Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People is a "how-to guide" for those interested in becoming a good person. My father paid me to read it when I was a teenager, and I've promised to re-read it every few years, but I've never studied Carnegie's wisdom as an adult. I was inspired to study Carnegie seriously by a recent blog post by the FEE's Jeffrey Tucker, who noted his reluctance to reading How to Win Friends and Influence People:
"Everything I thought the book (How to Win Friends..) about turned out to be wrong. This is not about manipulating others. It is about training yourself to be a good person toward others and thereby feel a greater degree of happiness in your own life. What makes the book different is that it starts with a premise: a happy life is about living in harmony and mutual benefit with others.
This book is a logic manual for social engagement, the success or failure of which turns out to profoundly affect your personal happiness."
As a teenager I judged How to Win Friends and Influence People to be the shallow talk of of a "salesman" who was self-centered, vain, and greedy. I realize now that Dale Carnegie's advice is none of these things--I was shallow, not Carnegie.
Carnegie states in simple terms the principles and practices of being a good person. As a precocious, young 43-year old I'm compelled to admit there's nothing in this book I didn't already know, but I also have to admit that there's a great chasm between what I know about good behavior and how I actually behave.
Dale Carnegie's guide is helping close that divide.