SELL Your Way Through LIFE


"How to Sell Your Way Through Life" is a book written by Napoleon Hill. 

You probably know of Napoleon Hill through his book “Think and Grow Rich” and maybe you’ve even read  “17 Success Principles, Success through Positive Mental Attitude”.

Hill outlines selling strategies for all salespeople. (even though in his day the words were all about salesmen).

He emphasises that we are all salesmen trying to sell our way through our career, education and personal lives. He also emphasises things such as habit, persistence and failure.

Napoleon believes that the biggest secret to success is not on the actual merchandise in question but on issues that revolve around PERSONALITY. He talks about the nine(9) motives (see below) that people respond to and how we can apply them to all areas of our life.

The nine basic motives to which people respond most freely

The motive of

  1. Self-preservation.
  2. Financial gain.
  3. Love.
  4. Sexual urge.
  5. Desire for power and fame.
  6. Fear.
  7. Revenge.
  8. FREEDOM(of body and mind)
  9. Desire to build and create (thought or material)

Chapter 1: Definition of Salesmanship

Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the incandescent electric light work. Do not become discouraged and quit if you fail once or twice before making your plans work

All anyone needs as a capital on which to start a successful career, is a sound mind , a healthy body, and a genuine desire to be as much service as possible to as many people as possible.

Employers are always on the look for a man who does a better job of any sort than is customary, whether it be wrapping a package, writing a letter, or closing a sale.

Perhaps, by the law of averages, OPPORTUNITY is thrust upon one out of every hundred thousand people. The others must create OPPORTUNITY. Selling is an art of planting in the mind of another a motive which will induce favourable action.

The “go-getter” will have to make room for the “go- giver” in every walk of life, selling included.

Chapter 2: You need intelligent promotion to succeed

The better plan is not to wait to be  “DISCOVERed”, no matter who you are or what you have to offer the world. The better plan is to search until you find the one-person best equipped to market the sort of services you have to offer, then give that person a good block of stock in yourself and tell him to go ahead and promote you.

Self-advancement cannot be built on bluff, fear or flattery! Life demands of the successful man sterner stuff than these. Mere words and fine platitudes will never take the place of a practical plan doggedly put into action.

Seek the counsel of men who will tell you the truth about yourself, even if it hurts you to hear it. Mere commendation will not bring the improvement you need.

Chapter 3: The strategy of master salesmanship

People buy PERSONALITIES and IDEAS much more quickly than they buy MERCHANDISE.

Being an able salesman, you can be almost anything else you wish to be.

Chapter 4: Qualities the salesman must develop

HARDWORK is the only thing that will turn sale training and ability into money.

The mastermind principle refers to “the coordination of two or more individualʼs minds, working in perfect harmony for a definite purpose. (This principle is mentioned in Think and Grow Rich)

With all thy getting, get ENTHUSIASM

Chapter 5: Autosuggestion, the first step in salesmanship

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. Never, in the history of the world, has there been such an abundant opportunity as there is now for the person who is willing to serve before trying to collect.

For some ideas on using Autosuggestion take a look at "Power Words"

Chapter 6 & 7: The mastermind / Concentration

The mastermind principle, the principle of concentration and the principle of autosuggestion constitute a triumvirate that must be used in reaching and influencing the subconscious mind.
PERSISTENCE is merely concentrated effort well mixed with determination and faith

What-ever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Your employer does not control the sort of service you render.
You control that, and it is the thing that makes or breaks you.

Chapter 8: Initiative and Leadership

PERSISTENCE is the keynote to success for all great leaders.
If you are going to become discouraged at the first sign of opposition or adversity, you will never become a great leader.

A man is paid not merely for that, which he knows, but more particularly, for what he does with what he knows, or that which he can get others to do.

One of the greatest leaders that ever lived stated the secret of his leadership in six words as follows. “KINDNESS is more powerful than COMPULSION”.

Chapter 9 & 10: Qualifying and neutralising the prospective buyer

Know how to qualify the prospect by finding out about their:

  • financial capacity
  • requirement
  • potential motive for making this purchase.

Be capable of neutralising the buyerʼs mind, (resistance) in order words make the buyer receptive.

Chapter 13: Selecting a definite major aim as your lifework

Always work with a definite sales quota, or goal, in mind.

Never go to work merely with the aim of selling all you can.

You should not only work with a definite goal in mind, but have a definite time in which to attain the object of that goal. 

Chapter14: The habit of doing more than paid for

Napoleon Hill explains that when you do something that is more and of better quality than what you are paid for, you get better and more lasting results than by flattering people.

You should always offer a better service and better quality service than you are paid for. Give the best you can give. That is how you attract and please other people. It becomes easier to obtain their cooperation.

Chapter 15 : A pleasing personality 

You wonʼt get people to like you by flattering them. For Napoleon Hill, to make and keep friends, and become an excellent salesperson, the following is essential:

According to “How to sell your way through life”, someone with a “pleasing personality” is a flexible person capable of adapting to and fitting into any setting. It is also a person who is “magnetic” enough to be able to dominate their environment with the attraction they exercise.

I would call this Rapport

Chapter 16  Cooperation 

Harmonious cooperation between employees and bosses is the key to the successful business of the future.

Chapter 17: How to create a job

The salaried person must sell his way into a job and keep the position other words the art of selling yourself.

Step one: find the job you want and make a comprehensive list of everything that qualifies you for the position.

Step two: sincerely grade yourself on each of the 17 success principles ... these are listed in the longer book summary

Chapter 18: How to choose an occupation 

Step 1: Decide what kind of job you want

You need to look:
Either for a job with great future prospects, but a modest starting salary.
Or a job that offers maximum opportunities for remuneration, but no promise of a future.

Step 2: Clarify 5 points
These can be found in the more detailed summary

Chapter 19: How to budget your time 

Napoleon Hill suggests that we use a timetable that is efficient and easy to follow.

He breaks down the hours of the day in the following way:

  • Eight hours of sleep
  • Eight hours for your vocation
  • Four hours for health and leisure
  • Two hours for study and reflection
  • Two hours of volunteer work and helping others.

Never regularly spend your time on excessive partying (alcohol, excessive food, sex) and other destructive or energy-consuming habits.

Where you are is the result of how you use your time

The author invites us to:

Take a long, hard look at how you use your personal time, becoming aware that where you are is the fruit of how you conduct yourself.

Observe your daily habits: are they dragging you down or are they raising you up?

Recognise your weaknesses, then adopt habits to eliminate or reduce them.

 You Have ... Eight hours a day to change your future!

Remember ... “The time to start is now.”

Chapter 20: The master plan for getting a position

This is very similar to Chapter 17 "How to Create a Job"

Chapter 21: Singleness of purposes

Focus your attention, interest, and desire upon the attainment of a definite end.

Actions become powerful when you know how to efficiently concentrate and direct your energy. All people who encounter extraordinary success in life are people who focussed most of their thoughts and efforts on a single objective.

This Concentration:

  • Develops determination and helps you to overcome momentary defeats.
  • Forces your mind to focus on a subject and it will automatically acquire the habit over time.
  • Produces results “close to miraculous” on the object of your dreams, goals and targets when it is associated with faith.

Chapter 22: Persistence

If you have tried and met defeat, if you have planned and watched your plans as they were crushed before your eyes, just remember that the great men in all history were the products of courage, and courage, you know, is born in the cradle of ADVERSITY.

Chapter 23: Faith

Faith is the foundation of perseverance.

It is a state of mind:

  • Through which you can visualise achieving a definite goal or the intermediate targets, even before you get started.
  • Triggered and supported by deep desire and the suggestion of the subconscious to achieve this goal.
  • Napoleon Hill says that he learned three things from Henry Ford about faith:

To find out what Napoleon learned about Faith from Henry Ford go to the more detailed summary 

Chapter 24 : Decision 

For Napoleon Hill, indecision is one of the major causes of misery.
To achieve success, we need to know how to make fast, definitive decisions.

“Men of decision are of necessity men who think. The man who understands how to reach decisions intelligently is not only the master of his own destiny, but he may also control the destinies of many others.”

Napoleon Hill learned four simple rules from Henry Ford.
You can apply them to make decisions quickly and intelligently.

  1. ‘‘When in doubt, do something, even if it is no more than to walk around the block and think what to do.ʼʼ
  2. Before making a decision, be sure that you possess all the facts that can affect the decision.
  3. Make a distinction between facts and rumour, between important and unimportant facts.
  4. When it is impossible to gather all the facts you need, rely on your past experience and your own good sense.

Chapter 25: Sportsmanship 

Having a good sporting mentality is essential to success. Among other things, it means you :

  • are not afraid of criticism
  • can accept defeat as easily as you accept success do not entertain thoughts of revenge against your enemies
  • do not complain.

Chapter 26: Budgeting of time and expenditures 

Organising your time and your expenses is very beneficial.
If we believe to “How to sell your way through life”, it is the path to happiness!

Rigorous and balanced time and money management comes down to self-discipline. It allows you to:

  • become financially independent. To do this, you have to organise your time in a way that turns it into money.
  • find time to relax. Henry Ford enjoyed relaxing, but he used the time on activities that enriched his mind without endangering his health.

Chapter 27: Humility

Napoleon Hill explains that Henry Ford taught him humility of the heart. Despite his success, his habits, his lifestyle and his attitude to others remained the same as when he lived in poverty.

In fact, says the author, people who have perfect knowledge of the laws of nature are often the most humble.

“All men who have a keen understanding of natureʼs laws are humble at heart.”

Chapter 28: The habit of doing more than one is paid to do

Going the extra mile is to “render more service and better service than one is paid to render.” This principle applies to relations with customers as well as with your teams.

Anybody who acts this way will end up being proportionately rewarded.

The principle of Fordʼs sales policy, for example, was to offer the customer the maximum for the minimum price.

Chapter 29: Ford the master salesman 

“Salesmanship consists very largely in knowing and in showing the prospective buyer the real merits of the goods or service you are trying to sell.”

Chapter 30:  Accumulation of Power

“Success, let me repeat, is achieved through power! Power is accumulated through organised and intelligently directed knowledge. Organisation and intelligent direction of knowledge require coordination of effort in a spirit of harmony between two or more minds.”

What made Ford an exceptional salesman was his ability to coordinate the efforts of other people in a spirit of harmony. Through the industrialistʼs methods, Napoleon Hill understood that it is possible to accumulate a lot of power simply using the master mind principle

Chapter 31: Self-Control

Thanks to Henry Fordʼs incredible calm (even under attack), Napoleon Hill learned the value of self-control.

In Henry Ford, this self-control was characterised by:

  • His sober lifestyle
  • The ability to preserve his right to think for himself and life as he saw fit
  • Control of his emotions;
  • Deep faith in himself, towards others and in infinite Intelligence.

Chapter 32: The golden rule in use

Where we are and what we are, financially and spiritually, are because of the dominating THOUGHTS that occupy our minds.

“This simple rule of human conduct means that whatever we do to or for another, we do to or for ourselves.”

This law is reminiscent of the one that says that if we do wrong to our neighbour we are also doing wrong to ourselves, unknowingly.

  • You should always offer a better service and better quality service than you are paid for. Give the best you can give. That is how you attract and please other people. It becomes easier to obtain their cooperation.
  • People behave with you (in thoughts and deeds) in a way that matches your dominant thoughts.
  • Your attitude and state of mind should always be fair and balanced. This will demonstrate your value to the world and make you indispensable to your employer or to the public.

Chapter 39: The new world

  • FEAR is manʼs worst enemy. Like a demon of hell, it sits upon oneʼs shoulder and whispers, “You canʼt write/ do that”.
  • FEAR of POVERTY and FEAR of CRITICISM are two of manʼs worst enemies.
  • A burning DESIRE to be and to do is the starting point from which a DREAMER must take off.
  • Great riches do not always bring FREEDOM; usually WEALTH brings only more responsibilities, fears, and worries.
  • You are truly the master of your own FATE, the captain of your SOUL, because you are what you are, because of your own habits of THOUGHT.
  • The future needs dreamers with courage
  • “The whole world now needs, and is demanding, a new group of pioneers who have the capacity to conceive new plans, new ideas, new inventions; men and women who have, also, the courage and the initiative to blaze new trails in every walk of life.”“This new changed world will require dreamers who can put their dreams into action!”
  • Nothing offers more lasting happiness than making other people happy and being free“Human longings cannot be satisfied by things of monetary value alone. Happiness is not possible without freedom of both body and mind. Freedom is an aim for which every human being is striving, whether that fact is recognised or not.”