Over the last year, my 12-year-old son has been doing one challenge every week as a rite of passage and chance to earn a special trip. Some of these challenges have involved reading a book in a week, and the most recent book we gave him to read was How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. His review? He said it was the best book he’s read so far.
So a book written almost 90 years ago can still be a favorite of a kid in the 21st century. Talk about some staying power.
The advice in How to Win Friends & Influence People, and Dale Carnegie’s other classic, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, is timeless. But to help introduce it to a new audience, my guest, Joe Hart, has recently co-authored the book Take Command, which synthesizes, updates, and adds to the principles of Carnegie’s two perennial bestsellers. Joe is the President and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, which continues Carnegie’s work in the present day, and we begin our conversation with some background on the guy who kicked off this work back in 1936. We then talk about what principles we can take from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living on developing a positive mindset. From there, we talk about the big overarching principle of How to Win Friends & Influence People, and how you can use it to improve your relationships. We end our conversation with advice on how to live life with more intentionality and meaning.
Resources Related to the Episode
- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
- The Dale Carnegie Website, with links to the Take Command book page and the Dale Carnegie Course
- AoM Article: The 8 Best Vintage Self-Improvement Books
- AoM Podcast #818: The Philosophy of Self-Improvement
- AoM Podcast #457: Leadership Lessons With Craig Groeschel
- AoM Podcast #527: The Journey to the Second Half of Life With Richard Rohr
- AoM Podcast #518: The Second Mountain With David Brooks
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Read the Transcript
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. Over the past year, my 12-year-old son has been doing one challenge every week as a rite of passage and a chance to earn a special trip. Some of these challenges have involved reading a book in a week, and the most recent book we gave him was How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. His review, he said it was the best book he’s read so far.
So a book written almost 90 years ago can still be a favorite of a kid in the 21st century, talk about some staying power. The advice in How to Win Friends and Influence People, and Dale Carnegie’s other classic, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is timeless, but to help introduce it to a new audience, my guest Joe Hart, has recently co-authored the book, Take Command, which synthesizes updates and adds to the principles of Carnegie’s two perennial bestsellers.
Joe is the president and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, which continues Carnegie work in the present day. And we begin our conversation with some background on the guy who kicked off this word back in 1936. We then talk about what principles we can take from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living when developing a positive mindset.
From there, we talk about the big overarching principle of How To Win Friends and Influence People, and how you can use it to improve your relationships. We end our conversation with how to live life with more intentionality and meaning. After the show’s over check out our show notes at aom.is/carnegie.
Alright, Joe Hart. Welcome to the show.
Joe Hart: Thank you. Thanks, Brett. Glad to be here.
Brett McKay: So you are the president of Dale Carnegie & Associates. Dale Carnegie, he famously wrote, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Let’s talk about Dale for a second, big picture. What are those books about that he wrote and how did Dale Carnegie’s background put them in a position to write these classic books?
Joe Hart: Dale Carnegie is one of the most incredible people. I’ve always loved biographies, reading about people. His life is truly, was an extraordinary one, he was brilliant in terms of his insights. But he started in a really nondescript way. He was born on a farm in Missouri. He was fairly poor.
And he had a struggling childhood. Wonderful warm family, parents who loved him, a brother, a nice family that supported him, but they struggled. And the reason why that’s important is he really always had the sense of wanting to overcome poverty and establish a level of security.
His parents had moved near a college when he was in his teen years so that he could attend college, and he did, and in that experience he discovered that he had a gift for debate, for public speaking and so forth, and that kind of instilled in him a desire to really, to learn and to leverage that.
He started after college in sales, he had one sales experience that wasn’t great, and then he went on to become really an extraordinary sales person for the Armour meatpacking company, and rather than going into management, he decided to go to New York City. At that time he wanted to study acting. He discovered that he was not a great actor, and ultimately in 1912 began offering classes at the YMCA in New York City on public speaking.
And there he was, he’s at the front of the room, and he was teaching techniques of public speaking and he was running out of things to say. So he started to invite the participants up to the room as he started to notice that they were getting bored, and he discovered just the power of having someone stand up in front of an audience and try to present and articulate themselves, and the fear and the lack of competent, all the different things that went along that.
And so that was the beginning in 1912 of the Dale Carnegie course. Now 110 years later plus, and so many millions and millions of people who’ve taken that program, it started around public speaking, but what he discovered was that it was really more about even human relations and the things that hold us back, and how do we overcome the limiting beliefs that we have.
Brett McKay: So How to Win Friends and Influence People. This was written in the 1930s, correct?
Joe Hart: Right, 1936.
Brett McKay: 1936. And this came out of a course he was teaching. And then tell us about the impact. We’re talking about it today, but what influence or what impact did it have on the culture when it first came out?
Joe Hart: It was an immediate cultural phenomenon. And it was interesting, you think about you’re still in the midst of The Depression and challenges and so forth, and even prior to the book, the book was an outgrowth as you said correctly, Brett, from the courses. In fact, the way the book came about was because there was a man named Leon Shimkin who worked for Simon & Schuster, who was taking one of Dale’s programs, he said, “This is fantastic. You should really turn this into a book,” and Dale didn’t originally wanna do that.
But Leon Shimkin convinced him to, “At least let us record what you’re doing,” and that became How to Win Friends and Influence People, at least the first version of it. But when that book came out in 1936, Dale himself didn’t know what to expect, but it immediately became a success, and it’s been a best-selling book now for over 85 years.
Brett McKay: It’s one of the top selling books of the 20th century. Correct?
Joe Hart: Yeah. It’s certainly one of the best-selling books of all time. In fact, the New York Public Library not long ago did a survey of the most checked out books ever, and that was I think in the top five. Time had listed it as one of the most influential books ever as well.
So the impact of this, and the reason why this book has been so successful is I think, number one, Dale Carnegie had a phenomenal ability to tell stories, and really the book is of about stories, but it’s about the insights about how people can interact with each other more successfully.
For people to read this, they have their own epiphanies about either relationships that they have or things that they need to do, or how they can advance their lives and their careers, and so it’s been a catalyst for so many people to just ignite amazing results in their lives.
Which is why you and I were talking before we started just about having your son read How To Win Friends, and so many people will tell me that their father, their mother had them How To Win Friends in their teenage years. We just had an international convention in New York City, and some of the speakers is hugely successful business people had said that, “I read this book when I was younger, and it was formative, it was foundational in terms of my life, in my career and everything that followed.”
Brett McKay: How does the Dale Carnegie & Associates Company carry on the work laid down by Dale Carnegie? ‘Cause I was surprised that there’s still a Dale Carnegie company going strong in 2023.
Joe Hart: Yeah, thankfully. Stronger than ever. We are an organization that has 200 operations in over 80 countries. We’re a global organization, we’ve got thousands of people that are part of Dale Carnegie. We operate regionally, so you can actually take a Dale Carnegie program in person or you could take one online.
But there are a number of different things that we’re teaching. One of the programs is the Dale Carnegie course. If you googled “Dale Carnegie and Warren Buffet”, you’d watch a video of him talking about how when he took the Dale Carnegie course as a young person, it completely just changed everything for him. His would not be the same.
That’s the Dale Carnegie course, that course is about interpersonal skills and self-confidence and leadership and stress and worry, really how to present effectively. We have individuals that will take that course, we’ll have companies that will bring us in and we’ll provide that really is a cultural tool to help create stronger, more higher performing teams in organizations. We work with 400 of the Fortune 500 companies. T.
But that program is the one that he had started, has changed over the years, but it’s available in 32 languages. We’ve got leadership programs and sales programs, and a whole range of other kinds of things.
Brett McKay: So I was thinking about when I discovered Dale Carnegie and it was in high school. I don’t remember how I found it. I think I might have just stumbled upon it and Barnes & Noble and picked it up and bought it and just like, “This is great.” Underlined it, highlighted it. I’m curious, how did you discover Dale Carnegie? How did his work changed your life?
Joe Hart: It’s interesting, Brett. My experience was maybe little bit similar to yours in the sense that I was a teenager and my father… My father had a huge influence on me, he always believed that life was about personal growth, and he was talking about goal setting and different kinds of things.
One of the things he shared with me was Dale Carnegie, How to Win France and influence people. And admittedly, I’d love to tell you that I read that cover to cover over and over at that time, and I really, I didn’t. I read it and I thought it was great. I was really impressed by what I read and I thought about my father and just how amazing my dad was interacting with with other people.
But it planted the seed even more so that when I was in my 20s, I was a young lawyer and I wanted to take a Dale Carnegie course, and I wanted to do that just because I wanted to invest to myself and advance my career and so forth. And that was one of the most defining moments of my life, walking into that class, because it truly helped me change my view of myself and gave me skills in terms of how to interact with people more effectively.
I think as a young lawyer, I was a little bit, oh, hard-edged, arrogant, maybe not particularly empathetic, and it just completely opened my eyes. And people started to notice immediately, they’re like, “You seem very different,” and so forth. I really started to apply the Dale Carnegie principles.
It also challenged me on vision. So one of the things and early in the Dale Carnegie program we talk about is living an intentional life, and so many people go through their lives and they just find themselves older and they say, “Gosh, I didn’t do the things I wanted to do, I didn’t take the chances I wanted. I didn’t really… Just life passed me by.”
And the program says, “What’s your vision for yourself? What’s your vision for yourself in six months? What’s your vision for yourself in years?” So I ultimately decided to leave the practice of law because I said, “You know, I may be a successful lawyer but I’m not necessarily a happy lawyer,” and I went into business from there.
And in fact, it was Dell Carnegie that inspired me to start my first business because that first business was an e-learning company in 2000 that was all about helping people apply things that they learned in training programs. And in fact, Dale Carnegie became my first client. I developed e-learning programs in the early 2000s for Dale Carnegie that were used in multiple languages and countries all over the world.
Brett McKay: So you have a new book out you co-authored with Michael Crom called, Take Command: Find Your Inner strength, Build Enduring Relationships, and Live the Life You Want. And what you’ve done, you’ve taken the ideas from Dale Carnegie and you’ve updated ’em for the 21st century.
And to be clear, what I love about Dale Carnegie is his stuff’s timeless. The things that are applied in 1936 are still applicable today. But things are different. We have the internet now. We have online communication. That didn’t exist when Dale wrote these books.
And then also what’s interesting too is a lot of the insights that Dale had in his books about social relationships and confidence, it’s been interesting to see in the past 20 years, those ideas being verified by psychology or the social sciences. And you talk about those insights in this book.
You divide the book into three parts. The first part, you focus on taking command of your thoughts and emotions, and this was a big theme in Carnegie’s book, How to Stop worrying. And I love How to Stop Worrying. I ever have those periods in my life when I’m just, things are going crazy and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I always bust out that book, flip open a random page and you’ll find some insight that will like, “Oh, okay. That gives me some perspective. It gives me a tool.”
Let’s talk about getting to handle on our thoughts. What advice did Dale have about avoiding negative thinking? ‘Cause I think this is something that a lot of people struggle with.
Joe Hart: Yeah, it’s interesting just to go back to what you’re saying, because How to Stop Worrying and Start Living may be the lesser known of Dale Carnegie’s books and yet in so many ways, particularly given all that we’ve gone through over the past several years and all of the stress in the world, is such a meaningful and valuable book.
In fact, that book for me was a critical one in terms of challenges I faced during the pandemic and leading a company, living a global company, and all the stress and so forth. But that book really outlines his thinking about, it’s how to stop worrying and start living, and that really comes down to how do we manage our thoughts and our emotions.
He had a whole range of principles that he talked about, I’ll talk about a couple of those in a moment, but I think the big epiphany for me is when he really talks about the power of our mindset. He’s not using the word “mindset” like we might today, but the power of our thoughts.
And how you can have two people in the exact same situation with the same set of facts that one person is miserable and then the other person is thrilled, and what’s the difference? The difference is how we think and the things that we tell ourselves and how we process our thoughts.
And so much of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is really getting people to think about their thoughts and to change their thoughts and to look at things differently. Sometimes people will say, “Well, is that just simply changing… You’re overlooking challenges or you’re living rose-colored glasses,” and that’s not it at all.
Dale Carnegie was a realist and certainly went through challenges in his life, but his point would be that if you focus on the right frame or way of thinking, you can overcome challenges far more effectively than if all you’re doing is focused on problems and so forth. So some of the different techniques that he talked about and some of the different maybe ideas, which today we might say, “Well, of course that seems obvious,” but at the time, maybe not so much.
And the other thing we say, Brett, is that often these things are common sense but they’re not common practice. But actually taking a step and filling your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope. So what are the things I’m saying to myself, what are the things I’m observing? What are the things I’m thinking?
So if I think back about the pandemic, this was a pivotal idea for me, because there was a point in time where my mind was just going to the worst possible outcomes and results as all these things were happening, and it’s like, “Well, wait a second. If in fact every action has an opposite and equal reaction and this is an unprecedented crisis, where’s the opportunity here?”
We flipped and changed our entire business significantly, and I think that was because the people in our organization had the mindset that said, “You know, this is really incredible that our entire operation is being shut down because we were face-to-face in-person classes at that time, but how do we pivot?” And we did pivot, but part of that was around how we thought.
Another thing might be around asking yourself what’s the worst possible thing that can happen, accepting that and then working back. So often we generate just so much negativity and fear and worry because we think about all these bad things that are gonna happen. But the second that we accept, “Alright, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen?” and then you work back from that, it releases the ability to think with clarity and to build something we see ourselves [0:15:27.7] ____.
First of all, it’s probably not gonna happen. And second of all, even if it does happen, I can deal with that, I can work through that or where do I go from here? So those are a couple of the things he talked about. One other one that we talk about in the book, which is along these lines is cooperating with the inevitable.
So much of the challenge we have with change, so we talk about change, there’s a lot of change in the world and changes a constant. But it’s our resistance to change, it’s the fighting, it’s the worry around it. But if we accept that some things are going to happen, then we can put ourselves in a position to build from that and to be more constructive in terms of what kind of results we really want.
Brett McKay: Well, let’s talking about developing a positive mindset. This is something that Dale Carnegie talked a lot about. ‘Cause he understood that people, they wanna be around cheerful people, that’s something we… I like to be around cheerful people, it’s tough to be around people who are Debbie Downers. What did Dale say about some practices we can incorporate to develop a more positive mindset?
Joe Hart: Well, one of the things he talked about was, and he says this kinda glibly, is it a bad thing for us to give ourselves a pep talk? And he says, no, it’s not. We have this voice in our head or these thoughts that go through our minds, and often they are negative. They are, “You can’t do this,” or, “You’re not very good.” Or, “Why would you try that? You’re just gonna fail.” Or whatever those things are.
Part of his advice was to confront those kinds of thoughts, those voices if you will, and to focus on the things that have worked for you, focus on your successes. Give yourself a pep talk. And that’s one of the things we talk about in the book as well, which is, people are capable of so much more than they often think that they are.
They’ve gotta have focus on perspective, look back to look forward. And if you can’t do that for yourself, find someone who can help bring that out in you, have someone to talk to who will reaffirm for you those positive things that are about who you are. But one of the things again he talked about was give yourself a pep talk.
He also talked about expecting or counting your blessings. So this goes to mindset, looking at the things that are going right, instead of the things that are going wrong. At any given time we can think about the whole innumerable things in our lives that aren’t the way that we want them to be.
And his point is, just time out. What are the things that you’re gonna look at that are positive, that you should have to be thankful for? He talks a lot about gratitude and how it’s very difficult to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. He encourages people to act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic, so to speak.
Or act on with confidence and you’ll be confident. Put your shoulders back, put a smile on your face. Do some of these kinds of things that if you do them, you’re gonna start all of a sudden becoming and believing that. And why not, because this is the life that you have, why not live it fully?
Brett McKay: Yeah, I think a lot of people feel silly doing those things ’cause it makes them feel like Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. But the alternative, as you said is, well, you could just be negative and feel unconfident. So just give it a try. What do you got to lose? You not have to do it in front of people, you can give yourself a pep talk in your closet before you go off to work, you don’t have to do it in front of people, out in public.
Joe Hart: That’s right. Over the years, and again, Dale was one of the first people to start to articulate these ideas and these thoughts. So now, of course, all these years later, there’s a whole range of other people out there who’ve done other kinds of things, and he was never the Stuart Smalley kind of a mindset.
You can do some of these things on your own, you can have a conversation in your own mind, but what he’s basically saying is you need to focus, you need to think about how you wanna think. And you can create the life that you want if you think a certain way. He quotes, and one of the most powerful quotes in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living comes from the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who says, “Our lives are what our thoughts make it.”
Our lives are what our thoughts make it. So if I’m dwelling on just all the things that are going wrong or all kinds of problems, then yeah, I probably can expect things aren’t gonna go very well for me. On the other hand… And by the way, and Dale Carnegie is a global organization, we conduct research.
We’ve conducted research on resilience and agility, and part of what we found is that people who expect better results generally get them, and they get them because their mindset is conditioned to look for them, to look for opportunity. But if my mindset is, “There is no opportunity. This is a failure,” there’s nothing good that’s gonna come from that. I’m not gonna see those things, even though they could be right in front of my face.
Brett McKay: One of the key insights that Dale Carnegie had, I’m gonna quote it, I think this was in How to Win Friends and Influence People, but we’re gonna bring this back to how this applies to us individually, it’s this. He says, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic, we’re dealing with creatures of emotion.”
And we’re probably gonna talk about this when we talk about How to Win Friends and Influence People, but this idea that we’d like to think we’re rational agents and we are to an extent, but we also have these emotions. What did Dale say about how we can get control of our emotions so that we can have those private victories in our own personal lives?
But also have a control over our emotions, so when we’re dealing with other emotional creatures who might be difficult, we don’t lose control ourselves and we can influence these people in a positive direction. Any tactics Dale recommended on controlling our emotions?
Joe Hart: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s such an important question and I really appreciate the way you framed it. Let’s talk about other people first. Because the whole first set of principles, the first 30 principles that come from How to Win Friends and Influence People are based on the idea that we’re interacting with another person, and we just have to recognize, we may think in our minds, “Well, this person is thinking logically, so if I’ve given appreciation to this person, I think I’ve respected someone, I’ve treated them a certain way.”
But they’re not necessarily thinking that way, there may be an emotional component to them. They may be perceiving something just to based on how you said something, how you looked or whatever the case might be. So his point is, first of all, let’s be aware of the fact that when we’re interacting with other people that they are creatures of emotion.
They may be angry or upset or petty or whatever it is, and we have to take those things into consideration when we’re acting or interacting with other people. So if I am a boss, so to speak, or a supervisor, and I’ve got someone I’m dealing with, I’m gonna think first about our principal number one, which is don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
There are ways that I can approach something with someone, that does mean I’m not gonna give feedback, and it doesn’t mean I’m not gonna confront an issue, but it does mean that the person may act defensively if the first thing I come in and say, “Brett, you screwed up again. You know, I mean, how many times are we gonna have this conversation, Brett?”
So recognizing the emotional component, and instead he might say something like, look, begin in a friendly way. Which is, “Okay, what can I appreciate about Brett?” If I think Brett is really trying to do a good job and he’s made a mistake, let’s focus on what he’s done right first. Let’s acknowledge some of those good things.
So I’m thinking about this emotional component about how someone’s gonna react emotionally, you can say almost anything if you say it the right way. But just recognize we’re not computers, we’re not just passing information back and forth, there’s this emotional component to it.
Brett McKay: Yeah, and I think if you have a better control of your emotions, let’s say someone does something that just first response, it irritates you. Talk about your kid, your kid does something. And your immediate response is lashing out. Dale would say, “Well, how’s that working out for you? Does that make it better? Probably not.” And so Dale would say, “Well, you need to get a better control of your own emotions so that when you interact with others, it’s more successful.”
Joe Hart: That’s right. And in fact, it’s funny because some of these principles that he talks about in How to Win Friends and Influence People, I mean, these are easy in the abstract, but they’re hard in practice. They do require us to get in control of our own emotions so that we can effectively interact with somebody else.
Using the example you just gave of a child who’s done something wrong, if you come in with guns blazing, you’re gonna get one result, but part of when Dale talks about leadership and being a leader, he says, “Begin with praise and honest appreciation.” That’s hard when we’re frustrated.
If I’m frustrated with someone and I’m gonna start with praise and honest appreciation, but it needs to be sincere. And if I do that, that person who’s on the other end of that is gonna respond hopefully in a much more constructive and positive way, than if I just kinda come in and start to put them on the defensive.
Calling attention to people’s mistakes indirectly versus coming out and just… We talk also about this idea of learning the other person save face. At the emotional level, we all wanna be appreciated and respected, and if we feel like those principles are being violated, we’re gonna be defensive, we might be resentful, we might be angry. We could probably all remember experiences that we’ve had with someone who just attacked us and criticized us. Years later it bothers us.
Brett McKay: So gives some ideas on how you can get better control of your emotions, and it’s really just comes down to being mindful of them. Noticing them, asking questions like, “Why am I feeling this way?” labeling it, and that can go a long way to harnessing your emotions for positive ends.
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And now back to the show. I wanna delve deeper into How To Win Friends and Influence People, aspect of your book. We’ve been talking about different practices that Dale recommended. I wanna drill deeper into these. But correct me if I’m wrong. I think the big insight that Dale Carnegie had in How to Win Friends and Influence People, is that in order to have success with other people, like you were saying earlier, you have to understand these are individuals with their own desires, needs, emotions.
And the key to success in managing or working with other people is getting inside of their own head and trying to really figure out what they’re thinking, feeling, etcetera.
Joe Hart: That’s exactly right. If there’s one kind of overriding principle, and I was thinking about this prior to our interview, from How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it’s not necessarily spoken in this way by Dale, but it is that it’s not about you. We tend to think about things purely from our own point of view. But part of what he’s saying is think about the other person.
And this also goes to public speaking, if you’ve got an audience. Think about the audience, what does the audience need to hear? What is the audience feeling? And how do I interact with that audience? One of the most important principles Dale talks about is Principle 17, try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
And really think about how polarized our world is, Brett, today. How often do we really just take a step back and say, “I really wanna see how Brett’s seeing this. I’m gonna ask him questions. I’m not gonna attack, I just really wanna understand.” And from a personal standpoint, to give honest, and sincere appreciation, or to try to become genuinely interested in the people.
Dale had said something, I may not be quoting this exactly right, but, “You can gain more friends in two months by becoming interested in them, versus two years of trying to get them interested in you.” So the idea is we think about the other person, we honor the other person, we respect the other person, and that’s also something that builds relationship, which is a goal that we all have our lives.
So much of our lives are around strong connections, whether it’s people with whom we work, whether it’s our family members or friends, sometimes we deal with difficult people around us. So being really skilled at interacting with other people is super important, not just practically from a work standpoint or so forth, but also just from a life satisfaction standpoint.
So much of our happiness comes down to the quality of our relationships. And so much of this then comes down to, it kinda goes back to what you’re saying here, putting myself, maybe I wanna say checking myself, and really focusing on that other person.
Brett McKay: Well, I think another… You keyed in on another big takeaway that I took from How to Win Friends and Influence People. So first one is, if you wanna really have success with people, you need to mentalize, that is get inside their head and try to figure out how they’re seeing things or feeling things.
But the other second principle is if you wanna win friends and influence people, and you said this, you gotta make people feel important. And I think this is a key insight into human nature that Carnegie unearthed in this book, and in fact he quotes several prominent thinkers through the ages who talk about humans’ need for recognition.
He said John Dewey said, “The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” William James, the father of psychology said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” And then there’s this other insight from Craig Groeschel, he is a pastor here of a big church in Oklahoma, but he’s got a leadership podcast, and he has this thing that he says that really sticks with me, I think about it a lot, he says that, “The thing that people crave the most is to be noticed and needed.”
And I think Dale really, he mined that, he saw this is really important, if you wanna really have influence over people, you need to help them feel important, and then the rest of the principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People are designed to help you do just that.
Joe Hart: They are. That’s really well put. And that quote that you had about the craving to be appreciated, it’s something that was so important to him, he said it multiple times in How to Win Friends, that people have this. And think about the word “craving”, you could use a different word, but every single person, we all have this deep desire to be appreciated, to be respected, to be valued.
And even if we think about in a workplace, what’s one of the main reasons that people leave jobs, it’s because they don’t feel appreciated. What’s one of the main reasons people leave marriages is because they don’t feel valued and appreciated. So the principles…
And this is why the Dale Carnegie program is so life-changing for so many people who really internalize and live these… I wanna say too, this is not… These are not just techniques. AS Dale would say, it’s a way of living, it’s a way of treating people, it’s a way of honoring people so that you can make them feel important so that you can be honest and sincere, so you can build strong relationships, so you can have a happier life.
But one of the huge outputs we see with Dale Carnegie programs, and one of the main reasons, by the way, that we wrote Take Command, because we wanted to write a book that would take Dale Carnegie principles and ideas, all the ones we’re talking abou, and get them to a younger audience, say, 18 or 20, to 45, 50-year-old audience, people who may not be familiar with, as you are or I am, Brett, How to Win Friends or How to Stop Worrying.
But the truisms, the things that Dale talked about 85 years ago, are every bit as true today as they were then. What is different? The world is different, as you said, technology is different, the way we interact is different, but that craving to be appreciated, that desire to be respected and valued is true.
Brett McKay: Yeah, I would say that I think a lot of people are really craving that today in the 21st Century. ‘Cause our world had become more atomized, it’s hyper-individualistic, people don’t belong to small groups where they might have gotten that healthy attention and appreciation before.
Joe Hart: So I think a lot of people, you’d be surprised at how, what a compliment would do for somebody at work. ‘Cause oftentimes these big, you work, you’re at an office and you’re one of maybe thousands, and you can feel just like an anonymous drone. And if you just have one person say, “Hey, I really appreciate what you did with this X thing,” you can make that person’s day or week.
Completely. And it’s funny because We underestimate sometimes the power and the impact of our words, but that person in the example you gave might go home and just be on a completely, a cloud nine, so to speak, but talking about it and remembering that. And it can also, they can build on it. When we’re recognized for things, we wanna continue to improve on those things.
So it’s one of the things that Dale had talked about, was you praise the slightest improvement, praise every improvement. If we have a child that’s learning to walk, we don’t criticize the child when they fall down. You say, “Hey that’s great. Keep on going. You could do it, you’re gonna get it.”
And we can do the same kinds of things in terms of our interaction with other people, and when we give people… And he’s very careful about the words he uses, he’s says, “Honest and sincere appreciation.” It’s not just… It’s not flattery, it’s not fake, it’s gotta be what comes from your heart.
If I’m gonna give you a compliment, Brett, for that compliment to be honest and sincere, versus something that’s just passing. That’s something that can have a huge impact on people, as you correctly said, for short-term and long-term as well.
Brett McKay: I think that’s a good point you made. I think someone could read How to Win Friends and Influence People and see these list of suggestions or tactics and just see them just as tactics. And say, “I can use this to manipulate people to get what I want.” And Dale would say, “No. If you’re doing that, then you’re missing the whole point. There has to be an underlying sincerity for this to really work in the long-term.”
I think some of these things could work in the short term, but in the long term if you don’t have that sincerity, it’s gonna wind up biting you on the butt.
Joe Hart: No question, you’re actually right. And he spoke to that directly because I think even at the time he published How to Win Friends, people might say that. He was accused of these things, “Oh these things manipulations.” And he was very clear, this is about the way you live, the way you treat people. It’s about treating people the right way. And if you are simply…
If you’re simply using these kinds of ideas in a manipulative way, people see that, they can tell when they’re being flattered. And that’s certainly not what his intention was. His intention was really to help people build better relationships and really discover things in themselves.
It’s interesting because there’s a great thing he says in the beginning of How To Win Friends, which is the sole purpose of this book is to help you discover, develop and profit by, he says, “These dormant and unused assets.” So in the prior part of the book is Professor William James, who you mentioned I think earlier, had said, “Compared to what we ought to, we’re only half awake. We’re making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources.”
So we possess so much more capability than we even know, and these approaches are things that can help us unlock that. Unlock our confidence, unlock our relationships with other people, our abilities.
Brett McKay: So what are some day-to-day things that people can do to show appreciation to other people?
Joe Hart: What I would say is, start even small. Sometimes, especially it’s the beginning of the year and people often have a whole range of goals and things that they wanna do, but one thing we do in our Dale Carnegie programs, we might say, pick one person in your life, an important person in your life. It could be at home, it could be at work, it could be whatever, but someone who’s important in your life that you need to have a better relationship with.
In practice, one principle, apply one principle from How to Win Friends and Influence People, and usually from maybe the first say, nine chapters, because those are really about that initial how you start developing a better relationship with people. So you might say, “Look, I’m going to give honest and since appreciation to so and so.”
So go do that today, one thing today, and see what happens. Or maybe you start to make that a habit. You say… What I used to do when I took this program was I would apply one principle every day for a week. I would just practice and say, “Alright, this week, I’m gonna focus on… ” And it was hard, and I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m still not very good at it. Is don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
Because exactly like you said earlier, we don’t wanna be around people who are just negative and complaining and down all the time. It’s like this is contagious. So I might say, “What could I do?” I could say, “Today for one day, or this week, I’m really gonna pay attention to the words that are coming out of my mouth, to make sure I’m not gonna criticize, condemn or complain.”
And maybe not just out of my mouth, maybe it’s the things I type on social media or the comments I make or whatnot. But if someone said, “I’m gonna have an awareness of how I am presenting in the world, what energy and what I’m putting out there,” that could be something.
Brett McKay: Let’s talk about something that Dale talked about and you also talk about in Take Command, is a lot of these principles of giving appreciation to other people and making them feel important, it’s easy when you like the person, it’s hard when the person is, you don’t like them. They’re difficult.
What insights from Dale Carnegie can we glean on to help people feel important and appreciated when, boy, it’s really, that’s like the last thing you wanna do?
Joe Hart: Yeah, and that’s real life. There are people that when we think about them or see them, we might be like, “Oh gosh. I know this is not gonna be a good interaction.” But part of what I would say Dale would start at is, number one, he had a great quote. He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson is someone who said, “Every person I meet is my superior in some way, in that I learn from them.”
So he might even take somebody that is not a favorite person and say, “Well, what could I learn from this person?” Or allow that person to talk and to listen. Even if you don’t like what they are gonna say, but just go through the exercise of going back to trying to see things in their point of view.
I think Dale’s perspective was that in most cases you’re gonna find something. If you put your own guard down and you try to focus on that person, you’re gonna find something redeeming. And if you do, that can be the beginning of something you build on. Now, one of the things we talked about in Take Command, we have a chapter on dealing with difficult people, and part of the reality is that we need to have boundaries for how we’re gonna let people treat us, and do we communicate those boundaries?
Sometimes, let me give an example, let’s just say that I have a boss who gives me a project and I’m like, “Oh gosh, here he comes again. He’s gonna give me too much,” and so forth. Okay, but have you let the boss know that you’re overwhelmed? Have you had a conversation about if you take this on, the impact it’s gonna have on something else? Sometimes we don’t say anything, don’t even open our mouths.
So when we are dealing with those difficult people, we might also start with a, “What are my boundaries? And have I communicated my boundaries?” Often we make assumptions about what people are thinking about us or what they’re gonna do, when in fact it’s our assumptions that are the problem. Sometimes we’re the problem because we’re blaming other people, but we ourselves might have an impact on improving that relationship.
Brett McKay: I think that’s a good point. I think a lot of people struggle with that, or at least I struggle with that, the boundary thing. And the problem that I have is I don’t communicate them to other people, and I just assume, “Well, you should just know. You should just know that this is unacceptable.”
They don’t know, they don’t know. And you go back to Dell Carnegie, he would say, “Brett, that’s a completely different person, they have no clue what you’re thinking. In order for that to happen, you have to communicate your boundaries.”
Joe Hart: Absolutely right. And give people the benefit of the doubt. At least in the beginning. Certainly it is rumored, and I don’t know if this is true, Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends has 30 principles, and it’s rumored that he had considered a 31st principle, which is that, “If none of these principles work, kick them in the shins and leave.” [chuckle]
But that never made the book so I guess it’s kind of just maybe more of a story. But I think he would say, “You really try to work with people and you think about how you can work with people.” And in some cases if it’s not gonna work, it’s not gonna work. But you do everything you can to give people the benefit of the doubt and try to build the best relationship you can.
But there are some situations where you need to break the relationship, where you shouldn’t be around someone who’s gonna be persistently negative or someone who is just gonna bring you down, or someone who’s acting in a way that violates your values or your principles. So there is a place for that too.
Brett McKay: Yeah, you gotta kick ’em in the shins.
Joe Hart: So to speak.
Brett McKay: So to speak. Yeah, I think that’s a good point, give people the benefit of the doubt. Whenever I’ve done that it seems to go better. Every now and then you get burned. But I think it’s the price you gotta pay for just having a good trustworthy society. Let’s talk about this third section, which is about developing a vision for your life.
I’m curious, how did this come out of Dale Carnegie’s work? Or is this something that developed after How to Win Friends and Influence People, and How to Stop Worrying were written?
Joe Hart: So this third part of the book is really comes from the Dale Carnegie course. So just to take it one step back, and I think you’ve done a great job of touching on this, the first part of Take Command is take command of your thoughts and emotions. So if you… You can’t do anything if you can’t take command of yourself first.
How do you deal with stress and worry, how do you deal with negativity or negative thoughts and so forth, you build in yourself that resilience. And so that comes from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, and then we’ve built on that. The second part, How to Win Friends… It comes from How to Win Friends and Influence People, is take command of your relationships. All the wisdom of Dale Carnegie we’ve synthesized and built on in that second part.
So this third part, which goes to your question about where did this come from, is take command of your future. What’s your vision for yourself? Are you living an intentional life? And so in the Dale Carnegie course, and these are our courses that come, you could take a three-day Dale Carnegie course, an eight-week or 12 week, there’s different versions of this, but they all focus on this idea of being intentional, of taking risk.
Of sometimes, and I don’t know about you, Brett, I’ve certainly had the occasion where say you get on social media and you find yourself scrolling, you’re scrolling, and next thing you know an hour’s gone by, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, where’d the time go?” And if that’s what you wanted to do, that’s fine.
But our lives can often get caught up in these unintentional activities, and so days go by or you get caught up with to-do lists and so forth, days and weeks and months, and all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh my gosh. Years have gone by.” So in the Dale Carnegie course we focus on… In part three of Take Command we focus on what’s important to you, Brett?
What’s important to you? Is it your family? Is it your friends? Is it your future? Is your faith? Is it your fitness? What is it? But what’s the future like that you want for yourself, and then what are the things you need to do to kinda go in that direction. Because at the end of the day, if someone’s reading Take Command, we want them to be able to live the life that they want. And you can’t do that if you don’t know what kind of life you want. So that’s a lot of where that came from.
Brett McKay: So the first part is just developing a vision for your life, and there’s some… You offer some great questions of reflection that people can ask themselves, practices of developing maybe a vision statement that’s gonna guide all the big decisions you make, and I love how you laid it out in the book.
And then also talk about making sure you develop a life of meaning. I think oftentimes when people think about self-improvement they’re thinking about, “How can I advance my career? How to make more money? How can I get more fit?” But what you do in that last chapter is talking about, well, that’s all fine and good, but don’t forget to develop a life of meaning, and that often comes through serving others.
Joe Hart: That’s right. So often we can be, especially when we’re younger, very self-focused. And understandably so, we’re focused on our careers and getting established and so forth. But if we talk to people who are at the end of their lives and they’re reflecting on their lives and so many surveys have talked about this, people will often regret things that they didn’t do, or relationships that they didn’t repair, or just they maybe thought that they would have had more of an impact.
We think it’s very important to think about how do you wanna be remembered? What impact can you have? And it doesn’t have to be… We certainly have some stories and some examples of people who had massive impact, someone who is just so upset about the oceans that she starts the largest sustainable ocean alliance in the world.
So there are those kinds of things certainly, but then we also have stories about people… I tell a story about my father, who was a recovering alcoholic who spent 51 years without a drink, who touched people around him and encouraged them to stay sober. So we can have impacts.
You as a father, you were talking about your son and wanting your son to be successful and thriving as he gets older, and you’re working with him. That’s impact. But it starts with you saying, “This is how I wanna spend my time.” You’re not spending your time at that particular point doing something else, you’re making time for your son.
And this part of the book is really an important section to get to what’s important to you? Take some time and think about what are your values? Who are the people? What’s the vision you want for yourself? What’s the impact you wanna have?
Brett McKay: We’ve had David Brooks on the podcast talk about The Second Mountain, and it’s an idea that’s really had a big impact on the way I think about my life trajectory. He has this idea, there’s two mountains, and I think Richard Rohr, who’s a Franciscan monk, has this idea as well, it’s where David Brooks got it from.
The first amount of life is our typical, what we typically think of success goals, getting a career, going to college, getting fit, and then he says there’s this second mountain that we’ll have to summit in life, and that’s about… It’s not about the opportunities of the first mountain, it’s about rejecting them and looking for more of a life of meaning.
And that could look different for different people. It could be you spend time doing community service with children or a sports team, or it could be you’re a grandfather and you’re gonna spend more time with your grandkids. The second mountain usually chooses you, I think.
Joe Hart: That’s right. And often it’s based on your situation. It does choose you, I think it also connects to your values though, so in other words there’s that saying that, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” And I think that’s true a little bit about legacy, when there are certain things that are important to us, certain things that connect to our meaning, and we might as we look around, see things that connect to those.
And that’s great, so go toward those things. Whether it’s as you said, it could be your family or it could be people around you at work. It could be something larger or some sort of a legacy kind of a thing. But the reality is that we are in a life right now, and this is the life that we have.
As I said in the book my dad always just to say, “No one gets out alive.” And every day that we have, and again I say this not in a macabre or negative way, in a way to cherish the value of every single day, but every day that you have is one less day that you have left, so we’ve gotta really make those days count.
And this goes back to even to mindset, if we’ve got the right mindset, boy, we can see opportunity all around us, we can see wonderful things and gifts and just great things around us, if we have our minds open to that.
Brett McKay: Well, Joe, this has been a great conversation. Where can people go and learn more about the book and your work?
Joe Hart: The first place I’d say is dalecarnegie.com, that is really all about our Dale Carnegie organization. Also, there’s a site which is takecommand.com. They can also go to takecommandbook.io, which will take them directly to Amazon to buy the book if they wanna do that. I’m also very active on LinkedIn and Twitter, with the handle of Joseph K. Hart, so people can follow me certainly, and I’ll continue to share insights and experiences and things as I go along my way.
Brett McKay: But yeah, those are all different things. And if people… My hope would be too, I hope that people have the mindset of wanting to get better. I’m assuming Brett, that because they’re listening to your podcast and you’ve got a phenomenal podcast and site and organization that you lead, that they are interested in self-improvement.
Joe Hart: The single most valuable thing I’ve ever done for my self-improvement was to take a Dale Carnegie course, so I would certainly encourage people who are open to that to do that. But reading How To Win Friends, reading How to Stop Worrying, reading Take Command, those are things also that can help people on their journey.
And that’s really our hope, our hope is to have an impact. That was Dale’s hope. Dale really cared about people and helping people live the life that they wanted to lead.
Brett McKay: Well, Joe Hart. Thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Joe Hart: Thank you, Brett.
Brett McKay: My guest there was Joe Hart. He’s the co-author of the book, Take Command. It’s available on amazon.com and bookstores everywhere. You can find more information about Dale Carnegie & Associates at dalecarnegie.com. Also check out our show notes at aom.is/carnegie, where you find links to resources, where you can delve deeper into this topic.
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