Napoleon Hill | Biography, Books and Facts

Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill

Born Oliver Napoleon Hill in Virginia in 1883, Hill graduated high school at 17 and moved instate to Tazewell to attend business school. A year later, he began working, and shortly after that enrolled briefly in law school, never finishing.

It was after law school that he started his first of many business ventures, first in lumber (the Acree Hill Lumber Company), then in automobile building, driving, and sales. After that he co-founded the Betsy Ross Candy Shop, and by 1915 started the short-lived George Washington Institute of Advertising, and in 1922 the Intra-Wall Correspondence School.

These businesses cost Napoleon dearly, but from these “failures”, he found his calling in research, interviewing, writing, and teaching about resiliency, self confidence, personal success, and the power of burning desire.

What books did Napoleon Hill write?

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

American author Napoleon Hill was best known for his 1938 Think and Grow Rich, but he had many more books to his name, including one famous manuscript that wasn’t published until decades after his death.

Hill’s first major publication was The Law of Success in 1928, a compilation of 15 of his booklets based on his lecture series built around interviews with 100+ famously successful American millionaires such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, and others.

In fact, it’s in the very first chapter of The Law of Success, Hill introduces the concept of a Master Mind!

Outwitting The Devil by Napoleon Hill
Outwitting The Devil by Napoleon Hill

Outwitting the Devil wasn’t published until 2011, over 70 years after it was first written. It was so controversial that it passed unpublished to Hill’s wife, Annie Lou, upon his death in 1970, and then on to their nephew, Dr. Charles Johnson, president of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, upon her death in 1984, and then onto Don Green, CEO of Napoleon Hill Foundation, upon the death of Johnson’s wife, Frankie.

Other popular works that Hill wrote include The Magic Ladder to Success (1930), How to Sell Your Way Through Life(1939), The Master-Key to Riches (1945), How to Raise Your Own Salary (1953), Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude (1959), Grow Rich!: With Peace of Mind (1967), Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion (1970), and You Can Work Your Own Miracles (1971).

What did Napoleon Hill believe?

Hill’s works insisted that “Freedom, democratic, capitalism and harmony” were the foundational concepts to achievement. Hill’s writings — specifically The Law of Success — delve deeper into the why behind this.

Hill states that one’s personal achievement, business success, and financial success were based on working in harmony with others by creating value for each other — much like one does in a Mastermind Group.

The keys to improving one’s life, Napoleon Hill claimed, started with belief, but still required action. Hill states “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.”

The biggest obstacle to success for many, Hill claimed, was a lack of Definite Major Purpose. Hill spends much of Outwitting the Devil going into how 98% of people have no strong beliefs and will stumble through life and just do what they’re told without question.

Is Think and Grow Rich true?

Think and Grow Rich isn’t meant as a factual manual on life. It was based on Hill’s extensive interviews and research and the culmination of what he found to be true in those that he studied.

If you want to grow rich, and attain wealth like the American millionaires that Hill met during his research, you don’t need to do everything they did.

Making one small change can make a difference. Repeat that process of self improvement over and over, and you can see positive change.

Millions of people — through the Napoleon Hill Foundation — have followed the advice of Hill and seen success.

Will it work for you? It depends. Are you willing to make the positive changes in your life that Hill wrote about?

Reading a book doesn’t change anything. Changing your thinking and your actions, however, can make all the difference in the world.

This Article originally appeared on the Bay Area Mastermind® website as Napoleon Hill | Biography, Books, and Facts.



Jeremy is the Facilitator of the Bay Area Mastermind, an Entrepreneur, an Advisor, and a Cyclist. He rides long distances for craft coffee and vegan pastries.

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Jeremy Shapiro

Jeremy is the Facilitator of the Bay Area Mastermind, an Entrepreneur, an Advisor, and a Cyclist. He rides long distances for craft coffee and vegan pastries.