An 85-year-old book doubled my salary.
I managed to double my income over the course of two years, the principles of a single book had a major part to play in my story, and hopefully yours.
Dale Carnegie’s best seller is ageing finer than French cheese. Almost 85 years after its first publication, this treasure of a book is crammed cover-to-cover with actionable advice and approaches that are so obvious, yet missed all too often. How to Win Friends and Influence People.
I remember reading chapters of how to win friends and influence people sat shoulder-to-shoulder in packed London underground commutes. The front cover of the book fully twisted around and then folded, hidden and out of view, I was embarrassed to be reading a book with such a title.
It took me all of four years before I convinced myself to pick up a copy, the title “win friends” had me questioning, who would read such a thing?
When I was finally reading the ridiculous book, three chapters in, sat on the infamous district line, I caught a reflection of myself, hand over my mouth in what looked like shock.
I was reading an operating manual that every high-performing individual I’d met embodied. This wasn’t just a manuscript for the financially successful, I’d discovered that almost every person I’ve found myself drawn to or wanting to spend more time with personified the core principles of How to Win Friends and Influence People.
By the end of the book it became clear, there’s something we don’t get taught in school, college, or university — human skills.
“Carnegie changed my life.” Warren Buffett.
Let me elaborate, ‘Human skills’ is the ability to coexist consciously with your fellow colleagues, to be able to build meaningful relationships, to be able to communicate and network more effectively, to be able to voice your ideas, to influence whilst being personable — all without the slime of a 1980s snake oil salesman.
Don’t be the old, quick to dismiss version of me, assuming anything to do with ‘influence’ and ‘soft skills’ are reserved for those from a different gene pool.
I can’t summarise the book in an article, neither would I be doing it any justice, you can grab the book or search for one of the many free summaries floating around online.
Carnegie deep dives into the principles below with examples you’ll find hard to shake off, below is what you can expect.
- Become genuinely interested in other people — “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
- Nothing sounds better than the sound of their name, remember their name!
- Be a better listener, keep people talking and they’ll remember what a great conversationist you were, albeit you spoke very little.
- Talk in terms of other people’s interest — learn.
- In a sincere way, make the other person feel important.
Learning humans skills will allow you to create meaningful ties that will far outstrip your tenure at a given school, position, or company — something ‘hard skills’ could never do.
Hard skills in a career in information technology could be learning a programming language, upskilling on cloud skills, or attaining a certificate demonstrating a technical skill.
I want to be clear, learning ‘hard skills’ is essential for career growth and professional development, this is something we should all be investing in, learning the tools of your trade isn't really an option. However, I learnt late that solely focussing on hard skills and ignoring your personal development will firmly keep you where most people prefer to live — the comfort zone.
Studying, practicing, and spending time with those fully immersed in the principles of how to win friends and influence people was my unfair advantage.
I’ve come to learn, despite me talking to whoever would listen,that very few people invest their time in personal development and that is because it can’t really be taught, it must be learnt.
Today, as we live most of our days in front of a monitor and a webcam, our ability to communicate, to persuade and influence has become that little bit more difficult. I’m reminded daily of this, invest in your personal development, get a head start with an 85 year old book with a ridiculous title.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Small stuff: if you click on any links that take you to a web store, and if you are in the correct region, and if the stars-align, and if the wind blows in the right direction and you buy something, I might get thrown some pocket change. That said, I still think you should sniff out a free-book summary using your favourite search engine first. Views are my own.