When we see or hear the name, Dale Carnegie, we think of old school self-improvement, salesmanship, and social interactions. In that he walked his talk, is evident to anyone who has read any of his books or taken one of his courses. Carnegie was a good example of how we can reinvent ourselves.
He was born on November 24, 1888 in Maryville, Missouri and named Dale Harbison Carnagey. He was the second son of an impoverished farm couple. He was naturally outgoing and already displayed a great interest in public speaking. As a high school student, he was active in speech and debate. He honed his skills at the State Teachers College in Warrensburg, Missouri.
After his graduation, Carnagey sold correspondence courses to farmers and ranchers. From there, he literally brought home the bacon as a salesman for Armour & Company meatpackers. His salesmanship was so effective that his sales territory of South Omaha, Nebraska was the top district for the company.
Carnagey quit the pork business in 1911 to move to New York City in order to follow his lifelong dream as a stage actor. He only played one role in a road company then quit. For awhile, he was unemployed and nearly bankrupt. He slept at the 125th Street YMCA. In 1912, Carnagey pursuaded the manager of the YMCA to let him teach a class in public speaking. It was by polishing the YMCA speech lessons that he developed his famous course.
Carnagey found work as an assistant to broadcast journalist Lowell Thomas. Carnagey produced and recorded the Canadian version of the famous travelogue. It was at this time that he changed his surname to Carnegie. This was during the period that industrialist Andrew Carnegie was a household name. Ironically, Dale Carnegie appeared in Carnegie Hall in 1916 for a lecture to a standing room only audience. At the outbreak of the first World War, Carnegie served in the US Army. After the war he continued his lecture tours and broadcasting career.
During the 1920s, Carnegie consolidated his works into the book Public Speaking: A Practical Course For Business Men, In 1932, he changed the title to Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business. In 1936, Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book was an instant best-seller. It eventually became one of the book world’s all-time successes.
The overwhelming success of this book created a great public demand for his lectures and writings. To satisfy his followers, Carnegie penned a syndicated newspaper column and formally organized his “Dale Carnegie Institute for Effective Speaking and Human Relations”. The various worldwide branches of his institute enabled the Dale Carnegie Course to be taught nearly everywhere.
Carnegie’s major contributions to the general public centered around the idea that a person’s attitude is absolutely crucial. He capitalized on people’s desire for success by selling advice that helped individuals feel successful. His works are a collection of commonsense thinking. The coursework and books seem to work, because they do not rely upon arcane, complicated techniques.
On November 1, 1955, Dale Carnegie succumbed to Hodgkin’s disease at his home in Forest Hills, New York. He is buried in Cass County, Missouri.