Napoleon Hill – The Ultimate Con-Artist

napoleon_hillI read with great interest this long piece by Matt Novak on the back-story of Napoleon Hill, a man who gets credit as the father of the self-help genre. When I started doing financial book reviews, a number of people (and lists) recommended Hill’s 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich. I  reviewed his book, and while much of it was cheesy, I tried to keep an open mind.

Hill employs the patter of a carnival barker throughout his book, which should probably be the first clue.  But Novak did the research on the man Napoleon Hill himself.

As it turns out, his life was a complete lie. His original claim to have learned the secrets of business from Andrew Carnegie: false. His business biography: A cover-up of his scam-artist background.

One lesson of Novak’s piece: If it seems like the guy is selling snake-oil, he’s probably selling snake oil. We’re in a new era, in which the ability to spot a scam artist is particularly important. One of my rules has always been, if he’s willing to lie and cheat about some things, he’s probably willing to do it about anything.

Passing bad checks, lying about the ‘source’ of his business knowledge, running from the law…You have to consider the messenger when evaluating the message. Anyway, if you’ve been tricked into reading this kind of book, or worse, going to ‘real estate seminars‘ with the same approach, you’ll be sure to enjoy Novak’s piece on Napoleon Hill.

Please see related posts

All Bankers Anonymous Reviews In One Place!

Review of con artists:

Book Review: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Book Review: The Wealth Dragon Way, by John Lee and Vincent Wong

Book Review: Secrets of The Millionaire Mind, by T. Harv Eker

Donald Trump – The Greatest Con Artist That Ever Lived



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10 Replies to “Napoleon Hill – The Ultimate Con-Artist”

  1. Agreed, he was a con artist, just like Tony Robbins and all of the other “gurus.” Here’s a clue, none of these people ever built a legit business. They are famous for being preachers. There is no difference between the “self help” creeps and the TV evangelists!

  2. Thank you for this helpful post acknowledging Matt Novak’s brilliant article.

    The true formula for wealth & success will always be Wallace D. Wattles’ 1910 masterpiece, ‘The Science of Getting Rich’:

    The desire to become a multi-millionaire comes from the scarce, greedy, competitive, insecure mindset, and is a guarantee of failure or at the very least, unhappiness.

    Page 132: “Beware of the insidious temptation to seek for power over other men.”

    TRUE wealth and success begins with the understanding of the connection each of us has with everyone and every thing in the universe.

    It’s all in the book!

  3. While he may have been a liar, what he says about the MIND and THINKING is TRUE.
    When I was younger I was able to do amazing things because I was too stupid to know I couldn’t do it. I had no fear. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was full of drive and wonder. I wanted something I went for it. Now that I’m older I let FEAR stop me from achieving the same things simply because of the RISK I know about. The only difference between the YOUNGER SUCCESSFUL ME and the POOR BROKE OLDER ME? My THINKING. Nothing else changed.
    Your BRAIN controls your life. That much is TRUE.
    Just look at Anorexics or those with extreme Anxiety Disorders. They refuse to shake someones hand because of “germs” simply because their BRAIN is screwing with them.

    1. Yes true indeed👍👍 im a living WITNESS. But I was using these principles back in the 90s way before I heard anything about law of attraction or Napoleon Hill. I still use the same principles today that is why I’m very prosperous and Rich

  4. Thanks for sharing about Napoleon Hill. Some here might wish to consider “Your Invisible Power” by Genevieve Behrend and/or a true successful businessman who inspired Mr. Hill, Charles F. Haanel who wrote, “The Master Key System.” Both books continue to help me. The thought pictures we create or imagine and think about, truly do have a significant effect on all aspects of our life.

  5. 1) Your brain doesn’t control your life. The brain is an organ, which controls human physical functions.
    2) Being and young reckless is not an antidote against failure & definitely not a blue-print for success.
    3) It’s not fear that stops ingenuity. It’s complacency.

  6. If the snake didn’t use some wholesome ingredients in composition of his oil who would ever buy it
    or use it
    good luck separating the goodies from the poison
    Matthew 7:7,8
    When you reach the 33° you receive a secret that should be obvious2 any1

  7. Why does it escape the Hill skeptics that he is the exact living example of what he talks about in his book?
    “Believe it and you will achieve it.” The man made up a story, lived it, and made millions as an immortal.
    It works, like his twisted method, con job or not.

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I founded Bankers Anonymous because, as a recovering banker, I believe that the gap between the financial world as I know it and the public discourse about finance is more than just a problem for a family trying to balance their checkbook, or politicians trying to score points over next year’s budget – it is a weakness of our civil society. For reals. It’s also really fun for me.

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