As he walked into a meeting in the 64-room Georgian Mansion on 5th and 91st St. in Manhattan, he knew he was about to have one of the most important meetings of his life.
Napoleon Hill, then 25, was about to interview Andrew Carnegie, then 73. The year was 1908 and Carnegie’s estimated worth was between $7.35 – 171 billion in today’s dollars, depending on the method used to calculate it. Carnegie set up three hours to be interviewed by Hill on how he became so successful.
In this meeting, as a good colleague of mine, Bill Hartley of Highroads Media — the foremost expert on Napoleon Hill— explains in his newest book, Carnegie was so impressed with Hill that the meeting went on for three days. During which, Carnegie invited Hill to do a very special job:
“Carnegie explained that one of his greatest passions was to guide the development of a comprehensive, written philosophy of success that could be understood and used by the average person. He told Hill he believed that to do it properly would require a series of lengthy, in-depth interviews with hundreds of the most successful leaders in every walk of life, as well as extensive research, testing, and analysis that could take as long as twenty years to complete. Then, in his famously blunt fashion, Carnegie turned to Hill and asked if Hill felt that he was equal to the task.” — Think and Grow Rich—the Gold Standard Collection
Carnegie explained he would not pay Hill to do this work. He would make introductions to the world’s leaders and successful business people and pay his travel expenses, and that would be it.
Hill thought about it for 29 seconds before saying he would do it.
Hartley explains further, “We know that [it took 29 seconds] because Carnegie had been timing him, and he told Hill afterward that had it taken him more than a minute to make the decision, [Carnegie] would have cancelled the proposal.”
Hartley says that Carnegie had offered this same exact opportunity to more than 200 other people, but even though they knew everything there was to know about the offer, Napoleon Hill was the only one that could make the decision on the spot.
Hill was hired immediately!
In 1937, 28 years later and after meeting over 400 of the world’s most successful people, Napoleon Hill completed the book Think and Grow Rich. Today he is considered the grandfather of personal growth and his book still sells almost 1 million copies a year.
Why did Andrew Carnegie have this rule?
According to Hartley, “Carnegie said that if you can’t decide quickly when you know all the facts, then you can’t be relied upon to be able to handle the tough decisions that will come up when you are doing the job.”
103 years later, here a few more reasons to decide quickly:
- Rapid Turnarounds—we live in an increasingly “fast” environment, compounded by worldwide competition, Internet and smart phone technology. People are conditioned to getting fast answers… and results.
- Clear Mind… and Desk—making the decision while it is in front of you and you are focused on it reduces the pile of unfinished business to manage, which can be a major energy drain.
- Close the Decision—no time to talk yourself out of it. You’re less likely to psyche yourself out.
- Gain the Opportunity—by acting quickly, you are more likely to impress the person who offered you the deal. As such, you are less likely to lose out on important opportunities.
- Decisiveness attracts—most people like the energy of quick and confident decision makers. For many, it is a major turn off working with someone who cannot make up their mind or is slow to respond.
UnReasonable vs. Foolish Decisions
The key to the “Carnegie Rule” is in what Hartley states, “…once all the information is received” you make a fast decision. If you do not have all the pertinent information and make a decision, you risk it not being the best answer.
Just make sure you don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis: continuing to get information that is not necessary to make the decision.
For years I have followed the “Carnegie Rule”. If a potential client takes more than a week to decide once they have all the information, I rescind my offer to work with them.
Our coaching programs cannot be done with slow decision-making entrepreneurs. We train them on creating UnReasonable results to their business.
Action Steps for the Week
What business decisions have you been putting off? Either because you know the answer or you tell yourself you don’t.
Focus on those and quickly take them off your plate. Follow these steps:
- Be clear on the desired outcome of the issue/decision to make
- Be clear on what information is necessary to make a clear decision
- Be clear on the deadline to make the decision
- How many opinions/feedback do you need and from whom and by when?
- Schedule into your calendar to review info and decide
- Communicate with all parties of your decision
Tomorrow use these steps to accelerate your decisions and watch how quickly things move. You will most likely be surprised.