The 48 laws of power – Business Book Review 5

I read this book a very long while back. It proposes several concepts on how you could increase your personal power / influence around the people you are with. It takes a very different path and doesn’t promote fairness obviously to grow your power. The author, Robert Greene decided to look deep into the history and machinations of power to learn all about how to gain it, use it and defend against abuse of it. He came up with all 48 of the techniques and I wanted to highlight a couple of them as well as the examples Greene highlighted to show that it really works.

Firstly, flaunting your brilliance won’t win you your boss’s favor, but making him or her shine will. Have you ever tried to impress your boss, only to fall flat on your face? Well, if you’ve ever failed to impress someone in a position of power, it could actually be the result of outshining them. After all, powerful people want to be the center of attention; trying too hard to impress them can shift attention away from them and onto you, hurting th

But what’s even worse is acting superior to them, a move that could lead your boss to think of you as a threat to their position and, consequently, to let you go from the company.

Take the relationship between King Louis XIV of France and Nicolas Fouquet, the king’s finance minister. A smart and loyal advisor, Fouquet became indispensable to his ruler, but this didn’t guarantee him the position of prime minister when the incumbent minister died. To gain the king’s favor, Fouquet threw a lavish party at his extravagantly furnished chateau to show the king how well-connected and influential he was.

The next day, Fouquet was arrested by order of the king, who felt overshadowed and dubiously accused the minister of stealing to amass such extravagant wealth. Poor Fouquet was bound to live out his days in a prison cell.

A better strategy to gain her favour is to always make the person in charge look smarter than everyone else, including you.

For example, the astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei desperately wanted funding for his research, and found an ingenious way to get it. When he discovered the four moons of Jupiter in 1610, he made sure to link his discovery to the enthronement of Cosimo II de’ Medici. In an act of cunning, Galileo said that the four moons represented Cosimo II and his three brothers, while Jupiter itself was comparable to Cosimo I, the four brothers’ father. Thanks to playing to his ruler’s ego, Galileo was named the official philosopher.

Secondly, gaining power over somebody means getting to know them – and posing as their friend is the best way to do so. Maybe you’ve encountered this problem before: you’re striving to outmaneuver the competition but can’t quite manage to accurately predict your competitors’ strategies. How can you get around this?

Well, another trick to gaining power is to gather important information about the people you want to control. And to get something from someone, you need to know about them. After all, knowing a person’s plans, weaknesses and desires will help you both win their favor and guide their actions.

Take the art dealer Joseph Duveen, who in 1920 resolved to win over the industrialist Andrew Mellon as a client. But Mellon was not easily convinced, so Duveen decided to bribe Mellon’s staff to pass him secret information about their employer. When the industrialist traveled to London, Duveen made sure to follow him. The dealer showed up at the same art gallery Mellon was visiting, supposedly by chance, and engaged him in a vibrant conversation. Since Duveen knew so much about what Mellon liked, he easily gained his favor by making him believe that they shared common tastes in art, among other things. As a result, the encounter ended on good terms and Mellon soon became Duveen’s best client.

Finally, if you want to be treated like a superior, you’ve got to act like one. Are you higher up the ladder than someone else? If so, it’s essential to act the part – unless, of course, you prefer to be seen as their equal. But a word of warning: acting as if you’re equal to others while holding a superior position to them will only inspire contempt.

In general, people are suspicious of higher-ups who act like their equals; doing so leads people to thinking you’re dishonest, as they’ll assume your modest ways are a sly trick to cloud your privileges. You should instead use the strategy of the crown to make people treat you like. If you believe you’re above others and act in this way, other people will begin to believe you’re superior, too. When people see you acting superiorly, they’ll assume there is good reason for you to do so.

In this day and age, there is debateSome people think Robert Greene is evil. They’re the ones that read The 48 Laws of Power, his bestselling 1998 debut, saw the world depicted as a writhing snakepit of treachery and mind games, and felt that the author must be part of the problem. Other fans think he’s the solution, including Will Smith, American Apparel CEO Dov Charney (who calls it “the Bible for atheists”) and so many rappers, from Jay-Z on down, that the New Yorker dubbed him “hip-hop’s Machiavelli”. So I urge you to take it in the right spirit and see if the lessons really help you. But if you feel a tinge of issues, then best to avoid to avoid using the techniques though if you don’t, someone probably will do. Wield the power wisely.

Check out the book here:

Interesting reads:


  1. This all sounds like manipulation. But I do like this part, “acting as if you’re equal to others while holding a superior position to them will only inspire contempt” because I’ve experienced it for sure as the person working for the so-called leader.

    Liked by 1 person

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