1 अप्रैल 2017

Golden takeaway from assistant

1. Alive Time or Dead Time?

Early on in my career I had a pivotal conversation with Robert. I was working full-time at a really good job but planning my next move, saving my money and thinking about what I might do next. I told him I wanted to write a book one day but I wasn’t sure what, how or when or what about. He told me, Ryan, there are two types of time: Dead time—where we are just waiting and Alive time—where we are learning and active and leveraging. And then he left it there with me to decide which I would choose. I wrote Alive Time or Dead Time on a notecard and for years it was on my wall-so I would never forget. I squeezed every ounce of life out of that job and it set up the career I have now.

2. Be Amoral in Your Assessments, Be Ethical In Your Actions

The criticism of Robert’s works is that they are sociopathic or unscrupulous. Of course, anyone who has ever met Robert Greene knows that he is an incredibly kind, generous and principled person. Is that a contradiction? Absolutely not—in fact, it’s actually the underlying message of all his books. Robert taught me how to look at the world objectively. When I se an unethical person I don’t get upset. I just see who they are, I study what they are doing. Then when it’s my turn to make the right decision in my own life, I make it. Robert’s books are like a biology textbook. They explain what various species do. But as humans we’re free to make our own choices in our own lives—and we should choose well (as he has done).

3. Objectivity Is Everything

Again, it’s not about seeing the world negatively.—it’s about removing that impartiality He told me about his favorite passage from Marcus Aurelius.The one about “seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig.” As he explained to me: “I’ve tried to bring that across in my writing. For instance, to deconstruct things like power and seduction and to see the actual elements in play instead of the legends surrounding them.”

4. Be Better Than People Expect

 That whole thing about Robert not being the evil person that some people assume after reading about his books? I like that. When you create public work, people naturally make assumptions about you. I think your goal as a creator should always be that the real you is surprisingly better than the assumption they make. You should be nicer, funnier, smarter, more open-minded, cooler, more informed. It’s a lot of work to do this—but it’s impressive.

5. Make Your Way to the Inside

Robert’s metaphor for mastery is being on the inside of something. When we start a new sport, when we get our first job when we approach a field we haven't yet studied we are on the outside of. But as we put in the work, as we familiarize ourselves with every component, as we develop our intuitive field, we eventually make our way to this inside. This is a metaphor from Robert I think about constantly. I don’t want to be an outsider on anything I do, I want to make my way inside it.
6. Take Notes Like a Pro

  I learned notecard taking process from Robert when I was his research assistant. I still remember the day I went to his house and he showed me the thousands of notecards he’d assembled for the 48 laws of power and walked me through how to do it myself. All I can say is that since learning it about 10 years ago, it has totally transformed my process and drastically increased my creative output. It’s responsible for helping me publish books article and make all sorts of other work and personal successes possible.
7. Make Time for Strenu ous Exercise

 From Robert I also learned that swimming is a great productivity tool. Why? Because it requires total isolation: no music, no phone, no possible interruptions. Just quiet, strenuous exercise. I’ve had some of my most productive brainstorming sessions in the pool. Even at 57, Robert swims 1.25 miles 3-4 times per week and does some other form of exercise on the other days. It’s why he is so productive as a writer and thinker. The other part of this is: The harder a time you’re having with a project, the tighter the deadline —the more time you have to make for exercise and the harder you have to push yourself while doing it.
8. Learn The Art of Patience

 In 2009, I wrote an article on stoicism on Tim Ferriss’s website. This was probably my biggest stage as a writer at that point—and then a few months later, a small publisher emailed me to ask if I wanted to turn that article into a book. It was as if everything I had hoped for was coming together. But I wanted to check with Robert first—did he think I should do it? He told me he was happy for me but actually suggested I turn the book offer down. He said that I was still learning and improving as a writer—that my life experiences were accelerating and that the book would be better each day I waited. He was teaching me to be patient. It’s easier to be patient when nothing is happening though. To turn down a life changing opportunity? That’s the real test. And he was right. (Ultimately, I published My book 5 years later and its success is something I owe to his lesson.)

9. OK Is Not Good Enough
As a research assistant, I would come up with an example that I thought fit what he was looking for. Robert would review and go, “Yeah I think this makes sense, but I know there’s something better.” At first, I didn’t get it—wasn’t the whole point to finish this book? He wanted an example that worked and I found one. But it’s that sense of perfectionism that is the difference between a mediocre book and a timeless one. Today, I use that as one metric to judge a project: Did I throw away some pretty good stuff? If I didn’t, it means I’ve settled.

10. It Starts By Wanting to Create A Classic
One time I asked Robert, how do you make these books that last so long. What’s the secret? His answer was simple: “It starts by wanting to create a classic.” It doesn’t happen on accident. It has to be intentional.

11. Forget ‘Let Others Do All The Work, Take All The Credit’

Ruthlessly stealing the work of the people beneath you is one of the most controversial laws of power. It’s a reality of the working world. We think of the President’s inspiring speeches, not his speechwriters. We think of a celebrity’s good looks, not their stylists or their makeup artists.  So you’d think it would be tough working for Robert—in fact, Robert is incredibly generous. I mean, even the fact that I am able to write this article and talk about these things is proof. Robert’s graciousness is another lesson I learned and one I try to follow now with my own research assistant (Thanks Hristo Vassilev, you made this article possible.)

12. Avoid Tactical Hell

Robert defines tactical hell as place where we are reactive to other people’s demands and needs, driven by emotions, and never thinking ahead. The antidote to tactical hell is strategy. We must be strategic in everything we do.

13. Crush Your Enemy Totally

 One of the most prominent leaders of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture, once replied to an opponent: “If you have a hog that eats chickens, you may put out its one eye, you may put out its other eye, but it still will eat chickens whenever it can.” Asked what it means, he replies: “It means that the wicked are incorrigible.” It is a less intimidating summary of Robert Greene’s law: “Crush Your Enemy Totally.” You realize that sometimes in war total annihilation is what is required—you can’t afford making enemies for life. But the better lesson can be this: Avoid finding yourself in situations where you put yourself in a position to create lifelong enemies—reacting emotionally in situations is easy. Self-restraint? Not so much.

14. Be a Private Person

I met Robert’s longtime girlfriend last week for the first time. We’d known each other for almost ten years. I’d been to his house while she was there! But he’s a private person. He separates his work from his personal life. I respect that.

15. Plan All The Way To The End

 If you don’t know where you’re trying to end up, no strategy will get you there. Robert taught me to consider the end. I know what the cover of my books looks like in my head, I know what reaction I want it to provoke, I know how many copies I want it to sell and I know the life I want to lead because of it. I’m not guessing. I know. And I’ve planned.

16. Always Say Less Than Necessary

My favorite law in The 48 Laws of Power (and the one I remind myself of the most) is basically: Shut Up. “Powerful people,” he writes, “impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.” I think of this law when I am about to tweet, when I am considering an email, when I am coming up with marketing materials. Less is almost always more.

17. Master On-And-Off Thinking

Creative breakthroughs are the result of tension. You have to ratchet it up and then switch to something else. Then, as Robert writes, “with the feeling of tightness gone, the brain can momentarily return to that initial feeling of excitement and aliveness, which by now been greatly enhanced by all our hard work.” When people say they work for 8 hours in a row, I know they’re either lying or being inefficient. You have to go off and on, hot and cold. It’s where the magic comes from.

18. It’s All Material

From Robert I learned a wonderful, freeing phrase: “It’s all material.” Everything bad that happens, everything frustrating or delayed or disappointing—all of it can be fuel for a book. It can teach you something that helps you improve your business, it can become a story you pass along to a friend. Don’t get upset about the things that happen. See it as collecting data. Observe it. Turn it into material.

19. Shun Distractions

 If you call Robert in the middle of the day, he won’t answer. Because he’s working. That might seem like a minor accomplishment but any writer knows how much discipline that takes. You’re sitting there, the words aren’t coming and you’re begging for any excuse to stop. Robert’s discipline is an inspiration for me and I use it as a model. I don’t often meet it, but I try. I remember he once compared the noise my phone made and how quickly I picked it up to check to a “rat in an experiment.” There’s a reason I have turned off all alerts on my phone. I’m not nearly as productive as Robert is, but I am getting better.

20. It Takes Time

 Robert published his first book at age 39. It didn’t hit the New York Times Bestseller list until more than a decade later. I got lucky in the sense that some of my success came when I was very young. But when I get impatient, I think about Robert’s journey. I remind myself that the next level might require waiting as long as he did, that I need to be patient. That things take time. Things that rush into this world are often rushed right out. Play the long game.

21. The Even Keel Is Essential

 I have not once seen Robert get upset or yell. Not during the chaos at American Apparel, not at his publisher, not at internet trolls, not at me for messing up. He is imperturbable. That doesn’t mean things don’t bother him. From what I understand, he is particular and likes things a certain way. But none of this can make him lose his cool. It’s this discipline that it is the first step to a truly strategic mind.

22. Concentrate Your Forces

 This is one of the laws of power, but I actually learned it by watching Robert. When you write a successful book, you get all sorts of new opportunities: speaking, consulting, starting your own company, doing the whole guru thing. But if you notice, he hardly does any of that. He just writes really really really great books. This is not a coincidence. He has decided to say no—a lot. I say yes to more (I’m younger and I have a slightly different personality), but I always use him as a model: Concentrate most on the one thing you do that’s special. Ignore the rest.

23. Cultivate a Monk-Like Existence

When I first started working for Robert, he drove a very old Volvo. His house is nice but I’m sure he could afford a bigger one. I remember when Robert bought himself a nice car. This was a guy that’s sold millions of books, I thought, what gives? A couple years later, we had lunch and he mentioned that it had a total of like 9,000 miles on it. He had barely driven in it. Then I realized that what’s important to him is to sit at his desk and do his writing. Part of what makes him such a great writer and craftsman is the monk-like existence he has cultivated. He doesn’t need to go do a speech in Cleveland to pay for his speedboat. He doesn’t care about your fancy restaurants or his zip code. He cares about his work.

Don't be afraid of people whom you think too powerful

Brett McKay: Very good. So, you mentioned earlier that finding the mentors an important part of gaining Mastery and you get some great examples of individuals who basically had to work their tails off in order to get the attention and time of a mentor any advice to folks out there who are looking to find a mentor, what they can do to successfully get that attention in that time because, typically from my experience, people who you seek out to be your mentor, their time and resource knowledge is valuable, so how do you, I guess, convince them or persuade them to spend that time and share their knowledge with you?

Robert Greene: Well, there is a lot of things to go over there. I mean I tell people that you don’t want to look for a mentor until you are little bit ready, its kind be a situation where both sides have something to give obviously the mentor has a lot to give, but you have something to give. It can’t be completely one sided and in other words you can be someone fresh out of a college with no skills, no background no real discipline nothing but your charm and your smile that’s not enough, the mentor has his or her self-interest and they are not going to simply take the time to work in that relationship if you have nothing to offer and so you want at least if you are aiming at somebody that you would like to be your mentor, you have maybe at least have couples of some experience under your belt, you have to be able to come to them and show that you have the track record that you are discipline, that you have a good work ethic that you have references, that you have some skills to offer them that could save them time, everybody wants have time save for them that’s the number one thing in this world today, if someone like I had a mentor apprentice Ryan Holiday who is now, as you know, has known to become a very successful writer, etcetera. Ryan approached me, he was a fan of my books and it became very clear, very early on that he had real skills, he fixed my Wikipedia page, I could see that he loved books and he could read and research and stuff and so I said yes sure, you’re going to save me time, you’re going to look better and it turned into a great relationship. So, you want to be able to show someone before you even attempt it that you have some skills that mesh with them and that’s going to be mutually beneficial, so that’s number one right off the bag. Number two, don’t be afraid of contacting people that you think are powerful, I could never mark I could never be apprentice you will be surprised, that’s not necessarily good example, but you’ll be surprised that people who are in position of power are actually interested in having an apprentice or disciple or whatever you want to call it, it’s a very satisfying relationship if it works out well, so don’t be afraid of pursuing these people if you have something to offer, but the other thing I tell people is don’t look for the biggest name out there, let’s say, let’s take for an example you want to be writer and you are looking for someone to apprentice under don’t go for the biggest name or somebody that’s a celebrity, go for the person that meshes you say five or ten years down the road that’s who I want it be, I want be like that person. They are doing something that appeals to me as an individual, I show in the book a woman, Yoky Matsuoka who is a robotics engineer, who finds herself suddenly at MIT a very weird conservative environment and there is one professor there who is a rebel Rodney Brooks, he is like the bad boy in the department and she has always been the bad girl, she is always been a rebel in entire territory that’s who she said he going to be my mentor, because he fits my spirit and I want to be like Rodney Brooks and so it ended up being a great relationship. So those are few important tips wait until you have something to offer don’t be afraid of people that you think are too powerful, you will be surprised and find a good fit it’s almost like your second parent, so they have to fit you physiologically and emotionally and they have to be someone that you really true admire and want to be like in five or ten years.( Robert Greene in interviews)

No shortcuts for Mastery

Brett McKay: Very good. The part that really stuck out to me, resonate with me the most in the book was the apprenticeship phase because the process you layout in the apprenticeship phase you get great details, give great examples, its seems so contrary to what you see in popular success literature today, you know, today it’s all about, you know, how you can hack the system, and how you can get success as faster as you can, but the apprenticeship is a slow process where it’s filled with lots of observation, it’s sort of in a lot of ways sometimes passive, you know, you had to do the learning and reading, I mean why is it so important that you don’t take a short cut. Is it possible to get to the next step without going through to the apprenticeship phase?

Robert Greene: No. It’s absolutely 150% impossible and the idea that you think you can have a shortcut means you never going to reach the Mastery, you’ve got a problem, and there are the case that the human brain involved over, we can make it its arbitrary where we begin the process, but five million years ago our earliest ancestors and it involved in the particular way and it involved in the direction of the more you focus on something the longer you spend learning something, the higher level of skill that you have, the more you understand the reality of what you are studying and that brain evolved that way through also its of twists and turns, the invention of language, civilization, etcetera, and the idea that because of technology, because of the internet in the last 10, 20 years you could somehow bypass five million years of evolution is just laughable and anybody who believes that I am sorry to say, but they are losers and you are moving against what the science, the evolution, the biology everything else you are not in touch with reality and there are lot of people who are not simply in touch with reality and the point that it is that the apprenticeship phase, okay it’s going to take time, okay its slow, but it’s also deeply pleasurable, the sense that you are slowly conquering or moving faster on limitations is deeply empowering so, just take a simple example, let just say you are learning to play the piano and obviously in our world today what we are learning is going to be little bit more complex or different, but you are learning the piano and the beginning its kind of boring your kind of having to repeat the same exercises over and over again and what you are playing is not that interesting and if you stick with it after six months you start to play things that are more interesting and because they are more interesting you practice a little bit harder because you practice a little bit harder, you learn faster and you start entering what I call a cycle of accelerated returns where you are starting to see more and more quickly the rewards for your work and your discipline, so not only that only you are learning the piano, but you are mastering yourself, you are overcoming your impatience your own weaknesses, you are gaining discipline, patience, the ability to persists at something, you are learning the piano and you are mastering yourself and you feel that, you feel it inside, you feel like you are overcoming this limitation, one barrier after another barrier, after another barrier, so that five ten years of what some people might say oh my God how boring, I just want to, you know, learn how to do something in six months, its actually really pleasurable, and its actually deeply satisfying process and I want to get people because human beings don’t do things that are painful, we shy away from things that like just seem to involve too much pain and people are not going to go through the process unless they see a reward and there is a reward and it’s something that people have been experiencing for thousands of years, there are incredible rewards, but that is also a lot of drudgery involved as well, so I want to get people pass the idea that everything has to be immediately pleasurable. The fulfilment that you have takes time, but the rewards are much deeper than the reward that you would get from taking the drug or playing a video game.
( Robert Greene in interviews)

What is Big Picture of gaining Mastery

Brett McKay: So, Mastery is accessible to everybody. It’s democratic, it’s accessible to all. Not everyone is going to reach it, because not everyone is going to the steps, but let’s talk about kind of overarching steps, what’s the big picture of gaining Mastery, what’s this process that you discover with all these individuals?

Robert Greene: Well, the process is actually relatively simple, but it’s going to take years to get there and it starts with what I already laid out and it’s the most important step, if you don’t take this first step there is no Mastery that will come and it has been very clear about what makes you different, what excites you in the world and creating a career path at an early age or even later it happens people later in life, that even happened to me later in life. Carving a career path that meshes with something deeply personal, something you want to do, something you want to accomplish, from there you enter an apprenticeship phase, generally its equivalent to your twenties, but it can, you know, blend into later ages depends or can start earlier and it’s a five to ten year process, it’s been demonstrated in all kinds of interesting studies, it was sort of encapsulated in the middle ages in an actual apprenticeship phase that young men usually would go through generally around seven years and it basically means the period in which you learned the skills, the rules of the game and everything else that is involved in selling in a particular craft or profession and I explain a great depth, the kind of attitude and mindset that a real master has in this apprenticeship phase. We all go through apprenticeship phase, but some people maximize if they really exploit it. They learn more deeply, they cumulate a high number of skills. They learn how to fit in and work in a group environment, etcetera, etcetera so, there is good apprenticeship and there is a bad apprenticeship and I want to show you how to go through the right one. As part of that apprenticeship you want to attach yourself to a mentor if possible, and I mean have a chapter on that subject the reason I go into that is, it’s the one thing that will help you shorten the process if we are talking about ten to twenty thousand hours, ten to twenty years of working at something, having a person there who can watch you in real-time and say this is what you are good at, this is what you are bad out, these are the mistakes I made so how to avoid them, it’s just absolutely invaluable and I demonstrate in the book how the human brain is designed from the learning in that kind of particular relationship. As part of the apprenticeship I also talk about social intelligence learning how to work with other people it’s not just being technically profession in your field and having a lot of knowledge. We are self-animals and you have how to learn, how to work with people. Those are the three components of that apprenticeship phase I go into very, very detail in that and at a certain point in phase you start moving towards the next phase. it’s kind of a transitional thing where you begin to experiment with your knowledge that you have gained and become a little more creative with it entering what I call the creative active phase, which could be anywhere from after ten years of this apprenticeship or little bit less and in that phase you start taking the knowledge you be cumulated and experimenting with the trying things out starting your own project and bringing that individual, that unique quality that you have in the play, which was sort of like dormant to a new apprenticeship phase and I give many examples and stories of how people have used, have maximized this phase because there is a lot of dangerous, a lot of people never become creative or experimental of what they have learned, they just become conservative with it so, I go into detail about what I call creative strategies and if you stick with this long enough if you retain that kind of youthful, playful attitude towards where you are studying, but you remained disciplined after enough time you enter the final phase of Mastery where you have this intuitive feel and I describe in detail where that comes from, why it happen and how it feels, so that’s pretty much the overview of the process that I describe.
( Robert Greene in interviews)

In Meetings pick your words and be strategic.

50 Cent is famous for his charm and charisma, but also comes across as stoically silent and reserved. Which is more valuable: that a man knows how to win others with his ideas or that a man knows how to keep his mouth shut?

If you want to be a good strategist, you can never just go off a principle you read in a book. You need to adapt what you do to the situation; no rule of thumb is true all the time. In general, though, I'd say it's better to keep your mouth shut. There are more situations than not where speaking less is a good thing. It makes you look powerful, mysterious and when you do talk it appears more important.
However, being quiet at the wrong time can make you look shy or worse, suspicious. Still, more often than not, you're talking too much. When you're in a meeting, the things you say should be powerful and interesting. Pick your words and be strategic.

The Art of Seduction was a best-seller. Any tips for the aspiring master romancers out there?

Seduction doesn't need to be taken seriously. It's not a game, but each woman is almost like a puzzle. There's so much about her that makes her unique, and you're going to sit there to learn about them. You need to practice uncovering what makes her different. Most “seducers” have systems for seducing women, and don't see them as individuals at all. You want to have the habit of piercing the other person: seeing them inside and out, weakness, strengths, what they lack, and what nobody else is giving them. If you can learn to do that, and to stop seeing sex as the only goal, but to get pleasure from really seeing that woman for who she is, that will make you a good seducer.
( Robert Greene in interviews)

Story : Concept

Each chapter of the book opens with a brief story of his past and then you kind of go into the “meat” of what that story is supposed to tell. How did you come up with that concept?

Robert Greene: It was difficult, because to do a book together, there weren’t really other books out there like this, I had no model. We spent a lot of time together, I had a lot of interviews, great material, a lot of discussions, but it was a question of how to bring out two voices together, and at first, I tried to put a lot of 50’s own words in the book, but it wasn’t flowing right, between his voice and my voice, so I decided to do the book in my voice, but decided to use him as the anchor of each of the stories. When we were doing the book together, we came up with these ten chapters and we discussed them at length, but because his story is so amazing, just to think about it from where he came from, the circumstances of his life, to have experienced all that and to be where he is now, I mean, can you think of any other black person who can have that and hold onto his power and have that kind of success and hold on to it for so long. To me it’s like the classic American rags to riches story.( Robert Greene in interviews)

Law 37 "Create Compelling Spectacles"

Joey Bushnell: My final question was law 37 is to “Create compelling spectacles“. Any ideas of how we can apply this in a business situation?

Robert Greene: It really depends on the kind of business you are in. It kind of connects to the law “Court attention at all costs”. The kind of compelling spectacle that I’m really pin pointing in that particular law is the kind that has a large effect. Compelling spectacles are not to reach a niche market, it could be for reaching a niche marketing but on a grand scale. This is for grand marketing.

What you are trying to do is the following; the idea in the modern world is that people have all kinds of diverging interests, everybody is thinking about themselves. On a political level everyone has their own little narrow interests for their community or the group that they belong to or their political beliefs. This happens in marketing as well, everyone is balkanized into these very specialized niches.

It’s very hard to reach and unite people almost in a religious sense and get them in on emotional level so they all feel like they are part of a group. This is also connected to another chapter in the book about having a cult like affect on others. The game on creating a compelling spectacle is to by pass all of the niche stuff happening and balkanization and reach people in a deep core emotional level appealing to them through symbols that have a timeless basis.

People want to feel united, they want to have that religious sense they want to feel like at a rave 10,000 people at the rave are feeling the same emotions, a very primal need that’s not being fulfilled in the world today. Your job on this grand marketing compelling spectacle fashion is to create something that is going to unite them in that primal way. A lot of that has to do with what are the causes in the world that can do that?

If people are now so much believing in the environment, and it’s a good thing I’m not being cynical here, creating something where they feel like they are all involved in an event or buying something that’s really going to have an effect on that cause they believe in, that will have that unifying compelling spectacle effect. That’s really what I’m tying to get at on that level.

I was recently at Google a couple of weeks ago to give a talk. It was the first time I was at the campus of Google out in California. I’m kind of an admirer of them and their marketing and how they created this image there’s some negative things and particular in Europe people don’t have as high opinion as they do in the USA. But the whole idea of don’t be evil is kind of connected to this spectacle element of this larger idea about this company that’s not just a business its almost like a religion. A religion based on the free flowing of information without any barriers at all. They are very good at creating the kind of spectacles that feed into that image whether it’s cynical or not.

Joey Bushnell: One thing that came to my mind was, when you lived over here Robert did you ever see things like Red Nose Day or Children In Need? It’s like a big day where people donate, like Band Aid in the 80‘s. It was for a cause to raise money for people living in poverty in Africa but there was a spectacle to go with it, there was this great event that was happening and they raised a lot of money but they used a compelling spectacle to attract a lot of that awareness, would that be an example?

Robert Greene: Yes it would and it calls to mind and example that I used in “The art of seduction”, to me the best political example particularly for the United States was John F Kennedy. This was just after he was elected at a time when America was splintering like it’s become now to an extreme into all these different interests. He created what was called “The new frontier”. It was very powerful where he was talking about the space race as the new frontier and we’re all Americans together it’s like the pioneers of the 19th century. Every American can unite around the actual image of the first man landing on the moon planting and American flag.

He didn’t live to see that but he set it all in motion. It had a really powerful effect on the public, it said “Yes this is what it means to be an American, this is the spirit we used to have that we’ve lost”. Everybody really got excited about the space program to an extent where nobody feels that anymore in the states and the question comes up in politics “What does it mean to be an American in the year 2013?”. That’s the kind of power that a compelling spectacle can have. It makes everybody who wants to buy your product or vote for you feel like they are part of something larger like a cause.( Robert Greene in interviews)

Law 34 is “Be royal in your own fashion, act like a king to be treated like one

Joey Bushnell: Law 34 is “Be royal in your own fashion, act like a king to be treated like one” How would you say that this applies in life and perhaps business as well?

Robert Greene: Well, I keep coming back to certain basic elements of human psychology, maybe it’s on my mind because it’s the new book, but it’s another fairly common sense idea which is how you think about yourself, your own attitude and your own relationship to who you are is projected onto the world. People sense it, smell it and read it off of your body language. They know that you’re an essentially timid person or they know that you’re a lion or an aggressive type. It’s not in your words, they feel the attitude that you have, it’s projected out in to the world in ways that you’re probably not completely aware of. Once again I’m trying to make you aware of this dynamic so that you could potentially control it and increase your options.

I narrate the story of a very iconic story, in case the listeners don’t know I use a lot of history to illustrate every idea and the icon for that chapter is Christopher Columbus. He is basically someone who comes from the most middle class background. I think he was the son of a baker totally uninteresting and nondescript. But from an early age he imagined that he was born as an aristocrat. Today we would call him bipolar and probably lock him up, but they didn’t go about things like that. But he really had himself convinced that he had aristocratic roots. I’m not sure whether it was a game he was playing or whether he really believed it. But when it came time for him to get the funding for his voyage to America it was an insanely ballsey maneuver. Here was a guy who very little experience, he had some captaining experience but why would he be the one to lead this very expensive and very adventurous voyage to try and find a passage to the east? He convinced an incredible number of people that he was royalty and he was born to accomplish this and it became a self fulfilling prophecy.

So the idea is, how you feel about yourself is going to be projected so why not feel that you were destined for something interesting and destined for something great?

In fact you are. I make the case in “Mastery” everybody is born unique, that your DNA and configuration of your brain will never occur again in the history of the universe. That uniqueness that you have is manifested in things that you are drawn to, certain activities such as sports or business. The more deeply you go into bringing that uniqueness to play, the more creative you are with it, the more power you will have. It’s the secret to every successful person. So you are destined for something but you’re not feeling it or believing it.

If you become aware of how your attitude is toward yourself, how you think about who you are and what you were meant to do is really going to affect how people perceive you. I think that translates to a product you have, to how much confidence you have in it, to your own level of self belief.

Yesterday I was doing this mass consulting where people could come in for half an hour and tell me about their business idea and I could give them criticism. I did it for about 20 people over a course of about 6 hours and I could tell those people who really had a high level of belief who really felt like this was something great. I knew they were going to succeed. Their idea might fail but they would get back on their feet and they’ll make it happen on the second round. I’m trying to make you aware of your level of self belief is intimately connected with what is going to end up happening to you in life.
Joey Bushnell: If we get this wrong and we seem weak do you think others will pounce on that and people may take advantage?

Robert Greene: Very much so, but from my experience yesterday where these were a lot of people who were all trying to get funding for their ideas and they ranged from fashion start ups to tech start ups and the game at that level is getting funding and going in to meetings. To me I was trying to say that an approach where you lay a vision of what you are going to create is the most important thing you are doing. It’s not about being charming or having a good smile or what you wear. It’s about the nuts and bolts of your idea. But if you believe in it you’re going to create a much stronger vision of what this is going to be like and your tone of voice will communicate so many things.

The thing that people do when they don’t believe in themselves that I’ve discovered in my years of experience is that they are vague. If your actual not believing that what you are going to do is successful you come into a meeting wishy washy, half explaining what’s going to happen, a lot of wishes are in there and you’re vague for a reason because you don’t really believe in it, you haven’t put enough thought into it.

The fact that you believe in it is read in the fact that you have thought it through deeply because you believe in it so much you are willing to put in that detailed work. You’re wiling to connect A to B to C to D. I can read that in people right away, I can distinguish in those meetings between the people who believe and those who don’t by the amount of detail they can give me about their ideas.

I don’t know if I can explain it any better but I’ve been going through this for years and I have a book by Paul Graham who is the creator of Y Combinator and he has a school in Silicon Valley that trains people for tech start ups and he takes a cut of their business if they are successful. His business now is worth over $5billion. Things like “Air bnb” have come out of his incubator school. He’s interviewed 10,000 people who want to get into the school he’s got the same set of criteria, he can tell right away those people who don’t truly believe in it by their vagueness.

The key to success in any kind of start up is your level of persistence. It’s not so much your intellect. The Zuckerburg’s, Pages and Brins, that succeed have such a level of belief in what they are doing that they will put up with the kind of crap that most people won’t put up with, they are incredibly persistent and resilient. You can read that on people. I can read that right away when they come in for a meeting.
( Robert Greene in interviews)

Recreate Yourself

Law 25 is “Recreate yourself” why is it a good idea to recreate yourself?

Robert Greene: A lot of the 48 laws of power have to do with appearances on the game of appearances. Unfortunately or fortunately I don’t know, it’s just a fact of human nature we tend to judge people on what we can see. We don’t really go and take the time to imagine what’s beneath the facade. So a lot of our judgements are based on the facade or mask that people present, it’s a kind of theatre going on.

If you’re not careful people will judge you based on these appearances and they will pigeon hole you that this is the person that you are. Your shy, your aggressive, your this type or that type and you lose the control of the dynamic, they become the ones that determine who you are. A powerful person never loses control of the dynamic they are in someway in control. Not completely, that’s impossible, but they have more control than other people. So the ability to control your image, to how people think about you is extremely powerful.

It can apply to you as an individual or your brand, and many other things. The fact that you’re letting time go by and that one image sets into people’s minds is very dangerous. You want to have the ability and power to recreate who you are, to say “I’m not exactly what you thought. I’m capable of a new style. I’m adapting to the times, I’m going to surprise you and you don’t have me figured out 100%. There are elements of my character that are going to surprise you” that’s very powerful.

I can give examples like artists such as Pablo Picasso who changed his style every 6 or 8 years. Looking back at it now it almost seems like he was insane but at the time, and still today, it is his very powerful recreation of his artistic powers that also revived him creatively. It made people think that they could never quite figure this man out, he was almost like a god like figure. He’s one step ahead of the game, that’s how you want to approach it.

It’s good to have a brand that is consistent that people know about and trust. But it’s also good to mix it up and adapt it, to polish it a bit and give it a new aspect. To not violate the reputation you’ve established but give it a new edge and veneer to show other aspects that people hadn’t suspected. I want you to be aware of the fact that things can get stale and it’s a very dangerous thing to lose control of that dynamic and you need to be in fact controlling it to some degree.
( Robert Greene in interviews)

law 13 is “When asking for help, appeal to a persons self interest never to their mercy or self gratitude”, why would you recommend this?

law 13 is “When asking for help, appeal to a persons self interest never to their mercy or self gratitude”, why would you recommend this?

Robert Greene: I think it’s pretty self evident. I think almost everybody would understand that concept and it’s simply the fact that we all to some degree have a high level of self interest. We’re selfish to some degree, that’s not a criticism and it doesn’t mean that we are all narcissists. But in any situation our minds naturally evolve to what’s in it for me? How does this affect me? Can this benefit me? Can this harm me? Then we might move on from that and have a more altruistic point of view about things but that’s almost always our initial response.

A lot of people in business mistake that they think people are naturally altruistic or that they are thinking on your terms or that your interests are converging. I’m trying to make you aware of the fact that you’re not thinking about the other person in most cases. You’re not putting yourself in their shoes, thinking about your client, thinking about their needs, their interests, what they want or what they are going to get out of it. 99% of the time you are projecting onto them your own emotions, what you want them to think and to believe. It’s very dangerous, I’m trying to tell you that you need to stop that, you need to think of what their self interest is in any situation. That can be on an individual level if you’re asking your boss for a promotion. It could be on a marketing level, what it is exactly that your audience wants, what their needs are and what they are looking for.

In “The 50th Law” I have a chapter on the closer you get to your audience, the more actual feedback you have to the fact that you are almost one with them, the more powerful you will be in marketing, in all aspects of business and how 50 was absolutely brilliant at that. Once you have that intimate close personal relationship to your customers and clients and you can think inside their skin, you have incredible power and you will naturally know what their self interest is.

In any situation in business you must stop yourself and say “Am I projecting on to them what I want?” then go back and say “What is their self interest?”. To me it’s pretty self evident but a lot of people violate it.

Joey Bushnell: Absolutely, like you mentioned in marketing it’s the first step. If you are selling a product you ask what does the target market want? Why would they buy this?

Robert Greene: But there’s new answers to that because as I said every one is sort of aware of that but they don’t practice it. You’d be surprised how insidious our selfishness is in the sense that how we can convince ourselves that this is what the other person is thinking and how often what we think they want is converging with what we want.

It really is almost like an intellectual exercise you must go through and even go to the opposite extreme saying “That person who I’m trying to influence is actively going to resist what I want. They don’t have my same interests” and go through a process where you are really trying to see the world from their point of view, and why they don’t want your product is to me a way to apply this law.

Why it is important for us to know laws of Power

Why do you think it is important for us to know the 48 laws of power?

Robert Greene: I lightly touched on it earlier in the sense that these are the laws that a lot of people operate by. Now I’m not saying everybody does but it tends to work out like a mathematical ratio that if you have a group of ten people you are almost inevitably going to find at least one or two people who are using a lot of the more overt laws of power, the more manipulative ones. You can’t disengage yourself from that game if you are completely unaware of what people out there might be doing, you’re just going to be tripped up, you’re going to find yourself continually at a disadvantage.

If you are armed with knowledge, if you are aware that certain dynamics are at play then you have options. You can play defense, you can ignore that person and take the consequences perhaps with a game plan in mind and it goes on, you’ve increased your options. So I think you need to be aware of these laws.It doesn’t make you paranoid, it doesn’t mean you are now going to become a bad person or an asshole, it just means you are going to be more aware.

To give you an example law number 1 is “Never outshine the master“. I made it law number 1 because it’s so common, it happened to me a couple of times. Basically the law is, if you’re in a subordinate position of some sort and pretty much all of us are at some point in our lives, your general tendency is to try and impress the people above you or person above you so well that they will like you, keep you or maybe promote you. In the process of doing that you are not aware that that person above has insecurities and if you try so hard they may see that you are after their job or that you are better than they are or they might envy the fact you are younger. On and on, they may have insecurities and if you are not aware of them you could end up being fired, demoted or not promoted and not even aware of what is happening.

So there is nothing to be lost by knowing about that dynamic, having that kind of awareness could save you years of misery of being fired from a job and not knowing why. It doesn’t mean that you have to continually flatter and not assert yourself, may I make it clear that is not what this is about. But being aware that the people above you have egos and insecurities, I don’t see a single person on the planet who couldn’t benefit from being aware of that.( Robert Greene in interviews)

Open ended stories for Audience engagement

Robert Bruce: Chapter 6, it seems like a smaller, tactical thing as opposed to a larger strategy but you talk about insinuation. You mentioned just a moment ago about dropping hints and planting seeds long before you can expect any kind of return on the efforts that you’re putting in.

We see this all the time in great marketing and advertising campaigns. Apple is phenomenal about this; their famous secrecy leading up to launches of new products, new software. Can you point to a way maybe a writer can use insinuation to connect with readers more deeply?

How to connect your readers with your words more deeply

Robert Greene: It really depends on the medium. Let’s back up and explain a little bit of the philosophy behind it and then go from there. The idea is in any kind of seduction, you want to engage the other person’s willpower. That will pertain on any level; political, marketing, sexual. If you’re just pushing someone around and telling them to do this or that; we’re naturally resistant, stubborn people that like to listen to ourselves.

But if you engage their willpower where they think the idea that popped up in their head is their own, when in fact it really came from you, suddenly you’re in a whole different league. They think it was their thought. Their willpower is engaged and they’re now completely open to any kind of maneuver.

So in my writing, if I’m going to come back to your question, I like to make the stories sort of open-ended and make it so that I bait them in a way where you can relate them to your boss. I’m talking about Louis XIV but that really sort of applies to my boss, or my girlfriend.

When you do that, then their imagination is engaged. You want the person on the other end to be thinking on their own, imagining, taking your words and moving with them.

That’s the whole game of seduction right there.
Robert Bruce: So there’s a time to be very specific, obviously. But you’re saying that there is great power in not being overt?

Robert Greene: Specific can be good in marketing. Giving people facts and figures about what your product can do. That’s sort of the old school way. For me, sometimes I think it’s quite effective. In the seduction, I really don’t recommend the specific approach as far as a sexual or a political seduction. I don’t think you have much to gain.

You want to create mystery, an air of fantasy. You want people to imagine and project their own ideas on to what you’re doing or saying. In marketing something, even in marketing a political figure, a business person or a public figure, you want people to start projecting on to that person and see whatever you want them to see in him or her.

You can’t be too vague, and then it falls apart. It’s a very difficult strategy. But being too
specific creates a sense of familiarity with what you’re showing people and then the seduction circuit, the electricity, is cut off at that point when people think they know exactly what you’re talking about.
( Author Robert Greene in interviews)

Channeling the emotions

You stressed in the preface of the 48 laws of power the importance of mastering your emotions; how can a person learn to perfect that skill?

 Emotions play a vital role in our success. It is not about repressing them, a futile task that will make you miserable. It is about channeling the energy that comes from emotions in a productive way. You learn how to use anger to fuel you, instead of consume you. You use excitement about a subject to inspire you, instead of continually searching for some new entertainment. In the book I compare it to the horse and the rider. The horse is your emotions, your animal energy, your libido. The rider is your mind, your conscious mind. If you simply let the horse run amok, which is what happens to many people, then you have no self-control and end up in all kinds of weird dead ends and traps in life. As the rider, you are in control of your emotions, not the other way around. I use certain feelings to inspire me and give me energy, but I remain in control and always aware. I wrote a whole chapter on this subject, so I ask you to wait a year or two to read this. So once again, thank you so much everyone. It has been a lot of fun.
(Robert Greene in interviews)

Pattern in social intelligence

 Since social intelligence is both tricky and vital, do you have any advice for types of patterns and characteristics to look for?

Remember the following: people never do something just once. If in their past they screwed someone else over, or completely misread a situation, or displayed some paranoia, you can be sure it will recur and you might be the next target. People have patterns of behavior. That is human nature. Yes, we can change and alter ourselves, but only with effort. Most people don't like the effort. I noticed in reading this excellent bio of Howard Hughes how people kept working for him even though he had this awful track record. They thought in person he had changed. People don't usually change and rarely do something just once.
(Robert Greene in interviews)

Secret of Napoleon greatness

I recently read Napoleon: a life by Andrew Roberts. I find it interesting that in his letters Napoleon often talks about "having energy and activity" and says that "the like quality is necessary to successfully wage war". Any comments on how the analysis of Napoleon's personality influenced your own work?

I love Napoleon. What a fascinating man. Yes, he thought the secret to success and life is energy, and he felt like he had an overabundance of it. When I wrote my book on Warfare, Napoleon was to be the main character and inspiration. He is truly the Mozart of strategy. I gave myself a simple task—to figure out what made him click, why was he so superior? And in the end, I decided he was more organized than others. He amassed more information but kept it extremely well organized. He was a genius at structure, how to make the most of an army by dividing it up properly. He had a mind like a computer. He used note cards as well. Organization and creativity go hand in hand. When you know more than the opposing general and have a mind that categorize this information, you have a supreme advantage on the battlefield or in life.
( Robert Greene in interviews )

Overcoming the learning curve in difficult skill

Do you have tips for overcoming the learning curve in difficult skills? Anything to bolster motivation?

I go into that in depth in "Mastery", on the chapter on the Apprenticeship. There are ways to master any skill. The story I tell in that chapter about the fighter pilot Rodriguez explains the idea. You have to arrange so that you can see some progress in the short term. Some skills can be divided into sub-skills that are easier to master. You have to arrange it so that with these sub-skills you see weekly progress. You cannot expect to be Rafael Nadal after a week of playing tennis, but you can see progress every day in your serve, in your footwork. Something like that. But read that chapter please.
(Author Robert Greene) 

Radical Realism -3

Host: I think there will be plenty of questions. Let’s see some and we also have, since Casper sent out a page before, there is even some anonymous questions. We may get to them. Why don’t we take . . .
Audience Member: All right. You sort of wound up talking about happiness. Would you say that you are happy?
Robert: Me? Me personally? Well, it is a weird thing of language to have a word like happiness. When your reality in the day is for three minutes you are happy and then for three minutes you are anxious. Then you get a phone call. Happiness never lasts for three days, I’m happy. You know? But overall, I’m very lucky and very blessed with my lifestyle in being able to write these books. So if I had to say am I happier than I was? Yes, I’m much happier than I was before I had a success as a writer.
Audience Member: So I have to ask. You know how to control men and do you know how to control women, God bless you. But . . .
Robert: I don’t know about the latter.
Audience Member: But what makes the good life?
Robert: The good life?
Audience Member: Is it power?
Robert: Yes, because with power comes a degree of freedom. Now, everybody is an individual. Some people like a position of dependence, and they feel happiest when there is somebody taking care of them. But, ultimately, I’m not happy with that because I know that that person will eventually withdraw their support. That unless this is someone who I am going to live with my whole life, that’s a different question, that eventually I am going to be left alone. And that dependency, that love or happiness that came from someone else, I can’t really 100 percent depend on it. I want to be able to have it depend on something that comes from within. Even to love somebody, even if you are going to live with them, is almost a skill that you have to develop, and it has to come from within.
And the only thing that is of value is something that you develop yourself through your life experiences, through maybe some hard times where you learn how to seduce. You learn how to compromise. You learn how to be in a relationship and how to love. And then once you have that skill or whatever you want to call it, then nobody can take it away from you and you have power and you have freedom and a degree of happiness. I don’t know if I answered your question.
Audience Member: But what would be the intrinsic goodness be? What is your intrinsic end of the power?
Robert: Well, there is no end. Because we die and what can I say? That is the absurd human condition that we have. You can accumulate millions, all the money in the world and all the beautiful women and then it’s gone at some point. So I don’t know what your question would be.
Audience Member: Those people that opt out of your system, can they not keep happiness because they don’t have that liberty.
Robert: Well, I think that it is hard to gauge, and you can’t put a number on it. But I think people who are depressed are often depressed because they have no control over their lives. They have no control over their destiny. They feel helpless. They feel like at work they might lose their job any moment now. It’s a terrible feeling. They feel that their children aren’t listening to them. The man or woman that they want to have a relationship with isn’t listening to them. That sense of helplessness, to me, is the worst feeling in the world.
Obviously there is a quote you’ve all heard of. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Malcolm X had a comeback to that line that I like a lot more. He said, absolute powerlessness corrupts even more than that. I’m not quoting it correctly. But the sense of being powerless is much worse, more debilitating on the human spirit, than the few people who are corrupted by having power. I still don’t know if I’ve answered your question.
Host: Well I wonder whether part of your question is, what do you use the power for? Is power the end that you are searching for? Or are there things you actually care about trying to use, to make sense to bother to have power for?
Robert: Well, it’s interesting.
Host: I’m not sure if that’s your question, but that’s mine.
Robert: No, I didn’t, that’s my fault, I didn’t understand. Well, let’s say, I could talk about myself. The pleasure that comes for me is in writing a book and in writing the book well, in spending a lot of time getting it right and understanding the real world as it is, the power game, the seduction game, whatever, and then creating a book that goes out in the real world. Half the game of life is doing something that you love and engaging with it deeply.
It is your study. It is your field. It is whatever you produce. But that is only half of it. Because if you don’t understand the social part, then the book that I write, if I don’t know how to deal with people, and I don’t understand human nature, and I can’t market my book, and my editor hates me, and my agent doesn’t know how to work with me, I could love my book. But it won’t get out there. It won’t get published. It won’t have success. And I won’t be happy.
The end in life is doing your work that you love and feeling satisfaction. But my experience is that a lot of people in this world are talented, and they don’t succeed because they don’t understand that there is this other side of life — the power game, the Machiavellian game. They fail at it. They might be a great painter, a great musician, a great business idea. But we are never going to hear of them because they don’t understand this.
To answer your question, the end is the satisfaction that you get with your work. For me. But that can only come with a larger understanding of the social component.
Host: That is interesting because you succeeded in a way, with these goals, because you were powerless. At least in the vignette that you gave that was your own experience. You couldn’t accomplish what you wanted to.
Robert: Right.
Host: That started getting you to think about how do you accomplish it?
Robert: That’s right.
Host: That has now put you where you feel like you have accomplished it, which is right. For you, somehow that experience with this extreme powerlessness . . .
Robert: Right.
Host: . . . that became the focus of your book.
Robert: Yeah.
Host: And what you cared about getting.
Robert: And not to compare myself to 50, because I can’t. But it was the same thing with him. When he was shot, he was very depressed. Nearly died. He was sitting in bed. He can’t talk anymore. He can’t sing anymore. He can’t go back to the streets hustling, because they are going to kill him. The record label dropped him. He experienced extreme powerlessness. And out of that he analyzed what it was that he needed to do and then he re-emerged. So maybe there is something to what you are saying.
Audience Member: You said earlier that it’s only when we step out of Yale that we will see this other dark, the other side and beneath all this Machiavellian strategy. But we will be stepping out into society. Yale is a society. Now why is it different? Like you say, here is a place where there is no need for that. And you are blinded
Robert: At a university, let’s say your goal, more or less, is to graduate with a very high GPA, as high as possible and land a really great job, perhaps, out of this. To get those high grades, do you need to have Machiavellian skills? Usually not. Usually, I mean, professors can be, they are not immune to favoritism, to being emotional. So there is a degree of seduction and charm going on. You could charm your professor perhaps. But more or less, you are being graded on what you’ve accomplished.
That’s how life should be, and I wish it were that way. I wish talent and getting answers right and doing a great essay, I wish that was the whole component. That would be a beautiful world if it could be like that. But it is not how it operates.
All I am saying is, the element of ego and gamesmanship and politicking, how much does that enter into your goal of success at the university? I don’t think it is as much, nearly as much, as one experiences in the real world. In fact, the university, and I could be wrong here, but, in fact, it tends to breed the opposite idea, which is why I think so many people suffer in life. It breeds the idea that just doing a good job and getting the good grades and succeeding is what will translate into power in the world. And actually, learning that that is not the case 100 percent can be quite traumatic. I don’t know.
Audience Member: Is it not interesting that a Yale graduate could go out and be involved in positions of power, as you might call it.
Robert: How do you mean?
Audience Member: After graduation, as I said, those people involve in society and they are doing well because of the character of the education that they got over here.
Robert: Well, the education is extremely valuable, and I don’t mean to devalue it at all. It is extremely valuable. The skills that you learn, the analytical skills, the knowledge that you gain will be very valuable. But it is just part of it. And maybe your connections at Yale and the degree, it’s has a lot of weight to it. It can lead to a good job. But then you are on your own. Your interpersonal, political skills were not developed at Yale.
There is a university called CalArts in California. I have friends who have gone there. Very interesting place. It was a school that was formed in the sixties, essentially, and basically it is an arts school. They discerned that the art world, there is no more political, crabby, competitive, mean-spirited world than the art world. Because what makes a great work of art or film is very subjective. So there is a lot of politicking. And they created this university to literally train their students to be good at that. They created this thing where you had to learn how to deal with your professors and deal with the politicking and talk about your work in a way that would charm and seduce. And actually develop the kind of political skills that you are going to need when you later go into the art world. That is kind of a unique thing for a university, and a very interesting idea.
Audience Member: You talk about the importance of expressing individuality. What if following your own ideals means that you have to separate yourself from the crowd. Which one would you say is more important? Is it being unique or being able to mix?
Robert: Well, they don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. And I didn’t get to go into my idea in as much depth as I would like to. I don’t mean that the moment you graduate Yale, you dye your hair green and you start doing something really wild because that is just who you are. That’s ridiculous. And it is often not really who you are. It is just because you are trying to rebel and be different. It is more subtle than that. For instance, we all have to serve an apprenticeship in life. So once you graduate Yale, you are going to go work for some high powered law firm or Wall Street or wherever you go. I don’t know.
You are not going to have the luxury of suddenly not fitting in and being so weird and different. You are not going to last very long if you do that. You have to be able to take your time and fit into the culture that’s created and find your place in it. But the problem is that that ends up becoming the end in life. You end up becoming a kind of person that only knows how to fit in, hat only knows how to fit into that particular culture. And if you do that long enough, and now you are there and you are 30 years old and that is the only thing you have ever learned to do, you are afraid to step away from that. You are afraid to express something unique about yourself.
You have to, when you are in your apprenticeship, in those first years working at that high powered firm, you have to be constantly waiting for that moment when you are going to do something different. You have to cultivate your own individuality, your own self-reliant skills. People who now, particularly in business, who are successful, are creating really unique kinds of business. There are new models being created every day. You are having to think about, that is the end game in life. I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to create my own business.
You can do that from within a large corporation, that apprenticeship phase, while you are learning about the world and you are preparing for that moment when you are going to step out on your own. But all I am saying is if you end up becoming the kind of person that only knows how to fit into a corporate culture, that is going to be the end of it. That is as far as you are ever going to go. And if that is what you want, then that’s fine. But power lies in a slightly different direction.
Host: So let me ask one of the written in questions, and then maybe we’ll have time for two more after that. People talk about the importance of charm and charisma. How can these traits be defined? And do you have to be born with them? And I assume implied in the latter question is what do I have to do to get it? How do I learn to be charming and charismatic? Or can I?
Robert: The answer to your question is you have to read “The Art of Seduction” because I explain and describe nine types of seducers in the world. One of them is the charmer, and one of them is the charismatic. They are different people. They are different types. Usually charmers are not charismatic. Usually charismatics are not necessarily charmers. They are almost not the same.
Charismatics are people who have a tremendous need to get love from the world. They don’t want love from one person. They want it from an audience. They often come from backgrounds that are a little bad. They didn’t have happy childhoods. So, to sublimate this need for affection and love, they turn to a large group. They become charismatic on a political, on a global level. They become a Mahatma Gandhi, a John F. Kennedy. All charismatics are burning with a mission, with an idea that makes their whole face light up, their eyes light up with this idea that they want to convey to people. And the sense of being alive with this inner fire is what people feel this charisma.
Seduction is a non-verbal language, which is why, I know “The Art of Seduction” is written with words. But it is a language that is non-verbal. You can’t tell people you are charismatic. You can’t communicate it outwardly. They have to feel it in an animal way.
In the book, I say some people are born with charisma because they come from bad backgrounds. Like Marilyn Monroe, who was an orphan. You are not necessarily from that background, but you can learn the idea. Your inner conviction is what people feel. They see it in your hands, in your eyes.
50 has charisma. I’ve watched him. Everybody feels it around him. You have to have that inner conviction. Your whole body has to be alive with it or you are not going to have charisma. You can learn to a degree, but there is a limit unless you are born that way.
Charm is a whole, more possible realm for everyone. Charm is knowing how to please other people. There is a famous quote about a woman who said, this is about Gladstone and Disraeli, two British politicians of the 19th century who were rivals. And she said, “Sitting next to Gladstone, I thought he was the most brilliant man in the world. Sitting next to Disraeli, I thought I was the most brilliant woman in the world.”
That’s the charmer. The charmer is somebody who knows how to make the other person feel great about themself. It is a really important social skill. It means not thinking about yourself but imagining what the other person wants to hear. What their weakness is. What they need, validation. You have to be outer directed. And it is very important and very powerful and anybody can learn it. And I talk about it in the book. Seducers are not born, they are made. You may not end up becoming Cleopatra, but you can go halfway or a quarter of the way.
I’m sorry, did you want to ask another anonymous question?
Audience Member: Audience Member: You mentioned entrepreneurs. And I also heard from a lot of entrepreneurs that they say that in order to be wildly successful, you have to be prepared to wildly fail.
Robert: Yeah.
Audience Member: And does that fit into your paradigm of maintaining power?
Robert: Very much so. I’ll be looking at a lot about that in my next book. All of the most creative people are experimenters who have many failures. Einstein, who I have been reading a lot about, he said, “I measured my success by how full my wastebasket was. How many ideas I threw away meant that I was on the right track. If my wastebasket was empty, I wasn’t being creative.”
You are going to be measured by your failures, and the reason is we learn by doing. You can’t learn how to run a business, you can’t learn how to have success by reading a book. I’m afraid I’m dissuading all of you from buying my books. But, ultimately, a book has a limit. It is your own experience in doing things where you learn, “Oh, this is what connected with my audience. Oh, this is what got that guy interested in my idea.” And so you have to go out there and not be afraid of trying things. Starting a business.
They have shown entrepreneurs that, I don’t know the number, but it was like 95 percent of them, their first ventures fail. And the ones who are successful go on to a second and a third one and a fourth one. They are called serial entrepreneurs.
So you have to not be afraid of failure. You have to be the kind of person that tries things out and learn from your experiences. If you are afraid of that, it is going to be very difficult to gain the real world knowledge that you need in order to have success. So it is very important.
Audience Member: You talk a lot about personal characteristics like charisma, aggressiveness, etc. But, you know, 50 Cent wouldn’t have been able to sell that mixed tape if the environment wasn’t ready for it. And there is that French minister who survived from the French Revolution all the way through Napoleon and after.
Robert: Oh, Fouchet?
Audience Member: Yeah, Fouchet. Just the ebbs and flows and trends. What do you think about, aside from personal charisma and characteristics at all, about the natural way that opportunities and political opinions sway with the times?
Robert: Well, it’s a good question because a lot of people will say, they will look at a Clinton or a Barack Obama and they’ll say, “What makes them so brilliant or how do they succeed in an election?”
A lot of it, a good degree is luck. You come on the world stage at the right time. So there is always a degree of luck in anybody’s success. I met this man in Italy. If I hadn’t met him in 1995, I still might be slaving away in some cubicle in Hollywood and you would never have heard of me. I had the luck to meet this man. But the difference is everybody has luck. Everybody, something happens to you. It is just what do you do with it? Are you the kind of person that recognizes the opportunity?
When Barack Obama was first deciding to run for presidency, it happened to be a lucky moment. This was probably the only moment where he could have won an election given his background. But he was the one that recognized this was the moment and I am going to seize it, when everybody was telling him, “You are not ready to run. You need to wait four more years.” And he said, “No. I see this is the opportunity.” So what separates people in life are, a good thing will happen to you and you let it pass. You know?
If you are an opportunist, which I talk about in “The 50th Law,” you recognize that opportunity has come, and you work like a fiend in order to make it happen. When this man gave me an opportunity to write “The 48 Laws of Power,” I worked night and day, my birthday, Christmas, 365 days a year until 1:00 in the morning. I was not going to let go of my one opportunity in life. And that is, to me, what separates people who take an opportunity like that and others who let it slip by.
Host: So let me make a comment and then get your reactions and then I think we’ll finish up. I know when I first started looking at some of what you wrote, and hearing you today, it would be easy to take much of what you say as instructions for how to use other people. How to get them to do your bidding. And there is clearly a way in which a bunch of the laws are written, that way. That is a very instrumental view of other people. How do I turn them into a means for me to accomplish something?
Also, though, mixed into, as you have talked and as we talked earlier, there had a sense that some of what you are really interested in is something that say, some of the psychologists here and our provost here have studied, which is emotional intelligence. How do I understand how other people think and what moves them? And what their emotional state is. And how my actions will interact with theirs. And that having some honed emotional intelligence might put me in a position to be able to accomplish things that I want but also be attuned to what they want. And not necessarily treat them as minions, but treat them as their own independent entities. So I was wondering how you think about those tensions?
Robert: Yeah. It becomes tricky, because if you are thinking about them deeply and their own needs, where is the distinction for them becoming a means to it? What are you trying to accomplish? If you are trying to, for instance, forge a political organization where people are all on the same page with a sense of mission and you need to be sensitive to the kinds of people that will join your group, and you are aware of their own needs and the fact that they are an individual. But, on the other hand, you are bringing them into the group and you have a mission you are trying to accomplish. What separates them from being a means or an instrument and also being attuned to their individuality and what their separateness is? Why does it have to be mutually exclusive?
Host: I don’t know that they are.
Robert: Oh, okay.
Host: I don’t know that they are. But I do think that the focus on what’s that other person’s interest and what would really matter to that person and how might we both be able to accomplish what we both care about? To get our goals in alignment. We go back to where you ran to, the difficulty that you talked about.
Robert: Right.
Host: The boss who was squashing you. Was there another way than just to say, “Well, never outshine my boss.” But to think, well, I shouldn’t outshine her. How do I bring her over?’
Robert: Yes.
Host: But then it aligns with we both want to create these stories.
Robert: In the book, “The 48 Laws of Power,” I talk about how you do not outshine people and get them. But then it gets very Machiavellian. It is a good point because people mistake my books for being purely about how to use people. And it is all kind of selfish.
But, particularly in “The Art of Seduction,” I make the point that you are not going to get far unless you are the kind of person that knows how to think inside the other person’s mind. And that requires a totally different kind of personality. Where you have to not be so self-absorbed. Where you can think inside of other people and what their interests are and what is going to appeal to them. That is the secret to being successful as a politician or a businessperson or in any kind of relationship. And I go as deeply into that as I can. But not many people recognize that, because they only see the element of using other people for what you want.

Host: Yeah. Well, that is what I was aware of.
Robert: Right.
Host: You do have that component, but it may not be the most visible.
Robert: Yeah.
Host: I wanted to thank you very much.
Robert: Oh, thank you very much. Thank you.

(Robert Greene talk at yale)


Part -3