Seventy-eight years ago, journalist Napoleon Hill interviewed more than 500 self-made millionaires over a span of 20 years.

At the peak of Andrew Carnegie’s career, he crossed paths with journalist Hill, who he trusted to document—and share with the world—the strategies that turned Carnegie into one of the wealthiest and most successful businessmen of all time.

It was Mr. Carnegie’s idea that the magic formula, which gave him a stupendous fortune, ought to be placed within reach of people who do not have time to investigate how men achieve success and make money.

His interviews and research culminated in the 1937 bestseller, “Think and Grow Reach,” which shares what he calls the “money-making secret” in 13 principles.

Here are Hill’s and Carnegie’s 13 steps, in their words and ours:

  1. Desire: You have to want it.

All of the super wealthy started with a certain amount of dreaming, hoping, planning, and desiring before they became rich.  They imagined riches before they saw them in their bank accounts, Hill explains:

Wishing will not bring success or riches.  But desiring success or riches with a state of mind that becomes an obsession, then planning definite ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring success or riches.

  1. Faith: Believe that you can achieve your goal.

Growing rich starts with your mindset—with the belief that you can accumulate wealth.

As self-made millionaire and author Dale Carnegie said, “Being rich isn’t a privilege.  Being rich is a right.  If you create massive value for others, you have the right to be as rich as you want.”

  1. Auto Suggestion: Use affirmations to reach your goal.

Turning desire for money or success into reality requires sending your subconscious mind phrases and mantras that support your goal.  You have to repeat out loud what it is that you want, and how you plan to get it, so you become obsessed with your purpose.

For example, if you aim to save $1 million for retirement by putting away money every week, you would repeat, “I will set aside money this week to have $1 million in retirement savings.

  1. Specialized knowledge: Gain experiences and continue learning.

Knowledge is potential power.  An education only becomes powerful and leads to great wealth when it is organized and applied to life.  It also must be continually sought after.  You’re never done learning.  Hill emphasizes:

“Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.”

  1. Imagination: Come up with ideas and visualize your success.

If you can imagine it, you can create it, says Hill:

“Ideas are the beginning points of all success.  Ideas are products of the imagination… Man’s only limitation, within reason, lies in his development and use of his imagination.”

  1. Organized planning: Take action.

Once you’ve visualized your success, you need to take action and go after exactly what you want.  You must act with persistence and enthusiasm.  Hill explains:

“Most of us are good ‘starters’ but poor ‘finishers’ of everything we begin.  Moreover, people are prone to give up at the first signs of defeat.  There is no substitute for persistence.”

  1. Decision: Defeat procrastination with decisiveness.

A key trait Hill recognized in all of the individuals he studied who acquired great wealth was decisiveness.  Those who settle on decisions quickly know what they want, and they tend to get what they want.

  1. Persistence: Don’t stop until you get what you want.

Persistence is crucial when trying to accumulate wealth, yet few people possess the willpower required to turn their desire for money into actual money.  Hill writes:

“Riches do not respond to wishes.  They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.”

The most successful people tend to have dealt with and overcame failure.  “I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail,” Mark Cuban said.  “You only have to be right once.  I tried to sell powdered milk.  I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all.”

  1. Power of the Master Team: Surround yourself with the best.

The most successful people create a master team, meaning they surround themselves with talented employees and colleagues who share their vision.  The alignment of several smart and creative minds is exponentially more powerful than just one.

  1. Choose a Compatible Partner

Sexual energy is an incredibly powerful human energy—it creates physical and emotional life, and when it is harnessed, it can enhance our creativity, passion, enthusiasm, and persistence, all which are crucial in accumulating success and wealth.

When combined, these emotions may lift one to an altitude of genius.

  1. The Subconscious Mind: Master positivity and dismiss negative emotions.

If you truly want to be successful and/or rich, you have to plant that desire, and your plan, into your subconscious mind.  Hill writes:

“The subconscious mind will not remain idle if you fail to plant desires in your subconscious mind, it will feed upon the thoughts which reach it as the result of your neglect.  Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time.  One or the other must dominate.”

  1. The Brain: Associate with other smart people and learn from them.

Our brain is a “transmitter and receiver of thought vibrations”—it absorbs thoughts from other individuals surrounding us, making it even more important to associate with intelligent, creative, and positive individuals.

It takes the Master Team principle one step further—rather than just surrounding yourself with people who are smarter and better, use the members of your group to find solutions to problems or brainstorm ideas.

  1. The Sixth Sense: Trust your gut.

The final principle—the “sixth sense”—occurs only after you’ve mastered the other 12.  You’ll experience a sort of mind-shift, Hill says:  “Through the aid of the sixth sense, you will be warned of impending dangers in time to avoid them, and notified of opportunities in time to embrace them.


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