Dale Carnegie Biography and Quotes on Leadership and Influence

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dale carnegie biography

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If you’re looking for a Dale Carnegie biography that explains who he is, where he came from, and milestones he achieved to build the influence he’s gained over the years, then you’re in the right place. Here, I’ll be sharing with you Dale Carnegie’s biography and his quotes on business and life.

I became interested in Dale Carnegie because I heard about how good his book “How to win friends and influence people” was for personal development. After hearing about it so many times, I decided “it must be something to this”.


The people telling me about Dale Carnegie were people I really admire and trust.

I knew, as an entrepreneur, one of the major skills we have to learn is how to impact others in a positive way. You probably know this. If we don’t learn how to use our influence positively, we can:

  • Build bad reputations
  • Limit our potential
  • Become unable to grow successful businesses
  • And, create products and services that don’t sell

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you want the opposite. You want to build a good reputation, maximize your potential, grow a successful company, and create products and services that sell very well. As a result, it’s important to learn from people, like Dale Carnegie, who have successfully taught students how to positively influence others.

After reading about Dale Carnegie and studying his life, I found some really interesting things that I think can inspire you.

Who Was Dale Carnegie | A Biography

Dale Carnegie was born in poverty on a farm to James William Carnagey and Amanda Elizabeth Harbison, so how did he go from being raised in poverty to being the world-renowned author we know today? Let’s see…

What was Dale Carnegie’s Childhood Like?dale carnegie biography | dale carnegie quotes | dale carnegie childhood on a farm

Carnegie’s childhood has been described using terms like:

  • “hard work”
  • “bad luck”
  • and, “barely meeting ends meet”

His dad was a farmer on the border of Missouri, and often times, they experienced flooding of their crops. He tried raising hogs, but that didn’t work out well either.

His mom was known to be a natural leader. She taught in Sunday school at their church, and she encouraged Dale in many of his professional pursuits.

Despite their effort, Dale’s childhood was plagued with financial struggle. In fact, when he went to college at State Teachers College in MO, Dale had to live at home because his family couldn’t afford $1/day for room and board.

Was Dale Carnegie Rich?

Dale tried his hand at many professions before finding his “niche”. He tried:

  • Acting
  • Sales
  • and Teaching…

…Before realizing his real talent and passion was in training others. He came up with the idea to teach public speaking when he was living in the YMCA. His course took off! Before long, he had a consistent flow of customers, and his financial status improved. He was no longer struggling financially, although I haven’t seen anywhere mention he was rich.

What is Dale Carnegie’s Net Worth?

I haven’t found highly credible resources that disclose the value of Dale Carnegie’s estate, however, Celebstrendnow has a wide estimation of between $100,000-$1 million. I would guess his net worth would be far more than that considering his training business has become a notable franchise and his books still sell aggressively.

Why did Dale Carnegie Change his name?

Dale Carnagey changed his last name to “Carnegie” at the time when Andrew Carnegie was a very popular and noteworthy name.

Was Dale Carnegie related to Andrew Carnegie?

Dale was not related to Andrew Carnegie. He simply changed his last name to the same spelling as Andrew Carnegie.

What Major Shifts helped Dale Carnegie escape Poverty?dale carnegie biography | dale carnegie quotes

One thing that makes Dale Carnegie’s story very interesting is how he started in poverty and started a business that helped him escape it. He overlooked his gifts and talents for awhile and aspired to do things that seemed intriguing, but after continuing to struggle, he began the process of self-evaluation I talk about in phase one of my Business Growth Framework e-course.

After leaving home, he got a job selling meat. He did well as a salesman, and was able to save $500. Once he saved his money, he quit his sales job, and moved to New York. In New York, he experimented with being an actor, but found he didn’t like the job.

He remembered people asking to pay him to teach them public speaking, and he decided to offer training on public speaking as a service. He realized the public speaking was a skill he had that he could leverage in various ways.

The YMCA in his area allowed him to teach public speaking in their facility, and earn 80% of the proceeds. He was able to get traction in his training courses fairly quickly. Then, once his training courses were gaining popularity, he launched his book How to Win Friends and Influence People along with others.

Within two years of starting his training, Dale Carnegie was able to start his own institute. Despite his passing in 1955, Dale’s teachings are still widely sought after. His organization has become a franchise, and you can still find workshops that use his curriculum online and all over the world. Dale Carnegie Institute currently operates in 90 countries across the world, helping people to build self-confidence, improve their people skills, develop leadership skills, improve attitude, and reduce stress.

Dale Carnegie Quotes

One of the major shifts that led to Dale Carnegie’s success is his mindset. He is most remembered by his mindset which is infectious. These are some notable quotes that help to demonstrate the thoughts that fueled his actions…

  • Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
  • Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.
  • Even god doesn’t propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I?
  • You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
    Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.
  • To be interesting, be interested.
  • Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurt his sense of importance and arouses resentment.
  • People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.
  • All men have fears, but the brave put down their fears and go forward, sometimes to death, but always to victory.
  • You can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry.
  • Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.
  • Big shots are only little shots who kept on shooting.
  • By fighting, you never get enough – but by yielding, you get more than you expected.
  • You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or is discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.
  • Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.
  • Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.
  • “Instead of condemning people, let’s try yo understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all”.
  • “There is only one way under heaven to get anybody to do anything. Did you ever stop to think of that? Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it.
  • So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.
  • The desire for a feeling of importance is one of the chief distinguishing differences between manking and the animals.
  • If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.
  • Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
  • If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.
  • The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.
  • The chronic kicker, even the most violent critic, will frequently soften and be subdued in the presence of a patient, sympathetic listener – a listener who will be silent while the irate fault-finder dilates like a king cobra and spews the poison out of his system.
  • Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.
  • Don’t be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.
  • When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.
  • Today is our most precious possession. It is our only sure possession.
  • Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied
  • If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be

Recommendations for More from Dale Carnegie

If you enjoyed the quotes by Dale Carnegie and you’d like to learn more from him, these are my top recommendations:

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Public Speaking for Success

Final Words on Dale Carnegie

The goal of this article was to inspire you. If Dale Carnegie could escape poverty and become one of the most well-known nonfiction authors of the century, then you can also do amazing things. I hope the biography and quotes serve as motivation for you and help to propel you in your business growth journey. For more tips and advice on growing your business, check out my free Business Growth Framework e-course here.

What is your favorite Dale Carnegie Quote? What were the major takeaways you get from his biography? Leave your answers in the comments below.

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14 thoughts on “Dale Carnegie Biography and Quotes on Leadership and Influence”

  1. Tiffany Denise

    Thank you for this post!

    I’ve had Dale’s book “How to win friends and influence people” for, we’ll just say, quite some time now.  It’s nice to get a little background on him.

    I had no idea that he had changed his name.

    I love the list of quotes you’ve provided here too.  I just might take one or two and create some inspirational posters for my office, LOL.

    I didn’t realize he had other books published.  I’ll have to check them out.

    Thanks again,


    1. Tiffany Denise

      I love the poster idea. Dale Carnegie has such great quotes, they’d be perfect for something like that! His most popular book is How to Win Friends and Influence People, but he has other great material out there. The ones I’ve recommended are just a few. Check them out. His content is really good.

  2. Tiffany Denise

    Hi Tiffany , Great article on Dale Carnegie , it was really great to read and get inspired , only shows you that doesn’t matter who you are , with setting your goal and dedication you can succeed . Great quotes from him as well , very inspiring ,
    it gives people strength to go out there and pursuit their dreams , not only dreaming but taking action and doing everything they can to achieve and be successful . 

  3. Tiffany Denise

    Tiffany, once again you have shared another great post.   I read one of your reviews earlier today but didn’t take the time to comment on it.  (It was about some guy that is promoting a program that doesn’t seem to be a scam.  Yet, reportedly, he used to promote one of the scams that was shut down by the FTC.)  Your site is a great resource.  

    Yet this post inspired me a lot.   So, I am commenting on this one.    

    I’ve always been impressed withDale Carnegie.  He  continues to influence and inspire people  today even though he died many years ago.   A lot has changed since his death. For example,  he never used a computer, the internet or social media.  I’m not even sure if they had color tvs back then.  Probably not.    

     Yet the things he teaches and reminds us are just as relevant today as they were back then.  The principles seem to be timeless.   I find that impressive.  

    It would be hard for me to say which one of his quotes is my most favorite.    

    At this exact moment, I need to follow his advise about what I should be doing if I am laying awake in bed in the middle of the night.   He said if you can’t sleep, get up and do something.   

    I hope that you are having a great week.     


    1. Tiffany Denise

      Thanks Sondra! I’m so glad you enjoy the content here. Thanks for your kind words. I think the quote your pointed out is a great Dale Carnegie quote. Alot of times when we can’t sleep, we lay there trying to fall asleep, but our minds are wondering so much we just can’t. 

      In times like that, I start to think “how am I going to be productive if I don’t sleep!”, but he says we’re more productive if we get up and take action than if we lay there and worry. I love that quote too.

  4. Tiffany Denise

    Everything about Dale Carnegie is truly inspirational. It’s fascinating to know the key to every man’s success despite all the struggles they’ve been through. Financial problems in the family is one aspect that either break or make a person. My family experienced this too when my dad got laid off. He was working then in the Middle East but opted to stay and did a lot of extras so he can send money to us. I decided to temporarily stop schooling ’cause I don’t want added debts to my family since my college tuition fee and everyday allowance is expensive.

    Fast forward, all three of us graduated and found a decent job. The family’s able to pay our debts. We don’t consider ourselves rich but all the hardship we experienced before is all in the past. We keep on improving our lives one step at a time.  We kept family strength going and supported each other. 

    Dale Carnegie’s positive view on people, life and success should be adapted. I for one believe that we shouldn’t be self centered. Instead, we should be really interested to people, in fact these are the things I learned from affiliate marketing that has something to do with Canegie’s words of wisdom:answer our clients inquiries the best way we can, give them options and solutions to a problem, engage them to share what they know and let them feel that they are important. Thanks for sharing David Carnegie’s inspirational life. It gives positivity to readers.

    1. Tiffany Denise

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I agree with you that hardship can either work to your benefit or it can become an excuse for demise. I’m so glad to hear how your family persevered and achieved great things from your hard times. Amazing story!

  5. Tiffany Denise

    Hi Tiffany

    I like Dale Carnegie’s books, they are really inspiring and a powerful motor for self-improvement. I am always happy to read ” How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

    And I am glad to finally read his biography. I think his life story is a good lesson on how we need to use whatever talent we have and that is what will lead us to success.

    I like this quote ” Big shots are only little shots who kept on shooting”, so true! I am just a little shot and I will keep shooting until I become a big shot.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tiffany Denise

      I love “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as well. Keep on shooting! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Tiffany Denise

    Dear Tiffany,

    Thanks for the Great inspiring post! This has to be motivating, not only for me but also for many others.

    Success Leaves Clues – Jim Rohn

    By modeling and learning from the people who are already a success we too can produce the same results. Finding our talent or passion and building our business on our passion and talent is the best way to achieve success. I believe this is what Dale Carnegie did.

    The book, How to Win Friends and Influence People is on my library and on my “To Read” list quite for a while. After reading your article, it inspired me and now I am determined to read it.

    Even god doesn’t propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I? – If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be – Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied, are some of the quotes which made me to think a lot.

    Much Success!


    1. Tiffany Denise

      I love Jim Rohn as well. In fact, I have his bio and quotes here. Mentorship and modeling successful people is so important to achieving success in our businesses. Definitely, check out How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s one of those books that shifts your paradigm in a positive way. I love the quotes you’ve picked. Thanks Paul for stopping by.

  7. Tiffany Denise

    Hi Tiffany

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring article about Dale Carnegie.

    I can see now why his book is very popular.

    To be honest, I never read his book but I think it is going to worth my time.

    Most of his quotes are really encouraging and powerful.

    What I like about those quotes is that it all make sense and can be used as a guideline to achieve your goal.

    The best one I like is “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

    Wish You All The Best

    1. Tiffany Denise

      I agree Dale Carnegie has some very encouraging and powerful quotes. The quote you picked is very thought-provoking. It’s one of those that makes you sit and think.

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