The Secrets of Success

The Secrets of Success
by Stephen Leacock

The Secrets of Success

  As Revealed at One Dollar and Fifty
        Cents a Revelation

Note. This opening chapter deals with the secrets of material success and shows how easily it can be achieved. Indeed anybody who is willing to take a brief correspondence course can achieve it in a few weeks. What follows here is based upon the best and newest manuals on the subject, and every word is guaranteed.

  The New Race of Big Men and Big

DEAR friend reader--for you will not mind my calling you this, or both of this, for I feel already that we are friends, are we not, don't you ?--let us sit down and have a comfortable get-together visit and talk things over.

Are you aware that there is a big movement going on in this country, and that a lot of big-hearted men and ever so many big women are in it? Perhaps not. Then let me try to tell you all about it and the way in which the world is being transformed by it.

No, don't suggest sending me any money. I don't want it. Neither I nor any of these big men and women who are working on this thing want money. We all take coupons, however, and if you care to cut out any coupons from any newspaper or magazine and send them to me I shall be glad to get them. But, remember, sending a coupon pledges you to nothing. It does not in any way bring you within reach of the law, and you may cut out as many as you like. Only a little while ago a young boy, scarcely more than a man, came into my office in great distress and in evident remorse. "What have I done?" he moaned. "What is it?" I asked. "I have cut out a coupon," he said, wringing his hands, "and sent it in." "To where?" I asked. "To Department B. The Success Editor, Box 440-J. Phoenix, Arizona." "My dear friend," I said, "cutting out a coupon pledges you to nothing." He left my office (after in vain offering me money) a new being. I may say that he is now at the head of one of the biggest dried-prune businesses in Kalamazoo.

In other words, that boy had found the secret of success. A chance remark had suddenly put him in the path of Opportunity.

My dear reader, you may be, all unknowing, in exactly the position of that young man. You may be, like him, on the very verge of opportunity. Like him, you may need only a friendly shove to put you where you belong.

Now this movement that I am in, along with these big women, etc., that I spoke of, is a movement for putting success within reach of all, even of the dullest. You need not despair merely because you are dull. That's nothing. A lot of these big men in the movement were complete nuts before they came in.

Perhaps it is a new idea to you that success can be deliberately achieved. Let me assureyou, on the contrary, that achieving it is the only way to get it.

I wonder, for example, if the thought has ever occurred to you that you would like your salary raised. If so, nothing is more simple. Read the chapters which follow and your salary will be raised before you finish them. After having studied the literature of this big movement for success, I can tell you of hundreds, of thousands, of men and women in this country whose salaries have been raised beyond recognition.

What would you say, for example, to earning sixty-three dollars a week without leaving home, and using only your spare time; and that, too, at an agreeable occupation, needing no preparation and no skill? Do you want to do it? Well, that is what young Edward Beanhead--Kid Ed, they call him--is doing right at this minute in Houston, Texas.

Or what do you say to cleaning up half a million cold in a fortnight, on the sale of an article indispensable to every home in the country, easily understood and never out of order, patent applied for? Well, that was what was done by Callicot Johnson--Cal. Johnson, they generally call him, at least if they're busy, or Millionaire Johnson, or Lucky Johnson--they call him a lot of names like that. You can see his picture in half the papers in the country--Bull Johnson, he's often called--you must have seen him. Well, here was a man, this Cal, or this Bull, who never knew till he was forty-one years old that he had personality, and then all of a sudden, one day--but, stop--I'll tell you later on all about this Bull, or Buffalo Johnson. They often call him Buffalo. I merely say that at present Buffalo--or Buff--is at the head of one of the biggest nut syndicates in El Paso.

Or how would you like to imagine yourself becoming the head of one of the biggest mercantile concerns in the country? Would you have any use for it? I mean, would it make a hit with you? If so, I shall have to tell you presently about Robert J. Rubberheart--Bull Dog Bob they usually call him. It occurred to Bob one day that eighty-five per cent of his efficiency was being squandered in--but, no, I'd better keep it. Suffice it to say that you can see, in the back pages of almost any of the current magazines, a picture of Bob at his mahogany desk in his office in that mercantile firm. He is pointing his finger right at his stenographer's eye, and underneath him is written, "This man earns ten dollars a minute." Well, that's Bob. He has cut out the waste of his efficiency and he has "made good."

But talking of Bull Dog Bob and the way he "made good," reminds me of a lot of other cases which I have met in my study of this big movement, of men, yes, and of women, who have "made good." Perhaps you don't realize, reader, that no matter if a man is a long way down, almost down and out, he can still "come back" and "make good." If a man has got sufficient pep and grit not to let the sand get choked out of him he will come back every time. I am thinking here specially--as no doubt you are--of the instance of the Hon. E. Final Upshot, now one of the leading men, one of the big men in the senate of Nicaragua. Yet there was a man who had been nearly beaten out by fate; health gone, friends gone, memory gone --he couldn't even have remembered his friends if he had kept them--money gone, everything in fact, except that somewhere away down in that man was sand. And so one day just by chance, Ed--his friends now always called him Honest Ed--saw in a paper . . . but don't let's spoil the story.

In any case, the real point is that men like Buff Johnson, and Bull Dog Bob, and the Honorable Final Upshot have got personality. That's it. Some of them had it from the start but didn't know it. You may be in that class. Concealed in these men was an unsuspected asset, like the jewel in the toad of which Shakespeare speaks. It may be in you.

And having personality, they set to work to develop themselves. They built up their efficiency. They studied their bodies. They took exercises which gave them constitutions like ostriches. They eliminated waste. They chewed their food for hours before they used it. Realizing that a ferruginous diet breaks down the tissues and sets up a subterfuge of gas throughout the body, they took care to combine in their diet a proper proportion of explosives. Having grasped the central fact that the glory of a man's strength is in his hair, these people, by adopting a system of rubbing (easily learned in six lessons and involving nothing more than five minutes of almost hysterical fun every morning), succeeded in checking the falling of the follicles, or capillary basis of the hair itself. In short, as one of the greatest of them has said, "Hair power is brain power."

As with personality and efficiency, so with memory. These men of the class of which we are speaking, grasped the idea that Memory Means Money. To gain it, they adopted a simple formula (easily learned in six lessons without sending money) first invented by the ancient Aztecs, but now made available for everybody by the splendid efforts of the famous Doctor Allforce. The doctor, whose picture shows him to be a G.D.M. of Kansas, is often called (presumably by his friends) the Wizard of Mind Power. He is a man of whom we shall have a lot to say. Undoubtedly the man has psychic power. Whether or not it is the selfsame psychic power enjoyed by Ancient Chaldeans and the Magi who make the Magi Water, is a point on which we must not try to pronounce. But the man certainly has it, and no doubt it was for that that Kansas gave him his G.D.M. The Doctor claims that memory can be built up by a rearrangement of the colloid particles of the human brain. So convinced is the doctor of the validity of this daring claim that he offers a personal guarantee of $100 (one hundred dollars) for anybody disproving it to his satisfaction. Thus far, no single professor of any of the colleges (all known to be effete) has come forward to challenge this daring piece of scientific prophylaxis. In short, as the doctor himself says, Hypothesis is truth!

But we must not talk of the Doctor too much. We shall have plenty to say of him in his place. Just remember him as the Man Who Does Not Forget. We only mention him here in this connection as one of the big men whose ideas are reshaping the globe. Indeed, the Doctor himself has gone on record with the words, "I can reshape your head."

But even all that we have said does not exhaust the scope of this great movement which is building up a new race of men and women. There are bigger things yet. Have you ever thought of the large place that love plays in this world? Perhaps not. You may be too big a boob to have thought about it. And yet it is a thing about which every well-constituted man and every well-constructed woman ought to think. If you have hitherto been clean outside of our great movement toward the new life and the new success you have probably never read the booklet (obtainable anywhere or to be had by cutting out a coupon) entitled How to Choose a Mate. Apart from its obvious usefulness at sea, this is a little book that should be studied by every young man and woman in the land. It is written by a man whose name of course you know, Dr. O. Salubrious, Med. Mis. Wash. He practically gives it away.

It may never have occurred to you how many men in picking a mate, or a life companion, or even a wife, make a bad pick. There are ever so many cases on record where serious dissatisfaction arises with the selection which has been made. With so many to choose from, this seems unnecessary. If you will study the work of Dr. Salubrious you will see that he makes the bold claim that men and women are animals and they should mate with the same care as is shown by the lobster, the lizard, and the graminiferous mammalia.

But for the moment we need follow the Doctor no farther. The essential idea which arises from what we have said above is that a new race of men and women is emerging under our eyes. These people like Cal. Johnson and Dr. Salubrious and Doctor Allforce and the Honorable Final Upshot are a new set of beings. Alive with personality, using one hundred per cent of their efficiency, covered with glossy hair rich in its natural oil, forgetting nothing, earning sixty-three dollars a week at occupations which fill only their leisure time, these people are rapidly inheriting the earth. As Doctor--himself has put it, "The future will belong to those who own it."

Do you want then, reader--and I am asking you for the last time--to be in this movement or out of it? Or no, let me put it in the striking way phrased by Allforce, "Can you afford to be out of it?"

 A Chat on Personality: What it is
       and how to get it

Let us therefore proceed to study out this question quietly and systematically, taking nothing for granted. We have said above that personality is the greatest thing in the world. But now let us ask ourselves: How do we know that personality is the greatest thing in the world? From what corollaries do we draw this hypothesis, and is such an innuendo justified? In other words, who says so?

Our answer to this is very simple. The greatest men in the world, those, that is to say, who draw the largest salaries, do so by their personality. Ask any truly great man how he made all his money, and he will always tell you the same thing. The bigger the man is the more loudly he will say it.

The other day I had a few minutes' conversatiop (I couldn't afford more) with one of the biggest-priced men in this country. "To what," I asked, "do you attribute your own greatness?" He answered without hesitation, "To myself."

Yet this was a man who has the reputation of being the second biggest consumer of crude rubber in this country. He may do it and he may not, but he has that reputation. I asked another man, a large consumer of adjustable bicycle parts, how much he thought he owed of his present commanding position to education. He answered emphatically, "Nothing." Something in his tone made me believe him.

Now the common element in all these men is personality. Each one of them has a devel- oped, balanced, nicely adjusted well-hung personality. You feel that as soon as such a man is in your presence; when he enters a room, you are somehow aware that he has come in. When he leaves, you realize that he has gone out. As soon as he opens his mouth, you know that he is speaking. When he shuts his mouth, you feel that he has stopped.

Until the recent discoveries of the success movement it was not known that personality could be acquired. We know now that it can.

For the acquirement of personality, the first thing needed is to get into harmony with yourself. You may think that this is difficult. But a little practice will soon show you how. Make the effort, so far as you can, to set up a bilateral harmony between your inner and your outer ego. When you get this done start and see what you can do to extend yourself in all directions. This is a little hard at first, but the very difficulty will lend zest to the effort. As soon as you begin to feel that you are doing it, then try, gently at first, but with increasing emphasis, to revolve about your own axis. When you have got this working nicely, slowly and carefully at first, lift yourself to a new level of thinking. When you have got up there, hold it.

As soon as in this way you have got yourself sufficiently elongated and extended you will have gained the first step in the development of personality, namely Harmony--in other words, you are completely and absolutely satisfied with yourself. If you were a nut before, you will never know it now.

The next great thing to be acquired is optimism, cheerfulness, the absence of all worry. It is a scientific fact that worry has a physical effect upon the body, clogging up the œsophagus and filling the primary ducts with mud. Cheerfulness, on the other hand, loosens up the whole anatomy by allowing a freer play to the bones. Begin each day with a smile. When you rise in the morning, throw open your window wide and smile out of it. Don't mind whom you hit with it. When you descend to the breakfast table try to smile at your food, or even break into a pleasant laugh at the sight of it. When you start off to your place of business, enter your street car in a bright and pleasant way, paying your fare to the conductor with a winsome willingness. When you go into your office, remove your coat and rubbers with a pretty little touch of bonhommie. Ask the janitor, or the night watchman, how he has slept. Greet your stenographer with a smile. Open your correspondence with another smile, and when you answer it, try to put into what you write just the little touch of friendly cheerfulness that will win your correspondent's heart. It is amazing how a little touch of personal affection will brighten up the dull routine of business correspondence like a grain of gold in the sand.

Don't sign yourself "Yours truly," but in some such way as "Yours for optimism," or "Yours for a hundred per cent cheerfulness." But I will show you what I mean in a more extended way by relating to you the amazing--but well-authenticated--story of the rise and success of Edward Beanhead.

The Remarkable Case of Edward Beanhead
      An Amazing Story of Success

In presenting in support of what has been written in the preceding paragraphs the instance of Edward Beanhead, I may say that I have no doubt whatever of the authenticity of the story. It is too well attested to admit of doubt. I have seen this story of the rise of Edward Beanhead (under his own and other names) printed in so many journals that it must be true; the more so as the photograph of Beanhead is reproduced beside the story, and in many cases the editor gives a personal guarantee that the story is true. In other cases readers who doubt are invited to cut out a coupon which will bring them a free booklet that will give them a course on Leadership.

Another proof of the truth of the story is that Edward Beanhead's salary is often inserted and printed right across the page. I forget what it is; in fact, it is not always the same, but it fills all the available space.

In many cases Beanhead in his photograph. is depicted as actually pointing at his salary with one finger and saying, "Do you want to earn this?"

Skeptical readers may suggest that Edward must have owed his start in life to early advanrages of birth and wealth: he may have been a prince. This is not so. Beanhead had no birth and no wealth. Accounts differ as to where he was born. Some of the documents, as reproduced in the best advertising pages, represent him as a bright little farm boy from Keokuk, Iowa. It is well known, of course. that most railroad presidents and heads of colleges come from there. Pictures are numerous which show Beanhead barefooted and with a five-cent straw hat, standing in what looks like a trout stream. There is a legend "From Farm Yard to Manager's Desk." Another school of writers, however, shows Edward as beginning his career in a great city, running errands--at an admirable speed and labeled "Earning his first dime."

All this, however, is a matter of controversy. The only thing of which we can be certain is that Edward Beanhead, as a youth just verging into manhood, was occupying a simple station as some sort of business clerk. Here came the turning point of his life. By a happy accident Edward came across a little booklet entitled Tutankhamen is a Dead One. What are you? Learn personal efficiency in six lessons. Write to the Nut University. Post Office Box 6, Canal Street, Buffalo.

From this time on Beanhead's spare minutes were spent in study. We have in proof of this the familiar illustration in which Edward is seen on a high stool, in his office at lunch hour, eating a bun with one hand and studying a book on personality in the other, while at the side, inserted in a sort of little cloud, one can see Edward's two office companions playing craps with two young negroes. The picture is now rather rare, the little vignette of the crap game having proved rather too attractive for certain minds: in fact some people quite mistook the legend "Do you want to make money fast?"

Beanhead took the entire course, occupying five weeks and covering Personality, Magnetism, Efficiency, Dynamic Potency, the Science of Power, and Essentials of Leadership.

By the end of his course Edward had reached certain major conclusions. He now saw that Personality is Power; that Optimism opens Opportunity; and that Magnetism Makes Money. He also realized that Harmony makes for Happiness, and that Worry would merely carry his waste products into his ducts and unfit him for success.

Armed with these propositions, Edward Beanhead entered his office after his five weeks' course a new man.

Instead of greeting his employer with a cold "Good Morning," as many employees are apt to do, Edward asked his superior how he had slept.

Now notice how the little things count. It so happened that his employer hadn't slept decently for ten years; and yet no employee had ever asked him about it. Naturally he "reacted" at once. Edward reacted back and in a few minutes they were in close confabulation. Beanhead suggested to his employer that perhaps his ducts were clogged with albuminous litter. The senior man gravely answered that in that case he had better raise Edward's salary. Beanhead acquiesced with the sole proviso that in that case he should be allowed to organize his employer's business so as to put it on a strategic footing. Now observe again how things count. It so happened that this man, although carrying on a business which extended over six states and out into the ocean, had never thought of organizing it; and he didn't even know what a strategic footing was. The result was a second increase of salary within twenty-four hours.

In the weeks that followed Edward Beanhead, now seated in a commodious office with flat-top desk and a view of the ocean and a range of mountains, entirely reorganized the firm's business. His method was simple. The employees were submitted to a ruthless brain-test which eliminated most of them. The business itself was then plotted out on a chart so designed as to show at a glance all the places where the firm did no business. Banks in which the firm had no money were marked with a cross. By these and other devices Edward rapidly placed the business on a new footing, stopping all the leaks, focusing it to a point, driving it deep into the ground, giving it room to expand, and steering it through the rocks. The situation is perhaps more easily understood by stating that henceforth the motto of the business became "Service."

The natural upshot of it was that before long Edward Beanhead's employer summoned him up to his office and informed him that he was getting old (he was seven weeks older than when we began with him), and that he was now prepared to retire to a monastery or to a golf club, and that if Edward wanted the business he could have it.

Hence at the end we see Edward Beanhead sitting beside his desk, half revolved in a revolving chair and with a beautiful stenographer within easy touch. There are two little placards nailed up, one on each side of his head bearing the legends "Efficiency" and "Service."

And one wonders where are those fellows who were playing craps with the negroes.

      The Success of Great Men

It is very difficult to leave this topic of success without saying something about the success of great men; indeed there is no reason why I should. I wonder if it has ever occurred to the reader to ask why there are so few great men and why so few men succeed in lifting themselves above the average level. Perhaps it hasn't. But if he did ask why we cannot all raise ourselves above the average, the answer would be, very simply, that we all can if we try.

This is a thing that we realise at once when we study the careers of great men. But to study them properly we must not turn to the dull pages of the college histories. There only a very limited and partial account of the great is found. To get the real facts we must open the advertising pages of the illustrated magazines, and we can see at a glance that they tell us vital things never touched upon by the standard histories.

For example, it is very doubtful whether Bancroft ever knew that George Washington was in the habit of taking four deep breaths just before eating. If he did he never mentions it. Nor does he make any reference to the fact that Benjamin Franklin once said that no perfect breakfast food had as yet been found (that, of course was in his day: it has been found since, as we shall see).

In the same way Lord Macaulay, a man otherwise well informed, does not seem to know that Oliver Cromwell once said "The Secret of making money lies in Scientific Investment." Nor was Shakespeare aware that the cloak or mantle which Julius Caesar wore on the day he overcame the Nervii and which he wore when he was stabbed by his assassins was undoubtedly made by the famous Knit-Knot process, now so widely known.

One asks in vain, what kind of suspenders did Henry of Navarre use? What was it that Charlemagne used to say about carrying a camera with you during a vacation in the Adirondacks? What sort of exercise did Queen Elizabeth take for ten minutes every morning? In what attitude was Lord Bacon standing when he said "Mr. Business Man, why not use a fountain pen?"

But in recent times all these fascinating things are being solved for us by the painstaking researches of the advertising experts. We are getting to know things about our great men that we never knew before,--intimate, personal things that we never knew before.

And of all the historical characters whose careers are being thus illuminated there is one who stands out conspicuously above all others, --The Emperor Napoleon. This great man enjoys, in the success movement, an eminence over all others. It is the aim of everybody to be a Napoleon in his own particular line of activity and a great many are succeeding. You can see their pictures any day.

There are at least thirty-seven Napoleons now doing business. There is a "Napoleon of Billiards" and... a "Napoleon of Water Polo," and a "Napoleon of the Rubber Shoe Industry"; and there is also a man who is the "Napoleon of Pants Designers," and another who is the "Napoleon o{ the Ladies Shirtwaist Business"; there is a dog who is the Napoleon of Airedale Terriers, and there is a cow who is the Napoleon of Holstein milk-givers.

In short it is becoming a very important thing to learn how to be a Napoleon. You have only to turn over the back pages of any of our greatest journals, the serious pages where they teach people how to live and how to sell things,--to see little pictures of Napoleon inserted everywhere. Sometimes there is just his head under his hat: sometimes a full length picture to show his hands clasped behind his back. And in each case there is some little motto that Napoleon said or some statement about his habits. From across the years and over the wastes of the South Atlantic Napoleon is still teaching us how to live and how to sell things.

From these statements thus printed I have pieced together a composite picture of Napoleon in which is shown those little personal things that made him what he was.

Anybody who wants to be a Napoleon has only to imitate these things. I admit that they are a little complicated. But even Napoleon couldn't have learned them all at once. He must have picked them bit by bit.

In the first place the great Emperor was an early riser. The hour of three in the morning saw him in the saddle or at his desk. "Early rising," he once said when taking a well known breakfast food, "not only peptonizes the stomach but with the aid of a simple remedy obtainable at all drug stores restores tone and vigor to the lost digestion."

Napoleon also sat up late. He never sought his couch till three in the morning. "The later the hour," he once said, in referring to a new patent oil lamp, "the better the brain."

It was the practice of Napoleon to chew his food twenty minutes before swallowing it Eating a sirloin steak took him all day. Napoleon was in the habit of eating standing up. He also ate lying down. He could even sit and eat.

While talking the great Emperor habitually held his mouth firmly shut.

Napoleon always wore wool next to his skin. He once said in an interview which he seem: to have given to a well known firm of woollen manufacturers in Paterson, New Jersey, "There is nothing like wool."

In the same way he always said, "There is nothing like a delicious cup of 0zo when exhausted from the pulpit and the platform."

Napoleon was passionately fond of walking: also he never walked. Napoleon drank, but always with the strictest avidity.

Napoleon made little use of tobacco except in the form of snuff, or cigars or cut plug.

During his exile at St. Helena Napoleon is reported to have said,

"If I had taken a course in Personal Leadership, I should not have landed here."