I don't know how many people over here follow Napoleon Hill or his book Think & Grow Rich, but I do because his book was the main spark and reason that I started probing and finding out more about spiritual and metaphysical stuff so I do feel grateful to him in some sort of way. It was also his book that changed my thinking that stuff like the law of attraction, vibrations,etc exist.

Recently, I have found out that there are quite a lot of skeptics of the book Think & Grow Rich saying that Napoleon Hill died penniless and because of that reason, he didn't practise what he taught..so there was no value in his teachings. I tried to find information regarding about how Napoleon Hill actually died, but there was not much information regarding it for some reason.

Would anybody by any chance have any idea on this? And if he really did die penniless, what are your thoughts regarding this?

asked 17 Nov '10, 11:56

kakaboo's gravatar image


edited 17 Nov '10, 12:58

Barry%20Allen's gravatar image

Barry Allen ♦♦


Came across this article after 2 years : http://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/13/books/how-to-lose-friends-and-alienate-people.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm Looks like Napoleon Hill lived almost a life of debt up till his death..

(31 Jan '12, 06:34) kakaboo

@kakaboo - Fascinating summary of Hill's life - though perhaps not entirely unbiased :) In any case, I'm of the view that the true lives of those who get put on pedestals and admired are actually more like this than the rose-colored perspectives that are generally passed around. A life of stable equilibrium doesn't create enough internal drive/desire to fuel a search for something better.

(31 Jan '12, 07:03) Stingray

The teachings of "Think and Grow Rich" really do work and allow the gain of material riches, the flaw is that the teachings imply "Rich" = happiness. In his later years Napoleon Hill surely realized that the ultimate goal is unlimited happiness, and that this happiness is completely independant of physical surroundings ... it introduces a whole new definition to the label "broke" :)

(04 Jun '15, 02:29) jaz
showing 1 of 3 show 2 more comments

It may well be true, I don't know, I've never really followed Think & Grow Rich.

However, I have noticed this phenomenon happen a number of times in the lives of those we consider to be great teachers.

And I believe, in many cases, it happens on purpose.

Let's say you come forth into physical with some specific intent (at a broader non-physical level) to impart some knowledge or understanding to humanity in general.

The problem I think many of those teachers encounter, especially if what they teach becomes popular, is the Cult of Personality.

People have a tendency to want to idealize the teacher rather than the teachings and so, I think, at some deeper level, many of those teachers then bring about situations in their lives that serve to discredit themselves and force their "followers" to re-examine their attitudes towards the teachings.

Those who were just following the teacher for the sake of hero-worship will find someone else to follow instead - there's not much you can do for them.

But those who were sincerely following and understanding the teachings (or on the verge of doing so) will now be clearer on the separation of teacher and teachings.


answered 17 Nov '10, 13:10

Stingray's gravatar image


Well that does make a lot of sense, now that you mention about that, it seems that most of the teachers from the olden age (like Charles F Haneel, Napoleon Hill, Wallace etc), people know them by their book names(their teachings) 'Think & grow rich', 'master key system', 'science of getting rich' rather than the person itself.

(17 Nov '10, 13:50) kakaboo

But one thing I know for sure is that after this I feel that all the materialistic stuff and fluff in life doesn't matter that much to me as it did in the past.. we should just enjoy life for the sake of enjoying life , especially the roller coaster rides that it always provide us

(17 Nov '10, 13:53) kakaboo

Another scenario to consider is that maybe they just came forth into physical reality as messengers, and once they had got that message across in their teachings, it really didn't matter what happened because they knew when they transitioned back into non physical, the realization of their teachings was fulfilled.

As Stingray pointed out, most of the truly great teachers did not buy into hero worship. Jesus was a classic example of this. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how universal laws worked, including the LOA , but he still allowed himself to be put to death in an excruciating manner even though he could have prevented it through the use of these laws. Because, he also knew the message, for humanity, contained within the crucifixion - he fully embraced the realization that the message was more important than the messenger.

Maybe, quite simply, although he knew how to attain it, material wealth just didn't mean that much to Napoleon Hill but he realized his message may have been valuable to others.


answered 17 Nov '10, 15:41

Michaela's gravatar image



great answer from a diff perspective!!

(17 Nov '10, 15:53) kakaboo

Michaela, I've no idea why, but your words "..just came forth into physical reality as messengers, and once they had got that message across in their teachings, it really didn't matter what happened because they knew when they transitioned back into non physical, the realization of their teachings was fulfilled." lept out at me, got my pulse racing and it felt like I KNEW. I've no idea what I "knew" and why I reacted the way I did but Thank You.

(18 Nov '10, 11:06) Flame

You're welcome - Happy it resonated with you, and the beauty of it is that when we really KNOW something, the 'hows' and the 'whats' and the 'whys' really don't matter.

(18 Nov '10, 14:32) Michaela

Yes, the way he said it seemed to jump out at me too, hence the reason for my comment below his post at that time haha

(19 Nov '10, 08:12) kakaboo
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

I read the biography of Hill written by one of his assistants. He died reasonably well off, perhaps due to W. Clement Stone's strong support of the materials. Stone also bought back the rights to "Think & Grow Rich" and gave them to Hill. But most of the first 60 years of Hill's life were full of struggle and frequent failures. His own son called him a charlatan and never really forgave him.


answered 28 Jan '12, 01:02

Curt's gravatar image


Thanks for the facts.

(30 Jan '12, 11:28) DesirelessAbundance

After, a quick search on the internet I found out that he had sign a pre-nup that left him penniless( all the royalities from "Think and Grow Rich went to his ex). However, he started over and did various things such as the Napoleon Hill foundation. I believe that he died comfortably not broke, nor was he struggling. However, he did learn his methods of success from Andrew Carnegie who died a billionaire.


answered 19 Nov '10, 03:58

Hj%201's gravatar image

Hj 1

Yes he died comfortably, but the moments before his death it was not that comfortable..it was said that one of his millionaire friend helped him at the last stage of his life and saved all everything he had built and turned it into a non profit organisation right before Hill passed away

(19 Nov '10, 08:14) kakaboo

I did feel a little uneasy about old Wallace Wattles. He wrote the science of being well and died at around 60.

I can only say that because they might not hav fully practised their own theories doesnt neccessarily discredit them.

BUT i must admit it would cause doubts in some people.



answered 17 Nov '10, 12:55

Monty%20Riviera's gravatar image

Monty Riviera

Well some people defended him by saying that maybe he just didn't apply his teachings on materialistic stuff because that wasn't his aim... then again that is highly debatable

(17 Nov '10, 13:54) kakaboo

"he didn't practise what he taught..so there was no value in his teachings."

There are some terrible priests out there who taught Jesus' message.

At some point you have to forget who the teacher is and think for yourself, is this message applicable in my life, regardless of who is sharing it? When I "experiment" with their methods, do I feel right? Do I see results? etc...


answered 17 Nov '10, 17:10

Back2Basics's gravatar image


Great answer...

(18 Nov '10, 02:08) Tom

The bible teaches that we came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing, and it is the same for all humans rich, and poor. The status of the dead is to return to the dust, Kings, Queens Prince, and Princess, old, and young, no exception!

So what does it really matters whether a person dies a rich man or a poor man, everyone is going back to dust, and there wealth becomes meaningless to them. So should we judge a man on his wealth, or should we judge a man on the work he has done?


answered 18 Nov '10, 06:32

Inactive%20User's gravatar image

Inactive User ♦♦

The way I look at it is you walk the talk and practise what you preach; however, I am not big on preaching and believe the best way to convey a message is by being the living example of it.

Thank you, namaste


answered 18 Nov '10, 09:55

daniele's gravatar image


edited 19 Nov '10, 10:10

Hi daniele - he may be the one responsible for delivering it but a true 'messenger' or 'teacher' knows that the 'message' or 'Truth' is what's really important and are able to put aside their 'peronality's agenda' in order to convey that message. They fully 'realize' and 'embody' what they came here to do for the benefit of 'The Whole'.

(18 Nov '10, 14:37) Michaela

@ Michaela you say "They fully 'realize' and 'embody' what they came here to do for the benefit of 'The Whole'" which I interpret the 'embody and realize' to mean they become the living model of what they're talking about while putting their other personality agenda aside. Thank you, namaste

(18 Nov '10, 15:11) daniele

The thing is, he(Hill) did practise what he taught and live by his teachings while he was alive, but nearing his death everything seem to be opposite and contradictory to his teachings according to the rumors in which he was said to die broke and a penniless man

(19 Nov '10, 12:14) kakaboo

@daniele - I can see from your edit that we're pretty much on the same page, I was interpreting your previous answer differently :)

(19 Nov '10, 12:42) Michaela

@ michaela :).......

(19 Nov '10, 14:20) daniele

@kakaboo, this Hill guy needed a friend to sing for him the song his heart had forgotten to sing.........

(19 Nov '10, 18:17) daniele

@daniele huh? what song.. lol

(20 Nov '10, 09:40) kakaboo
showing 2 of 7 show 5 more comments

I missed this question the first time around.

This is from the commentary section of the book (condensed)

In 1908, in a down economy, an un-employed Napoleon Hill took a job writing about the success stories of famous men for Bob Taylor’s Magazine. The job didn’t offer much money.

His first interviewee, Andrew Carnegie, recognizing Napoleon’s perceptive mind, became his mentor and gave him a twenty year task of interviewing those who had achieved greatness; at no more pay than to make the necessary introductions and cover travel expenses.

So Napoleon’s book was not “How I became Rich”. It was how the greatest success stories were a result of “Thinking and Growing Rich” and “here are the principles of their success”.

But it’s better to quote Carnegie (also from the commentary section), who said; “Any person could achieve greatness if they understood the philosophy of success and the steps required to achieve it, It’s a shame that each new generation must find the way to success by trial and error, when the principles are really clear cut,”

So Napoleon Hill's financial status is not relevant here, because he was not writing about himself.


answered 28 Jan '12, 12:56

The%20Traveller's gravatar image

The Traveller

edited 30 Jan '12, 18:43

Almost every area I can think of the teacher was the weak link It was never the student. This was especially true for spiritual and psychic matters. I notice the same weakness in sports coaches and just wherever you look including get rich guy authors.


answered 30 Jan '12, 19:10

Tom's gravatar image


@Tom - yes my friend and the weak link often leads to creativity :)

(30 Jan '12, 23:55) blubird two

Well I'm kinda interested about HILL cause of death as well, but if he really died broke that is fine with me and that wont lessen my respect to him. WHY? because money is not everything and that is what Napoleon HILL taught to all of us and for you guys there who havent read yet the real thing about his real story please read the recent book of him next to THINK AND GROW RICH the name of the book is OUTWITTING THE DEVIL and drop me a message or comment if you're already done reading it. thanks!


answered 15 Nov '12, 09:40

Iamrichenriquezatyahoodotcom's gravatar image


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Asked: 17 Nov '10, 11:56

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Last updated: 04 Jun '15, 02:32

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