Think And Grow Rich – Chapter 5: Specialized Knowledge

Continuing my analysis of Think and Grow Rich.

This is for Chapter 5, Specialized Knowledge.

(Go here to start from the beginning.)

Quote and Analysis

“KNOWLEDGE will not attract money, unless it is organized, and intelligently directed, through practical PLANS OF ACTION, to the DEFINITE END of accumulation of money.”

Knowledge is needed, but it’s not enough. We also have to create plans toward definite goals. And then we have to put those plans into action.

Also, he says “attract money”, not “earn money”, not “make money”, but “attract money”. The philosophy he’s laying out is about attracting money, not chasing it. Having riches come to you.

Quote and Analysis

“An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.”

We don’t have to take something from someone else to get what we want. We don’t have to violate the rights of others.

This is a philosophy of abundance, not scarcity.

This is a philosophy of cooperation, not competition.

If I use my specialized knowledge and imagination (the faculties of my mind) to show you how to get more out of what you already have, then you can freely give me some of the “more” and still have more than you originally had.

We both end up better off.

Quote and Analysis

“Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

Just made me think that Henry Ford had “the internet” almost 100 years before we all did. Push a button and have access to any knowledge he wanted. And yet, we’re still not all as rich as we want to be. Knowledge, general or specialized, is not enough.

Quote and Analysis

“Henry Ford had at his command all the specialized knowledge he needed to enable him to become one of the wealthiest men in America. It was not essential that he have this knowledge in his own mind.”

Here he points out that you need specialized knowledge to create your plans, but you don’t personally have to have all of the knowledge yourself.

You can team up with, or hire, other people who have the specialized knowledge that you need for your plans.

So if you don’t currently know something that you think you will need, first consider how you can get access to that knowledge without spending the time to learn it yourself.

This considerably reduces the amount of work and time you have to put in to get what you want.

To achieve your goal, it could well be that the only specialized knowledge you need to have yourself is how to put together and manage a group of people that have other forms of specialized knowledge that complement each other.

Quote and Analysis

“Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession. Those who are not successful usually make the mistake of believing that the knowledge acquiring period ends when one finishes school. The truth is that schooling does but little more than to put one in the way of learning how to acquire practical knowledge.”

Just a general reminder that school is about learning how to learn. And that learning is a continuous endeavor.

Quote and Analysis

“Anything acquired without effort, and without cost is generally unappreciated, often discredited…”

Interesting warnings here:

First, make sure to charge more for your services, so your customers will value them.

Second, try to appreciate things that you acquire without cost or effort. This whole philosophy is about getting what you want with little or no effort.

Quote and Analysis


Here’s a list of some qualities he finds valuable.

There’s a whole chapter coming up on Decision.

The “habit of finishing that which one begins” has been mentioned before with success coming just one more step beyond where someone wanted to quit.

Quote and Analysis

“There is one weakness in people for which there is no remedy. It is the universal weakness of LACK OF AMBITION!”

Lack of Ambition is the same as a lack of Desire, or possibly the lack of Faith (self-confidence/belief) that you can attain your Desire.

Quote and Analysis

“We call it “getting into a rut,” which means that we accept our fate because we form the HABIT of daily routine, a habit that finally becomes so strong we cease to try to throw it off. And that is another reason why it pays to start one or two steps above the bottom. By so doing one forms the HABIT of looking around, of observing how others get ahead, of seeing OPPORTUNITY, and of embracing it without hesitation.”

The last chapter, Auto-Suggestion, was all about intentionally forming habits. Here he’s talking about accidentally forming habits that keep us stuck. Here again is that concept of intentionally choosing vs. neglecting to choose and having our habits set for us.

It’s interesting to note that it doesn’t matter if the habit was intentional or accidental, either way the habit can become so strong that we cease to try to throw it off. So you can establish habits that you want to have, and build them to be so strong that you couldn’t stop them even if you wanted to. Or more likely, you wouldn’t stop the habit even when something else gets in your way.

He’s also giving us a hint of one of the habits we should build, the habit of paying attention to other successful people. Observing how they get ahead.

And the habit of decisiveness, the mastery of procrastination, a later chapter, since he mentions “seeing OPPORTUNITY, and … embracing it without hesitation”.

Quote and Analysis

“Perhaps he was inspired by the great football coach to aim high, and NOT MISTAKE TEMPORARY DEFEAT FOR FAILURE, just as Andrew Carnegie, the great industrial leader, inspired his young business lieutenants to set high goals for themselves.”

Here’s a reminder about temporary defeat not being the same as failure.

Also, this entire philosophy comes from Andrew Carnegie, so it’s interesting to see that Carnegie further inspired his own young business lieutenants to set high goals.

First, that means we should be setting high goals. Not setting small goals that we already think we can get, but setting big goals, and then expand our Faith to come to believe that we can achieve these big goals. That the opportunity will present itself to achieve the goal, and our imagination will see it for what it is.

Second, and a little more subtly, Carnegie inspired his own people. He wasn’t threatening them. He wasn’t trying to keep them in the dark so they wouldn’t leave. He wasn’t keeping them beholden to him. He wanted them to grow and become more than they were. Which could very well mean that they eventually wouldn’t be working for him anymore. But he wasn’t afraid of that. He had a mindset of abundance, not scarcity, a mindset of giving, of cooperation, not competition.

Quote and Analysis

“For almost two years, he continued in a job not to his liking, and he would never have risen above that job if he had not done something about his dissatisfaction. He aimed, first, at the job of Assistant Sales Manager of his company, and got the job. That one step upward placed him high enough above the crowd to enable him to see still greater opportunity, also, it placed him where OPPORTUNITY COULD SEE HIM.”

He used his dissatisfaction to fuel his action, not to fuel his complaining or his self-pity. He looked for something to try, and he acted.

By changing where he was, he was able to see more opportunity. But until he had made the move and expended the energy to get to the higher position, he didn’t know what he would find there.

This is the idea of giving before getting.

He did something that made him more visible to opportunity. It didn’t mean that he would absolutely be noticed. But it made it more possible.

Quote and Analysis

“Halpin deserves credit for REFUSING TO COMPROMISE WITH LIFE BY ACCEPTING AND KEEPING A JOB HE DID NOT WANT, and that is one of the major points I am trying to emphasize through this entire philosophy-that we rise to high positions or remain at the bottom BECAUSE OF CONDITIONS WE CAN CONTROL IF WE DESIRE TO CONTROL THEM.

I am also trying to emphasize another point, namely, that both success and failure are largely the results of HABIT!”

Success and failure are the results of habit.

Among the habits of failure are inaction, lack of ambition/desire, compromising with life, and accepting what you are given.

Among the habits of success are the chapter titles of this book, and the opposites of the habits of failure: action, ambition, and not settling for what you are given.

These habits are in our control. We can establish ones that help us, or allow ones that don’t to plot the course of our lives.

Quote and Analysis


The habits of the people around us are going to affect us.

We pick up their ways of thinking.

We pick up their blind spots, and what they give attention to.

This is not only a suggestion to surround yourself with positive people who challenge you to grow and seek high goals (like Carnegie did for his people), but also to avoid people who do the opposite. Trim out the people who are negative, and would prefer to pull you down with them.

Quote and Analysis

“Ideas with much less merit have been the seedlings from which great fortunes have grown.

Woolworth’s Five and Ten Cent Store idea, for example, had far less merit, but it piled up a fortune for its creator.”

I’m not sure he intended it this way, but to me, this part means that the general idea itself is not all that important.

It’s the application of specialized knowledge to the idea, the making of plans, and the acting on those plans that make the idea a success.


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