The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene book review: Part IV

Power is perception! How you are viewed is more powerful than who you really are. In other words, your reputation, your public image and your public persona will always proceed you. If you mean to gain success, you must monitor yourself image from how others see and label you and more importantly how you see and label yourself. The image you project out into the world will be the image people will remember and pigeon hold you to. This is why if you aspire to be a leader, understand people will only follow the image that can stir emotions or deep routed fantasies in other people. Meaning an image, they want to immolate in some sort of fashion, so in order for people to want to follow you, you must show them something authentic, emotional and fantastic. If deep down they want to be the boss, show they how, if they want to be the great lover, be that with your mate, if they want confidence be the confident one, just be the image that they strive to be.

Article 1: Law 1–8

Article 2: Law 9–16

Article 3: Law 17–24

Article 4: Law 25–32

Article 5: Law 33–40

Article 6: Law 41–48

Law 25: Recreate yourself

One of the most unattractive and detrimental elements that a public figure, a business, a corporation or an artist can do is be bland and predictable. It is similar to watching a film that you know exactly what the outcome is going to be or how the sequences are going to play out, but it is the Oscar-winning scripts that surprise an audience and keep them on the edge of their seats. The feeling of “we didn’t see that coming” that causes praise and admiration. Our public image is no different. If we have the desire to keep our audiences, customers or admirers on their toes, keep our stock high and stay relevant, we must keep recreating ourselves. This brings spice and life to our brand.

In order to retain the power of our public image, we must master a public image of our own making. Meaning, instead of letting media, gossip, speculators, family, friends or even society fabricate their ideas about us, we take the responsibility of dictating our own image and change it whenever we see fit. Once people label you or place your brand in a box it will be hard to break that mold but when we are in charge of our own images, we hold all the cards and have controls over it or at least how others perceive us.

If a box has already been formed around you, change the image, even drastically, to disrupt the labels that have been forced upon you. You can do this by becoming the method actor, practicing a completely different persona, so much that you start to become this person. It takes acting like this every day without breaking character. Another way is to have a theatrical presence about yourself, always having large spectacles of your personality, so everyone knows to label you as this new outgoing person versus the old timid and shy personality that you may have adopted in the past.

Either way, it is important to control the narrative about yourself, this way you retain all the power about your self-image rather than letting others tell you who you are or will be. Lastly, take the words of the author in making this new image of yourself, “It is less in what you do but how you do it.” That truly sticks with people.

Law 26: Keep your hands clean

Power is about image, whoever can distort reality in the minds of the other has the power. Pre-World War II, Hitler would use propaganda in order to manipulate the minds of the German citizens, which still goes on in many countries today. By only letting certain images, ideas and knowledge be given to the masses made his doctrines seem more concrete while letting those that did not be lost or unadvertised. In the game of power, how people think about you is the most important, so in order to keep your power you must only let certain things become public while the rest stay silent. Most people want a clean, spotless and virtuous image, which is not always the case when it comes to the lives of human beings. In order to truly gain control of your own image, you must appear to have and maintain a spotless appearance.

A spotless appearance means that you are never seen doing the dirty work, never seen fighting, arguing, throwing temper tantrums or giving someone else a raw deal. Your image is everything and once people think that you have been distorting it for your own benefits, they will never trust you again. For example, during the 2012 United States primary elections, Mitt Romney had more popular votes than Barack Obama at the time, which people were predicting that he was the sure favorite to win, until a video leaked of him speaking in private, calling out lower-income people as “lazy.” This caused an uproar since this statement did not match the persona that was given to the public. This planted a seed in the citizens’ minds that maybe he couldn’t be trusted and this lost him the votes. In order to maintain the power that you have gained over yourself image you must not be seen or heard, going against the image that you have created.

The author illustrates six ways in keeping your image spotless without being seen doing the dirty work or caught doing or saying anything that will be seen as negative.

1. Conceal mistakes (fall guy): If you made a blunder that will look terrible on your business or brand, hide it from the public by using a fall guy. Meaning if you have to fire an employee, have someone else do it. If you have to take someone to court, send your lawyers, if you have a business deal gone wrong, send your assistant to deliver the angry message. Either way, don’t do any of the negative work yourself, this will help you maintain your nice guy image, even though you are orchestrating everything behind the scenes.

2. Distract others from your flaws: If you are not great at something, use distractions to help switch your audience’s attention to what you are good or makes them look elsewhere. For example, if you are not a great singer, use your dance skills while singing in order to distract people from the items you’re not so talented into what you are. In other words, shift the focus from your vocal talents to your outstanding footwork.

3. Find others to blame: If the business is collapsing, instead of placing the blame on yourself, even if it is all your fault, you can publicly put it on the economy or the market. I have seen people hang whole departments out to dry even though it was the owners that truly dissolved the business. They placed the blame on the management team for not being as efficient or the workers for being lazy on the job, either way, they did not let it be their own fault since they had an image to upkeep.

4. Use the cat paws: Create something outside yourself as the reason for the mishap, the issues or the fall from grace. Use some type of ailing condition as the culprit on why things did not work out, such as headaches, bad back or stubbed toe. I have seen individuals use mental conditions such as ADD or ADHD for the reason why someone was negligent or didn’t pay attention to the task at hand. Use an upbringing condition on why you have been acting so irate, either way, when you give others excuses that are beyond your control, people tend to become more sympathetic. Sympathy can be used to gain power just not long-lasting ones.

5. Someone outside the circle to do the dirty work of you: Let the other company, the other brands or the other network be the bad guy while you keep your autonomy, especially if those members are bad-mouthing you or what you represent. Let the others throw slander while you stay stoic and democratic. Most deal with situations with emotions and harsh terms, but it is the utmost in power for those that can only speak positively while the opposition is slinging mud. It will make you seem powerful even royalty like.

6. Conceal how hard you work: When people can view your achievements, your skills or your knowledge without witnessing the struggles, the hours or the effort they tend to see you as larger than life, but if they have a moment to see behind the curtain they tend to see your accomplishments as less than impressive. Unfortunately, hard work is not the most seductive of subjects so if others believe you gain your goals solely on working hard it tends to make you seem more normal or if they worked hard as well, they can accomplish what you have even more. The person who looks like they are trying too hard is never as alluring as the person who seems to just have the magic touch or “luck.” People tend to want to be around them more.

Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe to create a cult-like following

In a seminar hosted by Tony Robbins he mentioned in business, you need a minimum of raving fan clients, not clients that just enjoy your product but clients that will go tell their friends, their family or anyone willing to listen about your products and services. The best marketing is when it is referenced to by word of mouth, either from a friend or family member. In order to receive raving fan clients, you must create a cult-like following, a movement if you will. When people feel that they are a part of a mission or a journey that is bigger than them, they will become the followers that you need to place you in a position of power.

Let others feel like they are in an exclusive group, that not just anyone can apply, it’s either the like-minded thinkers, the dancers, the artists, the socially conscious or just the ones that want to be a part of something larger than the monotonous routine of everyday living. People have an innate desire to believe in something. This is the reason for people constantly labeling themselves and each other, from country, race, religion, we all just want to belong. Use this to your advantage when starting a business, a ministry, a group, a community or a platform. Take this knowledge to establish a movement that will make others want to join and be a part of. It could be saving certain endangered animals or the rainforest, it could be a certain nationality group in your school or a company that only uses certain products that will help clean up the ozone layer. The cause or mission is up to you, but let it be in the forefront of your mind that you must create a definite stand for your group or company to believe in, in order to make the people believe in your cause and more importantly you.

The author illustrates 5 steps in creating a cult-like following:

1. Keep it vague and simple (in words): Never give away the show, but give hints to your plans and aspirations. Offer hyperboles in your talks, promise something of great value but never give them the full package. Similar to the doctor that prescribes medicine to manage the disease but not actually cure it. Show them that a solution can be done but do not elaborate too deeply on how. You must keep the promises vague n simple. People usually do not truly want the issues to end, because if it did there will be no reason for the group or meetups, so give them a reason to follow just not a reason to leave or go elsewhere.

2. Emphasize the visual and sensual over the intellectual:

Many times, people want to see granger than actually living the granger themselves. Show your audience your lap of luxury, your jewels, the results of your promises but do not fiddle with the deep explanation on how your wealth was acquired. Appeal to people’s senses either in visual spectacles that impress your legend, smells that entice, sounds that stir emotions and touches that feel luxurious. Your ability to be seen and heard as the expert that took their knowledge and recreated themselves will be the utmost attractive to those who want to be in your shoes. Show them what you have or have done, while still keeping some of your strategies close to the chest. This approach will make you look magical or powerful without effort. Now, if you do have to explain some ideas on how you became this impressive person or company give them simple ideas but not a strenuous explanation. People bore easily and if the process seems too complex, they will shut down or zone out during your talks.

3. Create a community or organized religion:

Your group must have a religious feel to it. In other words, it must have an air of movement or mission. Let people feel a part of something large, important or even biblical in order for the members of your tribe to have deep reasoning to join your cause. Create rituals for your followers to follow, such as reading certain books, eating certain foods, watching certain influencers or even group calls at certain nights. Do things that will keep your followers engage plus giving them a sense of exclusiveness. Besides the rituals, to make them feel a part of the group, give them titles and room to move up in your chapter. Your company can promise promotions and openings to move up to President or CFO, better yet for your community group, you can have a treasurer, a lead or even a master. Whichever the labels are, make sure you establish some in your group to keep people fishing for more in your fellowship.

4. Disguise your source of income:

Riches are material, so in order to acquire its consumption, we must accumulate it by receiving from others. Though this is true, you must never let people know that your money or income is coming from them. When advertisers create commercials, they never imply that the ad is there to get your money but how it can help you with some type of ailment. This is also true for your community or group. If you are to show your luxuries, refrain from letting people know that your wealth comes directly from them, this can start an irreversible resentment. Let it seem like your wealth is established through hard work, spiritual means or it was caused by the goodness of the mission but not from people’s pockets. People want to believe that they are separating from their cash for a superb product, an awesome movement or an incredible grace from god, but never want to believe it is to make someone else’s’ pockets fat. Give money away or donate to charities is a great way to offset this. By giving the money you receive, your followers will feel that they are the ones who really gave which will make them love your cause that much more.

5. Set up an “us vs them” dynamic:

As stated in the opening paragraph to this law, people like to feel like they have to be a part of something, a need to label themselves or others. This can create great turmoil but also great power. When people can feel a part of a family, they can feel whole because now they know who they are and more importantly, who they are not. When you create an us vs them dynamic, you have produced diehard fans of your work, your company, your group, and your mission. When Apple Computers came out with their new design, they started with an ad campaign that showed a young hip guy vs the old baggy suit-wearing gentleman, calling the cool guy a MAC and the old guy PC. This is to say if you are young and hip you want a MAC, not an old PC, which made thousands of young adults’ purchase apple products. Versus the traditional PC’s. The same thing for the civil rights or women’s rights movement, when people feel that they can stand for something against the oppressors that are subjugating them, they will ride with you to the bitter end.

First, you must establish common goals. What makes your followers stand together than a common enemy, who are we against. Thirdly, you must show them the change that your mission has already established; show them how what you know or what you have chosen has changed your life. Forth, see potential in others as well. Make them feel that if they did what you do or study what you study, their lives can change too. Provide that allure for change. Speak on your product for free, meaning share your message without looking for anything in return. This will make your mission seem pure. Fifth, do not respond to criticism. You are too purposeful to get into any altercations or showing negative emotions, the focus you have is too deep to get distracted. Let that be your facade, in order to keep the image that you have established to the public, you must not break it for a person that is trying to get arise out of you. Lastly, aim high. Most people will only pursue what they know they can achieve but people believe in those who chase the impossible. This is because once you do it, people will rejoice that they were a part of the movement since the beginning, giving them a sense of pride with whatever your group is about. People want to follow the promise as well as the leaders.

Law 28: Enter action with boldness

“Everyone admires the bold no one honors the timid.” The author profoundly stated in the beginning paragraphs of this legendary book. This law is one of my favorite laws because I feel it is one of the laws to success in any venture and life in general. People remember the bold, everyone hopes to do something that has never been done, say something that has never been said or be someone that has never been but most are afraid to try, ruffle feathers or step into their greatness. This why the bold receives so much respect, because deep down we want to be fearless like them. This type of admiration brings an abundance of power not only from others but from over ourselves.

If you are going to take a step, meaning ask that person out on a date, open that new business, quit your job, skydiving out of a plane or start the new school, do not act when you are still feeling timid, you must only begin when you have a feeling of assuredness or at least boldness. Boldness is being courageous even when you are nervous because you never let it show. By being audacious you have the image of being brave even when you are not feeling that way. Showing that you are not worried about a situation is as convincing as not being worried at all. This act of being audacious is a muscle that you must practice over time. Whenever you have a choice to fall back into timidity or step forward with boldness choose the ladder not the former. In business, in dating or in life, the timid attracts sharks that smell blood in the water who are ready to feast on the weakest in the wild, but the bold always gives off a hint of fear because of the unsureness of what this person may or may not do.

The author also said, “Hesitation brings gaps boldness breaks them.” When you hesitate you miss opportunities, advantages or moments that could have been life-changing. The bold are always looking for an adventure, not afraid to make mistakes and always willing to do what others won’t. Sometimes you must not think too long and make a bold decision, using intuition can help push people to great heights if they listened to their gut more than their heads. When you are negotiating a contract or deal with a contractor, its ok to be bolder than usual, if they know that you are afraid of them, they may take advantage of you, but if you are bold enough to ask for a raise, ask for a better deal or let them know you will not pay, your respect factor has just skyrocketed. See boldness and being timid are both practiced behavior and the winners and losers in life depend on how often you practice which habit.

Law 29: Plan all the way to the end

In the good book, it is said that God never starts anything until he has the end finish. Be like this, never start anything until you have your exit strategy composed. When you are establishing your plans for a relationship, for a business, for a job or for a company, in order to be successful in it, you must know or predict how things will be completed. Most people are reactive, not proactive which leads to vague plans, removing consistency and add improvisation. This is a recipe for failure. When a person has an end in mind, they know what their next move should be, in order to get to those ends vs. jumping on every opportunity available. This also helps with decision making. If one proposition will get you to your end goal and one will not, this makes the decision process very simple, always go with what will help you reach this destination.

In the game of chess, the winners are the ones who see 3 to 5 steps ahead of them, establishing multiple moves before reaching them, this is how you always know what your next move to make is while the opponent is thinking you are planning. People who think ahead are more likely to reach a certain prize than those who do not. When you know your end game, it is easier to not get caught up in emotions and start improving which can lead to disaster. Instead, you stay with the plan until completion. This way you can always remain calm in any circumstances because you know where you are going on this success journey. This will also help you see potential dangers ahead. You can know what things may disrupt your master plan so you can catch it before it hurts you or adjust your plans if need that will still help get you the end product.

Law 30: Make your accomplishments seem effortless

In the realm of power, you must make your accomplishments seem effortless by hiding all the hard work and practice you put in. This will give you the image that you have god-given talents which helped you just wake up out of the bed into greatness. The more you can look like a natural prodigy the more admiration and respect you will receive. In the book, the author tells the story of Houdini, who made audiences awe at his antics because they never knew how his tricks were done. This, in turn, made him look larger than life. Though, no one knew how Houdini’s tricks were done he practiced relentlessly on his magic acts so it could look effortless. This is why we admire the greats because they can make something difficult look simple. Turn your hard work into ease and grace but beating on your craft relentlessly, constant learning and massive research without revealing it to your audiences.

Law 31: Control the opinions: get others to play with the cards you deal

The art of the deal is to give your mark a deal that benefits you in either choice. You always want to establish a win-win situation but let their win be one of your choosing. When negotiating the price of sale, the responsibility of a task or even products to your client, present the deal in such a way that you get them to choose the lesser of two evils. Consider you are selling a car; you want them to buy the blue Lexus but they are still looking at the green Honda. Present the Honda in a way that makes the Lexus look better so you are guiding them but not forcing their hand in one or the other direction. For example, “This green Honda is a 2012 but with only a few thousand more you can get a Lexus that was manufactured in 2013, which means a newer car.” The best way is to present options that go in your favor.

There are several ways to do this:

1. The Lawyer technique: Narrow down only two options for the witness to testify on and in knowing each trap that you laid out for them you will easily be able to poke holes in their argument. This is guiding someone to a confession while not accusing them.

2. The Sellers technique: Raise the price of an item for a client to purchase quicker. Tell them that the price is for today only and will increase daily, so if they decide not to buy but return the next day, they will be appalled at the price increase and will want to purchase quickly before the price goes up even more.

3. The Absence technique: Show people how good they have it with you present and how bad it will be if you leave. Leverage their need for you. You can present the options that will make you stay and if they don’t oblige you leave which will make them choose you even if it grants you the power or position in a relationship or workplace.

4. The Consequence technique: Present to them two options and what will be the effects of both. Choose one that will end up not being exactly what they want while showing them option two will be much worse. This will force them into choosing the option with the least severe consequence. Either way, a consequence shall be given.

Law 32: Play to people’s fantasies

People want to believe in something more than the regular rigamarole of life, the daily hustle and bustle or the mundane wake up, go to work, go home and repeat. We want to believe that life can be much more than just the daily grind. This makes us very susceptible to the fantastic or the out of the ordinary. When we play to people’s fantasy, we have given them a glimpse of something more than the normal, enticing their need for more. Present yourself with granger, even if you can’t afford it, find a way to borrow the nicest cars, stay in the best hotels or eat the most romantic dinners. Have an image that makes people believe if they are around you or learn from you, that something new and fantastic could happen to them as well. Be the fantasy image and you will be a source of power.

People never want to believe that many of their misfortunes come from themselves, so it is powerful to give them something to blame outside of themselves while also preaching that they can find salvation outside themselves as well. A certain product will help them lose weight rapidly, a certain surgery will make them look like a celebrity, or a particular substance will enhance their love life. This is the majority of ads today, playing on the fantastic part of one’s imagination to make them believe that they cannot change within themselves, they need something more. I like to show people that they can find all they need with themselves, but I believe they need to study themselves and the principles of life. The natural laws place on this planet long before you and I entered the atmosphere. We must bring forth these ideas that something more is needed in order to gain a massive following as if you know the answers and that needs to be shared.

Thank you for being a part of the Power of Self Book Club! Reviewed by Rich Fontaine. If you are interested in this book, click the link below and order a copy today! If you order directly from my website I will throw in my highlighted notes and specialty bookmarks for Free! Plus a chance to be in our exclusive business mastermind group for free! Seats are limited.

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