The Science of Success: Napoleon Hill's Proven Program for Prosperity and Happiness

The Science of Success: Napoleon Hill's Proven Program for Prosperity and Happiness

by Napoleon Hill

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Rare writings from Napoleon Hill—perfect for the THINK AND GROW RICH fan in your life, or for aspiring followers of Napoleon Hill’s philosophy.

The Science of Success
is a collection of writings by and about Napoleon Hill, author of the most widely read book on personal prosperity philosophy ever published, Think and GrowSee more details below


Rare writings from Napoleon Hill—perfect for the THINK AND GROW RICH fan in your life, or for aspiring followers of Napoleon Hill’s philosophy.

The Science of Success
is a collection of writings by and about Napoleon Hill, author of the most widely read book on personal prosperity philosophy ever published, Think and Grow Rich. These essays and writings contain teachings on the nature of prosperity and how to attain it, and are published here in book form for the very first time. This work is a must-have item for Hill’s millions of fans worldwide!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his other works, Hill (1883–1970), the iconic author of Think and Grow Rich, urges readers to adopt a mind-set based on faith and hard work that will lead to success and wealth. While his books feel timeless, these essays compiled by Judith Williamson, mostly from the 1950s and ’60s, feel dated in both language and references. Williamson provides some details about Dr. Hill’s life, and background about his time as a protégé of Andrew Carnegie, and a former advisor to presidents. The selections here cover such classic Hill topics, such as conduct, ways to inspire oneself and others, the importance of working hard, the importance of competition, overcoming fear, taking personal initiative, and maintaining a positive attitude—tips and meditations that are useful in business and personal settings. This is an ancillary read for Hill devotees looking to round out their libraries, rather than a draw for new readers; luckily, his army of fans is considerable. Agent: Bill Gladstone, Waterside Productions. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"During the past twenty-five years I have been blessed with more good fortune than any individual deserves but I shudder to think where I'd be today, or what I'd be doing if I had not been exposed to Napoleon Hill's philosophy. It changed my life."
—Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Tarcher Success Classics
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Part One


“The formula appears to be simple . . . it appears to be basic. Yet it represents the distilled effort of a lifetime.”


by John Johnson

There’s hardly a person alive today who doesn’t know of Napoleon Hill and his law of success. Millions of readers throughout the world have read and benefited from his teachings. Few, however, may be aware of the tremendous personal success of their author . . . a man who used his philosophy to rise from small town oblivion to international prominence. In this issue, “The Man Who Taught Millions How to Succeed” tells the fabulous story of his life and reveals how the formula he originated can bring success to you!

All Americans were inspired and stirred when they heard, in 1933, the resonant voice of Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaim, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Men everywhere were electrifled by this statement which brought a halt to the panic that had shattered our economy and had shaken the foundations of our government.

While the President spoke these words another man listened with quiet satisfaction. This man was accustomed to supplying words and ideas for others in every walk of life. Doing so was his life’s work. The fact that the President of the United States saw fit to use the idea he, in his capacity as confidential advisor, had expressed was another milestone in a long and fruitful career dedicated to giving the world a philosophy that men could use to better themselves.

This man who remained anonymously in the shadows was Napoleon Hill. As the author of Think and Grow Rich, How to Raise Your Own Salary,and other best sellers, he might be considered a successful writer. But those who really understand the message he tries to convey recognize him as much more than just an author. Writing is only one of the instruments he has used to tell millions the truth about themselves and the powers they seldom realize that they possess.

What are these powers? Succinctly stated, they include vast and untapped reservoirs of human intelligence and ability. Hill has the distinction of having devoted his life to the creation of a formula which unleashes these powers with maximum force . . . and of teaching people how to apply his findings in their daily lives.

The voice of 65-year-old Napoleon Hill has been heard in every corner of the world . . . and its effects have been potent. Millions of readers in 20 foreign nations have read his books. Even far-off India has been stirred by his work. Through the influence of Mahatma Gandhi, a publisher in Bombay, India, publishes and distributes all of the Hill success books. In Brazil his books have been translated and published in the Portuguese language. And a special edition of his most popular book, Think and Grow Rich,was published in Sydney, Australia, and distributed throughout the British Empire. Although this book was first published in the United States in 1937, it is still a “best seller” throughout the nation, and huge numbers of copies of it have been purchased by employers as gifts for their employees.

Napoleon Hill started his quest for the formula of success early in life. When he found it, he shared his knowledge with waiting millions who otherwise might have remained shrouded in the obscurity from which they came.

His motivation for doing so can be found in the almost unbelievable story of his life. The son of an impoverished Virginia mountaineer, he seemed fated to spend his life wallowing in unrelieved ignorance. “Moonshiners, mountain stills, illiteracy, and deadly family feuds were the principal industries of our community,” he says with a smile, “and the usual home was a crumbling clapboard shack or a dirt-floored cabin.”

The Hills lived in a house of the latter description. When his mother died, young Napoleon, a name bestowed in honor of a rich paternal great uncle, was still a child. The blow left its mark. Probably to hide the scar, he achieved the distinction of being the toughest boy in Wise County. He wore it like a badge of honor—until his father presented the nine-year-old boy with a stepmother.

The new Mrs. Hill brought a fresh outlook into the household. Not a mountaineer herself, she was appalled by what she found . . . and she was determined to change it. Napoleon, who could have been her biggest problem, turned into her greatest victory.

“I was introduced to her as the ‘meanest’ boy in town,” the famed success-scientist recalls. “But my stepmother took one look at me and said, ‘He’s not the meanest boy. He’s only a boy who hasn’t learned how to direct his smartness to constructive ends.’” In a sense, these words were to become the cornerstone of the philosophy he was destined to develop in the decades that followed. Mrs. Hill became a guiding light. Using her dowry, she sent her husband to school and didn’t rest until he was a successful dentist. Napoleon and his younger brother were rescued by her determination to give them a chance. At 12 the future inspirer of millions completed grade school; at 14 he was a part-time reporter for 15 newspapers, and at 15, after completing high school, he entered a business college at Tazewell, Virginia. As his horizons expanded, his abhorrence of ignorance grew and his determination to advance increased.

When he finished business college, he got a job with a leading attorney. How the callow 16-year-old managed to make the connection is a saga of audacity . . . and foresight. He reasoned that his first job should be a stepping-stone. A good start was essential and money, at this point, was almost unimportant.

Accordingly, he wrote a letter to Rufus A. Ayres, a former attorney general of Virginia and one of the state’s most famous lawyers. The letter, in substance, said as follows:

I have just completed a business college course and am well-qualifled to serve as your secretary, a position I am very anxious to have. Since I have no previous experience, I know that at the beginning of working for you will be of more value to me than it will be to you. Because of this, I am willing to pay for the privilege of working with you. You may charge any sum you consider fair, provided that at the end of three months that amount will become my salary. The sum I am to pay you can be deducted from what you pay me when I start to earn money.

“General Ayres,” Hill recalls, “was so taken with my letter that he hired me.” At the end of the first month the famous attorney began paying him a regular salary, and before long the young man was one of his trusted lieutenants.

Legal work appealed to Hill so much that, for a while, he considered making it his career. When he was 18 he decided to matriculate at Georgetown University Law School, in Washington, D.C., in order to qualify for the bar. Doing so required tremendous nerve. He had no money to finance his education. However, he did have an idea. Since he had made money writing for newspapers, he felt that he might do so again. This time he wanted to specialize in writing biographical stories about successful people . . . the kind of stories that many magazines of the period were publishing.


As a first step he approached Senator Bob Taylor of Tennessee. In addition to being a senator, Taylor was the publisher of an important periodical of the day. Young Hill wanted some assurance of a regular income from his writing. Taylor, intrigued by the young man, offered to give him letters of introduction to prominent people who might make good subjects for future articles. When their interview was over, Hill’s list included Thomas Edison; John Wanamaker, the merchant prince; Edward Bok, publisher of the Ladies’ Home Journal;Cyrus H. K. Curtis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post;Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; and Andrew Carnegie, the great steel magnate.

Dazzled by the prospects of his new connections, Hill put his legal studies aside and threw himself into journalism. The turning point in his life came during his interview with Andrew Carnegie, the man who had built one of the most powerful industrial empires in human history.

After a trip to Pittsburgh, Hill went direct to Carnegie’s office. They spent three hours talking about the magnate’s life. At the end of that time Carnegie, greatly impressed with the young man, asked him to be a guest in his home. Their talks continued for three days. While he was reviewing the incidents that led to his own rise, Carnegie, once a penniless immigrant in a new land, told Hill that the world needed a philosophy of success based upon the “know-how” of men like himself who had gained their knowledge by experience over a lifetime, by the trial and error method . . . it needed some type of blueprint that would help people make the most of their talents. The job would be long and arduous . . . it would be exhausting . . . and it might not be remunerative for a long time. But someone, he insisted, would have to undertake the task.

At the end of the third day Carnegie suddenly confronted his youthful interlocutor with a question. “Would you,” he asked, “be willing to spend 20 years doing the job? Just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Take as much time as you need to make your decision and let me know about it when you do.”


Hill, startled, sat back. Moments later the 19-year-old youth blurted out, “Yes, I’ll do the job and you may depend on me to complete it!”

Carnegie drew a watch from his hand and showed it to Hill. “It took you 29 seconds to decide. I was giving you 60 seconds to make your mind up!”

Later Hill discovered that the famed industrialist had asked other men if they would undertake the task he suggested . . . but only Hill had met his qualifications.

Thus Napoleon Hill began the monumental task of his life—the organization of his unique philosophy of success . . . a philosophy published, as Carnegie had predicted, more than a score of years later, and subsequently read by millions.

Hill began his work by making intensive studies of the lives of 500 of the most successful people in the nation, starting with Henry Ford at about the time that the famous Model T automobile made its appearance. Carnegie helped by giving him letters of introduction to top men. Henry Ford, William Wrigley, Jr., and others of similar stature were included.

Although the great men he met were cooperating in supplying information, they did little, if anything, to improve his financial status. During the long years that followed, while he was working on the philosophy of success and testing the “laws” that revealed themselves to him, his life took many turns. It was in this crucible of experience and effort, in the cauldron of success and failure, that The Law of Success was born.

His rise was spurred shortly after his marriage in 1910 when he visited his wife’s family in Lumberport, West Virginia. The community had long been plagued by the absence of an adequate bridge to carry traffic over the nearby Monongahela River.

The young man, using what he had learned from Carnegie, contacted public officials and business executives. By explaining how all would benefit, he persuaded them to share the costs, then in excess of $100,000. And the town had its long-needed bridge! Moreover, the building of the bridge brought street railway transportation to the town and with it a new surge of business prosperity on which Hill and his wife’s relatives were quick to capitalize. A company was organized to produce natural gas, and it became so profitable that it relieved Hill from all financial needs of his family from that time forward, and sent his three sons through the State University. During the 44 years of operations the business has yielded a gross income of many millions of dollars and it is now under the control of Hill’s eldest son.


When asked how he had done it, Hill explained the 10-point success formula Carnegie had suggested as a starting point for his research:

  1. Definiteness of Purpose—the setting of a major goal or purpose.
  2. Master-Mind Alliance—contacting and working with people who have what you haven’t.
  3. Going the Extra Mile—doing more than you have to do is the only thing that justifles raises or promotions, and puts people under an obligation to you.
  4. Applied Faith—the kind of belief that has action behind it.
  5. Personal Initiative—do what you should do without being told to do it.
  6. Imagination—daring to do what you think is possible.
  7. Enthusiasm—the contagious quality that will attract correlative enthusiasm.
  8. Accurate Thinking—the ability to separate facts from fiction and to use those pertinent to your own concerns or problems.
  9. Concentration of Effort—not being diverted from any purpose.
  10. Profiting by Adversity—remembering that there is an equivalent benefit for every setback.

His success brought national publicity and an offer to direct a leading correspondence school—at a salary and commission reputed to be in excess of the then-fabulous sum of $15,000 per year. In only two years, he brought the firm more than a million dollars in capital and enabled it to multiply its operations. Hill then decided to operate his own school, and spent the next two years teaching advertising. The philosophy of success, then formulating itself in his mind, was tested daily in all he did . . . and it worked.


At this juncture World War I came. Hill, who had met Woodrow Wilson through Carnegie while the President was head of Princeton University, was asked to come to Washington to serve as a confidential advisor on propaganda to the Chief Executive. His wartime activities did much to stimulate the patriotic fervor required for victory.

When the vast German military machine collapsed in 1918, Hill suggested a plan which helped to destroy the ancient Hohenzollern dynasty and put the Kaiser to flight! President Wilson barely finished reading the request for an armistice when he turned to Hill and showed him the dispatch. “Mr. President,” Hill exclaimed, “shouldn’t we ask whether this request is made in the name of the German people—or in the name of the Imperial Government?” This question, echoed by Wilson, led to the Kaiser’s abdication. It ended the reign of one of the most powerful Royal Houses in the world . . . and stimulated the overthrow of other absolute monarchies.

After Wilson’s death and the inauguration of a new administration, Hill decided to return to his work as an educator. He continued to teach and lecture . . . to spread the ideas and the philosophy that he was gleaning from his constant study of the factors that produced success. At one of his lectures he met Don Mellet, publisher of the Canton, Ohio, Daily News,who became one of his greatest admirers, and subsequently his manager. Mellet urged Hill to reduce his research to paper . . . and to prepare a manuscript based on his findings, which could be published in book form. As a result, Hill began the actual writing.

Before the work was completed, Mellet was murdered by a policeman and four underworld characters now serving life terms in the Ohio State Penitentiary. Mellet uncovered a tie-in between the four men by which they were permitted to sell narcotics and liquor, and published their names in his paper. The assassination followed and Hill barely missed the same fate, because the underworld characters believed he was behind the newspaper attacks. Before his death Mellet had arranged with Judge Elbert H. Gary, Chairman of the Board of the United States Steel Corporation, to supply the money for the publication of the Hill success books, but Judge Gary died before the deal could be consummated. All in all, the Hand of Destiny, or whatever it is that so often puts men to severe tests before they are permitted to “arrive,” seemed to be dealing Hill the losing cards during this dramatic period of his career.


After a year he went to Philadelphia to contact Albert L. Pelton, a publisher. Pelton, after glancing at the manuscripts, bought them. Thus the world was given his first major publication—The Law of Success—a work subsequently published in eight volumes and now distributed throughout the world.

After the publication of The Law of Success,Hill’s rise was meteoric. His royalties hit the $2,500 a month mark and stayed at that level for years. Success-starved people everywhere made it their blueprint for a better future.

He traveled constantly . . . lecturing, teaching, and explaining his philosophy. Eventually, Bernard McFadden, the famed publisher, persuaded him to write a daily column for his newspaper—the Daily Graphic. The column, called “Success,” became one of the publication’s principal features and upped the circulation by over 200,000 during the first three months. Eventually, the Daily Graphicfailed. McFadden jokingly said it was due to Hill’s column which built circulation too far ahead of the sale of advertising space. Actually, it was said that the merchants of New York City boycotted the McFadden paper by refusing to give it their advertising, due to some misunderstanding they had with the publisher.

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From the Publisher

"During the past twenty-five years I have been blessed with more good fortune than any individual deserves but I shudder to think where I'd be today, or what I'd be doing if I had not been exposed to Napoleon Hill's philosophy. It changed my life."
--Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

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