What do you want most?
How This Book Was Written — And Why
During the first thirty-five years of the twentieth century, the
publishing houses of America printed more than a fifth of a million
different books. Most of them were deadly dull, and many were financial
failures. “Many,” did I say? The president of one of the largest
publishing houses in the world confessed to me that his company,
after seventy-five years of publishing experience, still lost money
on seven out of every eight books it published.
Why, then, did I have the temerity to write another book? And, after I
had written it, why should you bother to read it?
The Thirteen Steps to Riches described in this book offer the shortest
dependable philosophy of individual achievement ever presented for the
benefit of the man or woman who is searching for a definite goal in
Fair questions, both; and I’ll try to answer them.
I have, since 1912, been conducting educational courses for business and
professional men and women in New York. At first, I conducted courses in
public speaking only — courses designed to train adults, by actual
experience, to think on their feet and express their ideas with more
clarity, more effectiveness and more poise, both in business
interviews and before groups.
Before beginning the book you will profit greatly if you recognize the
fact that the book was not written to entertain. You cannot digest the
contents properly in a week or a month.
But gradually, as the seasons passed, I realized that as sorely as these
adults needed training in effective speaking, they needed still more
training in the fine art of getting along with people in everyday
business and social contacts.
I also gradually realized that I was sorely in need of such training
myself. As I look back across the years, I am appalled at my own
frequent lack of finesse and understanding. How I wish a book such as
this had been placed in my hands twenty years ago! What a priceless boon
it would have been.
After reading the book thoroughly, Dr. Miller Reese Hutchison,
nationally known Consulting Engineer and long-time associate of Thomas
A. Edison, said— “This is not a novel. It is a textbook on individual
achievement that came directly from the experiences of hundreds of
America’s most successful men. It should be studied, digested, and
meditated upon. No more than one chapter should be read in a single
night. The reader should underline the sentences which impress him most.
Later, he should go back to these marked lines and read them again. A
real student will not merely read this book, he will absorb its contents
and make them his own. This book should be adopted by all high schools
and no boy or girl should be permitted to graduate without having
satisfactorily passed an examination on it. This philosophy will not
take the place of the subjects taught in schools, but it will enable one
to organize and apply the knowledge acquired, and convert it into useful
service and adequate compensation without waste of time.
Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially
if you are in business. Yes, and that is also true if you are a
housewife, architect or engineer. Research done a few years ago under
the auspices of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
teaching uncovered a most important and significant fact — a fact later
confirmed by additional studies made at the Carnegie Institute of
Technology.These investigations revealed that even in such technical
lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due
to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in
human engineering — to personality and the ability to lead people.
Miller Reese Hutchison博士全国出名咨询工程师而且是
For many years, I conducted courses each season at the Engineers’ Club
of Philadelphia, and also courses for the New York Chapter of the
American Institute of Electrical Engineers. A total of probably more
than fifteen hundred engineers have passed through my classes.They came
to me because they had finally realized, after years of observation
and experience, that the highest-paid personnel in engineering
are frequently not those who know the most about engineering. One
can forexample, hire more technical ability in engineering, accountancy,
architecture or any other profession at nominal salaries. But the person
who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to
assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people — that
person is headed for higher earning power.
Dr. John R. Turner, Dean of the College of The City of New York, after
having read the book, said— “The very best example of the soundness of
this philosophy is your own son, Blair, whose dramatic story you have
outlined in the chapter on Desire.”
In the heyday of his activity, JohnD. Rockefeller said that “the ability
to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee.”
“And I will pay more for that ability,” said John D., “than for any
other under the sun.”
Wouldn’t you suppose that every college in the land would conduct
courses to develop the highest-priced ability under the sun? But if
there is just one practical, common-sense course of that kindgiven for
adults in even one college in the land, it has escaped my attention up
to the present writing.
Dr. Turner had reference to the author’s son, who, born without normal
hearing capacity, not only avoided becoming a deaf mute, but actually
converted his handicap into a priceless asset by applying the philosophy
here described. After reading the story (starting on page 52), you will
realize that you are about to come into possession of a philosophy which
can be transmuted into material wealth, or serve as readily to bring you
peace of mind, understanding, spiritual harmony, and in some instances,
as in the case of the author’s son, it can. help you master physical
The University of Chicago and the United Y.M.C.A. Schools conducted a
survey to determine what adults want to study.
That survey cost $25,000 and took two years. The last part of the survey
was made in Meriden, Connecticut. It had been chosen as a typical
American town. Every adult in Meriden was interviewed and requested to
answer 156 questions — questions such as “What is your business or
profession? Your education? How do you spend your spare time? Whatis
your income? Your hobbies? Your ambitions? Your problems? What
subjects are you most interested in studying?” And so on. That survey
revealed that health is the prime interest of adults and that their
second interest is people; how to understand and get along with people;
how to make people like you; and how to win others to your way of
The author discovered, through personally analyzing hundreds of
successful men, that all of them followed the habit of exchanging ideas,
through what is commonly called conferences. When they had problems to
be solved they sat down together and talked freely until they
discovered, from their joint contribution of ideas, a plan that would
serve their purpose.
So the committee conducting this survey resolved to conduct such a
course for adults in Meriden. They searched diligently for a practical
textbook on the subject and found — not one.Finally they approached one
of the world’s outstanding authorities on adult education and asked him
if he knew of any book that met the needs of this group. “No,” he
replied, “I know what those adults want. But the book they need has
never been written.”
I knew from experience that this statement was true, for I myself had
been searching for years to discover a practical, working handbook on
You, who read this book, will get most out of it by putting into
practice the Master Mind principle described in the book. This you can
do (as others are doing so successfully) by forming a study club,
consisting of any desired number of people who are friendly and
harmonious. The club should have a meeting at regular periods, as often
as once each week. The procedure should consist of reading one chapter
of the book at each meeting, after which the contents of the chapter
should be freely discussed by all members. Each member should make
notes, putting down ALL IDEAS OF HIS OWN inspired by the discussion.
Each member should carefully read and analyze each chapter several days
prior to its open reading and joint discussion in the club. The reading
at the club should be done by someone who reads well and understands how
to put color and feeling into the lines.
Since no such book existed, I have tried to write one for use in my own
courses. And here it is. I hope you like it.
In preparation for this book, I read everything that I could find on the
subject — everything from newspaper columns, magazine articles, records
of the family courts, the writings of the old philosophers and the new
psychologists. In addition, I hired a trained researcher to spend one
and a half years in various libraries reading everything I had
missed, plowing through erudite tomes on psychology, poring
over hundreds of magazine articles, searching through countless
biographies, tryingto ascertain how the great leaders of all ages had
dealt with people. We read their biographies. We read the life stories
of all great leaders from Julius Caesar to Thomas Edison. I recall that
we read over one hundred biographies of Theodore Roosevelt alone. We
were determined to spare no time, no expense, to discover every
practical idea that anyone had ever used throughout the ages for winning
friends and influencing people.
By following this plan every reader will get from its pages, not only
the sum total of the best knowledge organized from the experiences of
hundreds of successful men, but more important by far, he will tap new
sources of knowledge in his own mind as well as acquire knowledge of
priceless value FROM EVERY OTHER PERSON PRESENT.
I personally interviewed scores of successful people, some of them
world-famous — inventors like Marconi and Edison; political leaders
like Franklin D. Roosevelt and James Farley; business leaderslike Owen
D. Young; movie stars like Clark Gable and Mary Pickford; and
explorers like Martin Johnson — and tried to discover the techniques
they used in human relations.
From all this material, I prepared a short talk. I called it “How to Win
Friends and Influence People.”I say “short.” It was short in the
beginning, but it soon expanded to a lecture that consumed one hour and
thirty minutes. For years, I gave this talk each season to the adults in
the Carnegie Institute courses in New York.
If you follow this plan persistently you will be almost certain to
uncover and appropriate the secret formula by which Andrew Carnegie
acquired his huge fortune, as referred to in the author’s introduction.
I gave the talk and urged the listeners to go out and test it in their
business and social contacts, and then come back to class and speak
about their experiences and the results they had achieved. What an
interesting assignment! These men and women, hungry for
self-improvement, were fascinated by the idea of working in a new
kind of laboratory — the first and only laboratory of human
relationships for adults that had ever existed.
This book wasn’t written in the usual sense of the word. It grew as a
child grows. It grew and developed out of that laboratory, out of the
experiences of thousands of adults.
Years ago, we started with a set of rules printed on a card no larger
than a postcard. The next season we printed a larger card, then a
leaflet, then a series of booklets, each one expanding in sizeand scope.
After fifteen years of experiment and research came this book.
The rules we have set down here are not mere theories or guesswork. They
work like magic. Incredible as it sounds, I have seen the application of
these principles literally revolutionize the lives of many people.
To illustrate: A man with 314 employees joined one of these courses. For
years, he had driven and criticized and condemned his employees without
stint or discretion. Kindness, words of appreciation and encouragement
were alien to his lips. After studying the principles discussed in this
book, this employer sharply altered his philosophy of life. His
organization is now inspired with a new loyalty, a new enthusiasm, a new
spirit of team-work. Three hundred and fourteen enemies have been turned
into 314 friends. As he proudly said in a speech before the class:
“When I used to walk through my establishment, no one greeted me. My
employees actually looked the other way when they saw me approaching.
But now they are all my friends and even the janitor calls me by my
This employer gained more profit, more leisure and — what is infinitely
more important — he found far more happiness in his business and in his
Countless numbers of salespeople have sharply increased their sales by
the use of these principles. Many have opened up new accounts —
accounts that they had formerly solicited in vain.Executives have been
given increased authority, increased pay. One executive reported a large
increase in salary because he applied these truths. Another, an
executive in the Philadelphia Gas Works Company, was slated for
demotion when he was sixty-five because of his belligerence, because of
his inability to lead people skillfully. This training not only saved
him from the demotion but brought him a promotion with increased pay.
On innumerable occasions, spouses attending the banquet given at the end
of the course have told me that their homes have been much happier since
their husbands or wives started this training.
People are frequently astonished at the new results they achieve. It all
seems like magic. In some cases, in their enthusiasm, they have
telephoned me at my home on Sundays because they couldn’t
wait forty-eight hours to report their achievements at the regular
session of the course.
One man was so stirred by a talk on these principles that he sat far
into the night discussing them with other members of the class. At three
o’clock in the morning, the others went home.But he was so shaken by a
realization of his own mistakes, so inspired by the vista of a new and
richer world opening before him, that he was unable to sleep. He didn’t
sleep that night or the next day or the next night.
Who was he? A naive, untrained individual ready to gush over any new
theory that came along? No. Far from it. He was a sophisticated, blase
dealer in art, very much the man about town, who spoke three languages
fluently and was a graduate of two European universities.
While writing this chapter, I received a letter from a German of the old
school, an aristocrat whose forebears had served for generations as
professional army officers under the Hohenzollerns. His letter, written
from a transatlantic steamer, telling about the application of these
principles, rose almost to a religious fervor.
Another man, an old New Yorker, a Harvard graduate, a wealthy man, the
owner of a large carpet factory, declared he had learned more in
fourteen weeks through this system of training about the fine art of
influencing people than he had learned about the same subject during his
four years in college. Absurd? Laughable? Fantastic? Of course, you
are privileged to dismiss this statement with whatever adjective you
wish. I am merely reporting, without comment, a declaration made by a
conservative and eminently successful Harvard graduate in a public
address to approximately six hundred people at the Yale Club in New York
on the evening of Thursday, February 23, 1933.
“Compared to what we ought to be,” said the famous Professor William
James of Harvard, “compared to what we ought to be, we are only half
awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental
resources. Stating the thing broadly, the human individual thus lives
far within his limits. He possesses powers of various sorts which he
habitually fails to use,”
Those powers which you”habitually fail to use”! The sole purpose of this
book is to help you discover, develop and profit by those dormant and
“Education,” said Dr.John G. Hibben, former president of Princeton
University, “is the ability to meet life’s situations,”
If by the time you have finished reading the first three chapters of
this book — if you aren’t then a little better equipped to meet life’s
situations, then I shall consider this book to be a total failure so far
as you are concerned. For “the great aim of education,” said Herbert
Spencer, “is not knowledge but action.”
And this is an action book.
DALE CARNEGIE 1936
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