W. Clement Stone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
William Clement Stone
Born (1902-05-04)May 4, 1902
Chicago, Illinois
Died September 3, 2002(2002-09-03) (aged 100)
Evanston, Illinois
Part of a series of articles on
New Thought

William Clement Stone (May 4, 1902 – September 3, 2002) was a businessman, philanthropist and New Thought self-help book author.


He was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 4, 1902. His father died in 1905 leaving his family in debt. In 1908 he hawked newspapers on the South Side of Chicago, while his mother worked as a dressmaker. By 1915 he owned his own newsstand. In 1918 he moved to Detroit to sell casualty insurance for his mother.[1]

Stone dropped out of high school to sell insurance full-time. He later received a diploma from the YMCA Central High School in Chicago. He later took courses at Detroit College of Law and Northwestern University.[1]

Much of what is known about Stone comes from his autobiography The Success System That Never Fails.[2] In that book, he tells of his early business life which started with the selling of newspapers in restaurants. At the time, this was a very novel thing to do, which deviated dramatically from the normal practice of young boys hawking newspapers on street corners.

At first, the managers of restaurants tried to discourage him from this practice, but he gradually won them over by his politeness, charm, persistence and the fact that by and large, the patrons of the restaurants had no objection to this new way of selling his newspapers.

From there, he graduated to selling insurance policies very successfully in the offices of downtown businesses. His mother was the initiator of his new career, and together, they did quite well, she as the manager of the business, and he as the salesperson.

Stone ran $100 into millions with a strong desire to succeed and by putting into practice the principles in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.[1][3][4]

He was the living example of the proverbial rags-to-riches protagonist in Horatio Alger's stories he loved so much. Eventually he became an 'angel' to others lifting some from the gutter, to incredible heights. One of his great successes was Og Mandino, an alcoholic at the time whom Stone took under his wing. The relationship engendered a new life for Mandino who became the publisher of Success Magazine at the time. In 1978, Stone met an aggressive young securities broker named Christopher Nolan and recruited him to become his Director of Education for the Entrepreneurship Forums. The forums were created by Stone to educate aspiring business owners in developing new business in Chicago.

In 1919, Stone built the Combined Insurance Company of America (a company providing accident and health insurance coverage) and by 1930, he had over 1000 agents selling insurance for him across the United States.[2] By 1979, his insurance company exceeded $1 billion in assets. Combined later merged with the Ryan Insurance Group to form Aon Corporation in 1987.,[2] and Combined was later spun off by Aon to ACE Limited in April 2008 for $2.56 billion.[5]

Stone contributed up to $10 million to President Richard Nixon's election campaigns in 1968 and 1972; they were cited in Congressional debates after the Watergate scandal to institute campaign spending limits.[1]

Stone (seated at right) meets with Gerald Ford in the Oval Office.

According to Tim Weiner, in his thoroughly documented book One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon, in 1972, president Nixon’s lawyer, Herbert Kalmbach, helped raise money for Nixon’s presidential campaign by selling ambassadorships to large donors, one of whom was “W. Clement Stone, [who] pledged $3 million. Unfortunately, Stone wanted London, which already was occupied by Ambassador Walter Annenberg, who gave $254,000 in order to stay on” (p. 160).

A proponent of the motivational book Think and Grow Rich by Hill, Stone associated with Hill to teach the Philosophy of Personal Achievement “Science of Success" course. Stone wrote: "One of the most important days in my life was the day I began to read Think and Grow Rich in 1937.[6][7] Stone said that the Bible was “the world's greatest self-help book".[8]

Stone explained the importance of PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) in his last interview not long before dying. Stone said: "A positive mental attitude is necessary for achieving worthwhile success. We in America know what it is for us, for we have inherited the tenets of the Judeo-Christian faiths on which our Constitution, laws and customs have been based.... Strive to understand and apply the Golden Rule.... Believe that any goal that doesn’t violate the laws of God or the rights of your fellow men can be achieved.... I attended one of the PMA rallies in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1976. I'll never forget Stone, the MC of the event; and how he leapt on the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted: I feel healthy! I feel happy! I feel terrific! It gave me goosebumps. At the time, he was 74 years old; and possessed the energy of a man in his thirties." ~ M.L. Harris, author.[4]

He died on September 3, 2002 in Evanston, Illinois.[1]


Bust of Mr. Stone in the Canadian headquarters of the Combined Insurance Co.

Stone emphasized using a "positive mental attitude" to succeed.[1] Stone adopted the motto of his mentor, Napoleon Hill, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve (with PMA)."[9] In 1960, Stone teamed up with Napoleon Hill to author Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.[10] The book Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude includes the following testimonial from the Rev. Robert H. Schuller on the inside front cover page: "Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude is one of the ten books that has most impacted my faith and my philosophy...no person's education is complete without the concepts articulated in it so wisely and so well."[11] Norman Vincent Peale said that Stone and Hill "have the rare gift of inspiring and helping people...In fact, I owe them both a personal debt of gratitude for the helpful guidance I have received from their writings."[12] Stone and Hill also founded a monthly digest magazine, entitled Success Unlimited.[7] In 1962, Stone wrote the Success System That Never Fails, in which he suggested how to become successful and have a healthy, productive lifestyle.[13] In 1964, he and Norma Lee Browning collaborated on writing The Other Side of the Mind.[14]


Stone gave over $275 million to charity including civic groups, mental health and Christian organizations.[1][4] Stone was once quoted as saying, "All I want to do is change the world".[1]

Among his philanthropic activities were his long-time support of the Boys Clubs of America (now Boys and Girls Clubs of America), and the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan. The Stone Student Center was dedicated on June 24, 1967 on the campus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Stone donated one million dollars to Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller to begin construction on the Crystal Cathedral. The W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation was established by Stone and his wife to support humanitarian, mental health, religious and community causes. In 2009 the Foundation gave $3,805,625 to worthwhile causes.[15] The foundation also gives college scholarships; one of the beneficiaries is the demographer, pollster, and political pundit Elliott Stonecipher of Shreveport, Louisiana, who entered the "Boy of the Year" competition in the late 1960s at the national Boys Clubs competition.

Stone was a supporter of The Napoleon Hill Foundation, which he directed for forty years, and to which his estate contributes funding.[4][7] Stone celebrated his 100th birthday with a gift of $100,000 to the University of Illinois at Chicago.[8]

Stone provided much of the initial funding for the self-help organization, GROW.[16] Stone was inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, and was a Freemason.[17]

W. Clement Stone once stated, “Regardless of what you are or what you have been, you can still become what you may want to be.”[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Douglas Martin (September 5, 2002). "Clement Stone Dies at 100. Built Empire on Optimism". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-07-30. W. Clement Stone, who parlayed $100 in savings into an insurance empire that financed millions of dollars of contributions to the campaigns of Richard M. Nixon and hundreds of millions to charities, died on Tuesday in Evanston, Ill. He was 100 and lived in Winnetka, Ill.... William Clement Stone was born in Chicago on May 4, 1902. His father died when he was 3, leaving the family impoverished by gambling losses. At the age of 6, he began hawking newspapers on Chicago's South Side, while his mother worked as a dressmaker. At 13, he owned his own newsstand. 
  2. ^ a b c Stone, W. Clement (2007). The Success System That Never Fails (PDF [8.8Mb]). Lightning Source, Inc. ISBN 956-291-406-2. 
  3. ^ Hill, Napoleon, 1960, Think and Grow Rich. [inside front cover page], Fawcett Books, New York, ISBN 0-449-21492-3
  4. ^ a b c d e http://financialsoftware.com/afforgs/documents/Vol7Issue8_000.pdf
  5. ^ "ACE Completes Acquisition of Combined Insurance Company of America". Acelimited.com. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  6. ^ Hill, Napoleon, 1990, The Think and Grow Rich Action Pack, Plume, ISBN 0-452-26660-2
  7. ^ a b c John C.  Maxwell. "Success Magazine". Success Magazine. Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  8. ^ a b Improve Your Thinking
  9. ^ W. Clement Stone to mark his 100th, June 17, 2002, Savage, Terry, Chicago Sun-Times Archived February 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  10. ^ Hill, Napoleon; Stone, W. Clement (2007) [1977]. Og Mandino, ed. Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1-4165-4159-4. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  11. ^ Hill, Napoleon, Stone, W. Clement, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, Pocket Books (1991) ISBN 0-671-74322-8
  12. ^ Hill, Napoleon, Stone, W. Clement, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude [Back Cover] Pocket Books (1991) ISBN 0-671-74322-8
  13. ^ Stone, W. Clement., (1962) The Success System That Never Fails, Prentice Hall, ISBN 1-60459-931-6
  14. ^ Stone, W. Clement; Browning, Norma Lee (1964). The Other Side of the Mind. Prentice Hall. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  15. ^ "Spring 2007 Grants Awarded" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-04. 
  16. ^ Keogh, C.B. (1979). GROW Comes of Age: A Celebration and a Vision!. Sydney, Australia: GROW Publications. ISBN 0-909114-01-3. OCLC 27588634. 
  17. ^ The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina Archived February 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 

External links[edit]