with examining our self in social...

Self-help vs Social science

Self-help literature, like information, exists as raw, uncurated, unexamined information, while social science is like knowledge, beginning with the aggregated data and the processes of thinking, developed and updated over time.

Myopic points of view

Many best seller self-help books like the much-celebrated How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, written way back in 1936 provide a personal view of influencing and persuading others, which has later been proved to be ineffective.
This is because many of these books are detached from various social and economical facts, offering a myopic view of the world.

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1800: Jefferson and Adams
1800: Jefferson and Adams

The outcome was so bizarre, the United States had to amend the Constitution.

  • The election of 1800 saw Thomas Jefferson tie with his Democratic-Republican "running mate" Aaron Burr. Both...
1824: 'Corrupt bargain'
  • Andrew Jackson won the popular vote by less than 39,000 ballots and took 99 Electoral College votes. John Quincy Adams secured 84, William Crawford won 41, and Henry Clay had 37.
  • Clay, with the least votes, got the boot, and his supporters shifted their support to Adams, who would go on to win the majority of the House vote.

After his inauguration, Adams selected Clay as his secretary of state. Jackson accused Adams and Clay of a "corrupt bargain."

1860: Nation divided

The 1860 election was notable because it ripped the long-dominant Party (and nation) in half.

  • The Democrats were unable at their 1860 convention to establish an official party line on slavery.
  • At a second convention that year, the Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas, but many Southerners in the party selected Breckinridge as their man. Both would claim to be the official Democratic candidate.
  • Lincoln snared 40% of the popular vote but took most of the North in the Electoral College.
  • Douglas was second in the popular vote but took only Missouri.
  • Breckenridge took most of the South.
  • Bell's middle of the road policies earned him the middle of the road.

In 1861, delegates from South Carolina, and six of the Southern states formed the Confederate States of America and selected Jefferson Davis as their president.

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Napoleon Hill - A Flawed Character
  • He did not publish "The Laws of Success" until he hit rock bottom in his mid-forties. Before this, he experienced very little success and seldom had a steady source of income. 
Short lived success
  • A combination of the stock market crash, royalty checks that ended, overextending himself while owing creditors left Hill worse off than before. 
  • He attempted many business ventures related to inspirational writing and publishing projects but to no avail.
  • Hill's wife divorced him during this time, grown tired of his poor decisions and failure to care for his family.
Think and Grow Rich

Just after the great depression, Napoleon Hill married again and also wrote and published "Think and Grow Rich", with the support and persistence of his wife.

This was an enormous success, but Hill and his young wife wasted no time spending more than they earned (a clear violation of Hill's own principles). Not long after, his wife duped him out of all the royalties of all of his works and left him penniless.

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The happiness curve
The happiness curve

There is increasing evidence that happiness through adulthood is U-shaped.

Life satisfaction falls in our 20s and 30s, then hitting a low in our late 40s before increasing until our 80s....

The midlife slump

That midlife slump (not to be confused with a midlife crisis) is often nothing - just a natural transition due to the passing of time.

Those likely to notice it are people that seem to have everything going for them; they're achieving their goals, and nothing much changed, yet they feel less satisfied than they expected and think there must be something wrong with their lives.

When the U-curve occurs

According to a study by economists, the U-curve is generally noticed at age 46. It tends to appear in wealthier countries.

However, some economists and psychologists factor in the possibility that those who become happier in the studies are the same people who are content in their early years.

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Written in 1937 after a 25-year research on some of the most economically successful individuals, the book is one of the universally recognized personal development masterpieces (more than o...

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He goes in isolation for a whole week, twice a year, with no stress, no interruptions, no other tasks to be done, and just reads, learning and focusing on innovation.

Reading For a Better Future

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Reading provides us with insights, perspectives, and ideas, nurturing our sense of curiosity, wonder and asking well-informed questions. Success comes easily due to a better understanding of the world around us.