Robert Greene’s Speech at Yale | Theory Of Mind | Mind

Robert Greene’s Speech at Yale

Posted on December 3, 2010 by Robert Greene Below is the transcript of a speech Robert did at Yale in October along with the Q&A that followed. For those of you who would prefer to listen to an mp3 of the speech, you can do that here. Host: Welcome everybody. So, it’s a pleasure to have all of you here, and a particular pleasure to welcome our honored guest, Robert Greene. He is, well, you are all here, so I think you probably know a lot about his books, his writings. I’ll state just a few words. He has trained in classical literature. And then had a very shifting career for some early period of his post-college life. And then settled in to write a series of extremely fascinating books that draw on the classical training and readings that he did. The books that the lives and writings of a number of the major figures. He’s written about power, about seduction, about war. With that background, of course, it is not surprising that he also made a wonderful connection with the hip-hop crowd. He became a guru of them for a while. He set up a collaboration with them. We were talking beforehand, it is clear that he enjoyed that collaboration. And it is not bad to be a guru, from what he said. But, it also achieved some of his other aims about who he was hoping to help empower. I thought what we would do is, after we give him a big applause for welcome, I will ask him to say a bit about himself and what he is working on, and then we will open it up for questions. But, why don’t we start with giving him a nice, warm welcome. Robert: Is it better if I stand or if I sit? Or what is the protocol? Host: Whatever is comfortable. Robert: Okay. Host: It is informal. You’re welcome to sit. Robert: Well, I come from Los Angeles. I was actually born in Los Angeles. And I don’t mean to disparage California, or Los Angeles, particularly, or any of the people from there. But I will say that the IQ levels in a place like that are generally a little bit lower than what I find here. So, I’m actually a little bit intimidated by all of these very smart people here. So, I’m a little bit nervous. I hope you understand. Basically, I started writing back in 1996. I’ve been writing my whole life. But I met somebody, we were in Italy together at the same time, working on a project, and it was a really awful Machiavellian environment, in Italy, if you can imagine that. And all of these terrible political games were being played. And we were just miserable and depressed. This was actually 1995. He was a book packager and he asked me if I had any ideas for books. And all of this pain that I had been through in the work world with all of these political, conniving figures, it just came up out of me. It was a beautiful day in Venice, Italy, and I sort
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of improvised this idea for a book, and he loved it. He basically paid me to live while I wrote “The 48 Laws of Power”. And that’s where it started. For 15 to 16 years, I’ve had this weird position in life that I don’t know how many other people have had where I have been able to devote all of my attention to studying what I consider to be the most powerful, charismatic, successful, Machiavellian characters in history and contemporary figures, like, 50. I may not be good at many things. I can’t build things with my hands or anything like that. But I have this one expertise — why some people excel, why some people are superior in the political game or in their creativity or whatever it is. In figuring out what I wanted to talk to you about today, I was talking with Casper, who I want to thank for helping to organize this. There is sort of a philosophy that all of these figures that I’ve studied share. And I am often asked, or people say, “I want to become powerful. What’s the secret to it?” I don’t believe in that kind of glib four sentence or one book answer about how to be powerful. But there is an attitude towards life, a way of looking at things, a way of thinking that all of these people that I have been studying they all share this way of looking at the world. It is what I call radical realism. And the reason I call it radical is, realism has this idea of just understanding the world and it sort of has a cynical, sometimes an edge to it. I want the idea of really, deeply understanding what life is about, how people operate in this world. And not only being realistic and understanding it, but accepting in a very deep way that this is what the world is like and actually loving it and embracing it and working with reality. All of these figures from 50 Cent and Napoleon Bonaparte to Cleopatra to John F. Kennedy, I believe they all share this kind of attitude. So, I am going to talk, hopefully not too long, because I really want to get to your questions, and I encourage you to barrage me with all kinds of difficult questions. I want to talk about three aspects of this attitude. The first is, what I call, Machiavellian realism or the Machiavellian reality. The second is existential reality, what it really means to be a human being. The third is what I call aesthetic realism. My idea is that to the degree that you accept these realities in life, you are going to be successful and powerful. And to the degree that you deny them and you avoid them and you hate them and you are miserable about them and you try and run away, you are not going to have success in life. So, the first one, as I said, is what I call our Machiavellian reality. There is a concept that lately fascinates me that I have been using for my next book. It is a term called Machiavellian intelligence. And it is something that came about in the sixties and seventies, where various scientists, people studying the brain, they are trying to understand why is it that the human brain is so much larger than anything else we have in nature? How did this happen? Why did our brains develop in this way so rapidly and become so much more complex than any other animal on the planet? And they basically went back to primates. Unless you believe in creationism, our ancestors. Basically, primates are the other animal that have this exceptionally large brain. A brain that
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seems to be in excess of their needs. To explain why our brains developed in this way, they looked at primates, and they came up with a really fascinating theory called Machiavellian intelligence. The gist of it is the following. What makes primates different from any other animal is that they live in very complex social environments. There are other animals, like wolves, etc., that live in packs, that have hierarchies, the alpha male, etc. But primates, and I’m talking about chimps, baboons, orangutans, that whole group, have a much deeper, a much more complex social organization. They have rituals of grooming, where they groom each other for hours upon hours during the day, forming all kinds of friendships and alliances. They remember these friendships and these alliances over the space of 10, 20 years. The other thing that primates have that is so bizarre and interesting is that they are the only animal we know that practice deception and games of manipulation among each other. There is no other animal on the planet that we can say that about. So, they label primates as the Machiavellian creature, the Machiavellian animal. They have shown colonies of monkeys, for instance, in Puerto Rico, where they do a lot of studies, incredible games of manipulation that are going on among these little, small communities. One of the discoveries that they have in looking at these primates is that they possess a power that is known as the theory of mind. Now I don’t know if you are familiar with this concept. But, basically, it is the idea that only humans or primates have a concept where I can think about, perhaps, what is going on in your mind right now. Most animals can only judge another creature based on its outward behavior about what they are doing, about the threat that they, perhaps, represent. But a human and a primate has the capacity to actually, literally imagine, and I am pointing to you, because I am thinking about you right there. What is it exactly that is going on in your brain right now? What are you thinking? What are you thinking right now? Now they have discovered that primates actually possess this theory of mind. It is related to something called mirror neurons. I am not going to get too technical with you here. I am not a neuroscientist myself. But, basically, mirror neurons is this fascinating phenomenon where if I pick up this telephone, my cell phone, they can look on a map of my brain and see that certain neurons are firing when I actually pick up this phone. If I watch him pick up the phone, the same neurons are firing. It is called mirror neurons. So, basically, this allows me to learn by imitation. I can experience what you are doing with picking up that phone as if I, almost, myself, were feeling that. This allows humans and primates to understand and to put themselves in the mind of another person. This allows for all kinds of complicated social behavior. It allows for us to be empathetic creatures, to cooperate. But it also allows for very deep levels of deception, manipulation, con games, whatever you want to call it. Because the moment I know what you are thinking or I can imagine what your intentions are, I can strategize. I can play all kinds of games. I can try to distract you, deceive you, etc. So they have shown that monkeys, for instance, possess these mirror neurons. That chimpanzees possess this ability of theory of mind. And from all of this stems all of this incredible Machiavellian behavior. So the theory, to bring this all back to it, of Machiavellian
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I had no idea of how things operated in the real world. We were the first animal that actually hunted big game. It is who we are. what we have to learn in how to get along with other people. This Machiavellian intelligence. what I call our social reality. you are suddenly blindsided by this whole realm that exists. deception. When you enter the real world. to evolve beyond it. the idea is that we humans. and a historian would be very offended with how I am doing this. in politics. An animal normally is only dealing with its physical environment. cooperation. what are known as homo erectus. who have to deal with thousands of thousands of people living in communities. at least as far as I know. There is no way to deny that. I worked at Esquire magazine and a few others. in the course of 20 years or 80 years. People will talk about their sex lives. I just wanted to interject into this idea my own personal story. So. us. That you can’t divorce the games that we have to play. It is 40 million years of evolution starting from primates back then to who we are now. involved all kinds of complicated organization. But primates are dealing with their social environment. that whole element that goes into what is known as Machiavellian intelligence. We formed larger and larger groupings. with a classical background. I was immersed in studying philosophy and literature and languages. this is my definition of that first basic reality. in business. It is like our dirty little secret. and I’m skipping over millions of years of history. And our earliest ancestors have this inheritance in them. This is very much who we are. through this concept. I had graduated. There is nobody here at Yale teaching a class on how to be Machiavellian in the world or how to handle that kind of environment.intelligence is that the reason primate brains developed so rapidly is in dealing with this very complicated social environment. Primates started evolving. So if you map out very rapidly. And it is in dealing with the social problems and dealing with fellow chimpanzees and what they are thinking that the brain had to develop very rapidly in a very small period of time. So. So. the reason why we have evolved so rapidly.com/ Page 4 of 36 . you can’t divorce that from our other forms of intelligence. And we have the first. You’ll get Dr. 40 million years ago. by our nature. why we are so smart is that we are inherently social creatures. There is no way to. essentially in magazines. there is nobody out there who really talks about this. the Machiavellian animal. And in creating. Ruth here. and I was very much shocked by all of the egos and the http://powerseductionandwar. We are. or the Machiavellian reality. When I got out of college and I suddenly was confronted with this real world. And so when I started working. Now. in our workplace. we’ll go through all of that. but you would see an incredible increase in this social complexity over millions of years leading up to a modern era where a person who is raised as a human being in our environment is not simply dealing with a group of 20 people and having to figure out how to navigate in that world. as he mentioned. But nobody talks about all of these power games that are constantly going on in the world. in government. There are not many books written about it. we humans diverged from that. being able to hunt something like that. But you are talking about people. All of the deep levels of manipulation. Some six million years ago. why we are so clever. modern primates as we know them.

the job was that I had to find stories that would then be put into either film or a magazine. she just didn’t like me? I think I’m a likable person. You have an attitude problem. I am not going to tell you which job this was. And I went home. that theory of mind. I do my work. I don’t think I do. what is it that I’m doing that is displeasing her? I am clearly producing. She still seemed really cold and kind of mean. So. over the course of the next few weeks she just started kind of torturing me about this idea that I had an attitude. You are trying to get work done. I started doing that. but just talk. I thought. in doing that. And. Well. I sort of put myself in her shoes. And a couple of weeks later. But I was basically judged on how many good stories I found. Then one day we are having a meeting in which we are discussing our ideas. So that was strategy number two. of course. Maybe I need to be nice to her. all right. “No. What happened here? What did I do wrong? I mean. You have a problem here. insecure that maybe I was after http://powerseductionandwar. Isn’t that the most important thing? Isn’t that why we are all here? Suddenly I found that my superior. whatever.” But.com/ Page 5 of 36 . I am a very competitive person. and over the course of several weeks. “‘Robert. Law number one: Never outshine the master. Maybe didn’t like me. She just hates me. I was trying to engage with her. well. That’s just it. what the hell? I’ll just do my job. maybe I’m not being friendly enough with her. this woman. figuring that was the problem. Okay.” “I’m listening. I figured. my superior. And I’m thinking. I was doing something wrong and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I figured. I quit. basically. Maybe I need to go in and not talk about work. I mean. She was still clearly unhappy with me. Not everybody can love you. And I figured out. I had gone into this environment thinking that what mattered was doing a great job and showing how talented I was. because I just hated it. But. It really kind of disturbed me and it upset me. I was finding more stories that ended up getting produced. that didn’t seem to work. That something was wrong.” “What?” “You’re not listening to people here. I came to this conclusion. I thought. You are going to judge me about how wide my eyes are open and how I’m listening to people? She goes. in my ideas. I need to make and involve her more so she feels like she is a part of the research that I am doing. But. Still didn’t have any effect. I can remember when I was about 26 or 27 years old one particular job that was kind of the turning point in my life. That’s just life. and she suddenly interrupts. this power that we have. I mean. She says. I need to run them by her. be nice and talk like a human being. because I felt that’s the point. I had made this woman.insecurities and the game playing and the political stuff. I had violated a law of power 12 years before I ever wrote the book. who’s name I won’t mention. well.” Anyway. So in this job. I developed an attitude. I thought really deeply about it. I don’t want you Googling it and figuring out who I’m talking about.” “I’m sorry. So going on what I was mentioning. made it very clear that she wasn’t happy with me. going further. and I was doing better than anybody else there. naturally. You are trying to produce. I produce. So I would go into her office and I would tell her where my ideas were coming. I probably quit a week before they were going to fire me anyway. I started resenting her. maybe it is because I’m not involving her in what I’m doing.

the deniers.” Because that it what happened. What I decided in “The 48 Laws. I wasn’t emotionally involved. I worked in a detective agency. you are going to suffer for it. to not only observe the power games going on in the many different kinds of jobs that I’ve had.” Everything that happens is material. the passive-aggressors. It doesn’t really exist. There are three types of people in this world in dealing with this social reality. That we are social creatures. The second type of person besides the deniers are those who love this Machiavellian part of our nature and revel in it and are master manipulators. We are. They almost want to pretend that we are descended from angels and not from primates. They don’t want any kind of job in which they have to do that. I don’t care about these jobs that I get. and I could deal with things. it was kind of a turning point in my life. And I would make her look bad because the great ideas were coming from me and not from her. That we live in environments where there are all kinds of complicated networks. And I said. That is the worst thing you can do. Material for a novel. in a way. the people who deny this reality exists. I worked for film.” and it’s a very much a part of me. and that is what had happened. The other branch of the deniers are the people that are the passive-aggressors. I had violated law number one. I’m never going to get emotional. the trickiest kind of person to deal with. now. So in reflecting over this. Material for a book. is that this is the reality that we must all deal with. Everything possible. I developed a motto. I developed “The 48 Laws of Power. and connivers and are http://powerseductionandwar. In my books. with some distance. and that motto is. because you are touching on a person’s ego and their insecurities. And I can tell you. and con artists. I worked for a music producer. You will find that they are slowly marginalized. but unconsciously are playing all kinds of games. suddenly I had power. In having this distance and looking at the world like this. I am going to watch these people as if they were mice in a laboratory. It doesn’t happen. defined by how we handle these environments. this reality. I’m a writer. I’m never going to let that happen again. From that. I’ve had jobs from working in journalism.her job or that maybe I was better than she was. I don’t care. I am just going to become a master observer of the game of power.com/ Page 6 of 36 . A motto that I still use to this day. I would classify this woman who had tortured me as a kind of a classic passive-aggressor. I often describe the many different kinds. what I call. They are never going to assume a position of great responsibility because it involves all of this. There are. you will find two types. People who consciously don’t want to admit that there is any kind of manipulation involved. Among these deniers.” when I was finally given the opportunity to write the book. You will find people who are genuinely disturbed by the politicking aspect of human nature. I had some distance. And when you violate law number one. I want to be the master observer of this world. I basically reacted emotionally to her torturing me and developed an attitude. That what I am talking about here is cynical. This suddenly allowed me. for a screenplay. “It’s all material. “I’m never going to let this happen again. They can be happy that way.

which is empathy and cooperation and seducing people and getting them to work with you. very powerful people. It is because they have spent their whole lives studying the technical side of their field. In fact. There is nothing wrong with the fact that there are seducers and con artists and it is going on all the time. which usually you will find one or two in an office or in an environment. once you leave the confines of Yale. It is who we are. They have no problem handling this part. That’s okay within reason. that’s okay. political figures. You understand what people are up to. They have figured out how to maybe win elections or how to create a kind of music. There is nothing wrong with the fact that in this world people are playing political games. fine. They are too much involved with themselves and their own ego and they love manipulating until they go too far and they have a fall in life. All I am trying to say is that in accepting it and in studying it and opening your eyes to this reality. And it goes as follows. In accepting this reality and in dealing with it and studying human nature and this aspect of what I call Machiavellian intelligence. They are brilliant at the technical side of their business. This is how we evolved over millions of years. It is that you understand they exist. It is just reality. I am going to accept that this is the human being as it has evolved over all of this time. They don’t understand the human nature.. the political games that are going on. There is a wall. with that mentality. It’s fine. And not only am I not going to deny it. and they’ve been published. but eventually they are tripped up in life because they are too Machiavellian. The third type is what I am calling the radical realist. If. occasionally. who they brought off the streets and helped and gave money to and developed is suddenly turning against them and betraying them in a very overt manner. If it is often other people are practicing them against you. It is what I am proposing that you adopt. I do all kinds of consulting work with business leaders. They haven’t spent any time understanding human nature and why some people have egos and how that kind of ego will operate in an environment like an office. Most of them are absolutely brilliant. It is just the world as it is. you have to do them. You understand the laws of power. and market it. Stop fighting it. This is the part of the game that trips up most people.very aggressive. which you will find a lot in your life. I love it. artists. They don’t understand why somebody who they groomed as a successor. they love it. They can never get past it. This type of person. suddenly with that attitude. They have figured out how to make a lot of money. and they can’t necessarily hurt you. Just accept it. They can get pretty far. you are going to suddenly find yourself 5hat there is a whole other realm of life that you are not observing. They don’t understand that there is the other side to that whole idea of theory of mind and the mirror neurons. Ever since I wrote my books. Within that accepting of it. that you are http://powerseductionandwar. This is our nature. etc. it is not that you love it and want to go out in the world and play all of these nasty games.com/ Page 7 of 36 . you have all kinds of power and freedom. In fact. But they inevitably come to me for advice because they have a blind spot. There is no point in denying it. and they haven’t spent any time observing other people.

But 50 wanted to meet me. something was happening. But at the age of about nine years old. and it wasn’t glamorous at all. he started hustling on the streets in south side Queens. The only people he could see in the hood that had power were the hustlers. No music. There was something about him that was really interesting. I was contacted by 50. The schools were really bad. He had power. I had no idea. Curtis Jackson. So he was going to become a great hustler. I am not really interested in celebrities. Jay-Z had been quoting the book and Nas had quoted one of the songs and lyrics. I’m not somebody who is generally star struck. We kind of hit it off in a very weird way. He had a kind of calmness. And in talking about his life. If you pay attention to it. To think that you are going to succeed in hustling is an illusion. So. Now I live in Los Angeles. but I was excited by that. He was a big fan of “The 48 Laws of Power. He had record labels interested in him. He had charisma. http://powerseductionandwar. There is a limit to it. And on top of that. They led to really bad jobs. and then it all faded and you were miserable and then you went back to drugs or dealing or whatever. or they are in prison for most of their lives. I decided after meeting him and spending some time with him that this guy is really different. You can’t imagine two people from two more different backgrounds in the world than he and I. A few years ago.com/ Page 8 of 36 . Nothing to listen to. The second reality I want to talk about is in context of my work with 50 Cent. suddenly the whole power game.” I had known that there was something going on in the hip-hop world. So I wanted to figure out what made him different. You just had to think about whatever.not paying attention to. he decided he was going to get out of hustling and he was going to become the only other thing he could think you could become. And about at the age of 15. which is also a bit precocious. You had no books. I began to see a pattern. It was actually quite boring. nothing to read. Why is he like this? Maybe we could learn something from him and I would express that in the book. Nine years old is kind of early to start hustling. I am going to get out. We would spend a long time talking about his life. It was so boring. He started getting reasonably successful. the whole dynamic will alter in your favor. which was a rapper. Day after day at 6:00 in the morning. So he was sitting there hustling on the streets. So now he started learning how to rap. That only suckers went into school. He did that because he realized that school was a complete dead end for somebody from his background. So you usually have a couple of years of power and success. it was a trap. Most of them die. power. I don’t know how familiar you are with this. He is really different. They bore me. you had to stand on the street corner. dealing drugs. out of the blue. Then he realized that this was yet another kind of trap. The trap was that the record label owned you and they would develop artists very quickly and then get rid of them as soon as they were not so hot anymore. very few of them live past the age of 25. So. Hustlers don’t get out of their life. But there was something about us that really clicked. and he met Jam Master Jay and he apprenticed with him. So we met. Soon he discovered that hustling wasn’t what he thought it was. They don’t interest me. but that’s what he did. Nothing would happen. So it wasn’t a celebrity thing. We decided based on this to do a book together. Just waiting for people to buy your drugs.

what defines him. From a beef that was going on. so pragmatic and so sharp in his thinking. because there was nobody there who was going to censor him and say. It was coming out of that experience that he had his own turning point in life. That is when he got shot. who he wanted to be. He had no adult supervision. maybe 19. this. I am going to create a hard sound that is going to kind of reflect the violence that I have known my whole life. why would somebody like this be so realistic. No parental support. And I decided. on the other hand he had nobody telling him who he should be. he was going to be able to be as nasty and violent and tell all kinds of stories. Because he didn’t have a record label. He had to do everything himself. but he was going to do it all on his own. He signed 50 to his record label at Interscope. being a rapper. And he got fed up with it. when a lot of his peers were not like that? A lot of his peers got totally seduced by the idea of becoming a great hustler. He refused to go for the usual traps in life. I am going to mix it myself. the reality of the streets. in this case. To have power in that world was extremely difficult. He saw through all the bullshit that the world put at you. One of the bullets went right through his mouth. I am going to do my own artwork. 50 never knew his father. When I was looking at this. He lived with his grandparents. No protection. He determined after that that he was not going to give up. what I call his existential reality. what he should do. I am going to have a group of people around me. “‘We can’t get that on the radio. He was going to launch a mixed tape campaign on the streets of New York like no one had ever seen before. that he was basically alone in the world and had to http://powerseductionandwar. He miraculously survived that. I’m sure you all know the story. I determined it is because of his very unusual background. murdered when he was eight years old. I don’t remember exactly. I was thinking. all by himself. but basically he was alone. but I am not going to depend on any record labels. Nothing. He went back into hustling. and I am going to do everything myself.com/ Page 9 of 36 . He had to decide who he was. He was not going to get depressed. He was supremely realistic.” He did that with such energy and such drive and such love for it that after two years of this campaign.” “Fuck all that. Eminem got one of his mixed tapes and thought this was the greatest thing he had ever heard. He was not going to go back into hustling. I determined that in fact. the pattern that I saw was that this was somebody that refused to be dependent on other people. hustling on the streets or being a rapper with a good label. this reality of his. He decided to leave it. without the usual crutches that most of us have. He was going to launch his music career. which we would almost assume is a very negative thing. His mother was killed. somebody came up to him while he was sitting in the backseat of a car and shot nine times a few feet away from him. He had no peers. He was basically thrown out onto the streets of Queens with nobody. We don’t want you to say this or that.It was almost worse than being a hustler. To this day he doesn’t know who his father was. and he saw this is where the power lies in life. But on the other hand. I am going to go towards it. He decided he was going to go back into hustling. I am going to package it. I’m going to say exactly what I want. an old beef. And I’m going to put it out on these mixed tapes. And then the rest is history. This is when he was about 18.

You are living in a Rossellini neo-realistic movie from the 1950s. by conforming to a group. in which people had a union and there was communism and left wing activity. ever. by going out there and saying. “What’s wrong with that? Why can’t people just accept that that’s what their role in life is? Why do you have to be always striving for something else?” My answer to her. it is really up to you to define who you are and what you want in life. That is actually the con game that goes on. http://powerseductionandwar. For us. that is not how we are in Europe. that all of our support network is going to help us out in the end. there will never be anybody else like you. that you bring more of your individuality into play. Being a truck driver meant something else that it doesn’t mean anymore. Maybe he settled for being a truck driver and maybe he accepted it. Now I talked about this once a few months ago. You are talking about the 1950s. first of all. that there is something very different about them. And I was explaining this idea of uniqueness. But how do you know deep down inside that that was really what he wanted? You are assuming something. these things aren’t important. But even. And to the extent that you bring out your uniqueness in life. that you become more of an individual. and it was a group of people that I don’t think were very receptive to this talk. by being like other people. was basically. but that you are spending your life running away from it. who was a truck driver in Italy and how he loved his life as a truck driver and he was happy as that. Ever in the future. that is actually the reality of each and every one of us. It is an actually remarkable thought that your DNA will never be repeated. Afterwards. I was invited to Stanford University to give a little talk. this Italian woman came up to me and she said. and what most really powerful people have in life is a sense that they are unique. I gave this talk. You and your experiences in your life. It is completely different. that we can define ourselves through other people. You were born alone and you are going to die alone. in the history of the universe. how do you know that your grandfather was happy as a truck driver? Usually. They want something. This whole thing about the cowboys and Ronald Reagan and being an individual. By refusing to be a hustler like everybody else. there is never going to be another you. We have the illusion that parents. on the other hand. Ever in the past.com/ Page 10 of 36 . the more power you are going to have. It is just so American.” he stood out from everybody else. But we are not aware of it. But that is actually the illusion. and he gained power. It is so American. people when they are in their twenties or a little bit younger have a dream about life. And although you have these networks of support and they are real and you do have parents. I am going to create the music that reflects my reality. by doing what other people tell us to do. let’s just pretend that he was happy being a truck driver. by refusing to be the typical rapper on a label. “You know Robert. that friends. What 50 had. And she said. which I will abbreviate. It is so American. That is not how we are. “I don’t care about all that. Essentially saying that each and every human being that is ever born.” And then she proceeded to tell me about her grandfather. The truth is. and that you are truly born as an individual.do things for himself and define who he wanted to be. you are talking about an individual. you are essentially alone in life. an ambition.

I don’t know. That is gone. Whether that is good or bad. Happiness never lasts for three days. Why don’t we take . where we have to learn these self-reliant skills. The world as we are evolving right now is becoming completely different from the world of 50 or 60 years ago. You no longer can depend on anybody and any job or your boss protecting you. I’m interviewing eight of the most eminent people in the world today in different fields — In neuroscience. because I want to give you enough time to ask questions. I’m very lucky and very blessed with my lifestyle in being able to write these books.That truck driver in Italy in the year 2010 is dealing with a globalized environment. where someone like my father would work for one company his whole life and felt protected by them. You sort of wound up talking about happiness. So I am not even going to get to my third reality. . if you’d like. and I am going to be going deeper into it in my next book. I’m happy. in music. All of them are inherently bucking the trend and taking their field in a completely novel direction by bringing out more of that uniqueness that I was talking about. and is facing all kinds of conflicts and problems. Let’s see some and we also have. So if I had to say am I happier than I was? Yes. Audience Member: But what makes the good life? http://powerseductionandwar. That you are dealing with an environment that is long gone. The reality that we are all facing is that we are left on our own and we have to develop these self-reliant skills and we have to not be afraid of expressing our individuality. They are not necessarily happy. Chapter one in “The 50th Law”. We may get to them. When your reality in the day is for three minutes you are happy and then for three minutes you are anxious. it is a weird thing of language to have a word like happiness. And they are not happy. if you’ve read it. goes very deeply into the subject of realism. Audience Member: So I have to ask. In the book that I’m writing now. All of them are inherently non-conformists. there is even some anonymous questions. . But I wanted to give you an idea of this overall philosophy that brings all of my books together. . So I want to open this now to your questions. where putting out our individuality is the only way we are going to get power in this world. Would you say that you are happy? Robert: Me? Me personally? Well. the withering away of the welfare state. You know? But overall. I can talk about it later.com/ Page 11 of 36 . I have realized that I have come a little bit longer than I wanted to do on this subject. since Casper sent out a page before. But . . Robert: I don’t know about the latter. Audience Member: All right. God bless you. Host: I think there will be plenty of questions. I’m much happier than I was before I had a success as a writer. You know how to control men and do you know how to control women. Then you get a phone call. in architecture. We are all dealing with a world that is so much more insecure. But I have kind of hit my own wall here.

Obviously there is a quote you’ve all heard of. more debilitating on the human spirit. can they not keep happiness because they don’t have that liberty. absolute powerlessness corrupts even more than that. that’s a different question. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely. They feel that their children aren’t listening to them. to make sense to bother to have power for? Robert: Well. I can’t really 100 percent depend on it. all the money in the world and all the beautiful women and then it’s gone at some point. The man or woman that they want to have a relationship with isn’t listening to them. You can accumulate millions. is the worst feeling in the world. They feel like at work they might lose their job any moment now. That sense of helplessness. You learn how to be in a relationship and how to love. http://powerseductionandwar. They feel helpless.” Malcolm X had a comeback to that line that I like a lot more. then nobody can take it away from you and you have power and you have freedom and a degree of happiness. You learn how to compromise. is almost a skill that you have to develop. So I don’t know what your question would be. everybody is an individual.com/ Page 12 of 36 . But. that love or happiness that came from someone else. than the few people who are corrupted by having power. They have no control over their destiny.Robert: The good life? Audience Member: Is it power? Robert: Yes. And the only thing that is of value is something that you develop yourself through your life experiences. I’m not quoting it correctly. Because we die and what can I say? That is the absurd human condition that we have. Host: Well I wonder whether part of your question is. Even to love somebody. and they feel happiest when there is somebody taking care of them. But I think people who are depressed are often depressed because they have no control over their lives. even if you are going to live with them. it’s interesting. because with power comes a degree of freedom. I’m not happy with that because I know that that person will eventually withdraw their support. that eventually I am going to be left alone. That unless this is someone who I am going to live with my whole life. I still don’t know if I’ve answered your question. It’s a terrible feeling. He said. and it has to come from within. Audience Member: But what would be the intrinsic goodness be? What is your intrinsic end of the power? Robert: Well. and you can’t put a number on it. And that dependency. I don’t know if I answered your question. And then once you have that skill or whatever you want to call it. I want to be able to have it depend on something that comes from within. through maybe some hard times where you learn how to seduce. But the sense of being powerless is much worse. Some people like a position of dependence. Robert: Well. I think that it is hard to gauge. ultimately. 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 me. there is no end. Audience Member: Those people that opt out of your system. Now.

He was sitting in bed. Robert: Right. He can’t go back to the streets hustling. in spending a lot of time getting it right and understanding the real world as it is. It won’t have success. a great musician. So maybe there is something to what you are saying.Host: I’m not sure if that’s your question. Well. But it was the same thing with him. the end is the satisfaction that you get with your work. To answer your question. and then creating a book that goes out in the real world. because they are going to kill him. I didn’t. a great business idea. The end in life is doing your work that you love and feeling satisfaction. because I can’t. and they don’t succeed because they don’t understand that there is this other side of life — the power game. Half the game of life is doing something that you love and engaging with it deeply. whatever. if I don’t know how to deal with people. And I won’t be happy. because you were powerless. he was very depressed. They might be a great painter. It is your study. somehow that experience with this extreme powerlessness . that became the focus of your book. And out of that he analyzed what it was that he needed to do and then he re-emerged. the seduction game. Nearly died. Robert: Right. But that is only half of it. Host: . Host: That is interesting because you succeeded in a way. the Machiavellian game. Host: That started getting you to think about how do you accomplish it? Robert: That’s right. For you. which is right. I could talk about myself. Robert: No. It won’t get published. But we are never going to hear of them because they don’t understand this. and my agent doesn’t know how to work with me. with these goals. He can’t sing anymore. and I don’t understand human nature. Host: That has now put you where you feel like you have accomplished it. that’s my fault. let’s say. When he was shot.com/ Page 13 of 36 . http://powerseductionandwar. But my experience is that a lot of people in this world are talented. . Robert: And not to compare myself to 50. But it won’t get out there. The pleasure that comes for me is in writing a book and in writing the book well. the power game. The record label dropped him. but that’s mine. He can’t talk anymore. Host: And what you cared about getting. Robert: Yeah. and I can’t market my book. . He experienced extreme powerlessness. For me. But that can only come with a larger understanding of the social component. . and my editor hates me. They fail at it. You couldn’t accomplish what you wanted to. It is whatever you produce. It is your field. I could love my book. . At least in the vignette that you gave that was your own experience. then the book that I write. Because if you don’t understand the social part. I didn’t understand.

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 I could be wrong here. But we will be stepping out into society. competitive. That would be a beautiful world if it could be like that. it tends to breed the opposite idea. The skills that you learn. And actually. Your interpersonal. Now why is it different? Like you say. the university. in fact. is to graduate with a very high GPA. let’s say your goal. But more or less. professors can be. out of this. it’s has a lot of weight to it. Because what makes a great work of art or film is very subjective. more or less. And they created this university to literally train their students to be good at that. They discerned that the art world. to being emotional. Robert: How do you mean? Audience Member: After graduation. and I don’t mean to devalue it at all. political skills were not developed at Yale. the other side and beneath all this Machiavellian strategy. Yale is a society. the analytical skills. and basically it is an arts school. as I said. To get those high grades. which is why I think so many people suffer in life. There is a university called CalArts in California. That is kind of a unique thing for a university. I have friends who have gone there. Robert: Well. you are being graded on what you’ve accomplished. http://powerseductionandwar. the education is extremely valuable. It was a school that was formed in the sixties.com/ Page 14 of 36 . It can lead to a good job. mean-spirited world than the art world. do you need to have Machiavellian skills? Usually not. Audience Member: Is it not interesting that a Yale graduate could go out and be involved in positions of power. they are not immune to favoritism. But it is not how it operates. and I wish it were that way. learning that that is not the case 100 percent can be quite traumatic. I wish that was the whole component. those people involve in society and they are doing well because of the character of the education that they got over here. So there is a degree of seduction and charm going on. Usually. I mean. But then you are on your own. You could charm your professor perhaps. as you might call it. And maybe your connections at Yale and the degree. That’s how life should be. here is a place where there is no need for that. how much does that enter into your goal of success at the university? I don’t think it is as much. But it is just part of it. the knowledge that you gain will be very valuable. And you are blinded Robert: At a university. the element of ego and gamesmanship and politicking. 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. So there is a lot of politicking. And actually develop the kind of political skills that you are going to need when you later go into the art world. In fact. nearly as much.Audience Member: You said earlier that it’s only when we step out of Yale that we will see this other dark. and a very interesting idea. as one experiences in the real world. It is extremely valuable. essentially. Very interesting place. All I am saying is. as high as possible and land a really great job. crabby. I don’t know. there is no more political. I wish talent and getting answers right and doing a great essay. but. perhaps.

For instance. you are going to go work for some high powered law firm or Wall Street or wherever you go. and one of them is the charismatic. But power lies in a slightly different direction. They often come from http://powerseductionandwar. Usually charismatics are not necessarily charmers. You have to. You are having to think about. You are not going to last very long if you do that. They are different types. And I didn’t get to go into my idea in as much depth as I would like to. You have to be able to take your time and fit into the culture that’s created and find your place in it. you are afraid to step away from that. are creating really unique kinds of business. It is more subtle than that. I don’t mean that the moment you graduate Yale. Usually charmers are not charismatic. your own self-reliant skills. and then maybe we’ll have time for two more after that. It is just because you are trying to rebel and be different. You are afraid to express something unique about yourself. Host: So let me ask one of the written in questions. I want to create my own business. I don’t know. I want to be an entrepreneur. that is going to be the end of it. They want it from an audience. One of them is the charmer. while you are learning about the world and you are preparing for that moment when you are going to step out on your own. You are not going to have the luxury of suddenly not fitting in and being so weird and different. then that’s fine. That is as far as you are ever going to go.com/ Page 15 of 36 . Charismatics are people who have a tremendous need to get love from the world. who are successful. in those first years working at that high powered firm. You end up becoming a kind of person that only knows how to fit in. They are almost not the same. we all have to serve an apprenticeship in life. People who now. you have to be constantly waiting for that moment when you are going to do something different. So once you graduate Yale. They are different people. And it is often not really who you are. that apprenticeship phase. 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. What if following your own ideals means that you have to separate yourself from the crowd. they don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. And if that is what you want. when you are in your apprenticeship. You can do that from within a large corporation. that is the end game in life. You have to cultivate your own individuality. They don’t want love from one person. and now you are there and you are 30 years old and that is the only thing you have ever learned to do. There are new models being created every day. But the problem is that that ends up becoming the end in life.Audience Member: You talk about the importance of expressing individuality. And if you do that long enough. hat only knows how to fit into that particular culture. particularly in business. you dye your hair green and you start doing something really wild because that is just who you are. People talk about the importance of charm and charisma. That’s ridiculous. Which one would you say is more important? Is it being unique or being able to mix? Robert: Well. 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.

Seducers are not born. They become charismatic on a political. I wasn’t being creative. It is a really important social skill. They see it in your hands. How many ideas I threw away meant that I was on the right track. in your eyes. they are made. Kennedy. Like Marilyn Monroe. They didn’t have happy childhoods. All of the most creative people are experimenters who have many failures. They become a Mahatma Gandhi. You have to be outer directed. I’ll be looking at a lot about that in my next book. validation. who was an orphan. And the sense of being alive with this inner fire is what people feel this charisma. And it is very important and very powerful and anybody can learn it. There is a famous quote about a woman who said. But it is a language that is non-verbal. What their weakness is. he said. I thought he was the most brilliant man in the world. did you want to ask another anonymous question? Audience Member: Audience Member: You mentioned entrepreneurs. this is about Gladstone and Disraeli. So. They have to feel it in an animal way. which is why. but you can learn the idea. Seduction is a non-verbal language. Sitting next to Disraeli. 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 are not necessarily from that background.backgrounds that are a little bad. And I also heard from a lot of entrepreneurs that they say that in order to be wildly successful.” http://powerseductionandwar. You can’t tell people you are charismatic.” That’s the charmer. Charm is knowing how to please other people. 50 has charisma. Charm is a whole. Everybody feels it around him. You may not end up becoming Cleopatra. And she said. Robert: Yeah. but you can go halfway or a quarter of the way. I thought I was the most brilliant woman in the world. Einstein. It means not thinking about yourself but imagining what the other person wants to hear. more possible realm for everyone. but there is a limit unless you are born that way. The charmer is somebody who knows how to make the other person feel great about themself. “Sitting next to Gladstone. a John F. What they need. you have to be prepared to wildly fail. “I measured my success by how full my wastebasket was. their eyes light up with this idea that they want to convey to people. I’ve watched him. All charismatics are burning with a mission. to sublimate this need for affection and love. If my wastebasket was empty. In the book. You can learn to a degree. they turn to a large group. And I talk about it in the book. Your inner conviction is what people feel. Audience Member: And does that fit into your paradigm of maintaining power? Robert: Very much so. two British politicians of the 19th century who were rivals. who I have been reading a lot about. I’m sorry. with an idea that makes their whole face light up. on a global level. I say some people are born with charisma because they come from bad backgrounds. You can’t communicate it outwardly. I know “The Art of Seduction” is written with words.com/ Page 16 of 36 .

Audience Member: You talk a lot about personal characteristics like charisma. what separates people who take an opportunity like that and others who let it slip by. to me.” And he said. You have to be the kind of person that tries things out and learn from your experiences. This was probably the only moment where he could have won an election given his background. Everybody. Robert: Oh. I met this man in Italy. it’s a good question because a lot of people will say. Oh. and the reason is we learn by doing. their first ventures fail. “You are not ready to run. You know? If you are an opportunist. So you have to not be afraid of failure. http://powerseductionandwar. but it was like 95 percent of them. it happened to be a lucky moment. it is going to be very difficult to gain the real world knowledge that you need in order to have success. But he was the one that recognized this was the moment and I am going to seize it. I was not going to let go of my one opportunity in life. aside from personal charisma and characteristics at all. If you are afraid of that. they will look at a Clinton or a Barack Obama and they’ll say. Fouchet. But the difference is everybody has luck. I had the luck to meet this man. a good degree is luck. when everybody was telling him. When this man gave me an opportunity to write “The 48 Laws of Power. I still might be slaving away in some cubicle in Hollywood and you would never have heard of me. If I hadn’t met him in 1995. about the natural way that opportunities and political opinions sway with the times? Robert: Well. They have shown entrepreneurs that. So it is very important.” And so you have to go out there and not be afraid of trying things. And the ones who are successful go on to a second and a third one and a fourth one. Christmas. aggressiveness. “Oh. Fouchet? Audience Member: Yeah. I don’t know the number. And there is that French minister who survived from the French Revolution all the way through Napoleon and after. Starting a business.com/ Page 17 of 36 . You can’t learn how to run a business. I see this is the opportunity. this is what connected with my audience. and you work like a fiend in order to make it happen.” you recognize that opportunity has come. So there is always a degree of luck in anybody’s success. a good thing will happen to you and you let it pass.You are going to be measured by your failures. 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. a book has a limit. etc. But. “No. my birthday. You come on the world stage at the right time. you know. you can’t learn how to have success by reading a book.” So what separates people in life are. which I talk about in “The 50th Law. 50 Cent wouldn’t have been able to sell that mixed tape if the environment wasn’t ready for it. 365 days a year until 1:00 in the morning. What do you think about. “What makes them so brilliant or how do they succeed in an election?” A lot of it. Just the ebbs and flows and trends. ultimately. You need to wait four more years.” I worked night and day. But. It is your own experience in doing things where you learn. this is what got that guy interested in my idea. They are called serial entrepreneurs. I’m afraid I’m dissuading all of you from buying my books. And that is.

And there is clearly a way in which a bunch of the laws are written. How do I turn them into a means for me to accomplish something? Also. But.com/ Page 18 of 36 .” I talk about how you do not outshine people and get them. Robert: In the book. How do I understand how other people think and what moves them? And what their emotional state is. I shouldn’t outshine her. “Well. And not necessarily treat them as minions.Host: So let me make a comment and then get your reactions and then I think we’ll finish up. 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. Host: I don’t know that they are. and you are aware of their own needs and the fact that they are an individual. How do I bring her over?’ Robert: Yes. some of the psychologists here and our provost here have studied. Was there another way than just to say. that way. mixed into. I know when I first started looking at some of what you wrote. for instance. on the other hand. How to get them to do your bidding. We go back to where you ran to. It is a good point because people mistake my books for being purely about how to use people. because if you are thinking about them deeply and their own needs. but treat them as their own independent entities.” But to think. it would be easy to take much of what you say as instructions for how to use other people. well. particularly in “The Art of Seduction. Robert: Right. 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. okay. And how my actions will interact with theirs. 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. “The 48 Laws of Power. And it is all kind of selfish. http://powerseductionandwar. and hearing you today. you are bringing them into the group and you have a mission you are trying to accomplish. which is emotional intelligence. where is the distinction for them becoming a means to it? What are you trying to accomplish? If you are trying to. That is a very instrumental view of other people. But. Host: The boss who was squashing you. the difficulty that you talked about. It becomes tricky. 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. there had a sense that some of what you are really interested in is something that say. Host: But then it aligns with we both want to create these stories. But then it gets very Machiavellian. though. as you have talked and as we talked earlier. never outshine my boss.” 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. So I was wondering how you think about those tensions? Robert: Yeah.

Well. If only we could have realized back then what was happening. Host: I wanted to thank you very much. exciting periods in history with an air of nostalgia. And I go as deeply into that as I can. where we were headed. Those in that moment have no such perspective and no such appreciation. That is the secret to being successful as a politician or a businessperson or in any kind of relationship. but it’s an illusion. Thank you. 8 http://powerseductionandwar. We can look back at all of the tumultuous. Robert: Oh. I leave you with that thought. I told myself. What was most strange about this dream was that in the midst of it I was conscious of thinking back to the year 2010. Host: You do have that component. You can read all of The Descent of Power as an ebook. Where you have to not be so selfabsorbed. Thank you. It made me think–this is clearly how it is in history. People never appreciate the moment they are living in. The dream and its intense mood stayed with me for quite some time. Where you can think inside of other people and what their interests are and what is going to appeal to them. Robert: Right.com/ Page 19 of 36 . If only we could now have that perspective and realize that we are living through one of the great transformational moments and that the old is finally dying away.And that requires a totally different kind of personality. That was when things began to right themselves. but it may not be the most visible. so long ago. For some reason it occurred to me that that moment in time was some kind of turning point. People seemed oddly happy and there was a feeling of lightness in the air. How sad. I wanted to tell you about a dream I had a couple of months ago–I mean the kind of dream you have in your sleep. thank you very much. as if something had really changed in the world and we had figured out a better way to live. I woke up. but few people saw or understood this. But not many people recognize that. 2010 by Robert Greene In closing. I dreamt that it was the year 2070 and that I was walking on the crowded streets of some city. Robert: Yeah. because they only see the element of using other people for what you want. that is what I was aware of. In the middle of this strange thought. Host: Yeah. 5 The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt VIII Posted on May 28.

I initiated an informal study–gathering as much material and contacts within the company as possible. 2010 by Robert Greene Now. the two founders of Google. came from a radically different background than your average CEO. They needed to create their own business and organizational model. strategy and ideas are more important than money and technology. They wanted their company to reflect these changes and the historic fatality I’ve been talking about. had intense layers of bureaucracy. particularly in technology. they had to have a very large management staff. there was an editorial staff. And so they studied in depth how other businesses operated. In founding Google in the late 1990s. their field being statistics and probability. By the time the product came out. in 2003 and 2004. The sheer size of the company made it difficult to maintain close ties to the public. They would have a giant staff of software engineers to create new products. Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Most of these companies. as I was writing about Napoleon Bonaparte for my book The 33 Strategies of War. But before such products could be launched. a similar example would be the Blitzkrieg of 1941: the French had superior equipment and technology. The following is the gist of my analysis: Like Napoleon. To keep this all running smoothly. to see if there were lessons to be learned. To roll out any new product would take years. based around their innovations in the field of search engines. I saw more and more connections– confirming my idea that there is a pattern to periods of change and revolution. making sure they saturated the public. but their http://powerseductionandwar. If these companies were creating any kind of content. The world is entering a new era– the Information Age.The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt VII Posted on May 25. mostly because it did not believe in the personal computer. but completely lost ground in the 1980s. Once the product was ready. competitors had already appeared. and they had to be as close to perfect as possible. All of the different departments and layers of bureaucracy had to be brought into the process. They were scientists at Stanford. I became intrigued by a company that seemed to exemplify–in an almost uncanny way–the Napoleonic model I have just outlined. large-scale sales and marketing teams would go into action. That company was Google. they had to be integrated with everything else. but they could not get their voices heard or influence the entrenched culture. There were some from within the company that thought differently. All of the resources that IBM had were useless in the face of such rigidity–proving that structure. Everything was geared towards market domination–using vast resources and muscle to maintain that. A company like IBM once dominated the computer field. but it was too late to adapt to what was evolving.com/ Page 20 of 36 . increasing the political games being played and adding to the slowness. And as I went deeper into this subject. as this machinery was slow and lumbering. better to make perfect products and sell them hard than respond to public feedback. (In war. like Microsoft. All of this bureaucracy created small power bases from within the company. they came to several important conclusions: the Internet is going to radically alter the business environment.

This sense of being part of a cause created an extremely motivated workforce that does not need to be policed by teams of managers. This is old style warfare and business–linear and predictable. In addition. http://powerseductionandwar. Google would have a relatively small staff of engineers. The company was broken down into small units that could be self-managed.com/ Page 21 of 36 . This governed most of their key organizational decisions. able to stay ahead of the innovation cycle and adapt quickly to trends. Most companies focus on dominating a particular position in the marketplace. release early. They would have no editorial staff. the company would need far fewer managers to keep Google running. an innovative idea that could later fit into Google or if not. As far as possible. Periodically small teams of peers would review these projects and critique them. could be taken elsewhere. as it was for Napoleon. In the new environment what matters is putting your company in a position in which it can quickly adapt to the latest trend and get a toehold there before others. Google could practice a kind of maneuver warfare. It became possible to rise fast within the company and make a fortune. They would not produce any content. They had to build a new kind of structure. but all of this would be automated. It is this remarkable lightness of Google that has allowed them to move. Any kind of feedback or data on advertising sales could flow directly and immediately to anyone within the company–there were no bottlenecks from within to slow down the flow of information. To make money. This would also help them to develop close ties to their client base and make people feel involved in the process. This meant no marketing or sales team to push the new product. They would not spend months perfecting their latest product–in fact they would release it in a beta version and let the customers help improve it with their feedback.) To Page and Brin. a company in this new environment had to be lean and fast. to reflect the historic fatality I had mentioned in the beginning. opening things up and allowing people to make what they wanted with it. With such an organization in place. A degree of chaos is allowed for and even encouraged. To ignore this simple truth is to ignore a fundamental principle of strategy. they would sell advertising space. They predicated this all on their philosophy of release often. It is the foundation of their power. enhancing the flow of information. To do so. Google created a completely different culture.ideas on how to use them were completely outmoded and they collapsed in the face of a superior strategy. you have to be built for that. They created the 20% rule: all employees must devote 20% of their time to creating something of their own–a pet project. They would hire the best but keep the numbers down. to news. This allowed Google to have a minimal sales staff. like armies that marched to meet the enemy at a set point. Customers would buy through a self-serve platform. to everything going on in the world. The culture was centered around the idea that Google was the spearhead of a revolution: this was the company that was going to give the world access to information. As a result of all this. adapt and expand at such a rapid rate. employees would be self-managed. Google would serve as a platform for others to create or move content.

we are simply seeing dinosaurs making a lot of noise before they disappear. the tide of the old is still there. these are the companies that are poised to take over. but the relationships between people–relationships that were once hierarchical and based on the force of authority. 0 http://powerseductionandwar. Looking at large businesses with their big marketing campaigns. For instance. As opposed to past models. giving consumers a much wider choice. What is really changing in the world is not technology. There are many other examples as well on smaller scales all around the world. This has been radically flattened. Without grasping this wider perspective of what is happening in the world. Stay tuned for the next installment. I focus on Google because to me they are the most radical version of a new business model that has succeeded on a large scale. The signs of this old order clinging to power are everywhere. I do not mean to imply that Google is infallible and already we see signs of their limitations. into a slightly more mobile version of Microsoft. they could dominate the scene for years to come. We see signs of this decrepitude everywhere. If some new trend appears on the horizon. they are ready to pounce and exploit it. nothing you do will have any kind of lasting effect or power. their ideal is to create less and less distance between themselves and their customers. they saw great potential for YouTube. with all of the time and money that requires. We are in the midst of a countercurrent. What matters most now are the connections between people.com/ Page 22 of 36 . This kind of fluidity is rare in business and devastatingly powerful. they could slowly morph into the enemy. but nothing is certain. someone or some group trying to halt the course of an historic fatality. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook. If they are smart. A company like Zara. they simply bought YouTube. has based its model on the speed with which it can produce items that respond to the latest trends. Google could quickly move to other areas–Gmail or Google News. often tied around celebrities. or the globalization of capital. This was merely to point out the radical departure they made in the initial structure of the company and the power that brought them. the crest of a change that began millennia ago but greatly accelerated by the advent of the Information Age. et al–all with the aim of creating a kind of operating system for the Internet. As the tsunami of the global meltdown is receding.As a company that focused on primarily having a search engine as its center. They work on what is already there–the demand that is palpable. As opposed to the traditional business practice as it evolved in the era of mass consumption. tried to produce their own version of it and when that failed. the interdependencies and networks that can be formed and the unimpeded flow of information. As the new is flowing in. Any kind of obstruction to that flow will be seen as something from the past. which has adapted brilliantly to the new environment. This then is the point that we have reached. Google does not invent something they think is clever and then figure out how to market it to the masses. and it will be quite a spectacle to see them become extinct in the years to come. I could also bring in other companies that have experimented as well and had success. The company is structured in a similar loose fashion to Google. Like Napoleon.

were threatening to invade the country and reestablish the old monarchy. http://powerseductionandwar. they would have to pass messages to the general in the back. Although armies at the turn of the 19th century might look modern. but before they could get the army to adjust to these changes. but what he might gain in flexibility he would lose in control. Essentially. This form of warfare was completely linear and predictable. nobody quite understood what it all meant. After the Italian campaign. He felt there was a better way to wage war. The general would stay in the back of the advancing forces and command the battle from this safe position. This was essentially the way wars had been fought since Alexander the Great. In addition. these supply wagons would come to a complete halt.com/ Page 23 of 36 . Napoleon did some reflecting. until in 1796. Those in front. former artillery lieutenant. if his army was divided and scattered? This would also violate the key military principle of keeping one’s forces concentrated. The French people had overthrown a monarchy that had existed for hundreds of years and established a new kind of political order. To make this army more mobile a general could break it up into groups. they would pour into France from the South and the Revolution would be over. which were frequent. Because of all this. War is inherently chaotic and such a system offered the maximum in control.The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt VI Posted on May 22. a turning point had been reached. both sides tending to march to a point where they would meet in battle. It was out of fear that generals adhered to this rigid system. slowing it down. but barely. some clever maneuvering and superior firepower could decide the issue. a typical general would have at his command an army of a certain size and configuration. In times of bad weather. The Revolution led to terror and swings of reaction and more revolution. who would then relay his response to the front. commander of all French forces fighting in Italy. all of which took a lot of time. 2010 by Robert Greene Napoleon came to power in one of the most chaotic moments in history–the French Revolution. The fighting had grown particularly intense in Italy. might see something unexpected as the enemy approached. this massive force had to be fed and for this purpose large wagons–led by horses and oxen–would accompany the army. If the Austrians and their allies were able to overrun the French in Italy. Through some bold maneuvering and some innovative strategies Napoleon was able to save France from disaster. France’s numerous enemies. so he would keep this army together. they named the 26-year-old Napoleon Bonaparte. As a result of his success he was named commander in chief of the French army. lead by the Austrians. But because it was so new. The campaign in Italy was going badly for the French and so in desperation. they were fighting according to a model that was ancient. he needed a new kind of army or organizational principle. Control then was more important than mobility. the scouts and vanguards. How could a general continue to direct and monitor the battle. Napoleon began by analyzing the way his enemies waged war and their organizational model. with the latest rifles and artillery. Once there. armies advanced slowly.

they would all be fighting for an idea–to spread the revolution to the rest of Europe. He had grown up with the revolution–rising from the bottom of the military. In military terms. You have to let go. to show initiative. If you structure it in a dense. Napoleon decided upon the following: He would break his army up into smaller divisions. They held on to the old organizational principle as if it were magical. for the sake of an idea. What he meant was the following: the Queen had lived through a period of incredible turmoil in France–famine. He was deeply aware of the great changes in the world–social. Napoleon understood very well the new social order and what motivated the common soldier. Lieutenants and sergeants could make decisions for their units based on what they saw. The structure of your group. to fit the times. who would be inculcated in Napoleon’s philosophy of war and in what he wanted in a particular campaign. He was much younger. They increased their distance from the common soldier and the shifting realities of war. Each of these divisions would be led by a field marshal. as long as it fit into the overall mission of the division.Napoleon had once compared these generals to Marie Antoinette. you will have a slow. of your army. It was a whole new culture and social dynamic. Ultimately such faith in a timeless power structure or model is a form of magical thinking–your belief system overrides reality. They would fight in the front of the lines instead of safely in the back. It brings momentum and surprise into the battlefield–with speed. the French monarchy had been through a lot. And it is at this point that Napoleon made one of the greatest discoveries in the history of warfare–namely that structure is strategy. is what gives it speed and mobility. ranging in size from 20. however. lumbering army. no matter what you try to make them do. Napoleon was different from these leaders. the chance to prove himself. widespread discontent among the peasants and bourgeoisie. After all. Napoleon would have to reconstruct his army from the ground up. an army of 25. http://powerseductionandwar. it had to become fast and fluid. This would be replicated all the way down the line. which had now been fashioned into a kind of citizens’ army. You have to be willing to accept a degree of chaos. Why lose your head over such momentary fluctuations? And so she held on to these beliefs all the way to the bitter end. After much analysis. The fluidity you gain will more than compensate for any momentary loss of control. He enjoyed he freedom from within the army structure. based on merit and bravery. instead of examining the present.000 to 80. a novel concept at the time. War had to catch up with these changes. To handle all of this. and this too would pass. but these marshals would be allowed to make their own decisions based on what they saw on the battlefield. They looked to the past. In order to have such power. creates its tone.000. These generals operated in a similar way. etc.000. Its prestige and authority could never really be challenged. He was aware that this altered the psychology of warfare–the French army was fighting for the sake of the revolution. the dissemination of dangerous ideas in the press. She imagined that the turmoil was in fact rather superficial.000 could have the force of 100. Furthermore. Napoleon would build into the structure of this army the chance for the lowest soldier to rise to the top.com/ Page 24 of 36 . so they could react in real time. Marie Antoinette employed a strategy: she increased the distance between herself and the French people so as to control what she saw and heard. technological. political. rhythm and way of action. bureaucratic and ad-hoc way. speed is a force multiplier.

He could adjust faster than the enemy and destroy its willpower by making it impossible to foresee his maneuvers. each individual responsible for keeping his supplies in order. you must be continually vigilant that any kind of success does not slowly transform you into a Marie Antoinette. holding on to the power he had.com/ Page 25 of 36 . He believes in overwhelming the enemy with size and firepower. It was a force that was considerably faster and more fluid than any other army in Europe. speed is of the essence. towards reality. You are creating a culture where you are harnessing the creativity and energy of your soldiers. He starts to believe that his success comes from his magical personality and genius. and to fight wars the way his enemies had fought them. http://powerseductionandwar. he could throw his five or ten divisions at the enemy in scattered patterns. what is known as maneuver warfare. You are riding this tide. He begins to slow down with age. Instead of advancing his troops along a single line. He creates his own aristocracy and distances himself from the revolutionary ideals. because power lies in moving in that direction and exploiting the moment. In this way. This means creating a structure that is looser and that leaves room for initiative from within. and they would decide to advance depending on how the enemy reacted. no supply wagons to slow them down. In conjunction with these principles. Second. a reason for fighting or advancing. you move in the opposite direction–towards the change coming from the bottom up. You concern yourself with the present. If you are a Marie Antoinette. more mobile units. beyond money. These were the components of the new army–smaller. This then is the pattern and the lesson we can learn from any revolutionary period in history: you are either a Marie Antoinette or a Napoleon Bonaparte. believing in the magic of his authority and growing increasingly arrogant. One or the other spirit tends to dominate your decision-making process. For the next ten years. with the pleasures at hand. you must unite this group around an idea. With such a weapon Napoleon could evolve a new strategy. You trust in the power and privileges you have had in the past. In essence. All of this will continue. But there is a second chapter to this story. Hard times or adversity only strengthen this bubble. you manage to convince yourself that nothing is really changing in the world. soldiers who were more intensely motivated and engaged in the struggle. As you can imagine. instead of mobility. as opposed to the strategies he had invented. The following are the two most critical strategic principles that you must adhere to in times of change: first. Your brilliant strategies will mean nothing in such times if your organization is bureaucratic and hierarchical. your group must be organized to allow for such fluidity. you tell yourself. no matter how chaotic and challenging that might be. You need to be able to adapt quickly to events. with such an army Napoleon dominated the scene for ten years in a way that no other military force has done in history. The old is finally dying out and leaving space for something youthful and new.Napoleon added one small technical detail that revealed his way of thinking: his soldiers would now carry their supplies in carefully designed backpacks. we see a steady decline in his powers. you manage to keep your distance from the events around you. from 1806 to 1816. this historic fatality as it sweeps the globe. All of this leads to his tragic campaign in Russia in 1812 and his final defeat at Waterloo in 1816. he recaptured the initiative. If you’re a Napoleon Bonaparte. You live in your bubble. To do so. You want more contact with the world. In essence he had morphed into a kind of Marie Antoinette himself. important decisions that could be made by leaders in the moment.

we are now. Sometimes those on your side act more like enemies or obstructers. If you were able to stand on a ladder and elevate your perspective some ten feet. The reality. is a kind of battlefield. or life. with its emphasis on standardization and marketing. we tend to react in one of several ways. fighting the daily battles to make your business competitive and to keep your army advancing together can get quite confusing. We interpret events according to how we want to see them. Strategy in depth is a mental discipline that can take years to acquire. This represents a fundamental change for which we are not prepared. sudden shifts in the battle and chaos. To really gain power. you have no real perspective of what is really going on. They do not represent an attempt to actually come to terms with the changes going on and work to exploit them in a rational manner. what I prefer to call “strategy in depth. what you saw at ten feet would now prove to be an illusion. We try this and we try that. suddenly you would have a different idea about what is happening.com/ Page 26 of 36 . Both responses are reactive and emotional. You thought you were advancing but in fact you seem to be retreating. is that we are currently experiencing a change as profound as any in history. When we face situations that are novel. On the ground. We hold on even more firmly to the past and how things were done. I like to employ the following metaphor: business. All of these factors are real. and its preying upon helpless consumers. There is a lot of smoke. there is only one way to orient ourselves in such turbulent times–by adopting a different way of thinking. On the ground. Or. the collusion of government in this scheme. Instead. 3 The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt V Posted on May 18. never with much thought or calculation. But they are not the source of the underlying disturbance. we do the opposite–we succumb to all of the chaos and confusion. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook.Stay tuned for the next installment. After the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and the Mass Production revolution of the 20th. We try to deny the reality. finally. entering the Information Age. an accelerated pace of innovation. the corruption within it. You would see some patterns to the fighting. on and on. we hear much about the banking industry. You would realize that the battles you are fighting today are not really http://powerseductionandwar. and the lack of regulation. This means a flattening of power structures. There’s more going on than you had imagined. which is so often confused with merely planning and thinking ahead. If you were able to somehow elevate to a hundred feet. what is really going on underneath. more fluidity and chaos. You are constantly reacting to this or to that. believing that all of the old rules can be tossed out and that anything goes. 2010 by Robert Greene Now. To give you an idea of what I mean by this. the new trading technology that makes it harder to think and act for the long-term. I know that this is not the usual way that people discuss what is currently taking place in the world.” I differentiate this from the normal idea of strategy. they contain elements of truth.

because on the horizon something much worse is taking shape. but the larger war. but you are far from it. the cultural and social factors–everything. Your sense of a pattern to the battle would now be more accurate than before. which inundates us with all kinds of snapshots of the moment. You understand what is happening. and elevate them into some kind of trend. this process is made that much harder. What you had seen at a hundred feet elevation would prove to have been somewhat inaccurate or piecemeal. To win you must be realistic and see things as they are. when you are simply seeing a small piece of the puzzle. The higher you go. your emotions continually buffeted by this back and forth. we tend to take pieces of information from the media. which requires depth of thinking and true perspective. They are constantly reacting to what others bring and this creates a kind of constant wave effect–each reverberation of an action/reaction keeps you locked in this mode. To be a strategist in depth in this era. Once you reach the proper elevation. the historic moment we are living through. To give you an idea what I am talking about. you study history and its many lessons. In such circumstances. After all. Stay tuned for the next installment. In times of great change it might seem that there are no patterns to discern in the present and nothing to be learned from history. If somehow you could raise your perspective to a mountaintop you would have the clarity of the gods on Mount Olympus. you must work at acquiring several skills. it is quite difficult to elevate your perspective–it is simply unnatural for the human animal to not react. What matters is not your ego or appearing right or being admired. you can then make rational decisions–moving with calibrated boldness or biding your time. In normal times. and your strategies more rational and effective. You might think you are being rational.com/ Page 27 of 36 . to not get caught up in the moment.worth your attention. People who remain on the ground operate in what I call tactical hell. In times of confusion and change like ours. I want to take you inside the mind of the man whom I consider to be the greatest strategist who ever lived–Napoleon Bonaparte. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook. This confusion tends to perpetuate itself as more and more people are locked in this tactical hell. seeing far and wide. 1 http://powerseductionandwar. Those who succeed generally follow the same simple path and adhere to a few basic strategic principles that are particularly relevant to revolutionary times. events are unprecedented. There have been other periods in history of comparable change and turmoil. but still rather hellish. From this base of inner balance. Add to that the incredible distractions that new technology has inserted into our lives and it can become almost impossible. The view from ten feet is better. You can delude yourself that you have real perspective. we give these pieces disproportionate weight and act on them without a sense of real direction or depth. you immerse yourself in the present and the trends that are taking shape. You encompass in your considerations not merely the battle in front of you. First and primary is the ability to control your own emotions that tend to cloud your sense of judgment. In looking at them in depth we can see certain patterns–why most people succumb to the chaos but a few manage to rise to the top. the more you enter the realm of strategy. but winning. But this is an illusion born out of our confusion.

They are more likely to believe that all of the old rules of investing and building value are a thing of the past and that anything goes. that created products that had no deep connection to consumers and needed a lot of marketing to be sold. what we see in its wake is an altered landscape that at first glance seems like devastation. People sense that something is going on. The competition heats up. Other companies. they are dependent on their scale of mass. But the second bubble (in finance and housing) burst at a moment when the wave that had been building since the 90s had finally gained sufficient momentum. http://powerseductionandwar. exuberance that comes from something fast and easy. I am referring to a company like Google. these are wiped out by the tsunami.com/ Page 28 of 36 . Businesses that had been dependent on times of prosperity. but rather with human psychology–greed. Another aspect of bubbles. the contagion of emotions. And so in such transitional periods people are much more susceptible to the psychology of a bubble and the exuberance it breeds. The fact that we went through two bubbles. It is a feeling in the air–vast amounts of money can be made in some new way. Someone hits upon something that promises fast money and in fact yields a substantial return. however. never to return. is that they tend to prefigure or occur in periods of transition. which had foreseen the tremendous shift going on and had structured their business accordingly. They are looking for something new to invest in. something rather strange. The first and the one that most people focus on is that businesses are generally flush with cash. They are like dinosaurs–big and lumbering. Last and most important. but there other examples as well. a significant shift is occurring in how business is done. which I will talk about later on. with all the destruction that is going on. Large companies that had used their size as tremendous leverage in the marketplace find that it is difficult to adapt. The profit that is produced has little to do with real economic forces. These two forces–deep social changes and the economic bubble–converged at a moment in time to create a kind of tsunami.The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt IV Posted on May 15. We have gone through two economic bubbles in a very short period of time. As this tsunami is just now beginning to recede. Money is poured into things that have no real value apart from what people imagine is there and once real economic forces come into play. have money to burn. but to thrive. the bubble is burst and it all collapses. one that is generally less discussed. they are poised to not only survive the tsunami. they will continue to make noise but they are doomed to disappear within a decade or two. The first bubble was in tech stocks and its affect was relatively mild. some novel source of super capital. one succeeding the other in a matter of a few short years is an undeniable sign of something stirring from below–a sign of change and systemic instability. 2010 by Robert Greene Now at the same time that this wave was building something else was going on. it gains momentum. The old order that had been clinging to power and resisting what had been stirring from below was finally swept away in a cycle in capitalism known as Creative Destruction. Economic bubbles generally occur for two reasons.

purchased this music directly and quickly. distributed and sold this music. it gave us the power to purchase items straight from the source. This model was based on their ability to dominate the flow of http://powerseductionandwar. We could easily share these files. Or we could voice our opinions on political matters and find others that shared them. It calls into question the need for so many middlemen in the world.there is finally space for new businesses to spring up. and reveals the dubious source of their power. 4 The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt III Posted on May 12. based on a model that fits the times. I am talking about the Internet. or expert opinions. in the 1990s something else came into being that sped this process along even further. cutting out the middleman. or more specifically the world-wide web as it evolved in the early 1990s. The web suddenly provided people three new types of power that had tremendous appeal. but more importantly it greatly increased our choices. a sudden acceleration into the future. Second. which would often contain songs that were there just to fill space. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook. Third. We could review the products that we had purchased and gain some power as consumers. making us in some ways creatively involved in the process. In this instance. We could communicate with likeminded people and share information rapidly and directly with one another. First. A thousand flowers can now bloom. This created a massive problem for the record industry. When this began to spread it altered our relationship to music itself. altering in so many ways the social dynamic–how people interact with one another. Stay tuned for the next installment. And this was more like warp speed. We could shop from any place around the world. Take for instance the availability of digital music files and iTunes. This tends to eat away at the prestige and authority of traditional sources of information such as newspapers. We no longer had to purchase an entire album.com/ Page 29 of 36 . finding precisely what we needed or wanted. This would tend to lower prices. It essentially destroyed their business model in which they were the sole powers that marketed. What interests me here is not the technology. Now it became possible to accumulate a vast library of music and store it the way we wanted to. 2010 by Robert Greene Now. but how it changes our relationship to power and authority. it gave us access to all kinds of information. they went into panic mode. without the need for newspapers or traditional forms of media. We could pirate it on the internet or if so inclined. We could bypass those centers that controlled the flow. we could express our opinions on any subject that mattered to us and find some kind of audience. the Internet is flattening out relationships that were once hierarchical and funneled through various centers.

He could keep this number relatively limited and the percentage of http://powerseductionandwar. to something more and more diluted. in this case. It created the concept of surplus and leisure time.money. I like to imagine this as kind of a mathematical equation. Let us imagine a tribe of some 1000 people in some place in ancient times. social organization. What this means is that occasionally there emerges a certain idea. As this took root in several places. slowly gaining volume and force as it spread. sometimes by force. towns.000. Mostly it conquered because it contained an idea that was deeply seductive to human nature–a desire for settlement. for roots. With this came all kinds of institutions such as civic government. for consistency and familiarity. Now. Let us say. a certain way of doing things that is so immensely seductive to human beings that eventually it spreads around the globe and forever changes our way of life. The ruler would have to bring in others–advisors. warfare. Once it came into being. 6 The Descent Of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt II Posted on May 6. in The 48 Laws I lay out what I consider to be another historic fatality–the evolution of power from something heavily concentrated. culture on a new level.com/ Page 30 of 36 . cities. One of the greatest examples of this would have to be agriculture. The majority of this power. but the subject for another night. to be discarded when they were no longer so hot. this tribe grew to a size of some 10. Now. the control over it. but once the genie was let out of the bottle it was too late. We could chart the same course for the mainstream media. it conquered the world. humans could raise their own food in settled locations. entire civilizations. It is interesting to note that this great dissolving of these power centers was preceded by an intense concentration of their power. city-states. but he largely determined the roles they could play. I compare these changes that the web was producing in society in the late 90s and onwards to a small wave that was forming far out in the ocean. Record executives tried desperately to hold back these changes. It was centered on a simple idea–instead of constantly searching for new food sources. Who was going to go back to the old way of purchasing music? The aura of their authority and power had been shattered. such supreme concentration was too difficult. We could say this tribe had a certain amount of power. 2010 by Robert Greene In anthropology there is a concept known as historic fatality. it led to the formation of villages. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook. was in the hands of one man–the ruler. the king. generals. with success and prosperity. and seduce artists into accepting their role as vassals to the industry. depend on a small cadre of people to assist him. This is almost a physical law that we have seen before in history. based on its wealth and resources. Slowly. Stay tuned for the next installment. He might. high priests. it was fated to spread everywhere.

This meant the emergence of a middle class and new power centers in business that began to wield more and more influence. it forms a power center. creating a new power center among the citizens of that state. as more and more people around the globe feel the right and necessity to have more control over their lives. The complexity of ruling such numbers grew exponentially. after the Middle Ages. Of course there remain concentrations of power and wealth in the world today. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook. as their interests will clash with other power centers.com/ Page 31 of 36 . This means.power was mostly in his hands. perhaps on the level of agriculture or even greater in my opinion for its far-reaching ramifications. But on the other hand. power slowly became less and less concentrated. They work to keep what they have and extend their power base. the growing aristocracy and its court. and see an almost extreme point of development–networks of hundreds of power centers crisscrossing each other: from within political parties. for instance. We can make three generalizations at this point. The power environment becomes increasingly dangerous. When a group of people is given power. To a lesser degree we could talk of modern media as another power center that came to prominence in the 20th century. suddenly there came a qualitative change. while also advancing its own agenda. once people have been given power on this level. making governance almost impossible. And so over the course of centuries. the birth of modern capitalism and a merchant society. the military. The ruler must now manage this growing complexity. Power at this moment had to be genuinely distributed in order to maintain a sense of control. We could look now to a country like the United States in the present. pushing their own agendas. It is because of this that we can talk of this division of power as a great historic fatality. Now there were teams of ministers. The second were the great political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. once power becomes diluted and divided this way. First. which in turn acted to dissolve and dilute previous concentrations of influence. that a team of military leaders tends to think in two directions–how to promote the interests of the ruler. And finally. Stay tuned for the next installment. This is not so much about particular political or economic systems. but with a different scale of distribution. like a split atom. 7 http://powerseductionandwar. all kinds of niche groups. bureaucracies had to evolve. Things now become political. Second. they do not want to give it back or return to an older way of governing. The need to have such power has an inexorable appeal to us. In 100 or 200 years we can imagine a point of complete division. it tends to keep on dividing. but rather about something deep within human nature. Two events in history sped this process along. More and more people must be brought in to keep the whole functioning. for instance. To service this administration. there is no denying the remarkable evolution and dilution of power from that time millennia ago when it was mostly in the hands of one man. Once the process began it cannot be stopped until it reaches its logical conclusion.000. Power remained concentrated. If this town evolved into a city of some 100. From this position in the present we can project into the future a period of even greater dilution. but now ever so slightly diluted.

and slowly it gained some momentum. But soon it became clear to me that these people did not want help in technical matters or cared about my credentials. I discovered patterns. To show what is timeless and universal in this hunger for power. how to handle all of the maneuverings http://powerseductionandwar. Few people like to admit they are motivated by ambition or a hunger for power. but we are never quite sure of what really works.The Descent of Power: An Interpretation of the Global Economic Crisis Pt I Posted on May 3. not the deceptive appearances that people like to present. I would study their actions. In 1996 I began work on my first book. I plan on posting in eight digestible installments or you can read the entire thing in the form of an ebook. I want to give you some context about my perspective. The subject that I am going to talk about this evening is the state of the world as I see it. Some of them were quite powerful in their fields.com/ Page 32 of 36 . as I saw it then. direct our career path and protect ourselves from those who are malicious. what is really going on–not what the newspapers report. 2010 by Robert Greene The following is an amalgamation of two talks I gave recently: the first at the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai. What I mean by power is the ability to control to some degree the events around us–to be able to influence people. These laws apply as much to Louis XIV as to Bill Gates. never because of any maneuvering or political gamesmanship. When we exercise such control. which turned into laws. I was somewhat intimidated. When you observe these laws. I devised a method that has served me well in all of my subsequent writings: I would ignore people’s words and justifications. But before I get to that. as I have no real solid background in business or a degree in psychology and I had not personally attained the heights of power. To pierce this fog and get at the reality. At first. Many people are masters at passive aggression–disguising their grabs at power behind a benign or smiling façade. not the conventional wisdom. The book came out in 1998. good things happen to you. Around three years after the publication. my way of thinking and where it comes from. When we experience the opposite– helpless in the face of circumstance–we become miserable and prone to all kinds of irrational behavior. I would look at the most illustrious people in history–all periods. all cultures–and ruthlessly dissect their successes and failures. In doing this research. The 48 Laws of Power. It also means having some control over our own destructive impulses. move them in our direction. Both of these talks were geared for a business audience. All of this moralizing and denial creates a great deal of fog. instead. we try almost anything. we feel energized and confident. 48 of them. The problem in writing such a book. The book had a simple premise: every human being has an innate desire for power. If somehow they attain some success in life it is because of their goodness or talent. Their weakness was dealing with the political side of human nature. you court disaster. and the second at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. They represent the physical reality of what happens in the world. To gain power. was the massive amount of confusion surrounding the subject. I began to be sought out by people in various lines of work who wanted advice. when you transgress them. That seems too ugly.

Your days are numbered. As with the subject of power. and over the years my ideas on this coalesced into the following theory: we are in the midst of one of those great transitional moments in history in which the old ways of operating and thinking are finally dying off. but also in politics–particularly in the Obama campaign. They were confused. It takes constant effort to carve a place for yourself in this ruthlessly competitive world and hold on to it. They bring endless battles into your life. examples from history and so on. In this particular case. the global economy crashed and this only confirmed what I had been thinking. I began to gain access to the inner workings of many important businesses. you will gain a sharp appreciation for what makes some people advance and others fall behind. I saw that my advice could be very useful and that the ideas I had discussed in the first book were more than relevant to their experiences. It makes us hold on to the past or become overwhelmed by the apparent chaos. our lack of understanding makes it very difficult for us to exploit the tremendous changes and opportunities that are germinating at this moment. All of this makes people confused and uncertain. People can be treacherous. what is really going on under the surface creating the turmoil that we are experiencing. but all with the purpose of explaining the present moment. it is infecting everyone unconsciously. The human being handles change with difficulty. People who live through revolutionary moments generally have little notion as to what is going on. There is too much politicizing and too little perspective.com/ Page 33 of 36 . What I want to do tonight is to broaden our viewpoint and provide a different way of looking at this strange new world we have entered. Stay tuned for the next installment. In the middle of these speculations. Your task is to resist the temptation to wish it were all different. To accomplish this reversal of perspective. so bear with me. As I acquired more and more of these consulting relationships. 2 The 50th Law (chapter headings) Posted on October 29. I’m not satisfied with how people are describing these events.that I describe in The 48 Laws. Clearing up some of our confusion can help make our actions more effective. I want to talk to you tonight about these countercurrents of the old and the new. By focusing your attention on what is going on around you. I saw a pattern in the problems that many executives were facing. By seeing through people’s http://powerseductionandwar. instead you must fearlessly accept these circumstances. It makes us even more emotional. or read The Descent of Power as an ebook. I saw signs of this struggle in business. I will be bringing in many ideas. even embrace them. 2009 by Robert Greene Chapter 1 See Things for What They Are – Intense Realism Reality can be rather harsh. Something new is trying to emerge.

The answer is to let go and move with the chaos that presents itself to you – from within it. keep moving and changing your appearances to fit the environment. you will find endless opportunities that elude most people. Chapter 6 http://powerseductionandwar. Chapter 5 Know When to Be Bad – Aggression You will always find yourself among the aggressive and the passive-aggressive who seek to harm you in some way. you can turn them around. working the corner for yourself. Before it is too late you must master the art of knowing when and how to be bad – using deception. more alive. more creative. If you encounter walls or boundaries. Chapter 2 Make Everything Your Own – Self-Reliance When you work for others. They own your work. Your creative spirit is squashed. they own you. the more power you will have to alter it for your purposes. Do not let anything disrupt your flow. it is yours to lose – you are more motivated. make the best of them. you lose even greater control in the long run. The ultimate power in life is to be completely self-reliant.com/ Page 34 of 36 . You must get over any general fears you have of confronting people or you will find it extremely difficult to assert yourself in the face of those who are more cunning and ruthless. manipulation and outright force at the appropriate moments. Your lack of resources can be an advantage. an opportunity. Do not let fears make you wait for a better moment or become conservative. Losing a battle can allow you to frame yourself as the sympathetic underdog. slip around them. Don’t give others the chance to pin you down. Chapter 4 Keep Moving – Calculated Momentum In the present there is constant change and so much we cannot control.manipulations. The firmer your grasp on reality. Your goal in every maneuver in life must be ownership. Everyone operates with a flexible morality when it comes to their self-interest – you are simply making this more conscious and effective. you are at their mercy. If there are circumstances you cannot control. completely yourself. When it is yours. It is the ultimate alchemy to transform all such negatives into advantages and power. Chapter 3 Turn Shit into Sugar – Opportunism Every negative situation contains the possibility for something positive. Instead you should have a greater fear of what will happen to you if you remain dependent on others for power. It is how you look at it that matters. forcing you to be more inventive with the little that you have. What keeps you in such positions is a fear of having to sink or swim on your own. If you try to micromanage it all.

You need to keep your focus on their changing needs. you will take risks that will increase your chances of success. hesitant to take any risks. the person on top consciously or unconsciously sets the tone. then find the audience for their idea. or overly concerned for their ego and reputation. holding yourself to the highest standards. Never lose touch with your base. beginning with their demand. Boredom is their great enemy and fear. Your sense of self-worth comes from you alone – never the opinion of others.Lead from the Front – Authority In any group. knowing this dynamic. want to outlast your rivals. then you will receive the little that you expect. To make this happen. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level – an intuitive feel for what must come next. you must train yourself for the opposite – ask for more. Chapter 10 http://powerseductionandwar. In these democratic times. that you are mostly helpless in the face of so many difficulties. Whatever they manage to get slips through their hands as fast as it comes in.com/ Page 35 of 36 . taking risks with confidence. knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure – mastery of a craft and of yourself. You. and making tough decisions. Chapter 8 Respect the Process – Mastery The fools in life want things fast and easy – money. You must work the opposite angle. success. People follow those who know where they are going. so cultivate an air of certainty and boldness. Complaining and haranguing people to work harder has a counterproductive effect. Chapter 9 Push Beyond Your Limits – Self-Belief Your sense of who you are will determine your actions and what you end up getting in life. you will have to serve an apprenticeship. and believe that you are destined for something great. then this invariably filters its way through the entire group and makes effective action impossible. With a rising confidence in your abilities. you create the appropriate supply. If you see your reach as limited. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand. Do not be afraid of people’s criticisms – without such feedback your work will be too personal and delusional. you must practice what you preach. thinking first of the public. attention. If leaders are fearful. You must adopt the opposite style: imbue your troops with the proper spirit through your actions. You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery. Chapter 7 Know Your Environment from the Inside Out – Connection Most people think first of what they want to express or make. They see you working harder than anyone. that it is best to keep your ambitions low. not words. the trends that are washing through them. on the other hand. getting an inside “feel” for what is happening around you. You must maintain as close a relationship to your environment as possible. This inspires and binds the group together. aim high.

we have a sense of urgency and mission. We can appreciate life all the more for its impermanence.com/ Page 36 of 36 . clinging to the illusion that we have all the time in the world.Confront Your Mortality – the Sublime In the face of our inevitable mortality we can do one of two things. http://powerseductionandwar. we can attempt to avoid the thought at all costs. accept and even embrace it. then there is nothing left to fear. In adopting such a fearless philosophy. become able to separate what is petty from what is truly important. we gain a sense of proportion. If we can overcome the fear of death. converting our consciousness of death into something positive and active. Knowing our days to be numbered. Or we can confront this reality.

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