Dale Breckenridge Carnegie was an American author and lecturer. He is the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. Carnegie was the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), a massive bestseller that stays popular today. He also wrote a biography of Abraham Lincoln and several other books.
Dale Carnegie (originally Carnagey until 1922) was born in poverty on a farm in Missouri. He is the second son of James William Carnagey and Amanda Elizabeth Harbison.
Dale Carnegie attended the State Teachers College in Warrensburg. His first job after college was selling correspondence courses to ranchers. Then Carnegie moved on to selling bacon, soap, and lard for Armour & Company. He was successful to the point of making his sales territory of South Omaha, Nebraska, the national leader for the firm.
After saving $500, Carnegie quit sales in 1911 to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a Chautauqua lecturer. He ended up instead attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, but he did not succeed as an actor.
He returned to New York with the idea of teaching public speaking. In his first session, Carnegie had run out of material. Improvising, he suggested that students speak about "something that made them angry" and discovered that the technique made speakers unafraid to address a public audience.
From this 1912 debut, the Dale Carnegie Course evolved. Carnegie had tapped into the average American's desire for more self-confidence, and by 1914, he was earning $500 weekly.
Perhaps one of his most successful marketing moves was to change the spelling of his last name from “Carnegey” to Carnegie when Andrew Carnegie (unrelated) was a widely revered and recognized name. In 1916, Dale rented Carnegie Hall itself for a crowded lecture hall.
The first collection of his writings was Public Speaking: a Practical Course for Business Men (1926), later entitled Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business (1932).
Carnegie's breakthrough came in 1936 with the publication of How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book became a cultural phenomenon and bestseller from its debut, in its 17th printing within a few months.
Carnegie was an early proponent of what is now called the responsibility assumption. Although this only appears minutely in his written work. One of the main ideas of his books is that you can change the behavior of others by changing how you react to them.
Dale Carnegie also gave countless lectures and seminars on public speaking, leadership, and salesmanship. He founded the Dale Carnegie Institute, which offers training programs for individuals and organizations seeking to improve communication and leadership skills.
Dale Carnegie died in Forest Hills, New York. The National Speakers Association Hall of Fame inducted him posthumously in 1977.