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Carnegie, Dale (1888–1955)

Dale Carnegie (1888–1955)

Dale Carnegie was America's foremost promoter of unwavering optimism and enthusiasm as both a personal philosophy and a manner of approaching the challenges of daily life. Back in 1912, Carnegie began teaching a nonacademic course that, on the surface, was concerned with public speaking. Actually, the issues with which he dealt went beyond the how-tos of speaking before audiences. As his course evolved, Carnegie focused on the manner in which individuals might confront their fears and demons. He saw these fears as barriers that prevented them from reaching their complete potential at their jobs or in their personal relationships.

Carnegie, who previously had worked as a salesman and actor, first taught his course in New York City, at the YMCA on 125th Street in Harlem. His students were businessmen and salesmen who wished to improve their communications skills. He expanded his class' parameters when he began calling on students to express themselves in class, to discuss their life experiences, and to acknowledge publicly their wishes and fears. As the years passed, Carnegie kept fine-tuning the class, which he called "The Dale Carnegie Course in Public Speaking and Human Relations."

Carnegie's critics felt his techniques were too simplistic and even manipulative. In 1936, he published his philosophy in a book titled How to Win Friends and Influence People, which became one of the twentieth-century's all-time best-sellers (see entry under 1940s—Commerce in volume 3). In 1939, he began licensing the course to others to teach across the country. By 2001, more than 4.5 million people had taken Dale Carnegie courses from Dale Carnegie Training, a corporation that offered the course across the United States and around the world.

—Rob Edelman

For More Information

Carnegie, Dale. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1948, 1984.

Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1936, 1981.

Dale Carnegie Training. (accessed February 11, 2002).

Kemp, Giles, and Edward Claflin. Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989.

Longgood, William. Talking Your Way to Success: The Story of the Dale Carnegie Course. New York: Association Press, 1962.

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