Yesterday was the last day of our You Were Born Rich event in Los Angeles, and we experienced an amazing 2 1/2 days together. An extraordinary group of men and women came together from all over the world to work with me and Sandy, pouring our collective brainpower into the project of bringing their dreams into being.
I wish you had been there. It was just phenomenal.
As it happens, yesterday was Napoleon Hill’s birthday. Given the fact that the few days we just experienced would not have been possible without him — he was, in fact, a very explicit part of the event — I’m feeling especially mindful of and grateful for that blessed event.
Hill’s own story is a fascinating one. He was born poor, in a one-room cabin in Virginia, in 1883. In spite of those modest circumstances, his parents must have known from the start that their boy was destined for great things, to have given him a name as weighty as Napoleon.
Did he ever live up to it.
Hill spent his early years as a reporter. And one day in 1908, he was assigned to interview the great industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. A career-making interview, to be sure, for a young reporter trying to make his name. But he couldn’t possibly have known just how monumental an experience it would be.
During the course of that interview, Carnegie shared with Hill his personal theory that success in life could be achieved by anyone who simply identified and followed what other successful people had done. Then he made Napoleon an incredible offer: To go out into the world and, using Carnegie’s introduction as his calling card, interview successful people to discover their shared habits, attitudes, and behaviors, and compile all of that information to actually CREATE the “success formula” Carnegie had theorized.
Then he took it a step further and made it personal, with the now-legendary challenge he had Napoleon write down in his notebook verbatim: “Andrew Carnegie, I’m not only going to equal your achievements in life; but I’m going to challenge you at the post and pass you at the grandstand.”
Imagine that moment: A cub reporter with a few dimes jingling around in his pocket, sitting across from one of the wealthiest and most famous men of the age, presented with a proposition that was both thrilling and outlandish — that offered no guarantee of security, notoriety, or profit, but held the potential of all that and more.
Was he scared? I think you can bet on it. Was he tempted to stay on the safe path he knew, towards the predictable future he had planned on? Probably. But Hill’s parents weren’t wrong when they looked into their baby’s face, saw that remarkable thing that’s in all of us, and gave him a name that gave him permission to embrace it right from the very start.
Do you know how many copies of Think and Grow Rich have been sold since Hill first published it? More than 70 MILLION! When you take into account all of the people who discovered it the way I did, by someone sharing their own copy, and all the people who’ve checked it out of a library, or listened to it on audio, I’d say it’s safe to even double or triple that number of people who have had a direct experience of that incredible little book alone. And the lives that have been indirectly impacted by it? Far too many to possibly calculate.
What a legacy. What an incredible example of the influence one committed, purpose-filled person can have.
Happy birthday, Napoleon. And thank you, thank you, thank you.