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Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Hello and welcome to Film Pro Productivity, the podcast that helps film professionals and other creatives to live a more focused, effective and HAPPY life. My name is Carter Ferguson and this is EPISODE 40 – THE LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS: PART 1

That was Napoleon Hill speaking there in 1954 and during the next six episodes I will be introducing you to the concepts and principles which he first presented in his very powerful book THE LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS – It’s the book that his more well-known work Think and Grow Rich was based on as well as many many other self-help books and concepts which we find discussed in productivity circles today - And if you think you’ve got nothing to learn from something written nearly a hundred years ago, then think again. This is potent stuff.

Whilst still a young man Napoleon Hill met Andrew Carnegie a Scottish-American industrialist, business magnate, and philanthropist. Carnegie led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest Americans in history. Andrew Carnegie is the third-wealthiest figure of the modern period (net worth of $310 billion). and came to understand that a formula for success could be outlined in simple lessons which anyone could understand.

He was commissioned by Carnegie to prove this statement, and went on to spend twenty plus years of his life studying Carnegie and his associates to find this elusive formula.

During this time he was granted access to America's ELITE including the likes of Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt, John D Rockefeller and Henry Ford. At first, he compiled his notes into a series of lectures which were personally delivered across the USA over a period of about seven years. These were then compiled into booklets and finally the manuscripts became published as a single volume known as “THE LAW OF SUCCESS” in 1928 – That book was only distributed to 118 of the very wealthy and successful men who had contributed to its content and one of these original copies was used to create a reprinted version of The Law of Success in 2010.

One thing I’d like to say though about WHEN this was written - and I mention this as I find it a little hard on the ear myself - is that in 1928 it was commonplace to use the term “men” or “man” when speaking generally about HUMANKIND where today more gender neutral words or phrasings such “they” or “those” would work instead.

I will often, but NOT ALWAYS NEUTRALISE THE GENDER put forth in the text however - I DON’T DO THIS when QUOTING DIRECTLY from someone, which I do often, or where it isn’t factually accurate for me to neutralise gender. For example when I said there that the book was “distributed to 118 of the very wealthy and successful MEN who had contributed to its content” it’s because it’s factually accurate. As far as I am aware, he neither interviewed not distributed this to women, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing for all of us to learn from it.

Hill was all about inclusion and I’m certain that if he wrote this book today he would have made this adaptation. He would have been horrified that his positive words somehow made any section of his readership uncomfortable or feel isolated. I say this as a kinda fair warning that on occasion you will hear these gender specific words and they may jar a little, but bear with me if you are easily “triggered”, as these lessons in SUCCESS are accessible and relevant to all, and the BENEFITS you will gain from them will MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR A FEW ANACHRONISTIC and GENDER SPECIFIC QUOTATIONS. With that point made, let’s move on.

The Law of Success was effectively condensed version into THINK AND GROW RICH, which wasn’t released until 1937. Rumour has it that this 9-year hiatus came about because the "authorities" felt that SUCH AN EXACT GUIDE TO SUCCESS, AS SEEN IN THE ORIGINAL could be a threat to their roles in government and society. In THINK AND GROW RICH the concepts and ideas are diluted to make it shorter but it’s generally considered now that the real gold can be found in this -THE LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS.

Hill warns against PASSING JUDGEMENT before having read the entire sixteen lessons. THOSE WHO TAKE UP THE COURSE WITH AN OPEN MIND, he tells us, WILL BE RICHLY REWARDED – so bear with ME over the next 6 episodes, KEEP AN OPEN MIND AS I PROCEED, and you will get a glimpse of the vision which Napoleon Hill set forth in the 1100 or so pages that make up the LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS.

You cannot push any one up a ladder unless he is willing to climb a little by himself. Andrew Carnegie UNQUOTE

These shows are a kinda six-part “series within the series” – and organised so as to introduce you to the concepts within the book - ON THAT NOTE MANY YOU WILL LIKELY RECOGNISE TOPICS WHICH I’VE TACKLED IN EARLIER EPISODES as the rules and theories which Napoleon Hill introduces here are intrinsically part of what productivity has become.

It’s worth mentioning too, that throughout his lessons, Hill doesn’t hold back on giving examples and if anything, it is this that truly separates it in content from THINK AND GROW RICH.

In the 1950's Hill filmed a series of lectures based on this work. He’d had a few years to develop his ideas and there are a few nuggets of wisdom from that, which I will use here. The first of these was this:

He said that “Success is a very profound and interesting thing because the line of demarcation between success and failure is so slight that it is often hard to see where one ends and the other begins.”

For those of us struggling with the many failures and disappointments that come along in life and work, it’s worth noting that Hill’s words predict for us SUCCESS with a slight shifting of our outlook and our actions. I hope that this short series of episodes brings you the key to that success.

On a final note, I’m switching around lesson 2 and lesson 1 from the book because Napoleon Hill did so later in life himself and because to me it makes far more sense this way around.

In this chapter though, Hill first suggests we read with a pencil and pad to hand as the lessons will “super-induce a flow of thoughts covering a wide range of subjects”. I realise that many who listen to podcasts are doing other things as they do so, driving, walking the dog or whatever, but if you can, I’d try and take a bit of a breather between the lessons in case I too, accidentally super-induce your FLOW OF THOUGHTS too much and you have a meltdown.

Without further ado, hang onto your seats and let’s look at THE LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS.


Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. Without a purpose and a plan, people drift aimlessly through life. Napoleon Hill Unquote

LESSON 2 in The LAW OF SUCCESS is titled A DEFINITE CHIEF AIM: and here Hill states that

“This lesson will show you how to do away forever - with aimlessness - and fix your heart and hand upon some definite, well-conceived purpose.”

It is important that you recognise that all success begins with definiteness of purpose - with a clear picture in your mind of precisely what you want from life. Hill warns us NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF THIS IDEA DUE TO ITS SIMPLICITY.

There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth. Leo Tolstoy unquote

It’ll come as no surprise to listeners to this show that what we need to do is to set an objective and a time frame before we can achieve it, and that’s as true for a small task as it is for a life goal. I talk about this often as WITHOUT HAVING A SOLID AIM TO FOCUS ON YOU CANNOT EFFECTIVELY, EFFICIENTLY, AND AS DIRECTLY AS POSSIBLE, ACHIEVE IT. Hill’s specific instruction in regard to this lesson 2 - A DEFINITE CHIEF AIM is to “procure a neat pocket size a notebook”

  • and on page 1 write down a clear description of your major aim in life - the one circumstance or position or thing which you will be willing to accept as your idea of success - and remember before you begin writing that your only limitations are those which you set up in your own mind or which others to set up for you. Please be the master of your own destiny, and try not to allow yourself to be side lined into achieving someone else’s desires in place of your own.

  • On page 2 Hill asks us to write down a clear statement of precisely what you intend to GIVE IN RETURN for that which you desire from life. Hill firmly believes that there is NO SUCH THING AS SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.

  • Thirdly he asks you to memorise both of your statements WHAT YOU DESIRE AND WHAT YOU INTEND TO GIVE IN RETURN FOR IT and to repeat them at least a dozen times daily.”

Humility leads to strength and not to weakness. It is the highest form of self-respect to admit mistakes and to make amends for them. John J. McCloy UNQUOTE

Lesson 2 covers a lot of ground, not least of which is the time he spends on the importance of HUMILITY, which he describes as the FORERUNNER TO SUCCESS – but what Hill also gets into in this lesson is POWER.

“Success is the development of the POWER with which to get whatever one wants in life without interfering with the rights of others.”

To Hill, POWER is ORGANIZED ENERGY or EFFORT and his book is called the Law of Success as it teaches how we may organize facts and knowledge and the faculties of our mind, into a unit of power. THIS POWER, HE SAYS, BRINGS YOU A DEFINITE PROMISE: That through its mastery and application you can get whatever you want, with but two qualifying words - "WITHIN REASON."

This is a point on which I’ve hung my hat in the past, In episode 28 - YOU HAVE THE POWER I say BE CONFIDENT BUT NOT DELUSIONAL and when Hill says "You Can Do It if You Believe You Can!" he doesn’t mean you can become Harry Potter or ride a unicorn. It’s the sort of thing that you’d think doesn’t need to be voiced, but in my experience there are those out there that keep themselves back from success because they cannot recognise that they are in some way the problem, and it is they that keep themselves in check.

No man has a chance to enjoy permanent success until he begins to look in a mirror for the real cause of all his mistakes. Napoleon Hill Unquote

In the next lesson, we will look at how you can organize the faculties of your mind and the faculties of others, to co-ordinate and focus on your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM. The key-note of this entire lesson may be found in the word "definite." That any DEFINITE CHIEF AIM that is deliberately fixed in the mind and held there, with the determination to realize it, finally saturates the entire subconscious mind until it automatically influences your physical action toward the achievement of that purpose.

Your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life should be selected with deliberate care, and after it has been selected it should be written out as outlined before and placed where you will see it AT LEAST ONCE A DAY - I HAVE MY AIMS WRITTEN ON MY OFFICE WALL for example and ON THE WHITEBOARDS which I use every day. The psychological effect of this is to impress this purpose upon your SUBCONSCIOUS mind so strongly that IT ACCEPTS THAT PURPOSE AS A PATTERN OR BLUEPRINT that will eventually DOMINATE YOUR ACTIVITIES IN LIFE and lead you, step by step, TOWARD THE ATTAINMENT OF THAT THAT AIM.

Hill says “Suppose your definite chief aim is far above your present station in life. What of it? It is your privilege - nay, your DUTY, to aim high in life.”

It’s now that I get to the start of 16 lessons, but before I do, I want you to really consider what has been proposed here in this one. Don’t just let it pass and move on, pause the show if you have to and really consider what has been said. IF YOU HAVE TO SPEND A FEW DAYS OR WEEKS CONSIDERING HOW SETTING YOURSELF A CONTRACT TO ACHIEVE A DEFINITE CHIEF AIM, COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE THEN DO IT.

Thomas Jefferson SAID Nothing can stop the someone with the RIGHT MENTAL ATTITUDE from achieving his goal; and NOTHING ON EARTH CAN HELP THE MAN (or woman) with the WRONG MENTAL ATTITUDE.

WHATEVER THE MIND CAN CONCEIVE AND BELIEVE THE MIND CAN ACHIEVE LESSON 1 - THE MASTER MIND: Hill discusses many things in this first lesson as he prepares and primes the reader for what is to come. He talks about how to STIMULATE YOUR IMAGINATION so that it will create PRACTICAL PLANS and NEW IDEAS, and how ORGANIZED EFFORT, IS THE SOURCE OF ALL POWER! Don’t skip passed this statement either – TAKE HEED AND CONSIDER THE WORDS - ORGANISED EFFORT IS THE SOURCE OF ALL POWER. If we set our minds to it, and can intelligently coordinate the efforts of the many, WORKING IN HARMONY, we can achieve truly great things. This isn’t a throwaway statement either. He really means it.

This is the principle through which you may borrow and use the education, the experience, the influence and perhaps the capital of other people in CARRYING OUT YOUR OWN PLANS IN LIFE.

It is the principle through which you can accomplish in one year more than you could accomplish without it in a lifetime if you depended entirely upon your own efforts for success. Hill explains that the MASTERMIND PRINCIPLE can also give you absolute protection against failure provided that your purpose is in using this principle is BENEFICIAL TO ALL WHOM YOU INFLUENCE.

Hill explains that the "Master Mind" is an invisible STRONGER third mind which is developed by a friendly alliance, in a spirit of harmony of purpose, between two or more minds.


He clarifies too that NO TWO OR MORE MINDS EVER MET WITHOUT CREATING, out of the contact, ANOTHER MIND but warns us that this INVISIBLE creation is not always a "Master Mind.” as a MASTER MIND ONLY forms when those TWO OR MORE PEOPLE WORK TOGETHER IN HARMONY of purpose and effort.

I’ve seen many of the theories behind THE MASTER MIND discussed in productivity circles over the years and it’s one that is of great interest to me. It is based on the idiom that SUCCESS DOES NOT COME WITHOUT THE COOPERATION OF OTHERS - I haven’t thought about that particular concept very often but I’ve unconsciously been part of MASTER MIND groups at various points in my life and I’m very open to embracing it. I’ve had an awareness of it I think though, as I often think of Jim Rohn who famously said that “we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” In other words, if you spend a lot of time with a bunch of wasters, then you’re not going to be getting out of your rut anytime soon, and it’s highly likely you will become a bit of a waster yourself. If however you spend your time with high flyers you will follow most likely along that path too.

When discussing of THE MASTER MIND Hill says something similar to Rohn – He says “It has been found that a group of six or seven sales people may use the law so effectively that their sales may be increased to unbelievable proportions.” He adds the caveat though that “It is strictly for minds who trust each other and are interested in the good success of all parties involved.” In my experience, it is with those final words that I have seen many a MASTER MIND destroyed by selfishness and EGO.

On that note Hill advises that you “Control your mental attitude and make yourself friendly and agreeable with everyone with whom you are closely associated if you expect friendly cooperation in return. Indifference cannot create a mastermind alliance, and a negative mental attitude can bring you nothing but failure.

Your mental attitude is the one and the only thing over which you have complete control.

Whilst researching this book, he reminds us, I had the collaboration of practically every outstanding successful man this country has produced during the past 50 years and I can tell you DEFINITELY that their success was due in main to their knowledge and application of the MASTERMIND principle.

Henry Ford's gigantic success may be traced to the successful application of this MASTER MIND principle, he says “With all the self-reliance a man could have, Ford, did not depend upon himself for the knowledge necessary in the successful development of his industries. He surrounded himself with men who supplied the knowledge which he, himself, DID NOT and COULD NOT possess. Moreover, Ford picked men who COULD AND DID HARMONIZE IN GROUP EFFORT.” – Hill talks elsewhere of how FORD’s true mastermind alliance was with HIS WIFE who supported and encouraged him.

In this chapter Hill also looks at WHY PEOPLE FAIL and WHY SOME PEOPLE ANTAGONIZE OTHERS WITHOUT KNOWING IT, and how SUCCESS is often a matter of TACTFUL NEGOTIATION. He also explains that EVERY HUMAN BEING possesses at least two distinct personalities; one destructive and one constructive.

My default is self-destruction, and anything on top of that is a bloody lot of work. Gillian Anderson UNQUOTE

Summing Up

The master mind is a simple enough thing to understand, although like many other concepts it is harder to put into practice. I’m going to end this episode here but over the next five episodes I will dip into each of the remaining lessons. These lessons are constantly relating to one another and I’ll refer back to these first two many times. In summary today though:

Lesson 2 states that you must do away forever with aimlessness and fix your heart and hand upon some definite, well-conceived purpose. In your struggle for SUCCESS you should keep constantly in mind the necessity of knowing what it is that you want - Know precisely what your definite purpose is – and utilise the principle of organised effort in the attainment of that DEFINITE PURPOSE.

…and Lesson 1 encourages to form A "Master Mind" - an invisible stronger third mind, developed through friendly alliance, in a spirit of harmony of purpose, between two or more minds.

No two or more minds ever met without creating, out of the contact, another mind, but that this invisible creation is not always a "Master Mind." That ONLY forms when those two or more people work together in harmony of purpose and effort.

Please consider the theory of THE MASTER MIND ALLIANCE. How can you create a harmonious master mind group that will further your purpose. I’m pretty sure I’ll be looking into this further in a future episode.

Call To Action If you haven’t done so already, then you need to start putting serious time into rediscovering your one chief aim. Consider it, focus on it, and move on with purpose.

Hill actually gives a CALL TO ACTION WITHIN THESE CHAPTERS. He reminds us that there is no such thing as something for nothing. Everything including your personal success has a price that must be paid and the only price you are requested to pay for the present is the effort necessary to do three simple things:

1. Decide definitely where you wish to be in what you wish to be doing during the next three years.

2. Decide how much money you desire to be making and what you are going to do to earn it.

3. Form a mastermind alliance with at least one person (he suggests in your immediate family although these days I’d advise caution on that front) and at least one other person among those to whom you are selling your services.

Gary Keller said “Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.”

In the next episode I’ll be firing straight into several more of Napoleon Hill’s Law Of Success lessons. If you are listening to these back to back though, I’d suggest giving yourself a bit of a breather between them as there’s some big topics here. In the show notes for today’s episode I’ll be including a link to a free pdf of the full THE LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS BOOK as it’s now in the public domain. You can access it via the official website @

Now - take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’, join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.

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