Napoleon Hill, an American author, was born on October 26, 1883, in Pound (Virginia, USA). He is renowned for his groundbreaking work in the field of self-help. Napoleon Hill claimed to have discovered a methodology for achieving success. His book “Think and Grow Rich” is his most celebrated work, having sold over 25 million copies. Napoleon Hill’s contributions to the self-help genre have made him the most popular author in this field.
Blair, Napoleon Hill’s son without ears
Blair Hill, son of Napoleon Hill, was born without ears. Despite his condition, he had a strong desire to overcome his handicap. He didn’t quit until he discovered a way to perceive sound through a Victrola phonograph using bone conduction. Later, he was one of the first in using an Acousticon hearing aid made by Dictograph Products Company, which improved his hearing to 100 percent.
Inspired by his experience with the Acousticon, Blair devised a marketing plan for Dictograph to reach out to people worldwide with hearing difficulties. Dictograph accepted his proposal and hired him.
Another version of Blair’s story suggests that his hearing improved after receiving chiropractic adjustments for several years. This treatment relieved pressure on nerves, allowing Blair’s body to adapt and improve his hearing.
Napoleon Hill net worth
Napoleon Hill, a wealthy businessman, once claimed that his net worth was a whopping $100 million. While this assertion remains unverified, certain facts about Hill’s life are well-documented and undisputed.
One such fact is the phenomenal success of his book, “Think and Grow Rich.” This seminal work has sold over 25 million copies since it first hit the shelves. In 1929, Hill’s newfound fortune allowed him to indulge in luxuries such as a Rolls-Royce and a magnificent mansion nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The mansion, set on a sprawling 600-acre property, was a testament to Hill’s wealth.
In 1928, Napoleon Hill, a man who had known poverty, decided to try his luck again. He was ready to share his knowledge about success in a book titled “The Law of Success.” The book, published by Andrew Pelton, was a collection of eight volumes.
By 1929, Hill’s fortune began to grow. He was earning around $2,500 per month (equivalent to about $35,000 in 2020). His wealth was evident in his purchase of a grand mansion in the Catskill Mountains, New York, and a Rolls-Royce.
Hill had a dream of transforming his property into a holiday town for the rich and successful. It would be a place where they could gather and receive personal development training.
However, Hill’s wealth did not last. In 1929, the same year he moved his office to New York, Wall Street collapsed. The Great Depression that followed left Hill poor once again.
During the 1930s, Hill survived the old way. He was setting up businesses, failing and restarting over and over. Sometimes, he had to live on the charity of his wife’s family until his divorce in 1935. By 1936 Napoleon had a new wife and had no option but to move in with his son Blair if he wanted to keep working on his latest project: “Think and Grow Rich.”
Napoleon contacted his former publisher Andrew Pelton again, but he showed himself reluctant. Andrew didn’t think this kind of book would still sell during the economic depression.
After much pressure in 1937, Andrew Pelton finally accepted the project, and shortly after, he found out the book was a tremendous success. Americans of the Great Depression needed hope, and Napoleon Hill was there to give it to them. It was a smashing success.
“Think and Grow Rich” became a best-seller and kept on being so until our days. Napoleon and his new wife bought a fancy house in Mount Dora, Florida. They resumed their opulent lifestyle and began spending money like never before. However, despite all expectations, the couple divorced in 1940, and Hill went bankrupt again. The signing of a prenup agreement would entitle his wife to 50% of his income, and Napoleon’s debts were too big. Hill found himself alone and without money in his new pursuit of happiness.
Napoleon Hill’s residence in Mount Dora, Florida
Napoleon had a significant net worth at the time of his death. However, estimating the exact amount is challenging.
In 1943, Hill married his fifth wife and returned to the lecture circuit. He also began establishing small businesses again. This period marked a financial recovery for Hill, leading to a more sustainable lifestyle.
A testament to his financial success was the establishment of the Napoleon Hill Foundation in 1963. This foundation continues to operate today, further indicating Hill’s substantial net worth at the time of his death.
Napoleon Hill as a fraud
Napoleon Hill, a man of controversy, has been viewed by some as a genius and a good person. His work in the field of personal development has been influential and transformative for many. However, there are others who see him differently. To them, Hill is a con artist, a master of the scam. They question the authenticity of his work and label him as a fraud.
Napoleon Hill, a figure of controversy, claimed to have met Andrew Carnegie, a claim that Carnegie’s biographers couldn’t verify. This led to a tarnished reputation for Hill in his early professional years.
Critics argue that Carnegie’s historians don’t mention his meeting with Hill. But considering Carnegie’s status as the world’s richest man and Hill’s then obscurity as a young journalist, it’s plausible that such a meeting wouldn’t be documented. This doesn’t negate the profound impression Carnegie could have made on Hill. However, it is also true that Hill’s claims were made after Carnegie’s death in 1918.
Despite his books, Hill wasn’t wealthy. His financial struggles and accusations of fraud from disgruntled customers painted him as a potential con artist. However, these accusations don’t necessarily make him a scammer.
This dichotomy is similar to a personal anecdote about Leonardo DiCaprio. A friend of mine met DiCaprio at an airport when she was a child. She expressed her desire to become an actress, and DiCaprio remarked that she seemed talented. Today, she’s an actress in London and credits DiCaprio for discovering her talent.
But would DiCaprio’s biographers document this brief encounter? Likely not. Similarly, the lack of documentation about Hill’s meeting with Andrew Carnegie doesn’t necessarily discredit Hill’s work or make him a scammer. It simply highlights the complexity of his legacy.
However, the truth is, it doesn’t really matter whether Hill was a scammer or not. What truly matters is the effectiveness of his advice in “Think and Grow Rich.” This is the most important question. Does his advice work? Can it help people achieve their goals?
The rest, we may never know. And honestly, it doesn’t affect us at all. What’s crucial is the value we can derive from his teachings.
Napoleon Hill biography
Oliver Napoleon Hill was born in Pound, a small town, on October 26, 1883. His family was poor. His parents were Monroe Hill and Sarah Sylvania, and his grandfather, James Madison Hill, was an Englishman who settled in Virginia in 1847.
Napoleon’s childhood was tough. His mother, Sarah, passed away when he was just nine. However, this unfortunate event led to a turning point in his life.
His father remarried a woman named Martha, who had previously been married to a school principal. She became Napoleon’s mentor and guided him towards education by helping him attend school and church.
Napoleon had a passion for writing from a young age. He would often pretend to be a “mountain journalist,” crafting stories and articles during his playtime. This early interest laid the foundation for his future career.
At the age of eighteen, Napoleon Hill’s life was quite different from the principles he later advocated in his books. He began his education in business in Virginia, which led to a position at the Virginia Coal & Iron Co. This company was owned by Rufus Adolphus Ayers, a former Virginia Attorney General.
Rufus was not just a businessman, but also a lawyer and a politician associated with the Democrat Party. His diverse background and success had a significant influence on young Napoleon, shaping his future endeavors.
Hill tried his hand at many professions and businesses but failed to make a significant impact in any of them.
In 1907, Napoleon Hill ventured into the lumber business with the Acree-Hill Lumber Co. in Mobile, Alabama. However, the company soon went bankrupt, and Hill was accused of fraud. He would buy lumber on credit, sell it at a lower price, and then disappear with the money. Today, we might call him a commodities market speculator.
By 1909, Hill had reinvented himself as an automobile expert, educator, and salesman. He launched the Automobile College of Washington in Washington D.C., aiming to train people for jobs in car workshops. The college became controversial due to its association with the Carter Motor Corporation. Students were required to gain real experience by working for this car manufacturer, a practice seen by some as a scam.
When the Carter Motor Company went bankrupt, the school was no longer viable. Students were unhappy and demanded their money back. Amid these difficulties, Hill decided to shift his focus from mechanics to car sales. He pioneered a multi-level marketing scheme where students could sell Washington Cars after completing the program.
However, Washington Cars lost momentum, and students struggled to sell them. Hill’s business faltered, and he had to close it in 1912. He then moved to Chicago and got a job at LaSalle Extension University through his wife’s connections. But after six months, he left to buy a Martha Washington Candy Company franchise.
Hill and his partners renamed it Betsy Ross Candy Shop. But once again, partner disputes and litigations led Hill to exit the business shortly after. Despite these failures, Hill realized that his ability to recover from successive bankruptcies was his strength.
In 1915, he started another venture: the George Washington Institute in Chicago. The school quickly transformed into a magazine, and Hill also got involved in the propaganda business in the years following 1918. Despite numerous failures and controversies, Hill never surrendered. He set up magazines such as Hill’s Golden Rule, Napoleon Hill’s Magazine, and the Intra-Wall Correspondence School.
After these difficulties, Napoleon Hill decided to reorient his business. Instead of focusing on mechanics, his college would focus on selling cars. Napoleon was one of the pioneers in setting up a multi-level marketing scheme. Students would be allowed to sell Washington Cars after completing the program.
Cars were $2,250 per unit and would leave a net commission of $400 for the salesman. Unfortunately, Washington Cars lost momentum, and students had difficulties selling them. His business lost traction, and Hill had to close it. It was the year 1912.
Hill and his family moved to Chicago. Hill managed to get a job at LaSalle Extension University thanks to his wife’s connections (Miss Horner was the niece of former Governor Atkinson of West Virginia). He lasted six months in his new job before leaving it to set up a new venture: he bought a Martha Washington Candy Company franchise.
Hill and his partners changed the name to Betsy Ross Candy Shop. But, again, problems with his partners and litigations ended with Hill exiting the business shortly after.
Napoleon Hill realized that fighting against all odds and continuously recovering after successive bankruptcies was his star ability. He was resolved to teach this. So in 1915, Napoleon Hill started another venture: the George Washington Institute, also in Chicago.
The school rapidly transformed itself into a magazine, and during the years following 1918, Hill also got involved in the propaganda business (not free of controversy either).
Hill experienced failure after failure and kept on trying even if sometimes it was on the border of legality. Hill was born a survivor and would never surrender. He set up magazines such as Hill’s Golden Rule, Napoleon Hill’s Magazine, and the Intra-Wall Correspondence School.
Napoleon Hill years of success
Napoleon Hill, once impoverished, published a book titled “The Law of Success” in 1928, which led to his fortune growing by 1929. His wealth was demonstrated through the purchase of a grand mansion in the Catskill Mountains, New York, and a Rolls-Royce. He aspired to transform his property into a holiday town for the affluent, offering personal development training.
However, Hill’s wealth was short-lived. The Wall Street collapse in 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression left him impoverished again. Throughout the 1930s, Hill set up and failed numerous businesses, sometimes relying on his wife’s family’s charity. By 1936, after a divorce and remarriage, he moved in with his son Blair to continue working on his next project: “Think and Grow Rich.”
Despite initial reluctance from his former publisher Andrew Pelton due to the economic depression, Pelton accepted the project in 1937. The book was a tremendous success, providing hope to Americans during the Great Depression. Despite the success of “Think and Grow Rich,” Hill went bankrupt again in 1940 following a divorce and a prenup agreement entitling his wife to 50% of his income.
Cause of death
Napoleon Hill, a renowned author, experienced a significant shift in his life in 1943. Already on his fifth marriage, he returned to the lecture circuit and began establishing small businesses again. This period marked his achievement of financial stability. Despite his death, his legacy did not end. In 1963, he founded the Napoleon Hill Foundation, a testament to his sustainable life. This foundation continues to flourish today.
On November 8, 1970, Hill passed away at the age of 87. The exact cause of his death remains unknown. However, video clips from his later years suggest symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, such as pill-rolling tremors. He is buried at the Frederick Memorial Gardens in Gaffney, Cherokee County, South Carolina, USA.
Napoleon Hill personal details
Napoleon Hill, born on October 26, 1883, was a man of average build, standing around 5’10.9″ (1.80m) tall and weighing between 155 and 175 pounds (70 and 80kg). His height is inferred from a photo with Thomas Edison, who was 1.78m tall.
Hill had a complex personal life and a difficult family life. He was married five times, with records of three wives: a not well-documented local girl (1898-1989), Edith Whitman (1903 – 1908), Florence Elizabeth Hornor (1888-1976), Rosa Lee Beeland (1905 – 1970), and Annie Lou Norman (1894 – 1984). He had three sons: James, Napoleon Blair and David.
We found evidence he owned properties in the Catskill Mountains, New York, and a house in Mount Dora, Florida.
Hill’s spiritual beliefs were influenced by Judeo-Christian mysticism. From his work, we can conclude he believed in God, spirit, soul, and a supreme intelligence. However, he did not follow an established religion.
There’s no definitive evidence that Hill was a Freemason. His work references beliefs similar to Masonic ones, suggesting he might have been a Mason. However, this remains speculative.
Napoleon Hill pitch
Napoleon Hill’s formula for success, in essence, is quite straightforward. It’s about reprogramming your mind to become obsessed with your goal. This obsession ensures that you persist, overcoming one hurdle after another until you achieve your objective.
However, Hill never explicitly stated his formula. He often used different words to express his ideas, leading to varied interpretations and debates among those who study his work.
The above is my perspective, having read Hill’s books multiple times and pondered over his teachings. I believe many get lost in Hill’s early 20th-century language, which is steeped in mysticism. Some other people may not have even read his books.
Critics often point out that Hill emphasizes “thinking” and “desiring,” arguing that mere thought doesn’t yield results. However, this is a misunderstanding. In “Think and Grow Rich,” Hill dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of planning and taking immediate action.
Napoleon Hill and Andrew Carnegie
Later in his life, Napoleon Hill claimed that a significant turning point in his life was an assignment to interview the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1908. In 1908 Napoleon was 25. Carnegie, one of the most powerful men in the world at that time, spoke about a hidden secret for success during this interview.
Carnegie proposed a grand endeavor to Hill: to investigate this secret by writing a book. This would involve interviewing many successful men, and Carnegie offered to assist Hill in making these connections.
Embracing the challenge, Hill accepted this mission. Carnegie was a philanthropist, and his intention was for Hill to make the secret of success accessible to all of humanity.
Books of Napoleon Hill
Here is the list of Napoleon Hill’s books organized in chronological order, including the first publisher:
|Title||Publication date||Subject||Number of pages||First publisher|
|The Law of Success||1925||Personal-success, Self-help||Not available||Tribeca Books|
|Think and Grow Rich||1937||Personal-success, Self-help||238||The Ralston Society|
|Outwitting the Devil||1938||Personal-success, Self-help||288||Sterling Publishing|
|The Master Key to Riches||1945||Personal-success, Self-help||256||Fawcett Crest|
|Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude||1959||Personal-success, Self-help||384||Pentice-Hall, Inc.|
|Grow Rich! with Peace of Mind||1967||Personal-success, Self-help||Not available||TarcherPerigee|
|Napoleon Hill’s Golden Rules: The Lost Writings||2008||Personal-success, Self-help||Not available||Wiley|
My personal opinion about Napoleon Hill
Fraud and bankrupcies
Running a risky business is not being a crook.
During the crisis of 2008, many banks and investment companies went bankrupt, losing people’s money. But, according to Law, they are not crooks or scammers. Instead, some even got federal money from the government to survive. I think the same should apply to Napoleon Hill’s speculative lumber business.
Napoleon Hill was indeed desperate to become rich, and in his quest for money, he walked on the edge of legality. But we also have to say many techniques he employed, like the multi-level marketing techniques or internships without compensation, are legal and widespread practices across the United States today. Even students from Harvard or Columbia do non-remunerated internships in companies, and no one complains.
Napoleon Hill was not the best business partner, but it is still essential to look at what he did from a reasonable historical perspective before we accuse him of fraud.
Does Think and Grow Rich work?
This is the crux of the matter. People care about whether “Think and Grow Rich” (T&GR) works, regardless of any rumors about Napoleon being a fraud.
The simple answer? Absolutely, T&GR works. To what extent? Well, that’s a different story. Many folks claim it doesn’t work simply because they didn’t follow all the steps (no matter how silly they may seem) or they didn’t take their reading seriously.
I can assure you, if you stick to the steps, there’s no question that your financial situation will improve over time.
As I write this, I can say it worked for me. I’m not rolling in dough, but it made a difference. That’s why I want to give back. I want others to have the chance to better themselves.
Napoleon Hill is my go-to author for this kind of book. Why? Because I’m not a born high-achiever like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. I’m just your average Joe in his mid-30s, working hard to better myself and chase my dreams.
I don’t need guidance from big shots like Rockefeller, Schwarzenegger, or Trump. What I need is practical advice from folks who’ve walked in my shoes, faced tough times, and dealt with failure.
That’s exactly what Napoleon Hill brings to the table, and that’s why I’m such a fan.