Today’s spotlight entrepreneur and sales legend is Dale Carnegie.  Many people think of Carnegie as an early self-help guru; however, he’s really a pioneer of adult and professional education.

Carnegie was born in 1888 into an impoverished farming family.  When he was accepted into a local State Teachers College in 1906, his parents could not afford the $1/day fee that it cost to pay for his room and board.  So, each day he commuted to classes on horseback.  He used that time to practice speeches and fine-tune his oratory style.  He was so good as a public speaker, other students offered to pay him for training.  After his graduation in 1908, Carnegie became a traveling salesman for the International Correspondence Schools.  When he had saved up $500, he quit his job and made his way to New York to pursue acting as a career.  After one role with a traveling show, he decided acting was not for him.

After his stint in acting, Carnegie began to formulate the idea to teach public speaking classes for adults.  He recalled how fellow students had offered to pay him for training, and he realized that his skills in speaking are what had made him a successful salesman.  He approached the YMCA to start his first public speaking classes, which eventually developed into the Dale Carnegie Institute and led to his mammoth best seller, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  Since Carnegie’s death in 1955, the Dale Carnegie Institute continues to expand.  It is currently a highly respected business training firm operating in more than 75 countries.  He wrote many books and gave hours of lectures, but his primary messages can be summed up by his two most fundamental maxims:  “Forget yourself; do things for others” and “Cooperate with the inevitable.”


What can today’s entrepreneurs learn from Dale Carnegie?

  • Focus on others – yes, you have to keep your business’ best interest in mind, but focus on your customer.  When you ensure your customer has a great experience or product, you will reap the benefits of that effort to focus on others.
  • “Cooperate with the inevitable” – instead of sticking your head in the sand or go kicking and screaming against a new trend popping up in your industry, embrace the change.  Evolve and adapt.  The same goes for your sales process – if an email drip campaign or sales script isn’t working, it’s time to evolve.
  • Research success – Carnegie based much of his work on research he did on successful people.  From an inside sales perspective, you should research your own success with your sales process.  With inside sales software, you can analyze what script has been successful, which reps have had the most success, and which emails have brought in more customers.

Have you read “How to Win Friends and Influence People”?  What tips for success do you have to share from Carnegie?