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5 Ways Dale Carnegie Can Make You a Successful Leader

By Sunny Bonnell
Posted on 08/07/23
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The teachings of Dale Carnegie have always inspired me. For more than 60 years, Dale’s book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” has been devoutly read by thousands of people looking to understand the art of navigating relationships. Released in 1936, the book has sold millions of copies and evolved numerous times to be relevant in the modern age.

If the book wasn’t profound enough, the “Dale Carnegie Training” facility offers hands-on leadership training using the foundational principles of Dale’s teachings. The institute, founded in 1912, emphasizes practical principles and processes designed to provide people with the knowledge, skills, and practices they need to create value in their businesses.

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”
Dale Carnegie

Almost every leader I’ve worked with has either read or heard of Dale, and there is a great deal of insight into leadership that can be gleaned from Dale Carnegie’s lessons.

I’ve distilled some of the most powerful teachings from Dale into five ways Dale Carnegie can make you a more successful brand leader:

Be the king of conversation and the lord of listening.

Few steps on the road to success are as accessible and straightforward as listening, yet it’s surprising how many leaders forget to do such a fundamental thing.

Carnegie regularly observed being a king of conversation and a lord of listening is a fundamental and overlooked element of building meaningful relationships.
In this article, Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, recounts how “Listen more” is the most important advice he has ever received. He recalls his father saying, “Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak”, adding, “You never know what you might learn from simply listening to the people around you. “ Listening offers a window into the other parties’ wants, needs, and values. Establishing ways to appease the other party’s interests is crucial to success.

Believe in your vision.

Very few memorable successes have resulted from doing the same thing everybody else does. The change-makers and rule-breakers create fantastic innovations and lasting experiences that breed success and imprint on society.

“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The [person] who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” (Carnegie in Slaton Terry, The Authentic You)

One thing that makes successful leaders stand out amongst their peers is their willingness to see something differently and do something out of the ordinary.
Carnegie regularly contrasted differences in perception to show how people view every aspect of life individually.

While the discussion centered around accepting different views, he considered the action a critical element to success. Where the ordinary person will see nothing and be inspired to do very little, the successful leader can visualize and drive change.

For example, Brian Chesky, founder, and CEO of Airbnb, saw a world where simply staying somewhere could be enhanced, offering more personal and unique experiences worldwide. In an article he posted on Medium, Chesky shared and discussed early rounds of investment for the start-up, which suffered 5 out of 7 rejections – the outstanding two investors did not even bother to respond.

But he persevered, staying true to his vision. Airbnb is now making huge waves in the travel and accommodation industry and was recently valued at over $25 billion.

Be different and stay true to your vision. Those with the ambition, imagination, and dedication to defy convention and challenge perception are cultivating immeasurable success.

Seek opportunity in failure.

For all leaders, failure and rejection are almost inevitable. Learning and developing resilience separates the wheat from the chaff, the ‘want to be’ from the ‘going to be.’

This attitude toward failure as an opportunity to learn, rather than simply the final consequence of your actions, was a recurring theme throughout Carnegie’s works and holds for many of today’s top leaders.

In an interview from 2010, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks of his return in 2008, recollecting how he felt he had failed the coffee chain by leaving eight years prior. Shultz took steps to take ownership of the company’s dire situation, “We had to admit to ourselves and to the people of this company that we owned the mistakes that were made. Once we did, it was a powerful turning point. It’s like when you have a secret and get it out: The burden is off your shoulders”.

Amidst its failure, Schultz’ saw an opportunity to return Starbucks to their core values, taking 10,000 managers to New Orleans to try and remind them of what the brand stood for. Since then, Starbuck’s share prices have risen from 3.92 in 2008 to 60.07 in 2015. Be persistent and determined, and learn from the mistakes that you will inevitably make.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
— Carnegie in Bowden, Telling It Like It Is

Love what you do and do what you love.

In some of his more philosophical moments, it was common for Carnegie to highlight the futility of life, and in today’s fickle marketplace, making sure you are doing what makes you happy has never been more crucial, not only for success as a brand but to live a fulfilled life.

A recent article in Business News Daily discussed 12 reasons you should do what you love for a living, indicating that “high-earners are happy — at least in part — because they have jobs they love”; being happy in what you do is crucial to your success. Serial entrepreneur Russell Simmons is a big believer in this notion. In this video, he attributes his success to his love for everything he attempts, “I have to love what I do; I have to believe in what I do.” The old saying goes, “You only get out what you put in.” If you don’t love to do something, you’re not likely to put much time or effort into making it succeed.

Seek to learn and expand your soul.

It’s no secret that Carnegie was a proponent of self-improvement; it was the foundation for his career as an author and lecturer. Whether it’s new skills, more efficient processes, or learning from mistakes, most successful leaders will be able to tell you a whole load of stories about ‘what they learned’ in various situations.

Elon Musk has spent his entire career seeking knowledge and innovating in everything from online payments to space travel. When asked how to approach learning, Musk said, “I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on.”

“People rarely succeed at anything unless they have fun doing it.”
Dale Carnegie

Learning is the foundation of success and your story as a leader. Those who are most successful seek opportunities to learn, constantly striving to find new methods to achieve more efficiently.

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By Sunny Bonnell
Founder & CEO Motto®