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napoleon hill stories

Napoleon Hill Stories is a collection of short stories from people around the world about how they came to know about Napoleon Hill & Think and Grow Rich and how it has impacted their lives.

If you would like to add your story, email Make sure to include:

  • chapter title
  • your name
  • title(s) - optional
  • website - optional
  • country you live in

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about napoleon hill stories

Some of the questions I love asking people for my Journey To Success Radio show and asking Napoleon Hill fans that I meet are:

How old were you when you first read Think and Grow Rich?
Who introduced the book to you? 
How has the book changed your life?

Now, I want to ask you, and I would love it if you wrote 500 words about those questions.I will put all the stories on my website on a page titled Napoleon Hill Stories.

My website attracts more than 24,000 visits every month from more than 145 countries so lots of people will read your story.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

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Dave Page

I first read Think & Grow Rich in my late 30’s in paperback and really struggled with the text so kept putting it down. I’ve been an avid reader of this kind of material for over 10 years, I can’t get enough of it.

I was lucky to find a hardback copy in Borders book shop in New York (I’m in the UK) whilst on holiday so bought that copy. I wanted something that would be durable.

I no longer read the book as it’s a book that needs to be studied page by page.

I first heard about Think And Grow Rich  book after reading You Were Born Rich by Bob Proctor, he’s been studying the hardback original text for 50 years so I figured, if it’s good enough for him…It’s good enough for me

I’ve listened Earl Nightingale’s condensed narration of this book LOTS of times, and have recently set up a LinkedIn group to study the work and form a mastermind group to bounce ideas off each other on a global level

I realised I’ve been using these principles over the last 20+ years anyway and continuing to study this book chapter by chapter reinforces my motivation to maintain a PMA.

The best lesson I’ve learned so far is that each adversity has an exact opposite to it so when I working through a challenge, I know there’s a far better opposite side to it to discover, and to be successful you have to experience life’s challenges to learn from or you’ll never be able to appreciate and develop the good times.

Dave Page Kempshott, Hampshire, United Kingdom (Founder of

erich jao

I was about 34 years old when I first read Think and Grow Rich which was sent to me by you.  It was one of the lowest point for me where I was struggling both internally and financially and only seeing the glass emptying when I blindly reached out and connected with Tom.  At that time, I did not have the capability to but the book from my financials and you sent the book to me.  

There were so many wonderful things that happened to me and my life and finances are so much better, but perhaps the biggest change for me is how I now handle whatever obstacles I face.  I remain fundamentally the same person truthfully, but how I now instead of letting myself be talked down by my internal speech, I will think in different ways to overcome what I face.  Life is tough, I don't like it (internal thought - that is fine, it's making me more able to be better.  A good life requires a tough person as we must carry more loads); it may be another brand of your PMA to be honest.

Sometimes I use this thought from something I read of Chesty Puller, a US marine, "They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemey that outnumbers us 29 to 1.  They can't get away from us now!"  This many times spark me go forward despite what is going on in me.  

Erich Jao - Philippines

Dr james blair hill grandson of napoleon hill

Dr J.B. Hill' agreed to share this speech that he delivered at the Napoleon Hill International Convention in Malaysia.

I want to thank the Napoleon Hill Associates for bringing me to Malaysia to speak with you today.  Until recently, I had no idea that Napoleon Hill’s philosophy was still having the effect on people that it had 50 years ago.   I am even more amazed at how his philosophy transcends race, creed, and national ideals.  Apparently, the only requirement for people to make use of it is that they be ready for it.      

The reason why I am speaking today, of course, is that I am Napoleon Hill’s grandson.  Napoleon once got a good job with his wife’s affluent family. “He wrote that he “got the job because he was his wife’s husband and “pull is pull.” To his credit, he later shocked my grandmother, her family, and all his friends when he quit that high paying job and struck out on his own.  He later wrote that the job was too easy and no challenge.  He felt that “inertia” was taking hold of him.  Later he would refine what he meant by this when he described it as “drifting.”

Since I am his grandson, I have, intact, his Y-chromosome.  As you know, the Y-chromosome is the sex chromosome so I can tell you this much about Napoleon Hill.   Puberty had to be difficult for him.  I can assure you that it was not easy for me.  We both created great concern for our parents.    

Nevertheless, people are curious about me and I do have a story to tell and that is probably the other reason why NHA was so kind as to invite me here. I am one of hundreds of thousands of people with lives that changed because they started reading Napoleon Hill.    

Megan Hustard

A few years ago, a young woman named Megan Hustard reviewed nearly all the most compelling American success literature published over the past 100-plus years.  Her stated goal was to see if success literature had merit beyond stating the obvious.  In 2008, Megan published her conclusions in a book titled How to be Useful. 

I will leave her findings for you to discover if you ever read her work.  However, Megan’s book does raise an interesting question.   “Can successful habits actually be acquired from books?”

Megan wrote about Napoleon Hill’s work in one of her chapters.  She wrote, “When I went to the vast New York Public library to read up on Napoleon Hill, the “Billie Sunday” of business evangelism --- I came up empty.  

“His How to Raise your Own Salary --- cataloged as missing.  His Law of Success, both the 1928 and the 1965 editions --- gone.  Think Your Way to Wealth, Success through a Positive Mental Attitude and How to Sell Your Way through Life, ditto.  Missing too were the Master Key to Riches and the library’s two copies of Hill’s signature work, Think and Grow Rich, which came out in 1937.” 

She then uncharitably attacked Napoleon Hill and his followers as the kind of people who “try to kick-start their fortune hunt by stealing from a public library.” 

As I read her remarks, I found myself smiling because I could think of no better validation for the enduring truth of Napoleon Hill’s work than generations of desperate people seeking wisdom from it, even if it meant the loss of a public library card. Desperate people can be selfish.

Personally, I believe that people can and do change their lives by reading books.  I did. I changed my life after reading,Think and Grow Rich. 

But you must be ready for it

One of the more common ideas in success literature is that “you” have to be ready for it” before you can make use of it.  Napoleon Hill often wrote about this and it was his feeling that people were more open to new ideas when they were at the bottom. 

It seems that people often will not make the changes needed to achieve success until those changes are forced on them.  Ironically, one the interviewees in the newly published Three Feet from Gold, warns that the worst time to make a decision is when you are on the bottom.  He argues that desperate people can’t make good decisions. 

Well, maybe, maybe.  However, the way I look at it is that from the bottom, every way is up.  The choice may not be the BEST WAY but from there almost any way is UP.  The key, of course, is to make a decision and pick a goal. 

It doesn’t have to be THAT goal --- you know ... the one that can induce a passion and invoke a burning desire in you.  It just needs to be a goal that can take you high enough to see above the clouds obscuring your future.  

Without a goal you are drifting like a piece of flotsam, controlled by whatever eddy or current coming your way. 

I wasn’t ready for Napoleon Hill or his book

I was 12 when I met Napoleon Hill for the first time in Greenville, NC.  My father took the entire family to meet him.  

We drove for two days in our new Volkswagen Beatle with Mom up front, 3 kids in back, and our dog Pluto confined to the small space behind the back seat.  My eldest sister Jackie always had to sit in the middle to keep me separated from my chief tormenter in life, my other sister Terry. 

I remember part of that visit in vivid detail but much is gone. I do remember Napoleon’s wife Annie Lou and I remember his study, full of books and papers that I wasn’t supposed to touch. While I was there, Napoleon gave me $10, some advice, and a copy of “Think and Grow Rich” signed in green ink on the inside cover. 

Looking back at it, I am amazed at how a simple family get-together can have an effect many years later, when it is all but forgotten.  However, this simple visit did exactly that.  It changed my life.    

For me Napoleon Hill is NOT Think and Grow Rich nor is he the cited progenitor of more quotations that I will ever read nor the man who means so much to so many people.  

To me Napoleon Hill is a composite understanding and memory of: the lifelong anguish my father endured from his estrangement with his father; the bitterness that never left my grandmother after the divorce; the family reconciliation attempted by Napoleon’s widow, the gentle and thoughtful Annie Lou; the loving letters Napoleon sent his sons and signed “your daddy boy;” the love letter my grandmother saved all her life; and that white-haired, be-speckled man walking to the car to say good bye and give me my inheritance. 

He approached from the driver’s side. The door was open and he leaned in to place a copy of Think and Grow Rich into my hands.  He told me to read it … and I promised him that I would.

I read it that summer and it had no effect on me at all.  But I was just 12; I had no real goals; and girls were still just nuisances.  The only thing that I cared about was “outer space.” 

I wanted to become an astronaut and if that failed, well I was willing to become an astro-physicist.  Starting at 11, I read every science fiction book in four libraries, sometimes reading a book a day.  I even played hooky from school from time to time so that I could finish an exciting book. 

No, I was not at all ready for Think and Grow Rich but I knew the name and what the book did for people.        

When I was finally ready

In 1971, I was 23 years old and had begun to realize that I was on a path that just wasn’t right for me.  I had asserted independence early from my family and had been making my own decisions for some time.  I was also starting to realize that I was living with the results of my own decision making and I was alone, lonely, and had starting to drift through life.  

Drifting is one of the greatest reasons for failure in life. It is done by people who cannot or will not make the decision to act. It is done by those who have lost the focus needed to sustain the drive towards their goals.  It is done by those trapped in their job by its security and comfort.  And it is done by everyone without a goal.  

I fell into that last group…those without a goal.  I was drifting through life --- waiting for something to happen.   I knew that I had to change….but how?  I had no money, no education, and could not bring myself to ask my family for help. 

The answer came to me at a grocery store while I waited in line to check out.  And I discovered several paperback copies of Think and Grow Rich on display for sale.    

I bought a copy and took it home to read.  This time, I was ready for the book.  Have you ever had the hair stand up on the back of your neck?  I have … three times.  

My neck hair stood up when I made the decision to go to medical school.  It also stood up once while I listened to the overture to the Nutcracker before seeing Baryshnikov dance. 

But it first stood up as I read Think and Grow Rich that eventful day when I finally saw the power in the words of my grandfather.    

I read the book through twice, writing all over it.  At one point, I remember writing that if I wanted to make it work, I had to accept it on faith and commit myself to it.  

But would it work for me? The key question is, of course, can we really change ourselves by reading a book?  

·      A definite ambition?  A burning desire? 

·      I didn’t have either. 

·      Heck, I didn’t even have a goal. 

But that did not stop me.  What I did was to make a list of everything I ever wanted to be or do no matter how ridiculous it might sound. 

At the top of my list I wrote:

·      Become a Spaceman 

·      a Doctor

·      an Astrophysicist

·      an Air-line pilot

·      finish my education

·      Others…I don’t remember all now…maybe even “Become a cowboy” 

When I finished the list, I thought about each and started crossing out items.

I can never become a spaceman because I do not have the education or training

There is no way I can go to medical school.  I don’t have the grades or money.

And so on … until nearly everything was marked off. 

Obviously, I had compiled a list of negatives for use making my decision and because of that, I still could not pick a goal.      

But I knew that if I did not finish my education, I would always feel as if there was something left undone in my life. So, I circled “Finish my Education” and made it my goal.  Now, I did not know if it was the right goal or not…but at least it was a decision to do something and it stopped my drifting.

I flipped the paper over and wrote “Finish my education” across the top.  Below that I made a plan that I put into action, burning all bridges behind me.  It worked. 

One year later, I found myself at Vanderbilt University studying engineering.  Three and a half years later, I graduated 12th in my class from one of the finest schools in America, earning a commission as an officer of Marines. 

Then, the unexpected happened.  The Marines received its quota to send two officers to begin training as mission specialists for the Space Shuttle and asked me to apply for the program. 

The power of negative thinking

Five years earlier, I had written “become a spaceman” at the top of my list of goals before crossing it off because without training and education it seemed impossible to accomplish. Well, I got the education that I needed and suddenly, the opportunity to train for going into space came my way. 

As it turned out, I was not selected for the program but I had a shot and if I hadn’t let negative thinking stop me, I just might have made it into space.  

I also wrote “becomes a doctor” on that list before crossing it off because at that time I did not have high enough grades or the money to pay for school.  Well, I went back to school and earned grades high enough to get into medical school and I found a way to pay for it as well.  And I am now a physician. So, while I did accomplish this goal, I might have done it 30 years earlier if it weren’t for letting negative thinking stop me. 

 Anyway, looking back at this now, I no longer think that negatives are OBSTACLES that prevent us from achieving goals.  I think they are simply the TASKS AND STEPS that we need to accomplish to achieve them.  

So, when people tell you that you are underfunded, over-committed, and lack the right skills to accomplish something, they might just be helping you understand that you need to get additional funding, reprioritize your time, and add a mastermind group to tap a larger skill set.  Negatives only become obstacles when you let them stop you.

David Corbin’s book Illuminate argues that there can be a positive power in negative thinking if you use it to identify problems that need to be fixed. In fact, he argues that you can’t fix a problem without thinking in terms of negatives because they frame the problem for a solution.   I agree: illuminate the negatives while accentuating the positives.

If not me than who…

Although I did not get into space, I had come far by following the words of my grandfather.  Far enough to make me arrogant with my success and stupid enough that I stopped reading his books too soon. 

The one thing that I had going for me was my ability and willingness to out-work everyone around me.  It is a habit or trait that Napoleon Hill had and is the reason that he often cited for his ability to start so many successful ventures when he was young.  He called it his willingness “to perform better and more service than he was being paid for.”  Later this idea morphed into the principles of “going the extra mile.” 

Well, the habit of working harder than everyone else paid off for me as well.  I was promoted rapidly, got choice jobs, and was recognized by my peers.  I was reasonable happy, reasonably successful, and reasonably content along my chosen career path.  But the truth is that I was drifting.  

I had no real personal goals.  Twenty years went by…and I drifted.  I drifted in spite of my success and I drifted BECAUSE of my success.  I was set to drift through the rest of my life.

Finally, the day came when I had drifted to the point where I had to decide between an assignment I did not want or to retire.  As I pondered the retirement option, I began to wonder what I would do after retirement…The thought of having nothing to do terrified me.

It terrified me enough that I was even willing to take that assignment, a return to my drifting.  It is much easier to drift comfortably than it is to swim against the tide.  It takes ACTION to move in another direction.  One day my battalion surgeon asked me what I planned to do after retirement.  I told him that I was giving thought to teaching mathematics at the WV University. “ 

He told me that I didn’t sound very enthused about it.  I grimaced…”Doc, I never thought that I would end up teaching mathematics, just because I can.” He then asked me what I had wanted to do when I was a kid.  I laughed and told him that I wanted to be a “spaceman” or a “doctor” like you but I was too old for either. 

He said, “That’s not correct.  You can still become a physician.  Your age will not be counted against you. There was a 50-year old woman in my residency program.“  Well, that started me thinking again about that list of goals that I made so many years ago.  Could I still become a doctor? At my age?   

I looked into the idea and found that, yes, it could still be done.  I then asked my wife Nancy about the prospects of taking 10 years out of our lives for me to become a doctor. She answered, “Where thou go, so do I.”  My wife is a remarkable woman.  She sustains me and nurtures me.

My drifting was over.  Decision made, I walked to my study to locate my copy of Think and Grow Rich.  It was time for a re-read….and as I walked, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!   

For the second time, my grandfather was about to change my life. But it was up to me to let him.    

 Thank you.

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