Home Personal DevelopmentInspirational Teachers Inspirational Icons: Dale Carnegie

Inspirational Icons: Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie will forever be remembered as one of the founding fathers of the self-help industry. Although he passed away over 60 years ago, his teachings on relationships and the art of communication continue to enhance millions of lives around the globe. How to Win Friends and Influence People, the personal development classic that Carnegie published in 1931, remains one of the most influential self-help books and ranks as Amazon’s 11th most-sold non-fiction book of all time. In particular, Carnegie’s teachings about creating behavioral changes in others, winning people to your side, and living a stress-free life still hold tremendous relevance in modern times.

Dale Carnegie Profile:

A headshot of Dale Carnegie is shownBorn: November 24th, 1888

Died: November 1st, 1955 (aged 66)

Occupation: Author & Motivational Speaker

Areas of Focus: Relationships & Communication

The Life of Dale Carnegie:

In late November of 1888, in the northeasternmost part of Missouri, James, and Amanda Carnegie gave birth to their third child and named him Dale. Throughout his adolescence, Dale would be subjected to living an underprivileged life as the Carnegie parents struggled to make ends meet working as farmers. This reality, however, would have little effect on Dale’s future ambitions. While the likelihood of someone being raised in similar circumstances achieving great things wasn’t highly probable, Dale Carnegie would go on to defy the odds by revolutionizing the way that we look at relationships and communication.

Carnegie’s attraction to these disciplines started at a young age, and throughout high school, he began honing his communication skills in activities such as public speaking, acting, and debate. It is said that he especially enjoyed going to the Chautauqua Lecture Series that would visit his hometown. After graduating from high school, Carnegie attended the local Teachers State College in Warrensburg, Missouri.

Each and every day, Carnegie would travel by horseback to the school because his family didn’t have the financial resources to pay for the daily $1 boarding costs. During his time at the college, Carnegie furthered his communication skills and won numerous speaking competitions. It was during this time that he came to realize that these were in fact the subjects that he was truly passionate about.

Like many of history’s most inspirational self-help leaders, Carnegie’s path to becoming an icon played out slowly over time. He worked in numerous industries and even joined the army before pursuing a career that truly excited him. His first job came in the sales industry, but the lingering desire to get back on stage led him to New York City where he hoped to become a theater actor. While he excelled as a performer, Carnegie quickly realized that acting was not what he wanted to do and he decided to enlist in the Army. Still, it wasn’t until after a brief stint in the military that he began to pursue a career that spoke to his deeper passions.

The book cover of Dale Carnegie's 'How to win friends and influence people' shown. Carnegie’s first job in the communications industry came as an assistant on a traveling lecture course taught by the prominent speaker and broadcaster Lowell Thomas. Upon returning from this lecture tour, without another job lined up, Carnegie finally realized that his passion for public speaking and communication was too big to ignore. It was at this time when the budding self-help legend decided to offer and teach a public speaking course for adults at the local Y.M.C.A. The course created an abundance of interest and led to enough success that Carnegie was able to found the Dale Carnegie Institute in 1912, and one year later, in 1913, he published his first book, ‘Public Speaking and Influencing Men of Business.’ It wasn’t until 1931 after years of intense research, however, that Dale Carnegie would publish his most famous title, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Throughout his life, Dale Carnegie wrote 11 books and influenced millions of people around the world. From its initial publication date until the time of Carnegie’s passing in 1955, How to Win Friends and Influence People sold nearly 5 million copies. During his life, Carnegie was also able to expand the Dale Carnegie Institute, now commonly known as Dale Carnegie Training, to 15 countries and over 700 U.S. cities. Today, the organization continues to thrive by teaching Dale Carnegie’s philosophies to a diverse group of students looking to improve their public speaking and communication skills.

3 of His Most Important Teachings:

Because Dale Carnegie’s teachings have proven so invaluable for so many people, his legacy will forever live on and his most important lessons will continue to be absorbed by individuals looking to improve themselves. In each and every one of his books, Carnegie masterfully shows seemingly endless amounts of ways that we can improve our communication skills, relationships with others, and overall life circumstances. While it is no easy task picking just three of his teachings, here we have aimed to illuminate three of the most important:

Change Your Behavior to Change Others Behaviors:

Carnegie was a pioneer in the field of relationships and his experience studying the communication strategies of others led him to believe that each of us has the ability to change the behaviors of others by altering our own communication strategies. Whenever we find ourselves in arguments with loved ones or in disagreements at work, it is easy to criticize the behaviors of others, even though it rarely leads to the behavioral changes that we desire.

Instead of criticizing the actions of others, Carnegie told us that we can continuously modify our behaviors until we elicit the behavioral responses that we want to see in them. There is no doubting the fact that our communication styles cause others to react in a variety of ways, so when we are not getting the behavioral responses that we want from other people, we can focus on changing our own behaviors until we find a strategy that produces the results that we want.

Be a Nice Person:

Dale Carnegie’s self-help masterpiece How to Win Friends and Influence People is broken down into 20 individual behavioral principles and the first nine are dedicated to the act of friendliness. Carnegie came to realize that anyone could increase their influence capabilities by simply being kind to others. If you hope to improve your relationships, in any area of life, it is important to focus on treating others with dignity and respect. You can do this by relinquishing the need to criticize others and instead focusing on giving them honest appreciation.

Additionally, you should aim to use one of Carnegie’s most important principles, especially for those trying to create more meaningful relationships, by taking a genuine interest in other people. Today, just like in the times of Dale Carnegie, people enjoy talking about themselves, so by taking interest in their lives, we can easily win them to our side.

Live in Day Tight Compartments:

If you are like most people, you probably worry quite a bit about the future. One of the most important lessons that come from Carnegie’s ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living‘ is to “Live in day-tight compartments.” By maintaining a long-term vision, but focusing our attention on what needs to be accomplished each day, we can relieve ourselves of the worries that come from thinking too far in advance.

By consistently reminding ourselves of the law of incremental improvement, which tells us that we can inevitably reach our goals if we only move towards them a small amount each day, we can free ourselves from the anxious feelings that come when success doesn’t happen right away.

Inspirational Quotes:

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”

“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.”

“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”


Self-Help Psychology 101 | Balanced Achievement September 5, 2016 - 4:42 pm

[…] It was in 1909 when Wallace D. Wattles published “The Science of Getting Rich,” 1936 when Dale Carnegie published “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and 1937 when Napoleon Hill published […]

Conscious Questions: How Can I Step Outside of My Comfort Zone? | Balanced Achievement December 2, 2016 - 11:08 am

[…] development. Thanks to the work of America’s first inspirational icons Wallace D. Wattles, Dale Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill, we now have access to an ever expanding base of self-help literature that we […]

The Top 10 Self-Help Books of 2016 | Balanced Achievement December 13, 2016 - 6:48 pm

[…] literature that we can use to increase our levels of happiness, success, and fulfillment. Since Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936 and Napoleon Hill published Think and […]

Cultivating Empathy to Connection with Others | Balanced Achievement January 19, 2017 - 1:22 pm

[…] self-help leader Dale Carnegie is best known for his 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People. While this book was […]

The Top 10 Self-Help Books Of 2017 | Balanced Achievement December 11, 2017 - 5:46 pm

[…] was born in America. Since the work of success pioneers such as Orison Marden, Wallace Wattles, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill, a seemingly endless number of other iconic figures have built upon these great […]

Questions: The Swiss Army Knife Of Great Communication | Balanced Achievement January 15, 2018 - 4:21 pm

[…] personal development legend Dale Carnegie released his eternally relevant best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936, […]


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Popup

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing, you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.

Close Popup
Update Required Flash plugin