I won’t give any credit to the man who started the rumor, nor his strategic purpose, other than saying it was a marketer who used a startling headline which intent was to trick one into reading his copy. It goes like this, “If Napoleon Hill Was So Smart, How Come He Died Broke?”

And then in the copy somewhere it had a line nobody's ever noticed saying other people say Napoleon Hill died broke. Never mentions who said it; never mentions any drama.  Having arrested your attention, he then goes on with his pitch. It doesn’t make a case one way or the other.

But, since most people operate from a superficial basis, that was all it took to start the urban legend. As they say today, the idea, totally unsupported by any facts, went viral.

But, I’m sorry, friend, it’s not true that Napoleon Hill died broke. There certainly is validity in the fact he didn’t get as wealthy as the individuals he studied, he’ll be the first to admit that.  But that does not mean he didn’t truly and accurately discern their methods.

And he lived a long full life, and that included some economic adventures along the way, quite naturally, for a man who wants to be an independent writer… That's still likely today.

He himself encountered the well known conflict between the man of war and the man of study, the man of action and the man of intellect. This is the story of the contemplative Hamlet all over again.

He was in exactly the opposite condition than, for instance, Andrew Carnegie was in, too busy gladiatoring in real business battles to submit to the endless reflection required of the mystic-writer.

Hill, indeed, was more interested in discovering how they did it and in turn codifying that secret for others than he was in doing it himself. If he’d gotten involved in those quests, he wouldn’t have had the time to fulfill his own definite chief aim in life, being to discover, organize, and present the philosophy of success to a world much in need of it.

The interviews, the gathering, the evaluation, the organizing, and the writing on the scale Napoleon Hill turned out required a lot of dedicated work and time. Certainly, he applied the principles he was discovering to his own purposes. It should be obvious by any measure he succeeded.

Further, the very idea behind the put-down is predicated on the erroneous idea that you must have created a fortune before you can discover how it’s done in Nature and in business.

If that were so, only atoms could reveal their secrets to other atoms, and the stars would need to talk. Speaking of talking, if we were to learn anything about botany and agriculture, we’d have to start speaking chlorophyllese. As well, there could be no male physicians counseling expectant mothers or delivering babies, since they’ve never been a pregnant woman. Nor could anybody counsel, coach, and train the first astronaut, since there were no astronauts then.

But wait! Astronauts don’t teach astronauting, do they?

Let’s set the record straight. Napoleon Hill did not die broke.

By the way, he had a 600 acre farm in the Catskill Mountains and two Rolls Royce’s in his life. He funded the Napoleon Hill Foundation, which continues as a healthy organization to this day.

Maybe he wasn’t palatially wealthy, but he was adequately well off, cared for, and able to satisfy every desire he or his family could ever have. Don’t forget, he was an information marketer; there’s high margins in that business.

Perhaps the more important features of the man’s success lie in the genuine and lasting contributions he’s made and continues to make to the success of others. Perhaps that, more so than the accumulation of more riches than he could ever spend during his life is the standard by which he should be measured.

I think, with that standard, you would agree Napoleon Hill was a very rich man, and the energies he devoted to helping others yielded millions. Indeed, I see consultants and politicians taking credit for their clients’ and constituents’ successes all the time… In this case, they are giving him credit.

If you sum the countless entrepreneurs who attribute their millions to Napoleon Hill, Think And Grow Rich¸ and the ideas he espouses, I’d say he’s made more money than Andrew Carnegie ever made, how about you?

He seems to be more relevant to the world today, doesn’t he?


It's Not True That Napoleon Hill Died Broke  by Ted Ciuba,

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