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Dale Carnegie

Published: 11/24/2013
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Dale Carnegie reads his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
in Chicago on July 7, 1955(AP Photo)

Dale Carnegie defined success as getting what you want, and happiness as wanting what you get. For decades, millions have turned to his books and training courses for help becoming as successful and happy as Carnegie himself. But how did the son of dirt-poor famers in Missouri come to embody success and self-actualization? For Carnegie, it was a lifetime of hard work, capitalizing on opportunities, and holding fast to a fundamental belief in his own ability to succeed.

Carnegie began his professional life as "Dale Carnagey," a name he would soon change in a shrewd bit of marketing, linking himself to the respected tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Dale distinguished himself early as a salesman for Armour & Co., selling bacon, soap and lard in South Omaha, Neb. But Carnegie's dream was not selling bacon, so after saving up a sizable bankroll, he set out to pursue a career as a lecturer on the Chautauqua circuit. He wound up in New York, studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, but was soon out of money and living in the YMCA on 125th Street in Harlem. Despite these setbacks, Carnegie refused to give up on his dream.

While living at the YMCA, he convinced the management to allow him to teach a class on public speaking. Carnegie realized that public speaking is many people’s biggest fear, and he devised a way to use a student's anger to overcome that fear. The classes were an immediate success, and Carnegie was soon travelling the Eastern Seaboard to spread his technique.

Dale Carnegie (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Soon after, Carnegie began writing the books that would cement his legacy and change the business world for generations. His practical guides became must-read works for managers and salespeople all over the world. In particular, his seminal How to Win Friends and Influence People became the gold standard for succeeding in the business world. Carnegie's work focuses on how you can influence the behavior of others by changing your own behavior, with an emphasis on the power of a positive mental attitude.

Released during the Great Depression, Carnegie's enshrinement of positivity as the keystone to success resonated with readers looking for a way to improve their own lots in life. Carnegie himself said that he was merely borrowing from the teachings of Socrates, Jesus and others, and was not surprised at his books’ popularity with readers around the world. By the time of his death in 1955, over five million copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People had been sold in 31 languages, and the book continues to sell well today. Carnegie’s training program is now available online as well as at training centers around the world, allowing Carnegie to continue winning friends and influencing the leaders of tomorrow.

Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+

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