Sunday, February 7, 2021

The Bogosity of Napoleon Hill

Aside from Robert "Rich Dad" Kiyosaki (who is not really what you think he is), one of the most frequently mentioned names among MLMers, other than their own upline or company head, is likely to be Napoleon Hill. Without further information, you would probably think of Napoleon Hill as some sort of a self-help guru who managed to interview the most famous, the richest, and the `most influential people of his times and thus gaining secrets of success. He claimed to have advised President Woodrow Wilson and wrote Fireside Chats for FDR. He claimed he met with Andrew Carnegie as a no-name writer. Supposedly Carnegie took a liking to him, helped him write his paper, then challenged him to interview the successful people of his time, introduced him to Henry Ford, who then introduced him to others such as Alexander Graham Bell, Luther Burbank, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles M. Schwab, F.W. Woolworth, Willian Wrigley Jr., John D Rockefeller, Harvey Samuel Firestone, and a few more. 

However, actual historians believe most of this is utter fabrication. Or in modern terms, total BS. Carnegie's biographer stated that he had ZERO evidence that Carnegie ever met with Napoleon Hill, muchless collaborated with him or introduced him to others. Outside of ONE documented short meeting with Thomas Edition in 1923 inpublic, there is NO documented evidence of Hill EVER meeting with the famous people whom he supposedly interviewed. All such evidence was "conveniently" lost in a fire. 

Hill claimed to have advised multiple presidents, including helping President Wilson write the treaty of Germany's surrender at Versailles at WW1, as well as advising FDR on how to write his fireside chats. However, White House has NO record of Hill at all. Hill also claimed to be an attorney though even his own biography notes that he never performed legal services for anyone. 

Frankly, this sounds like a lot of Kiyosaki to me. 

Both claimed to have known incredible people, gotten great advice from them, and wrote about such, but did not become tremendous success themselves, but merely supposedly inspirational people with controversy.  Kiyosaki was quoted at an interview by _SmartMoney "Is Harry Potter real? Why don't you let Rich Dad be a myth, like Harry Potter?"  Please keep in mind that "Rich Dad Poor Dad" is published as "non-fiction", similar to "How to Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill.  Only a decade later did Kiyosaki trot out Alan Kimi who claimed his father, Richard Kimi, is Rich Dad.  Frankly, given the decades of silence, and the supposedly "request for privacy" (much like Napoleon Hill's convenient fire destroying much of his rough draft and proof he had met with all those famous people) it's not impossible for Kiyosaki to established enough post-hoc backstops after two decades to cement his "legend". 

But this is about Napoleon Hill. 

Napoleon Hill is not a guru. He's a conman who published fictional interviews with famous people. 

How do we know? Because Carnegie did write "Wealth", later retitled "The Gospel of Wealth", where he stated that rich are mere trustees of their wealth and should dedicate their fortune to the "general good" and the family should live modestly. The advice was quite different from the ones he "supposedly" gave to Napoleon Hill after a supposedly prolonged interview. And it definitely wasn't 300 pages long that Napoleon Hill later expanded the conversation out to be. Even Hill's official biographers admit that it was “a somewhat contrived conversational format featuring Hill and Andrew Carnegie.”

His magnum opus was convincing people that he still is, decades after his death. 

And now you know. 

P.S. For further reference, check this article from Gizmodo