Dale Carnegie wins friends in a digital age

Win friends and influence people, virtually 07:30

Brenda Leigh Johnson is the keeper of the Carnegie flame . . . and an indirect descendant of his. She's in charge of the "heritage room" at Dale Carnegie headquarters, in Hauppauge, L.I.

There the original manuscript of 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' is kept under glass - "Preserved much like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are!" Johnson laughed.

"It's important to our history. It's a part of who Dale Carnegie was and what this company was about. He wrote 'How to Win Friends' as a textbook to go along with his classes."

And now, the book has been updated . . . for the digital age. Turns out you can win friends and influence people virtually anytime, even if you never actually see them.

"Dale Carnegie was very big on smiling; How do you smile in an email?" asked Schlesinger. "I guess there's an emoticon, you know."

"There is and that, I mean, that's nice," said Handal.

"What would he have thought of emoticons?"

"I don't know, that's a very good question. But you can choose words that communicate, it takes longer."

So how does Handal suggest communicating a smile in an email? "I'm having a great day, I hope you are, too. I mean, that's kind of a pleasant way of saying something."

"But then you have to say, Where are the sales reports? Right?"

"Yeah, well, you get to that"

And by all reports . . . sales at Dale Carnegie give the company every reason to smile. Today the courses are offered in 80 different countries, from China to Cameroon.

"It strikes me that a lot of the stories that he tells in his book are quintessentially American stories," said Schlesinger. "How does that translate to somebody in Beijing?"

"That a fascinating question, Richard, because that's something I've been really . . . "

"Dale Carnegie taught you to say that, didn't he?"

"No, that's not true!" Handal laughed. "That's . . . well, actually yeah, he did, but I would have said it before. The fact is - and I've marveled at this - because human nature is the same all over the world, the principles that Dale Carnegie teaches really do work all over the world."

And as humans it apparently feels natural to pay someone to tell us: Be nice to others . . . Follow the golden rule . . . Even though parents and grandparents have been giving that advice for generations, and for free.

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