What I am reading: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Why I read (listened to) it

Written in 1937, this is book is a classic. Still referenced today by many successful folks like Warren Buffet. Yet, yours truly, had never heard of it until recently. I listened to the audio version read by Andrew MacMillan.

Andrew MacMillan’s voice brought to life the circa 1930’s book. Throwback references abound with mentions of Lincoln, Rockefeller, Emerson, Andrew Carnegie and other white men.

What I learned from it

While the language and examples can feel antiquated, the lessons are timeless.

Find out what someone wants

The key to influence is in the relationship with the other person. Knowing their name, who they are and what they want. You could push someone in the direction you want, and they may even go, but they will be reluctant or resentful. Understanding their desires gives you the advantage. Allowing you to present your ideas in combination with what they will gain.

Know what you want 

Whenever you go into a conversation, be clear about what you want. That means preparation. I have on many occasions spoken with someone too quickly by reacting to a situation. In those moments, it might be clear to that person what I do not want. But that is not very helpful.

Practice and even write down what you want to articulate and guide the person in that decision. You can start by writing down what you feel and do not want but throw that part away!

Faults are easy to correct

If you want to change someone’s behavior, encouragement is important. As a father of four boys, this one hit home. Instead of saying, “You need to do better.” I could say, “When you are in school, your teachers say how wonderful you are and if you brought that same attitude home, you might not fight with your brothers all the time.” Along with what you want to change, you add a positive remark. In this example, the use of the word “and” makes what I want my son to do seem easier.

Final thoughts

You can develop your skills to make friends and influencing people. It is not just a natural talent. While dripping with historical context, I was still able to focus on what Carnegie was saying. A good read, even if you look up the abridged version.


  1. Awesome book. It’s typically required reading for professionals in sales or consulting, but it should be required reading for everyone.

    Agreed on your take. My favorite thing about the book is that the lessons are simple and timeless. Be polite. Be empathetic. Listen to people. Build relationships. They’re all very simple concepts, but people often times lose sight of them because they’re focusing on themselves and their immediate problems.

    If you enjoyed Carnegie, Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a great read too, from a similar vein.

    • Yes! Thanks, Evan. That is on my list. I read a little while ago (and might write about it) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Figured I’d start with the definition of the word. 🙂

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