48 Laws of Power: Law #21 Play A Sucker to Catch A Sucker- Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

Law 21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker- seem dumber than your mark

  •      Don’t be stupid, but make your mark appear smarter than you
  •      Making them appear smarter hides your motives

Misdirection is one of the most valuable strategies for business, marketing, and even game.

Play stupid. Stay quiet. Act like you don’t already know about something and have other people explain it to you, they’ll reveal all that they know: people are suckers for gossip.

Showing off all that you know, immediately, is a fools game. I can do this, I speak all these different languages, I drive such and such car. I know, I’m guilty of this as well.

But people do not want to know everything about you, especially at first.

People want mystery, they want to feel like they’re uncovering a great conspiracy, or that they’re revealing parts of your life and personality on their own. You can’t simply manufacture mystery, just like desire.

If you speak another language, slowly inject it into conversations. If you know how to golf, don’t go around telling people about how low you can shoot, let them see for themselves. Life is boring enough without having to read someone’s damn Facebook bio, blabbing on and on about themselves.


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48 Laws of Power: Law #20 Do Not Commit to Anyone

Law 20: Do not commit to anyone

  •      Fools rush to pick a side.
  •      Do not commit to a cause but yourself
  •      Maintain independence
  •      Make people chase you and play people against one another

1.) Keep your options open in your career. Don’t be afraid of sending out your resume to see if better opportunities exist. Consider starting your own company if you can find a market for your skills.

2.) Do hobbies or activities that let you meet new people- this prevents you getting stuck with the same social group. I find that going to language classes and climbing has been a great way for me personally to meet people.

I would say that the only people you can commit to these days is your immediate family. This is due to kin selection, which is beyond the point of this discussion.


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48 Laws of Power: Law #19 Know Who You’re Dealing With – Do Not Offend the Wrong Person

Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with – do not offend the wrong person

  •      Never assume everyone will react the same way.
  •      Choose your victims carefully.
  •      Never offend the wrong person.

Transgression: My bro is a head football coach. For his first game at his new school I was having a talk with an old guy up in the booth because my bro had to let their film guy go because he didn’t know what he was doing, so I agreed to film for him. I’m also an area coach, it’s not my career but I love the game and the lessons it can teach.

The old guy started lamenting how excited he was for my brother to turn the program around and build some tradition there. Wanting to soften expectations I said something to the effect of “.500 is the best we can hope for this year, nobody has gotten it done in the past and building this will be a multi year process.”

The old guy was the AD and had previously been the head football coach in the 90s. He didn’t show it but definitely took personal offense to the comment.

The next year my brother had to let a middle school coach to because he was in incompetent and it was May so I agreed to leave my school to help him shepherd a good ms class up to varsity.

From day 1 that AD was doing everything he could to sabotage my student athletes season. Not having our field lined properly, starting an investigation about coaching conduct in regards to player treatment, indulging every bullcut haired mom’s concerns and dragging me into meetings. Making us play 7 minute quarters instead of 8 for travel, shutting the stadium lights off the second the game was completed, not finding a replacement game when an opponent cancelled. Making me sit out a week after a parent battered me after a game because he heard from the other parents that their kids were called into the earlier mentioned investigation, so “if there was a problem the kids would feel safe to come forward” and all this other bullshit.

I hurt his ego on accident and he took every opportunity he could to sabotage these kids’ season, on purpose.

You want to see what a man’s made of? Give him a little bit of power and see how he uses it.

It didn’t matter that these kids won every game except for the 1 week I was barred from practice, or that they learned to love the game, or that we ended the season with 5 more kids than we started with, with a record number of kids going out. It didn’t matter that my boys won the first football league title at any level since joining that league 20 years ago, or that I worked my ass off picking kids up and dropping them off if they didn’t have a ride, or that I was a strong masculine role model for some of those kids that hadn’t experienced that in maybe their whole lives, it didn’t matter that I paid out of my own pocket to equip some of these kids or to feed them when the AD budget somehow didn’t leave Disbursement funds for just the 8th grade team.

It only mattered that I offended his ego. You want to see what a man’s made of? Give him a little bit of power and see how he uses it.


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48 Laws of Power: Law #18 Do Not Build Fortresses to Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous

Law 18: Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous

  •      Isolation cuts you off from valuable information.
  •      Its better to mingle.
  •      You are shielded from your enemy in a crowd.

One of the insidious dangers of going into Isolation is that you can end up using it as an excuse to delay confronting your insecurities and approach anxiety around socializing, particularly with women.

“I’ll just wait until I’m buff, then it’ll be easy” or “I’ll just wait until I’m pulling more money, then people will really respect me.” These are just excuses to avoid confronting your fear. You should be socializing as often as your schedule will allow. And if it doesn’t, then dial back your Isolation and make time for it. Interacting with other people will be the cornerstone of your relationships for the rest of your life, and like anything else it takes practice.

On a Macro level, Up until fairly recently, China was in near complete isolation since the Ming dynasty. They were closed off to a lot of trade and development for centuries. Once they opened the doors again, they realized they had fallen far behind the rest of the world. And while China managed to find their way back to the top, other countries such as those in the middle east are discovering that it’s not so easy to come out of isolation when the rest of the world has left you behind. They tend to be stuck in the past remembering a time when they were the leaders in mathematics, medicine, and trade, but fail to adapt to new technologies and ways of thinking.

Economics teaches this as well that no country will prosper to it’s fullest extent without international trade. While a single country may be best suited in every field, it won’t have the manpower to excel in every field to its maximum potential. Better to focus on production that will give you the most return and have less suited countries focus on production of lesser goods.


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48 Laws of Power: Law #17 Keep Others in Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air of Unpredictability

Law 17: Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability

  •      Being predictable gives control to others.
  •      Behavior that isn’t consistent will wear people out, and they’ll stop trying to explain      things.
  •      When used to the extreme, you’ll intimidate and terrorize.

There’s a lot of danger in misapplication of this. For myself, being a career man – stability is valued. I apply this to maximum effect by simply being the guy you don’t want to piss off. I’m 99% chill, relaxed, informal, don’t give a fuck mentality but that 1% there’s (fake most of the time) potent rage. It’s like never raising your voice and then when you do people stop and are in awe. That’s the kind of unpredictability that’s beneficial … Not like this clown I knew who used to punch people in the shoulder and be like ‘haha I’m so random’.


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48 Laws of Power: Law #16 Use Absence to Increase Respect & Honor

Law 16: Use absence to increase respect and honor

  •      Too much circulation makes the price go down.
  •      If you’re already established in a group, temporarily withdraw to make people talk.
  •      Create value through scarcity.

This works best if you have skills that constantly requires your presence. If you’re a disposable worker bee, your boss can easily replace you with another disposable worker bee. If you develop skills that few individuals possess, say a very niche programming skill like cryptography or being a CEO of a couple successful companies, your bosses and/or overseers will cut you significant slack.

Don’t think of these skills as out of reach; simply knowing the ins-and-outs of your particular profession will give you a leg up on your competition or any replacement.

In my fields (engineering and filmmaking) the fundamental leg up between you and your peers is the ability to communicate. So many aspiring engineers can do the busy work, but can’t talk to clients and communicate what’s happening in layman’s terms. In film, so many people have an artistic vision, but few acquire the technical know-how to implement their vision. Obviously networking and a bit of luck will greatly assist your career rise, but being genuinely competent affords you some slack once your peers recognize you as an indispensable member of the team.

Another way to phase this law always know more than the next guy – that knowledge will make you indispensable.


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48 Laws of Power: Law #15 Crush Your Enemy Totally

Law 15: Crush your enemy totally.

  •      More is lost through stopping halfway.
  •      Crush your enemy in body and spirit.

A good example of this in sports is the first fight between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen (UFC fans know what I am talking about). Chael comes in as an underdog, dominates for 4.5 rounds, and then in the final seconds he gets complacent and loses by submission.

Not people skills wise but I have seen this happen to me in my academic career, I start off strong in a class and then by the second half of the semester I get lazy and that potential A turns into a low B and sometimes even a C. The same principle can easily be applied to an opponent that is your equal, you get that leg up on them but instead of putting them away, you let them come back and you pay the price for it.

The message I got from this law is never be complacent over a small victory, keep on pushing all the way to the end!


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