When Andrew Carnegie arrived in the US from Scotland in 1848, he had little more than a few pennies in his pocket. By 1901, he was the richest man in the country.
Around the time he peaked in power and wealth, Carnegie was approached by — and impressed with — a journalist named Napoleon Hill, so much so that he decided the tenacious journalist would document the strategies that turned him into a legendary businessman.
Their partnership amounted to the one of the top bestsellers of all time, “Think and Grow Rich,” which offers several insights into the key to wealth, including the one principle to which Carnegie credits all of his riches: the Master Mind.
Hill defines the principle as, “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”
In other words, it means surrounding yourself with talented people who share your vision, because the alignment of several smart and creative minds is exponentially more powerful than just one.
The Master Mind has two characteristics. One is economic in nature, and the other is psychic.
The economic aspect is more obvious: If you listen to the advice of other smart people, who want to help you, you will be at an economic advantage. “This form of cooperative alliance has been the basis of nearly every great fortune,” Hill writes. “Your understanding of this great truth may definitely determine your financial status.”
The psychic part is more abstract, but just as important to grasp: “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind,” explains Hill.
To better illustrate the concept, he compares the human brain to a battery.
Just as a group of electric batteries will produce more energy than a single battery, a group of coordinated brains will produce more thought-energy than one, single brain. And just as different batteries will provide different levels of energy depending on the capacity of their cells, some brains are more efficient than others.
“Through this metaphor it becomes immediately obvious that the Master Mind principle holds the secret of the power wielded by men who surround themselves with other men of brains,” writes Hill.
Carnegie, whose Master Mind group consisted of about 50 men, was not the only one who harnessed the power of great minds working together in order to grow wealthy.
“Analyse the record of any man who has accumulated a great fortune, and many of those who have accumulated modest fortunes, and you will find that they have either consciously, or unconsciously employed the ‘Master Mind’ principle,” writes Hill.
Hill gives the example of Henry Ford, another self-made billionaire, who overcame poverty and illiteracy to become one of the richest men in America, largely due to the fact that he surrounded himself with wealthy and smart individuals.
We become like the people we associate with, which is why the rich tend to associate with others who are rich.