Book Review: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Perhaps the first book to explore the ‘magic formula’ for success, Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937 and has had numerous updates since. this was the book selected as the first read for the newly launched York Business Book Club.

The author sets out the philosophy that all individuals shape their own destiny. It is based on the author’s interviews with and observations of successful people. By following the steps in this book YOU can change your mindset and turn your dreams into reality. All you need is Desire, Belief, Planning and Persistence.

The book comes with many testimonials from CEOs through to sportspeople championing how it has changed their lives. I have also seen at first hand through a close relative how desire, belief, planning and persistence not only gets you where you want to be, but also opens up new opportunities you never imagined.

Controversial Choice

As facilitator of our Business Book Club, Action Coach Ros Jones started our discussion of the book by asking us what we thought. I think as one we must have all pulled a face as she admitted it was a controversial choice. We all felt it was written for the white American male attitude of the time¬† and some of us found it very hard to see beyond this anachronistic style. For myself, as I read it I could see that it could easily be interpreted as the blueprint for neo-liberalism and global domination that we have today leading to the dogmatic leaders we have across the world today, particularly in phrases like “reaching decisions promptly and changing them slowly” and suggesting that what is taught in schools is of no use.


The good thing about being part of the book club is that we were able to discuss the book and see beyond the aspects of the book we disliked. We all accepted that the method would work and acknowledged that he visualised a much more democratic workplace than there had been prior to the depression. One of the group members thought he would be disappointed at how capitalism has developed and I feel that the following paragraph is as apt now as it was then:

“Business is due for reform, make no mistake about this! The methods of the past based upon economic combinations of FORCE and FEAR, will be supplanted by the better principles of FAITH and cooperation.”

We also discussed whether the principles could be applied to other parts of life, not just accumulating money. Almost all of us confessed to not having a burning desire for riches, but more a desire for a good lifestyle, more travel etc. We agreed that for the ‘magic formula’ to work all it needs is a burning desire for something and in that case perhaps the book should be called “Think and Grow.”

At the end of the day I think my aversion to the book is more to do with me – I have still to find my “burning desire”. I frequently joke that “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!” Perhaps what I need to do is convert one of my dreams or ideas into a “burning desire”, believe in myself a bit more and then follow the steps set out in the book.


The York Business Book Club meets on the last Wednesday of each month at Hotel Du Vin, York

The Scarborough Business Book Club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at Walkers of Bar Street, Scarborough.

You can read more about Ros Jones Action Coach here

Buy Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill now

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