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Updated: Nov 5, 2021

This episode is sponsored by SHUG THE DUG PRODUCTIONS

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 43 – THE LAW OF SUCCESS IN 16 LESSONS: PART 4

So yes, this is fourth part of my series on Napoleon Hill’s powerful book and if you’ve not yet heard the previous parts then I’d strongly advise you to go back and check out episodes 40 through 42 first before listening to this one. My aim is to give you a fleeting glimpse of the power that lies within the book ad to open your mind to the possibilities that lie within its pages.

Now I won’t always identify sections of quoted text within this episode purely for streamlining purposes, but much of the content is my interpretation or direct quotation of NAPOLEON HILL. The main change I make is in neutralising the gender every now and again because I want to make the lessons as accessible and relevant for today’s audience as Hill intended it to be in 1928.

Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance. Arthur Ashe UNQUOTE


This is a very big episode with a veritable Aladdin’s cave of new ideas, observations and advice. I would give this next lesson an episode of its own if I could but instead what I’d advise you to do is pause between the lessons or listen again to take it all in. I have augmented it with additional information from Hill’s 1954 film as it adds a lot to the equation which the original book leaves out. Hang on to your breeks and stand by. This is…

LESSON 10 – A PLEASING PERSONALITY: Here, Hill encourages us to arrange the outward appearance through which the nature of our personality is expressed, SO THAT IT WILL ATTRACT AND NOT REPEL. He wants us to realise that our personalities can become what he calls master salesmen working on our behalf. If we look at successful people and wonder how they managed it, but overlook the importance of analyzing their methods and the price they had to pay in careful, well organized preparation and presentation - then we are NOT seeing the full picture.

Hill kicks all this off by describing PERSONALITY as the sum of our characteristics and appearances which distinguish us from all others. The clothes we wear, the lines on our face, the tone of our voice and the thoughts we think ALL CONSTITUTE PARTS OF OUR PERSONALITY and by far the most important part of our personality - is the part that is not visible - OUR CHARACTER.

Whether your personality is attractive or not, of course, is another matter.

Italian designer Alessandro Michele says “The way you dress is an expression of your personality.”

And that’s yet another point that Hill makes in this chapter. He says the same thing my mum did when I was going for a job interview or meeting someone for the first time, that people form first impressions of you from your outward appearance. I highlight this here as a reminder to us all, that things like this matter, maybe not TO YOU, but to the people you meet and work with. Whether you like it or not, if you want to increase your chances of being successful you can start by dressing in a way that attracts and doesn’t repel success. This doesn’t have to be a suit and tie of course, just appropriately for the world in which you live and work, and thinking about what would be most likely to bring you success in that environment.

Hill touches on this topic in his lesson on enthusiasm, where he talks about being able to wear WEAR NICE CLOTHES and how it will make you feel better and be more enthusiastic. There he explains that IF YOU LOOK LIKE A MILLION BUCKS, YOU'LL FEEL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS, and you will quite likely FIND YOURSELF AROUND A MILLION BUCKS. The opposite is also true, of course, and this is to be avoided. I love these little, but incredibly telling, observations and this book is full of them.

He takes the time to talk about elements of success that no one would tell you to your face and so next he goes into personal hygene. YOU SIMPLY WON’T BE SUCCESSFUL IF YOU SMELL LIKE A RATS BACKSIDE. Wash yourself, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, use mouthwash and if you know you have a problem with sweat or bad breath or whatever - carry the things you need to stay clean and smell good with you. Whether you like it or not, and none of us particularly like it, you also need to regularly attend the dentist. Knowing your teeth are cared for and that problems with them are fixed, gives you much increased confidence. That confidence will be the key for you to open more doors to success.

Ya know what I do almost every day? I wash. Personal hygiene is part of the package with me. Jim Carrey UNQUOTE

Hill devotes a considerable amount of page space to something I’ve only vaguely ever thought about - the art of SHAKING HANDS. He believed that it forms an important part of our personality and points out that, like so many other things outlined here, it is an art which can be cultivated. Every trait which goes into your personality, he explains, is under your control and you can improve it so it will be whatever you want it to be.

Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Touch to her was a truly vital sense.

She said – “The hands of those I meet are dumbly eloquent to me. The touch of some hands is an impertinence. I have met people so empty of joy, that when I clasped their frosty finger-tips, it seemed as if I were shaking hands with a northeast storm. Others there are whose hands have sunbeams in them, so that their grasp warms my heart. It may be only the clinging touch of a child's hand; but there is as much potential sunshine in it for me as there is in a loving glance for others. A hearty handshake or a friendly letter gives me genuine pleasure.”

I have occasionally shaken someone’s hand only to feel it collapse under my light but firm grip. I describe such handshakes as fish-fingers which amuses me greatly but I admit it leaves me with a feeling of discomfort with the person who’s squishy fish finger hand I have just shaken. Hill explains his feelings on this one as follows, “ If there is anything which leaves me flat and unfavourably impressed when I'm introduced it's an extended hand which feels like a piece of cold ham”. There’s also the hand crusher, the person that catches you unexpectedly in an iron like grip that breaks bones. I looked this up on google. says The Crusher is a handshake that is all about power and aggression.

Shaking hands is a lost art of prosperity which is surely worth a little of our twenty first century consideration. Napoleon Hill says, in general, that you should make your handshake firm and vibrant and that if you merely permit the other person to shake your limp, cold, lifeless hand, you are displaying what constitutes a negative personality.

And I’m very well aware that today’s society would encourage us to dismiss all this other stuff because it’s what’s inside that counts, OUR CHARACTER, but we would be remiss to not consider the outer elements through which others will perceive and judge us as this is, after all, a series of lectures about SUCCESS. What’s inside is not the only thing that counts. It just counts more than anything else…

And so again Hill gives examples in this chapter of how external appearances, manners, a firm handshake or a gentle and mesmerizing voice when presented by salespeople have won him over and how if these sales people with pleasing personalities were to visit him again he would happily sit down and listen for three-quarters of an hour enjoying their company. I’ve certainly experienced this myself. He gives examples so that we can learn from them and cultivate our own personality traits. This is something which he covers too in Lesson 7 Enthusiasm.

We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves to be perfect, we should die. Albert Camus UNQUOTE

I’ll post a youtube link in the shownotes to show a great example of personality in sales so go check it out.

Hill warns that cheap flattery has just the opposite effect. It repels instead of attracting. Analyze anone, he says, WHO DOES NOT HAVE A PLEASING PERSONALITY and you will find lacking in the faculties of Imagination and co-operation.

This lesson emphasizes at length the importance of making it your business to take a keen interest in other people and their work, to cultivate and work on your personality, and to be aware of your outward appearance. This is simply not something that is discussed these days, other than perhaps a mother nagging a child about looking smart, but I find it all quite intriguing as if we can consider it when others do not, it will give us the edge we may need to achieve success.

This year, for the first time ever, I had shirts and hoodies made up with and Get Carter on them. I used to joke about having to prove myself on film sets on which I don’t know many people, that I should maybe have my CV printed on my T Shirt or a picture of me holding our Cineworld Audience Award at the BAFTAS, as some people try to sideline you as soon as meet you as they go through life offering up little or no respect to others. I’ve noticed now that things have changed. People ask me for my number far more often and proving myself to be competent when meeting new crews seems no longer to be a problem. It’s a fascinating subject this, and that’s why I’m giving it a bit more time.

Hill, himself, commits considerable time to character building through rigid self discipline, self control and auto suggestion. He provides a formula for character building and lists the factors that make a good personality. Here are just a few.

  • · Your mental attitude is the most important trait of your personality. This is a trait with which you attract people to you and cause them to like you or repel them and cause them to dislike you. This is something Hill went into earlier on in the Enthusiasm lesson and which permeates the whole book.

  • · The next most important trait of your personality consists of your flexibility of your mental attitude or your lack of it. If you have flexibility you adjust yourself to all the circumstances without losing your composure or allowing yourself to become irritable or angry. This is one I find easier to adopt the older I get. It’s a difficult skill to master though and I am still a novice. Hill explains here that you cannot control the actions of other people which might justify you becoming irritated by them but YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR REACTION to all such circumstances by exercising your trait of flexibility.

  • · The third most important trait of a pleasing personality is the ability to control and direct your enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is one of the means by which you can give force to your words but you must be able to turn it on or off at will as definitely as you can turn on and off water at the tap. Uncontrolled enthusiasm often makes people boresome. It also allows others to enter and influence you in ways you do not wish to be influenced. That’s an interesting observation – tagged in almost as a throwaway. Don’t get carried away by your enthusiasm and find yourself committed to another’s purpose. Stay on Target. Remember your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM.

  • · The fourth most important trait of a pleasing personality is SINCERITY OF PURPOSE.

The person who is not sincere with others is soon detected and rejected because no one is attracted to the person who deceives others. Possibly my favourite quote of Hill’s is this “Sincerity is one quality of character which cannot be successfully faked: Not even by the most astute rascal or the most efficient actor.”

I’ll end with a list of DESTRUCTIVE HABITS which Hill explains will limit our success.

  • · One of the most destructive habits which make one's personality objectionable is that of BREAKING IN AND RUNNING AWAY WITH THE CONVERSATION when others are speaking.

  • · Next, SARCASM expressed by insinuations and wisecracks which are not so wise is near the head of the list of habits which you give you a negative personality

  • · and third VANITY expressed by either words or actions is sure to make one unpopular.

  • · Fourth, INDIFFERENCE in listening while others are speaking is sure to be noticed and resented. It is more profitable to be a good listener than it is to be a good talker because you are always apt to learn something while listening to others but never will learn anything from hearing yourself.

  • · Five. The attempt to FLATTER WHERE FLATTERY IS OBVIOUSLY NOT DESERVED will bring quick resentment from others and if they are wise that the flatterer wants something they will ensure perhaps you should not get it.

  • · Six. The habit of FINDING FAULT WITH THE WORLD AT LARGE AND PEOPLE IN GENERAL is never very popular habit and it is no part of a pleasing personality. It is far better to direct conversation to the circumstances and things which are right than to complain of those which one believes to be wrong.

  • · Seven. One of the very worst habits is that of OPENLY AND DIRECTLY CHALLENGING THOSE WITH WHOM ONE MAY NOT AGREE, where there is no obvious reason for doing so, except the desire to be on the opposite side. Oh I know a few people that just can’t resist an argument and it’s something on which today’s internet fed populace just thrives. For me it just feels like a waste of mental energy. Energy that can be placed elsewhere - into more positive action.

  • · …and Eight. The habit of VOLUNTEERING UNSOLICITED ADVICE to others who have not requested it can make one an intolerable bore. Free advice usually is considered to be worth just what it costs - which is nothing but the patience with which to listen to it

  • · and Nine THE HABIT OF SPEAKING OF ONE'S PHYSICAL AILMENTS and personal problems may be tolerated by others but this habit will never make one welcome or pleasing.

  • · Ten. The habit of ENDEAVORING TO CONVEY AN IMPRESSION OF SUPERIORITY through the use of words and topics unfamiliar to others is a sure fire destroyer of popularity.

  • · 11 ENVY OF THOSE WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL is a trait which destroys a pleasing personality. The truly great men and women have all been known to be generous, sympathetic and joyous in connection with the good fortunes of others.

  • · Twelve. SLOVENLINESS - in body posture and in clothing never attract but always repels others. Carelessness in body courage and posture is immediately traceable to a negative mental attitude.

OK I must move on, but I’ll end with this. Hill says that before you can make full use of the MASTER KEY TO SUCCESS you will need to make your personality pleasing. This will require courage on your part and honesty with yourself. A PLEASING PERSONALITY STANDS NEAR THE HEAD OF THE LIST OF ASSETS WHICH WILL MAKE ONE TRULY RICH.


Accuracy builds credibility. Jim Rohn UNQUOTE

LESSON 11 - ACCURATE THOUGHT: In this lesson we learn to sort "facts" from "information", and use AUTO-SUGGESTION in conjunction with FOCUSED THOUGHT.

In a gun fight... Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. You need to take your time in a hurry. Wyatt Earp UNQUOTE

Hill straight off the bat warns us that unless you study this lesson with an open mind, you will miss the very key-stone to the arch of this course, and without this stone you can never complete your Temple of Success. I’d add too that without accurate thought you’re going nowhere.

This is not WOOLY THOUGHT or BELIEF IN YOUR OWN HYPE or GULLIBLE THOUGHT. It’s ACCURATE THOUGHT and it involves two fundamentals which all who indulge in it must observe.

  • · First, to think accurately you must separate facts from mere information. There is much "information" available to you that is not based upon facts. Don’t believe everything you hear on the internet, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, UNQUOTE

  • · Second, you must separate facts into two classes; the IMPORTANT and the UNIMPORTANT, or, the RELEVANT and the IRRELEVANT.

Only by so doing can you think clearly. So…

  • · All facts which will aid you to any extent whatsoever in the attainment of your definite chief aim are important and relevant;

  • · All that you cannot use are unimportant and irrelevant.

I’ve covered PRIORITISING before many times with things like the focus funnel and the Eisenhower matrix so this shouldn’t be anything new to the regular listener. Focusing on the stuff that really matters is encapsulated very well in that quote of Peter Drucker who says

“It is fundamentally the confusion between effectiveness and efficiency that stands between doing the right things and doing things right. There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency that which should not be done at all.”

I have given this quote before as it’s a terrific pointer in the world of productivity.

The phrase WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER possibly originates here in The Law Of Success where Hill writes in regard to successful people that “Far from working harder than you, they are perhaps working less and with greater ease by virtue of their having learned the secret of separating the important facts from the unimportant”

Hill goes on to talk about other factors in ACCURATE THINKING as he talks about idle gossip and believing what one reads in the papers. This is so true about today’s world of FAKE NEWS and INTERNET FACTS that it could have been written this morning. He warns us too to accept that loose unsound opinions van be mistaken for accurate thinking but that most opinions are without value because they are based on bias, prejudice, intolerance, guesswork, hearsay evidence and out-and-out ignorance.

He goes on “the ACCURATE THINKER will not accept as such all that he sees and hears for the reason that it constitutes the rocks and reefs on which so many people flounder and go down to defeat in a bottomless ocean of false conclusions.”

Hill who trained as a lawyer talks of A principle called “the law of evidence; the object of this law is to get at the facts. Any judge can proceed with justice to all concerned, if they have the facts upon which to base their judgment, but they may play havoc with innocent people if they circumvent the law of evidence and reach a conclusion or judgment that is based upon hearsay information.”

Hill points out that “The more successful a person is the less they are inclined to express wild unjustified opinions about anything – He warns us that often people he refers to as DRIFTERS or FAILURES have an assortment of opinions on about everything you can imagine”

In Hill’s 1954 address he gives us a simple rule to help us avoid being misled by unsound opinions expressed by other people. When you hear someone make a statement which your reason cannot accept or which you question or should for safety sake question for any reason whatsoever, ask this simple forward question. HOW DO YOU KNOW? Stand firm on that question and either force the speaker to identify the source from which he got the information he is endeavouring to pass on as facts or reject the statement entirely as if it had not been made. Do this no matter who is speaking or what may be his reputation for truth and veracity.

Accuracy is twin brother to honesty, and inaccuracy to dishonesty. Nathaniel Hawthorne UNQUOTE

Hill warns us too that “…it is true that most thinking of today, far from being accurate, is based upon the sole foundation of expediency. It is amazing how many people there are who are "honest" when it is profitable to them, but find myriads of facts to justify themselves in following a dishonest course when that course seems to be more profitable or advantageous.” An example of this may be the directors of companies that give themselves massive bonuses just before their companies collapse, leaving their former employees crying in the streets. Some, usually fair people, will simply lie through their teeth if it is advantageous to them to do so.

Thomas Jefferson reminds us all “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”

So remember that the accurate thinker deals with facts, regardless of how they affect his own interests, for he knows that ultimately this policy will bring him out on top, in full possession of the object of his definite chief aim in life.

Other points of interest within this lesson include:

  • · If one man slanders another, his remarks should be accepted, if of any weight at all, with at least a grain of the proverbial salt of caution; for it is a common human tendency for men to find nothing but evil in those whom they do not like.

  • · The moment a man or a woman begins to assume leadership in any walk of life, the slanderers begin to circulate "rumors" and subtle whisperings reflecting upon his or her character. The slanderers killed both Harding and Wilson, he says - murdered them with vicious lies. They did the same to Lincoln, only in a somewhat more spectacular manner, by inciting a fanatic to hasten his death with a bullet. This was written 90 odd years ago remember… Could have been written yesterday.

  • · Here again and throughout the book, Hill goes into a long section about auto suggestion, which I briefly touched upon before. It’s a valuable thing. It uses what we know perhaps as VISUALISATION and AFFIRMATIONS to move us towards our DEFINITE CHIEF AIM. As a reminder - Write out a clear, concise statement of that which you intend to accomplish, as your definite chief aim, covering a period of, let us say, the next five years. Make at least two copies of your statement, one to be placed where you can read it several times a day, while you are at work, and the other to be placed in the room where you sleep, where it can be read several times each evening before you go to sleep and just after you arise in the morning. This is how Hill introduced us to the power of auto suggestion on our own minds at the start of the book.

  • · As an accurate thinker, it is both your privilege and your duty to avail yourself of facts, even though you must go out of your way to get them. If you permit yourself to be swayed to and fro by all manner of information that comes to your attention, you will never become an accurate thinker; AND IF YOU DO NOT THINK ACCURATELY, YOU CANNOT be sure of attaining your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life.

Finally I believe that this quote sums up much of the lesson in one sentence – let it guide you "I do not believe I can afford to deceive others - I know I cannot afford to deceive myself!" This must be the motto of the accurate thinker.

  • Don't believe the hype. Wyclef Jean UNQUOTE


“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” Tony Robbins UNQUOTE

LESSON 12 - CONCENTRATION: Learn to fix your attention on a given subject, at will, for whatever length of time you choose, and you will have learned the secret passage-way to power and plenty! THIS IS CONCENTRATION!

The dictionary defines concentration as “the action or power of focusing all one's attention.” but Hill takes this much further and attributes CONCENTRATION to be what he calls THE MAGIC KEY OF SUCCESS. “Concentration, in the sense in which it is used here, means the ability, through fixed habit and practice, to keep your mind on one subject until you have thoroughly familiarized yourself with and mastered it. It means the ability to control your attention and focus it on a given problem until you have solved it.”

Hill devotes a considerable amount of time in this lesson to environment, to habits, and to memory. I won’t go into all of this but it’s an interesting reading nonetheless. I’d just say on the topic of environment though that when my office or home is untidy, it is usually representative of the state of my mind. Getting on top of housework or office tasks, in the sense of cleaning up your environment, will in the end, make you more productive.

You can't break a bad habit by throwing it out the window. You've got to walk it slowly down the stairs. Mark Twain UNQUOTE


  • · The ability to think as you wish to think;

  • · The ability to control your thoughts and direct them to a definite end;

  • · And the ability to organize your knowledge into a plan of action that is sound and workable.

As a productivity podcaster this is a virtual snapshot of probably about 40 or 50% of all of the advice that’s out there about getting things done.

For Napoleon Hill “DESIRE” is the starting point of all achievement and he states that AMBITION and DESIRE are the chief factors which enter into the act of successful concentration. Without them, he says, the Magic Key, or CONCENTRATION, is useless.

And he says we must not underestimate the power of CONCENTRATION just because it did not come clothed in mysticism or because it is described in simple language. All great truths are simple in final analysis, and easily understood; if they are not they are not great truths.

Use this Magic Key with intelligence, and only for the attainment of worthy ends, and it will bring you enduring happiness and success. Forget the mistakes you have made and the failures you-have experienced. Quit living in the past, for do you not know that your yesterdays never return? Start all over again, if your previous efforts have not turned out well, and make your next five or ten years tell a story of success that will satisfy your most lofty ambitions. Make a name for yourself and render the world a great service, through AMBITION, DESIRE and CONCENTRATED EFFORT!

You can do it if you BELIEVE you can!

Most people lack ambition, and desire nothing in particular, but if your DESIRE is strong and YOUR AMBITION within reason the MAGIC KEY OF CONCENTRATION will help you attain it.

No unbeliever, Hill warns us though, ever enjoyed the benefits of the Magic Key.

Summing Up

So I’ve covered a lot of ground today and it’s but a drop in the ocean of the content of the book. Let me recap though.

  • LESSON 10 – A PLEASING PERSONALITY: His advice is have one, and if you don’t have one, cultivate one. Mediocrity does not care if you are pleasant or not. Success does.

  • LESSON 11 - ACCURATE THOUGHT: Separate facts from mere information. There is much "information" available to you that is not based upon facts. Then separate facts into two classes; the IMPORTANT and the UNIMPORTANT, or, the RELEVANT and the IRRELEVANT. All facts which will aid you to any extent whatsoever in the attainment of your definite chief aim are important and relevant; All that you cannot use are unimportant and irrelevant.

  • LESSON 12 - CONCENTRATION: "Concentration is the act of focusing the mind upon a given desire until the ways and means for its realization have been worked out and successfully put into operation"

Call To Action

The easiest person to deceive is one's self. Edward Bulwer-Lytton UNQUOTE

One of the many important points I covered today was about accurate thought - Don’t get bogged down in your own hype and don’t deceive yourself. If you have been failing to achieve success in something, I want you to answer this question. Why?

Once you know this, you have a chance at solving the problem.

That’s today’s call to action.


The next episode will be the penultimate in this series within series 3 about the LAW OF SUCCESS. I hope you’ll join me for more mind expanding lessons from Napoleon Hill’s incredible book. In the show notes this week I’m going to make available for download the audio from a film that Mr Hill made in 1954 – I’m not sure how though, but it will be there. If I can figure out the legalities of it I’ll make it available as part of the podcast too. By 1954 Hill had refined his laws of success quite considerably and it’s an interesting listen.

DOWNLOAD THAT AUDIO HERE (If it doesn't work for some reason message me and I'll fix it!)

Lastly I’d like to Thank James at Shug The Dug Productions for sponsoring the last two shows. It is very much appreciated.

It’s been another long one so let’s end now with a final thought from the late Stephen Keshi:

People don't have to believe in you for you to succeed. Just work hard, and when you succeed, THEY WILL BELIEVE.

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

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