"Armed only with a letter of introduction from Carnegie, Hill set out to interview 500 people of the caliber of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller, George Eastman, William Wrigley Jr. and Charles M. Schwab." (Marelisa Fabrega)
The Scottish-American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie challenged the up and comer Napoleon Hill: interview 500 businessmen and find out their secret to success. "Armed only with a letter of introduction from Carnegie, Hill set out to interview 500 people of the caliber of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller, George Eastman, William Wrigley Jr. and Charles M. Schwab." (http://daringtolivefully.com/napoleon-hill-success) It took him 20 years, with many bumps in the road, but Hill reached the finish line; and he came away with the bestseller Think and Grow Rich.
Napoleon Hill was born in a one-room log cabin in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia in 1883 to a life of poverty and illiteracy. At 9 years old, his mother passed away. Young Napoleon was angry. Enamored with the outlaw Jesse James, Napoleon was known to wear a six shooter in his belt and terrorize the mountainside.
His father soon remarried and his stepmother saw his potential. She challenged young Napoleon to use his imagination for writing and spent the next year tutoring her stepson. The new Mrs. Hill offered to buy Napoleon a typewriter. "If you become as good with a typewriter as you are with that gun, you may become rich and famous and known throughout the world." (http://www.success.com/mobile/article/rich-man-poor-man)
Napoleon rose to the challenge. He found that he had a way with words and by 15 years old, he was a freelance reporter for mountain newspapers. Soon he was writing for the Bob Taylor magazine where he was challenged to get an interview with Andrew Carnegie. But it would not be as simple as picking up a telephone and placing a call. Napoleon wrote not one but 50 letters to the steel magnate. Finally, tired of seeing the same request, and admiring his persistence, Carnegie granted Hill his request. The interview changed Hill's life.
Carnegie outlined a plan for Hill to write a book about the secrets to financial success by interviewing successful businessmen. The steel magnate drafted a letter which gained Hill entrance to the offices of America's most sought after businessmen. Hill discovered that all of the men he interviewed had several traits in common: a definiteness of purpose; a strong belief in themselves; and an uncanny ability to bounce back from failure and adversity.
The latter trait served Hill well. In 1926, he and the editor of the Canton Daily News, had just run an expose revealing Prohibition era gangsters and their operation of bootleg liquor which they had been distributing to local schoolchildren. In gangster style, the editor was gunned down in cold blood. The gangsters waited for Hill at his house, but the writer did not make it home after his car broke down. A nervous Hill received an anonymous note telling him to leave town, which he did.
In West Virginia, Hill had to make a clean start. It was there that he re-committed himself to finishing the project that he had started under the guidance of Carnegie. He wrote a book, Law of Success, which after many rejections, was published in 1928.
Almost a decade after his first book came out, Hill secured a publisher for his second book, drawing on his original interviews with businessmen, called The Thirteen Steps to Riches. Initially rejected, Hill's wife pleaded his case and the publisher relented under the condition that the title be changed to Use Your Noodle to Win More Boodle. Mercifully, the title was changed later to Think and Grow Rich. Within three weeks, Hill's new book was sold out. By the end of the Great Depression, it had sold millions of copies. By Hill's death in 1970, it had sold 20 million copies. Today, it has sold over 70 million copies. It all started with a letter signed by billionaire Andrew Carnegie.
Napoleon Hill circa 1904 courtesy http://www.success.com/mobile/article/rich-man-poor-man.
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