Book Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People
This one is the grandaddy of them all. Along with Graham’s Intelligent Investor, this book serves as the foundation of better business practices. In its pages, Carnegie deals mostly with human psychology.
He assumes that your goal is to be liked, trusted, and respected by everyone that you encounter. He further assumes that you want to positively influence everyone around you.
Working with those two assumptions, he constructs a framework of business and life practices that will maximize your influence on others.
One of my favorite tidbits is his stance on criticism. He opines that criticism and argument are useless and a waste of time. He says that criticizing someone doesn’t make them see things your way or admit their error and beg forgiveness, but rather causes them to get defensive and justify their actions.
Likewise with arguments. How many arguments have ended with one party saying “You’re exactly right and I am exactly wrong! How could I have been so foolish?”?
Probably none. That’s because people always think they are right, innocent, and justified. No one thinks themselves to be wrong, stupid, or mean. If you view them as such, then you will have trouble ever convincing them of anything (like to work hard to make you look good in business!).
Those are just a couple examples of the useful and universal tips that Carnegie offers to anyone and everyone who desires to influence others. That, presumably, would be everyone.
I will caution you that this book was originally published in 1937 and can seem quite dated at times. In fact, some of his analogies and anecdotes are almost funny because of how often he references prominent figures from the 1800s, Civil War, and earliest Hollywood.
Try not to focus on whether you recognize all of the names and places he references. Instead, figure out the lesson he is teaching with those examples.
Much like Good to Great, I won’t go as far as saying that you MUST read this book in order to achieve business success. However, I will say that I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone and I think I will be reading it at least once a year for the rest of my career in order to remind myself of its timeless principles.
*Note: My version of the book is the Audio CD version. I have listened to it in my car twice in the last month.
Pros: Highly applicable advice for everyone, simple ideas explained clearly, entertaining, easy to read/understand
Target Audience: Anyone who wishes to influence others in a positive way
Overall Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦ (out of 5)
Here is the Amazon link to buy this book:
♦ = Not worth your time
♦♦ = May be worth your time if it is specific to your industry or interests
♦♦♦ = A decent book and worthy addition to your library depending on your interests
♦♦♦♦ = A great book and an excellent addition to your library.
♦♦♦♦♦ = One of the all time classics. A must-read for anyone and everyone.