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Dale Carnegie is the author of How To Win Friends and Influence People, one of the bestselling self-help books of all time.
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He successfully pitched the idea to the Y.M.C.A, which provided him a space to begin night classes in return for a cut of the profits.
The classes proved an immediate success. Focused on the everyday needs of businesspeople, Carnegie taught his students how to interview well,
make persuasive presentations and forge positive relationships. His students would often come to class each week with stories of how they had put the skills they learned the previous week to successful use in their workplaces. Within two years, the courses had achieved such popularity that Carnegie moved them out of the Y.M.C.A. and founded his own Dale Carnegie Institute to accommodate the growing numbers of students. In 1913, he published his first book, Public Speaking and Influencing Men of Business, using it as a textbook for his courses. It was shortly after the book came out that Carnegie changed his name from its original spelling, "Carnagey," to "Carnegie." A brilliant, if perhaps somewhat disingenuous, business tactic, the new spelling made people associate his classes and books with the storied Carnegie family to whom he bore no relation.
Over the next two decades, Carnegie gradually refined his curriculum to better meet the needs of his professional students. He perceived that the most successful businesspeople in any given industry were not those with the most technical know-how, but rather those with the best people skills. His students needed to learn more than effective public speaking techniques; they needed to learn the social and communication skills that distinguished the leaders of all industries. As he set out to teach his students these crucial skills, Carnegie realized that no textbook existed on the subject. In 1931, after years of intense research that included reading hundreds biographies to learn how the world's greatest leaders achieved their success, Carnegie published just such a book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Despite its modest initial print run of 5,000 copies, the book became a mammoth bestseller. 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 every major language.
Propelled by the success of How to Win Friends and Influence People, the Dale Carnegie Institute exploded in popularity. During Carnegie's lifetime, the institute expanded into 750 American cities as well as 15 foreign countries. In 1953, Carnegie moved the institute's headquarters into a converted five-story brownstone warehouse in Manhattan. By the time of his death in 1955, an estimated 450,000 people had taken his classes across the globe. While focusing on his lecturing, Carnegie also wrote biographies, motivated by his belief that the best way to learn the secrets of success was to read up on history's most successful people. In 1932, Carnegie published a biography of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln the Unknown, and he later published several compilations of brief biographical sketches: Little Known Facts about Well Known People (1934), Five Minute Biographies (1937) and Biographical Roundup (1945). He published another self-improvement book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, in 1945.
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