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How Dale Carnegie’s “Oldies but Goodies” Are Still Relevant Today


I am fortunate to have one of our managing directors here at The Fahrenheit Group as my mentor. He is a well-respected CFO who has worked for many different companies throughout his career, and I’ve already learned a lot from him.

He often encourages me to read books about business philosophy, how to achieve success, and about the art of meditation. Of the books I’ve read, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” are “oldies but goodies” that I feel are as important and relevant today than when Dale Carnegie first wrote them in the 30’s and late 40’s.

Carnegie‘s greatest strength was his insight into what prevents people from success. He was an American writer, lecturer, and the developer of famous courses on self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.

He understood the importance of dressing for success and that the presentation of one’s self communicates a first-impression of good-manners. So dress your best! This allows your audience to move on from your personal appearance and on to what you are speaking to them about faster than if you were not dressed well.

Carnegie believed that in order to possess excellent communication skills you should listen, then ask questions, and most importantly, you must speak from your heart.

If you selected Carnegie’s ‘golden nuggets’ out of his teachings, you would have 60 principles from these two books. Luckily, these are captured in his quick reference guide “The Little Golden Book of Rules.” (I personally keep “The Golden Book” on my computer desktop for inspiration and as a constant reminder of what’s truly important in life and business.)

Here’s what Carnegie had to say about the characteristics of a good leader back in 1936. (Traits I often see in my mentor.)

Be a Leader*

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.’
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

It’s not hard to understand how this mid-20th century philosophy is still relevant in today’s business world. Business theories change, but the human condition has not. People need to take an honest, hard look at themselves in order to transform themselves into something great.

Author: Ron Cox

*Principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.