A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“To make me happy: Make me coffee, bring me coffee, be coffee….coffee” (3/24)
“Coffee! Coffee! It’s our drink! If we don’t get it, we can’t think!” (3/24)
“Coffee: because hating your job should be done with enthusiasm” (3/24)
“Want to hear a really dark joke?…Decaf” (3/24)
“I eat salad everyday. Bean salad…Coffee bean salad…Coffee. I drink coffee everyday” (3/24)
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Entry from December 21, 2012
“The ladder of success is never crowded at the top”

"The ladder of success is never crowded at the top” means something similar to “there’s always room at the top”—for someone who is talented and who works hard, there is always an opportunity to join the successful elite at the top, no matter how crowded the field is at the bottom (entry level). The saying was used by American author Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) in his book Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion (1970), but it’s probable that Hill used the saying earlier in lectures or in newspaper or magazine articles.

“The ladder of success is never crowded at the top” has been cited in print since at least 1963.


Wikipedia: Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill (October 26, 1883 – November 8, 1970) was an American author in the area of the new thought movement who was one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature. He is widely considered to be one of the great writers on success. His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich (1937), is one of the best-selling books of all time (at the time of Hill’s death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold 20 million copies). Hill’s works examined the power of personal beliefs, and the role they play in personal success. He became an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1936. “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” is one of Hill’s hallmark expressions. How achievement actually occurs, and a formula for it that puts success in reach of the average person, were the focal points of Hill’s books.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
room at the top: opportunity to join an elite, the top ranks of a profession, etc.
1866 Bangor (Maine) Daily Whig & Courier 27 Feb. 3/4 When Daniel Webster was a young man about commencing the study of law, he was advised not to enter the legal profession, for it was already crowded. His reply was,—‘There is room enough at the top’.
a1871 A. Cary Poet. Wks. Alice & Phoebe Cary (1882) 274 Believe me there ‘s truth in the saying: ‘There always is room at the top’.

Google Books
West Virginia Dental Journal
Volumes 36-37
1962 (It appears that the Google Books date should be 1963—ed.)
Pg. 35:
THE LADDER OF SUCCESS IS NEVER CROWDED AT THE TOP

8 June 1965, The News (Van Nuys, CA), pg. 25-B, col. 4 classified ad:
“THE OF LADDER SUCCESS IS NEVER CROWDED AT THE TOP”

7 November 1968, Tri-State Triangle (Tri-State College, Angola, IN), “Fraternities at Tri-State: Sigma Phi Delta,” Supplement, pg. 2, col. 5:
The ladder of success is never crowded at the top

Google Books
Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion
By Napoleon Hill and E. Harold Keown
New York, NY: Fawcett Crest
1970
Pg. 247:
The ladder of success is never crowded at the top.

20 September 1971, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, pg. 24, col. 9 classified ad:
The Ladder of Success
is not crowded at the top!
(Hilton Employment Agency—ed.)

Google Books
Dollar Wise, Penny Foolish:
A Romantic Book on Stocks for Aspiring Millionaires

By Siva Nara and Priya Raghavan
Woodbridge, NJ: Wise Pen Corp.
2004
Pg. 264:
The ladder of success is never crowded at the top
Napoleon Hill

Google Books
What is Your Goal in Life?:
440 Motivational Quotes that Lead to Success and Fulfillment

By Peter Obinna Umekwe
Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation
2011
Pg. 25:
The ladder of success is never crowded at the top.—Napoleon Hill

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Friday, December 21, 2012 • Permalink