Leadership Profile: Dale Carnegie

February 4, 2013

Dale Carnegie2I don’t have too many claims to fame, but occasionally I like to tell people that I grew up in the same town as Dale Carnegie: Belton, MO. Ironically, I had to travel to the opposite side of the globe before I invested the time to read what I have since considered the greatest leadership book of all-time: Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ve read through this book many times since then and even attended the Dale Carnegie capstone course which is over 100 years old. Therefore, I’d like to enthusiastically introduce you to one of my leadership heroes. I believe there is plenty we can all learn from the man who pioneered so much work in the area of personal leadership and influence.

If you have any type of influence at all, I would like to encourage and challenge you to open yourself up to the ideas contained in this post and then to invest some time learning from Dale Carnegie’s resources. They are so potent I guarantee it will make a difference for you (just like it has for me), provided you will put the principles to use.

Who Was Dale Carnegie?

Dale Carnegie was an American writer, lecturer and training developer born into humble circumstances in 1888. It is hard to imagine a more accommodating individual than Carnegie, who in 1922 changed the spelling of his last name from “Carnegegy” so that he wouldn’t need to trouble correcting the people who frequently misspelled it. Carnegie pursued short and rather unsuccessful stints in both sales and acting before he convinced the director of the YMCA where he was living to let him teach a course on public speaking. Since the skill was necessary in people’s professional lives but there were limited training resources available, Carnegie’s training was wildly successful right from his opening night. Participants would try his principles during the week and report their astonishing successes back at the next class (if they could wait that long). Eventually Carnegie established the corporate training firm Dale Carnegie Training (which still operates today) and wrote several bestselling books, including the timeless classics How to Win Friends and Influence People and How To Stop Worrying and Start Living.

What Can We Learn From Dale Carnegie?

In both his books and his training, Dale Carnegie shared many principles on leadership, influence, human relations, and worry-free living. I’ve decided to share one principle from each topic included in his Golden Book (listed below in the resources section).

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People: Give honest and sincere appreciation (and 2 others)

Ways to Make People Like You: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests (and 5 others)

Win People to Your Way of Thinking: Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.” (and 11 others)

Be a Leader: Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement

Fundamental Principles for Overcoming Worry: Live in “day-tight” compartments (and 2 others)

Basic Techniques in Analyzing Worry: Get all the facts (and 3 others)

Break the Worry Habit Before it Breaks You: Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more (and 5 others)

Cultivate a Mental Attitude that will Bring You Peace and Happiness: Count your blessings – not your troubles (and 6 others)

The Perfect Way to Conquer Worry: Pray

Don’t Worry About Criticism: Remember that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment (and 2 others)

Prevent Fatigue and Worry and Keep Your Energy and Spirits High: Protect your health and appearance by relaxing at home (and 5 others)

Dale Carnegie Resources

PDF: Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book (start here!)

Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Book: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Training Firm: Dale Carnegie Training

Capstone Course: Effective Communications and Human Relations (the best training course I’ve ever taken)

What is your favorite Dale Carnegie principle?

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.



16 responses to Leadership Profile: Dale Carnegie

  1. Good post, Nathan! I would be interested in learning more about Dale Carnegie’s life. I’ll have to do some research. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have read How To Win Friends several times, it is one of my absolute favorites. Biggest one for me is never saying someone else is “wrong.” He makes a powerful argument, you can make your case and officially WIN but you will LOSE one way or another.

  3. I’m reading his book about worry right now and what I enjoy about his writing is how terribly practical it all is. He doesn’t just give a bunch of theory colored with great adjectives but he actually gives you great advice that you can immediately start practicing.

    • It’s impossible to argue with, right? It’s just another reminder that our biggest problems isn’t that we’re not smart enough (we are), but that we need to be disciplined.

  4. Dale Carnagie is a legend. I have read How to Win Friends and Influence people several times. It’s full of golden nuggets.

  5. I am so glad you mentioned Carnegie’s book. Whenever I recommend it to people, they are always put off by the title. I wish he had titled it differently but it truly is the most valuable book I can reference to. I’m pretty sure I’d be entirely different had I not implemented a lot of his lessons.

    • Wow, that’s crazy, Vincent! Why wouldn’t someone want friends or influence? Anyhow, I’m like you, on a whole new track. It’s amazing how the principles can just pop into your mind sometimes! Thanks for the comment.

  6. I LOVE Dale Carnegie…. & here I am, from Kansas City myself.. & didn’t even know his hometown was BELTON! Awesome… thx for sharing!! If you’d like to check out my blog, I’m at shaktismindmedicine.com (wordpress)

    Oh, & by the way, I tried to subscribe by entering my email, & I got an error message that “subscriptions by email is not enabled”

    (& Namaste) 😀

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  1. Dale Carnegie Training » Leadership Profile: Dale Carnegie | Thoughts for the Everyday Leader - February 7, 2013

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  2. Your Organization Absolutely Needs Name Tags | Nathan Magnuson - July 16, 2013

    […] Dale Carnegie, author of the classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People, believed so strongly in the importance of knowing other people’s names that he devoted an entire chapter to the subject. “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” According to Carnegie, remembering and using a person’s name works magic with royalty and commoner alike since a name makes a person unique among all others. Not surprisingly, Carnegie’s 100 year-old capstone course still begins with a lengthy exercise devoted to helping people remember the names of others. […]