Dale Carnegie


Born: Nov 24, 1888 in Maryville, Missouri
Died: Nov 1, 1955 (at age 66) in Forest Hills, New York
Nationality: American
Famous For: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie was an American lecturer and writer. He was known for his creation of a number of courses in personal development and public skills, which he also wrote about in several books. He believed that people who modified their own behavior toward others could themselves modify those people’s own behavior. Carnegie’s most famous work, How to Win Friends and Influence People, remains a bestseller 75 years after it was first published.

Carnegie’s Early Years

Carnegie was born into a poor farming family in Maryville, Missouri, in 1888. Into his teens, he was required to get up at four o’clock each morning to milk the family cows, but was nevertheless able to be educated at the Warrensburg State Teacher’s College.

Once he had graduated college, Carnegie took a job selling correspondence courses, after which he worked for Armour & Company selling lard, soap, and bacon. He proved to have considerable business acumen: South Omaha, Nebraska, where he made his living, became the company’s most successful sales territory.

Carnegie Becomes a Lecturer

Despite this success, Carnegie was unhappy in his job and in 1911, he left to become a lecturer in the Cautauqua adult education movement. For reasons which remain unclear, he instead went to New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts, but his thespian career stalled to the extent that he was forced to reside at a YMCA.

In 1912, he gave a class in public speaking at the YMCA, discovering an innate talent for getting the best out of speakers. Word of Carnegie’s lectures spread, and by 1914, he was earning $500 weekly, a considerable sum at that time.

Carnegie as an Author

In 1916, he had the means to rent Carnegie Hall – named for the unrelated Andrew Carnegie – and spoke in front of a full house. Despite his success, it was not for a further decade that he finally published a collection of his writings, titled simply Public Speaking. He later changed the title to Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business.

Extreme fame still awaited him, but this arrived in 1936 with the publication of How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book was a sensation, going through 17 printings in a matter of months and selling millions of copies worldwide.

Carnegie’s Fame

Carnegie’s methods brought him attention as far afield as Japan, and in 1939 he made the first of what were to be several trips to the country, both before and after World War Two. In 1948, he produced another enduring work, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, in which he drew on his unhappy experiences in New York to try to encourage his readers to lead more fulfilling lives. As well as Carnegie’s own advice, the book contains a section in which a number of well-known personalities give their explanation for how they “conquered worry.” These include Gene Autry, J. C. Penney, and Jack Dempsey.

Carnegie’s Personal Life

Carnegie’s first marriage ended in divorce in 1931, and it was another 13 years before he married again. His second wife, Dorothy Price Vanderpool, was herself a divorcée with a daughter from an earlier marriage, a fact which certain sections of society of that time found a little scandalous.

Nevertheless, she and Carnegie lived happily together and had a daughter of their own, Donna Dale. Carnegie died in New York at the age of 66 in 1955, having suffered from Hodgkin’s Disease. He was buried in Missouri, the state where he had been born and grown up.