This week we tackle two chapters from Napoleon Hill’s perennial bestseller, Think and Grow Rich, which focus on the importance of (you guessed it) auto-suggestion, but also on the importance of the right kind of knowledge.

We need knowledge to achieve anything, but Napoleon insists that we don’t waste time on any knowledge which can’t be directly put to use for some greater purpose.

As he puts it:

Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is only potential power.

– Napoleon Hill

So what’s it to be – become a jack of all trades, or specialise in some particular field? Napoleon thinks we can outsource the issue – create a MasterMind group of specialists whom you can rely on to fill the gaps in your own knowledge, and he cites Henry Ford as a prime example.

Because, for Napoleon, being ‘educated’ doesn’t mean knowing a lot of things – it means knowing what you need in order to put your plans into action.

But we’re not so sure. Napoleon Hill not only contradicts himself repeatedly in this chapter, but he’s writing for a world very different from ours. Today, specialisation is the norm; to stand out, you’ve got to bring more to the table. The model of the Renaissance Man is much more convincing: creating something new requires the ability to cross-pollinate ideas from different fields, mixing together different kinds of specialist knowledge. Napoleon wouldn’t approve, but we’re not convinced he’d be successful in 2018.

And what about MasterMind groups, which are ubiquitous these days? Today, the challenge is finding one which isn’t filled with people who’re in exactly the same situation as you: if you want to grow, you can’t be the smartest person in the room. So we’ve got some practical suggestions for how to upgrade your knowledge and social circle in ways which are much less slimey than heading to yet another networking seminar or simply using other people for their knowledge.

Join a cigar club. You heard. We explain why in the episode, but trust us on this.

We also break down Napoleon’s inaccurate ideas about brain science and self-programming; the dangers of motivating yourself through emotional trickery; and we start to wonder whether growing rich should really be the focus for any of us at all. If the ‘happy ending’ stories of Think and Grow Rich are that you become a local accountant or a door-to-door salesperson, we’re not ready to get on board…



  • Don’t be Steven Seagal
  • Leap before you look?
  • Why you should never make assumptions
  • Is specialised knowledge still cheap in 2018?
  • The modern serfdom: the Protestant work ethic


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