Earl Nightingale (March 12, 1921 – March 28, 1989) was an American motivational speaker and author, known as the "Dean of Personal Development." He was the voice in the early 1950s of Sky King, the hero of a radio adventure series, and was a WGN radio show host from 1950 to 1956. Nightingale was the author of the Strangest Secret, which economist Terry Savage has called “…One of the great motivational books of all time“.
He was born in Los Angeles in 1921. His father Earl the 4th, abandoned his mother in 1933. After his father left, his mother moved the family to a tent in Tent City.
When Nightingale was seventeen he joined the United States Marines. He was on the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor and was one of twelve surviving Marines on board that day.Before being mustered, Nightingale was an instructor at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Other than Pearl Harbor, it is unknown if Nightingale saw combat during World War 2.
After the war Nightingale began work in the radio industry, which eventually led to work as a motivational speaker. In the fall of 1949, Nightingale was inspired while reading Think and Grow Richby Napoleon Hill. Quoting from the Earl Nightingale official website: "When he was 29, Earl's enlightenment had come to him as a bolt out of the blue while reading, 'Think and Grow Rich'. It came when he realized that the six words he read were the answer to the question he had been looking for! That, 'we become what we think about'. He realized that he had been reading the same truth over and over again, from the New Testament...to the works of Emerson. 'We become what we think about.' 'As ye sow, so shall ye reap...'" In 1956 he produced a spoken word record,The Strangest Secret, which sold over a million copies, making it the first spoken-word recording to achieve Gold Record status. In 1960, a condensed audio version of Think and Grow Richwas narrated by Nightingale. It was titled Think and Grow Rich: The Essence Of The Immortal Book By Napoleon Hill, Narrated by Earl Nightingale, produced by Success Motivation Institute. Also in 1960, he cofounded the Nightingale-Conant corporation with Lloyd Conant.
Nightingale’s radio program, Our Changing World, became the most highly syndicated radio program ever, and was heard across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji,South Africa, the Bahamas, 23 countries overseas, as well as the Armed Forces Network.
After his retirement, Nightingale and his wife, Diana formed Keys Publishing.
He won a gold record for the LP The Strangest Secret
In 1976, he won the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International He was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame.
In 1985, Nightingale was inducted into The Association of National Broadcasters National Radio Hall of Fame.
In the mid-eighties, Nightingale wrote his first book, Earl Nightingale’s Greatest Discovery for which he received the Napoleon Hill Gold Medal for Literary Excellency.
Just prior to his death in 1989, Nightingale created a new format for a book called The Winner’s Notebook. It included his text, his illustrations, and incorporated space for a private journal.
During his lifetime, Nightingale wrote and recorded over 7,000 radio programs, 250 audio programs as well as television programs and videos.