Dale Carnegie

Original name Dale Carnegey

(November 24, 1888—November 1, 1955)

American lecturer, author, and pioneer in the field of public speaking and the psychology of the successful personality.

Dale Carnegie, the Man

Who was Dale Carnegie? First you must understand who he was not. Dale Carnegie was not a man afraid to pursue his dreams. Dale Carnegie was not someone who was hesitant to roll up his sleeves, logging hours in his pursuit of personal growth. And most of all, Dale Carnegie was not a stranger to success.

Carnegie recognized that many people, including himself, were held back by their fears, doubts, and the availability of learning resources. Eventually, he would use his skills to offer help to those with a natural fear of public speaking and other issues that plague the modern professional, thereby offering everyone a new hold on life.

First Job

His first job was selling correspondence courses to ranchers. He moved on to selling bacon, soap, and lard for Armour & Company. He was successful to the point of making his sales territory—southern Omaha, Nebraska and the badlands of South Dakota—the national leading sales area for the firm. Going against his mother's wishes for him to be a missionary, he headed east to study speech and drama, turning down a promotion offer from Armour & Company.

Life as an Actor

Upon deciding to take up studies in New York City, in 1910, Carnegie headed to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) based mostly upon the recommendation of a passenger whom he had met on one of his train rides across the badlands of South Dakota. The school's statement of principles especially appealed to him: "To create an accent on naturalism accompanied by emotional recall in order to achieve a deeper more essential 'truth' in performance." The hefty admission fee of $400 for the six months' course, however, virtually depleted his savings.

Upon graduation, Carnegie played the role of Dr. Hartley in a road show of Polly and the Circus. Rooming with Howard Lindsay, who later rose to fame as the co-writer of such classic hits as Arsenic and Old Lace, The Sound of Music, and Life with Father, he made pocket money selling suitcases and ties.

Dale Carnegie Course

Carnegie soon grew weary of touring and was unable to find work as a Broadway actor. Living at the YMCA on 125th Street, he persuaded the manager there to allow him to instruct a public speaking class at the YMCA. His classes proved to be an immediate hit. Concentrating on the daily needs of people in business, Carnegie taught the participants the tenets of successful interviewing, making compelling presentations, and establishing fruitful relationships. But nearly bankrupt, he agreed to give 80% of his training fees for a classroom at the ‘YMCA’ in lieu of rent. In 1912 the world-famous Dale Carnegie Course began, where he discovered and developed new techniques that made speakers unafraid to address a public audience. Carnegie had tapped into the average person’s desire to have more self-confidence. His classes became extremely successful, and Carnegie began lecturing to packed houses. To standardize his teaching methods he began publishing pamphlets, which he collected into book form as Public Speaking: A Practical Course for Business Men (1926; also published as Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business). Carnegie later enlisted in the United States Army and served for a little over a year at Camp Upton on Long Island during World War I. In 1930 Dale Carnegie began recruiting individuals interested in professional improvement, to license the course throughout the country. After his discharge from the military, Carnegie was hired as the business manager of a traveling lecture course taught by Lowell Thomas, the writer and broadcaster best known for his coverage of Lawrence of Arabia. At this time he compiled Little Known Facts about Well Known People (1934).

Other Influences

Carnegie was greatly influenced by a 1925 book by Harry Over street, a professor at the College of the City of New York. In his, Influencing Human Behavior, Over street espoused a very basic principle in the field of advertising: "First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way."

As one of the first popular books based on applied psychology, it provided the abiding impetus behind what was to become Carnegie's own magnum opus, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Over street saw the advertiser as continually appealing to certain fundamental human wants, declaring him a "pioneer in psychological technique." Carnegie saw the same principle at work in sales, popularizing Overstreet's earlier words as the now famous salesman's maxim: "Arouse in the other person an eager want."

Other contemporaries who influenced Carnegie included Norman Vincent Peale, Orison Marden, Emile Coué, and psychologist Henry Link.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

In 1936, after years of intense research that included reading hundreds biographies to learn how the world's greatest leaders achieved their success, Carnegie published his renowned book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Still a popular book today, Dale Carnegie's four part book contains advice on how to create success in business and personal lives. Despite its modest initial print run of 5,000 copies, the book became a mammoth best-seller and Carnegie became an instant success. Like most of his books, it revealed little that was unknown about human psychology but stressed that an individual’s attitude is crucial. He taught that anyone could benefit from a handicap if it were advantageously presented. He capitalized on the American longing for success by selling advice that helped readers feel, and perhaps become, successful. Carnegie's book, like his classes, struck a chord with a population hungry for self-improvement, selling nearly 5 million copies during his lifetime while being translated into more than 31 languages.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is a self-help book by Dale Carnegie which is primarily a collection of common sense tricks to prevent stress. It was first printed in Great Britain in 1948. Carnegie says in the preface to How to Stop Worrying and Start Living that he wrote it because he "was one of the unhappiest lads in New York". He said that he made himself sick with worry because he hated his position in life, which he attributes to wanting to figure out how to stop worrying. The book's goal is to lead the reader to a more enjoyable and fulfilling life, helping them to become more aware of, not only themselves, but others around them. Carnegie tries to address the everyday nuances of living, in order to get the reader to focus on the more important aspects of life. It is now a world-famous, highly regarded, self-help book.

Other Books

His other books are Art of Public Speaking (1915), Public Speaking: the Standard Course of the United Y. M. C. A. Schools (1920), Lincoln the Unknown (1932), Little Known Facts About Well Known People (1934), Five Minute Biographies (1937) and Dale Carnegie's Biographical round-up (1944). Based upon Dale Carnegie's notes and ideas, Dorothy Carnegie edited two books - Dale Carnegie's Scrapbook: a Treasury of the Wisdom of the Ages (1959) and The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking (1962).


In 1954 Dale Carnegie’s company became incorporated as Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. With the mega success of How to Win Friends and Influence People, there was an explosion in the popularity of the Dale Carnegie Institute, which set up centres in 750 cities in the U.S. and in 15 other countries in Europe, Australia, Asia, and South America during Carnegie’s lifetime. By that time more than 450,000 people had participated in his self-improvement, salesmanship, interpersonal skills development, and public speaking skills development courses besides corporate training programs worldwide. His courses were attended by millions of participants, and his work is credited with influencing the early stages of the popular psychology and human potential movements.Even though the books that he wrote during his immensely successful career did not add any insights into human psychology, all of them emphatically conveyed the importance of an individual’s attitude and drove home the point that even handicaps could be converted to benefits if the presentation was right. His own progress from a poverty-stricken rural childhood to an immensely successful businessman touring the world is a case in point. Carnegie’s huge success is attributed to his ability to capitalize on people’s desire for success by offering advice that helped them to feel more confident and become successful.Apart from his career as an author and lecturer, his counsel was frequently sought by prominent leaders. He was also a syndicated newspaper columnist and the host of his own talk radio show.

Personal Life

In 1927, Carnegie got married to Lolita Baucaire but the marriage proved to be unsuccessful and they were divorced in 1937. The couple had a daughter, Rosemary. On November 5, 1944, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he married Dorothy Price Vanderpool (1913–1998), who also had been divorced. Vanderpool has two daughters; Rosemary, from her first marriage, and Donna Dale from their marriage together. He died of Hodgkin's disease on November 1, 1955 at his home in Forest Hills, New York. He was buried in a cemetery in Belton, Cass County, Missouri.


Dale Carnegie’s legacy is as strong as ever. For over a century, Dale Carnegie has been improving individual and business performance around the world. Dale Carnegie’s lasting legacy ‘The Dale Carnegie Course’ is still empowering people with skills required for self-development, public speaking, personal salesmanship, marketing,method acting and corporate training courses. His books are inspirational and dedicated to giving the ordinary public self-confidence to overcome adversities and change their future.While his thirty million copy How to Win Friends and Influence People remains the gold standard of self-development books, his courses remain relevant and continue to be used widely for self-help, effectiveness training, popular psychology, and realization of human potential.

Dorothy Carnegie runs the Carnegie Company today. With a roster of over 8 million graduates, the Dale Carnegie Course is dedicated to serving the business community worldwide. Currently, there are over 2,700 professional trainers who deliver Dale Carnegie courses in over 85 countries and 30 languages.The Dale Carnegie Course is a self-improvement program conducted using a standardized curriculum by franchised trainers throughout the world. Several variations of the course exist, including a public speaking course, a sales course, a high impact presentation course, and a management course.

The basic course consists of 12 sessions lasting three and a half hours each. Courses are normally scheduled in the evening, one night per week. Typically there are 20-35 participants in a course. Unpaid assistants, who are graduates of the course, are on hand to assist participants, assist with classroom logistics, and work with small groups. Instructors are college graduates with a variety of professional experience who must attend rigorous training which culminates in certification to teach the course. They must annually attend refresher courses to maintain their certification.

Much of the content of the course is based on Dale Carnegie's teachings, especially in three books: How to Win Friends and Influence People, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, and The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking. Participants are given reading assignments from these books, as homework, over the 12 weeks.

A good deal of the time each evening is spent in short presentations given by each of the participants to the rest of the attendees related to each session's objectives. The experience of speaking to a group serves to improve the participants’ self-confidence and allows them to share their personal insights and experiences in a positive, highly supportive environment. Presentations are based on personal experience rather than a research topic.

The remainder of each session is spent in lectures and doing small group exercises. Lecture topics cover memory techniques, conversational skills, handling disagreements constructively, problem solving, and small group skills.

The course is built around improving the participants' abilities in five areas:

  • Self-confidence
  • Communication
  • "People" skills
  • Leadership
  • Controlling stress

Participants are asked to focus on themselves in the first few weeks of the course—to look at what has gone well for them as well as the things that have not have gone well, including the lessons learned from both successes and failures. The course uses these two extremes as a model for self-improvement and in coaching for improvement in others.

In applying relationship skills, participants are asked to first focus on existing relationships that are working well, and then on ones that could work better. As the course progresses, participants are asked to work on greater relationship challenges, including those relationships where they need enthusiastic cooperation from others and relationships where they need to change someone’s viewpoint.

The goal of the course is not only for participants to have a successful experience during the time they are in class, but also to improve their lives in between class sessions, and to develop skills they can apply in various life situations after they have completed the course.

Accountability is one the chief course elements that helps participants achieve success. By developing a vision for improvement, a plan to achieve that vision and sharing that plan with others, they have established their goals, a path for getting to their goals, and accountability for carrying out their plan.

In addition to working on improved relationships, the course also works on improving enthusiasm for things one does not consider particularly exciting. It asks participants to focus specifically on areas of their lives where they need to deal with stress and encourages them to set goals, develop plans, and make commitments for using the course ideas to improve these areas.The course has thousands of enrolees and instructors, as well as millions of graduates, worldwide.

How to Win Friends and Influence People continues to have success even into the 21st century. It has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and annually sells in excess of 250,000 copies. The book ranks as the 11th highest selling non-fiction book on Amazon of all time and shows no signs of slowing down. It was number eight on the list of "Top Check Outs of All Time" by the New York Public Library. A recent Library of Congress survey ranked Carnegie's volume as the seventh most influential book in American history. Today, Carnegie's books and courses continue to influence the much larger movement within the fields of self-help, popular psychology, effectiveness training, and human potential.